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3 Big Hills

I’ve managed to fulfil a long-term ambition of mine this weekend, and I’m feeling very satisfied albeit a bit sore too!!  It involved a few mates, a minibus, a round trip of 865 miles and quite a lot of huffing a puffing.

A few years back I heard about people doing the national three peaks challenge, walking up the highest mountain in each of Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scafell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon).  The aim of the challenge is to try and get them done in less than 24 hours.  I have been up each of these mountains individually in the past, but I reckoned, would it be do-able on a bike?  So there was only one way to find out…

I must point out that although Scafell Pike is the highest peak in England, there’s no legal access for bikes so I substituted it for Helvellyn which is the 3rd highest but still only 28m lower than Scafell Pike.

I’d thought of this some years back but only tentatively suggested it to a few of the lads year or so back, we ended up with five us in total, my brother Neil, brother in law Rob, friends Graeme & Mark, and myself.

So after a good few months of planning dates/cancelling/rescheduling etc, the big day finally arrived.  Graeme’s father in law Bill had offered to help with the driving and we’d got a mini bus from a local firm who agreed to take some seats out so we could get 6 bikes in (one each plus a spare).

Here we are loaded up and ready to go, plenty of spares for the bikes, the biggest pan of stew you’ve ever seen and more energy drinks than you could shake a stick at.

The only thing left to pack was Rob, my brother in law, and wew were picking him up en route in Scotland.

We got up to Fort William (the home of Ben Nevis) on the Friday night with a plan to set off up the hill between 9 &10 the next morning.  After a brief night’s sleep, and a bowl of porridge, here we are ready to go.

Departure time was 09.20hrs

I have to admit, Ben Nevis was horrendous!! At 1344m (4409ft) but starting from virtually sea level, it’s a long rocky hard climb.  Truth be told, the majority of the time we were pushing or carrying the bikes.  It was also a gloriously hot day, and, I must admit, I’ve never seen so many people on a mountain before, there were traffic jams literally!

Here’s a few pictures of the trip.  I’d also picked up a helmet camera so there’s some video too.

It was really hard work, the heat was making it tough and difficult to keep hydrated, I experienced cramp – which I’ve never had before, nasty isn’t it?

We topped out on the Ben by 12.50 so it was time for a quick bite and then head down as quick as possible.  Getting down was as tough as coming up with nearly as much carrying, this was partly down to the amount of people up there (we didn’t want to hurt anyone) and the terrain was very difficult.  Ironically, the natural stuff was fine, it was where the path had been repaired that it wasn’t al that bike friendly.

Being so high, there were other natural phenomenon to contend with.

The next vid is a bit long but you might get an idea of the stunning surroundings we were in, and also, why I love mountain biking so much.

This next vid is only a short one, but it shows the (literally) flip side to mountain biking.  I was less than half a mile from the bottom and obviously had my mind on other things.

I did a bit of damage to my bike and a bit to myself but nothing too major!  Anyway we managed up and down the Ben in 5.5 hours so time for a quick bite to eat and off we go south of the border.

We got down to Glenridding, home of Helvellyn by 20.15 hours, so time for the quick obligatory group photo and off we go.

Helvellyn (950m, 3117ft) was a great ride, the sun setting  made for some really dramatic skies and although we topped out in darkness, we were really pleased with the ride after Ben Nevis.  There was still an element of pushing involved on the trickier stuff, but all in all a great ride.

This is a shot of us at the top – Honest!!

So it was 2 hours to the top and about 30-45 mins to get down.  Here’s a short vid of mountain biking in the dark.

Down we got, a quick bowl of beans &  sausages and back in the van to Wales.

We hit Llanberis (home of Snowdon) by 05.00 so we only had 4 hours and 20 minutes to get up and down to hit our 24 hour target.  Time for the group shot and off we go.

Snowdon (1085m 3560ft)was fantastic!  It was the perfect time to ride it, lovely early morning sunshine and not too hot.  Funnily enough, we bumped into quite a few walkers who we’d seen on Ben Nevis the previous day – all were doing the 3 peak challenge obviously!  It wasn’t an easy ride by any means, and at some points I was looking at the mountain railway thinking I’d got the wrong mode of transport, but we topped out  in less than three hours in the glorious early morning sunshine. Anyway, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Here’s a short vid of the summit.

After a storming downhill, we bottomed out in well under an hour so we made our 24 hour deadline with 20 minutes to spare – Happy Days!!

After a quick skinny dip in the lake to get rid of the grime, it was over to Pete’s Eats (café) for a big breakfast (no hash browns) and a gentle drive home with a very satisfied feeling.

All in all it was a great trip, I don’t think I’d do it again but we set ourselves a challenge and I’m really glad that we were up to completing it.

Bdooly hell Jonty I'm knackered just READING what you did! What an achievement - well done you!  You must have calf muscles like King Kong by now. Love Lizzie

Brilliant achievement!! the piks are great. Sooo if your not going to do that challenge again what have you got in the pipeline for next year  

Well done the lot of you    

Nice one Jonty  

Haven't been up Helvellyn in yonks, used to be at Patterdale for 08:00, up throught the hole in the wall, up swirrel edge - quick brew - down striding edge and get back to the hole in the wall just as the first of the crowds appeared.

I'm far too unfit to do that now, need to give up smoking I think  

Wow!!!Impressive        You must all be as stiff as boards today. Well done.
Grandma Bodger

well done all of you, as said what an achievement out of that good looking group dare I ask which one is Jonty ?

A bit fitter than I am these days. Great pictures

Well done you guys some achivement  

THanks folks, it was a tough old 24 hours but looking back it was well worth it.  I still wouldn't do it again though.  I'd do another three in 24 hours as long as it didn't include Ben Nevis - that just wasn't a pleasant thing to do with a bicycle.

I am absolutely stiff as a board today, my legs are killing me!!

Dan, I'm still working on the next plan, watch this space......

Grandma Bodger, unfortunately, I'm the short one!!

Brilliant mate! Seriously well done, again. I hope I did my bit to keep your morale up, & that my words of encouragement had a wee bit to do with keeping you motivated

wot a great post Jonty    i've been sat around on my now fat 'arris for nigh on 6 weeks and today was my first day back at work.....i was blinkin knackered tacklin the stairs never mind Ben Nevis ...........

Well done matey,

I just reading that I lost another kilo.  

Don't know about sore legs, bet you had a sore "arris" they say udder cream, keeps you right.

Border wrote:
Don't know about sore legs, bet you had a sore "arris" they say udder cream, keeps you right.

You tend not to get a sore arris pushing a bike Border      Actually we were lathered up with 'udderly smooth' which is very soothing

I missed this when it was first posted.
I'm staggered! Well done all of you.
Great pics too, although a shame you did Yorkshire in the dark ;)

Glad you liked it Mo

If anyone has 20 minutes to spare, it's worth taking a look at this.  My brother is a teacher and he did the ride for a charity relating to a boy from his school who died of cancer.  He wanted to show the lads at school what they'd sponsored him for so we gave him the camera and he filmed his descent of Sowdon.  As he was going to show this in an assembly he was really going for it and it does give you some idea of how much fun you can have on a bike, and what they'll cope with. It took us 3 hours to get up, and it took less than 20 minutes to get down!!

I must stress that there's a voluntary ban (imposed by bikers themselves) on riding between 10 and 5 during the summer to avoid any accidents between bikes and walkers at the busy times.

Jonty wrote:
 You tend not to get a sore arris pushing a bike Border      

Yeah I noticed in some of the pics one of you was carrying a bike, why was that?

Border wrote:
Yeah I noticed in some of the pics one of you was carrying a bike, why was that?

A hell of a lot of Ben Nevis just isn't rideable on the way up mate and pushing the bike can get quite difficult.  I fitted a loop to my frame so that I could clip it with a carabiner to my rucsac for sections of it too.

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