Simon Scarsbrook is aiming to take part in his 18th Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross this year

By Simon Scarsbrook

Training this week:
‘Park run’ x 1
Back garden step-ups x1 (maybe 2)
Hilly commute to work x3 (13 miles each way including bridleways)
Racing x 1
Alcohol units: yes

My ‘morale’ was boosted this week by the first London League cyclocross of the winter series, held in Brighton. Fast, hilly and hot, it was also my first as a ‘vet50’ Although I started un-gridded at the back, I don’t think I did too shabbily (8th). Forty minutes is not 4 hours though, and I have a plan to ride both the V50’s & the Seniors next week (on an equally hilly course).

For the 3 Peaks, I will use my race bike, with slightly heavier wheels (Mavic open pro on 32 spoked Hope hubs), but as yet can’t decide on tyre choice.

Any tyre is a compromise. The parcour of each peak is so different, and then there is the tarmac in between. Ideally something with grip, with a good central ‘ridge’ to aid rolling resistance on the road, strong sidewalls, but not too heavy.

Depending on the weather on the day of course, grip is handy for the descent of Ingleborough (a rocky path leading to grass, bog, and grassy bogs with a bit of rock).

Whernside has a plateau path leading down to some rock slabs, with bog and grass to the sides – before the slabs were placed, the path comprised of old wooden doors, propped up by a boulder at the bottom, some with gloss paint and handles! Slippy, but handily placed canvas ‘nets’ stopped you from falling into the bogs either side! – (although a friend once fell in, missing the net and emerged under one – scary!).

Both Whernside and Pen-Y-Ghent have plenty of tyre splitting raised drainage channels and loose rocks, so Dugasts probably not advised.

My choice is between, the undisputed big daddy tyre of the 3 Peaks, the ‘Schwalbe Landcruiser’, cheap, bomb-proof and they roll well on the road, their only downside is weight. And, a pair of ‘Maxxis Locusts’  (discontinued, but similar to the ‘Maxxis Raze’). They are a bit grippier, definitely lighter but a tad slower on the road I think.

As to tyre pressure, I tend to go with around 70/80psi. which suits the way I ride, I am not the fastest descender, and prefer a bit of ‘control’ (an age thing I think!). There was a time when the advise was to ‘pump your tyres up as hard as you can’, the nervous silence during the morning before the ‘off’ was interspersed with loud bangs from the car park, and, usually repeated at the first corner of the race!

Simon Scarsbrook – simon.scarsbrook@freelance.timeinc.com