Olivier Pomie has completed Peaks Challenge Falls Creek an incredible 10 times! He shared some of his stories of pain and pleasure with us following the 2019 ride.
The first year was a baptism of fire, or should I say rain, which if taken as the benchmark would have left fear in the hearts of the toughest cyclist.
I recall the streams of rain coming off Hotham and the uncontrollable shivering which made it hard to steer descending into Dinner Plain. The PA address stating that Omeo was 5 degrees warmer was the only thing that got me back on the bike at that point. The urge to join the many others gathered around an open fire was difficult to resist.
Asking a volunteer to zip up my jacket as my fingers were so numb kind of summed up the day. This was probably the most challenging of the 10 that I have completed.
A close second would have to be the Buffalo/Ovens course change in 2013. I suffered a car accident riding home about 3 weeks out from the event and recall thinking "there's a load of training down the drain" as I was carted off by the ambos. Fortunately it was nothing too major - significant bruising to the leg and a broken scaphoid/wrist.
You can imagine the look on my mate Lindsay's face, who is a doctor at the emergency department that I was taken to and also happens to be my riding buddy and Peaks fellow rider, when I was carted in. I decided to still do the event and both of us completed it under a great deal of heat duress.
Ovens is called Ovens for a reason – the mercury was hitting 40C and the carnage was evident – people sitting, lying down on the side of the road, vomiting. It looked like a disaster scene at the Mount Beauty stop. I remember hanging out for a cold coke and this terrific family that I was prepared to hand a king's ransom to for a can, gave me one out of sheer pity.
As we grovelled up the front side to Falls, we must have looked like a pathetic bunch as we clamoured around the trickle of cold water from the mountain to try and keep our core temperatures down. We got there in the end and boy did we know it, cramp featured heavily that day.
2017 was an interesting one. My training had not been ideal and I was suffering some discomfort in the right knee, a legacy of a footy injury and 2 arthroscopes many years ago.
I had always prided myself on not stopping on the WTF section of the course. The mandatory cramp would always set in and I would just have to manage it – not much to do other than grit and bear it, or in my case grimace and cry out like a banshee.
This time was different – the pain that shot through the adductor and around the knee was absolutely excruciating to the extent where it was unbearable and the noise coming out of my mouth must have been unsettling for others to the point I was asked several times if I was alright. I won't express in words what I was thinking when asked this!
I did the walk of shame several times as I somehow made it to Trapyard. I noticed that I was actually close to finishing in a respectable time considering the painful set back. With one final effort to the finish line I fell short of getting under 10 hours by SIX SECONDS! Yes 10:00:06 – you wouldn't read about it!
The lovely people at Bicycle Network awarded me the sub 10 jersey anyway just to put me out of my misery, God bless 'em.
It turned out that my knee had developed a tear in the ACL so I can be forgiven for the torrid time I had. I had the mandatory arthroscopy and after some time to recoup, it turned out as good as gold again helping me to achieve sub 10's this year and last year and hopefully for a few more into the future.
Mates of mine ask the obvious why question. Well why not I say, it's a great challenge, it's an annual goal to train for and like anything in life, you can't appreciate the pleasure without an element of pain in the journey getting there.