Welcome to an introduction to the best race in the world. Ok, I’m probably quite biased here as I’ve not thought about anything else for a long while.
Shortly after having my first go on the muddy stuff at a windswept Cyclopark in Kent, a film came out entitled ‘For the Love of Mud’. Sat in the Barbican cinema that night I was immersed with the arty yet brutal black and white scenes of men and women straining up the seemingly impossible vertical fells of the achingly beautiful Yorkshire Dales with bikes on their shoulders. I wanted in. But possibly not quite at that point. Work to be done.
After beginner tips? Check out:
3 Peaks Cyclocross Challenge: The History
Run since 1961 (1979 with a women’s field) the 3 Peaks Cyclocross Challenge takes place annually on the last Sunday of September. The first rider to complete the feat is said to have been 14 year old schoolboy Kevin Watson from Skipton, who set off against the odds and completed the journey now set as the annual race, unchanged. The route covers 61km, 54km of which is rideable, with a total elevation of 1524m. The cairn summits of Ingleborough (723m), Whernside (726m), and Penyghent (694m) are climbed by the riders, where the most hardy of race marshals stand often in the cold and wet.
The first women’s winner of the 3 Peaks was Brenda Atkinson, who completed the gruelling course in 4 hours and 35 minutes. This year’s winner was Delia Beddis, who, having won the race now for a second time trains and races in London. There have been so many interesting stories of the women who have raced the 3 Peaks over the years, and race director Mark Richmond was keen to emphasise that since taking on the role 4 years ago, the 3 Peaks awards equal prize money across all age categories- something that nearby Otley resident Lizzie Deignan [nee Armitstead] has lobbied hard for within the sport, saying: “I hope that other races can progress to offer equality as we have done”.
3 Peaks Cyclocross Challenge this year…
On the last Sunday in September 2016 I was on the start line in the small village of Helwith Bridge. This is a no nonsense sort of race, and sign on is done in a tent in the pub garden next to the hostel where many of the racers stay the night before where hot water is not exactly guaranteed. The start comes quickly, and in a fast and furious few minutes winding over the bridge and round the tight bend, the neutralised start takes to the open road before turning off onto the first off road section some 6km later. It’s a race like no other.
Here’s a very small window into my 3 Peaks journey…