I have finally found some time to sit in front of the keyboard and to do a thorough ride report. This is probably overly long but was mainly written for me to act as a permanent reminder of how hard the whole thing was. Perhaps so I don’t forget and foolishly commit to having another crack in 2012. Perhaps not.
I also rode the event in 2010 and even though the weather was better this year I found the ride a lot tougher. I did not complete in 2011 due to my 3rd puncture 10klms out from the finish line at about 9:30pm with no more spares.
I was far too slow in 2010 riding at an easy pace without pushing myself enough and stopping far too frequently at rest stops. What I was proud of in 2010 was the accomplishment of not walking or stopping on any of the hill climbs. The same could not be said of this year however I had vowed to do it harder this time and try and make it in before dark. Which I (very) almost did !!!
My 2010 effort was 10:29 moving time for 224k with an average speed of 21.4km/hr. The total time was around 14 hours until I got picked up by the sag wagon after walking for 20 minutes in the freezing cold on the high plain road.
I had carried out a lot of training proceeding Three Peaks for both years. At the start of March I was getting nervous so compared my prep for last year against my prep for this year. Thank the gods of Garmin for good reporting tools because I could clearly see I had done more training this year than last. My hope was that this might give me an edge and the ability to push through the course a lot quicker this year.
Training carried out November 2009 to March 2010 for Three Peaks;
Number of Rides: 55 Activities
Distance: 2,743.76 km
Time: 108:06:30 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 39,858 m
Avg Speed: 25.4 km/h
Avg HR: 144 bpm
Calories: 121,304 C
Training rides carried out from November 2010 to March 2011;
Number of Rides: 50
Distance: 3,139.31 km
Time: 128:04:02 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 46,048 m
Avg Speed: 24.5 km/h
Avg HR: 141 bpm
Calories: 129,268 C
My prep involved a lot of hill climbing in the Dandenong’s, the vic alps and the Boulevard in Kew. I had also completed all of the 7 peaks required for the 7 peaks challenge being Baw Baw (3 times), Hotham, Mt Bulla, Omeo to Dinner Plains, Falls Creek (front), Buffalo and the Lake Mountain Challenge two weeks before Three Peaks. A few 180+k rides with 3000 meters of climbing on each however most of those were before December 2011.
As part of this years prep I had seriously overdone myself on a hot day for the Lake Mountain challenge two weeks prior. I had also carried out two climbs up the steepest (6k) section of Baw Baw the weekend directly before Three Peaks. In the end I think these two rides may have actually damaged my health more than helped with my preparation.
Experiencing the weather last year there was a lot to consider when selecting clothing. With warm weather (20-22) scheduled for ground level but rain and 11-15 degrees on the peaks I decided the best option would be to just bring everything and worry about it once we got there. I had a whole suitcase packed full of stuff including jerseys (one wool one nylon) 4 various thickness base layers, short finger and snow proof long finger cycle gloves, full and half booties, waterproof socks, ear warmers, sweat bands, multiple types and thickness arm and leg warmers and three jackets (waterproof, spray, poncho and extra warm).
Myself, my wife and a friend left Melbourne at about 6am and arrived at Falls around 11:30am. We settled into our room, setup our bikes, registered and had our bikes checked. I was glad we arrived early as the queues were starting to build. After another weather check it was decided which food would be going to which rest stop and which clothes would be worn for the first half, which would be sent to the half way mark and which would stay in the apartment.
The bag system provided by BV this year was fantastic. Sealable bags where you could clearly right your name and rider number. It was decided that since it was going to warm at ground level and not overly cold on the mountains but wet and I normally suffer from colder extremities, I would ride with shorts, a light base layer, woollen arm warmers, a thinner jersey, light non-waterproof zip up spray jacket, waterproof socks, wetsuit type booties, full finger (0 degree) gloves and a thick headband with ear warmers.
At the rider briefing the Victorian Police officer rep made clear that there would be no riders continuing to ride after dark on Falls Creek. In some ways this was good to know because the route planning details weren’t exactly clear with some of the cut-off times listed contradicting the expected sunset time. It was now abundantly clear that I had no choice but to improve on last year’s effort if I wanted to see the finish line. I either had to ride harder take less stops or ideally both. After hearing this my expectation of finishing were slightly dented, as finishing in the dark had been my safety blanket should I get more flats or waste too much time at the rest stops again. Rather amusing to everyone in attendance was the fact that one hand he was telling us that the event was not a race but on the other he was also indicating that it was a race. A race against the clock.
After a massive homemade lasagne dinner it was straight to bed at about 9pm. Nerves had been getting the better of myself and my wife, effecting our sleep patterns in the week proceeding, so it was a surprise to find that we had no such problems getting to sleep at such an early hour on this night.
We all woke and 5am to get our stuff together. My wife had to rush off to get to the women’s start on time and myself and my mate headed off to the start shortly after her. Upon arriving at the start we realised there would be no point trying to get into the correct timing section as there were just too many people lined up. We nudged our way in at about half way in the line through a gap in the fence and as people started to roll we slotted in and crossed the line to start at 7:03am.
———-12.75 hours remaining ————- 236K to go ———
It was a great start compared to last year, not too cold, foggy but mostly dry. The smooth road did have a slick layer on it so it was slow going most of the way down. Even after being warned there were a number of idiots flying passed people on the left or people on the brakes the whole time sitting to the right of the lane. We decided it would just be safest to do the speed of everyone else so cruised down. After the river crossing there were a couple of hills so we started pushing past people as they slowed to get up what were rather minor bumps. This instantly warmed us and I was regretting the thicker long finger gloves at this point.
First nature break time.
As we approached the MTB park in Mt Beauty it started bucketing bringing back not so fond memories of the previous year. The clouds were grey and it looked like we might be stuck with rain for the rest of the day. Thankfully it was about 15 degrees warmer at ground level than last year so even while wet we weren’t chilled to the bone. The waterproof socks were however full of water. They actually seem to hold water if it gets in over the top so you end up weighing more !!! Fine for hiking or something but useless in heavy rain for cycling.
We flew through Mt Beauty to the start of the climb at Towonga Gap. We stopped for a couple of minutes to get some food in before the ascent. I was only thinking about KOM times at this point so was determined to put in a good time. I took it far too easy on this climb last year.
8:11am ————-11.37 hours remaining
Before I know it I’m pushing into the red, passing multitudes of people and not really thinking about the remaining 202 klm to go. Pretty silly now that I think about it. We managed catch another guy I knew who is a really strong climber and we paced each other, slowing for a quick hello to the wife as we passed her, up to the summit. My King of the Mountains ranking for Towonga Gap – 175th of 1013 riders at this section – Ascent Time 0:31:27
At this point it was one down and feeling great. We stuffed some more food in and refilled water, waited for the wife and my other mate, had a quick chat and got the approval from the wife to leave to her to her own pace. The initial plan was to ride together for the first half, as she was doing the half distance to Dinner Plain, but after a brief discussion and not having any idea what weather lay ahead, it was decided every man (or woman) for themselves.
As we rolled out of the rest stop we had a good chuckle at the ‘Steep Decent Slow Down’ sign which also had a ‘This is Serious’ sign below it. Never seen that on a road sign before !!
Myself and the two other blokes took off for a screaming decent down Towonga gap. It was wet but the road surface is very grippy and there weren’t as many riders around at this point so more room for cornering safely. We got stuck near the bottom behind a motorbike setting the pace and making sure people weren’t breaking the 60klm/hr speed limit. A number of crazy people even managed to pass us on this decent however there were a couple of moto-cops cruising up and down making sure people weren’t being overly stupid.
As we reached the road to Harrietville it was only light rain however the road was still very wet which made staying in a bunch not much fun. There appeared to be too much talking rather than cranking in the bunch we started in towards Harrietville. They were sitting on 28km/hr which, as far as I was concerned, was just below a respectable speed. Me and one mate overtook and cruised off at about 32 with no one interested in joining us. One mate stayed behind so the two of us just rode ourselves into Harrietville beating the slow group by a couple of minutes. Looking back at it again I probably should have conserved some energy here and just stayed in the pack however I was still full of dumb confidence at this point.
We grabbed our food satchel at Harrietville from which I pulled a can of coke to drink and some food and we got moving again.
10:06am ———-9.45 hours remaining———–161 klm remaining
We were feeling pretty jolly passing people for the first steep section of the climb well past the famously steep ‘Meg’. We raced up until we got to the flatter section where it got extremely foggy. This is where things started to unwind for myself. I thought the section was supposed to be very fairly flat however it actually wasn’t at %1-3 for the most part. The fog didn’t help and I was getting frustrated with how slow I was going for what I perceived to be a ‘flat’ section so started pushing a bit harder. I started feeling pretty light headed after about 5klms of this so sucked a gel and got some water into me. This seemed to give me a boost and I pushed hard up until the rest point just before it gets steep again for 10Klms to the top of the summit.
(Obligitoi race race face photo)
After jumping off the bike, having something to eat and refilling water I started to get a headache, a very light head and was dizzy. I put it down to the heavy fog and altitude so we head off again. As the road kicked up again I started getting concerned about my performance and how I was feeling. I discussed with my mate who said I’d be fine. As we progressed I started to feel my hamstrings and calf muscles stiffening which I knew was the beginnings of cramp. Even though I very rarely get them I knew what it was but not what it was going to become or what I could do about it.
I started slowing and by the steep CRB section my mate was heading up the hill leaving me for dead. I felt like I was going pretty slowly with a number of riders passing me. I seriously started to think I was cooked so slowed down even further. After a few twinges in the legs I did some standing up to use some different muscles. Luckily my mate was keep an eye on me and slowed a bit so as to not lose me in the fog. I persisted and spun up as best I could. I had done this climb on a number of occasions without incident however this time I felt I was losing. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t see exactly where I was and that a large number of people seemed to be passing me.
After knowing I must have been near the end I started to feel better and put in a bit more effort managing to gain ground on my mate again as we neared the top. I wasn’t going to catch him but at least I could see him. With about 800m to go a few people were asking how much further it was and telling them seemed to mentally help me take my mind off the climb. I told them “one right hand turn, a steep stretch where cars will be parked (mount feathertop walk), a left turn and once you get past the final right turn (where fell of last year when my chain jammed after a gear change) its straight up and over top and your done” I think a few people were worried it was going to be many more klms because they couldn’t see anything in the fog and the steeper sections were starting to take their toll.
A climbed over the top feeling a bit better about myself however it was very cold and felt about 1 or 2 degrees when factoring in wind chill. My King of the Mountains ranking for Mt Hotham – 413th of 995 – Ascent Time 2:12:12
12:18pm ————-7.25 hours remaining———— 132.5Klm to go
My jacket was in my pocked but not wanting to stop I started down into the Hotham Ski village. As soon I entered the village the fog dissipated and you could see right down the eastern sides of the mountain into the valleys below. It was a great site after being shrouded in fog for the last few hours on the west side of the mountain. The snaking road down through the village was freezing but I knew there were a few small climbs coming so I would shortly be warm enough. The gloves and the booties were keeping my feet and warm and toasty which was the total opposite of last year at this same location. I was hungry, light headed and desperate for some real food. The sugary gels, energy bars and muesli bars were starting to make me feel queasy.
Dinner plain was a site for sore eyes and unlike the year before it didn’t look like a war zone. No bikes thrown onto the mud, people wandering around shell shocked or shivering uncontrollably. It was warm but deathly quiet part from an announcer doing his best to break the silence. Not a lot of talking going on anywhere. We stopped to check our bags for clothing swap and it was at this point the sun came out. Gloriously warm and drying our wet bodies and clothes. Taking this as a heavenly sign and knowing it was going to be at least 18 degrees at Omeo, I took the food out of my clothing bag and left all the dry warmer clothes where they were. I did considered swapping my thicker gloves for my short fingers as the longer finger gloves were hellishly hot on the ascents but knowing what Fall Creek would be like if we got stuck there in the dark I decided to keep them.
It was at this point I also did something which inadvertently made a massive difference to my odds of finishing the ride later that day. The previous day I had placed a whole spare tyre in the clothes bag thinking that I might take it with me for the remaining ride up the notoriously stony Falls Creek. Due to failing last year when I ran out of tubes I wasn’t planning on taking any wheel related risks Not being able to fit it in my jersey pockets the previous day I had placed it in my clothes bag to be delivered to Dinner Plain.
If I had of checked the current state of the back tyre at the time I would have swapped it on the spot. Unfortunately I never saw the 20c coin size tear opening up in my rear tyre at this stage so being oblivious the spare tyre was left to be return with my dry clothes back to Falls Creek.
After slow toilet stop for my mate (more toilets next time please !!) we stuffed in some lunch. Having real food at this point felt like the best thing in the world. I ate the chicken sandwich and muffin leaving the pasta and not eating any fruit.
As we were eating I was feeling pretty rotten, light headed and crampy. I thought it might be a good idea to do some stretches which turned out to be a mistake. As soon as I leant forward to touch my toes and stretch my hamstring, my thigh muscles convulsed painfully sending shooting pain down my legs. I was frozen on the spot not knowing what to do since I’ve never felt anything as painful in my life.
Eventually after laughing at me a bit my mate suggest that rather than standing there with a painful look on my face I should have a walk around and see if that helped. Thankfully it did. Clearly my brain wasn’t working well enough for me to figure this out myself but walking around and a few squats seemed to help. It was at this point I decided to not carry out any more stretches for the rest of the day. If I had of known the pain that lay in store for me on the second half I probably would have thrown in the towel there and then.
After about an hour stop we jumped onto the bikes and raced out of Dinner Plain.
1:28pm ———— 6 hours remaining——119.5 klm to go
The sun was fully out by this stage and it was presently hot. The trip from dinner to Omeo should not be underestimated as it’s a long way and nowhere near as downhill as the map makes it look. It is a long way down however it does so via a couple of very steep descents sections punctuated by a few longish climbs. Although not overly steep (%9), these climbs do go quite a number of kilometres. I had done this section a couple of months previously so knew what I was in for and we took it pretty easy. Luckily the road was nice and dry so the steep sections could be blasted down unlike the previous year where I remember clutching the brakes the whole way down.
The cramps were a distant memory by the time we rolled into a hot and dry Omeo. In what appeared to be a joke, someone this year had placed the ‘rest’ stop at the lowest part of town meaning you had to ride up a nasty hill to get out of the rest stop. I was stuck here for about 20 minutes waiting for a single toilet to become available. I had made a conscious decision to not to wear cycle shorts that require you to undress fully before using the toilet. It appeared no one else had figured this out so I had to wait while all the people before me stripped completely, just so they could use the toilet. There should be a minimum of 5 toilets at each rest stop. Especially in the later stages where peoples intestinal systems start working again after lunch. 700 people should not be required to share just 1 toilet !!!!
After throwing on some sun screen and waiting for a mate I took the opportunity to check my tyres for stones. It was at this point I found a huge hole in my rear tyre where the tube was poking my tyre liner through the hole like a blister. Ever since last year’s terrible run of flats on falls Creek, and all the training flats on my way to work I’ve used tyre liners between the tube and the tyre. Tire liners are soft rubber strips that adds and extra layer of protection between the tyre and the tube. Should a small bit of glass, which is bound to make it through your nice thin racing tyres, it will get blocked by the tyre liner. These liners tend to make the tyre wheel heavier, reduce rolling resistance and transfer vibration into the wheel which negates the whole point of using such a tyre in the first place. I’m limited to 25 width tyres on my bike due to the brake clearance and the design of the frame. Its hard to find any tyre in this size that will stand up to all the shit I manage to pick from The Boulevard in Kew while training let alone what appears to be Satan’s own crack cocaine that lines the Omeo High Plains road.
At this point not only was the tyre liner stopping me from getting rocks and glass into my tube it appears it was also holding my tyre together thereby stopping my tube escaping my wheel in an attempt to tear itself to pieces on the passing tarmac. Most impressively the tyre liner had managed to stop a nasty blow out as I was racing down into Omeo at 60+ klm/hr. Had the tyre failed catastrophically it’s not hard to see that I could have lost complete control of the bike and flown over one of the barriers.
My riding partner look worried and suggested we see if anyone had a spare tyre. I just offered that at least we were at the lowest point of the ride and that if it had lasted this long what’s another 100 or so klm. Riding out of Omeo I felt nervous for my tyre as we rode up out of the rest stop and then down a quick decent out of town.
2:51pm ————-4.70 hours remaining————76 Klm to go
Unsurprisingly 20 klm from Omeo I hear a large bang and my back tyre deflated. The tire liner was still in place and I couldn’t see where the tube was punctured but it was flat. As I started to rip the wheel and tyre off my mate tried to flag passing riders asking if anyone had a spare tyre they could sell. Throughout the day I had passed perhaps 20 or 30 people who I could see were carrying a folding tire either in a back pack, in a jerseys or mounted to their frame. Plenty of spare tubes were offered and a couple of likely candidates paused for a fraction too long after being asked before saying they didn’t have one. I suspected the few of the pausers may have had one but I couldn’t blame them for not offering it up. I’m not sure I would have done the same in their position either.
We received one suggestion a number of times which was to try a 5$ note in-between the tyre and the tube. Not having any other options and with critical minutes passing we decided to give it ago. I grabbed a 10$ note from my bag, folded it in quarters so it was the size of a wide band-aid then stuck this in-between the tire liner and the hole in the tyre. I stuck another tube in and nervously pumped it up.
I had heard of the American version of this fix where you use a 1$ ‘bill’ however I didn’t like my chances of doing so with a polymer note as their edges were quite sharp. I could only hope that the tire liner might also protect the tube from the folded note
I was only game to put 60psi in the tube before we headed off. I was expecting it to bang as soon as I sat back down on the seat so was happy when it didn’t. We hesitantly rolled along further out of Omeo just waiting for the next tube to go. Every minute it didn’t I gained more and more confidence that I was at least going to get to start of the Falls Climb before cut-off.
We still had another 32klm to go before the climb. I discussed with my riding buddy that it was highly unlikely that we would make it to the finish before dark and even if we did get past the Falls Creek cut-off we had less than 4 hours to knock off 70klms and one massive climb. His thinking was that they couldn’t stop everyone and as long as we made it onto the mountain on time we might be ok.
Looking at the distance and time on paper now it looks extremely doable however at the time when I was just about ready to fall off my bike and a tyre failure looming over me I just couldn’t comprehend what we still had in store. The only thing I could comprehend was failure at that stage.
The next section riding though the shade from the trees and the valley was probably the nicest part of what had become a hot afternoon. The scenery suggested you could be riding along a river gorge in the NT; a single lane road with red rock cliff faces and sandy mountains towering on each side with the sound of running water below. The 60psi in my back tyre wasn’t providing much help rolling along and it took us a while at around 25klm/hr to get to Anglers rest.
After a quick stop for a drink and to pick up the last of our food bags I was feeling very dry and knew I didn’t have much energy left in the tank. We didn’t waste too much time at Anglers rest knowing full well that the climb was going to be a slow one for me. Even though we had been about an hour in front of the cut-off point throughout the day, this in no way meant we wouldn’t be swept up just before or after dark. All we could do was go as fast as possible and hope the sag wagons had plenty of slower people to pick up.
We got onto the back of a couple of fast guys who were cruising along the Mitta Mitta river section and were soon at the beginning of the Falls Creek climb.
Large numbers of riders were coming through this point and cursing the hill as they were told to gear down by one of the BV assistants pointing the way. We stopped for a couple of minutes to scoff some gels and bars before starting the climb.
5:22pm ——2.1 hours remaining ——— 36 Klm to go
The beginning of the climb looks terrible even though it’s only 10% or so for 800 meters before flattening off again. It feels terrible because it looks so damn steep after you’ve just been cruising on such a spectacular, slightly downhill, piece of road. The start is still nothing compared to the longer steeper sections that lay ahead further up the climb.
My riding buddy started off ahead and was gone around the corner. I started up the steep start feeling OK spinning fast in my easiest gear (28) and even passing a few people that had jumped off to walk. I felt sorry for those that were walking after only the first 200 meters. The irony was lost on me about half an hour later when I was doing the same thing and these guys were cycling past me.
After the initial shock the road winds left and right at about 9% for 3 or 4 klms before a couple of nasty sections. In these parts you’d ride around a blind corner to be faced with the road disappearing straight up in front of you at 11-13% gradient. Normally with a 28 rear gear this would not have been a problem for me. Having previous climbed Baw Baw, which is far harder, this should have been a piece of cake. After travelling almost 200klms already, probably overdoing on both Towonga Gap, the base of Mt Hotham and even in the couple of weeks prior to the event, I was in a lot of pain. I remember it being hard last year but not this hard.
In the steeper parts I was sweating profusely, starting to see blotches swimming before my eyes and I was having problems trying to understand what I assumed was encouragement coming from my riding buddy. I think I must have asked him to repeat himself at least 3 or 4 times before I could actually understand what he had just said. At 2 points, feeling ill and with the calves and hamstrings cramping terribly I stopped, eased off the bike (as slow as possible to not strain anything) and then walked. Once the cramps stopped I’d get back on the bike and start cranking slowly back up the hill.
For the first 8klm I probably walked 500m, stopped 4 times to catch my breath and had about 60-100 people pass me. My riding buddy had gone up ahead and disappeared around the corner climbing like a man possessed. For his sake I was hoping he had headed towards the finish line without me. I had become a massive liability for him finishing without getting picked up by the sag wagon in the dark. I was mentally writing myself off each time I had to get off the bike and rest or walk.
After what seemed like an hour of very slow suffering, I crested the hardest part and stopped the bike with my buddy who had been waiting at least 10 minutes for me. I stuffed down some much needed food after which had to close my eyes to stop myself from throwing up an energy bar that tasted like baked dirt. The cramps were getting even more painful so I grabbed three tablets of Gastrolyte and sucked on them washing it down with remainder of my water. If I hadn’t of been so delirious at this point I would have done well to also swallow the two Ibuprofen tablets I was saving for this exact occasion
6:26pm ———67 minutes remaining —————- 28Klms to go – ?
We were seriously worried by this point about the cutover and knew it was going to be almost impossible to average the 18klm/hr needed complete the last 28 klm of riding. There was still a lot of climbing to do and our average so far up t his beast was below 10klm/hr.
(Me in the background seriously considering calling a cab)
After this point the road settles down to 5-6% with a couple of flattish rests and only one or two very short sections over %9. I had now resolved to not stop pedalling at any point as each time I put my feet on the ground, both muscle groups in my legs locked solid and could only be painfully unlocked by walking. For the steeper parts my only option was to deliver the mail by snaking from one side of the road to the other doubling the distance but probably halving the gradient.
We passed a motorcycle support vehicle who told that a storm was due to roll in within the hour bringing thunder and hail and we should take shelter if it hits hard. At the same time the previous year heavy rain had set in so at least I was prepared for how inhospitable the high plain road is for cyclists wearing only light wind protection. The rules from now on would be; don’t stop, don’t get off your bike and whatever you do don’t get a puncture. As we crested the final part of the Fall Creek climb dark heavy clouds rolling over our heads and thunder boomed. Looking behind us we could see in the distant the sunny valley and grassland we were leaving behind.
The rain started heavily which had everyone cursing however nothing could be done apart from donning the jacket to keep the cold at bay. It was noticeably colder at the summit with the rain around and it felt about 1 or 2 degrees with the wind also picking up. As the road widened out and we started into a more forested area we rolled into the last rest stop at Trapyard Gap. It was almost dark by this point so we were glad to see 50 or 60 other riders refilling their water and picking up food. My riding buddy grabbed me a couple of bars and gels, we refilled our water and jumped back on the bikes hoping that if we got out in front of the other riders they might be sacrificed to the wagon of shame rather than us.
Just as we were rolling out we could see 3 or 4 police motorcycles cruising towards the rest stop. I suspected at the time they were heading back down to shut off the base of Falls Creek. Later on I found that another person in our group, who we had not seen since we left him preparing his bike in the room at 6am, was stopped by the officers at Trapyard Gap about an hour later.
The rain was heavy and it was at this point we started seeing more and more people repairing punctures by the side of the road. This was the same place where I received my second puncture the year before. Concern for my back wheel heightened but we just pushed on. For most of the next 10klm over Raspberry Hill there were very few riders and we only passed about 5 or 6 lonely souls with their heads down grinding away on the pedals in the rain. Of that we saw about 3 or 4 people with flats making repairs at the side of the road.
Soon we emerged from the dark bushland onto the high plains proper. As we rolled out from the darkness of the tree cover and over the last hill a massive vista opened up to us. The sun was setting orange ahead of us, to our right we could see distant mountains and a huge rainbow across a valley and to our left we glimpsed the dark reflections of the Rocky Valley dam. This was the first point in the last 6 or 7 hours since the ascent up Mt Hotham where I actually started to think that I might be able to make it to the finish line. Since I had failed at almost this exact same spot in the rain and complete darkness last year I was ecstatic to see the dam this year.
It was about 7:45 with 10klm to go as we crested the last incline, technically we hadn’t made it in time. Technicalities weren’t on our mind at the time and all we could think about was some downhill action and passing the finish line before the sag wagon or the police got us.
With the sun setting it was still quite light as we started winding our way down to the edge of the dam for the final run home. Being so close to home all the pain and the cold was forgotten and we kicked over to the front chain ring for the first time in over 3 hours and summoned a last adrenaline rush and increased the cranking. Racing 30klm/hr downhill felt great as we knew we no longer needed to keep anything in reserve.
We passed another 4 or 5 riders by the side of the road replacing punctures being very thankful it wasn’t us. Mechanical support was not far behind us so they wouldn’t have been waiting long. If I had of experienced a flat at this stage I was quite prepared to just continue riding the remainder of the way on a flat tyre. Even if it had of cost me a new rim it would have been well worth it.
It was pitch black by the time we crossed the dam wall and we could see the distance lights of the finish-line down the valley. Having ridden across the dam wall and around the lake the previous day for a warm up we knew we were almost there.
Coming into the finish area last year in bitter weather on the shame wagon, well after the crowds had given up all hope, I was almost expecting everyone to have left again this year.
Due to the finish line being so well lit and me being delirious I couldn’t see much as I approached. When I heard the sound of cheering I actually assumed Bicycle Victoria were playing some canned crowd noise over the speakers and was expecting to ride over the line and find it abandoned. I almost fell off my bike when I realised there was still about a hundred people cheering, waving and making a huge noise as each person’s name was read out as they crossed the line. The two Andrews (me and my riding buddy) crossed the line almost together.
My King of the Mountains ranking for Falls Creek – 625th of 773 – Ascent Time 2:44:31 ?
It was here that I think I smiled for the first time in over a week as I realised we’d made it and even more importantly it was all over. I jumped off the bike and could barely walk through the crowd to find my wife and to thank my riding buddy for sticking it out with me.
After we walked back to our accommodation I was getting worse and worse cramps, especially in my hands, at some points being unable to pick up a knife and fork to eat. After a great steak, the forgotten pain killers, a banana and an uncontrollable case of hiccups I was in bed for a well needed rest.
(My finger has actually cramped in this position. I am not trying to indicate my general feeling of satisfaction with this gesture)
Final King of the Mountains position: 536th of 767 – Ascent Time 5:28:11 – Not bad considering how bad my ending was. Very happy to finish all the climbs in the top 70% of riders.
Final Total Course Position: 662th of 775 – Moving Time 13:03:07
Moving Time: 10:25:17
Distance: 236.17 km
Elevation Gain: 4,861 m
Calories: 9,512 C
Elapsed Time: 13:03:21
Avg Speed: 22.7 km/h
Max Speed: 66.7 km/h
Elevation Loss: 4,863 m
Min Elevation: 338 m
Max Elevation: 1,836 m
Avg HR: 144 bpm
Max HR: 178 bpm
Avg Bike Cadence: 67 rpm
Max Bike Cadence: 179 rpm