The Peaks Challenge starts and finishes at Falls Creek. The journey takes you over Tawonga Gap, Mt Hotham and climbs the back of Falls. 235km, more than 4000m of climbing (146mi, 13,125feet). I live in the flatland so a trip to the hills seemed a very good idea.
It wasn’t an official training camp, just a DIY effort staying in caravan parks, the lovely Gayle as my support crew. It was an opportunity to try eating lunch during a ride and a chance to gauge the pace required to get it done in under 13 hours because if you can’t stay in front of the clock you will be invited to leave the course.
I had never ridden from the summit of Hotham to Omeo before. That was the only section that was a cycling mystery, the bulk of the route, including the big hills had been ticked off individually previously.
Day one was Freeburgh to Omeo. 102.4 km 2,221m of climbing in 5hr 39min including 20 min off the bike for lunch.
Day two started in Omeo and ended in Mt Beauty taking in the Back of Falls and Tawonga Gap. So, all on course but the final few kilometres in the opposite direction. 128.5 km, 2425m in 6hr 52min. Again that includes 20 mins off the bike for a salad.
When the big day comes I’ll need to put all that together and add another 5km! Not all kilometres are equal but the 5 missing from this exercise are flat. A very good thing.
The average speed for the 230 km was 18.472 km/hr which would get me in at 12hr 45min. I would certainly take that. Bad weather or a puncture would be all that it would take to do me in. On the day there will be opportunity for drafting on the flatter sections which offers an energy saving. There will also be the opportunity to make crucial mistakes. I will have to climb at my own pace not try to match the person ahead of me. Two and a half watts per kilo up the hills will get me there. It’s essentially no watts per kilo to come down. There are sections on what seem like down hills that require more than a little effort to get over. That is quite noticeable just after Fainters Falls on the way down from Falls Creek and again approaching Omeo and yet again heading to Anglers Rest between Omeo and WTF Corner that marks the start of the last major ascent.
And on that last major ascent there are a few places where 3 watts per kilo barely keeps the bike moving forward. I haven’t yet got off and walked – that would blow the time budget right out the window.
44 days to go.