Racing The World’s Toughest Cyclo-Cross Race | GCN Presenter Challenge
Articles Blog

Racing The World’s Toughest Cyclo-Cross Race | GCN Presenter Challenge

October 28, 2019

– It’s just absolutely brutal. – Parts of Simon Fell,
where you can stand, put your hand out in
front of you, like that, and pretty much touch the
ground in front of you. It’s that steep. – The race became known as the toughest, I said right at the beginning, it was the world’s toughest cyclocross. Nobody’s disputed that. The Three Peaks Cyclocross
is now in it’s 56th year. It’s 60 kilometers long,
and with a course record standing at 2 hours and 52 minutes, it’s three times longer than
the usual cyclocross race. But, it’s the terrain that it crosses, the bleak limestone mountains
of the Yorkshire Dales, that really mark it out. This is a cross race that
bears little resemblance to a cross race. The first time I did it, I
said I’d never do it again. And then, the second time I did it, I realized why I’d come back. It gets under your skin. And this, then, will be my third, but I’m gonna be joined
by Three Peaks virgin, Oscar Pereiro, Spanish rogue pro cyclist, and owner of the most flamboyant mustache seen in Yorkshire in the last 25 years. Firstly though, time to sample
a bit of local hospitality. As you can see, pre-race
nutrition strategy, pretty dialed. Oscar, gotta ask, how you
feelin about tomorrow, mate? – I feel a little bit nervous, I don’t know what it’s going to happen. – You are experienced
at riding afraid, right? So, you’ve been fourth in the
national cyclocross champs, seventh in the national mountain
bike cross country champs. – I knew this race since a long time ago, and I know a little bit about, and I hate running and walking. – Having done this twice
before, I can tell you that I hate walking and running, and this is definitely the
weakest part of my race, my worry is that Oscar
is still exceedingly fit. You’ve actually got two road
races left to do this year, so I can’t beat you walking, and I definitely can’t
beat you on the bike. I don’t know what I’m holding on to, but it’s a glimmer of
hope that maybe a bit of prior knowledge will help. Maybe I’ll get you another beer? Do you want another beer? Race day, I can’t pretend I’m not nervous. I can’t seem to shake
this habit of a lifetime, which is I turn up to a bike race, and I get nervous, even though now it really doesn’t matter how I do. But, there is one extra
reason, and that is although it’s not actually raining out, it’s really damp under tire. And there’s a lot of
exposed rock on this course. And an overinflated
cyclocross tire and wet rock, it’s not kind of like
the ultimate combination. Anyway, I’m trying to think
that it’s the exactly the same for everyone out there. I’m just gonna go sign on, do my thing, and then I’ll be alright. Just about to sign on. There’s some important
equipment I need to do so. My racing license, this, which is the mandatory survival bag. Also, this, which is my
mandatory survival whistle, and also, a waterproof jacket, as well. How many cyclocross races
do you need a survival bag? That’s what you’ve gotta ask yourself. Given the severity of the course,
you could well be forgiven for wondering why on earth a mountain bike wouldn’t actually be a
better tool for the job. And, you’d be right. I think a 29er lightweight
mountain bike, hard tail, probably would be far better for the job. But it’s not allowed, quite frankly. True to the original spirit of the event, cyclocross bikes are the
only bikes permitted, and they’re quite heavily
regulated, as well. So you can use 35mm wide
tires, so slightly fatter than the UCI limit of 33. Your handlebars can be no wider than 46cm. They have to be drop
handlebars, so there was a time where people were using flat handlebars, and you are permitted to use those levers on the top there, but with
hydraulic disk brakes, that isn’t really possible to do. So there we go, there’s
gonna be more information about my bike for today
over on the tech channel, so make sure you check that one out. But in essence, here we go. One by, I’ve got 42 chainlink up front, 1042 cassette out the back. And yes, last year on the start line, everyone laughed at me ’cause
I was riding carbon wheels on possibly the rockiest
cyclocross race in the world, but they’re back for another year! So, let’s see how they go! The route starts with a
neutralized road section up Ribblesdale, before the flag drops, and the riders hit dirt
for the first time. Up through open farm
land, until the slopes of Simon Fell, its actual name. Up onto the summit ridge of Ingleborough, most of which is unrideable,
before a fast descent to Cold Cotes, and back onto tarmac, 9km in fact, until the
next mountain, Whernside. A long succession of completely unrideable limestone steps lead on to the summit, the highest point of
the race, at 728 meters, before a ridgeline single track descent, with more limestone and more steps. Another stretch of tarmac then
takes us to the final climb, an out and back up Pen-y-Ghent,
almost all rideable, but still a gruesome climb. And then, a fast descent down to one last section of tarmac. – How do you feel today? – I feel really nervous,
mate. Low, crappy nerves. There’s so much pressure to beat you, I can’t get over it! No, I am nervous, mate. Like, it’s a race, isn’t it? Even though I’ve not really
got any expectations, I still get– – But this is the feeling
it has to be, you know, like, feel this. – Yeah. Is it what you expected? – Mmm, kind of, you know? – I’ll tell you what, mate,
what I’m really hoping is that we end up in a similar place. Like, I’m not expecting
to hold your wheel, and I wouldn’t expect you to wait, but it would be super
cool if we get to do a bit of riding together, so
my fingers are crossed that I don’t see you scampering away on the first climb. I hope you really are as slow
at walking as you say you are. – [Race Announcer] Five,
four, three, two, one. – This is my walking threshold. (heavy breathing) – ‘Bout 42 watts, I reckon. (whipping wind)
So, getting towards the summit of the first one. This is the bit you don’t see. All those photos of Simon Fell but it actually carries on
for a few good kilometers. The wind is howling! (heavy breathing)
Ah! You got me just as I’m getting back up to the group. It’s the only bit (labored
breath) I feel like I can do. So glad Ingleborough’s out of the way. It’s absolutely savage. Possibly the worst thing
I’ve ever done with a bike. It’s all gonna get better from here. Former bronze medalist
Eugene Manuel there. How is Oscar doing, Atry? – [Oscar] (speaking spanish) – [Simon] To the next one! – At the bottom of mountain number two! I managed to ride quite a bit, but I’ve just jumped off now. Steps, but here’s the thing! With my dodgy eyesight, I can
just actually make out Oscar, probably a couple of minutes up. So I hope he’s getting on alright. (heavy breathing) I can’t wait to hear what he thinks. I have to say sorry to half the riders who are annoyed at me in the downhill, because you guys are so technical! How fast you can go downhill with this bike! Crazy! – [Simon] As you can see, I’m on my own for this stretch of road. The climb up to the top of
Whernside is another brute. It’s not quite as bad as the first one. The descent’s good, like really good fun. But every now and then, I find myself on some treacherous rocky slab, and then about 10 meters off to my left, some dude will come
barreling through a bog, going four times my speed! And I’m like, where have you come from?! I’m pleased to be down it puncture free, so just one more climb and descent to go. And this one, I seem to remember, if you’ve got anything left, it’s about 98% rideable, so I’m hoping I can
make up a bit of ground, but I’m pretty tired. Got a bit of cough crown. Nearly ready to turn off now. I’ve got an hour and a quarter to get back before the magic three and a half hours, so, just keep my fingers crossed. – [Oscar] (breathing heavily)
This has been so tough. – [Simon] So, I’ve decided that because I’m so bad at walking, I’m just gonna stay on the bike as much as possible. It’s easier said than done, cos I can’t feel my arms, and I can’t feel my legs! Gah! Last push to the summit. There it is. Pen-y-ghent. Last bit of climbing. Both quads are cramping. As you can see I’m going even slower than before. I managed to ride all but about 10 meters
of the way up here, which I’m particularly pleased with, for no reason other than I didn’t have to walk any further. – [Man] – Yeah Tom! – Ah man, both legs cramping, my hamstrings have gone! Ahh! I got a bit of a puncture
right at the top, and I was riding down through some grass, and I just caught the edge of a rock, but fortunately, it
hasn’t gone down too much. I stopped to pump it up for a little bit, but, to be fair, I wasn’t really able to
use my pump very well. My arms are in bits! I don’t think I’ve ever suffered quite so much
in this race before. It’s ridiculous! I’ve got 10 meters to
catch up to this bloke, and I can’t do it. I’m at 300 watts, and I’m just maxed out! Ahh! Ah, come on Richardson! I hurt so badly. – Fifth earner beats his friend, again! – Fair play, Oscar, you
absolutely smashed that, mate. Like, I knew you were gonna do well, but I just didn’t know what you’d think when you going down
these ridiculous descents on a ridiculous bike. Twentieth, I got. What’d you get? Eighth? 3:05? Whoa! Smokin! You know, next year, Oscar, we should do push ups before we come here. My arms, my little arms, it’s
just like, (trilling sound) – And tomorrow? – Uh, tomorrow man. – Will be so hard. (laughing) – So that is it from the 56th edition of the Three Peak Cyclocross Race. I am very very sore, and
slightly cold now, actually, but I’ve had an absolutely cracking time, as I have done the two
editions before that. Fair play to Oscar, who
absolutely nailed that on his first attempt,
so all credit to him. If your Spanish is up to
scratch, you can watch the video over on GCN en Español to find out a little bit more about exactly how he has found it, but I would encourage anyone
who fancies the ultimate cyclocross challenge to get
an entry in for next year. It tends to be oversubscribed,
but give it a go. One thing I would say,
though, is please don’t come up to the Yorkshire
Dales and try and ride the route, because it’s
not allowed at any time other than the race, because
it’s on private land, or public footpaths, so
please don’t do that, because you’d put the race
in jeopardy in future years. So anyway, we’ll finish
on a little of a warning, but yeah, if you want to see
a little bit more information about my bike that I rode
today, then you can get through to video over on the tech channel by clicking there. Otherwise, give this video a thumbs up if you’ve enjoyed it!

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Shows one how good one must be to suck at CX, no way that Si or Oscar suck. Have to find out how to get my hands on one of those coats Si
    is wearing.

  2. As a confirmed road rider, I think that I would rather die than attempt this race. Or maybe Attempting it and dying would be one in the same. Massive admiration for those guys who did survive it though. Man , Oscar is something else isn't he? He should have and sword and big boots, and save the world while he is out riding. Awesome video though lads!! Chapeau to You both !!!!!

  3. Well done Si & Oscar, you guys rock, literally. Amazing race footage, breath-taking landscape, the downhill sections looked absolutely mental. Si is not only a talented all-rounder on his bike, but he's also a great presenter who enjoys his time in front of the camera. I really enjoy these adventure-themed races. More of that stuff GCN, thank you!

  4. That looked absolutely brutal. Excellent results from both of you!
    Brilliant terrain flyover graphics. Personally I didn't like the cropped "freeze frame" effect at parts of the video, but I love that the GCN production crew are trying new things to keep it fresh 🙂

  5. Great to see an actual talking head, "walk the walk" and not just "talk the walk". I mean that in all respect, you guys on GCN are the best. Kudos.

  6. Advice for after the race: Don't sit down. Keep moving to help avoid cramping in your muscles. Love your guys' content!!!!

  7. LOVE the in-race videos like this and RHC-Milan! Good job with the video and even better job by Si & Oscar. Although is this really a cross race?!?…I didn't see any hand-ups! 🙂

  8. I hav a ridley x-trail a20 gravel bike, i ride mostly on roads and i'm planning to purchase a mavic aksium disc wheelset that accomodates only up to 28c tires, would it be a good upgrade ? And won't it look ugly for a gravel bike frame having a smaller tire like 28c tires? Thanks #askgcn

  9. I"m at 300w and just maxed out, I feel quite weak! man those bikes cry out for a dropper and flat pedals, man those guys are so strong!

  10. Love these new features. This one and the Red Hook Crit video. Really interesting content. Keep it up…fun to watch. Also loved the sign at the finish for the “cake stall”

  11. I grew up in this area, right near the foot of Ingleborough. It is an amazing place to ride/walk/climb, and the CX race is an amazing event. There was a bit of an issue this year I heard of, however, with a wall and stile being damaged as riders tried to jump over it (apparently), so that needs to be addressed. But otherwise, it is a great event.

  12. I dont get tired watching this and guys 8th and 20th just shows that you love the sport great job and thanks for sharing your race insight.

  13. I absolutely love the video, but isn't riding a cyclo-cross bike on things better suited to a 29er and then needing to walk it, kind of just choosing the wrong tool for the job?

  14. Hi Si,
    Love your vids as always, they are getting better and better to me ! I would like to have your thoughts about using a CX bike for road 3/4 of the time, and for 1/4 of CX (of course) and commuting through some bumpy roads/terrains. I come from road-cycling but considering using my road bike in those 1/4 conditions hurt me a little bit. CX bikes seem more versatile and it seems more legit to use them more on the road than road-bike in mud. I saw you putting down some serious wattage on the flat, seems fun.
    Thank for amazing work again !

  15. It's funny to see they suffer on skinny tires and no suspension when you could just get on a mtb and have so much fun.

  16. Cyclocross – bunch of really fit guys carrying their road bikes across a muddy field.

    It is a tough sport, but you have to agree – to an outsider clueless as to what the thing is actually about it does look weird 🙂

  17. Looks pretty tough but the toughest? The toughest "cyclocross" race I ever did was in 2010, the Iron Cross in michaux Forest Pennsylvania USA. 62 miles, 7000 feet of climbing and just unbelievable Terrain. the winning time in 2010 was 4 hours and 3 minutes, it took me six and a half hours, I know most people will say after doing a race like that, "it was very difficult but I'm glad I did it" I was not glad I did that race and never did it again.

  18. I aspire to be as good as your advertizers. Not? I only spent 1,000 bucks on bicycles in the last three months. What is that? You aren't responsible for youtube ads? Yeah sure. Like I am not responsible to follow your channel.

  19. Being a GCN journalist/commentator looks like the best job in the world for an ex-pro racer. Fly all over the world to ride some of the most beautiful/gnarly/historic/epic rides imaginable. Heck, they wouldn’t even hafta pay me to do that job.

  20. That’s basically a bunch if guys carrying bikes on their backs while hiking. How hard can it be? Bicycles are not that heavy you know….

  21. I'm long past any possible competition but the logic of carrying your bike up a bluidy mountainside just doesn't come across as a cycling competition to me. If you can't use the bike to climb it, then bugger it.
    I'm sure there's more to it that that, but I just don't get it. Horses for courses, I would guess. Not knocking it in the least, just not something I would undertake short of a loaded weapon at my back. Tough buggers, you lot. You do yourselves proud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *