Somehow I have managed to ride the 3 Peaks Cyclo-cross 19 times!
I first came across the race in 1984, via a photo heavy feature in the National Geographic magazine. At the time I was doing a lot of mountain/hill walking and running as well as just getting into cycle racing, everything about it appealed, the ‘hardness’ of it, all occurring within one of the most beautiful areas in the country, and so I entered the 1985 event.
I thought I had better do a couple of cyclocross races beforehand! so rode the ‘Bagshott Scramble’ on my one bike (a touring Claud Butler with slick tyres) – I fell off, a lot. My second race, at Footscray in Kent, I fell off less. In my eyes, I was ready.
I had sourced some cyclocross tyres for my bike, but on the day one of my club-mates leant me his dedicated cyclocross bike, very light and with tubular tyres.
The 1985 race was won by Tim Gould, who is the same age as me, but that was where the similarities ended. I ‘rolled a tub’, ran a lot, had a couple of ‘over the bar’ scenarios when descending (luckily on grass rather than rock). I struggled toward the end with cramp (it was very hot) and managed to finish 85th from 160. I had loved every mad minute of it.
I’ve had not so good races, with crashes (none serious) and fatigue, but mostly good years, when I have felt very competitive and everything has gone well, sometimes with my brother riding and latterly with my eldest son.
Episodes merge and odd incidents remembered, far too many to go into and I am indebted to the race’s founder John Rawnsley and the current organization of marshalls, medics, farmers, helpers and riders who enable the race to go ahead each year.
My 20th race will have to wait: http://scarsbrook-art.com/2016/06/20/bit-of-a-break/ Rather than training, I have concentrated on producing a themed print.
I have always liked the logo/image that the race uses, and I have tried to echo that in my composition. As ever I have been particular to use my own reference, but have also studied lots of race photos (not really a chore!). I worked in black and white, pencil and watercolour, scanning in the various elements and applying colour and textures within Photoshop.
Valuable feedback was also gleaned from 3 Peaks stalwart Dave Haygarth http://3peaksblog.ukcyclocross.co.uk – who also provides the best quote in tackling this monster of an event, with its lung-bursting ascents, epic views, heart-stopping descents, and all round human struggle: “It’s a race…. Get on with it”