A diversion. That’s the best way to describe this year’s three peaks.
The weather was clement. Near perfect, breathless, dry conditions. A huge field. 650 riders crammed onto Helwith Bridge and pointed in the direction of several hours of glorious misery. I was stranded a bit further back than I would have liked. It didn’t matter. My mind was elsewhere. With a few SPD fumbles amongst the riders, the start was mildly chaotic. One mile up the road it looked like a trapdoor had opened and a wave of riders dropped through it. Queue squealing of brakes. Did the proliferation of new disc brakes save mass injuries? Who knows? But in dramatic fashion, the race was most certainly off.
I could write for days about the peaks. The highs (Whernside 736 metres), the lows, the emotions. It’s a favourite topic. Perhaps I will. But for now, I’m all out of energy. So here are some general observations and personal highlights from this year’s event.
- “Nobody’s talking now” The oxymoron of the day, aptly uttered by a rider on the upper slopes of Simon’s Fell.
- The young lad who did a spectacular faceplant into the peat bog at the top of Ingleborough. I’ve never seen someone go down or recover so quickly.
- Frogmarching to the top of Whernside, I had the bit between the teeth, enjoying it for the first time in 9 attempts.
- “Ooh! Come back ya booger. I’ve got everyone else!”. Top of Whernside, a photographer chases a rider next to me.
- “Brilliant!” a group of spectators cheer and flatter me while running kamikaze fashion over a grassy slope at Ribblehead. All those hours spent on the Garth must have paid off.
- Watching Pen-Y-Ghent loom into view on the dips and undulations of the approach road.
- Both quads and both calves cramping simultaneously as I climbed Pen-Y-Ghent. Thinking of what my mother endured, I ignored the ‘pain’. That wasn’t real pain. It was inconvenient discomfort.
- Chainganging to the finish and trading favours with the rider in front; I promised to direct and commentate on the run in to the finish, if he spared me another turn on the front.
- Being treated to an enormous smile from little Isobel Davies on completion. It was good to catch up with former Cardiff Jif team mate Keith Davies (and current Here Come The Belgians team-mates Alan, Rich and Jo).
- Seeing the first Junior rider also bagging a podium place for the overall positions. With a Senior, a Vet and a Junior placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd, the future would seem to be in safe hands.
- As ever, the company of my team-mates. Another experience shared.
- The time: 4 hours 1 minute 27 seconds. My fastest for 6 years and 8 seconds off my best. I was neither in the shape nor the frame of mind for that.
The Cardiff JIF contingent would like to extend a thank you to Mark Richmond and the rest of the organising team for another fantastic race. Very well done for continuing to uphold its traditions.
In memory of Christine Nurse Nov 1943 – Sept 2014. With thanks to Alan Dorrington (CrossJunkie) for the image.