There is no other way to describe this year’s three peaks cyclo-cross – Epic.
I’ve now completed the last 7 three peaks races and have never known conditions like it. Proper, hard, winter weather. The valley bottoms were dark, dank, damp and grey. Ascending the hills meant fighting with boggy mud before entering a band of thick cloud and high wind. When riding or shouldering the bike on the tops, it acted like a sail, forcing cyclists to tack across the mountains and blowing several over (the sharp drop on Ingleborough was far too close for comfort). Long stretches of descent were rendered unrideable – or at least unrideable with ease – by the boggy conditions caused by weeks of rain. Pre-race my in-laws complained of rain without let up. It was never going to be easy.
I finished in 4hrs 37 mins, 30 minutes slower than last year and well short of the 4 hour mark. It mattered not a jot. The main aim on Sunday was to get around and finish, especially for competitors like us; unsupported, starting and finishing on the same bike and leaden down with kit (au-natural we like to think of it). My team-mates – Paul, Donald and Craig – all felt just the same; put up, shut up, survive and tell the tale. What a tough day out. Will I be back again next year? If you’d asked me that on Ingleborough, with an intense pain in my chest, lashed by wind and rain, slipping and sliding in the mud and staring down the barrel of a much slower time, I’d have given you a firm ‘no’. But after the camaraderie of finishing, the shared experience of high-class misery and with a bellyful of food and ale (post race of course), I can assure you’ll I’ll be back. I suspect my team-mates would say the same.
Congratulations to anyone who finished the race on Sunday. It was bloody hard. Thanks to Elaine for the images from the very clement 2010 race. For the 2012 experience, swop the bleached stones for bog splattered flint or see the BC photos here. 3 Peaks entry will open next July.