Monday 30 September 2013
3 Peaks Cyclocross 2013
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”
- Francois de la Rochefoucauld
That should be my 3 Peaks maxim from now on. I messed up this year, despite dishing out supposedly learned advice only the week before.
It all started well - a personal best by minutes over Ingleborough and in a good-for-me 75th place too, a clean descent to Cold Cotes and a quick timecheck dib and bottle pick up and onto the road. However, I then made the mistakes that when compounded would cost me a trouble free and potentially personal best ride.
The gel tasted good in the shop out the squeezy sample bottle but when breathing out of one's proverbial after the climb out of Ingleton, trying to stay with a fast group, it was more akin to ingesting an acrid fruit concentrate. Result, a little gagging and some coughing and the group rode away. Lesson 1: try your gels/drinks in race-replica training situations and NOT on the day. Then my brain switched off and with hindsight I simply didn't drink enough. I'd had a vague notion of drinking water late in the race as it tastes cleaner and goes down easier when tired than a sugary carb drink. I hadn't communicated this to Mark who, on my instruction handed me this 'unloaded' bottle at Cold Cotes. My mistake, not his. Lesson 2: even your most trusted support crewer is not a mind reader.
Whernside went OK, well as OK as one might expect whilst being blown all over the shop by a mean spirited crosswind that actually dumped riders from on their bikes into a heap a little way downwind from their take off point. Being tall with a large gate-like bike to boot did nothing to improve my mood as it tore into me as I walked/jogged, pushing me around so I looked like a Friday night drunk weaving my way home.
I was hungry coming down into Ribblehead, hungry as in it would have been nice to sit down and have a nice pie and chips, or something equally comforting. A friend commented after that I looked grim making the change to the Penyghent bike there - truth was I was bloody starving and panicking a bit about getting enough food down. There's nowhere you can really eat on that descent so you have to wait till the road down to Horton. My wife's legendary Aga-baked flapjack tastes like heaven at all other times, but was simply too dry and sticky to get down easily whilst trying to push on, on that road section. I got it down eventually, not a pretty sight chewing and breathing at the same time. Cue another slightly less acrid gel and a reasonable amount of liquid.
But the damage had been done with the lack of fluids I suspect, being the prime suspect. I started slowing toward the top of Penyghent Lane and felt the first twinges. Cramp is a funny thing - it can tease, flirt with you and think better of it and bugger off to wait another time. Or it can decide that today is the day, it's having you and there's nothing you can do to escape its unwanted attentions. By the time I was approaching the turn right onto the final bit of the climb, it had done its worst and my quads were ballooning into Robert Fosterman-esque creations. In my mind at least.....
They locked solid and that was that. Cue the following rigmarole: sit down, look at the view for a bit, swear blind you were never coming back to do this bloody race, snivel a bit, try and stand up, fall over again, curse. Eventually they unlocked enough to affect a half-hearted shuffle and upward progress resumed. But my impetus had been lost and it was hard to pick up the pace, waiting for that 'laugh-in-your-face' twinge that signalled a return to a seated position.
I made it to the summit, disheartened to have seen riders I was racing only a short time ago, already well on their way back down. But I finished, not too far outside 4 hours, but still a way short of my target time and position.
The positives? My pair of simply wonderful On One Bikes Ti disc Pickenflicks were totally controllable, dependable and never missed a beat. And for 2 Peaks at least, I was going well and on target. As ever there is next year.... I think.
Thanks as always to my pit crew Mark for being there for the 20 seconds of contact time we had during the race.