Ok, that was an education! The start, the steepness of those hills, the other competitors, the descents, the supporters, all these things made for a truly overwhelming experience.
In my past I've raced road and mtb to a reasonable standard and further back been a fairly quick long distance runner, but nothing really prepared me for my first encounter with the 3 Peaks.
I had read all the info including the various blogs on Dave Haygarths 3Peaks blogsite and had trained reasonably well, but even so my first encounter with Ingleborough was a shock; the way what seemed like half the field accelerated away from me on it's foot hills made me doubt if I'd even break into the top 100. The descent was fun though and I managed to make up a few places before we hit the road and here I luckily hooked in with a group of fairly like minded chaingang experienced roadie types - through and off - good lads. But whoah, no-one really warned me about the second hill; yes, Ingleborough this, Simons Fell that, but hang on a mo', steps, steps, steps, nooo that wasnae what I wanted! Jings, what a slog, really wasn't ready for that. And the descent, well, whilst I was showing off my mastery of riding the rock armoured path fast, I was aware of riders flying past to left and right on the grass! Buggers, local knowledge be damned. Back on the road and again caught up with a a few guys keen to work hard, so we quickly despatched the road section to Pen Y Ghent. This last climb was better, as I managed to ride a good long way up to the last steep snap, aided by the terrific crowds cheering on anyone who passed. Amazing. Luckily on this final descent I followed someone who seemed to know where they were going and had a really nice fast clean descent back to the road. The last road section was a sprint all the way, I had a wee bit left in me so pounded the 50x12 round, passing a couple (or three?) to cruise in to a 3.52
Happy, aye, but........ I finished too strong, the first climb really rocked me back and I think I was a wee bit cautious with my exertions after that, knowing that I hadn't really got the measure of the challenge ahead.
I'll be back, me and those hills have some unfinished business!