I’d been looking forward to taking part in the 46th Three Peaks Cyclocross race for ages. I’d entered this race early in 2007, but due to the cancellation of last year’s race here I was, finally at the start. Due to needing a wee with 5 minutes to go, I left Michael holding my bike and when I got back, I was a long way back in the pack. I thought that it’d be ok though, because there was a couple of miles along the road behind a car before the proper start and I’d no doubt be able to get nearer to the front.
Wrong. The 2 mile neutralised start was a full-throttle dash where it was difficult enough hanging onto your position, never mind advancing up through the pack. It was then I realised that this was a proper race, no messin’.
Not only was the first bit difficult, but it was getting harder. I soon found out why – my seatpost was slipping! Gah!!! Schoolboy error!
At the foot of Ingleborough I had to stop and sort it. A couple of minutes fannying around looking for my multitool ended up with me setting off again but by now much further back. BAH!!!
I’d been swapping comments with Dave for a bit but now he and everyone else were disappearing up the hill…
The ascent of Ingleborough is a bit unusual, in that it’s almost vertical. Parts of it were best negotiated by hanging onto a wire fence with your left hand while holding the bike kind of up in the air with your right hand to stop the front wheel banging into the hill. A bit like climbing a ladder really.
I was getting past some other people all the way up and grabbed back a load more places on the downhill to Cold Cotes and the road section towards Whernside. I caught Dave up again so I knew I wasn’t doing too bad, even though he subsequently caught and passed me on the road.
Whernside was more of the same really with more stone steps, slow negotiations around other people, looking up to see just how far back I was, wondering what the hell the next downhill was going to be like…
The descent off Whernside was ace. I’ve hardly ever used the bar-top brake levers before but I’ve always known that they would come in useful in this race based on what Simon has told me in the past. Sure enough, I used them while negotiating the stone slabs going down towards Ribblehead and they made a big difference.
I saw Deb and the kids with my Mum and Dad down at the bottom, although I don’t think they witnessed my heroic ride down the final flight of stone steps.
After working out the marshal and signpost-free section at the bottom of that gigantic hill it was again along the road to Pen Y Ghent. Simon passed me in his car, one hand on the wheel, one hand holding the video camera.
Pen Y Ghent was quite painful. My legs were starting to rebel against the constant pounding and I knew that time was running out if I wanted to finish in under 4 hours. In fact, it was looking like an impossibility when I saw just how bloody far away the summit was.
Once at the summit I logged my time then started my final descent. I heard a “go terrahawk!!! Wooooo!” from a few people behind me, couldn’t turn around to see who it was so just shouted “yayy!” back. Turns out it was those lovely Starkies 😉
I then crashed. Got up, ironically thanked the spectators for (not) rushing to see if I was ok and carried on scorching down the hill to the road. By now my field of vision was reduced to a small circle just in front of my head and I was making constant involuntary kung-fu noises. I did manage to say something coherent to Rich who I saw on his way up though. Although I don’t know what it was. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t “HHHHOOOOOAAARRGH!”.
I finished in 141st place with a time of 4:13. I was mildly disappointed to not get a sub-4 hour time, but I’m quite pleased with that for a first go. One thing is for sure, it was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be.