A reconnaissance trip, and meeting my first pen pal.

MoiA great day yesterday indulging my hobby by going to do a recce of parts of the route for the Three Peaks cyclocross, which’ll take place a week on Sunday. Whilst I’ve ridden the course 11 times, it’s always worth a recce on certain parts of the course because the nature of the upland paths are such that they change dramatically each year through erosion.

With much of the event being on private land, there are only certain parts of the course you can legally recce, and fewer of those you can legally cycle upon, but it’s worth putting in an afternoon of meticulous inspection. The lines we decided upon on the descent of Whernside two years ago are no longer appropriate, and the path has generally deteriorated at quite a surprising rate. At the extent of the Blea Moor bridleway Lewis, Stuart and I ‘hid’ our bikes in the spike rushes and continued up to the summit path of Whernside, and must have looked more than slightly off jogging along in our full cycling gear, Helmets and all.

Nearly back at the car at Ribblehead, I fell heavily for apparently no reason at all. Straight over the bars and humiliated in the grass. On going back to inspect the grass I’d just ridden over, I found a very well disguised overgrown rut. A reminder to be wary, and a whopping thigh bruise in case I tried to forget.

Penyghent We popped down to Horton in Ribblesdale for a quick recce of the Scar Road which takes riders a third of the way up – and down – Penyghent. Again, it was a wothwhile trip in that it refreshed the memory and helped us to pick a sneaky line or two for both the climb and the descent. Okay, so we’re talking seconds of difference, but if you took a bad line and crashed or punctured as a result, those seconds are significantly more.

The short excursion up this track also gave me the opportunity to finally meet one of my Flickr contacts. I discovered Andy Rushforth’s photos of the three peaks two years ago and we have since shared comments on each other’s photos regularly – this is the modern day equivalent of a pen friend – something I’ve never had. Knowing that Andy was a Horton resident, I asked him if he wanted to come out on his MTB to meet up with us and take a few snaps. I was really pleased when he said he could, and he didn’t disappoint – snapping away and having the opportunity to chat whilst Stuart fumbled fruitlessly with a split tubular on his bike.

A great day out. My pics from the phone camera here.

  • Jane

    Hi Dave,

    Dips and I have done The Three Peaks a couple of hundred times now, and find it quite easy, so we think you will be OK. Your only struggle might be that you are a bit less fit than us, but good luck anyway. Off now to eat some pies, love to your three girls from us four girls,

    PS are you on Countryfile again for this one? Hoping so!!

  • Andy Rushforth

    Hi Dave
    It was great to meet up with you and the guys on Wednesday and I hope you all do well in the 3 Peaks. I’ll be looking out for you on the day and cheering the Wheelbase team on. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get some action shots (though on one of the climbs as it’s easier to snap when you racing whippets are moving a bit slower).

    If you’re in or around Horton give us a shout and drop in for a cuppa. Good luck in the Nationals as well. Say hello to Lewis and Stuart for me.

    All the best.

    Andy R

    P.S. Just had a look at your pic of me; I definitely have to leave the pies alone!

  • James Eddison

    Nowthen Dave,

    I’m riding the Peaks for the first time this Sunday. Your obsession with the race seems to be infectious. I can’t stop thinking about the race! I used to live – or my ‘real’ home is Skipton, though I now live in Switzerland. It’s only now I feel I have the fitness to do the race to the level I would want to do. I have a mixed feeling of excitement and nervousness – followed by the strong desire to avoid all colds that are bouncing around work at the moment! Anyway, thanks for all your posts, here, the peaks blog and the Peaks website. I have found them really useful – as I don’t get back home often enough to get any recces in. I’m just going to have to go in blind as it’s years since I walked the three.

    Anyway, good luck for Sunday, I’ll no doubt see you ride off into the distance!

    James Eddison.

  • Andy Rushforth

    Hi Dave, I hope things are going well with the training and that you do yourself justice on Sunday. We’ve had some surprise visitors drop on us for the weekend but I’m planning to get out on Pen y Ghent to take some pictures. I’ll also take some as you ride past our house on the way to Gillgarth. Have a good race.

    Andy Rushforth