The 3 Peaks cyclo-cross race is described as one of the toughest events in the UK.
This Sunday sees the 49th edition of the race go ahead and the largest ever field of competitors will line up to tackle the 38 mile route. Doesn't sound a lot but there's over 5000ft of mostly unrideable climbing to contend with. Don't believe us? Just take a look at this video:
So now you know a little about the race, and what exactly it entails, we can hand over to Whyte who have been preparing a special bike for the occasion, based on the just released Saxon Cross.
Whyte prepares special Saxon Cross cyclo-cross bike especially for the race
Whyte designer Ian Alexander decided to enter the race. And being a bike designer, you wouldn't expect him to turn up with a standard off the shelf bike would you? Nope, he's only gone and made some interesting modifications to his bike.
We'll let Ian take you through the details:
Just over a year ago I was trying to make my mind up as to what bike I should ride the 3 Peaks on. It was actually a difficult thing to nail down.
You could still run flat bars if you wanted, but that's not a CX bike lets face it. But while I wanted to respect the long history of the race with a traditional looking CX bike, I wanted some technology in there as well, like disc brakes, and some geometry that was more off-road than pure road. Despite a lot of searching around, there was nothing readily available that would let me build the bike I was riding in my head.
In the event, the 2010 3 Peaks didn't happen for me at all, as family events intervened. But at about the same time we got the nod to develop the Whyte CX bike for 2012 production. I settled on a design and the first prototype frames arrived not long before Christmas which was lucky, as for the following month snow sat on the ground and a load of miles got put on the prototypes that otherwise probably would have been put on other projects.
Confidence and control were the two key objectives of the Whyte geometry on these bikes, and we achieved that with longer and slacker frame geometry and wide bars and short stems. The combined effect really produced a step in performance when properly off road.
Other MTB design cues are the continuous outer cable runs (top tube of course) front facing slot in the seat tube clamp, and post mount disc brake tabs on the forks and the rear dropouts, clean tidy and quick to set-up.
The Race bike and the T bike I'm taking to Helwith Bridge are the early iterations of the prototypes. They spawned the Kings Cross, Charring Cross and Saxon Cross models launched in July. So to bring the project full circle, the 2011 3 Peaks will be the final test for the prototypes.
We also have Dave Haygarth, who races in the Wheelbase team, very kindly running the third prototype Whyte this year. Dave's a top 10 finisher, and has an unbroken run of 3Peaks since '95.
Whyte were very fortunate to secure a set of the not-yet-released Hope hydraulic disc brake converters to try out which means I should be hoping for rain and wet conditions to maximize any advantage these fantastic brakes are going to liberate.
Wheels and tyres are always the subject of a lot of 3 Peaks discussion, and I've been approaching this from an MTB perspective as well. Full UST 29'er MTB wheels with standard Maxxis Locust CX tyres and a bottle of Latex per tyre, have so far proved really reliable down to just 45psi.
But for the Peaks I'm hoping this set-up will prove reliable and light with a tubeless set-up at 65 psi, hopefully mitigating the risk of pinch flats on the notorious rocky stretches, I'm hoping so anyway. The big benefit has also been the wide rim width of the 29'er MTB rims meaning much less tyre roll and thus better cornering stability thanks to the 21mm rim width on the 33mm tyres.
Groupset is SRAM, as thanks to some cross compatibility between their road and MTB groups I'll run 2x10 XX crank (42/28) and an 11-36 cassette with a short cage XO rear mech. I have got the new Shimano CX-70 top pull front mech though, as it negates the use of one of those pesky rollers on the frame... A short 70mm Whyte stem, and the widest possible FSA shallow drop alloy bars complete the cockpit.
So there we are, I think I've got it covered but I'll find out on Sunday afternoon if it's back to the drawing board on not...
A while back we got to first ride the new Whyte cyclo-cross bike, the article of which you can read again here if you missed it first time around.
Good luck from everyone at Bikemagic Ian.