Champions’ Night does what it says on the tin. All the champions get together in one room in the middle of the country and celebrate being a champion. For the avoidance of doubt, Alf Engers was on hand to demonstrate the charisma and dress sense required.
2019 saw a return to the Cotswolds and the lovely Heythrop Park Resort at the weekend.
The King, Mr Alf Engers, returned to grace the stage where he received his awards and gold CTT medal some 40 years ago. He was as remembered; immaculately turned-out with a velvet tuxedo, a twinkle in the eye and trademark earring. Fortunately for those attending, Alf was just one of a host of stars of the sport coming together to celebrate amateur cycling, representing past and present of our fantastic sport.
The age group categories were something to behold, with winners from 12 to 80 turning in spectacular times over the course of the season. They received their medals to warm applause. The outright winners received their shiny gold caps, the mythical much sought-after totem that says “I am a national champion”. Marcin Białobłocki has enough for several rainy days.
Two special awards were given on the evening.
The first honoured the speed, longevity and commitment to the cause of the Hounslow BBAR team. Martyn Roach, Kevin Fairhead and Jeff Marshall received an award to commemorate their achievements some 50 years ago in winning the BBAR, but also in attending almost every Champions’ Night since, celebrating the achievements of others and working tirelessly for cycling.
The second award was the Joe Summerlin trophy. We were honoured to welcome Dick Poole, the first man to complete the End to End in under two days, to present the award. Dick was a close friend of Bernard Thompson’s, and it was moving to see images taken by Bernard of the record ride unfold on the screen.
Dick spoke movingly of Joe’s contribution to the sport, saying that he would be ‘tickled pink’ by this year’s recipient. The award was presented to Michael Broadwith for his superlative End to End record in June. It was a moving moment for all, seeing the two record holders embrace.
In a departure from usual business, one final award was presented. The Bidlake Prize is given annually and this year was awarded to Michael Broadwith.
His mantelshelf is groaning under the weight of trophies this year, but the Bidlake arguably tops them all. It was a rare privilege to see this award being presented at a CTT event, bringing together the shared history of the Road Records Association and the RTTC, through the formative role played by Frederick Thomas Bidlake.
Thanks go to all involved in the evening, especially Ally Torode for organising and everyone from the CTT, but also Michael Hutchinson for compering. Lastly, to all the participants, people who rode or raced, who won awards or didn’t: there wouldn’t be any awards to give if it wasn’t for the spirit of competition. Here’s to another season of riding, racing and chasing golden caps.