What a day for my first 3 peaks not a cloud in the sky warm air and a mighty view on the inspiring peaks.
Decisions were made to ride without a mini rucksack, my survival back strapped under the saddle and 1 bottle on the seat tube was my choice, would make the bike heavier to carry but preferred over sweaty rucksack.
Arrived at the start line mid field the buzz of anticipation growing by the minute. Generally having experienced most forms of bike racing this one was the big unknown had my multiple turbo sessions and blasts around Epping forest been enough ? There looked to be a mixed bag of riders some hairy legs some laughing and joking and some gaunt skeletal potential race winners.
The whistle went for the start this I read was a neutralized section before the first off road and first climb to Ingleborough. However big ring was in and flat out like the start of a criterium... I was fighting for position whilst deep into oxygen debt. Off onto the first trail past a a dry stone wall and there looking like a massive black raincloud was the huge mountain of Ingleborough. Already there was a line of riders ahead. I could make out the super human Robb Jebb already a good distance in front. The bike was up onto my shoulder for the first time. I big thanks to Harry for lending me his Cross frame which I only built up 2 days before the start as I bent mine in a crash at the Ashwell cross the week before. I made the summit of Ingelborough in 1 hour a scramble of an effort but feeling exhilarated and happy with my position in the field I headed down and onto the next climb of Whernside.
The road section offered some great relief... but once on the climb of Whernside it was back to slipping and sliding a Sidi bike shoe never designed for Yorkshire rock. I arrived atop Whernside in good time 2 hrs 18 in.
The wind up there was so strong I was blown off twice one against a fence were I was pinned like a piece of lambs wool unable to move. The ridiculousness of the situation made me laugh out loud, this really is a bonkers event. Once out of the wind tunnel I started the decent of the mountain...when people say technical you picture a few rocks possible the odd bog not on this race there are granite steps.. often wet.. massive drop offs, concealed rocky outcrops, ramblers, wind, loose gravel drainage gullies.... its super exhilarating...
Half way down disaster strikes my chain jams ( a broken link) sending the derailleur flying into the read wheel and shearing it from the rear drop out... My race is over. I have forgotten my tools... school boy error I know.
I manage to tie the mangled mech onto the back of my saddle and put the chain in my back pocket and start to free wheel and push down in the hope of finding someone to give me a lift back to the start.
Around 20 minutes later I spot what looks like someones black wallet having been thrown from a poor rider. I stop to investigate... its a multi tool set. Could this be a life line, the race back on ?
I try and bend the rear drop out back straight (don’t worry Harry its replaceable...a new one is on its way) but the thread is gone and also cracked.
My heart drops the race is now definitely over. Then I have a thought could I ride the remaining course on one gear ? I remove the cables and rear mech and shorten the chain to fit the middle sprocket and middle front ring.
Im off again it looks to have worked... the race is on.
I reach the next road section... bang, the chain snaps the constant vibration without a derailleur to take the slack is causing it to ride up the cassette and the tension is snapping the chin. I have more chain left in my pocket. I replace the bent links and am off again. I arrive at the foot of the final climb Pen-y-Gent having ridden the road section in a very low gear... Up the track I go... bang the chain snaps again, same problem. I am now verging on the obsessive... I will finish the 51st 3 Peaks if its the last thing I do. Once again
I replace the bent links and start of gingerly. I run the majority of this final climb only to aware I have no options left. I make the summit by now 5 hours in. I turn and head down like a man possessed no really need for speed at this point but want to give this everything I have. I arrive at the final road section at the bottom.... bang the chain snaps again.... can this
really be happening.. ?
I have only 2 links left. I manage to get the chain onto the smallest sprocket and little ring... it fits, I'm going to make it. I limp along the road, pushing up the smallest of climbs I can now see the finish... people are cheering... Im emotional.. Im through the finish, 501st place 5hrs 29 and can finally
stop what was one of the most exciting and challenging days Ive had on the bike.
Thanks to the poor soul who dropped his multi tool ... thanks to the 3 Peaks organisers who put on an amazing event and thank god we have races like this. If you have not ever considered it before and can get in you should at some point in your life give the 3 peaks a go... it life affirming.