Still fresh in his mind, our man Scot Easter takes us through his experiences of this years race.
Ahhhh the 3 Peaks, that race. The one that’s gotten under my skin more than any other. The Hardest Cross race in the World. A mix of being both brutal and beautiful at the same time.
2018 was going to be my 10th, I’d had few performances over the last few years I wasn’t particularly happy with, life, illness and crashes all getting in the way so I wanted #10 to go smoothly.
The routine every year is the same, turn up nice early, loads of time to spare, sign on, proceed to faff and chat to people and suddenly there is 20 mins to go and you are flapping like a duck to get to the start on time. Lining up there are the usual conversations: “you going well?”, “dunno mate, we’ll soon see, you?”, “I’ll tell you on Simon Fell!” *nervous laugh*
The first road section can be a bit bonkers so the plan was to get upfront and stay out of trouble. It worked, we hit the turn at Gill Garth and I’m one of the first riders off road.
Now for me, this is the worst part of the course; I’m no fan of this section and actually look forward to getting off and starting the hike up Simon Fell. I love this bit, its steep, not just steep but STEEP. Pulling-yourself-up-with-your-hands-kinda-steep. It’s also my first chance to have a look around and take stock, look right and you see Whernside, look left and you can see Pen-Y-Ghent. Morale is high and there are a few friendly faces about, Scott Chalmers, team mate and friend is just on my heal. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot…. Cresting Simon fell and its back on the bikes heading for the Summit. Scotty is still by my side as we dib at the top (Cheers as always to the volunteers and Mountain rescue teams). The decent was pretty uneventful for me, steady away, no risks taken, not the fastest but not the slowest. Managed not to go arse-over-tit in the bog at the bottom this year, dib again, grab a fresh bottle from Adi and onto the road section.
A friendly tail wind and a couple of riders willing to share the work soon has us at the bottom of Peak 2. Again, back to left foot, right foot for the slog up Whernside’s flank, look right and there is the Viaduct, love rolling through there, but first more slog. Rolling over the top there are more friendly faces (Hi Joolze) and volunteers cheering you on. Quick dib and its onto the descent, probably the most enjoyable one, also the most risky, plenty of rocks, slabs and gaps to catch you out. The main goal was to get down without drama. Its all about line choices down here, I make some bad ones, some good ones. Finally hitting the main bridal way at Blea Moor its time to open the legs up a bit and blast down to Ribblehead. Love it, epic backdrop, big crowds and lots of cheering, grab another bottle, dibbled and onto the road.
Again I managed to get into a good little group rolling along the road, took the time to fuel up, about an hour’s effort left. I always take a quick look over to where we are heading, the top of Pen-Y-Ghent but don’t dwell on it, staring at it won’t make it smaller. Left turn and up we go, the group starts to split but I’m happy enough to ride my pace. I’ve blow up enough times on PYG lane so try not to get carried away. Turning right up the footpath and the leaders are just coming down, looks like there is a battle on for the podium spots. I spot Stu Reid who’s out supporting the Wheelbase riders and he sticks a bottle of Coke out, much appreciated, cheers. Pedal pedal, keep going up, the legs must be ok because I ride further than previous years before hitting the final steps to the summit. Final dib with the Mountain Rescue team and down we go. I’d already worked out it would take about 20 mins to get to the finish and I had 20 mins to get under the magic 3hrs 30 mins…. It was going to be tight, but it meant getting down in one piece. Looking back I probably rode too cautious, but I hit the road with 5mins to spare and sprinted out of Horton. Head down and going as hard as I could, nose on the stem and legs screaming the bridge came into sigh and I crossed the line in 3hrs 30min and 38 seconds. Close…close enough, not my fastest time but I’m happy with that after a few bad results.
Into the field behind the start and the debriefing has already started, war stories being swapped, what went right, what went wrong. I spot Nick Craig and give him a big hug, he’d just had a huge battle at the front of the race on his stunning #rideforcharlie bike, please head over to https://www.rideforcharlie.com/ for more.
Thanks as always to the organisers and volunteers who make the race happen year after year. Also huge thanks Adi who supports me every year, being in the right place at the right time with bottles, gels and spares.
Great work One T… same time, same place next year! Magspeed Racing will be back at this beautiful race, hopefully with a few more ‘Team Orange’ riders on the start sheet…