It's September in just a few hours, and that just basically means one thing...
It's the time of year for me that brings an intriguing combination of anticipation and pressure. The cancellation of last year's three peaks cyclocross has inevitably heightened the anticipation and excitement of it all. In many ways it's still a case of unfinished business - for many people - and I've no doubt that (foot and mouth permitting) this year's race will feel that tiny bit more special.
I've had a slightly odd year for training but I'm determined to make these last three weeks (well - forget the last week - it's pretty much done and dusted by then) the best session of training I've ever had. It's an utter pain in the arse for my 'other' cyclocross side that the National Trophy starts a week earlier than the three peaks this year and there is no way I'd be riding in Abergavenny on the 21st September unless I was part of a truly amazing sponsorship set up. The National Trophy is important to many of us - but the Three Peaks is the "World Three Peaks Championship" and riding a fast one-hour race a week before isn't exactly the perfect training. Yes - it's a form of tapering, but it's a distraction - a day spent in the car and a load of hassle that should otherwise be pleasurable. I know for a fact that there are four people going to Abervagenny wearing Wheelbase kit who would rather be elsewhere.
Talking of team mates, it's time to lay a few challenges down - not that I find that kind of macho stuff very appealing. I live a couple of miles from Lewis Craven - twice a podium finisher in the 'peaks - and my sole training partner for this year's race. Lewis is a very experienced and sensible rider and I don't feel too guilty slowing him down twice a week for our 6:30am trips up Winter Hill. I know it's been a hard year for Lewis in some ways in that he's made that simple step to fatherhood - and is no doubt struggling with the fact that he needs to be about at home when he might not want to - but I can honestly say that he's as strong as I've ever known him.
As for my other team mates... well... Rob Jebb seems to be in the same place poised for 'Peaks glory as he was a year ago. He was 16 seconds outside of the legendary record for the Grasmere sports guides race and I could honestly say that having not even spoken to Rob for at least four months, he'll win this year's Three Peaks. Stuart Reid is a darker horse. Whilst last year's race cancellation caused so much distress, a badly injured Stuart Reid missed out on almost certain disappointment. I'm happy to say that this recent fire-fighter's road race world champion has found his form again and I would be unhappy if Stuart was outside of the top 6 this year - unless he needs my chain splitter agin ... :-)
... so - what about me... ?
Well... I'm trying hard. I'm trying bloody hard and I'll continue to try as hard as I can for the next three weeks. I've stopped drinking alcohol of any sort now until after the race, I'm doing a ridiculous amount of running-with-the-bike, and I'm starting to feel fit. I must admit that in racing - and this amounts to local fell races and short (20 mile) road crits, I'm not at the top of my form by any means, but this is 31 August, and tomorrow is September. Tomorrow, we start to get it finished.