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.

Monday, 8 October 2012

50th Anniversary Three Peaks

To use that much misused term 'that was epic'! The weather gave everyone involved an event to remember and a fitting send off for John Rawnsley as he steps down from over fifty years of organising  the toughest and best cyclocross race in the world. The icing on the cake was HCTB made the front cover!
HCTB on the cover!

It was obvious from the outset that this was going to be a slow year and with rumours of flooded parking Jo and I made an extra early start to bag a reasonable parking slot. The build up had seen the usual giddy discussions of equipment, mainly tyre/tub choices but spiced up with the possibility of tubeless (ridden by Jason to an excellent 54th place - Jebby looked like he was on tubeless in the pictures as well) and the increasingly noticeable disc brakes. By the week before discussions had turned to fitting football studs to aid the expected sodden ascent of Simon Fell. Training had been going well in August, a few cols in the Alps and some longer off road rides on the Van Dessel G&T CX bikes round the 'Dales. With September came the start of the CX season and four (!) Yorkshire points races before the 'Peaks and somewhat less endurance riding than hoped for.

Not doing an "Ian" (Photo Jonathan Jolly)
Wandering round with plenty of time before the start catching up with friends from all over the country as well as what seemed like the entire population of my twitter feed makes the 'Peaks as much a social gathering as a race, well a social gathering with a somewhat testing 'interlude' as its focus. The chit chat and banter began to subside as the start time drew near and people made last minute adjustments or decisions regarding clothing. I opted for displaying the HCTB colours and stuffed the cape away bargaining on the fairly mild temperatures and the 'keep on moving' approach to temperature regulation. As it turned out I was soaked but comfy all day. The race itself has been covered more eloquently by many other 'Belgians' (many hiding in their first claim sponsor's colours;-) already so check out Al crossjunkie, '24' Tom HillCheryl, Greg, Jason and Dave Haygarth.

Here Come the Belgians 3 Peaks Results:

25th Dave Haygarth Planet X Bikes 03:49:51
54th Jason Miles Team JMC/Titus/On-One 04:03:06
81st Richard Allen Here Come The Belgians 04:13:20
115th Bruce Attwood Here Come The Belgians 04:25:18
136th Alan Dorrington Planet X Bikes 04:31:22
154th Simon Nurse Cardiff JIF/Cyclopaedia 04:37:49
166th Simon Fox Here Come The Belgians 04:39:52
169th Gus French Here Come The Belgians 04:41:12
209th Tom Hill Garage Bikes 04:50:29
210th Greg May Team WORC Ireland04:50:31
242nd Michael Burdon Overoptimists/ Ilkley CC 04:57:25
256th Winkie Thin Here Come The Belgians 04:59:50
297th Carl Nelson Here Come The Belgians 05:09:08
421st Phil Haygarth Here Come The Belgians 05:41:27
Konrad Manning Rapha dnf

My race went pretty smoothly, I felt OK all the way round but was 'mincing' it a bit on the descents especially once the brake pads had worn down. I must be getting used to the various legs as this year they all seemed to fly by, the tricky sections not lasting as long as I remembered or imagined.  A brief chat with Phil as we dibbed together on the summit on Pen-y-Ghent before he disappeared downward and I followed more tentatively with barely any brake pads left. Apologies for the yelled 'rider down' but I really couldn't stop on several sections, the water splash was a welcome deceleration feature! Hitting the road section I felt strong and chased down a couple of riders who'd gotten away on the descent just before the final dip into Helwith Bridge and then there was the lovely satisfied "I'm going to finish without mechanicals, beer and cake await" sensation.

Equipment wise tyres were the reliable but heavy Land Cruisers. I rode the Van Dessel Gin and Trombones as their final exam, one year on and still ace, completely trouble free, a stable comfy ride and didn't need to swap bikes at Ribblehead. Given the state of my brake blocks however on the descent of PYG I perhaps should have swapped to the second G&T! I stayed well fuelled aiming for a gel approximately every hour (one pre-start, then at Cold Cotes, Whernside, Ribblehead and bottom of PYG lane) along with a bottle going over Ingleborough  and on each road section. Staying properly fuelled keeps you warm as well as preventing the dreaded 'bonk'.
They were new at the start!

Big thanks to Jo and Ellie for support with the bikes and to Mark, Nick Waggett, John Hardiman, Tim Kershaw, Jonathan, Nicole & Laura Jolly, Cheryl and all the others who shouted encouragement or took photos but especially John Parkinson and the other marshals - awesome job.


  1. And the cake. Many thanks to Jo for the cake at the finish, perked me right up that did :)

  2. Cheers Steve - glad you enjoyed it :) I was really disappointed to miss some of the other Belgians so this is a cake-apology - but the weather didn't lend itself to sitting around like the last couple of years... planning to be there next year with the usual motherlode!


  3. Great write up Rich and cheers for the 'big up'