SIMON FOX will get down and dirty when he tackles the gruelling Three Peaks Cyclo Cross next week – the toughest and biggest race of its kind in the country.

Fox, who has been training for four months, is just one of a number of East Lancashire riders who will head across the Pennines for the annual race, now in its 51st year.

The 38-mile race over the Yorkshire three peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent includes 5,000ft of climbing and also five miles of ‘unrideable’ terrain.

Fox will ride for Here Come The Belgiums – a non elite, anti-team - and will be racing for the sixth time.

And he admits it is the challenge that keeps on persuading riders to come back for more.

“I love it because it’s so hard,” said Fox who is also a member of Darwen Dashers running club. “I’ve spent pretty much four months training for it and there’s still a big chance that I might not finish due to a crash or a mechanical failure.

“People come back to it year-after-year. This is my sixth time but lots of people have done it 10, 20 or even 30 times.

“It’s also such a spectacle. It’s amazing to watch people tackling three mountains on pretty unsuitable bikes, you can only use cyclocross bikes.

“The range of skills you need to just survive it, let alone do well at it, is incredible.

“My main goal is just to complete it and if I succeed with that then I’d like to just not get slower than the previous attempt “Anything near four hours would be fantastic but I’m not getting my hopes up!”

Other locals riders taking part include: John Orrell (Blackburn Harriers), Jason Craven (Rossendale Harriers/Road Club), Ashley Holt (Rossendale Harriers Road Club), Derek Schofield (Rossendale Harriers Road Club), David Brown (Cycle Sport Pendle), David Mirfield (Ride On), Stuart Bryan (Barlick FR), Steve Cartmell (Bowland fell runners), Richard Paige (Clitheroe Bike Club), Ian Edward Ashworth (Cycle Sport Pendle), Darren French (Cycle Sport Pendle), John Rutter (Cycle Sport Pendle) and Jonathan Boothman (Pendle Forest CC).