To (not so) Happy Valley and back - a 3 Peaks tale.
This could be a long post. One of the first things I did back in November when I signed up for 3 Peaks 2013 was read over all the previous years’ ride reports and forum posts and other reports that are on the web to try and figure out how I was going to get from having done 200km of the 250km Around The Bay (before crashing on the Oliver's Hill descent) to completing this beast of a challenge. I hope that other people might find some of my and others' experiences described in this thread similarly useful. By the way the best resource out there by a long way are Matt de Neef's 3 peaks series for 2010, 2011 and 2012 over in The Climbing Cyclist archive section. Read them. Read them again.
I started riding again in February last year having not touched my bike for about 8 years prior to that and on Sunday completed my first 3 peaks in 9 hours 47 minutes. I realize much of this post may come across as quite boastful but I can't help it, I'm pretty ****ING proud of myself right now!
Reflecting on the weekend and my preparation I think i made 3 mistakes - forgetting to take my pillow with me to Falls, not replacing my 12 year old pair of road shoes, and not listening to the marshals at the turn around for the finish line chute resulting in another painful u turn and another painful 3 metres of climbing. I feel like I got nearly everything else right.
The drive up to falls creek Saturday was long and full of anticipation with my mate Shannon who was about to test the unorthodox 1 ride in two months taper strategy due to a whole series of misadventures, not least being his impending knee surgery (He finished commendably 120 km and two peaks in, a great effort). We stayed at Diana Lodge, a fantastic place to stay, I'll be booking it again for next year's campaign. Next year i will go up the Friday night or early Saturday to make things a bit less rushed. Checking in, moving the car to the distant car park and then checking in bikes, food and clothing at the event village was more rushed than it needed to be, although it was an incredibly easy and quick process when we did it about 5 pm. Had the last of my 3 day carb binge and tried to go to sleep. I reckon i would have slept for only 3 hours.
Nerves at the start near the back of purple wave - a fat lot of good the pro team pacemakers are to you if they're not in your wave. I'd discussed time goals the night before and was generally thinking 11 hours with a 10 hour ride time was realistic, just wasn't sure about the heat and how long the stops would take. We rolled under the start banner at 6:53, this number and its bookend, 16:53 would eventually become my obsession over the rest of the day.
I concentrated really hard on the descent and tried to be safe. It was warm already at Mt Beauty. i tried to keep a good, steady tempo up Tawonga. I only just resisted the trap of chasing every wheel that passed me and stuck to my own rhythm. Made the top in 33 minutes, on track and apart from a little sprint at the top keeping things calm. I decided to do the stop as quick as possible - it was so well laid out I had top up my bottle, grabbed a bar and gel and scoffed half a fruit cake and while still on the bike (with one foot out of the peddle), stop time 1:40.
The descent was fantastic and a group formed into Bright - i was chatting happily at second wheel, yelled to the guys in front did they want to let us do a turn but no reply so we just kept rolling and the Bright stop was upon us. Stopped there the valet service was impeccably laid out. Tossed my rubbish in the bin, topped up bottles, loaded some Hyrdalyte into one found my bag emptied it into my jersey, scoffed 1 of my two hot cross buns I was treating myself to around the course, had a natural break behind a tree rather than queue for the loo, stop time 6 minutes. It was much cooler in bright than it had been in Mt Beauty. Anyway i was on the road to the fantastic Mt Buffalo, feeling pretty good and my time was pretty good, about 2 1/2 hours and 28.7k/hr average. Hmmm.
A couple of settings I'd altered on my garmin pre ride helped a lot. First I turned off auto pause, also I had average speed in the bottom corner and with auto pause off I knew this had to stay above 23 to finish in 10, 21 to finish in 11 etc. Also I set the alarm to ring every 1/2 hour. This was to time to eat alternating energy bar and gel every time it rang. I would scoff real food I'd stashed whenever i got it but every time that garmin rang i was eating a bar or gel. Id decided the night before that Buffalo was about the time to start sipping quote regularly and I would drink hydralyte from one and water from the other. The rest stop procedure I gradually developed was make sure i'd drunk them dry a k or so from the stop, then while queuing put the hydralyte powder in, fill it up. Then fill the plain water up - empty it over my head and torso, fill it up again, take a decent swig of cold water then fill it again and move on. This worked really well to cope with the heat.
So again i started tapping it out cautiously up Buffalo. I was soon joined by a spy old gent called Alan who had driven 1,600km down from Gympie to do the event. It was great, i played tour guide and we chatted away. Two things - if I could chat I wasn't pushing too hard and it always helps to whittle away those slow mountain kms if you are talking. I was still watching that average speed though and it was dropping but not alarmingly. I started doing some sums. It was about half way up that I decided that I could and would (try) to do this thing in 10 hours. I was feeling great, it had been easy to get my valet bag and water, lets have a go. It was tight - there'd be no stopping to text my wife or post facebook updates and the rest stops would have to be lightning. **** my ride got real serious in that instant! The focus,stress and intensity were now through the roof!
The pace i was setting had attracted a small grupetto of people to tag on to mine and Alan's wheels. That was awesome! I felt like I was one of those lieutenants in the tour alpine stages. I passed a mate and slowed to chat to him for a minute and then waltzed back up to Alan and the gang, i was in control. I decided that when I got to 2 km to the Buffalo downhill before the chalet i was going to do a burst. Bang I went and passed a whole bunch of people just for a bit of enjoyment that wouldn't affect my whole day. One other bonus of the altered route was seeing a few guys I know descending as i was climbing and being lucky enough to both recognise each other in time to let out a quick 'hey joel' and ’hey matt', that was fun. I got to the chalet saw the long line for the water, didn't need a natural, and decided not to stop. I was hydrated, porepunkah was a very fast descent away so off i went. Descent was great, i knew about the gravel patches in the first few kms from being there two weeks ago, they had been significantly swept since then.
Porepunkah, lunch, 11:35, ahead of schedule just but I had to motor. I hung up my bike went over to the valet, those guys were awesome - gave them my rider number - had my bag in 8 seconds. Amazing. Went and lined up for lunch, sat in shade and between mouthfuls of food emptied bag , put arm warmers in return bag, sunscreened,said hi to Alan who wandered past, went and did bottles while eating, natural break and back on the bike. Stop time 14 minutes. 110 km to go including a visit to a charming land of pixies and fairies and running streams of cool water, some place they call Happy Valley.
Last edited by gman75
on Fri 15 Mar 2013, 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.