17 July 2009

No juniors (yet!) for 2009 race

UPDATE !! COMMENT FROM JOHN 18 07 2009 - TWO JUNIORS NOW ENTERED - the future is safe!



From my own sketchy memory - this is the first year that the event will have no juniors ever - if the current 'latest' list of accepted riders is anything to go by. This is obviously a major shame for a race that seems to boast such enthusiasm.

Fell races seem to be going the same way of late - with the increase in enthusiasm in the more senior end of the population not being matched by enthusiasm in the younger riders.

It's obviously a great shame - maybe the race is shrouded a bit too much in this legend of harshness, danger and difficulty - it puts off today's couch potatoes. Maybe we should bring out a Nintendo Wii version of the Three Peaks Cyclocross that youngsters could safely take part in without going too far outside of their comfort zone.

Let's hope later versions of the entry sheet show a couple of 'ard kids.

15 July 2009

2005 Whernside Photos from Richard Seipp

Mark LeylandRich from qwertyphoto has just told me he's uploaded this batch of photos from the descent of Whernside from his point-and-shoot camera. Still a nice collection capturing the good, the bad and the very tired looking.

I've just discovered these on an old HDD today. Taken with a point and shoot, so not that great quality. Looking forward to this years race


Click here to view them

14 July 2009

James Eddison - Skipton / Swiss rider's account from 2008

James Eddison came from Switzerland to ride the Three Peaks in 2008 and has only just recovered enough to send us this tale of his experiences.... thanks James.

2008. I finally had a start place. I had been wanting to enter for many years through growing up in the Dales and watching friends compete. One particular pal was always my cycling companion, who always beat me in whatever we did together. I had this burning ambition to beat him in the Peaks. In 2006 I moved to the Zuri Oberland in Switzerland and finally started taking my cycling a bit more seriously. I met a couple of lads at work who were and still are significantly better than I am on a bike and I used this as a springboard to up my fitness. From riding general 25 mile loops around Skipton I moved on to doing 120km road rides with some serious climbing. In addition our local hill out the back door is a 4km 600m climb. Perfect. Peaks training was shouldering the bike up this little gem, with the odd trip out down the local Mtb DH course, on the cross bike - much to the disbelief of the local DH lads! Come race day, sadly my pal had pulled out due to injury but was there for moral support, which spurred me on no end.

The start was an odd occasion. I have competed in a few road races with neutralised starts, which are in general pretty neat and calm - but the Peaks start was crazy and frightening, especially when starting back in the 'midfield'. I counted myself lucky to stay upright as there appeared to be many riders not used to such a start swerving from left to right. The first part of Ingleborough - I had been warned, but nothing prepared me for that gradient! Ouch. The descent of Ingleborough - great, passed many. Stupidly didn't take on a fresh bottle at the bottom - I was running out of energy on the way to Whernside - lesson learned!

Managed to ride all the way down Whernside, how rocky is that?! - Please my personally hand built wheels held together (they were even perfectly true at the end of the race!). Got a decent tow in a pack on the way to Penygent.. was feeling OK until I hit the gravel track - blimey, does that stuff sap the energy out of you on the way up! I took far too long on the way up and got passed by many, however on the descent I took pride in the extreme practice I had made on the DH course and passed scores.

As soon as I got onto the road for the short blast back, I had this overwhelming sense of joy/happiness at the realisation that I had completed the Peaks after many years of wanting. Seeing my pal on the run in back to the finish gave me an extra boost of motivation. I crossed the line at 3 hrs 58, beating my pals best time from through the years by a good 8 minutes. Job done! He was the first to congratulate me, a true friend and competitor.

I have competed in many bike races in Switzerland since moving here, and whilst they are all good, nothing quite compares to the unique nature of the Peaks. This year I have set my sights on doing it again, and hopefully beating my time. Preparation has been different and tough. The group of us here set ourselves the challenge of the Trans Alp Road Race, 880km and over 18,000m of climbing over 7 days. We started training in January (in Switzerland with over a meter of snow on the sides of the road!), a week at Easter in Majorca for some warmer weather, many weekend long road rides around here and the mountain passes followed finally last week the race. We managed P60 out of 550 starters. I have never been through so much pain, mentally and physically on a bike ever, I can't say it was pleasurable, but it was satisfying.
So now to the Peaks... I should start running again - which I hate, and I can't even go close to my road bike after last weeks hell. We have a nice 5 day Mtb Trans Alp social trip planned for the first week in August - so hopefully that will keep things ticking over. I really don't want to waste my new found fitness. Motivation for Transalp training was difficult, but somehow Peaks training is more fun and the end goal more pleasurable. I see it more of a challenge than trans alp in a strange way, maybe it's because in reality the Peaks is the highlight of my cycling year. I try explaining the appeal to my cycling pals from here and they don't quite get it. Hopefully this year they will travel over with me, see how stunning the Dales are and that the UK is far more than the big cities and that this quirky race in God Own is one of the finest races in the world.

02 July 2009

Entry form concerns: Reactions, Context, The bigger picture

I've had a good chat with a good number of people over the last 24 hours about the entry form and whole entries issue with the Three Peaks Cyclocross. It's such a complicated and sometimes subtle 'system' that it needs a bit more explanation.

The first thing to understand is that there is no formal 'system' for filling / selecting riders for the race. Remember that the race never filled up in advance until 4 or 5 years ago. For that reason it's never been an issue until the last couple of years. Even two events ago (if we discount the 2007 foot & mouth year) the 2006 event was full in record time of 29 days !

John Rawnsley is one of those salt-of-the-earth good people with a strong sense of morality. He fundamentally does not like to let people down. Bearing this in mind, after what is rumoured to have been 1400 hits on the entry form in a little under 11 hours, John was in no quandary about taking the form down from the site.

Leaving it on there would have also given john the nightmare of opening perhaps 2500 envelopes and sifting through as many entries to try and make a decent field. That in itself is several days' work on top of what is virtually a full time job for John.

However, it's important to remember that the entries are not closed until the final list of accepted riders is published on the site. It doesn't take much to work out that there is a complex and ultimately manual task for John in balancing the right field for the event. This means balancing the race demographics
  • old / young / (and juniors!!)
  • newcomers / seasoned riders
  • male / female
  • people who will genuinely turn up, be fit, and finish !
My blog post yesterday was packed to the brim with my usual flippancy - and over-simplifying things here doesn't help. Yes - it is a race - and yes - there is a selection process taking place alongside a first-come, first-served system. But there is no 'system' and there can't really ever be. As soon as there are rules about who rides, you'll need to bend them. First-come, first-served is fair to an extent, but imagine the race without Rob Jebb or Nick Craig in it. It's equally unsustainable.

So, once again, hats off to the likes of John and Keith Parkinson (the official website's webmaster - who voluntarily published his phone number on the site when he took the form down and lost another day and evening of his life to this race as a result ) - doing this nightmare of a 'job' for the love of the event and the sport.

I hope you get in - and if you do I bloody well hope you turn up and give it your very best shot !!!

01 July 2009

Entries online, entries offline.

Well that was fun wasn't it?! Entry form removed due to excessive demand... so it IS a first come, first served event - I'd always been saying it was a RACE and that John and team had to look at the entries and decide who's going to turn up AND make a race of it.

I think it's fair enough to give some credence to those who enter promptly but surely we've got to allow some room to pick and choose who rides?

Oh, and I know of at least one seven times winner who hasn't got to the form in time - and yes - I agree wholeheartedly that John should consider a late entry from him.