3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross 2014

Yorkshire 3 Peaks Cyclocross

How did that happen?
Funny how it is difficult to see how you won an event, yet you can reel off the reasons with meticulous detail as to why you didn’t win.

Breakfast content
Breakfast content

Sunday 28th September was a day I will always remember well, winning the 3 Peaks Cyclocross Race. It was a big deal for me and marked the end of a particularly difficult time over the previous 2 years, one might say a fairytale ending.

I wanted to win and I knew it was possible. There was plenty of self-doubt leading up to the event, and I had this awful fear of “poor pain tolerance”, a fear that I wouldn’t be able to endure as much as the next woman.
This race is stressful, very stressful, from start to finish, each stretch or section demands your concentration, always something to deal with, it doesn’t stop until you roll down into Helwith Bridge. Even now when I think about it, my pulse races and my stomach drops with nerves.

A fast twitch phenotype, a mountain biker who cannot run, and someone who grew up with motorbikes not push bikes, not ideal ingredients for this event, but it works me.
It’s about the adventure, the lack of clinical control that modern bike races have. It’s a unique event that when growing up I had heard a little about, but never really knew what it was. My first year was the biblical 2012 – I was so scared descending Whernside as the effects of exposure were taking its hold on my shivering body and gurning mouth, after a good head-first dunking into a rocky, black pool of freezing water. It was quite apparent how dangerous this was, and how that bivvy bag may come in handy if not essential. This was “all terrain”.

3 Peaks Whernside ascent.
Whernside ascent.

2014’s weather was tame, nothing really, just was. At 15-16 degrees celsius, overcast, no wind, fast conditions, I wasn’t sure if I was actually capable of going near the 4 hour mark but hoping to get near it. I figured these conditions were as good as it gets. My Garmin said 3h 59m 09s! Actual time was 4h 07 19s. A slow puncture that I pumped up 3 times didn’t help, I was steady on the descents, I didn’t think I was that slow but I did take care. I figured that although you can lose a race on poor descending, you can’t win a hilly race on fast descending. So I just aimed to preserve my lead and relaxed, minimising risk. Needless to say the climbs were hard, and I really was hanging by the last climb up Pen-y-Gent but I didn’t seem to suffer as much as previous years. I had no idea where my other female competitors were during the race, I just focussed on dealing with my own issues.

Back-up support was plentiful, with Brothertons and friends lending me copious amount of kit, and race helpers running/cycling/VW T5 rallying, to provide for my every need. It’s great to feel supported, but I still managed it all on the one bike, and I hope to do so in the future.

Beautiful Day training in the Yorkshire Dales.
Beautiful Day training in the Yorkshire Dales.

Naturally, I trained hard for this race; training was within the context of an ordinary life. And like most ordinary lives there was a lot of crap to deal with. The training was certainly tough, probably tougher than the race itself, and like most goals and objectives, the journey that I engaged with to get me to start of this race was more challenging than finishing it.

My favourite bit is always the Pen-y-Gent descent but this year it was also seeing my name next to the 11 time winner Rob Jebb’s.

Rob Jebb. Giving me tips
Rob Jebb. Giving me tips

Thanks to Paul at Brotherton Cycles for his ridiculous amount of support.
To Jon and Jo for their improvised bitching skills.
To Mel for being Mel.
To Garry at Sportstest for some bloody awful training sessions.
And to Dan for sharing the pain, nerves and banter and the socks.