3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross: No Gravel Bikes Allowed

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The latest tweak to the Bike Regulations in the 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross rule book confirm the event’s cyclo-cross intentions. No suspension forks or frames (but suspension stems and seatposts still allowed?)

NWCCA rider Dave Haygarth racing at the 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross in 2017

The 59th Edition of the 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross takes place on Sunday 24th September this year. Although the course has remained the same, the type of bicycle tech permitted has altered over the decades. Especially so since the turn of the 21st century.

Disc brakes are allowed. Carbon frames and forks and wheels are allowed. Tubeless tyres are allowed. Clip-in pedals are allowed.

There are still some bit of modern bike tech that the organisers will not accept; the event’s definition of the cyclo-cross bike is still pretty rigid.

And we think that’s only right and proper.

If you’re competing in what many regard as the world’s toughest and longest-running cyclo-cross race, you should be on a cyclo-cross bike. The organisers are helping preserving the event’s heritage.

There are plenty of other events that will allow non-cyclo-cross bicycles in.

So what is allowed in the 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross now?

Compared to last year’s rule book, there is only one amendment (that we can spot!) that intends to clarify the organisers’ stance on suspension.

Here are the specifications as described in the rule book:

14.1 The race is for cyclo-cross bikes with drop handlebars only. The use of mountain bikes and road bikes is prohibited. Noted the similarities of gravel and cyclo-cross bikes, the only race rules pertaining to cycle design shall be:

  • That 27″, 29” or 700mm wheels in mountain bike frames will not be allowed;
  • The width of the tyre cannot be more than 35mm as displayed on the tyre;
  • Frame or fork suspension of any form is prohibited;
  • No flared or flat handlebars are to be used
  • Handlebar width shall be no greater than 440mm; and,
  • Axles shall be 12mm through axles or quick release only

NB: the previous year’s rule book had this regulation about suspension: “Suspension of any form is prohibited

Does that mean that suspension stems and seatposts are allowed? (We’ve reached out to the organisers for clarification and will update this story as and when we get more info.)

Just to remind those whom it may concern, when we asked one of the organisers (Mark Richmond) back in 2017 to clarify their stance on suspension, he replied:

“No suspension will be allowed. John Rawnsley [the previous organiser] and I had a lengthy discussion and John also consulted with British Cycling. We feel the need to preserve the nature of the event and not to allow it to evolve into a MTB race, for example John banned flat bars when disc brakes became popular. Gravel is something else and not to be confused with CX so we won’t be allowing larger tyres in [either].”

3peakscyclocross.org.uk

You can read our report from the 2017 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross below:

Whistler: A Singletrack Destination Guide

Graubünden | Singletrack Magazine Destination Guide

Crans Montana MTB Destination Guide

Nevis Range Mountain Resort, Scotland


Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 64 total)
  • 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross: No Gravel Bikes Allowed
  • FunkyDunc
    Free Member

    Those rules have changed quite a lot over the years already. It wasnt long back that the tyre width was a max 32mm. 35mm is quite a big difference!

     

    I would personally make it a rule of no bike or wheel changes allowed. It would then make it more about rider skill than how deep a riders pockets are, although to be fair I imagine the top guys probably dont end up changing many wheels or bikes.

    fooman
    Full Member

    Clickbait title! Essentially gravel bikes are allowed but they have to confirm to their rules on types, bars, suspension. Last year (one of) the bikes Nick Craig raced on came with flared bars as standard so had to put regular drops on. Not that it stops people towards the back of the grid pushing the rules a little I always see bars and tyres that wouldn’t pass scrutineering. Seems like a big risk to turn up that way given the effort and training to get to the start line.

    Don’t ask too many questions about suspension stems in case they are banned, though my Redshift stem is stealthy enough nobody noticed. I could live without it as long as disc brakes and dropper posts are still ok. Seriously as a tall lad the dropper made the biggest difference to my enjoyment of the event, I can keep myself low and not feel like I was going over the bars constantly.

    If they need to ban something it’s the multiple bike swaps to gain marginal advantages and the cavalcade of support vehicles that follow the race round – I think this creates too much visibility for the haters puts unnecessary impact on the area. Racers should be encouraged to self support as much as possible though it wouldn’t be possible / practical to stop the big teams placing people and kit round the course.

    jfab
    Full Member

    I’d always assumed that flared bars came from Cyclocross to Gravel and not the other way round.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    I would personally make it a rule of no bike or wheel changes allowed. It would then make it more about rider skill than how deep a riders pockets are, although to be fair I imagine the top guys probably dont end up changing many wheels or bikes.

    The top guys change all the time. They have a very “roadified” CX bike for the start, the road between Ingleborough and Whernside and then again for Whernside to PyG. Then a full on CX for the off road bits.

    This creates a wave of traffic as cars and vans hurtle around the circuit trying to support their rider, overtaking frantically to park up and get into position. I was gaining on a guy a few years ago on the run back into the finish when a car shot past me, up alongside him and a very very sticky bottle materialised. Cheating ****.

    It needs an all out ban on bike changes. Sort your kit out in advance and the wealthy/sponsored riders with acres of kit suddenly have much less of an advantage over the regulars or the folk without an army of support “staff”.

    Some of the driving standards leave a lot to be desired, the traffic congestion around there is horrific on race day.

    midlifecrashes
    Full Member

    Looking at that top pic I’d also make it a rule that if there is a rut, you ride the rut, rather than hopping up onto unbroken ground and widening the mess.

     

    Spoken as somebody who has never ruined a perfectly good bike ride by making it a race.

    core
    Full Member

    The whole thing sounds like a farce to me. Surely it should be one bike for the entire event and limited assistance.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    I’ve not participated in 3 peaks, but maybe one day… who knows, it definitely appeals but my fitness is certainly lacking.

    I think it’s a positive in a lot of ways to control the bikes used a bit more, what you don’t want is for it to become too much of a technology and disposable income “arms race” thing.

    The 35mm tyre rule is giving ground to some extent, but then someone with a “gravel bike” can obtain 35mm tyres without too much fuss and thus something sold as a Gravel bike can meet the 3 peaks accepted definition of a “CX bike”.

    I still think most “gravel bikes” sold to the public are serving duty as commuters and winter road bikes anyway and are only a tyre change away from meeting those rules.

    I’d agree the no bike change rules, maybe say there’s only a couple of defined neutral service locations where wheels/tyres can be changed(?)…

    Is that bullet point list the full extent of the rules?
    Its interesting that flared drops are banned, One thing I’d ,maybe add to the list would be No Droppers, but that’s just me.

    There’s still a fair bit of leeway in there that means you could pull together an affordable CX bike and the chaps with money and/or sponsors wouldn’t have a huge equipment advantage beyond a bit less weight or maybe some nicer tyres(?)…

    Blazin-saddles
    Free Member

    The top guys change all the time. They have a very “roadified” CX bike for the start, the road between Ingleborough and Whernside and then again for Whernside to PyG. Then a full on CX for the off road bits.

    not necessarily, it was a while ago now but  I was on the podium 3 times and the only time I ever changed a bike was when i snapped a rear mech 2 miles from the finish line and borrowed a bike from Charlie Craig and his mate who were riding past as I was running in.  I never once changed a bike for speed gains.

    thegeneralist
    Free Member

    The whole thing sounds like a farce to me.

    This

    Surely it should be one bike for the entire event and limited assistance

    And indeed this

    nickc
    Full Member

    I’ve supported the event in the past. Carrying spare wheels, food and clothing for riders and TBH there’s no reason to drive like a dick, so perhaps there should be just a bit more visible police presence? Or just restrict the places you can get assistance?

    Wasn’t there a massive thread on this years ago when last the rules were updated?  A certain forum contrarian/curmudgeon asked why folks don’t just ride mountain bikes?

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    Surely it should be one bike for the entire event and limited assistance.

    Definitely. Would stop the farcical train of support vehicles driving like **** along narrow lanes between Helwith and Ingleton.

    FunkyDunc
    Free Member

    Coming off Whernside you could definitely save a shed load of time if you knew someone had spare wheels for you on the way down. Same on PyG too.

    When I did it I pumped my tyres too hard and in reality went too slow on the descents just to avoid bike damage as I had zero support.

    For me its all part of the talent of the event, having the level of skill needed to get down quickly and not break stuff.

    johnhe
    Full Member

    This has been informative. I had no idea that cyclo-cross bikes and gravel bikes were not the same thing!

    matthewlhome
    Free Member

    Good.  Although cyclo-cross races allow bike and equipment changes, so this is an extension of that spirit?

    Interesting that flat handlebars are not allowed.  I’m sure that they  used to be allowed as long as they were below a (very narrow) maximum width?

     

     

    Garry_Lager
    Full Member

    I got a place in this year’s race – an exciting prospect, not done it before. Never used 35 tyres either but sounds like they’ll be worth looking at here.

    The whole support circus sounds out of hand, but end of the day it’s a cyclocross race so there has to be support if you want it – that is the heritage and culture of CX racing going back 100 years. Guess in an ideal world you would ban support vehicles other than bicycles and just strip things way back.

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    This has been informative. I had no idea that cyclo-cross bikes and gravel bikes were not the same thing!

    It’s a useful distinction, allows CX bikes to become the thoroughbred, uber-niche racing bikes they are supposed to be, without manufacturers looking over their shoulders trying to design for the majority of people who really want a gravel bike.

    Its interesting that flared drops are banned

    I could see why if there were fast groups forming on road sections. Perhaps exposing myself as a pathetic noob but when riding on road in a group at the end of a gravel ride, I hooked handlebars with the guy next to me and he went down, hard. 100% my fault but everyone (including him) seemed quite understanding as his bars had a pretty extreme flare. I just wasn’t concentrating and had adjusted my road position unconsciously to where his arms/elbow were, not where the ends of his bars were!

    I like that 3 Peaks is trying to protect the sanctity of the event, disappointed to hear people are allowed to change bikes and have support teams though, that seems to be against the spirit!

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    It’s nice that it’s actually happening – I thought it was toast because of some access issues? But OTOH, it has to look out for its reputation locally with regard to the support team behaviour, as it needs the support of local landowners to continue.

    MrSparkle
    Full Member

    Nice pic of Dave H on his Pickenflick up there.

    Three Peaks was my favourite race. I absolutely loved doing it and always hoped I’d make a comeback. Now it’s become too big, expensive and hard to get a place. Glad I’ve got my memories though.

    matthewlhome
    Free Member

    “I could see why if there were fast groups forming on road sections.”

    The start is (was) particularly mental.  Assuming its still the same, its closed roads with a police escort and 100s riders all close together in a bunch on tiny roads.  Makes sense to keep flared drops out of that.  I never experienced a bunch after my race as was simply battling to finish.

    Best race ever.

    Hardest ride I ever did.

    Would love to do it again one day.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Three Peaks was my favourite race. I absolutely loved doing it and always hoped I’d make a comeback. Now it’s become too big, expensive and hard to get a place. Glad I’ve got my memories though.

    11 starts and 10 finishes for me.
    It does get under your skin a bit – every year you finish and think “if only…” or “what if I did…?” and for a while I took it reasonably seriously – certainly seriously enough to do a lot of CX-specific riding in the Peak District, a few runs (as in on foot, not on bike) along sections like Whernside and PyG etc but there are a lot of uncontrollables and the simple fact is that no matter what bike you have, it’ll be unsuitable at some point of the course!

    I’m not sure that having bike changes would really have helped me much. Could have done with a wheel on a couple of occasions but even then by the time I’d got everything sorted, I’d lost loads of places that I was never going to get back.

    I still have an interest in seeing just how quickly you could go if you had:
    road bike from start to first off-road section
    gravel bike until it became unrideable
    Run up the steep bit (no bike at all)
    collect a full on enduro/DH MTB at the top
    road bike again from the bottom to the next off-road bit
    repeat as above.
    It’d be a fun experiment.

    mick_r
    Full Member

    I’ve supported 3 or 4 times, but only by bike. It is quite a pleasant chilled ride round using bridleways and back roads (e.g. the tiny road out of Ingleton with some limestone pavement if you fancy the extra climbing, looking across the valley at the carnage of bikes and cars on the main road).

    Maybe just limit it to bike only support? As a helper, I’ve only ever carried an extra tyre, tubes and tools so that all fits in a rucksack. Some other bike helpers have spare wheels on their back or a frame rack. It is only very rare occasions that a whole bike change is actually “necessary” (e.g. the guy that snapped the stem / steerer coming down PyG).

    Unfortunately the pointy end of CX has become a bit of an arms race with much crying and gnashing of teeth if you dare to suggest limiting spare bikes or banning jetwashes.

    whatyadoinsucka
    Free Member

    wow i clearly havent paid that much attention , riders are actually switching bikes for different bits ?

    does that mean i can get the smallest lightest balance bike, get a friend to switch bikes with me on the tough climbs/descents sling the bike over my shoulder and run up and down, and switch back on the rolling foothills section ?

    sun 24th sept, think i’ll go up on my gravel bike to watch.

    IHN
    Full Member

    I’d always assumed that flared bars came from Cyclocross to Gravel and not the other way round.

    Yeah, this, Salsa Bell Lap bars were (one of) the first with a flare, no? And they pre-date Gravel by a good ten years.

    gary
    Full Member

    I think overall the intent of the rules makes sense. Not sure what the goal of this one is though:

    Axles shall be 12mm through axles or quick release only

    So technically my Open UP which I happily race CX on with CX tyres and non flared bars is out because of its 15mm front axle? 🤔

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    That 27″, 29” or 700mm wheels in mountain bike frames will not be allowed;
    The width of the tyre cannot be more than 35mm as displayed on the tyre;
    Frame or fork suspension of any form is prohibited;
    No flared or flat handlebars are to be used
    Handlebar width shall be no greater than 440mm; and,
    Axles shall be 12mm through axles or quick release only

    So pretty much gravel bikes are allowed, its adapted/frankensteined MTBs (and some crazy marketing idiocy that some more outlandish “gravel bikes” have become) that aren’t allowed.

    Edit – not sure about the axle rule – are there common 15mm forks for 700c wheels? have they awkwardly accidently banned legitimate bikes by trying to ban MTB forks

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    they pre-date Gravel by a good ten years.

    Only if you think “gravel” is a fairly recent innovation. I bought my Kona Sutra in 2007 IIRC.

    DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    I couldn’t give a damn about rules about the 3 Peaks or the difference between a gravel bike or a CX bike but agree with the point above, whats the point in the rule about QRs and 12mm axles?

    And…

    This has been informative. I had no idea that cyclo-cross bikes and gravel bikes were not the same thing!

    Every bike manufacturer’s marketing dept called. They want to speak to you about selling you a new bike. Be aware, they might try and sell you a down-country bike at the same time…

    IdleJon
    Full Member

    As a helper, I’ve only ever carried an extra tyre, tubes and tools so that all fits in a rucksack. Some other bike helpers have spare wheels on their back or a frame rack. It is only very rare occasions that a whole bike change is actually “necessary” (e.g. the guy that snapped the stem / steerer coming down PyG).

    I  raced it 3 or 4 times, supported a couple more. I don’t remember a year when it ever went smoothly, without punctures or some kind of mechanical. (And every year going over the bars into a bog on the Ingleborough descent!) I once snapped two spokes in my rear but didn’t have a wheel change so had to ride to the end. The last year I did it, I was dropping off PyG with the aim of finishing in under 4 hours and double punctured, front and rear, in a place where I’d seen someone break his ankle in a previous year. When I helped, I tended to carry spare wheels, track pump, tubes, etc, and plenty of food. Keith Bontrager needed my assistance at the viaduct one year. It is a very hard race on equipment.

    It’s a CX race – bike changes and a certain level of assistance are all part of that sport. If people want a self-supported event then they are in the wrong place.

    fossy
    Full Member

    My current CX bike would fall foul of the rules, it’s got 38mm tyres on it ! Although if I was racing that course, I’d be getting something more suitable for mud, currently on ‘gravel’ tyres.

    tthew
    Full Member

    Definitely. Would stop the farcical train of support vehicles driving like **** along narrow lanes between Helwith and Ingleton.

    That’s disgusting if it is the case, (and I have no reason to doubt it having seen support vehicles at other races) and probably the best way to get support for the whole event withdrawn if there’s an accident or local complaints.

    Sounds like an ideal opportunity for a small, informal vintage tractor rally. 😈

    FunkyDunc
    Free Member

    does that mean i can get the smallest lightest balance bike, get a friend to switch bikes with me on the tough climbs/descents sling the bike over my shoulder and run up and down, and switch back on the rolling foothills section ?

    I wondered that ish. In theory you could ride a bike to the hills, then switch to a bike made out of tinfoil/balsa wood for the runs up. You could even put straps on it to attach the thing to your back.

    One year I just went to watch at the top of Whernside. I may have helped some of the top 20 ish lift their bikes over the stile near the top. Couldnt believe how light their bikes were compared to what I had used. Made me think about going back with a really light bike one year, and coming in the top 20 😂 (not)

    On the way down though I cant see a gravel bike with limited suspension and 35mm tyres being much faster if at all than a well ridden CX bike with no suspension.

    I did it because I love the area, and you cant just ride all 3 hills on a bike easily at any other time. Its the only race ive done where finishing is also one hell of an achievement in itself.

    Sounds like an ideal opportunity for a small, informal vintage tractor rally. 😈

    i know when I have marshalled some farmers have decided to move their sheep on the road just by chance at the same time as the race.

    I dont think flared bars are any more dangerous than disc wheels etc. Hopefully they are banned under fashion police rules.

    wzzzz
    Free Member

    Its a CX race why are people up in arms they are limiting entry to CX bikes?

    Also CX has always allowed bike swaps just like the road.

    MTB races were conjured up to be different, unsupported races.

    If you don’t like the rules, go do an MTB race, you will be welcome on your gravel bike.

    IdleJon
    Full Member

    That’s disgusting if it is the case, (and I have no reason to doubt it having seen support vehicles at other races)

    It may have changed since the last time I was up there but the only problem I ever saw with support vehicles was my fault, when a sports bike took offence to my slowing down to shout something to my brother (who was racing) and gave me a load of hand gestures as he ripped past. And then slowed down to a crawl for a couple of miles to teach me a lesson. Is it irony that he wanted to rip around the roads on a fast motorbike but took offence because he wasn’t able to?

    rjmccann101
    Full Member

    Looking at the current rules we have.

    12.2 Bike changes are permitted for mechanical reasons only. Any bike changes must
    therefore take place on the off-road sections of the course.

    and also

    15.1 No cyclists or support riders (except competitors) have permission to go on the
    following sections of the course:
    1.Gill Garth – Ingelborough
    2.Brunscar (Chapel-le-Dale)-Whernside-Blea Moor
    3.Up and down Pen-y-Ghent from from the gate half way up.
    Commissaires to enforce this regulation. Any competitor in the race connected with a
    cyclist caught breaking this rule will either be penalised or disqualified.

    So gaming the system with balsa wood bikes is a non starter.

    I’ve ridden the event 5 times now and helped out, either marshalling or supporting club riders quite a few times as well.  When you have a team of people supporting multiple riders it quite easy to do it in a considerate way.  Last time I helped we had 5 or 6 riders and put support in after Ingleborough, before and after Wherneside and at Phenygent so we didn’t have people trying to keep ahead of their rider by dashing between locations.  For individuals being supported by a single other person this is harder – especially as your sharing some sections of the route with the riders.

    It used to be that marshalling the event guaranteed you an entry for the following year, if you wanted it, but I don’t know if that is still the case.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    It used to be that marshalling the event guaranteed you an entry for the following year, if you wanted it, but I don’t know if that is still the case.

    One of my entries was via that system. 🙂

    My year marshalling was good fun, I really enjoyed it. I’ve spectated/supported a couple of times as well. Nice to see the event from all sides.

    intheborders
    Free Member

    One thing I’d ,maybe add to the list would be No Droppers, but that’s just me.

    Short-arse by any chance?

    fooman
    Full Member

    Marshaling does not guarantee a place anymore. To keep the event alive (landowner / park permissions) the number of riders has been restricted further, I think the first time I did it there were 900 riders now its something like 450, so not a bigger event these days and there’s just not the capacity to guarantee the 60 odd places that came from marshaling.

    On flared bars I think some were taking the mick with practically flat flares, so it was easier / clearer just to rule them out.

    MrSparkle
    Full Member

    Fair enough. Thanks for explaining. It’s been a few years since I looked into entering. I have also been lucky enough to race, support and marshal at the event.

    prontomonto
    Full Member

    For those saying “it’s a CX race! Therefore” – it’s not like any other CX race, so CX rules need not apply, it’s entirely up to the organisers. Normal CX races have assistance only in 1 place , the pits,  for one thing.

     

    I’m dismayed to hear about the support vehicles though. An army of support vehicles supporting a bike race never sits particularly well with me, even though I know it is a reality, all the more so for races at the ‘professional’ end of the spectrum.

    BenjiM
    Full Member

    Ranking points are available during the race, hence it’s taken pretty seriously.

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