Phil Mason on his way to the record. Pic: Catford CC archives
Max Pendleton tackles Yorks in 1968. Pic: Catford CC archives

Phil Mason’s record of Imin 47.6 secs for Catford Hill Climb has remained unbroken for over 26 years and was set before most of this year’s competitors were even born.  Will 2009 be the year when the record is broken at last?

It nearly happened two years ago when Cervelo Test Team professional Dan Fleeman  missed the record by 0.7sec.  Last year’s winner, national cyclo-cross champion Jody Crawforth (Artic RT) came within 7secs.  He will be trying again this year and if he succeeds he will walk away with nearly £840 in prize money.  This is one of the country’s wealthiest hill climbs with a total prize list of over £1,700, including a prize for the fastest mountain biker!

Making a bid for the Veteran’s prize will be evergreen 64 year old Max Pendleton, father of Olympic and world champion, Victoria Pendleton.  Max, former record holder and eight-times winner of the Catford Hill Climb, will occupy a place of honour as the last rider off (normally reserved for last year’s winner).  He says,“the ‘Catford’ was and still is, I think, the equivalent of a south of England Hill Climb Championship”, adding, “I always liked Yorks as a hill to race up.

Commenting on the record, Pendleton says, “Phil Mason's ride was a real stormer; I don't know what the conditions were like on the day, but I used to find that to go really fast needed a warm day, which doesn't occur very often in October.  It could be that Phil had a series of good conditions coinciding with perfect form. Phil's time is so good that to beat it would need the trees to be cut back to allow the wind in, a nice warm southerly wind and a rider with perfect form on the day who is saving nothing at all for the Bec climb in the afternoon.  A really light, stiff bike would help, as in the last 25 years bike weight has come down by between two and three lbs.  In reality it shows how special Phil's record was”.   The ‘Catford’ has always been both a sporting and social event with cyclists turning up in their hundreds every year to cheer on the riders.  We wonder if this year they will be lucky enough to be there to watch the record being broken.