Ride tips

Conquering the peaks

Team Bicycle Network know the Peaks Challenge series better than most. Not only have they ridden both events in the series, they've led many Peaks Challenge Finishers' through the course and across the finish line.

While Cradle Mountain and Falls Creek are comparable in distance and elevation, the climate, roads and climbs ensure that each event offers its own unique set of challenges. 

To ensure that nothing stops you from reaching that finish line, Team Bicycle Network riders Sarah, James, Iain and Stef have taken the time to give you their quick tips to gearing up to, and then conquering, both rides in the Peaks Challenge series. 

Pre-event tips

Successful preparation for a Peaks Challenge event can be broken into two parts; endurance and strength:

  1. Endurance - this isn’t your social Saturday shop ride, it’s 235+km with a time limit. The weekends are the time to extend your legs and the distance you cover. Start with the furthest you have conquered and week-by-week keep chipping away adding a few kilometres. You will surprise yourself how easy this is mentally when each new weekly target is so minimal.
  2. Strength – weekdays are great for building power as we are generally time poor. Twice a week find somewhere hilly and complete repetitions for at least an hour without stopping.
  • Nutrition and hydration are just as important leading up to event as they are on the big day. Ensure you are consuming enough food to match the effort. As we train more our metabolism fires harder, burning more calories, so we need to increase our food intake to battle lethargy.
  • Know basic repairs when it comes to your bike. The day’s fun can come to a deflating early end if you aren’t savvy with changing a flat—and it’s a long walk up or down a mountain.
  • Service your bike, don’t be that rider that has the squeaky chain and derailleur issues. It’s annoying for you as much as those around you.
  • Make a decision to finish the event. Leading up you will go through phases of ‘it’s too hard, I’m not fit enough, what if I finish last’. These thoughts can end you if you resign to them. Stay focused and say ‘yes I will finish, and there is no option of quitting’. Remember, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

Tips for Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain

  • There is a small section of flat or rolling hills before you hit the first formal peak of the day. Get in a bunch, conserve your energy and make sure you’re eating and drinking well even at this early stage of the ride.

  • Unlike Peaks Challenge Falls Creek, which has three distinct climbs and long flowing descents, Cradle Mountain is much more rolling and the descending is much more technical. Many of the descents are treacherous, mossy or off-camber. If in doubt, play it safe. You’re here to go up, not down.

  • On your way out to Cradle Mountain, the roads are slow and slightly uphill (almost imperceptibly so). Don’t worry too much if you feel like you’re losing time through here – it’s much quicker on the way back out.

  • Save a little something in the tank for Spellmans Road – this is a short but really nasty climb, with stretches in excess of 20%. If you’re overgeared or not confident of being able to pedal your way up, try and have a little time in the bank in case you need to walk it (there’s no shame in this; lots of people do).

  • Tassie can be cold, and its weather changeable. Make sure that you’re prepared with appropriate clothing, and make use of the clothing valet.  

  • Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain is amazing, and to ride through such an iconic and remote landscape with full event support is a rare and gratifying experience. If you’re looking for a new challenge after Falls Creek, this is a great one to target. Better still, bring the family over, road-trip down to Hobart over a few days and check out some of this awesome little state.

Tips for Peaks Challenge Falls Creek

  • Descending skills are essential. A good descender can make up any time lost on long climbs like Hotham.

  • Don’t get fooled into thinking that because you’ve made it to the lunch stop you’re home and clear. There is a lot of climbing before the back of Falls. This can hurt both mentally and physically, given the exposure to the sun.

  • Work in a group. As the number of riders begins to string out, the ride can feel a lot longer if you’re riding solo.

  • Don’t waste time at rest stops. After climbing Hotham, it can be tempting to kick back and relax but this can and will be your worst enemy.

  • WTF Corner is nasty, but the climbing doesn’t stop there. Mentally prepare yourself to suffer all the way until Trapyard Gap.

  • Enjoy the scenery. You can easily get distracted focusing on times.