Formed in June 09, Here Come the Belgians is a non-elite anti-team celebrating all things cross, cobbled and Belgian.
Seeking a different experience to the traditional cycling club, its aim is to harness the energy of a vibrant internet cycling community with grass roots racing and riding based around Cyclocross and Spring Classics. There is no race programme in the style of a racing team, more a collection of individual experiences through rides and racing, in whatever location a member may be, that all can share in and contribute toward.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

3 Peaks A supporters story

The Mists of Time
After what has seemed like a lifetime the day dawned cold damp and misty I was about to lose my 3 Peaks cherry (well as a supporter at least).

The fascination of this race I have to be honest as completely eluded me, why carry your bike surely the addition of wheels and pedals are so it can be ridden?
However Crossjunkie's enthusiasm is all consuming and a little infectious, certainly enough to draw me in as support crew. One Sunday morning Peaks training sufficiently burned my quads to banish all thoughts of actually taking part to the security box at the back of my brain that never should be opened!
So after studying the support crew instructions and sitting through a complete photographic account of the course and noting my instructions on PSI, Bottles, Bikes and where to position ones self I think I was as well prepared as could be expected.
Sunday and a 6am wake up seemed just a little to early for my body but after a good breakfast we were soon loaded up.

HCtB Support Bus

The early start paid off well allowing us to park not too far up the hill and allowing a gentle preamble to sign on, only a quick jog back up the hill for Alan to collect his survival bag and whistle!

The walk of the condemned Man

Once Alan was kitted up and ready I left him with half an hour to go to the start to make my way to Cold Cotes ready to meet him at the bottom of the decent bike and bottle in hand.
The marshals were absolutely first class and they had me parked up in prime position. I had packed ipod and cycling magazine to pass the time however fellow HCtB rider OtleyRich better half came bearing homemade cakes - its tough being support crew!! and the atmosphere around the transition ensured both stayed tucked inside my rucksack.
Some friendly banter with other support teams and I was off to secure my position on the road.
The stunning scenery was suddenly disturbed with a sharp whistle and the cry of riders as Jebby and Craig flew off the fell onto the road - the atmoshere was electric with cheers and shouts as riders came into view.
Like many I had mixed emotions as I waited for my rider to come off the fell, Rich closely followed by Winkie came through and looking at the timings Alan had worked out he should be arriving at any moment, a little worry started to creep in as thoughts turned to mechanicals or worse a fall.
Alan came into view and I could see no obvious problems a quick bottle exchange and "I'm good" confirmed all was well. A quick cheer as he disappeared down the road and then a jog up the road to the car to load the bike and sort the bottles ready for Ribblehead and I was off.
A quick sandwich and fruit on route and again well marshaled area saw me parked up with ease and a short walk with bike and bottles to the foot of the last steps.

Again it was a mixture of emotions as riders picked their route down the final section, riders were coming past bruised, blooded, mud covered and battered bikes, the race was beginning to flex its muscles.
The support was great every rider was cheered and encouraged as they went by, bikes, wheels, bottles, bananas and gels were transferred with professional calm and speed.
Relief as Alan made the decent looking good and a quick bike change and he was off heading towards the final climb looming ominously in the distance.
A steady drive to the final climb doing my best to make sure riders on the road had plenty of room and oncoming cars and bikes didn't cut too close - 2.5 tonnes of truck have there uses at times!
Pen y Gent is the straw that broke many a rider, watching various stages of fatigue as riders made their way was humbling to watch, again everyone got a cheer and words of encouragement from the people lining the route. Bikes and bodies were now looking battered.
Rich flew past and with a click of heels he disappeared down the hill, Winkie followed closely but was looking like he was running on empty.
Alan came down descending with a confidence not seen before - great to see. No mechanicals and no bottles required he was off down the hill for the final section to the finish.
Three Belgian's finished without injury or mechanical failures, a fantastic result to a truly amazing event.
A well deserved drink and food and it was off home to reflect on the day.
So will there be more Belgians at next years event??
My stance changed from never ever too a week before caught up in Alan's enthusiasm to well maybe once just to say I had done it. On the drive over I really felt the urge to be riding (was this just down to the fact it was my normal Sunday time to be out on the bike?).
At Ribblehead I found myself scouting lines, was the race starting to bite?
So a great effort and well done to those that took part truly impressive and to all the marshals a big thank you for making the event run so well and finally to all the support crews who aided their riders well done.
So here's to next year and the hope of seeing more Black and white Belgian shirts taking to the start.

Sub Note
if you do not intend to ever do this race do not go as support to a rider as the there is definitely something about the event that seeps into you, whether it is the mist shrouded hills in the morning, the stunning landscape or the atmosphere from start to finish I can assure you it will draw you in.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mark for making it happen.

    I had hoped my extensive photographic essay would have put you off enough to ensure that there was no way that you would ride next year.

    Looks like I may have to give you your P45...... and look for a new pit crew.