Cyclo Cross fun at the 3 Peaks

Well, perhaps not fun, more a slog up and down Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent with mud, gravel and rocks thrown in for good measure.

Starting and finishing in Helwith Bridge, the 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross covers 38 miles, 34 of which is rideable, and with 5,000 of climbing, a lot of that on foot. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. Conditions can change quickly and the race regulations state that a whistle and a survival bag must be carried at all times and any competitor found not to have either of those will be disqualified.  Also, depending on weather conditions the organisers can mandate at the start that a waterproof jacket must be carried.

The 2017 edition, the 55th running of the event, held Sunday 24th September, was rewarded with a fine autumn day although the recent heavy rain meant there were plenty of muddy patches to test the riders. Seven riders represented Otley Cycle Club, brothers James and Ian Cullen, Tim Howcroft, Peter Middlemiss, Andrew Moxon, Steve Renshaw and Jon Sharpe, most of them for the umpteenth time. But before we report on their exploits, there are two other riders in particular worthy of a mention, without whom the race might not exist. One of those riders is a former Otley CC TT champion and Triangle rider.

The first of them is Kevin Watson, who was the first recorded rider of the 3 Peaks. Kevin rode the course in 1959 to test whether or not it was possible to complete it by bike and the 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross website has information on his ride here. Obviously a natural on the bike, Kevin spent many years riding for our club, competing in Triangle events and winning club championships. Then there’s John Rawnsley of Bradford RCC. The race definitely wouldn’t be here if not for John. He organised and won the first one in 1961 then organised it again for 50 years and rode most of those too, only stopping both due to the inevitable advancing years. John can still be seen at the event, no doubt wishing he was still riding.  Chapeau John!

John Rawnsley, Bradford RCC. Photograph courtesy of Rouleur Magazine

And talking of riding the 3 Peaks multiple times, back to our riders.

Ian has the most rides with 25. Obviously Ian’s a glutton for punishment and Jon has mentioned that one of his friends from medical school is a consultant psychiatrist if Ian feels the need to contact him! Andrew’s next with 10, followed by Tim on 7 out of 8 starts (he unfortunately broke his arm in one when his tyre blew on the Ingleton road), then James and Peter on 6. Steve didn’t let his first experience of the Peaks last year put him off and returned for his second helping this year. More used to riding his sleek TT machine round the Triangle, 2017 was Jon’s first plunge into the experience.

At the start

Jon looks pensive before his first 3 Peaks…

…but still manages to smile

Steve wisely has plenty of supplies with him


…and Ian arrive late and push their way in at the front of the peloton!

James checks his rear wheel is still there

One of many spare wheel mules

World Champion present

Times were down on 2016, our fastest rider Steve recording 4:21:24, 11 minutes 57 seconds shy of his 2016 time. Ian’s time was 4:37:41 (4:32:25 in 2016) with Tim just 2 seconds – count ’em Tim – behind in 4:37:43 (4:21:21). James was next in 5:04:00 (4:57:34), Andrew recorded 5:09:13 (4:51:13), Peter 5:22:19 (didn’t ride 2016) and 1st-timer Jon 5:41:00. It’s worth pointing out that Jon stopped on Simon Fell to help a rider with a dislocated shoulder who was thankfully rescued by the Fell Rescue Team.

Paul Oldham of Hope Factory Racing was overall winner in 3:06:16 with Christina Wiejak (Barrow Central Wheelers) first woman in 4:05:44.

Full results courtesy of SPORTident.


Winner Paul Oldham of Hope Factory Racing leads on the approach to Chapel-le-Dale

Team mate and 11-time winner Rob Jebb follows two minutes later

First Men’s Over 50 rider and six time winner in the 80s Tim Gould bides his time at the rear of a small bunch

Christina Wiejak (in blue helmet) of Barrow Central Wheelers on her way winning the women’s category

Steve is our first rider through

Ian gets some shelter

Ryan Middlemiss who was riding with dad Peter in the Father and Son category

Megan Cullen and Harry Hunt out on the course supporting our riders

Jon still happy enough to wave


Long standing Otley CC members Lesley and Alan Wilson look after son Philip at Ribblehead

Is that a smile Tim?

Andrew reaching for a bottle, not to shake someone’s hand – or to throttle them for making him ride!

Peter stopping for refreshments at Ribblehead

Support was from Tony Beddis who has ridden the event himself and whose niece Delia, riding for Vicious Velo, was women’s winner in 2013 and 2016