Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross

Training since July. A complete avoidance of colds. Not so much healthy eating and only a couple of weeks on the wagon. A cessation of swimming pending the 2010 3 Peaks cyclo-cross.

There was a cold, icy wind blowing through the Yorkshire Dales on Sunday morning. Dad and I lined up 10 minutes before the start where I met up with Ruth Gamwell who had a baby in April.

The race start was the usual chaos of shouting and twitchy sprinting and braking. Thanks to my training efforts with the Norton Wheelers the first miles to the bottom of the climb of Ingleborough were not too stressful. I had to try hard to keep with the pack and keep out of the wind but I wasn't worried about the effort I was putting in because I now know I can keep it up for 3 hours or more.

We swept off the road and through the farm to the usual collection of riders who haven't ridden around these limestone areas before and have not yet realised that climbing on wet limestone is close to impossible. A multitude of people sliding sideways in front of me made for challenging riding, finding the grippy muddy patches in amongst the fallen riders.

The climb of Ingleborough (Simon Fell) made me smile. My new-found love for fell running was going to kick in here. It really wasn't easier because I chose to take a slightly more difficult line, forgoing the stairway by the wall full of people not used to hill walking, in favour of keeping to my own consistent rhythm on a steeper, grassier slope. At the top of the hill on the flat summit, paved with loose rocks, the run to the dibber point was easier thanks to fell running and I reached the summit 3 minutes earlier than last year in 1:15:21..

The descent of Ingleborough was fairly uneventful until I came across a fallen rider who had hurt his neck. Someone was stopped with him so I rode to the marshalls and reported the accident before getting a food-stash from Andrew. My only other observation was my tired arms and hands from the descent and I wished I'd spent more time riding my bikes off road and doing press-ups in the gym. This happens every year. This year I figured it out. Maybe next year I will do something about it.

Also the same as every year, for the last 7 years I forget how long the ride is between Ingleborough and Whernside. I hopped on the back of another rider to get a rest up to the end of the Cold Coates road. Then, remembering that wasn't the end of my road ride, I started grazing on energy bars and randomly joining other riders as they passed. I said hello to Ian Small, watching from a layby then blipped off the road at Chapel le Dale.

Stopping for a drink, Ruth Gamwell caught me up and we started the usual climb to the summit, as usual, together. Ruth was doing a remarkable ride for someone with a baby who hasn't touched the bike since April.

I had a bit of a run on the climb of Whernside and was very pleased to be doing a lot of hard riding on the sections of the ridge-path that was rideable. I was trying so hard, I only once remembered to look over the other side of the wall to the Howgills but I didn't think to look beyond to see if I could see the Lake District. The insides of my thighs did start to twitch with cramp so I resolved to enjoy the descent (as much as possible). A cheery greeting from Marshalls and the mountain rescue teams at the summit sent my on my happy way down the mountain after 1:38:14 since I left the top of Ingleborough. I wasn't feeling most confident and carefully lifted my bike over each of the drains - sharp edged with slippery limestone slabs and picked my way onto the grass and bogs where I could.

Ruth passed me on the rocky sections at the bottom of Whernside, just before joining the comfortable railway-side paths that lead down to the Ribblehead viaduct. I saw family friend, Po, and stopped to give her a hug as I rested my cramping legs. Soon after I was down at the Viaduct with Andrew, stocking up on masses of food. This is my new lessons-learned for this year. Dad's having a bad day today and I know Andrew won't get to the bottom of Pen-Y-Ghent before I do so I stock up on nutrition to get me to PYG and up it. I down an entire bottle of energy drink, chat to friend, Rachel from the East Anglia region, and stuff two energy bars into my pocket along with a wind-proof jacket to get me comfortably off PYG. I dib-in with the marshalls and head off on my way, narrowly avoiding a motorist that is ignoring the marshalls' instructions to stop.

As I scoff on the first of my energy bars en-route to PYG, I catch two lifts from other riders. First, an Army rider who drops me on the first climb and later a group of riders along with another lady who encourages me to hop on the back. They drop me at the last climb over to Horton in Ribblesdale so I take the opportunity to drink some fluids before the ascent of PenYGhent.

I was excited to be encouraged my numerous Norton Wheelers riders who I didn't know yet. All offering me drinks.

The climb of PYG was notable, not by any remarkable strength but by a notable absence of a lack of strength. There's too many double negatives there but I don't care. That's the only way I can describe it. Usually when I get to the steep climb on PYG I am talking to my legs, urging them not to cramp. This usually degrades into growling. This time I determinedly passed a number of riders on the climb including a man bemused by the fact that I passed him on every peak and he caught me back on every road section.

At the summit I donned my windproof coat for the descent. I was really happy to be warm and glad I'd carried it all the way up. I had to wrestle my go-bar off the mountain rescue team after I dropped it on the floor and they decided they fancied it.

I left the summit in the company of the winning father/daughter team, 18 year old Ella who left me for dead on the descent. I did realise my ever-present new friend wouldn't have chance to pass me on the road to finish, and he didn't.

The descent was much improved. Over the years a clear path has been worn around each of the drains on the descent track. On the drains which haven't a route around, most have the odd pebble or stone which helped stop a wheel dropping down so far between the sharp corners. There are viable lines through a number of the loose stone sections on Pen Y Ghent Lane.

Dropping into the main road off the pavement, there were legs left to get me to the finish line. I hardly sprinted but I went as fast as I could and crossed the line in 5hrs 19 minutes and 5 seconds. 5 minutes faster than last year on a day which was cold and windy.

Norton Wheelers posted the first ever womens' team with three of us finishing the race. In total, 10 riders finished which is an awesome result.

For next year - more upper body training for the descents and I can't do worse than more fell running for the ups... and the downs.

PS Further LL. 4 hour + race pace sessions and energy drink on the way to Whernside. Bring the turbo trainer so I can warm up whilst dad's gossiping

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Quelle semaine

It's been a manic week.

Wednesday in the gym,
Thursday Norton Wheelers chaingang
Friday back in the gym
Saturday NW club run
Sunday racing.

Two weeks of exhaustion left before a rest week then the big event of the year.

I want Andrew to come home and look after me now.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Running: 40.51km, 6.8km/hr, 294m el
Cycling: 273.55km, 16.5km/hr, 3668m el
Swim: 0.4km, 40mins.