I wear dirt on the outside because dirt is how I feel on the inside.
Well I completed The 3 Peaks Challenge, just. I‘ll refrain from giving you a full account, partly because I was in too much anguish to take any photos. Instead I’m going to reflect on what I learnt in the lead up and on the day, and what I’ll change for next year. These reflections are probably more for my benefit than yours.
Top 5 things I feel that I did wrong:
1. I rode a bike on which I’d ridden a total of only 70km. I really needed to make sure everything is dialled in (fit and mechanicals), and generally trust the bike. For example I rolled up to the start line ready to descend Falls Creek only to discover that my stem was slightly loose and my front wheel was askew, which could have been very, VERY bad news if I hadn’t noticed it.
2. I took too much food. Not a bad thing per se, but the event was surprisingly well catered for. By the time I grabbed something at each rest stop and collected my valet bags I could barely fit it all in my pockets. Luckily I could send a bunch of stuff back to Falls in my lunchtime valet bag.
3. I didn’t get creative enough with my valet bags. I got very sick of sweet things. Instead of more bars and gels put something in there that you’re going to look forward to, even if it’s just a vegemite scroll, or some fruit, or whatever, just something to break up the monotony.
4. I jumped onto a group that was riding outside my limits, and subsequently did some turns up the front. This would have been ok if I was doing a shorter ride, but I can almost certainly say that the 30km from Porpunkah to Ovens at 40km/h+ in 40 degree heat was the beginning of my undoing.
5. I underestimated the effect the heat would have on me. After dealing with some close to zero temperatures while riding through winter and getting into some sketchy situations, I should have known that it would be equally as dangerous at the other extreme.
Top 5 things I feel that I did right:
1. I was friendly to everyone who would accept it. You never know if you’re going to end up having to work with somebody. Having a chat was the perfect distraction from the task at hand. I humbly apologize if I talked excessive amounts of shit at you if you were (un)fortunate enough to ride with me.
2. I swallowed my pride and stopped whenever I overheated, which was frustratingly often. I have a feeling that some people may have pushed on and got themselves into all kinds of strife. I saw one guy uncontrollably vomiting on the side of the road at the 200km mark…
3. This has been said already, but it’s so true. I broke the ride into bite sized pieces, just aiming for the next rest stop. I can’t imagine how much energy I would have wasted if I had have worried about the final climb up Falls for the whole 200km prior.
4. I continued to drink regularly even though my bidons felt like they were filled with tea, and they were supposedly insulated! Maybe I’ll try to find an esky that will fit in a valet bag for next year.
5. Taking most of February off the bike may sound like a ridiculous idea, and it probably was, but forced me to train very carefully for the 3 or so weeks before 3 Peaks. I just had to made sure that I reacquainted myself with some HC climbs (more for the mental boost), and that I didn’t exhaust myself. In the end I felt pretty good despite the long break.
In conclusion: Yes I finished, but nowhere near as comfortably as I was planning. I was feeling rather cosy sitting on the 10.5 hour mark at lunch, but some momentary lapses of reason and some high mercury saw me only just make it over the line in time. I can’t wait to take on the traditional route next year!