I've been nervous about the 3 Peaks Cyclocross since the moment I put my name down to ride. It's a race like no other. A 61 km long cyclocross race up hill and down dale - 1524 m of elevation gain with around 8 kms of unrideable terrain. 2018 is the 56th edition of the race and it will be my first time riding.
I'm really fortunate to have the support of my awesome partners to help me get ready for the race. I've put in a lot of training and have ridden lots of events to get me ready. I've done my research, and put in time and effort to set up my bike as best as possible. However, in one sentence today, 3 Peaks Veteran Nick Craig managed to make me realise that no matter what prep I do, I'm still a 3 Peaks rookie...
Who is this Nick?
If you haven't heard of Nick, he is an absolute legend of a bike rider. He's an Olympian. He rode the Sydney Olympic mountain bike race, as well as the road race in support of Max Sciandri. He wore mountain bike shoes and helmet in the road race too, which elevated him to legend status. Why did he do that? Team manager John Herety only told him he was racing days before the race! He once told me that he had his best moments on a bike on that day - he saw Lance Armstrong's calf and Jan Ullrich's quad in real life!
He's a multiple British Champion in mountain bike and cyclocross, winner of the Mountain Mayhem 24 hour team race and countless more races. He has also won the 3 Peaks Cyclocross three times - first in 1991 aged 22 and then again in 2009 and 2011. His first and last victory 20 years apart! His dad Ian also won the race in 1963.
Finally, Nick is known as the nicest man in mountain biking. He's a GC for sure.
Anyway, I'm lucky to call Nick one of my mates. So you might wonder why I hadn't asked him for his tips before today... Well the truth is I did. As you can see in the picture below...
So anyway... What could possibly be the single thing Nick said to me which made me feel like a rookie? Well I called him today to ask a few last minute questions. It went a little something like this...
Me: Ey up mate, hows it going?
Nick: You know I'm only doing this cos it's you! Everyone else I tell to go and look at my article I did for British Cycling in 2004... I already gave away all my secrets! Haha.
(I wish I'd read this more recently...)
Me: Haha. Thanks mate. I appreciate it.
Nick: What gearing have you got? Tell me you have 1:1 + 1...?
Me: Um. No.
So there we have it. I overlooked lower gearing. What a flippin' pundy. I still have what I'd consider to be low gearing, with a 42 x 36 ratio, and I thought that on the really steep sections I'll be off my bike and walking anyway. It turns out I may need that low gear to ride the final peak Pen-y-Ghent. With just one full day between me and my 3 Peaks debut I'm going to have to suck it up and 'run what I brung'!
So, before the phone call with Nick which made my stomach drop, I met with top chief Pete Scullion to shoot a bike check. I am absolutely buzzing with my bike for cyclocross this year, and my partners have helped me so much to get an awesome build together. I should also have a second bike ready for the round 2 of the Scottish Cyclocross Series a week on Sunday in Callander Park, Falkirk.
Anyway, without further ado. Here is my 3 Peaks Cyclocross bike, fresh from a pre-race check at Bike Love. You can click through Pete's images in the gallery below for a closer look at the bling, and I've listed a detailed bike spec further down this page.
Weight: 7.5 kg
Frame and Fork: 54cm Santa Cruz Stigmata CC
Wheels: Hope Hoops 20FIVE Pro 4 wheels - 25mm deep, 24mm external width and 20mm internal width. Hope Pro 4 Hubs, 32 x Sapim Sprint double butted spokes front and rear and brass nipples, 15x100 front hub / 142x12 rear hub with 6 bolt brake mounting
Tyres: Continental Cyclocross King - 35mm width, Puregrip Compound set up with 28mm cyclocross inner tubes, REVOSealant and inflated to 65 psi. Yes 65 psi!
Shifters: SRAM Force CX1
Chainset: Easton EC90 SL - 172.5mm with 42T chainring
Bottom Bracket: Easton BB PF 30
Cassette: SRAM PG1170 11-36T
Chain: SRAM PC1170 - lubed with Juice Lubes Viking Juice
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force CX1 Long Cage
Brakes: Hope RX4 calipers with Hope 160mm floating disc rotors
Seatpost: Hope Carbon Seat Post - 15mm layback, 27.2mm diameter
Handlebars: Easton EA70 RB - 420mm width with Velo Bar Tape
Stem: Easton EA90 - 100m with 0 degree rise - 15mm stem stackers
Saddle: WTB Silverado Road NiCro
Pedals: Shimano XT SPD Bottlecage: Elite Custom Race Resin - mounted on the seat tube.
Saddlebag: Endura FS260 two tube seat pack - filled with 1 x 28mm Continental 28mm cyclocross innertube and 2 x threaded Co2 gas canisters
Note: I've noticed that with my long cage mech I can fit a Hope 40T-rex to give me another gear! I may well fit this tomorrow morning... Stay tuned!
So there you have it! My 3 Peaks Cyclocross bike! No doubt I'll update you next week with how the race goes.
You may have noticed I am representing Ride For Charlie on my top tube. If you don't know, Charlie was a special boy who went to sleep on Friday the 20 January and didn’t wake up, he was 15. He was the younger of Nick and Sarah Craig's two sons, and tragically passed away in his sleep over a year ago. I'm proud to support Ride For Charlie.
'til next time,
Over and out...