We did a Q and A with Tim Ellison who is saddling up for his tenth Peaks Challenge Falls Creek ride in 2019.
He's ridden every year since the first '3 Peaks' event in 2010 and has some great tips and advice.
What has been your most memorable Peaks Challenge ride, and why?
My most memorable Peaks Challenge Falls Creek ride would have to be the first one in 2010. There are many reasons why, but here is a list of a few:
- The heavy rainfall around 3:00am – 4:00am before the ride created a bit more uncertainty of what to wear and how to just prepare
- Not knowing how much food and drink to take, and wondering if they might run out of water
- We rode as a bunch of five riders, drinking lots of water and having to take lots of toilet breaks with the constant fear of dehydration looming.
- We were frozen at Dinner Plain but pushed on to avoid the cut off.
- Multiple punctures in all of our tyres, so much so that we ran out of spare tubes between us all.
- We all rode with “day back packs” and finished at 9:30pm, a ride time of approximately 14 hours and 30 minutes. I didn’t even see the dam wall as we got close to the line, what a relief to just finish!
What has changed throughout the years at Peaks Challenge Falls Creek?
- The obvious changes that I have noticed have been the improvement in start line arrangements, with rider separation up the hill going from faster to slower riders.
- It's always interesting with different sponsors each year and their new products. It makes the day before buzz!
- The check points have all got a lot more organised and the water is generally kept in the shade, well mostly!
- Finishers jerseys have had some good art work and design (all except one year when the sizes were too small!)
Which of the climbs is your favourite?
Hotham is my favourite climb, especially the second half, as the view is nothing short of breathtaking on a clear day, which is what we have had the last three to four years. It’s a tough climb with lots of vertical, which is what we train for.
As one of the few people who have signed up for all ten rides, what keeps bringing you back to Peaks Challenge year after year?
I keep coming back to improve my times for the whole 235 kilometres. Also, I like to introduce new friends to the epic adventure in a wilderness part of Oz.
Does it ever get easier?
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek does get a bit easier, as I do seem to prepare better each time. The course seems to get shorter as it becomes more familiar and memories flood back throughout the day.
Does any other event compare to Peaks?
Fitzs Challenge (in Canberra) comes a bit close, however their ride is essentially an “out and back” setup, so you only see half the amount of landscapes. Nothing else compares in my experience.
If you could give fellow riders a top tip for completing Peaks, what would it be?
My best tip for other riders would be to take some good quality, real food with you to snack on in between the energy bars. And get used to eating that ‘real food’ in the weeks leading up to the event, especially on the long training rides.
Another tip would be to not stop for too long at check points.
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