Jason shares his unique Peaks Challenge journey — including set-backs, triumphs, and an unexpected behind the scenes experience with the Bicycle Network team.
My Peaks journey started in 2017 with two cycling mates telling me Peaks Challenge was the ultimate test of cycling endurance. Over a coffee we agreed to register, challenge and support each other and take on the experience.
With a new Sworks Roubaix my cycling ramped up. In January 2018 I had a bad tumble and ripped my tendons off my right shoulder, two surgeries later with enough painkillers to drop a bull elephant, I started my recovery and Peaks 2017 was put on hold.
Determined and even more focused I started to train, eat well and plan for Peaks Challenge Falls Creek 2019. Despite a busted spoke the day before the event everything ran smoothly and the three of us took on Peaks 2019 and triumphed.
Completing the ride was a personal journey and lifetime highlight with many mixed emotions, overwhelming satisfaction and joy. Bonuses included loosing 8kgs, getting my cholesterol and asthma on track, and feeling a whole lot healthier.
A month later and I signed up for 2020 with one goal, to beat my time last year and come in at under 10 hours.
As cycling journeys go my Sworks frame developed a crack and needed an “upgrade” (with my wife’s blessing). So 2019 took off with a new bike and training to an intensity level I have never experienced before. Early mornings, long rides, gels, testing different food types, cold starts, grumpy drivers and wet weather gave me a solid base. Best fitness ever, 5kgs lighter and totally confident I was on target to achieve my goal.
A flight from Adelaide and meeting up with two other passionate cyclists I met on the Peaks Facebook page saw us travelling to Falls Creek for the event and building new friendships. Perfect weather on Saturday we three assembled our bikes and had a short testing of the legs, followed by the obligatory packing of satchels, carb loading and an early night.
Sunday morning we were at the start line early filled with anticipation, focused and clear objectives in mind. As the start came and went my 2020 Peaks journey was underway.
As I pushed down the first decent there was a less than familiar vibration in my front wheel. I cautiously rolled down the slope and as the speed increased so did the wobble. My brain went into focus mode process and map all the possible scenarios.
I stopped, checked for a flat, checked the wheel hubs and found nothing so kept rolling down the hill, anything over 40 kms an hour was unsafe. I persisted to the Mt Beauty roundabout and turned my ride on its back, checked the spokes, and then the rim. Something wasn’t right. There it was, a terminal cracked front rim, and with that my 2020 Peaks was done.
After a momentary display of emotion I headed to the local bakery for a hot chocolate. I called my wife and my cycling mates in Adelaide for some comfort and then reached out to the event assistance number. Lauren answered the call and was gorgeous, she let me know Craig was on his way down the mount to pick me and another rider up.
I slowly headed up the mount and of course the rain started. Craig found me and the other rider who turned out to be one of the two lanterne rouge riders who had a very unfortunate slip with a poorly placed banana peel!
Having come so far I decided to shower, rug up and join the amazing group of volunteers from Bicycle Network and found myself with the privileged honour of handing out finishers jerseys to all those who came over the line.
It was here I got to see the best of human endeavour as each and every cyclist rolled over the line with looks of pleasure, joy and pain all rolled into one. I could feel the emotion of riders as I handed over their jerseys, and gained a very personal insight into the challenges that went on that day.
I can't thank Lauren from Bicycle Network enough for the opportunity to share the finish line honours with so many people, live their moments and contribute to this great event.
It was not how I planned my day, not what I trained or hoped for, but an absolute honour, and yes, I will be back as a rider in 2021.