Sunday, September 25, 2016

3 Peaks Cyclo Cross 2016 - No. 14

It doesn't feel like there is a lot to say about the 3 Peaks cyclo cross this year. In case you haven't seen my glowing smile since or read any of my Facebook posts from that time, it went incredibly well... but in exactly that way, there's so very little to say about it.

There are no dramas to write of. No punctures, falls or fails. I put my coat on for a rain shower that didn't last very long so I stopped to take it off again. It's hardly headline news.

The main headline is that I beat two vĂ©ry important people, the 26 year old me and 35 year old me. Both of us had just come back off long tours abroad.  Appart from that, here's the bits of how it went.

The ride to Ingleborough 

Started with dad and Jo Jebb. Settled in to enjoy the day and a bloody pleasant ride with a mixture of chatting and drafting. 

Family friend Po is there to watch me and dad ride past together, waving.


A few people passed us and a few more when I stopped to take my coat off.

Fat men can't get into heaven
Having gotten us both on the hill I set about making up places and catching up dad. After which I  enjoyed the ride and jog to Simon Fell. 
Dad passing through the eye of the needle
The woman next to me grumbles about how hard it is (we haven't even got to the hard bit  yet) and I say, that the day just gets better.
'Not again, never, no. I say that every year but this time I mean it'
Please tell me you really do mean this. There are plenty more people who want to play and plenty of people who don't want to listen to you moan all the way through.

All concerns about my hill climbing strength were put to bed as the fell passed in no time.
'Is this for real?' 
Simon Fell
Wondering who enters a race like the 3 Peaks without seeing those' photos.
'I can't carry my bike'.
Hold it this way. Try the other side. Put your hand there.
Oh damn it, see you later.  Good luck but maybe do some research next time you enter a thing.

Over the top and retrieved my bike then set off with Jo Jebb again and sneaked past somewhere in a bog.

I had a small group of followers coming off the top of the hill who opted for the long vertical stagger as I went left for the easier approach only to find the slab of limestone that I always slither down - sometimes on my ass with my bike on my head.  Stayed upright this year.

Even the descent was shortlived. I lost my concentration trying to decide what to pick up to eat (if anything) and lost my line several times, with a swear. Then I was there, grabbed a banana and joined the road.

The road to Whernside

Got on a good wheel.  It started raining, threatened hailing so I opted for coat on instead of getting a wet body.  By the time I get to Ingleton I'm too hot so I climb up to the quarry where Ian Small always waits and have a chat to him whilst I take my coat off.  He says he wishes he was fit like me.  I admit I don't know who I am at the moment.  I pick up two ladies from Beacon Wheelers - Lisa Waistell and Lucy Donnelly - a man in green and a few others.  I don't have to fight to catch anyone up.  I just sort of ride up to them and they're going slower than me so I go past them.  Lucy and Lisa sit on my wheel and include me in their little group.  

I stop at Chapel le Dale to drop off banana skin rubbish.  There isn't a bag except for the one that clearly contains someone's lunch and I'm not sure what to do so I lay it carefully on the ground and a British Cycling commissaire comes and makes sarcastic comments.  The marshall is kinder and comes over to pack it up as I try to find words for the BC official... polite ones.  All I can find is, "but the man said..." whilst the marshal reassures me it's OK and takes my crap off me.

Soon back with Beacon girls and we ride up to my favourite aid station where Nicky Hartle and Sinead Burke are waiting to give me encouragement and water.  Then I get a cuddle from Sue Thackaray and a kiss from Rob because his dad isn't there to oblige and I set off on cloud 9.


Whernside is step aerobics all the way to the top.  It starts easy then the steps get higher.  The National Trust have been out laying inappropriate stone and turning things into uncomfortable stairways instead of natural craggy paths.

I get sandwiched between Beacon ladies (they're calling me "orange lady") and form part of their conversation, making this all look very easy.

The top path is satisfyingly rideable this year.  A bit of a tail wind and I'm on great form.  Bouncing from one side of the path to the other to get the smoothest line.  I have a couple of walks - mostly around stiles and gates - and then check in and start the slither back down.  I forget to look over the wall at the view this year.

The descent is depressing for a while.  No-one wants to walk on limestone steps in the wet and it's not just us - none of the hikers are on the steps either!!

Finally we can ride for a while - there's a mixture of techniques for crossing drains, then shallow steps and then finally the limestone runs out and we're at the last drop off before the rideable trail but even the rideable trail has its hazards and I use a combination of caution and balls out to ride all the sharp rocks.  This time, thankfully, bouncing out without a single puncture.

I remain conservative across the rivers, keeping my feet dry.  I mean, I'm not racing for anything, might as well be comfortable.

The final descent by the viaduct is mostly rideable until I find a group of walkers coming towards me and stop to push my bike the last bit.

I don't really need anything from Andrew but he suggests something Torq and I accept.  He puts a massive handful of bars in my pocket that I couldn't possibly hope to eat and I just accept that I'll ditch them with Norton Wheelers in a bit.

The ride to Pen-Y-Ghent

I'm back with Beacon again and one of them offers me food assistance from the back of her car.  I'm OK and check what Andrew put in my pocket.  It's not bars, it's a bottle and so I down the lot.  Although I've still got stuff in my camelbak it's nice to have some sugary drink.  Beacon pass me back - this time me on the climb (4th peak) and then I catch up on the fast road section through Horton in Ribblesdale.  I miss my mum's cheers, she's at home in bed with a tummy bug.  

I don't even need to check my watch to see if I've made the cut-off point going up the hill.  I'm so far ahead of where I normally am.  


Pen Y Ghent lane is SO NOISY! I'm going through really fast so hardly identify anyone shouting my name.  I nearly pass Norton but then hear Dave Berresford's voice and Lynn asking if I need the sweets I gave her earlier.  No, but I ditch the empty bottle so I can carry my bike properly.

I see Hannah Saville, mid bunnyhop over a drainage ditch with the sun behind her and wish my eyes had a replay camera. 

Owen isn't far behind and in between, I've had to work hard to identify Ian Fitz, mostly because my brain isn't working much and because I actually so rarely see him in Norton colours.

On with riding and I realise I've never ridden this far up Pen-Y-Ghent lane before without needing to get off and walk.  There's a few times I get thrown off but I just get back on and start riding again.  My narrow handlebars are perfect for riders coming the other way two abreast and the line of spectators banked up on the left of the lane.  I ride as much of the steeps as I can then get back on all the way up to the gate and ride half way up the shallow climbs.  I'm still passing people at a steady walk up the hill where others have run out of steam.  

There are no crampy twinges on the steep climb across the grass and I'm on to the plateau before I know it.  There's a roaring wind up there and usually I'd put my coat on but I'm in such good form, I'm not getting that bloody mac out again so I just get on with it and head back down, waving to the Beacon ladies and Jo Jebb on my way.

There's nothing to note on the descent.  Dad is well and on his way up, having made the cut off in good time.   On the lane, I attempt to shove Kendal Mint Cake in my face to subdue the final road cramps but I know it's too late really. Then there I am, all spilled out onto the road.  Andrew shouts "5 hours 20 at me" and I look at my watch to check.  It's reading 5 hours but then I did start it late.  I have about 5 minutes to go.  

About 400m down the road the cramps start and I'm not even at that hill yet.  Leg goes straight to sort out the cramp but then every other muscle in the leg threatens to cramp in response.  This year I discover that beating the leg to get the blood flow going helps and I spend the next 4 minutes slapping my skin to get the legs to turn in between screaming with pain.  Three guys standing at the back of a van look concerned but then just laugh at me as the cramp eases and I manage to say, "this fucking hill... every fucking year!".

I hate the cramp and the worst thing is, it puts paid to any chance I have of making up a place or two on the road section and I inevitably lose three or four places.

It's OK after the second climb, it's all down hill to the finish line except that tiny hump-back bridge and the leg holds out that far.  

Finishing is an anti-climax when you're used to finishing so near last that they're half way through the prize presentation and you finish to rapturous applause (for someone else).  I go and flop in the tipi and enjoy my good result, comfy tent, cup of tea and bacon and beans before seeking out my podium place for finishing with my dad in second father/daughter category.  Hannah and Kev are first.

So 8 days riding in the Alps is great Three Peaks training.  What a brilliant excuse to do Torino Nice next year.

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