I hate this period, with about a week to go, when you are just sitting around waiting for it to happen.
I'm not robust enough to undertake and recover fully from any further hard training, though I might race cross this Sunday just for the intensity, though for me I risk being a little tired still by the Wednesday before Peaks Sunday.
It's just a matter of sorting equipment, clothing, nutrition for the day, as well as looking after body and soul as best as one can. Germ avoidance is the biggy - I enter a state of horrible paranoia around now, jumping when anybody sneezes around me and praying my kids don't commune with the walking pathogens in their respective schools. That my wife is a Teaching Assistant in a third school doesn't help either.
Whilst I am almost always a positive sort of soul, the Peaks eats away at your psyche and all sorts of doubts can invade your head, most irrational, some real enough and none of them helpful. It can be an effort dealing with them all. It's not that the Peaks is impossibly tough, though it is hard, nor unfeasonably dangerous. It is just 'the Peaks' - it has an aura.
Social media doesn't help these days - someone's bound to have a cold, an injury or their own demons that they share with the world. I'm no different but I'll struggle with my own issues thanks.........
As to bikes, this year I have what I consider to be my ultimate set up, and along with team mate Dave, possibly the best bikes in the race full stop.
As ever I will go for a 2 bike strategy, changing either after Peak 1, Ingleborough or at Ribblehead after Peak 2, Whernside, depending on how I feel. Both bikes are set up for specific purposes - bike 1 for the more runnable, and less rocky terrain of Ingleborough and bike 2 specifically for Penyghent with it's long grinding but more rideable climb and slightly frightening rollercoaster and rocky descent.
So bike 1 is a standard On One Dirty Disco with the new Disc and Canti Pro Carbon wheels. It has a mix of SRAM Rival and Force parts with bar top levers, 32mm FMB tubs with Racing Ralph treads and a bottom gear of 36x28. Carbon wheels?! For the Peaks? Well, yes. They are super light which will be appreciated on the mega steep Simon Fell, strong enough for what is one of the less rocky and boggier descents and just roll nicely everywhere else. I may continue on to Whernside with this bike, as again it is one of the steeper walking climbs. Coming down Whernside is ofter people's nemesis - I don't find it too bad and have other non-rocky options for route choice anyway.....
Bike 2 is a Planet X proto Titanium disc frame and beautifully comfortable. This bike sports much lower gearing, 34x34 (using a WiFli mech that will go on after racing this weekend), bar tops levers again as well as traditional alloy tub wheels with fatter 34mm Gommitalia tubs for the rougher climb and descent where punctures when tired are a real risk. SRAM Red parts complete the package for what is for me the best suited cross bike I've ever ridden round the Peaks.
There we go - equipment excuses effectively ruled out, it's down to me....