Column: Highs and Lows – Beth’s 3 Peaks Journey – Part 4
3 Peaks Come down
I’m on a post 3 Peaks come down. Not only am I broken and generally feeling rubbish, I also find myself feeling a little lost.
This race and the community that surrounds it has completely got me sucked in, hook line and sinker. There is no other race like it in the world. Fact.
The build up was possibly just as brutal as the race itself. I have never been so nervous about pinning on a number before. Saturday was hell. We explored the area a little, stayed in a beautiful barn conversion overlooking Pen y Ghent and the company of my friends was wonderful- but I couldn’t enjoy any of it. I’m convinced my HR was in zone 5 whilst trying to drop off to sleep that night. A rather embarrassing outburst of tears happened on our 20km spin out ride on Saturday afternoon, mopped up by friends and fellow racers Clare and Adeline from 5th Floor who admitted to also feeling nervous.
Did the nerves come because I have been so public about it all, and didn’t want to suffer humiliation? Or was it because I wanted to do so well in a race that I have been thinking about for years? Maybe it was because there were a fair share of doubters, whose responses generally started with a sharp intake of breath after I had told them my big plans, and I wanted to prove those doubters wrong.
I was glad to get on that start line at Helwith Bridge on Sunday morning. The rain fell, and the mist lingered over the hills that lay before us. It was Simon Fell (the first ascent) that finally made me relax a little. Nothing to do there other than get into that rhythm of one foot in front of the other, bike on shoulder, attempting to keep upright as riders of all shapes clambered up that steep grassy slippy slope beside me. Taking a moment to look back, I attempted to take it all in, the line of bikes that snaked back down the hillside. Incredible. I had earned this, trained for it, wanted to be here so badly- and now I was a legitimate part of 3 Peaks history. I allowed a wry smile and kept on pushing.
Needless to say, the following two peaks, Whernside and Pen y Ghent, were equally of the ball breaking variety. All skills required – slippy ascents, both on and off the bike, rocky descents with loose gravel, drainage channels and hidden bogs to boot. I was in my element. I loved it. I was scared, and intimidated, but I knew that if that bloke in front of me was riding that line then I would do it too, sometimes more effectively. Months of trail running came into play and my coach Huw Williams’ words came into my head, “This is a runners race,” as I managed to gain a place by running for the dibber and overtaking a rider at the top of Pen y Ghent much to the delight of the marshals who got into the spirit of it. Passing a few familiar faces and shouting for each other made for an extra burst of energy in the legs. Crossing the line was a moment never to forget.
I’ve been told I finished with a respectable time. I’m very happy with that. Just missing the magic sub 5-hour only means I’ll need to come back next year, and try again.
The race would have been nothing without the team that surrounded us. So to JC, El, Robin and Simmo, thank you for taking our crap, standing in the rain and unwrapping peanut butter sandwiches at warp speed. Although I would love to see you guys racing next year, I would much prefer you to be waiting at the bottom of cold cotes waving that Dulwich jersey in the air as I hammer towards you- no better feeling than to see your support crew.
So for now, I’ll just try and take it all in and maybe have a chill. Until next week’s ‘cross race, that is.
(Photo Credit Joolze Dymond)