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Three Peaks 2019 – Third Times the Charm?
Three Peaks 2019 – Third Times the Charm?

Shouting ‘I’m in, I’m in!’ in the same tone you’d use for winning the lottery was how I informed my better half I’d made it into the 3 Peaks. Like Marmite the 3 Peaks divides people - If you’re lucky enough (or good enough) to get in then you’ll either do it once and say never again…or you’ll spend every year anxiously waiting for June to come around, wondering whether your (at times) eccentric training has been in vain.

Pre Race

Crawled out of my tent on race morning after a rain filled night and saw the forecast on my phone had changed, 45% rain was now 14% and just possibly the 3P Gods were with us. Breakfast (banana- instant porridge), pack up camping gear, change and check bike, give tyres a final pump up* and nervously ride up and down to get ready for the neutralised (all out) ride to the first off road section…

Horton Sprint

..at the front this may feel like the neutralised start it’s supposed to be… the way the riders string out, the clicking of gears and the rattle of cassettes accompanied by heavy breathing suggests that for most people this is about as close to the Tour de France as they’re going to get..everyone attentive,,no one wants to crash or cause one..anticipation growing…a cluster of parked cars and a crowd in the distance and then..  

Ingleborough Up

… steep tarmac kicker, clatter over cattle grid, actually make up some places across the fields..a lot wetter and muddier than last year..bottom gear (36x42) almost gets me to gate. Simon Fell, alongside fellow Cycleworks rider who finished 40 minutes ahead of me last year – hoping we’re both having a good day. Lungs burning, legs aching, trying right hand route away from wall this year..not faster but clearer..over the style..feeling ok..along the ridge and into the mist..follow the tape..dib in..

Ingleborough Down

..more tape and we’re going down, on to the moor and its easy to see how dry last year was..following what seem to be best lines through worst of bogs..hard going..picking up speed..hit first real technical descent..short/steep…guy in front goes OTB..guy behind him does same with accompanying crunch noise that doesn’t sound good…stop to check both OK (not what I want to do but in 10 minutes it could be me). First guy is..second guy not –Edric..Cedric? ..thinking on his feet first guy says ‘I’ll tell the marshalls’ and he’s gone.. (Would like to say I felt fine about staying with guy 2- but as riders come past I start to wonder how long help would be)..after an age (maybe 8/10) minutes a man with his dog arrived and after a brief chat he told me to crack on..I did.

Cold Cotes

..spectator passes bottle to me from my home made holder and I’m off..

Surprised how much I remember from previous 2attempts ..give it everything along road and spot that rear tyre is a bit soft..not enough to stop and imagine I’ve burped it and its sealed..decide to inflate it at Ribblehead..

Whernside Up

..my gearing seemed laughable but I’m able to ride some of the path going up before the steps..which can only be a good thing..its really muggy..sweat dripping but don’t have sense to pull down my armwarmers..in slow motion I pass two other riders..bunion starting to throb (Maybe I should have started when I was younger)..off the steps and onto the path..pretty much all rideable..maybe next time I need 32x50..dib in and its time to get down.

Whernside Down

..2 immediate problems..1) back tyre is really soft and can feel edge of any rock hitting rim..2) this does nothing for my concentration and focus and I find it really difficult to pull it together even misremembering some features..as a consequence I’m running bits I know I rode last year..which brings on horrific cramp in my groin and thighs…have to stop and stretch them out and jump about a bit …then just gritting teeth..when I do start riding consistently I’m holding back as I sense that mistiming a water bar* or catching a rock might finish my rim off and like most riders I’m a one bike, two wheels operation!* Towards end I get the knack of taking weight off the back end- enjoy running across river and nail the last descent by the rocky steps..get to the bottom..

Ribblehead

…pick up my second bottle from another homemade stand..take out my mini pump (no visible sealant from tyre or around rim so it looks like it just needs some air)..spectator runs up with track pump..this is karma I think and we’re soon up to 45 psi..quick thanks and I’m off.. entering Horton its pretty obvious that tyre is going down again so I jump off..give it some with mini pump and then..

Pen-Y Ghent Up

34X42 is all I’ll say..ride all but very last bit before dropping down and getting to point where you take a muddy left..shouldering bike then pushing it..feeling better since dropping arm warmers..cramp has gone and looking up I can see the top.. staggering a bit on the last uphill..moving aside for descending riders feels like an effort too far…stumble/trot to dib in and with the marshalls ‘take it easy’ ringing in my ears I push off..

Pen-Y-Ghent Down

...initial tracks are muddy and pretty hard going but keep it together…back tyre soft again and moving about so I run steep descent and cut off the corner before the slabs and water bars..get on and think sod it..you can push from here.. finish on your rim if you have to (clearly forgot that I’m not a member of a pro team with 50 spare wheels at this point but it is 3P)..so I bounce and clatter down..thankful there aren’t too many riders coming up – but more than I usually see so that’s encouraging..try to say well done to them all..Pretty sure I’ll finish and being more relaxed equals more confidence and suddenly I’m at the bottom..

Helwyth Bridge

..nothing to think about from here except ignoring the cramp that’s set in just above my knees and pushing with all I’ve got left..not much!.Into Helwyth Bridge..across the line..hand in the dibber and ..slower than last year..by 22 seconds! Still need to find 20 minutes one year to go under that 5 Hour Barrier.

Reflection

I couldn’t hang about as I had to get home as the in laws were visiting but while driving I felt the kind of contentment that comes from giving everything you have, in amazing surroundings as part of the 3P community.. And my ride…well adding in the conditions, my stop for the injured and pumping up my tyre twice it might not have been a faster time than last year..but it was definitely a better ride…and to be honest..crashes, cramp and tyre related incidents are all just part of the 3Peaks.

Just wishing my life away until June now.

*I Didn’t tighten the valve up all the way as I was wearing my race gloves so air was leaking out. Only realised this when I pumped it up at home and there were no issues. (Argggghhhhhhh!!)

*Water bars are drainage channels built into paths which eat tyres and wheels alive.

* 4 dents in my rim – amazed it was still rideable – may need some attention before next year.