Monday, September 26, 2011

I finished the 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross 2011

This year at the 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross was going to be my fastest, and by a long way. I've done the race three times before, and always been the wrong side of 4 hours 30 minutes.This time my plan was to be pretty close to, if not under 4 hours.

Pic- Ed Rollason.

I'd trained really hard, lots of fell running and lots of miles on my bike. My trusty bike had just one fixed gear, so in theory little could go wrong.

Off we go from Helwith Bridge. Steady away for me, it's hammering down with rain, and people are all over the place. Once we turned off the road at Gill Garth I started reeling people back in. That is until I passed the farm. My rear tubeless tyre decides after a week of being ridden hard over pointy stuff that now is the time to unseat itself from the rim. It is pissing it down with rain, and getting the valve out of the rim is a nightmare. Long before I finally get the tyre re-inflated, I am in last place. Last place in the three peaks at Gill Garth farm is cool if you are 70 something years of age, not when you are 45 and fit.

I dig in and before Simon Fell proper I've already got a few places back. By Ingleborough I'm  120 places up, but ~20 minutes behind my 4 hour timetable. The going down off Ingleborough is gloopy, I never touched the brakes until the very last bit to Cold Cotes. Frustratingly twice my chain falls off. The chain tension is OK, how does that happen? At Cold Cotes (another 20 places up) I stop and tighten the chain, and swear a lot (sorry kids), and loads of people who I've passed now pass me.

Away on to Whernside and I'm motoring I pass everyone who's passed me (twice) and by the top I've made another 15 places. No need for elaboration but before the viaduct at Ribblehead I first pass loads of people, puncture once, get passed by loads of people, pass loads of people, puncture again etc.

At Ribblehead (now 30 places down) my wife is puzzled why I want more tubes and Co2 cylinders (which she has left in the car). Ace. I bark " Run to the car, get to Horton before me."

I ride the road slowly chatting to someone I've not seen for years. No point getting to Pen Y Ghent lane without any extra tubes. Ann eventually catches me up with replacement tubes etc. Time to push on again.

I leave Mairi and though 4 hours is already nearly up, my other goal to beat the fixed gear record of just short of five hours is still a goer. I ride and run up Pen Y Ghent lane by the top (40 places up). All is needed now is to get back down in one piece.

I descend fast, and then the chain falls off. I wait until the bike comes to a natural stop, and then put it back on again. Shortly after the chain falls off again, but this time it gets caught between the frame and the cog, resulting in a locked rear wheel. No problem I think. I stop and unwind the chain from the wheel only to find that more than half of the chain is no longer there. Oh well, game over. Consoled though that I'm not broken like some others.

Scooting and rolling gets me back to the road.

My pal Chipps Chippendale and someone who I don't know assisted me back to the finish via Madison style slingshots and other towing techniques. Thanks.

So my slowest ever 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross at 5:07 , but definitely the most eventful.

Lessons learned for next year.

3 Peaks Cyclo Cross 2011 Aftermath

Monday, September 5, 2011

Peris Horsehoe 2011

I've been running and cycling  lots recently. Recovering from races and training quickly. I thought that slotting in the Peris Horseshoe with its 17.5 miles and 8500ft of ups and downs into my calendar would be good as a last long hard  day befor the 3 peaks at the end of the month.

Saturday I wake with a good hour to fettle myself before I leave. No rushing, I eat plenty, but not too much, I feel a bit off. Not properly ill, but just a bit bleurgh.

As I drive on I graze, and my bleurgh feeling neither transitions to the vomit stage nor does it improve. Llanberis and I decide as it's not going to get worse, it'll probably get better. I register for the race.

The weather forecast for the race was pretty grim. Rain and winds gusting up to 50mph on the tops. In the valley the forecast seemed correct. Rain and lots of it. I dressed accordingly, a thermal long sleeved top with a spare plus the usual full body cover hat and gloves. It was quite warm though in the valley, and I was wondering if the thermal was going to be overkill, there were plenty of other runners in vests.

The first climb heads up through the quarries, then on grass to the summit of Elidir Fawr 2600' in 3 miles, and the most of it runnable. I was enjoying the climb, and reeled in a few over the long climb. Though I definitely wasn't feeling as strong as I should have been.  As we pulled out of the quarries the rain and wind became a lot more noticeable, not in a making progress awkward way, but in a chilly way. I was cold. I stopped put on my extra top, and hat and pushed on.

I kept running, and  I was still cold. Granted the sun wasn't shining, but other people were wearing much less, and I didn't see their teeth chattering. I'd been eating my trusty jelly babies since the off, so fuel shouldn't have been a problem, but by the time I got to the Glyder Fawr climb (under 2 hours out) I was fading fast. Moving just fast enough to not be too cold, but not running too fast and chancing the risk of blowing completely. A long time since I've felt like that.

Coming off Glyder Fawr I avoided my speculative short cut down to Pen Y Pass, and instead took the circuitous path down. No time to try to be clever. The occasional glimpse of the Youth Hostel below spurred me on. Which was as well, as I really was on empty. The option here was to jack, or continue the other half of the horseshoe.

A relatively pleasant 1/2 an hour at the PyP bus shelter spent shivering uncontrollably, before a bus ride back down to Llanberis. Thankyou to the lady who paid my £1 bus fare.

I get warm dry clothes on have some pea and ham soup and feel back in the game. So back in the car, and homeward bound. 1/2 an hour up the road now warmed by the car's heater, I feel the signs of sleepiness. I pull into the services set my alarm for an hours time and sleep. An early night, and even the day after I slept loads.

On Saturday I was disappointed how things had turned out. I've completed this race before when much less fit than now, so I know that it was easily doable. My bleurgh feeling was most likely due to my body saying "Hey I'm tired, lets have a day off" rather than some proper illness.
Though my kit exceeded the minimum FRA race requirements, on the day I was under equipped.
I was pleased how I did my thing once it was clear that a "situation" was a distinct possibility. Making stupid decisions when cold and wet is easy.
I should have taken something a little warmer, and some money for the bus just in case.

Richard Seipp 1 - Peris Horseshoe 1

Rematch next year methinks.