John Orrell embarked upon the ‘crazy’ idea of riding and carrying a bike up and down the Three Peaks – I mean, what else would you do to fill a weekend. As John says below in his account of the days experience, there are no prizes for finishing 478th, but there is respect for having had a go and that’s what counts.
“Sunday, 29th September saw the 51st Annual 3 Peaks
Cyclocross race. Having successfully competed three consecutive 3 Peak
fell races, I had decided to do the same with the bike. This was my
second outing having completed last years race for the first time in
conditions that had been described as the worst for 30 years!
Johns Splits HERE
As dawn broke over Ribblesdale, it was clear that today was going to be
a good day! 584 riders gathered at the start for the 38 mile race over
Yorkshire’s 3 Peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent, with 20
of those miles off road, 4 of those unrideable and with over 5000 ft of
climbing the race is full on.
There’s was a peleton style start across the first few miles of road,
before we started to string out as we hit the fells and made our way
towards Ingleborough. Now I said today was going to be a good day.
Well, don’t be fooled by blue skies.
It was windy. By eck, really windy! As I climbed the steep rocky
section of Ingleborough my bike took off from my shoulder like a kite.
It was a real struggle to keep it under control, stay upright and not
fall down what would have given thrill seekers at Alton Towers a run
for their money, and me a free ride in a helicopter and one weeks room
and board in the local hospital!
Soon though, I was over the top and 12 minutes up on last year’s times.
A quick dash off the fell saw me arrive at Cold Cotes 16 minutes up.
Then came the road again, turning right at Ingleton, past White Scar
Caves and Whernside came into view. I passed the Chapel-le-Dale
checkpoint, still up on time, and managed not to fall off on ‘that’
cattle grid at Bruntscar!
Then it was Whernside, it’s the highest, 2415 ft, but I thought, ‘its
not so bad, the sun is shining, I’m up on time, lets set to’. I made up
a number of places carrying up the steep steps, so feeling confident I
jumped on the bike again to ride across the top. Big mistake! The wind
blew me off and crashing to the floor I went. Some bright spark
shouted, ‘that was a schoolboy error’. I thought, ‘eye, I’ll see you in
the headmasters office after’! Twice more I jumped on but ended up in
Having crested the summit I turned to look down on Ribblehead, only for
the wind, now full on, to blow the skin off my cheeks. ‘That’s it then’
I thought, as people walked towards me sideways. ‘Leave the bike here
and run down’. In the end I took it with me, but used it as a sail,
hoisting it onto my shoulder, adjusting the rigging and before I knew
it I was blown past Ribblehead 29 minutes up.
The road section to Selside was next and time for a breather to take
stock, when a guy came passed with half a dozen riders in tow. ‘Get
onto my back wheel’ he shouted, as he took the brunt of the headwind
and sheltered the others behind in echelon style. Well, that would have
been OK had I not got a face full of ham and cheese butty. Still,
undeterred I shifted the gears, closed the gap, locked onto their back
wheels and enjoyed the free ride back to Selside and Horton.
A left turn now and only Pen-y-ghent to go, but this was Horton Scar
Lane, scene of last years 4 foot floods. ‘Ay, but its dry now’, I
thought, ‘I’ve upgraded my gears too and I know every rut and boulder
on this section’. So many times I’ve trained hard alone on that
stretch, no problem!
Today was different, not the lonely lane I’d become accustomed too. The
place was overflowing with spectators, and many more than you would see
at Ewood Park on a Saturday afternoon!
‘Better keep going here’ I thought. ‘I want to look good’. Then on the
narrowest bit the lass in front stopped to get off. ‘Ah’, just missed
her, but had lost my rhythm now. First gear was suddenly no good.
Before I knew it, I was on my second butty and pushing up that lane.
‘Come on fella, I’m on for a quick time here, don’t give up now’. It
was hard though, and seeing riders coming down towards me all smiles, 3
Peaks conquered, with, for them only 2 miles to go, made it even
I would be telling untruths if I didn’t say I was rapidly loosing the
will to live. The summit wasn’t getting any closer and cramp was about
to say hello to both my legs. It had become a mental battle now. ‘Pen-y-
ghent’s all up ere’ one bloke said after, pointing to his head. ‘Don’t
stop now’,I thought, ‘there’s someone from Horwich in front, lets get
to that summit checkpoint dibber before they do’!
Suddenly I heard myself saying, ‘thank you marshal’ and realised I was
on the way down. At last!!! It was fast, it was furious and it was fun.
Rough bits, a few bumps and boulders. ‘Oh, flippin eck, chains come
off’!! I lost a place to some guy in orange too. ‘Orange’!! ‘Them’s my
colours, not having that’!
So chain back on, down the lane, left turn on the road, lit the blue
touch paper, shot off like a rocket(strangely not tired now), passed
him and 2 more and arrived back at the finish in 5.16.21. A new PB by
44 minutes!! (Now don’t laugh you fast guys and gals, that’s quick for
At the finish I quickly got changed into my ‘King Of The Mountains’ top
and Tour De France ‘2014 Yorkshire Grande Depart’ yellow cap and waited
by the podium. No one told me there were no prizes for 478th finisher
or 446th male finisher or even 200th male vet 40 finisher. A pint at
the pub was to be my trophy and by gum it tasted good!!”