For me, I think there were 2 major issues that came out of the 3PC & probably apply equally to the AAC250 in some respects.
1/ Without trying to be unkind, it was fairly obvious to me early in the ride, that there was a good % of the entrants in the 230, that simply had NO chance of finishing, even if the conditions were ideal. Many entrants were ‘doing it hard’ going up Tawonga gap & I remember wondering how they imagined they were going to get up Hotham & the back of Falls if they were already experiencing some difficulty. I’m all for people challenging themselves, don’t get me wrong, but there comes a point where their very presence will be putting stress on the infrastructure….I reckon I could have pointed out at least 50 on Tawonga that I reckon wouldn’t have finished. I don’t know the answer to this, if people enter & tell BV & AAC they can ‘make it’, I don’t know how you ‘weed out’ those that don’t have a realistic chance. I did like AAC’s ‘qualification’ requirement & I think BV need to seriously think about something of that nature. Also I think they need to put a lot more emphasis in the advertising & promotion of the event ,on the ‘extreme’ nature of this ride, …It seemed to me that the 3PC attracted a lot of people who may have completed ATB & considered this their next challenge. The problem being, that the 3PC is about 1000% harder, even in ideal conditions. I guarantee you that many of the entrants were seriously under prepared for the challenge. I remember laughing at the time, (although in hindsight it was no laughing matter) at 2 ‘early starters’ at Buckland gate that I overheard talking. Newbie 1: “well I think we’re nearly there, the worst of the climbing is behind us”. Newbie 2: “Thank God, that part was really steep”…those that know Hotham will understand why I nearly choked on my ‘Cadel’ bar!
As I said, those with no chance of finishing put added stress on the infrastructure & the vollies. Although many of the reported 400 that withdrew at Dinner plain, may not have if the conditions were better, a good % would still have been unable to continue, no matter the conditions…they really shouldn’t have been there in the 1st place.
2/ Whilst my 1st gripe is probably difficult to control my 2nd gripe is easily fixed….What were BV thinking in not enforcing a time ‘cut off’ through certain check points!...I entered under the assumption that time cut offs would be enforced, but obviously none were, given that the last of the finishers were still arriving after 10pm…WTF???. In those conditions, with zero visibility & inadequate lighting it was sheer lunacy to allow people to continue. I went up the ‘back’ of Falls in the car at 7pm & there were still riders at Anglers rest who were continuing…’Blind Freddie’ could have told BV that they still faced at least 3 hours to the ‘top’…BV are very, very lucky no-one was killed or seriously injured. Dudes, advertise the cut off times at each check point & withdraw those that don’t make it…easy. Sure I understand the heartbreak of those that have ‘battled on’ throughout the very trying conditions only to get told they are out….but that’s part of the challenge….make point A by X, o’clock, make point B by Y o’clock…All they needed was to have sag’s leaving the checkpoints at the appointed time, each knowing that no-one is behind them still on the road, as they had already been withdrawn. C’mon BV, get ya act together. I strongly suspect that BV will be hearing from the VERY, VERY disgruntled copper that I spoke to at Dinner plain!. I very much doubt that BV will get his support again without some changes to the way things transpired.
So, a couple of whinges…but overall I give kudo’s to BV & the vollies. They were faced with the ‘worst case scenario’ & battled on. Sure the infrastructure & transport pretty much collapsed under the strain of so many riders requiring assistance…but at the ‘end of the day’, everyone eventually was ‘rescued’, transported or otherwise found their own solutions…no one died (possibly a bit lucky there!), or was seriously injured, despite the extreme weather conditions. I think it’s safe to say that BV has had a baptism of fire on this one …..& come through pretty much unscathed…great effort by all concerned …but lessons need to be learned & if they are, then the event can succeed in the long term…if not, someone will get killed…& in that case, the benefit of hindsight, what they learned this year, should have told them what needed to be done
What would Jens do?