On May 27th 2012, 136 riders from 15 nations gathered at Finale Ligure, Italy to decide who was the best of the best 24 hour solo mountain bike rider, and Manchester’s Jason Miles (Team JMC / On One / Clif Bar) rose through the field showing the calm and all the experience of someone who has been doing this for years (he has!) to take the silver medal.
A four-time finisher of the Three Peaks, Jason will be back again this year for one of his favourite races in Helwith Bridge. I caught up with one of our new heroes to ask him about what the medal meant and how his experience of massive (okay, daft) lengthy rides translates into a ride at the Three Peaks
DH: So – silver medal in a world championships – must have felt great and I’m sure it still does – will you be back next year?
JM: Of course! I had some limited information on the other competitors at the World’s – RAAM racers, multiple 24 hour race winners, top MTB marathon racers, the current 24 Hour Solo World Champion, that sort of thing – so I was realistically aiming for a top 5 finish. Claiming second place was the stuff of dreams really. I’ve had wins in the UK but this one felt more like a “win” than any of them. The only potential problem with the World 24 Hour Champs next year is that they’re in Australia so there’s a potential cost problem (I’m not sponsored by an airline yet) but even if I don’t make it I’ll still be on the start line of a good four or five 24 hour races as usual, at least one of them overseas.
DH. I chat to you after the 3 peaks each year and you’re usually about to cycle 50 odd miles home (to north Manchester) after the finish. You clearly have a screw loose, but do you suffer at all from fatigue on ‘only’ a 4 hour(ish) race?
JM: Of course I suffer. I’m giving it full beans like everyone else is and by the time I roll back into Helwith Bridge I’m glad it’s all over. Duration means nothing in the 3 Peaks, it’s still one of the hardest, if not THE hardest bike races out there and unlike anything else. The ‘Peaks does however take place only a few days before a 24 hour race in Scotland so I’ve usually got one eye on that and I’m keen to get some hard miles in.
DH. Do you ever save yourself in the race knowing you’re riding home afterwards?
JM: Nope. I’ll worry about the ride home when I’m riding home.
DH: Is the three peaks still very special to you or does it blend into other (longer!) events?
JM: Of all the races I take part in each year, including the ultra-endurance ones where I expect (and I’m expected) to do well, the 3 Peaks is the one that I look forward to the most and would be most disappointed if I wasn’t lucky enough to get a place. Strange really, as it’s the one race where my expectations, in terms of finishing position, are comparatively low. When people say “it’s a special race”, they’re not overstating things. It’s very, very special and it’s been a genuine privilege to have been a small part of it for the past few years.
DH: What’s your worst 3 peaks moment?
JM: There’s been a few. The persistent cramp of the 2009 race, the snapped chain and my over-the-bars, cracked helmet crash in 2010. The first time I experienced the full horror of the Simon Fell climb…
DH: And your best?
JM: PINNING* the Whernside steps in my first 3 Peaks to the delight of dozens of onlookers. (Those stone steps and slabs still scare the bejesus out of me though).
*Pinning – riding without getting off/putting a foot down, Displaying Rad Skillz…
DH: Finally, would you ever find time in your busy riding schedule to do any specific training just for the three peaks?
JM: Yes. I’m going to take a year out of 24 hour racing and spend an entire 12 months planning and training specifically for this event, instead of my usual panicked 4 or 5 weeks. Not sure which year yet. Erm…..
See Jason and his team JMC mates Dave Powell and Phil Simcock (both also 3 peaks riders) in action at the WEMBO race here: