3 Peaks cyclocross 2015: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

Photo by Adrian Nichols / SportSunday.co.uk

I’ve never read The Tale of Two Cities but that incredibly well-known opening line from a novel sums up my 2015 3 Peaks.

Okay – it wasn’t quite the worst of times – far from it – but when things are going really well, it seems to emphasise the problems when they come.  And they came.  But more on that later.  I wanted to gather thoughts whilst fresh in my head as usual.  The next few days will be absorbed with the 3 Peaks just like the previous few weeks have been, but it’s good to write these things down whilst they’re fresh on my mind.  Continue reading “3 Peaks cyclocross 2015: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times””

Summer Holidays 2013 – a Spain of two halves

We tried to combine the needs of parents and children this year – mainly to success.

The first half of the holiday, having flown into Bilbao and driven from the Basque country to Asturias, was a week in the Picos de Europa. The Picos has been on my ‘must see’ list for about 20 years and the wonderful blend of real, rugged mountain stuff and pretty, rural streams, gorges, villages etc. seemed right for a holiday. The accommodation – a couple of miles outside of Potes – was really lovely. Spacious  self-catering agri-tourism and a pool too, to help us cool down after a long morning out and about.   We also enjoyed a trip up the Fuente De cable car and a rather longer-than-eastimated nine mile walk down in the building heat. It was ace though.

Lasting impression, apart from the sheer beauty of the place, was that of a nice mix of tourism / services and proper unspoilt tranquillity. You can get the balance right in some places. Heartily recommended.

So, from the ying to the yang. We needed to go to the beach. That’s why Brits go to Spain, after all.

The 7 hours of driving across a whole load of Spain was a real treat. The topographic changes as we coasted from coast to coast were dramatic, exciting, rewarding, and spectacular. Coast to Coast

Even the girls tolerated the driving quite well, really.

The second week was in an apartment in Tossa de Mar, Costa Blanca. Gorgeous pebbly beaches, impressive waves for the med, lots of swimming, nice pools, friendly campsite, cramped apartment, and lots of wine. It was fun.

Oh, and I grew a beard.

Photos here

Video here

Harriers v Cyclists – one of those little classics

Had a truly great day out on Saturday at the Harriers v Cyclists.  It’s a very special event.  Unique, light-hearted, but serious and brutal for the shortness of the course. It also covers a load of different topography in the  It’s my fourth time there on the course that crosses farmland, ancient woodland, heathland and open moor in the 5.3 mile out-and-back course onto Baildon Moor from Shipley Glen. Continue reading “Harriers v Cyclists – one of those little classics”

The 2012 Three Peaks Cyclocross:

Penyghent Lane

I’m tired. It’s probably not the best time to do this, but it’s important to try and gather thoughts fairly soon whilst still fresh in the head.

My 16th attempt at the three peaks Cyclocross yesterday was a tough one. It was the same for everybody who took part. The weather forecast had been bad, and it turned out to be a very accurate forecast on the day. Everybody was mentally prepared for a hard one. Still, no matter how much preparation you make, it doesn’t stop it from being hard. Yesterday was hard. Continue reading “The 2012 Three Peaks Cyclocross:”

Four sleeps

I know I go on a bit about the Three Peaks Cyclocross. It’s nice for me at this time of September to put down a marker as to how I’m feeling.  It’s my event and I am going to enjoy myself on Sunday. There are a million things that could go wrong and doubtless scores of things that will go wrong, but I’m a bit above all that now.

I’ve ridden every race since 1995 and learnt that bit more each year.  There have been some big lows (including an abandonment with a snapped seat post very early in the 1999 race, and a delayed finish because of a broken collarbone last year) – but I’m above all that. I know things can go wrong and when it all comes together it’s great.

There has been oodles of dedicated training, some fun film making when that all got too hard, and the now customary month on the wagon (recommended!). The bikes are the finest I have ever prepared for the race – ‘cousins’ of traditional cyclocross bikes to the connoisseur – pretty dedicated 3 Peaks bikes in almost every respect.

There’s the usual minor wobbles in preparation too – the things that make it that bit more on the edge – it wouldn’t be the same without those.  This year it’s been a cold.  The type of thing that wouldn’t normally bother you too much but hit me bad in a race on Sunday.  That’s made it hard to finesse any training (something I personally think is under-rated.  A lot can be done to form in a final few days). There’s also the weather but that’s affecting everyone. It’s exciting.  There will be some adventures had on those hills.

Looking at how I manage to train these days I know I’m not in for a mega result, but really hope a top 30 is on the cards.

Bikes here for the geeks:

They are:

2012 3 Peaks Cyclocross Bikes1. Planet X Ti Prototype
My “First Bike” and the one I intend to race throughout on. With SRAM Red, BB7, 42-27 rings, 11-26 cassette on Hope Pro 2 Evo with Mavic Reflex Rims, Schwalbe Racing Ralph HT Tubulars. Bar top levers fitted.

2012 3 Peaks Cyclocross Bikes2. On One Dirty Disco
A spare bike I don’t intend to use unless there are any mechanicals or punctures on the other bike.  Equipped with SRAM Red / BB7 46-34 rings with 12-34,  Hope Hubs with Velocity Major Tom Rims, Challenge Grifo tubulars.

Singletrack Weekender – all rounded fun

I officially proved to myself at the weekend that I’m jack of all trades and master of none at the Singletrack Weekender this Saturday and Sunday. One of those ‘special’ events in the annual cycling calendar for the last four years, I’ve only just managed to actually ride it.

Shimano Classic Weekender  128The weekend comprises of a ‘classic’ trials (5 sections, 2 optional) and a downhill on the Saturday, then a cross country race on Sunday based on how many time penalties you’ve earned yourself on the two Saturday events. In my case, six minutes of penalties were too much for me to make any final impact on the short cross country race on Sunday, but we all had a heck of a laugh throughout the weekend and it comes highly recommended for anyone who rides a mountain bike. Big fun.

Some Photos I took here on Flickr: Saturday | Sunday and a video below from Saturday’s trial and downhill

Shimano Singletrack Classic Weekends 2012 (Day 1) from Dave Haygarth on Vimeo.

Love/Hate Relationship: The Mary Towneley Loop

Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er

It’s one of those rides.  One of those ‘have to do it every so often’ rides.  One that you look forward to and dread in equal measure.  The Mary Towneley Loop is a 44 mile extension to the Pennine Bridleway and is a doorstep challenge for me, living 4.5 miles from the route itself.  It’s too long to do in all but the brightest and longest summer evenings but it’s not quite a day long ride.  It’s hard, but at times very rewarding, and you always seem to come out of it much fitter than when you start it.  With c. 6,000 feet of climbing it’s bound to be.   I love doing it, but I really hate it too.

Continue reading “Love/Hate Relationship: The Mary Towneley Loop”

Bread of Heaven

It’s a simple formula that’s bound to win every time. Putting gentlemen together in a mountain area for a couple of days is just about all it takes. Other holidays or excursions have various frills around the edges, but the basic raw ingredients of a good bunch of fellows and a load of stunning upland are what it takes to make the bread of Heaven.

And so it was, last Saturday morning at c. 10am, I met up with Phil, Gareth, Adrian, John, Peter, Simon, Rob, Richard, Stephen, Sam and Jim for a walk in the Aran mounains, a strangely under-visited non-honey pot corner of Snowdonia. What followed for the rest of Saturday and Sunday was fairly predictable in places (the tone of the banter), hugely Broken Specterunpredictable in others (Gareth’s near-fatal near-head near-injury). Sitting down to eat well deserved and well-shaken lunches on top of hills was on the agenda; breathtaking cloud inversions and Broken Specters were possibly less easy to foresee.

… but that is the nature.  If we got together every year for a walking weekend (and we have done for ten years running now) and everything went too much to a formula, it’d be fine.  The unpredictables; those surprise views, the sudden outpouring of hymns in Welsh Male Voice choir stylee, the bizarre, twisted concepts that can arise from meandering conversations – those bits are the spreads to the bread.

A wonderful weekend; fine fellows all, and just a great opportunity to spend special time with great people.  Until next year…

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Luge champs

Three Peaks Cyclocross 2009

Well that was lots of fun and very satisfying. I’ve ridden every three peaks cyclocross now since 1995 and apart from a broken seatpost in 1999 about 3 miles into the race, I’ve completed them all.

But today was the sweetest for me. The last three events have been exceptionally good to me with not many issues on the gruelling 37 mile race, but today in particular was my smoothest ever 3 peaks race. No crashes, no cramps, no mechanicals, and only one puncture that was only three minutes from my support crew at Ribblehead and a welcome bike change. Continue reading “Three Peaks Cyclocross 2009”