03 February 2006

Then and Now... a 13 year gap in Three Peaks rides

Alan Dorrington entered the Peaks on a whim in 1991 and found some immediate success. His story specially written for 3pcx.blogspot.com tells of how things changed since he took a rather long break from the race.

Having done some cross races in the North West the 1990/91 season and some mountain biking I was basically new to cycling. Coming from a background of rock climbing and walking it seemed like a good idea to ride around hills that I had always walked in just for something different to do. A guy from my club had done the peaks for a number of years and gave me some advice about training for it. I entered and came 14th (best 1st timer) without finding it that hard (the arrogance of youth!) and having had a puncture on Whernside (going up! - got some stick from those around me for that one). My only real memory was of Fred Salmon running down the steps from Whernside as I came up, looking likea man possesed and breathing like he was about to explode. I think he brokethe course record that year before it was changed to the dreaded slabs.

After a good cross season and duly captivated i came back next year with the intention of getting a really high placing. Went charging over Ingleborough in the mist in 4th - not far behind Fred Salmon - and held it together over Whernside before fading a little on Penyghent to finish 10th. The following year was a DNF due to illness.

Then I stopped cycling altogether - discovered clubbing, met my wife, had children, put on weight, had a serious car crash etc. Still did some running in the fells but not much serious training. A holiday at a friend's house in the Pyrenees in July 04 rekindled my love of bikes as he had a mountainbike.

I started riding again and entered the Peaks in 2004. After 3 months haphazard training I thought I would be fit but looking back it was probably not the best preparation! Anyhow, it was all academic as going through Borrins Farm before the climb up Simon Fell, I crashed and buckled my front wheel. A 7 mile run up over Ingleborough and down to Cold Cotes to find my support team with wheels had gone thinking they missed me. End of race and end of toenail as I bruised my big toes so badly running all that way in tight cycling shoes that I had to have one of them removed the next day! (the toenail - not the toe). Now it was personal.

I got 2 bikes together over the next year, trained properly (I thought), though no real racing of any sort and began thinking of the Peaks day in day out. Aimed to get under 4 hours, but the actual reality was different. Crawling in in just under 5 hours I had spent theprevious 3 1/2 hours with agonising cramp on every rise, on and off road. Walking uphill at times was so difficult that I had to stop altogether. The worst moment was falling over with rigid legs in front of a large group ofspectators on the Penyghent track, moaning with pain. Not what I had planned, but the Peaks hadn't beaten me and I will come back next year wiser. Lessons learnt - do some running in the months before and do some rides over2 hours! Not rocket science really .....

So to this year - I have raced cross this winter and am getting much fitter. Will race summer cross also later this year, and will go running as well as do some long rides! I was surprised at how long it has taken me to get fit andback to some kind of form. I guess age (37), Four kids, three businesses, a full time job and the all the rest may have something to do with it. Despite the pain that the Peaks has caused me I will keep on coming back for more - the physical challenge, the quality of off road atheletes there, and the atmosphere just get inside you and take hold.



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