March 13, 2013

3 Peaks Challenge 2013

'Twas a beautiful morning on Mt. Buffalo.

A lot can happen in 10+ hours on the bike. You might start the day feeling fresh and excited, but there are bound to be times when the freshness gives way to fatigue, and the excitement makes way for exasperation. Sunday’s 3 Peaks Challenge was a perfect example. I reckon I went through every possible emotion in my quest to finish the 3 Peaks Challenge for a third time, and to do so in less than 10 hours.

Shortly after crossing the start/finish gantry and beginning the descent of Falls Creek, it became clear that the riders in wave 1 weren’t going to be taking it easy. There were riders using every centimetre of the road (despite being told to stay on the left), riders overtaking dangerously on either side, riders cutting each other off … you name it. I was keen to get off to a good start too, but I didn’t particularly want my day to be over inside the first 5km so I backed things off a bit.

My brother Brendan pushed on ahead but I wasn’t particularly worried — I assumed I’d be able to out-climb him on peak #1, Tawonga Gap, and we’d continue on from there together. But I underestimated him. I rode a comfortable tempo up Tawonga and didn’t see Brendan until the rest stop at the top — and he’d been waiting for a few minutes.

Early morning views from the lower slopes of Tawonga Gap.

Early morning views from the lower slopes of Tawonga Gap.

I started descending towards Bright while Brendan finished his snack, assuming he’d out-descend me. But when I got to Germantown and started heading towards Bright, Brendan was nowhere in sight. I soft-pedalled for a bit, letting a few big groups fly past me (including one that featured my eQuipo tranQuilo teammate Fletch), but after a while I decided to push on, figuring I’d see Brendan somewhere on peak #2 of the revised route: Mt. Buffalo.

I was swept up by two riders who kindly towed me to Bright at around 45km/h and from there I worked with a couple of other riders as we pushed through the rollers to the base of Mt. Buffalo. The day was only young but already I was starting to keep an eye on the time to make sure I was ahead of schedule.

Approaching Mt. Buffalo.

Approaching Mt. Buffalo.

I’ve often said that Mt. Buffalo is my favourite climb and I’m not inclined to change that after Sunday. After our little group disintegrated at the start of the climb, I found a comfortable rhythm and relished the opportunity to ride such a great mountain in the early morning sun, before the heat of the day, with so many others around.

A few kilometres in I caught up to Fletch and our Canberran teammate Carl Jenkins and the three of us rode together as we made our way to the top of the second challenge of the day. I never felt like we were pushing particularly hard which meant we had time to look around and appreciate the views. But even still, we reached the top in good time — roughly 30 minutes ahead of where we needed to be.

It was great to see so many ET-ers out on the road.

It was great to see so many ET-ers out on the road.

The top section of the Mt. Buffalo descent was very sketchy and at least one rider had come off. He was lying on the roadside as we rode past (cautiously) and we would see an ambulance winding its way slowly up the mountain later in the descent. And what a descent it is.

Not only is Mt. Buffalo my favourite mountain to climb, it’s also my favourite to ride down. It’s fast and flowing, it offers spectacular views and has great lines of sight so you can see if cars are coming up the mountain towards you. Sure, we had to go a little slower as we descended Mt. Buffalo on Sunday, what with the hundreds of cyclists heading up and down, but it was still an absolute pleasure.

After reaching the bottom of the climb, our little group rolled through to Porepunkah for a brief lunch stop. My dad had been good enough to make the drive all the way up to the high country to see Brendan and I ride and he was there at the lunch stop, offering encouragement. It was great to see him there.

With my 10-hour goal firmly in mind, I was keen to get moving and so as Brendan rolled into the lunch stop, myself and a few others were getting ready to make our way out. I asked Brendan if he minded me pushing on and he said it was fine. At the time it seemed like a reasonable move but when I heard later how Brendan’s ride panned out, I felt terrible. More on that in a moment.

Climbing Mt. Buffalo was probably the highlight of the day.

Climbing Mt. Buffalo was the highlight of the day.

Our small group rolled out of Porepunkah and headed up the Great Alpine Road to Ovens — the flattest section of the day. With a few of us in the bunch, and a few more joining as we went, it made sense to roll some turns. To be honest, it was a bit of a shambolic effort from the bunch, with gaps opening up all over the place, frequent speed changes and a concertina effect that had me scrambling for my brakes on more than a few occasions. But it did the job — we were able to move along at a decent pace (~40km/h), saving energy as we went, putting Fletch and I well on track to break 10 hours.

By the time we reached Ovens and took the right turn towards Rosewhite things were starting to heat up (somewhat appropriately given the name of the town). The temperature had pushed above 30ºC for the first time and with absolutely no tree cover, we all started to bake.

Over the next few kilometres the rough roads, rolling hills and building heat all started to take their toll and our shabby but effective group started to splinter. A few of us — including Fletch, myself and the Donvale Demon – worked hard to stay with a small group that was pushing towards Rosewhite at a painful pace but after a while the pace was too high and I, at least, had to sit up and conserve my energy.

The high temperatures and a lack of shade made the Ovens to Mt. Beauty section very tough.

The high temperatures and a lack of shade made the Ovens to Mt. Beauty section very tough.

Those rolling hills around Rosewhite are actually quite scenic but on Sunday, the inescapable heat, the building fatigue, the ever-present dehydration, and the knowledge that we still had 70km to go all started to take their toll. I’d been feeling good until that point but when the Rosewhite Gap climb rolled around, the fun was well and truly over.

On paper the Rosewhite Gap climb isn’t that tough — 4.4km at about 4% — but in the roasting heat and after 160km, it felt very challenging. The biggest problem I had was that my feet had started to hurt. A lot. The outside of both feet and my smallest toe on each foot felt like they were being stabbed and every pedal stroke was agony. I’m not sure if my feet were just swollen from the heat, or if it was something else entirely, but either way, it was excruciating.

Fletch and I crested Rosewhite (the Demon was looking strong and left us in his wake) and barely pedalled as we flew down the other side towards Running Creek. Fletch said to me at the time ‘I really feel like we deserve this descent’ and I couldn’t have agreed more. Everything was starting to feel very difficult and the prospect of climbing up Falls Creek to finish the day was unappealing to say the least.

Fletch and I were suffering too much to enjoy the views from the Rosewhite climb.

Fletch and I were suffering too much to enjoy the views from the Rosewhite climb.

After a quick drink stop at Running Creek — which included pouring some iced water over our heads; heaven — it was back on the road for the 26km stretch to Mt. Beauty. Like the Happy Valley Road from Ovens, the Kiewa Valley Highway from Running Creek to Mt. Beauty was very exposed. The temperature was getting close to 35ºC and the final climb of the day couldn’t come soon enough.

In the ride guide that Josh Goodall helped me put together for the revised 3 Peaks course, he spoke about the Ovens to Mt. Beauty section being “energy sapping”. He couldn’t have been more accurate. Every little hill felt like a mountain, and the flat, dead, valley roads felt as rough as gravel. It didn’t help that the “group” we were riding with had no interest in helping Fletch or I at the front.

We’d sit out front for what felt like an eternity, pulling the group along, and then when we sat up and looked around for others to help out, they’d all slow down and stay on our wheels. It was pretty disappointing. I get that they were suffering, but we were all suffering, and it would have been easier if we’d all worked together.

At the Running Creek rest stop we’d been about 20 minutes ahead of schedule for the sub-10-hour finish and for the rest of the ride that seemed to be all I thought about. I’d given Fletch and I an hour to ride to Mt. Beauty and in the end we were only a few minutes off that. After filling out bottles, washing our faces, having something to eat and psyching ourselves up, we got back on our bikes and made our way to the start of the final climb.

You ain't foolin' me, mate.

Thumbs up? You ain’t foolin’ me, mate.

I’m not sure I’ve ever started a mountain climb feeling as fatigued and as drained as I did on Sunday. Sure, the Back of Falls in the regular 3 Peaks loop is hellish after 200km, but both times I’ve done it, I haven’t felt like I was utterly shattered. On Sunday, I was. Completely spent. My legs felt empty, I was feeling nauseous, and psychologically, I didn’t know how I was going to drag myself up the 30km to the finish line at Falls Creek. But we still had to give it a try.

We started the final climb with 2 hours and 17 minutes before the 10-hour cut off. It should have been enough time — I’ve climbed it in about 1 hour and 30 minutes when fresh, and in 2 hours when fatigued — but I was worried the 200km of energy-sapping riding we’d done already would see our climb time balloon out.

Fletch and I rode with 7 Peaks Domestique Series rider Andrew Moodie for the first 15km or so, the three of us saying a few words here, a few words there. Every short descent was more welcome than you would ever believe, and every ramp after those short downhills was brutal. We reached the bridge at the base of the final section of sustained climbing with a little over an hour in reserve. Again, it should have been enough, but that didn’t stop me checking my speedo constantly.

In fact, in those final 13km of the ride I think I spent most of my time looking at how fast we were going and calculating the speed we’d need to average from then on if we were to make it in under 10 hours. But in my fatigued, almost delirious state, arithmetic that would otherwise have be simple became as challenging as second order differential calculus. My brain became a jumble of times, distances and speeds and I couldn’t work out if we needed to average 10km/h or 10h/km.

There's no time to enjoy the scenery when you deep in the pain cave.

There’s no time to enjoy the scenery when you’re deep in the pain cave.

Still, having that mathematical mess in my head was far preferable to the alternative. The excruciating pain in my feet had returned and at times I let out an involuntary whimper. At other times I belted out a scream of pain and frustration. But it wasn’t just my feet; my everything was hurting. My legs, arms, head, stomach … And psychologically, well, I was in a bad place.

It had stopped being fun long ago, but by this point I was starting to question why I was even doing this ride, why I even ride a bike at all. I resolved to stop riding for at least a month after 3 Peaks, lest I feel the urge to get myself into a situation like this again.

But I still had to finish the ride. I mustered all the energy I could and focused on maintaining a speed of 10km/h+, to try and give myself a buffer should I fall apart on the slightly steeper section after the tollbooth.

At some point Fletch moved gradually up the road and I just couldn’t stay with him. But it really didn’t seem to matter. Even with him beside me I was in my own little world of pain. A place that even the most supporting teammate couldn’t have dragged me out of. I’d have to push through it on my own. And if I wanted to go under 10 hours, I’d need to keep the pace up.

It was a huge relief to finally see the Falls Creek resort ahead of us.

It was a huge relief to finally see the Falls Creek resort ahead of us.

It seemed to take an eternity for every kilometre to tick over but tick over they did. And with every kilometre I put behind me, my required average speed dropped a little bit more. At least that’s what I assumed was happening — my mental arithmetic had lost all accuracy and was on the verge of breaking down completely. But from somewhere (a gel perhaps?) I found the energy to keep my pace above 11km/h, reeling in then passing Fletch in the process.

When I passed the tollbooth I knew I only had 4km to go and that I’d soon be able to see the Falls Creek resort ahead of me. And when I finally did see the resort, it gave me something concrete to focus on. The finish wasn’t just km away, it was right there, so close I could almost touch it.

Fletch had asked me earlier in the climb to let him know when I knew, without doubt, that we’d make it in under 10 hours. I’d refrained from saying anything thus far — largely because I didn’t trust my mental arithmetic in the state I was in — but when I could hear the finish-line announcer’s voice I knew I was home in under 10 hours. I looked around for Fletch but couldn’t see him. I hoped he was close enough behind so as to make the time limit as well, before mustering all my strength in a final push for the line.

A lot of the time I climb mountains for the view. On Sunday, I was climbing so the ride would be over.

A lot of the time I climb mountains for the view. On Sunday, I just wanted the ride to be over.

As I got to within 50m of the finish I saw that the organisers had set things up so you had to climb for another 100m past the finish, before ending doing a U-turn and finishing with a short descent. It was a bit of a kick in the guts — and it meant that my sprint for the line was wasted — but it still felt fantastic to cross the finish line.

It wasn’t the same feeling of unadulterated joy and elation I felt the previous two years with the plateau-and-downhill finish of the regular 3 Peaks route. Instead it was a pure feeling of relief. The pain was over. I could get off the bike. Finally.

In the end I crossed the line in 9 hours 51 minutes and 21 seconds, an effort I’m very proud of. Fletch came in a few minutes after me with a time of just under 9 hours 50 minutes (he started the ride a few minutes after me). He too was extremely relieved to finish and was so spent that he was taken to the first aid tent for a quick jab to, presumably, replace some lost fluids and nutrients.

Brendan battled away solo for much of the day, but finished in a little under 11.5 hours.

Brendan battled away solo for much of the day and finished in a little under 11.5 hours.

Chasing a time goal on a ride like 3 Peaks really changes the experience. It goes from being a simple case of survival to something a lot more stressful and, almost certainly, a lot tougher. On one hand it was great having a focused way of getting through the ride (and ensuring we didn’t stop for too long at the various rest stops) but on the other hand it made the ride a lot less fun than it could have been.

I’m glad we achieved our goal of sub 10 hours, but I feel bad for pushing Fletch to shorten his rest stops, and I feel bad for leaving Brendan behind at lunch. As mentioned, Brendan’s day didn’t pan out as well as he would have liked. He spent that hellish section from Ovens to Mt. Beauty riding completely on his own and it took its toll. He got to Mt. Beauty in a bad way and it took him around 2 hours 30 minutes to get to the top of the final climb. He got there in the end, but it was a lot harder than it might have been.

So, if I do 3 Peaks again next year, I suspect I’ll take it a little less seriously. I’ll make a point of waiting for Brendan and I won’t push myself to finish in 10 hours just for the sake of a jersey.

And so, to the question that many people have asked me: was this year’s 3 Peaks Challenge harder than in previous years? It’s a tough question to answer, particularly given one ride is so fresh in my mind while the other feels like a lifetime ago. But I will say this: a lot of people said that the revised route would be “easy” or that it was a “soft route”. Sure, on paper, it looks easier than the regular route, but the reality on Sunday was that the revised route felt every bit as hard as the original route.

The hot conditions and the fact I was pushing for sub 10 hours might have contributed to that feeling, but I also believe that this year’s mountain-top finish — as opposed to the regular route which has 14km of mostly downhill to end with — made the ride very difficult, physically and mentally. If the weather had been milder and I hadn’t been pushing for time? Well, who knows. But it certainly wasn’t the easy course many people predicted. In fact, it was utterly brutal.

In closing, I’d like to say a big thank you to Bicycle Network Victoria for putting on a cracking weekend after a tense and uncertain lead-up period. Thanks especially to Emma Bolger for inviting Brendan and I up to Falls Creek once again and for making us feel so welcome.

Thanks very much for reading.

Did you ride in the 2013 3 Peaks Challenge? How did your day unfold? If you’ve done the regular route, how did this year’s ride compare? Please leave your comments below.

Further reading

67 Comments

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  1. Bill McFARLANE / Apr 11 2013

    Matt, thank you for a great report, which, like many others accurately represents theirs and my ride experience. I had heard from a riding buddy (Phil Morton the Great) that the ride was epic and despite what my head was telling me I put my hand up to do the ride in 2013. That began the process of training, including the Dirty Dozen here in Adelaide, and regular maximum meters rise for minimum kilometres efforts. I am sure that the camaraderie of training with a group of equally crazy riding mates and my potential shame for not actually turning up for the ride, gave me an incentive that over came my growing doubt that I would ever finish the ride if I started. Plans were made and accommodation at an undisclosed location at Falls were made. We soon worked out that the precious bikes needed special care and it was not enough to use a bike carrier and one car, the bikes would need to be dismantled and carefully placed into the back seat area of a large enough car, hence the need for our four person sub-group to use two sizable cars for the 12-hour drive to and from Falls Creek. What would I take to eat before the and after the ride, did I have all the correct gear, what would I eat during the ride, how often would I hydrate, did I need to take my own Hydrolyte or similar, would I take a spare tyre as well as two spare tubes, wouldn’t that just weigh me down? Your site and the many others I reviewed about the 3Peaks and one day riding events we very helpful. I drunk often, took my own Hydrolyte (but could have used what was made available- but did not know that would be the case) and even then there were not enough drink stations especially Ovens to Beauty, ate regularly, took two spare tubes and had two new tyres on the bike. As it turned out the organised accommodation for 10 people was the very best we could have hoped for (thanks Paul Rolfe of the BMW riding group) and a great bunch of pre- and post-ride buddies we were. We all arrived on the Friday evening after the long drive and ate early that evening, slept well and planned a short ride for Saturday back of Falls. Some of us woke early to get an idea of how cold it would be in the morning, good to know how many layers to have on, especially as we started the real ride with 30 kilometres downhill at 7 in the morning. On Saturday morning we did not go as far as WTF as we only wanted to turn the legs over after the long drive the previous day. Bike checking and registration was then on the agenda and all we appreciated the organisational thought by Bike Victoria that made that process very smooth. We were all tense the evening before and enjoyed the carbo-loading that some of us took to new heights not only that evening but had done so for the preceding few days. Hey, when you have a licence to eat after all that training, you make the most of it. We all agreed that a 5:00 am start on race day was reasonable and early to sleep we all went. I took half a sleeping tablet since I did not want to be wake for any part of the night thinking of the challenge ahead, hope I did not snore too loudly. Seems that was not an issue as we were all up at about the appointed hour and surprisingly for all that were there, showers and preparation went very smoothly. Once on our bikes and making our way down to the starting area, it was my great pleasure to wish all my buddies all the best of their rides, as I know that I would be taking up the rear, but how far to the rear that would be, was yet to be determined. Some of them went to the front zones and I made my way to Zone 4, the rearmost zone, knowing that I was not going to break any speed records down hill at the start and wanting to be safely to the bottom and able to get on with the next 200 kms in one piece. I will not bore you with my particular ride details, suffice to say that just as Matt and so many of those that rode had their demons and thrills doing the 2013 – 3 Peaks, I lived them as well. I do however vividly remember doing the maths as I pushed my self up the last 10 kilometres towards Falls Creek. I worked out that at 10 kilometres an hour it should only take one hour to do, but by the time I had done one kilometre there was nine kilometres to go but I had slowed to 9 kph and there was still an hour to go. Gee, the maths became confused thereafter and I have a degree in theoretical physics. Just shows you that the ride is a very personal thing. Anyway I finished — in just over 12 hours.with10 and half hours in the saddle and a happy rider, knowing that all my doubts was unfounded and I could be happy that an apparently very ambitious goal had been achieved. I soon found my mates hovering about the finishing area and I am told I looked fresh but I know that it was the emotional satisfaction that made the body stand proud. That was been my 3 Peaks, but it is always great sharing the experience with your mates and revealing in yours and their efforts. We all finished but it would not have mattered if one or more had not, as we all strove for the line together.

  2. David / Mar 18 2013

    Hi Matt, Agree that was a good write up, and like many others I can’t decide whether this 3 Peaks was harder or just different to the previous two that I have done (I missed 2012).
    One thing that was certianly harder this year was that after finishing 2011 in 9:01 I entered the event with a very clear goal to ride sub 9hrs. This goal, of course, changed when they changed the course, I figured that the course would be at least half an hour faster, so I thought that 8:30 would be a good goal to aim for. With this goal in mind I made sure that I started near the front of the group, and so when Nick Mitchell went I was able to jump onto the group that formed around him. The first part of the descent of Falls was pretty hairy as it was still a bit dark, but I gave it pretty much everything I had to stay with the bunch.
    Putting in the effort proved a good decision as I was able to stick with the bunch all the way through to just before Mt Beauty when a few surges started happening in the bunch and my fatigue really started catching up with me – as a result of which I rolled into the drink stop just as the bunch was leaving. I then had to wait to get water as the pump had stopped working (in the end we just dumped our bottles into the tank); before starting the climb. This just about got me, my foot was burning with every pedal stroke, and my legs had been totaly drained. So it was just a long slow slog up the climb, including stopping at that bloody red light!! With 6kms to go I was just about of water, but fortunately was able to get some from one of the road side pipes – and the nice cold water was wonderful, after that I felt the best I had all climb. So on and upwards to that first sight of Falls Creek, and for the first time on the climb I managed to catch a couple of guys who had started with the front bunch before rolling over in 8:03 – so in front of my goal, but definitely one of the hardest days I have done in the saddle.

  3. Darren Taylor / Mar 18 2013

    Matt
    Great summary.
    Your ride was a mirror image of mine including painful feet. I finished in 10.30. It was my third 3 Peaks and I found it the hardest yet. We named Happy Valley as Death Valley and I nearly mistook the soaring eagles for vultures. The back of Falls would have been carnage had we faced it this year.
    At 4kms from the finish line I was out of water and I was parched. To my amazement I spotted a vending machine on the corner.
    One smug guy was sipping a cold can of Coke. I had a $20 bill on me but the machine took “exact change only”! I christen this the WTF corner of the alternative 3 Peaks course. If we climb the front of Falls again the ride guide should include $3.50 of coins as essential equipment.

    The most harrowing sight for me this year was seeing one poor guy fall off his bike with exhaustion only 250 mtrs from the finish. It took the marshals a few minutes to revive him and he didn’t make it over the line after all he’d been through.

  4. Tony Cooper / Mar 16 2013

    Matt great info I was one of a team of 7 “Full Montes ” who completed the Challenge for the first time and identify with almost of your comments about the ride in particular the hard slog through Ovens to Mt Beauty. We all finished between 11 hours 50 and 12 hours 20. Most of us thought that your suggested training ride including Reefton Spur , Lake Mountain and finishing with Donna Buang prepared us pretty well particulary for Falls Creek at the end . Thanks for your efforts.

  5. James / Mar 15 2013

    Matt, great resource thanks, it was invaluable in the lead up.
    I went over there as one of the ‘BMW’ guys, we all had a great time, but its amazing how similar everyones stories are! Our ‘pro’ rider Gus was sub 8hrs, I was just over 8.5hrs, all the other guys came in at less than 10hrs. But we all shared the same experiences, good to the lunch stop, suffering through the heat, and then crawling up Falls with feet in agony in our own little pain cave..
    I think I saw no more than 10-12 different riders from the bottom of Buffalo through to the end, it was pretty lonely out there especially though the heat, the dead roads and the what seemed like never ending rollers. I kept expecting (hoping) for a large group to come past and ‘hoover’ me up, it didn’t happen and the slog continued!
    But in the end it was a fantastic experience and I learnt a lot about myself, roll on next year..

  6. Barry / Mar 15 2013

    Hi Matt,
    I started riding about 10 months ago and, like many others, find your site an invaluable source of information. When riding climbs for the first time, it’s been great to have read your profiles and to have a detailed idea of what lies ahead. I can only imagine the hours of effort that have gone in to establishing and maintaining the site. Very well done!
    I was a 3 Peaks first timer on Sunday, having caught the cycling event bug after completing the ATB 250 last year. At that time I looked at what other events were on offer and when I read about the 3 Peaks, thought, “yep, that’s for me”. Although I’m a relative newcomer to the sport, I’m fortunate when it comes to climbing, as I was able to get down to about 62 kg for the event, so have a bit of a natural advantage for the main element of this type of circuit. Unfortunately, for me, I haven’t developed great speed/power on the flat but hoped that I’d cruise along with bunches, still doing my turns at the front, to make up for this weakness. I had, ambitiously, set myself a 10 hour completion target and finished up with 10.43 and, like many others, suffered badly in the heat. Our ride experiences were pretty much mirrored, except that I basically rode solo from Ovens to Mt Beauty. If there is a next time, I hope that I’ve learned my lesson and will slow pedal until I can find a bunch to join to help get through this type of terrain in better shape. Happy (“Death”) Valley was just so hard in 38 degree heat. As I was climbing Falls, I was wondering what had happened to my feet/toes and, as I now know, I wasn’t the only one. Thanks Mike for the link regarding “hot foot”. The pain became so intense that I had to stop a couple of times to loosen the shoes and wiggle the toes until they felt relatively normal again.
    I plan to be in the Anglers Rest area next month and, hopefully, will be able to take my bike. I’d like to tackle the back of Falls, so that if I do decide to saddle up for the 3 Peaks next year, I’ll have first hand experience of what lies ahead. Naturally though, I won’t have ridden 220 kays as a warm up but, nevertheless, it will still be good experience in the bank. Yes Matt, I’ve read and will re-read your profile before I attempt the climb.
    Again Matt, thanks for your website and I’ll continue to be a regular visitor.

  7. Michael / Mar 14 2013

    The earlier comment that those that went sub 10 have to “prove” they can do the same on the “real” course is an interesting one. When the alternative route was confirmed, I admit I had some doubts about whether a sub 10 hour time and jersey would be as worthy an achievement as those for the original course. Any such doubts were dispelled on Sunday. The reality is that weather conditions can be as integral to the difficulty of a ride as distance and elevation, and they were extreme conditions on Sunday. So I don’t think that I or anyone else that achieved their sub 10 hour goal has anything to prove, and I’ll certainly be wearing that jersey with pride (when it arrives in the post!).

  8. dahondude / Mar 14 2013

    Nice write up Matt. I tell ya, the pool in Mt Beauty should have signs up on the main rd. They would have made a fortune!

    How much do you think your suffering in the second half of the ride was down to trying to ride in/on the front of fast bunches between GermanTown-Buffalo and Porepunkah-Mt Beauty? The only reason I ask is because I was watching the live time updates on the web on Sunday and one guy rode average times up Tawonga and Mt Beauty, took 5hrs to get from the top of Buffalo to the bottom of Falls, but then set the 8th fastest time up Falls Ck. Perhaps one strategy is to ignore the dodgy pacelines, ride a steady tempo and then make up all that ground on the final hill. :-)

    • Luke / Mar 14 2013

      I rode a pretty similar strategy to Matt, and worked hard with quality pacelines on nearly all of the flat segments. Hard to quantify how much this gained me in time, but it was likely more than 30 mins over the 4-5hrs I spent in the flat segments, since we sat around 40km/h a lot of the time. And the pacelines meant that I gained this time without burning any more energy than I’d have used riding solo (and much slower). I then rode from Mt Beauty to Falls in survival mode, in just on 2hrs. Perhaps fresh I could do this climb in 1:30hr. So all up, I think the pacelines helped me set a better time – plus they were more fun ! I had enough time riding solo on the climbs…

  9. Michael / Mar 14 2013

    Simon
    “Leaving aside the conditions”!? The conditions are as integral to the difficulty of a ride as distance and elevation, especially when riding in temperatures over 30 degrees. The clear implication from your first comment is that those riders who managed to ride the course under 10 hours need to prove they are worthy of a sub 10 hour jersey by going under 10 hours next year on the original course. It’s clear that you are disappointed in not achieving your own sub 10 hour goal, but instead of sucking it up and moving on you’ve chosen to belittle the efforts of those riders who coped better than you with all the factors of the course that presented themselves on the day, including the heat.

  10. Simon / Mar 14 2013

    Hi Matt, Yes I did finish the ride so I know unbearable the conditions were. I was riding on 10 hour pace until the 30k into Mt Beauty. I then had to drop to 12 hour pace and walk at times. And only just managed to make it to the finish. However I believe that if it had been on the orginal course, under the same heat, I would not have made it within the 13 hour limit. This is because, although the conditions were shocking, the alternate course itself (leaving the conditions aside for the moment) was “easier” and there was more time to slowdown compared with the original course, and still make it in under jersey deadlines and under orginal course PBs.

    • Matt / Mar 14 2013

      Simon
      Just to prove that you can’t really compare…much of the original course, say from dinner plain to WTF corner is at a a much higher altitude than say Happy valley. The couple of degrees of temp drop, plus the shaded road in the afternoon would make the conditions there completely different to the lower valley. I’d acknowledge the sub ten hour rides for what they are…a great achievement over that course in those conditions.

    • Weather nerd / Mar 14 2013

      I was talking to a local on Sunday night who has ridden 3peaks every year and he said Happy Valley (sometimes referred to by the locals as Death Valley) is considerably hotter than Omeo as the latter is at a higher altitude. Omeo was ‘only’ 30 on Sunday compared with close to 40 in Happy Valley, so the heat may not have been such a big issue on the original course.

    • Adam Gruer / Mar 15 2013

      I don’t think faster always equates to easier.

  11. Tim / Mar 14 2013

    Thanks for the review, Matt.

    Your ride was remarkably similar to mine. Rolling turns after lunch, the shambolic bunch riding and cooking on the Ovens section, the inexplicably sore toes riding up Rosewhite, the calculations and recalculations riding up Falls Creek – you might as well have described my ride.

    Managed to knock it off in under 10 but really struggled up the last climb. I think not putting an organised water stop up half way up Falls was a major oversight from organisers. Almost everyone I saw was reduced to filling bidons in the streams and drainage pipes on the side of the road.

    Still – a great day out and thanks again for the ride guide posted on Friday night.

  12. Peter / Mar 14 2013

    Matt. Firstly let me thank you for your great website. For people new to the sport and new to this event and region it is invaluable.

    To other readers……..please read this. I have learnt a lot about my body and I would like to see others learn from my near tragic experience.

    Firstly……I finished my first 3 peaks event. For those that try to fit cycling in amongst life, family and everything else that pops us the change of route is not important. The spirit of the event for me is what I come for.

    I am writing this post from my hospital bed having been here since late Tuesday suffering from Rhabdomyolysis. If you don’t know what it is search it and it will frighten you as it did me.

    I started the ride well prepared. I put thought into nutrition , fluid intake and treating it as my own race and not against others. I have failed in other endurance events when I have focused on others and not my own goals.

    I won’t bother you with the gory detail of each climb as other have written far better than I. Suffice to say …… Tarwonga – great. Buffalo- working but comfortable and well within limits. Ovens to Mt.Beauty -a mental push to get through that.

    The stage that caused the damage was the final climb and cramping. I arrived at Mt. beauty at 4:05pm. In some pain with minor cramps but good spirits. Knowing I was falling behind my planned time I thought long and hard about how to ride the last climb and changed my plan. I was now riding to be comfortable and to see my wife as I crossed. I was in a great place.

    The cramping started literally in the first 500m of the club and continued all the way. I pushed through them, but with 3:30 to compete the climb I was happy to stop when needed. By the last 5 km I was in agony. All I could think about was finishing. I got to the line very happy. I continued my rehydrating plan which involved lots of water down sports drinks, only 1/2 glass of champagne with my wife and a good meal.

    Where it went pair shaped was tuesday morning. I saw some blood in my urine. It continued thought to lunch time where I pulled the pin on work and went to my GP. In my job I have to have a medical every 12 months so I know my doctor well, which paid dividends later. He ran a blood test and said to keep the phone on in case his fears were proved true and I had a mild case of ” Rhabdomyolysis”

    By 8:15 I was dozing on the couch feeling awful. Muscles hurting ( as opposed to sore) feeling hazy, and in a bad bad mood ( according to my wife anyway). The doctor rang my phone and said that the blood test were not great. My Creatine Kinease levels were over 10000, normal is 0-500. Off to enemergcy I went and here I sit 38 hours later still here. during my stay my Creatine levels peaked at 18000.

    It turns out, according to the advice I received , that because I pushed through my cramps to far ,my muscle started breakdown and was in my blood and heading for my kidneys. This is BAD. Really BAD apparently.

    I caught it early as I didn’t suck it up. Any blood from either end is bad. Listen to your body and get help.

    I am sure many of you seasoned punters know about Rhabdomyolysis but for us new to long distance events I have learnt a lot.

    Matt , again thanks for your informative website and I hope my lessons can help others not end up where I am now.

    All the best.

    Peter

    • Alex / Mar 14 2013

      Peter,
      thanks for putting your experience in words. I’ve never heard of this condition (Rhabdomyolysis) and it a sobering thing to think about when you read about it. Good luck for a speedy recovery, take care and thanks again for the advice.
      Alex

      Matt, what a benefit your site is! All the comments and experience from this ride put here in words. You’ve done all of us a great service, from mapping to ride reports and more. Well done. Alex

    • Will / Mar 14 2013

      Hi Peter,

      Your ride sounds just like mine – Tawonga and Buffalo fine, Ovens to Beauty progressively harder, to the point of being unsure whether to attempt the climb from Mt Beauty. Ended up attempting it too, but just after Bogong the cramp became too much and I bailed. I have spent the last few days wondering could/should I have tried harder to push through it, but having read your post I think I can stop beating myself up. Thanks for posting, and all the best for recovery.

      Will

  13. Adam Gruer / Mar 14 2013

    could only get 400 out of 655 rides currently on strava to load but still pretty cool to watch http://veloviewer.com/VeloFlow.php?activityId=44004510&segmentId=988548&date=2013-03-10

  14. Pete / Mar 14 2013

    Matt, brilliant write up. It was my first 3 Peaks ride and you described how I felt at the different stages of the ride perfectly. I would be interested to know how the top finishers tackled the Ovens to Mt Beauty stretch as that, together with the limited water on the climb, nearly finished me. Cheers Pete

  15. Nick / Mar 13 2013

    Matt,
    I notice that you have included a picture of the back of my head on the road to Mt. Buffalo. If I had known it was you on my wheel, I would have stopped to shake your hand. This website inspired me to tackle the 3 Peaks for the first time and a number of other ‘firsts’ over the summer (Hotham, Buffalo, Tawonga, Donna Buang, The Wall).
    Your ride seems to be a replica of mine: fast start, meltdown across the Valley, personal crisis at Mt. Beauty, and a desperate final climb to sneak in under 10 hours. With 1 km to go I was never going to ride a bike again, but within five minutes of finishing, I was planning an assault on the ‘hard’ course in 2014. It was inspiring to see people put themselves through so much for nothing more than a little personal satisfaction. It was also great to experience the support of fellow cyclists and the locals – the two women with the water pistols just before Mt. Beauty may have saved me from complete mental collapse.

    • Matt / Mar 14 2013

      Haha, nice one Nick. Thanks for the tow! ;)

    • Robert Larocca / Mar 14 2013

      Those people with the water pistols were a godsend!

      The twitter address of one is @bec_hogan and I’m sure thank yous would be welcome!

  16. Bob McAllan / Mar 13 2013

    Great write-up, echoed all the emotion, pain and exhilaration of the day. Yes, the ride was a little different this year, more a challenge to go sub 10 than just complete the course. I suspect this distinction will split the ride and riders over the coming years.

    Thanks to all who rode and supported.. We’ll be back.

    Just one last suggestion – BV should have a look at Amy’s Rider Briefing. Information regarding the road conditions (Buffalo descent in particular) and weather would have been beneficial.

  17. Brendan Cheshire / Mar 13 2013

    Hi Matt, what a fantastic write up. This was my first 3 peaks and let me tell you on Sunday night and Mondays drive home I could not even think about riding my bike for weeks let alone doing this ride again. Your write up seems to echo mine and alot of others of the raw emotions this event brought out in people. I started this ride on the Sunday morning with the hope of sliding in around the 13 hour mark, after sitting up Saturday night rewriting my pace note after you redid the ride guide and taping the times to the top bar so I knew what times I needed to clear each of the sectors. I suddenly found myself feeling great during the first two climbs and clearing each sector 2 hours ahead of my allotted time. This all started to come unraveled on the not so happy valley road, as time started to slip and the average kph fell and the heat exhaustion kicked in all I could think about was my family at the finish waiting for me and not getting to the top after all the hours missed with the kids because of the training, I was almost overcome by my emotions. Some how I rolled into Mt beauty at 3:30 only having 32 minutes of stopping time and lay on the grass wishing for the ride to end. I finally got going some 40 minutes later and slowly edged my way to the top of that mountain. 11 hours 56 minutes. By far the hardest thing I have ever done but also the most rewarding, I will never forget that first 3 peaks and it will defiantly not be my last.
    I would also like to thank you for your invaluable information on your site.
    Cheers
    Brendan.

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Thanks very much Brendan. Congratulations to you on soldiering through and finishing a seriously tough ride. I hope you get back on the bike real soon!

  18. Andrew / Mar 13 2013

    Thanks Matt.
    I finished. 3 hours later than you and in the dark, but I finished. As I’ve said before, your blog was both an inspiration and instruction for my training and ride, so thank you. I took a lot more, and longer, stops after Porpunkah than I’d originally planned. Happy Valley was anything but. One penalty for being slower was being out there in the peak of the day. My Garmin registered 44* at the Ovens rest stop. A big thank you to the TFM team who set up impromptu water stops on Rosewhite and at Bogong.

    One remarkable thing. People have already mentioned the women handing out water at Howman’s Gap just before the toll booth. I had a chat with her (well I wasn’t setting land speed records, I had time and it meant that while I was talking I didn’t have to pedal). She had in fact started the ride in the morning and not been able to continue. I’d like to think I’d have that generosity of spirit she showed but suspect if it had been me I’d have been sulking in a corner instead of helping other riders. I hope something really nice happens for her.

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Thanks very much for your comment Andrew, and well done. :)

  19. Andrew / Mar 13 2013

    Great write up.

    Wearing a 2012 jersey, I was asked a number of times how the ride compared to last year. In the heat it was definitely in my opinion harder than last year. The ride from Ovens to Mt Beauty was just sapping. And the final climb just brutal.
    It’s the community that blogs like this create, along with the kindness from random volunteers, people giving out water, or ice bags and all the people at the finish line, that will keep me coming back.

  20. Chucky EQ Member / Mar 13 2013

    Hey Matt,

    Great write up!
    I just read out aloud your account of the ride to my wife
    so she could hear how brutal it was as she had thought i had given up tooo easily.
    I was chuckling to myself the bit about not wanting to ride a bike again. I too went through the same pain and pulled out at 9km to the end. I could not ride anymore. My feet were killing me and my HR had been at 95% for the last 2 hours and only able to pull an average of 150w! Something was up and being a big guy at 6.4ft and having lived and ridden in dubai for some years I knew I was heading into heat stroke territory. I stopped at bogong in a little hut and a a guy had a wine cask full of water that was frozen and it saved my life. I put it on my chest and back and it worked wonders in dropping my core temp. Before arriving at bogong I had been not only watching the clock but also the temp on my garmin. Telling myself if this temp drops as I go higher then I would be safe. The temp unfortunately just kept getting higher and on reaching bogong had swelled to 36deg. I left my bike and sought shelter in the hut from the sun. Now that my core temp was down I decided to climb back on. My bike was leaning up against the Armco in the sun for the entire time and when I climbed back on I noticed my black seat was very hot and now my garmin was registering 47.5 deg!! Obviously from the road temp. I got another 5k out and upon seeing Carl Jenkins another big EQ member on the side of the ride and seeking assistance I told myself its not worth it. I’m not doing damage just for the sake of a jersey just like you.
    Everybody had a war story that day and for sure that has been the darkest day I have been in ever and I have had some pretty dark days of endurance.
    But the body forgets quickly and already I catch my inner monologue saying ” that was just a training day .., now could you carry this form into another event? Maybe I should look on the Internet? ” then common sense kicks in.

    Cheers

    Chris

  21. Mike / Mar 13 2013

    Great post and very inspiring write up, reading the theme re sore feet, I had the same last year in training for the 2013 ACE250, I put in the buttons as noted in this article, http://www.roadbikerider.com/injuries/how-solve-painful-hot-foot , felt very funny at first but problem solved, saw a podiatrist for the advise and have not looked back, made riding fantastic all over again. Keep up the great work.

  22. Simon / Mar 13 2013

    Anyone who did sub-ten this year for the first time needs to do it again next to prove they can do on the real course. Sure it was a hot day, but it was a “shorter” course which is why there were so many sub-10s and so many PB’s.

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Hi Simon, out of interest, did you do the ride on Sunday?

      • Matt / Mar 14 2013

        Matt and Simon
        Surely each three peaks is different as the weather can play such a huge part. The original course ridden in low to mid 20′s can’t be compared to the 2013 course in high 30′s. I mean what’s the point. Add to this all the variables around flats, mechanical issues, sleep the night before…whatever.
        My two cents worth is that I’d much rather ride dinner plain to WTF corner on a dragstar with knobby tyres than ride Porepunkah to MtBeauty via Happy Valley in Sundays conditions.
        So if you completed it at all..well done. If you did sub 10 hours…hearty congratulations and as with many sports results…it’s in the book. And you have the jersey to prove it.

  23. Joel Nicholson / Mar 13 2013

    Absolutely correct in every way! It was one of the hardest days mentally I have ever had on the bike, not to mention a damn tough day physically.

    • Adam Gruer / Mar 15 2013

      Hey Joel, if you have the time I’d love to read a guest post summarising your day. I am fascinated by what is like for you up in that front group. How many stops did you do – how much water did you drink etc? Were you guys chatting much or just grimly holding wheels?

      • Joel Nicholson / Mar 16 2013

        Adam,
        Sadly, I wasnt in any front group.
        Other than the stretch between Bright and the foothills of Buffalo, I was pretty much riding on my own all day. I caught and briefly worked with a few guys between Porepunkah and Rosewhite, but they only pulled a couple of turns each before falling by the wayside.
        As far a stops are concerned, according to my Garmin, I spent 4min 5sec off not riding, I actually didnt get off the bike all day, just pulled up at the water stations, filled my bidons and kept going.

  24. Ben / Mar 13 2013

    Grinding up Falls Creek I came around a bend to be confronted by a red traffic light. I called out “oh FFS!” more to myself than anyone else, you guys turned around and looked at me as if to say how uncouth and don’t run this red light… which I promptly did.
    I was in my own world of torment, trying to work out the same sub-10 calculation as you; my mind, legs and parched throat in a three-way blazing row about what to do next. After topping up the bidons with cool mountain spring water and a quick spell on the side of the road, I had a bit of a second wind. It became a matter of finding a sustainable rhythym and getting the damned thing done. Admittedly somewhere on the climb I had started counting remaining distance down in 100m increments. Was sensational to crossing the line and have my name and time called out @ 9hrs 55 – sub10, but just barely!
    Was a tough day, goes without saying, but what a beaut ride. My first 3 Peaks, actually my first ride in Vic Alpine region, but certainly not my last. Had I realised it was you at the traffic lights I would have called chapeau to you, for your blog has interested and helped me – and it seems more than a few others out there on Sunday – to do the ride.
    Huge congrats to all those who pushed themselves through pain barriers to finish the ride – in whatever time.
    Cheers,
    Ben

  25. Jon Thornton / Mar 13 2013

    Great write-up.

  26. Matt / Mar 13 2013

    Hi all,

    What an event – my first crack at it and unfortunately I didnt get there as I missed the last check point by 8 minutes. I echo everyones comments re the ride / heat / support and in particular your site Matt, it was one of the main reasons for taking on a challenge which for me became a process of self discovery and learning to challenge my limits (god that sounds deep!).

    Dissappointingly I was on track after cooling off at the 2nd last rest point and was looking to arrive at Mt Beauty @ 5:15 only to be past by the Latern Rouge who screamed we needed to be at Mount Beauty by 5:10. So after some heavy debate I was assured that the cut off time was 5:10 and not 5:30 and with that he rode off into the hills – regrettably I took his word and once 5:10 rolled by I pulled into the nearest milk bar to enjoy a coke and air conditioning. After 20 minutes rest I hoped back onto the bike to roll into Mt Beauty only to be advised that I had missed by 8 minutes!! Needless to say I was not happy to finish the race given the training / time and emotion that had been put in to the day.

    That said it was a fantastic day and Ill be sure to be back next year to take on the challenge.

    Cheers Matt

  27. Keith Austen / Mar 13 2013

    Great read. It was as if you were describing my experience on the day until the last climb at which point my lights went out and it took me 3 hours to get up the final climb. I have done this ride 4 times now and Sunday was the worst I have ever felt. I’ll wait for a couple of weeks before considering it again.
    Well done to you and your mates on such an epic ride.

    Regards;
    Keith Austen

  28. Dave / Mar 13 2013

    Hi Matt – thanks for a great write-up. Like others who have commented here, I have been inspired by your site, great write-ups, and good reader-comments too!

    I agree with Aaron’s comment above about shared recollections; it would be interesting to being a mind reader half-way up the Falls Creek climb :-) At the toll-booth I swore “never again”, but I’ll probably crack open your original “what to expect ..” entry before too long. Well done on sub 10 hours – I was just happy to finish in day-light. Cheers Dave.

  29. Brendan Edwards / Mar 13 2013

    One of the things I will take from this years 3Peaks is kindness from strangers. Around Rosewhite I ran out of water and rode 10km’s with empty bottles. Three complete strangers shared their water with me and made the difference from me collapsing, to surviving the 3Peaks. I didn’t finish well, but slogged it out all the way to the finish and would rate this as one of the hardest rides I’ve done, next to the Amy Gillet ride last January which had 43 degree heat, and a 60 km section without water and shade. Congratulations to all that rode in this years 3Peaks and a special thanks to my wife who has been very patient with the massive amount of training that I put in for this event.

  30. Karl Gerstlauer / Mar 13 2013

    Hi congrats on your ride ! Epic day for sure too much for me though i find myself contemplating it after doing the 7 peaks some with you guys. First i will do the around the bay next see how that goes…..??
    Hey noticed in your write up that you said you wanted to go under 10 hours to get the jersey ???? I thought that if you completed under the deadline of 13 hours you got a finishers jersey…???? for the 3 peaks.
    I did the Crucifix the other day really enjoyable ride…….thanks for your honesty about the pain endured on the ride
    Enjoy recovery time off
    cheers Karl

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Thanks Karl. There’s a special sub-10 hour jersey … :)

      • Matt / Mar 13 2013

        I had no idea about the sub-ten jersey. That was the goal and the moving time on Strava was 8;43 for me. Longer breaks due to my astounding girlfriends appearance at Running Creek and Mnt Beauty meant the final ‘official’ time was just over 10 hours – I had a slightly more relaxed attitude.

        Between Ovens and Running Creek was the brutal part for me – not sure what happened but from there til the Falls toll booth I felt great. It was carnage all the way up though – people struggling, stopped, bent over their bikes, vomit on the road. Apparently 17% DNF – mostly due to the heat.

        I’m keen to compare it to the usual course so I guess I’ve already committed to next year.
        Cheers for the write up Matt – I had your wheel in the final metres to the top of Tawonga. Congrats on pushing through the pain for a great time.
        Matt

  31. robert / Mar 13 2013

    That’s great. Now I can send links to your write up to those that ask me what it was like because your ride was very similar to mine! Right down the pain in the foot at Rosewhite and feeling sick all the way up falls.

    It was brutal. It was as hard as last year.

    As an odd aside, I was in your group leaving lunch and it was working well for me till another rider suddenly braked. I clipped their wheel and found myself lying in the grass! Thankfully I only cut up a knee that is well used to it. I got myself onto a good group and we caught yours about 10 k after Ovens. By which time I was totally baked and dragged myself to Falls.

  32. Chris Botterill / Mar 13 2013

    Hi Matt – as always a great write up. A big thanks for taking the reins on the ride plan – it turned out to be a perfect reference to get me in sub – 10. Chz. Chris.

  33. Michael Hodgson / Mar 13 2013

    Another great write up Matt. My experience was similar to yours. Last year my goal was to finish; this year to go sub-10 hours, which I achieved (just). I agree this year’s event was harder for me due to the heat and taking shorter breaks. Tawonga Gap and Mt Buffalo were really enjoyable, especially the descents, while so called “Happy” valley was just a sufferfest. Tank was just about empty for Falls Creek . Already looking forward to next year to go sub-10 on the original course!

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Thanks Michael, and well done!

  34. Darren / Mar 13 2013

    I meant to add a big thank you for all the information you have provided that have been so helpful in preparing for this ride and a creating a new found love of cycling in the mountains!

  35. Darren / Mar 13 2013

    Fantastic review of the ride Matt. It certainly struck a chord with me as I too was trying to do the maths up Falls Creek in a dazed state to reach my sub 10 hr goal. I could never imagine the pain and varying emotions on that final climb. Earlier in the ride, I remember asking you just as we started the Rosewhite climb how we were tracking for the 10 hr mark. Although you said “I’ll tell you when we get to Running Creek”, I was pretty satisfied knowing I was riding alongside you at that point. Although we hit Kiewa Valley in different bunches (at least mine shared some good rolling turns to Mt Beauty) our rides seem identical with only 22 seconds splitting us! Same pain, same emotions. That was my first 3 Peaks, so I’ll consider having a crack at the original course next year.

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Hi Darren, thanks very much for this. Congratulations on completing the ride! A super effort. I hope I wasn’t too grumpy on Rosewhite — I was in a world of pain! Thanks again mate, and well done!

  36. Bridget / Mar 13 2013

    Hi Matt. Thanks for your write up. It is so humbling to read that both you and WW had similar experiences to our little grupetto (albiet much faster times!). It is easy to make the (mistaken) assumption that people who ride stronger/faster don’t hurt as much or need to fight as many demons! In any event, the day was epic, despite the pain – and I must acknowledge how helpful your write ups on each of Victoria’s main climbs have helped me train for, and compete in the event. Just knowing what to expect is sometimes enough to break each climb down into manageable parts. Your words swam around in my head as soon as I rounded that corner and got my first glimpse of the Falls Creek Village on Sunday, and brought welcome relief!

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Thanks so much Bridget. I’m glad the site was useful to you. Congratulations on finishing what was a brutally tough ride! :)

  37. Aaron / Mar 13 2013

    Great write up Matt and congratulations on going sub-10!
    As others have mentioned, your great site is what peaked my interest in having a crack at 3 Peaks. Having only been riding since July last year, I was not sure if I had any place being out there on Sunday, but in the end I managed to cross the line 10 mins in front of the Lanterne Rouge. It was not the day I had planned in my head, and I was on track for my planned 11 hours until my first cramp hit with about 5km still to go on Buffalo. I managed to get up Buffalo with some stretching. The real torture was the flatland! Porepunkah to Ovens and Rosewhite were just horific, and I had to ride it alone. My mental state by this point was not great, and every scarce tree was looking more and more like a great place to wait for the wagon. It was sobering to see so many people being treated by the Ambo’s along this stretch. It is funny how a sub 10-hour riders recolection can be similar to a 13 hour rider. Your time and average demands were to get you a sub-10 jersey, mine were to just get a jersey, but it was the same process. Although my day did not pan out the way I had planned the fact that every peak I crested on Sunday was the biggest climb I have ever done is what I am most proud of. Due to family committments and lack of large hills in the area near where I live. All my training was repeats, boring repeats! I will be back again next year, and with a lot more miles and preparation in the legs. Hopefully you do the 7 peaks serieas again!
    Thanks again for all the information you provide, it’s priceless!

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Thanks very much Aaron! And congratulations on finishing. Super effort that! :)

    • Luke / Mar 13 2013

      Aaron – great effort, especially given how recent you are to this cycling caper.

      I think Greg LeMond got it pretty right when he said “It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.”

  38. Neil / Mar 13 2013

    Matt, awesome write up as usual. I saw you and one of your ET friends descending Mt Buffalo as I was climbing.

    It will probably not be unusual for people on the day, but I experienced many of the same highs and lows as Brendan and you. The thrill of the Mt Beauty descent. The toes on my right foot burning so I took off my shoe at Running Creek and Mt Beauty for a few minutes. Riding solo from Ovens to Mt Beauty. Calculating the speed I needed to ride the last kilometres to Falls Creek to finish in under 11 hours (made it with 3 minutes to spare).

    The ride bought out all sorts of highs and lows. The best being when my 4yo daughter ran out as I pedalled slowly past with 50 metres of climbing to go at Falls Creek to give me the ‘ special star’ she had made at the kids club during the day :-)

    All-in-all a great event.

  39. Alex McCallum / Mar 13 2013

    Thanks Matt, a nice piece on a hard ride.
    My day didn’t go so well but I finished which I was very happy about.
    I was aiming for sub12 but I blew a tube 500 metres from the top of Tawonga which resulted in me having the longest time over it due to other problems. So I had a lot to catch up. I did gradually get back into it. Maybe a sub12 next year. Again I enjoyed your write-up.
    Alex http://wfctt.wordpress.com/

  40. Tom Orton / Mar 13 2013

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the write up. This year was my first 3 peaks and your site and the little community that you have created has been an invaluable resource in preparing for it. All summer in training I’ve been meeting other cyclists out on the road that are out there doing rides that you have written up. Some mates and I came off the round the bay feeling a little too good about ourselves and thought we’d give the 3 peaks a go. I don’t think we really knew what we were in for. Having not done most of the sections of road before we didn’t know what to expect and got stuck on our own in the heat on the road to mt beauty (like a lot of people). But we got there in the end, in just over 10hrs.

    As well as all the great support from Bicycle Victoria I’d also like to put out a shout out to all the impromptu support a lot of us received. To the group that made a makeshift water stop at Bogong Village; and the lovely women and her child handing out water out Howmans Gap; and the man who gave me a bag ice on the way up the falls climb; and the girls who sprayed me with their water pistols on my way into Mt Beauty, Thank you. It was these sorts of things that helped so much through that hellish last 2 hours of climbing.

    The passion you have for cycling is infectious, Matt, and it has contributed to the love of cycling that I know have, so thank you very much.

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      This is so great Tom, thank you so much. :) I really appreciate you taking the time to leave this comment! :D

  41. Luke / Mar 13 2013

    Matt – great write up and it sounds like your day had very similar highs and low to mine. Climbing back up Falls, I had an “angel” sitting on one shoulder and a “devil” on the other. One telling me it was OK to stop, the other saying “just keep going”. I’m not sure which was which, but I somehow ignored the one telling me to stop.

    I haven’t done the ‘real’ 3 Peaks route, so can’t compare. But I know that if I was confronted with WTF corner feeling the way I felt at Mt Beauty on Sunday, I do not know how I would have even started it, let alone made it up.

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Thanks Luke. I saw you put in an awesome time – well done!

  42. Gareth / Mar 13 2013

    Nice one Matt. I’m surprised how consistent everyone’s accounts were. I was sitting on the 10.5 mark at the lunch break then the valley destroyed me after taking some turns in a way too fast group. I ended up only just making it in 12.5! My feet were hurting like hell too, I guess it was the heat? or maybe the excessive power we were consistently putting out? Maybe the heat…

    I train for climbing because I like it, but maybe I should have done some 35 degree Beach Rd time trials to prepare for three peaks instead?

    I’m going to do a little blog post about it in the next few days, so stay tuned.

    • Matt / Mar 13 2013

      Thanks Gareth. Let me know when the post is up and I’ll link to it. :)

  43. Fletch / Mar 13 2013

    Matt – awesome write up. So good it was hard to relieve the pain! I agree its a tough call to stick to your time goal, no matter what. The feeling of wanting to help friends and ride together is probably more rewarding. I’m really chuffed we pushed ourselves and met the 10 hour challenge together. But now that its done, if I take on another epic challenge like 3Peaks, I’m also looking forward to the camaraderie of riding with mates and getting everyone home in one piece. Thanks again for all your inspiration to get that jersey!

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