The legend John North, who was also the chair of the FRA (Fell Runners Association) back then aside from being a true master of cyclo-cross, wrote this great write-up in the 1978 Fell Runner magazine
(link to the magazine here at time of writing)
John went on to win the 1980 event
Thanks to David Gow for bringing this article to my attention
THE THREE PEAK CYCLO CROSS – September 24th
by John North
The route of the cross event is different to our race, the start is in the same field but then turnsright going out of the gate and up the road to Ribblehead, and just to make sure the race gets off to a good start, there’s a £10 prize for the first man to the viaduct, then the route is the same over Whernside to Hill Inn, from here is down the road for about 4m. turn left and up through the limestone escarpment and past Meregill Pot and straight up the face of Ingleborough then over Simon Fell to Selside down the road to Horton, up Pen-y-Ghent by the same route as we use now and back the same route. I was first talked into having a try at the Peaks Cross by Pete Walkington when training with him in the Duddon Valley for the 1975 Vaux. I had been thinking of buying a bike for sometime and Pete’s account of the event was enough to see me visiting the local cycle shops.
Two weeks later on a standard road bike I had a go, I lost count of the number of times I fell off. After the top of Whernside I was more or less with the same group of riders so what they did I did, or tried to do, it was mostly a case of run past on the up hill and get re past on the downhill sections, usually when I was removing the bike or myself or both from some bog or other I finished 16th and it was one of the best days fun I have ever had, damage to me and the bike non.
A year later I was back again, didn’t fall off as much and as a result I Improved to 12th but was very dissatisfied as Pete finished 11th!!! Last year I had a new cross bike and rode as a member of Bronte Wheelers, having done a few cross events the previous winter I was a bit more of a cyclist; as usual I found the start up the road sheer murder but by the top of Whernside I was about 8th and held this until the climb up Pen-y-Ghent, Eric Stone who rides for Ron Kitching, was out on h own, with a group of 6 riders together including the Bronte team of Chris Wilkinson, John Bell and Tom Macdonald about 10 mins. down, I caught this group about half-way up Pen-y-Ghent and this ment 4 Bronte riders for three team places!!! By the top I was second, but John Atkins, 9 time national champion gave me a bike riding lesson on the way down, particularly jumping drainage ditches. John and his bike did, I did but my bike didn’t, Chris caught me at the shooting but and we had a great battle down the lane with Chris and myself trying to ride each other up the walls or anything else handy, we passed each other a number of times but at the finish Chris pinned me to the kerb and then out sprinted me for 4th place, and that between close friends, cross can be a bit rougher than running
This year I found myself billed as the main challenger to Eric Stone, Ron Kitching Cycles. The race was run in awful conditions, heavy rain, low cloud and thick mist which made bike control on the descents very difficult. I had a bad start getting someone’s pedal in my rear wheel in the sprint for the gate at the start, I was hoping for a good ride up the road so I could be with Eric at the bottom of Whernside, but it wasn’t to be. I had to work very hard up the road to get back with the leaders. I got within 50 yds, of Eric about a third of the way up Whernside but from then on he pulled away, by the top I was second with Ian Jewell also riding for Ron Kitching. I managed to get away on the descent, not by better riding but by taking more risks. I had too if I was to catch Eric, but I never did. After Whernside I didn’t see another rider until Eric and myself crossed near the top of Pen-y-Ghent, I v.as about 3 mins. down but 15 mins. up on John Atkins in third place, so I had only one worry, could I catch Eric on the descent. Just to give some idea of what a cross ride and bike can do, from the top of Pen-y-Ghent the only time you have to get off the bike is for the stile about a third of the way down, all of the descent is ridable and most of it very fast, but 1 over did the risk taking and on the rocky track about 3 m. from the top I lost control and smashed my gear mech. into my rear wheel and had to run most of the way to the shooting but where I changed bikes. I had a steady ride from here as there was no hope of catching the leader. It was just a matter of finishing 2nd, 7 minutes down on Eric. But for my trouble at the start it would have been a more interesting race but my money would still have been on Eric, this year.
Pete Walkington, Bronte W., and Alan Evans, Kent Valley had very good rides to finish 4th and 5th, Dennis Beresford improved to 10th, Tom Robertshaw to 17th, Pete Bland 21st and Pete Dawes also finished. Well done the fell runners.
- Eric Stone Ron Kitching Cycles.
- John North Bronte Wheelers
- John Atkins Harry Quinn Cycles
- Pete Walkington Bronte Wheelers
- Alan Evans Kent Valley R.C.
other fell runners:
-10th Dennis Beresford Bronte Wheelers
18th Tom Robertshaw Bronte Wheelers
21st Pete Bland Kent Valley R.C.
41st Pete Dawes Kent Valley R.C.
As many of our readers will know John North now does quite a bit of Cyclo Cross in the winter months and they will be interested to know that John finished 6th in the recent Northern Championships at Bishop Aukland won by Eric Stone. (From the Daily Telegraph) – Ed.