Column: Highs and Lows – Beth’s 3 Peaks Journey
Benedict Has a lot to Answer For
Two-ish years ago I picked up my first cyclocross bike…kind of. I ignored all advice about what I should buy and bought a do-it-all. I won’t name it, but was rubbish. It did however enable me to get out there and ‘have a go’ on the grueling courses of the London Cross League. Soon into this new love of mine I went to watch ‘For the Love of Mud’ at the Barbican, and Helen Wyman was there doing a Q&A (fangirl alert). If you haven’t seen the film, I implore you to do so, although be warned. As a direct result and a full season down I now find myself with an entry for the 3 Peaks, affectionately known as the ‘World’s hardest cyclocross race’. Sounds dreamy. Benedict Campbell has got a lot to answer for.
The rubbish bike was promptly sold. I’m personally still rubbish, but now I have fancy bikes. And a coach! Fancy that. Huw Williams, coach extraordinaire, who has got many a rider through the course over previous years, clearly likes his own challenge by taking me on.
So here goes, and after a few months of base training (aka job dodging) riding up and down the steep stuff in the Alps I’m back in London and the ‘training proper’ begins. T-minus eight weeks.
After nearly ruining my aging knees on a marathon last year, I’ve thankfully found my running legs again and set out on the weekend to find my new local mountain (hill in middle of Burgess Park, South London: max elevation nine metres.) Not quite the alpine beauty I’ve been living on, where 5km gave 285m vert. City life has kicked back in good and proper. “Adds to the challenge!” some cry. I say it adds to the pain, as I cry.
This weekend I’ll be off to the Surrey ‘mountains’ to cycle down them and run up them. Repeatedly, until I’m blue in the face, and cursing Huw, rather loudly. We’re both Welsh so we have an understanding there. Number one skill to nail this week: practicing effective carrying. Me carrying the bike — not someone carrying me. I’ll let you know how that went next time.