So often we hear about an event from the riders perspective, being competitive it’s all too common to hear how the race didn’t go well, I could’ve done better. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing, that competitive edge is what motivates us to get out on the bike when the weather is less than ideal, it fuels our passion for cycling, but rather than a normal post-race review from riders, here is a short blog from the side-lines, through my eyes.
James and I travelled up after the shop closed on Saturday evening, we decided not to drive all the way to Settle in one go, instead we stayed about an hour away in Hebden Bridge. I’d never been there before but will definitely go back, it’s got a reputation for being a cool place, and that reputation is well founded. The shops, pubs and general vibe on the Saturday night were great. It’s on the long list of places to visit, a quick pint definitely didn’t do it justice!
The morning of the 3 Peaks was an early start, up and out by 6.45 so James could eat breakfast and we could get to the start with plenty of time. I can’t say I’m a fan of the hours before any race, there’s always apprehension and nerves from riders, it’s always a bit tense but James and Andy were at the start on time and that was all that mattered! We met Phil, James’ dad and Alice, Andy’s partner at the start and before the gun went, Phil, Dot and I jumped in the van to get to the first control point. The 3 Peaks is a major logistical operation, I had done it the previous year so I knew what to expect, it goes something along the lines of drive as close to a control point as you can, dump the van, walk to the point, wait for riders and repeat 3 times.
This year was no different, check point one, we left for this before the race had started which meant we had a slightly better parking spot than last year. This is the first and only time we will see the leaders because the time gaps are so great they will pass the control points before we get to any more. The first through this year were a couple of the Hope riders, Rob Jebb and Paul Oldham, to give you an idea of how far ahead they were, it was probably around 30 minutes before James and Andy came through, Andy slightly further ahead than James and James stopping for a couple of minutes for a water refill and light snack. No time to hang around so we headed back to the van to head to control point two. Phil was looking forward to this one, it’s at Ribblehead Viaduct which he had only ever seen in photos. The expectation… They always say you should never meet your heroes. This was no different, the disappointment in his face when we crested the hill exposing the viaduct was very evident. Thankfully we had Dot keeping us in check so she was there to take his mind off it by generally misbehaving!
Both James and Andy came through checkpoint 2 relatively unscathed. Andy had punctured at some point over Whernside and had a tumble but Alice was there to swap bikes with him and get him on his way. James rolled in about 10 minutes behind so stopped for some more water, a curd tart and some other snacks he had packed before the start. The next section was rolling on the road so the next time we would see them was after the final peak of Pen-Y-Ghent. We were only there for emergencies, they wouldn’t need water or food, it would just be spare wheels for punctures so they could ride the last couple of miles to the finish.
When we got there we waited patiently, by now we were hungry, dehydrated and a little sun burnt having been out all day with the focus on the riders and neglecting ourselves so we refuelled! I promise this is where is starts to get interesting… After about 25 minutes we hadn’t seen either riders, I checked the live tracking and saw that Andy had crested Pen- Ghent, James wasn’t showing as having done so but I thought he must be close behind. A few minutes later mountain rescue rolled up, you know when they start taking the Defender up the track that some poor soul is having a bad day.
After about 15 minutes James appears, you know what’s coming now, James had been behind Andy, Mountain Rescue was for Andy, he was that poor soul having a bad day. Trying to rationalise the situation in the next few seconds, the fact that James had appeared could only be positive, surely if Andy was really serious he would’ve waited with him. When we caught James’ attention he confirmed Andy was ok he had just had a tumble and hurt his ribs so was struggling a bit with breathing and as a precaution they called Mountain Rescue. That was a relief, Alice had been waiting patiently for Andy so when we found her to let her know he was ok, much to her relief, we all headed to the finish to find James, locate Andy’s bike (which came down before he did) and sat down for a few minutes to pat ourselves on the back. Good team effort.
There was just one part that was missing, where was Andy? Once we found his bike (you couldn’t miss the pink bar tape!) and Alice we were trying to find out how he was, turns out it’s not that easy to get anyone off Pen-Y-Ghent so Mountain Rescue decided to airlift him straight to a local hospital where he had tests and was released a bit battered and bruised a few hours later. A bit disappointed he didn’t finish his 4th 3 Peaks but it’s certainly not a failure, it’s brutal and he didn’t not finish for lack of desire, I’d say it was more of an AOF (Airlifted Over Finish) than a DNF!
Great effort from everyone, the organisers have got it nailed, such a slick operation and a tiring day for all involved. I have to say my bed was a welcome sight at 9.30pm after a long day on the go…
Until next year? I’m not sure it’s on James’ radar (and I’m not going to suggest it either!)
Ceri (and Dot) x
A few photo's
The calm before the 3 Peaks storm!
I need some sugar, now...
Not a great place for a lie down Andy...
Post race recovery, we are athletes don't you know!
We have lift off.