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Peak Viewing: The Hunger Pt.2

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It’s a strange feeling to be heading to Yorkshire for the annual pilgrimage with absolutely no enthusiasm for what is far and away my favourite event of the year. The Three Peaks is a fantastic race, no two ways about it. Stumbling up mountains, ‘cross bike on shoulder, is not to everyone’s taste, but there are recompenses. The Yorkshire Dales offer some of the most spectacular scenery in Britain. Views from the tops of Ingleborough, Pen-Y-Ghent and Whernside are jaw-dropping, provided it’s a clear day and you have the presence of mind to actually (briefly) take them in. The 600 hardy souls who will line up in Helwith Bridge on Sunday morning are invariably great company: there is plenty of chat and no shortage of encouraging words mid-race. Rob Jebb and Nick Craig, the two most likely to be battling for honours on the day, are the two most genuinely likeable blokes on bikes you will ever meet. The finish line is next to a pub – always a winner in my book. First rider back from our London crew gets the pints in. Why the apathy? The most likely explanation/excuse is lack of fitness. The usual routine of taking the whole of August to get racing fit after a summer of relatively leisurely riding went out the window. Holiday, illness, new job, and before you know it, September is here. Playing constant catch-up on the one-and-only training ride with fellow Peak-ers was thoroughly demoralising. My mojo is missing in action. So there are a few possible scenarios on Sunday: a) grovel over Ingleborough, then turn sharp left, straight back to the start for opening time at the Helwith Bridge Inn; b) get swept up by the enthusiasm of fellow competitors and finish before realising I am desperately unfit and totally exhausted; or c) bumble round in my own good time and enjoy the ride, all the while noting useful shortcuts on the descents in preparation ‘The Big Comeback’ in 2011. At the moment, c looks like the favourite, although b is also eminently possible, but that could easily lead to a. Back to you next week with a tale of derring-do…or derring-didn’t.

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