Sam from Cumbria ordered a pair of A23 wheels on Hope hubs for his 3 Peak 2012 race. Little did he know it would be the wettest roughest race in 30 years! Read his report below and a few photos. The A23 is now available tubeless for better handling on inner tube free clinchers at lower pressures. We can help set you up tubeless for the season, please call for more details and I’ll blog a post soon on tubeless CX developments. And, Sam placed 2nd Junior – well done!
Having a film crew in your kitchen filming you eating porridge at 6:40 in the morning is not exactly a stress free way to start your first attempt at theThreePeaks, but it was what I agreed to when ITV approached me about participating in the making of feature on the Three Peaks Cyclocross. I was the youngest person in the race and they thought it would be interesting to follow my training and race. They had taken me training with Rob Jebb and after I picked up his bike I knew I was at a distinct disadvantage with my 23 lbs bike and if I was going to get a good time in the 3 peaks I was going to have to set about making it a bit lighter. The obvious improvement was lighter wheels but as a mountain biker I knew that I was hard on wheels and they needed to be tough. After some research I discovered Strada and they were able to recommend a combination of Velocity A23 rims, Hope hubs and Sapim spokes which would give a relatively light wheel but which was also strong and gave a comfortable ride. When the wheels arrived the spokes did not have the normal thud when flicked, but rang out with a musical tone. I was impressed, but not as much as when I tried them, the bike felt so much lighter and rolled beautifully and I knew straight away that they were a big improvement on any other wheel I had ever tried. I was really impressed. I began to really look forward to the race.
If the crew were worried about filming in the rain and high winds then they certainly weren’t as worried as I was about riding in it! But they breed us hard in the north and the adrenalin kept me enthusiastic. The drizzle turned to hard rain as we set off and it set the scene for the day. The wind and rain was hard and it was a constant battle to try and keep the bike on my shoulder on Simon Fell and I was glad when I could start the descent to Cold Cotes. This is where a background of mountain biking really made a difference and I managed to overtake a few people on the descent. I was feeling good. Unfortunately Rob Jebb had forgotten to mention the bog at the checkpoint and as my wheel sunk beyond its axle I slowly went over the handle bars. Still the rain meant that the mud was washed off fairly quickly!
I was still feeling good and as I turned off onto the minor road to Whernside I was in high spirits. It didn’t last long. A deep pot hole hidden within one of the many puddles caught me out and I hit the tarmac at 21 mph. I bounced 3 m along the road pivoting on my shoulder and banging my head on the road. A supporter picked me and my bike up. They kindly straightened my handle bars as I tried to straighten my vision. The pain in my shoulder was huge, my head swam and I realised the vision in my left eye was distinctly strange, blurring and swirling around. I thought it was just the rain to start with, but then I realised the blurred vision was a fixture. This was not good and if I had been able to think straight I would have realised I had slight concussion, but I was being filmed by ITV, I couldn’t just give up!.
I tried to get myself together for a few minutes and find the strength to carry on, unfortunately I felt too removed from reality to be able to warn the next rider who also came a cropper in the obscured pot hole. It was then that I realised just how fantastic my wheels were, they were still true, but the pot hole had buckled the wheel of the next rider. Whoever you are, I am sorry, I wish I had been able to warn you. It was then that I knew I had to continue, my wheels hadn’t failed and neither could I.
Whernside was hard, really hard, the wind and rain lashed against me, trying to rip the bike from my shoulder. My left eye refused to focus, my head felt like it had been run over and the pain in my shoulder and legs was starting to build. I can’t even remember the descent; instinct took over and it’s a miracle I didn’t come off. My worried parents were awaiting me at Ribblehead and had already guessed that something must have gone wrong. I had to be a bit economical with the truth to be allowed to continue and played down the crash but the dents in my helmet and my pale pallor gave it away. A new set of dry warm gloves and some flapjack gave me a new lease of life and I set off again. The road passed without mishap, but the cobbles on the bridleway to Pen Y Ghent really played havoc with my aches and pains and I could feel every bump shuddering through my bruised shoulder and head.
The winds on Pen y Ghent had reached 50 mph as I stumbled and crawled up the summit. I had never known such pain, but adrenalin is a marvellous thing and before too long I was on my final descent. Unfortunately the relief didn’t last long as if to add insult to my injuries, I punctured. It was my slowest tube change ever, my hands shook and the wind whipped the tube out of my hands, painfully slapping it against my face. Eventually I was off, and on another descent that my mind has chosen to forget. I can’t even remember the much photographed deep pond, all I knew was that I wasn’t going to ride it, if I had fallen in it I would never have got up!
I eventually got back in just under five hours, over an hour later than I aimed for, but for some unknown reason The Three Peaks had already got me hooked and I have shall have to return next year! After all I have the perfect wheels that are raring to do another endless pain ridden lap (but I am going to run them tubeless next time!) All I need now is a light frame to go with them! Looks like I need a Saturday job, it’s just as well the Three Peaks is on a Sunday!
Footnote: after all that, ITV don’t know whether they will be able to use the footage as the cameras kept fogging up!