Three Peaks 2019 – Third Times the Charm?
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.
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…
..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..
… 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..
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.
..spectator passes bottle to me from my home made holder and
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..
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.
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..
…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..
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..
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.
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.