The joy of steps: Three Peaks blog

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

By Simon Scarsbrook

So, a weekend of training, and a good one at that – a steady 35 mile, 3000ft of climbing on/off road route up and down the North Downs. Hard to believe at times that I was inside the M25, with views over the City glimpsed (as well as a red deer).

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I can be up in the hills in about 10 minutes, but there are hills, & there are hills and preparing for the ascents of Ingleborough, Wernside & Pen-Y-Gent does, I think, require a bit of inventiveness to replicate.

Photographs of the first ascent – Simon Fell(!), leading up to Ingleborough, always look as if the photographer has used a bit of artistic licence and tilted the camera a fraction, as participants take on a slightly medieval look, battling toward the (false) summit(s). It really is as steep as it looks though, a shock to the system, and to the calves if unprepared.

Training wise, the best answer, I think, is to find the longest/steepest hill and walk up repeatedly with your bike on your shoulder, but there are other ways to replicate when that isn’t available. Back in the day, long distance walking/scrambling always served me well, and my brother (riding his fifth event this year after a nine-year gap) and I hit upon the idea of step-ups. I am pretty sure others do this, and for us it seemed perfect.

1 – use a garden bench, or construct something sturdy of the same height (around 50-60cm height)

2 – with your bike on your shoulder, step up and down for 20-40 minutes (swapping your ‘leading’ leg every five minutes or so)

That’s it in a nutshell. I am aware it may not work for everyone, and possibly feels like a poor relation to the real thing, but used in conjunction with other training it has always helped. It’s the sort of thing you can do in the evening after work, and it doesn’t necessitate too much preparation.

There’s no need to wear all your gear, and a pair of headphones help! (think turbo-training). Importantly though, it does get you accustomed to the bike on your back and the best way to carry and shift its weight to suit.

On the minus side, if like me you do it in the back garden, all your neighbours’ fears for your sanity, will be confirmed.

Simon Scarsbrook –

Once more unto the Peaks: Three Peaks blog

Simon Scarsbrook is aiming to take part in his 18th Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross this year, but is struggling with motivation