3 Peaks 2015 Ride Report

Road cycling & upcoming rides
User avatar
Posts: 755
Joined: 11 Jan 2008, 16:39
Location: Dulwich Hill

Postby Dougie » 11 Mar 2015, 15:33

3 Peaks!
Individual results may vary

This was completely uncharted territory for me. In April of last year I agreed to do this ride with a couple of mates. Standing on the start line in the predawn gloom that ill-fated decision seemed like an eternity ago. I knew that I would need to change my mindset and train specifically for this event. Unfortunately the alleged mates whom had this ludicrous idea were no-where to be seen having dropped like flies over time. Little did I know that in the months prior to the event I would contract pneumonia and take a month off to travel through the US surviving on a diet of pizza and beer and no exercise. Although I looked, I could not find one training plan that suggested these items as advantageous to one’s performance. Falls Creek was a bloody long way from the café in Marrickville. Riding for 235 KM and climbing 4,500 Metres in 13 hours is just plain ridiculous.

I shared a lodge with Peter, Andrew, Paul and Michele. Strong riders all and I was convinced that the last I would see of all of them was at the start line. In addition my Bounce Bunch mates from my Wednesday Morning training ride of Scotty, Pete, Spence and James were also here in the “Creek” for the event. I also know of other Bounce boys present as well and DHBC lads staying on other chalets. All in all cycling in Sydney’s Inner West was extremely well represented.

We arrived late Friday afternoon and I noticed the altitude’s effect on my breathing. I was ever so slightly panting. I found this moderately alarming as I was standing still rather than trying to drag my tired body up a mountain after 12 plus hours in the saddle. It didn’t bode well!

Saturday morning saw Michele and I join the Bounce Boys for a leisurely spin down the mountain towards Trap Yard Gap. All in all, about 40 KM and 500 Metres of climbing. It was good to see this part of the followings day’s route as we figured this was the mental hurdle we would need to leap to finish the ride.

(Photo credit Andrew Spencer)

The boys arrived Saturday evening. Pasta was the order of the day. It would appear in the lodge that all of the other residents were also here for the ride. Everyone seemed to eat for Australia. I was very conscious of getting my nutrition right. I really think I over compensated. I was more than quietly nervous. The highlight of the evening was watching Paul firstly attempt to pack his Valet bags. We almost needed a PowerPoint slideshow and an interactive instruction manual to achieve that and then him preparing his food for the ride.

Pre ride registrations and bike checks

It was like something from National Lampoon’s Animal House

Paul preparing his food for the ride like he would never eat again #paulmageddon

I really don’t think anyone got a good night’s sleep on Saturday Night. It was fitful but ultimately I reckon I was as well rested as I could have been under the circumstances. We all dressed except for Paul whom seemed entirely content with summer attire. We wondered, often out loud, if Paul would need to be met halfway down the first descent by an ambulance and have roadside treatment for hypothermia.

Our little peloton of 5 wandered to our allocated starting position that to my way of thinking was frighteningly close to the back of the bunch and those wicked Lantern Rouge people dressed in Red.

Start line nerves

After a final, Final Briefing we rolled under the start gantry at 7.09am. The 13 hour time limit cut off countdown clock had commenced! I descend cautiously, very cautiously. Seeing a young lady in the ditch off to the side of the road not very far into the ride reinforced my level of care and I ramped up my peril factor to about a 9. I seemed to get passed by everyone else whom was left on the road. It was cold and lonely. I was very glad to have winter gloves, arm warmers, base layer, wind jacket and a rain coat. The 40 odd minute descent was damn cold and quite technical. I needed all my wits about me and being numbed by the cold would have been a recipe for disaster.

The climb up Tawonga Gap was pleasant and I didn’t find it a challenge. I was determined to keep my heart rate on the climbs around the 162bpm and the flats at 150 or so. I was very confident that I could go all day if I achieved this. On my way up the hill I came across several large gentlemen whom were already off their bikes pushing. I reckon all up their day was going to be about an hour long.

Tawonga Gap. Trust me, there’s a mountain back there.

I caught lots of riders on the way to the morning tea stop at Harrietville. On a few occasions I looked around to find a train attached behind me. A couple of people took a short turn but really they were simply hanging on and at their limit. At the time I didn’t grasp that none of these people were destined to complete the ride. Only 13 riders crossed the line after me prior to the two Lantern Rouge Riders crossing the line and signifying the end of the event.

The climb up Mt Hotham was relentless. I remember reading about the climb. It is 30 KM long at an average of 4.5% with three 10% ramps. My greatest challenge was getting over the fact that every time the road turned skyward I mentally ticked off a “10% ramp”. The problem was that no one had told Mt Hotham that was how it was supposed to be. By the time I crested the summit I was completely over ramps! I felt in good form again on this climb. During my training I had practiced a lot of standing climbing. I would do 8 repeats of Loch Ave in Centennial or Garnett St standing for the full climb. I do think this was my saviour. It meant that I could comfortably climb for a kilometre out on the saddle and give the pressure points a rest. Throughout the climb I kept my heart rate under control and didn’t chase anyone. The downside was if I have climbed with someone I could have picked up a little time. Considering my location in the field of riders it was not surprising that I was passing most people and that the road was littered with either walkers and soon to be retirees. Having said that, there was nothing soft about this climb it went on and on. Every time the road turned skyward riders would stand, cramp and fall over.

I crested Mt Hotham, put back on my winter clothes, took a photo and sent an “I’m still alive” text to home. Somewhere at this point Michele passed by me. Neither of us took any note of this and were blissfully unaware of the flyby. Michele was decked out in the Club kit. She reported that on many occasions she was confused for the Lantern Rouge not only by other riders but Marshals as well.

The Sommet of Mt Hotham at 1806 Metres

I had been warned that Mt Hotham was exposed and windy. The descent down to the Dinner Plain lunch stop was pretty quick and on occasion frightening. The Lunch stop was welcome and I did find it very challenging to get back on to the bike. I saw plenty of sets of “eyes of doom”; these were people whom have nothing left to give. Kudos to all of them having made it this far, there was no dishonour in retiring to ride another day.

Michele and I took off for the next way point of Omeo. I descended a little faster than her and found myself at the next check point on my own. As I rolled in the Marshal announced that this section would close in four minutes. This was the lowest point mentally for me in whole ride. To think that I have got this far and was only four minutes ahead of the Lantern Rouge really took the wind out of my sails. I took off like a flock of startled gazelles secure in the thought that Michele had been swept up by the SAG Wagon and that for me it was only a matter of time before they too caught me. It was tough. I went through the full spectrum of emotions. It was by far the hardest hour and a half of the ride. I rolled into Anglers Rest and to my surprise and delight Michele rolled in less than five minutes after me. I was so pleased she was still in the game. On top of this I was now twenty minutes up on the Lantern Rouge!

We took off together and for the first time I had some company. My mood brightened considerably and I allowed myself to consider that I might even finish the ride. We rounded WTF Corner and OH MY GOD! It was brutal. I had researched this climb and I had read that if you can ride the first two ramps then life will get easier. Well I am here to tell you that as God is my witness THAT is a big fat lie, liar, liar, pants on fire. I rode the first two ramps in the red zone. I reckoned that now was the time to empty the tank. I got to about 3 km up the road and I needed to stop. I just couldn’t muscle the bike any further. I was marginally quicker than walkers and so unbalanced that I came close to coming off too many times to count. Michele rolled past with a look of pure serenity on her face. I wished her well and urged her on to finish.

I squirted what seemed like 900th gel down my throat and started pushing. If the gradient dipped below double figures I mounted my steed and horsed it closer to the top. I was only stopped for few minutes in total as my mantra at this was “keep moving forward”. All around me were zombies. The walking dead were simply trying to maintain some dignity. Great work from the Marshals and SAG Wagons. They were combing the hill offering water, gels, hydrolyte and words of encouragement. A bloody lift to the top would have been more useful! Mentally I was in a good frame of mind. Even when walking I was still passing people.

The final checkpoint was Trapyard Gap. I am not sure if I peeled the banana they handed to me. Everything about this stop is in soft focus. All I knew was that I have 1 hour and 9 minutes to get the 23 KM back to Falls Creek and beat the Lantern Rouge.

I am so pleased that we rode this area on the Saturday with the Bounce Bunch. I think I would have broken if I wasn’t expecting the continuation of the climb. There were still riders giving up at this point. I chap only 10 KM from home simply rolled to a halt stepped off his bike, letting it fall to the ground and slumped, finished beside it. I didn’t have anything to offer him verbally. His eyes said it all anyway. They were blank.

I was really beginning to fade now. I couldn’t see the Lantern Rouge but I was damn sure they were getting close. My Garmin indicated that I was a few kilometres from the finish and that the 13 hour deadline was rapidly approaching. The sun went down very fast so I couldn’t tell the time. I crested the final hill and was stopped 500 metres from the end by the Marshal. He stopped everyone. I thought there had been an accident. After a time he called the Lantern Rouge as they rolled to a halt beside me. Bloody Hell! The Lantern Rouge. I shouted that I wanted to go as I was ahead of them and the Marshals had stopped me. Fortunately they said Go Go Go and I went. I rounded the final corner to applause and shouting and god knows what else rolling to a halt in a time of 13 hours, 1 minute and 12 seconds. Outside 13 hours but I beat the Lantern Rouge!

Peter, Andrew, Paul and Michele were all there screaming, high fiving, hugging, shaking hands and holding me up. How good it is to have Club mates? I almost burst into tears and I certainly couldn’t speak. That was without a doubt the most physically and mentally taxing experience of my life. One of the volunteers stuck a garbage bag over me to ward off the chill. I didn’t have the verbal capacity to say “thank you, but no”. The volunteer told me “no jersey” which frankly I couldn’t have cared less about at that moment. Paul on the other hand was incensed and took my finishers’ ticket and disappeared. Legend has it that he accosted the Event organiser and declared that it was entirely against the spirit of the event that if you beat the Lantern Rouge you weren’t classed as a finisher. Reason won the day and Paul returned triumphant. I am the very proud owner of a finisher’s jersey. I am deeply grateful to Paul; it was the icing on the cake.

It was horrible.

Next year anyone?



and here's some photos that I could seem to upload into the story
http://s1137.photobucket.com/user/bikeb ... t=3&page=1

User avatar
James Rogers
Posts: 457
Joined: 13 Nov 2011, 09:58
Location: Newtown

Postby James Rogers » 11 Mar 2015, 16:45

Chapeau, Douglas (and everyone else who did it). Great report!

Posts: 83
Joined: 01 Nov 2013, 11:08

Postby blah » 11 Mar 2015, 22:07

Awesome write-up, Dougie. I'm quietly seething that they held you up and then tried to stiff you out of your hard-earned and richly deserved jersey. Glad to hear Paul roughed them up for you.

User avatar
Posts: 353
Joined: 01 Sep 2011, 20:26
Location: Marrickville

Postby jonboy » 12 Mar 2015, 07:30

Always a pleasure to read your reports Dougie.

And well done once again.

User avatar
Posts: 1500
Joined: 19 Feb 2011, 15:32

Postby JoTheBuilder » 12 Mar 2015, 13:01

Brilliant Dougie. Congratulations to you and all riders.

Nice work Paul. I imagine a finishers jersey is akin to an Ironman medal and I too would have been heartbroken. Kudos to you.

User avatar
Posts: 141
Joined: 12 Jun 2013, 17:37

Postby ratzzzzz » 13 Mar 2015, 09:07

the photos make it almost look fun. Great report Dougie and chapeau to all the finishers!

User avatar
Posts: 147
Joined: 10 Nov 2013, 16:46
Location: Sydney

Postby p_mayson » 13 Mar 2015, 11:12

With hindsight, it was great fun - a real character-building experience. Dougie & all riders were immense. Would recommend without reservation

Posts: 362
Joined: 12 Nov 2011, 08:45

Postby andrewm » 13 Mar 2015, 12:11

Great report Dougie.

Are you enjoying the ride yet?

I had a lot of fun. Thanks all for the fantastic company. And it was awesome to see my club mates finish. Particulary Dougie and Michele.

Pretty sure I'll be back next year. I have a time to get.......

Adam W
Posts: 126
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 11:17

Postby Adam W » 13 Mar 2015, 12:57

Wow!! Excellent report Dougie. Congratulations!

User avatar
Posts: 709
Joined: 26 Feb 2013, 12:16

Postby humanbeing » 13 Mar 2015, 19:22

Well that was hard.
My second 3 Peaks Challenge and I managed to finish in 11 hours and 34 minutes, that's 45 minutes better than last year.
In late January during the Alpine Classic I was cursing myself for being stupid enough to come back in March and ride the climb up "The Back of Falls" again.
If you've been there you know it and won't forget it.
It's a fantastic part of Australia to ride.
Well done to all the DHBCers that took part, you're inspirational and thanks to my roommates for making the weekend a lot of fun :D
I'll be there next year

Michele at the finish - triumphant
Dougie - the survivor
Mount Hotham

Posts: 210
Joined: 06 Jul 2008, 17:56
Location: Stanmore

Postby kiwiames » 14 Mar 2015, 09:26

Great reports all - and congrats to all who finished. It's on my list for next year.

User avatar
Posts: 2568
Joined: 11 Mar 2008, 10:43
Location: Dulwich Hill

Postby Stuart » 15 Mar 2015, 17:06

Fantastic report as always Dougie. I felt the pain. Are you really up for 2016? memories fade huh :-)

BTW - from Photobucket you open the photo and right click and copy image location. Then click the IMG button in the full editor here in the forum; then paste the image location in between the Image

You can also copy the IMG tags from the right side of the photo on photobucket and just paste it straight in. There's some other garbage in there too but it should work.

User avatar
Posts: 531
Joined: 12 Feb 2012, 17:48
Location: Earlwood

Postby Philip » 16 Mar 2015, 08:18

Great report Dougie. In my book you're one of the toughest riders I know. Chapeau! If only we had a metric for grit! Speed, time and distance tell only part of the story.

Posts: 58
Joined: 12 Apr 2011, 21:08
Location: Hurlstone Park

Postby canthes » 16 Mar 2015, 15:53

That was great reading mate, plenty of hard work on those hills so well done to you and everyone who finished!

Return to “Road”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests