What does it take?

If you've ever wondered what it's like to take on and conquer the entire Peaks Challenge series, here's your answer.

To finish a single Peaks Challenge event is a massive achievement. To complete all three, back to back, is something else entirely. But that’s exactly what 52 brave, foolish souls did in 2015.

The stats alone are incredible:

  • 38 hours in the saddle
  • 12,000+ vertical metres
  • 13 official climbs

We sat down with two of the Peaks Elite to find out their thoughts on the series.

Marc Metzger

I loved my first Peaks Challenge Falls Creek last year, and then the Gold Coast came up. As my dad lives up Mt Nimmel, I know the hills of the Gold Coast hinterland, so there was no hesitation in signing up. And finally, I’d never been to Tassie, so Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain presented the best opportunity for some sightseeing.

Each ride has its own tough moments—Falls Creek with WTF Corner, Gold Coast with Henri Robert Drive and Connection Road, and Cradle Mountain with Spellmans Road. But that’s what you sign up for—you have to have respect, but don’t be afraid. These are just hills!

My favourite of the three rides is Cradle Mountain. Just magic! I expected dinosaurs to pop up any minute whilst riding through the fog.

I have to confess, I’ve gotten addicted to these endurance challenges. I’ve been training since about October 2014 and it has been ongoing since – all three in the Peaks Challenge series last year, off to the Tour Down Under in Adelaide in January 2016 (a 750km week with 11,000m elevation), then Peaks Challenge Falls Creek again this year, and next I’m off to Switzerland in August for an event called the Alpenbrevet Platinum (275km/7,500m elevation in a day!). And then in November, I’m back to Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain again… followed by Falls Creek in 2017 after the Tour Down Under! So maybe the question should be: will you ever stop training?

 

Kristen Slade

I took on all three rides in the Peaks Series last year largely because it was the first time that the Peaks Elite had been run, but it also sounded like a fantastic opportunity ride through some beautiful parts of Australia, particularly Tasmania where I had never been before.

On reading the write up of the Gold Coast route, I was aware that Henri Robert Drive was going to be one of the harder climbs I had attempted. It was a personal challenge for myself to see how I would go with such a tough climb at the start of the course.

Given the distance of the rides, as well as the time commitment required to train in the weeks beforehand, it’s always helpful to have a great group around you for extra motivation and ideas. This was especially important for the Gold Coast ride—Melbourne weather leading up to event was rather cold and wet, so extra motivation is always good to get you out on the bike!

If you’re targeting the Peaks Elite, remember the events of the Peaks Challenge series span over 7 – 8 months, and you can’t stay in perfect form the whole time. Have a steady and structured training program in place (rather than trying to cram a couple of weeks before), but make sure you get some rest in as well! Remember to spare the time to balance work, family, friends, and training as part of it all.

It’s also important to make sure you have a plan for the day itself, particularly in terms of nutrition. 12 – 13 hours is a long time to spend on the bike and so this is one of the key factors to getting through the day.

Of the three rides my favourite is Peaks Challenge Falls Creek, because I completed my sub-ten hour goal last year with a very supportive partner and a group of friends who really worked with me through the day. And the jersey is very cool to have! That feeling of satisfaction when you ride over the finish line... it’s hard to describe the magnitude of that sense of achievement.