A Peak Performance

With the Mountain bike race season now virtually over, TORQ Performance Mountain Bike Team riders Ed and Neal swapped their Whyte 29C mountain bikes for Cyclo Cross bikes and took to the start line of the 52nd Annual 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross Race in the Yorkshire Dales – the UK’s biggest and toughest cyclo cross event . 
Thanks to Ed Rollason for this image. www.flikr.com/photos/ed_rollason/
Here’s Neal’s account, from his own perspective, of his 5th attempt at the epic event. 
“It is 6:30 am, its dark and I’m in the garden changing tyres. It is also the morning of the three peaks cyclo cross. At 3 am that morning (having woken up after another bout of cold sweats and pointy rock shaped nightmares), I’d made the decision to go back to the faithful Schwalbe Landcruisers. After last year’s puncture induced DNF I definitely didn’t want a re-run.
Thank you to Joolze Dymond for this image. www.joolzedymond.com
Such is the draw of ‘The Peaks,’ I’m sure I wasn’t the only one having a fitful nights sleep. Mechanical failures are implicit in a race that involves taking such an unsuitable cyclocross bike over such arduous terrain. Thankfully long time TORQ Performance Team bike sponsor Whyte have gone a long way towards bridging this gap by specifically designing a bike suited for the peaks. This isn’t going to turn into a bike review full of techy head angles and gear ratios. But to ride a cyclo cross bike that stops when you brake, turns when you turn and generally feels like everything is bolted together is certainly a novelty! This is a bike that whilst not the lightest can go downhill – fast – and definitely shouldn’t be hampered by lightweight tyres!
Thank you to Joolze Dymond for this image. www.joolzedymond.com
Pre-race prep passed in the usual flurry, anyone foolish enough not to look busy was thrust a pair of wheels and despatched to some desolate moorland outpost, and then we were off. All too soon I was on the steepest slopes of Ingleborough, the grass inches from my nose, considering my own mortality. I was happy to get down the descent fully inflated, but alone for the linking road section to the second peak Whernside. Not ideal but hey, fully inflated!
Whernside is my least favourite climb, short rideable sections interspersed with rocky steps make it impossible to find a rhythm. The descent is similar, but if you know it well there are lots of sneaky lines that make it quicker, and more importantly safer. The descent passed in a blur of muttering that in normal life would put you one step ahead of the village nutter; left at the funny heather tuft, stay right for three drainage bars, look for the wiggly bit in the wall, right, tall fence post, hop the big slab. All this got me to the next road section three places up with Lewis Craven in 5th place. Fully inflated.
Thank you to Joolze Dymond for this image. www.joolzedymond.com
All that was left was Pen-y-Ghent, my favourite; a long sinuous ribbon of white gravel winding its way steadily to the summit. I knew that if all had gone to plan, this ribbon should be dotted with those riders who have given too much on Ingleborough and Whernside. This year I spotted Ian Taylor up ahead and set to work on catching him. Ian is renowned for his descending and is skilled and reckless in equal balance. I knew I would have to catch him, plus some, to avoid a duel on the descent.  This wasn’t to be and as we dibbed at the summit checkpoint together, I prepared for the descent that, for me, was likely to be more reckless than skilled!  The descent was fast – very fast – and full inflation was in serious jeopardy, thankfully Ian’s luck broke before mine and I got out onto the road with a clear gap.
A quick spin back down the road and I came in fourth. A result I am pretty happy with, but that ‘one place off the podium’ is always a bit disappointing. Fully inflated? Pretty much so.”
A huge congratulation to Neal on a excellent result only minutes down on 2nd placed TORQ Fuelled Scott UK Rider Nick Craig! TORQ Team Rider Ed McParland also took to the line, coming off the back of a week of dedicated training in the warmth. This was Ed’s debut at the event and here is his personal account of how it went.
“I had a good start, making it comfortably and inside the top 10 with Neal going up Inglebrough, the 1st major peak of the race. On the descent back down, disaster struck, I snapped my chain and couldn’t retrieve it! After 10 minutes of scrabbling around on the section of course that I had just ridden, frantically looking for my chain, I was saved by a fellow competitor and friend who sacrificed theirs for me.
Thank you to Joolze Dymond for this image. www.joozledymond.com
I got back on the bike & worked hard to claw back as much time and as many positions as possible. I felt strong on the last climb up to Pen-Y-Ghent and eventually crossed the line as the 2nd Under 23 rider and 32nd overall!
Considering this was my first attempt, I was pleased with my result. Hopefully next year, with no mechanicals, and the experience of the event from this year, I should look to place slightly higher up the standing!”
A huge congratulations to both Neal and Ed!
With the Mountain Bike race season now virtually over, look out for an overall review of 2014 and some exciting news on the forthcoming plans for 2015. To include next year’s sponsors and the line up of the TORQ Performance Mountain Bike Team. 
As always, a big thank you to all the team sponsors. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do:
Whyte Bikes – Frames 
Schwalbe – Tyres
Exposure Lights – Advanced Lighting
Easton – Wheels and Finishing Kits
SR Suntour – Suspension Forks
Altura – Team Clothing                                                             
Limar – Helmets
Lake – Shoes
Magura – Braking 
Jagwire – Cables & Housing
Lezyne – Pumps, Tools & Bottle Cages
Fenwicks Bike – Cleaning and Lubrication 
Shimano – Drivetrain
Max Media  – Team PR
Tifosi – Optics 
Raceware – Custom Mounts
Camelbak – Race Bottles
Kapz Guru – Custom Top Caps
Odd Designs – Bike Racks
Joolze Dymond – Photography
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