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””

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.

Once more unto the bogs

A quick moment to gather my thoughts before the big off in the 3 peaks cyclocross on Sunday.  It’s an annual pattern of familiar routine always peppered with new things each year to distract me.  The basic sectors of the 3 peaks preparation are complex in themselves – training & fitness, equipment, food & nutrition, planning for support crew, co-ordination of family around the weekend (it’s not just about me, apparently)… etc etc.  Hectic times, but ones to be relished.  Continue reading “Once more unto the bogs”

In Readiness

My previous post on the Three Peaks Cyclocross blog seemed to make out that it was not about the bike or the gear, but more about the training and fitness. I stand by this in general, but there’s a middle-ground – it’s about all-round readiness.

I’ve been training ‘late’ this year – deliberately (so as not to go insane) and it’s all coming together now really – I got myself a decent base fitness that (only really this week) has turned into what I’d call ‘training’. By training I mean doing things unenjoyable and seemingly unrewarding that hurt and in which time stands still. Hill reps, sprint reps… it’s not really enjoying the outdoors (or indoors, on the flipping turbo flipping trainer), but it serves a purpose I suppose.

With this ‘switch’ to training I’m reminded of two things:

1. There’s no training like racing
If you’re in need of pushing yourself really hard, then you can never do that as well as in a race. Whilst I’ve managed to keep myself going with a few crits on the roads this summer, I haven’t raced since the first week of August. That’s nagging at me. This weekend at the Grizedale Mountain bike Challenge I’ll get that racing feeling again for about 3 hours. Whilst it’s technically not a ‘race’ – but simply riding your bike against hundreds of other people as fast as you can over the same course (!) – it’ll still give me that welcome indicator of what it feels like to really push hard one and two hours into something. You just can’t do that in training (or at least I can’t).

2. The fun is in the result, not the process.
I’m not alone in not enjoying hill reps – if you enjoy them, you’re a mentalist – face it. However, a quote that Chris Boardman rolled out a few times during his successful cycling days always comes to mind… something about getting satisfaction from something but not enjoying it. The satisfaction comes from knowing I’m training my weaknesses. There’s little else to train – if you train your strengths, you’re not really getting better.

Back to my initial thoughts… about the balance between ‘gear’ and training. It’s all got to come under the same roof or ‘readiness’ or ‘preparation’. Two lovely new Cannondale cyclocross frames came into my possession last week thanks to the best bike shop in the world and I take almost as much satisfaction from seeing those built up and sitting in the garage ready for action as I do riding them. The special care that goes into getting the bike(s) ready for the 3 peaks is part of the process. Training, building, tweaking, peaking. It’s the readiness thing.

Fridays in Helmshore – our own little Helwith Bridge

We’ve had a bit of a gathering in Helmshore, Lancs (where I live) the last couple of Friday lunchtimes. It’s amazing how many people who ride the three peaks are within a few miles of here and it made sense to get a few of them together to share the pain of my fairly regular ‘simulation sessions’.

I’ve got a ‘course’ of about 1.3 miles that is a fairly good simulator of Ingleborough – the un-runnable grassy climb, peaty unridable jog, fast-ish but tricky grassy descent – it’s not bad and certainly helps technique.

So Mark Solomon (first timer this year), Matthew Pixton and Carl Nelson (multiple finishers!), Alan Dorrington (Cyclocross Connoisseur and former top ten in the ‘Peaks) and Jason Miles (long distance looney – clue’s in the surname, and finished first ‘peaks last year) and I have all met up over the last couple of Fridays and hammered ourselves up and over Bull Hill a few times.

It’s bringing a new dimension to it to me – subtly making the social aspect of this special race spread itself that little bit further.

-Next Friday’s the final one – details here on UKCyclocross if anyone else local fancies it…

Links to some of these Titans of Cyclocrossery:
Jason Miles
Alan Dorrington

Steve Riley: “the bemused looking bloke, trying to work the shifters”

First timer Steve Riley is under no illusions about the venture he’s setting out on later this September… even though he’s given himself the luxury of things like gears.

So I was thinking why on earth would anyone want to read about an ordinary bloke trying an extraordinary event? Of course, the answer’s in the question. I’m an ordinary bloke, one that makes too much noise on the internet, and the Three Peaks is clearly an extraordinary event. So clearly bonkers, that no race in the country is quite like it. Heck, the world maybe, I don’t know….

Read more on Steve’s blog – furiouscycling.