3 Peaks 2011

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3 Peaks 2011

Postby grnis200 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:21 pm

No-one else seems to have mentioned this years 3 Peaks from Falls so I thought I'd give it a short write up.

The day started well at 7am - dry, not too cold. We were told however that there was rain on Tawonga Gap and to take care.
The descent of Falls went well; mostly dry, protected from any wind. But towards the bottom the rain started and continued almost to the base of the Gap.

Ascending Tawonga Gap was as good as it gets; dry, cool, and a good way to started 4000+ metres of climbing. (5000kms according to BV)
It was a different story descending as the rain and wind started.

Harrietville was a welcome relief where fluids and Winner's bars were topped up. And the rain even stopped!!

From Harrietville the first test started. The bottom of Hotham went well, then the second half was wet, windy and cold. Visibility was 10m at best near the top and my brakes struggled around the sharp 30km/h advisory bends. Most rolled through the small rest stop at the top to avoid cooling down.

Dinner Plain, some 200m lower than Hotham village, was sunny and relatively warm. Real food in the guise of sandwiches and pasta salad was a welcome change from Winners, Powerade and gels.

With the half way point down, the hardest 115km was still ahead. (Doing the half event seemed like a good idea at this point to many but why drive 5hrs from Melbourne to climb 2 peaks?) Although the course guide shows a drop of elevation of some 800m to Anglers Rest, riding the 71kms to the final pre Falls aid station is anything but easy. The Great Alpine road has numerous short and sharp climbs and for me, the uphill roll from Omeo to the half way point to Anglers Rest was sapping. I say the half way point because the half way point becomes a 0% to -2% roll along a beautiful ridgeline with views of Big River. This was a highlight of the ride for me, something I would love to ride again soon.

They say what goes up must go down. The opposite awaits at the bottom of the back of Falls. The course guide indicates 9km of 7.7% gradient climbing, less than the 8.7% that I conquered up to Hotham Heights. I can tell you that this is utter rubbish, and the numerous serious cyclists walking Pinarellos, Bianchis, Cervelos and so on will surely back me up!!! My Garmin regularly insulted my 34x27 with 22% for kms on end. Right now a triple, or one of those BMW cop bikes, was what I wanted.

For those that haven't ridden the back of Falls, this road is almost unrideable. To those will a full crankset, and a lesser extent a 25 rear tooth, walking was the best option for much of the hard 20km climb up the back of Falls. Times of 5hrs plus can be viewed for the final 35kms of Falls. For those mere mortals like myself with a 34x27, crossing left and right across the road to rob some gradient was the best we could do. The effort required to keep the pedals moving was unknown to myself. I like hills, they make riding what it is, but this road should not be ridden after 195km of hills! Trapyard Gap was the most welcome stop of the day; more so than the finish line to many including myself.

From Trapyard the serious climbing was over. Sure there was a 6.7% gradient for 11kms but after that was the roll into the Village and that Pizza and Beer that I had been yearning for since Omeo. I don't mind powerbars, but after 7hrs of eating Powerbars and drinking Powerade, real food is what I wanted. And I deserved a beer.

For me my second wind came once I got to the top of Falls. The land, although desolate of trees, is beautiful and the rolling hills gave me speeds between 30-50km/h for much of it. The feeling of using the big ring with the wind in your hair is almost surreal after tackling the backs of Falls. What energy I had left was there to be used and I started passing exhausted compatriots more and more regularly.

I was on a high with the realisation that I was going to finish my biggest ever physical challenge when within 5kms of the finish the weather became an issue once more. The rain got heavy, like the summit of Hotham some 5.5hrs earlier. Rightly or wrongly I decided against stopping to put my rain jacket, arm and/or leg warmers on. The adrenaline was flowing, the speed was up, and all I wanted was my Pizza and beer, and my beautiful wife.

The road teases you as it curves around the dam, rolls up and down, but then it was there, the village of Falls and that free jersey that I so deserved.

It took me 9hr 24m ride time, and just over 11hrs total time, and an enormous amount of will power and powerade, but I made it after taking up cycling just 3yrs ago.

My wife was standing there completely soaked and I felt incredibly proud; proud until I found out Nick Mitchell came in some 3hr9mins earlier and did the back of Falls in just 1hr30min.

To all those non pro recreational cyclists who made it; Congratulations. It is one of the great rides and challenges of not just Victoria or Australia, but undoubtedly the world. It is some of the most beautiful scenery you will ride and throughly enjoyable. (except that 20km or so up the back of Falls that may just have broken me if it was 30 degrees or heavy rain)
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by BNA » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:28 pm

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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby you cannot be sirrus » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:28 pm

great report and well done. Bet that beer tasted good.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby NotFlyingScot » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:19 pm

+1
We tried the route starting from Bright on Wednesday but started a bit too late and maybe spent a bit too much time waiting for food to be prepared at a couple of stops along the way so ran out of time at Mt Beauty on the way home by which time we were just about hypothermic from the cold wet descent from Falls Creek.
Truly a memorable day out, those initial k's up from the river heading up to Falls Creek are indeed quite testing. Certainly a route I'd like to complete some other time.
We then headed over to Jindabyne and flogged ourselves on some slightly shorter but no less steep rides over the next three days.
Congratulations on completing the route.
Last edited by NotFlyingScot on Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby vanwonky » Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:48 pm

Great report. Pretty well summed up my feelings of the ride. The back of the Falls was brutal! The road back into the village as the sun set - sublime. We swore off ever doing it again but after a couple of beers and our bums stopped hurting we decided if some other riding buddies wanted to do it we might get back. Congratulations to all that made it as well. Commiserations to the poor buggers (including a mate of mine) that got ripped off at Trapyard Gap being told that they weren't allowed to finish when they were so close. I think BV did an overall great job of the organisation but definitely fell very short in some spots. Anyway that can be another post!
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby snark » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:12 pm

Another +1, great report. Sounds like something to aim for next year.

Maybe the topic for a separate thread, but how do you train for something like that if the longest climb in your area is a couple of km's at best? I imagine going up and down the same climb with the break coming down is absolutely nothing like a continued climb of a couple of hours...

Cheers,
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby vanwonky » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:46 pm

snark wrote:Maybe the topic for a separate thread, but how do you train for something like that if the longest climb in your area is a couple of km's at best? I imagine going up and down the same climb with the break coming down is absolutely nothing like a continued climb of a couple of hours...

Yep - that's how we do it in Perth! Up a hill..down a hill, many, many times! Seemed to work luckily, but you are right, it is not the same and I definitely found that out at 3 Peaks.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby ValleyForge » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:58 am

The ride got a write up in one of the international roadie magazines (can't remember which one). I seem to remember it vanquished the author, weather, the ride....

I know a cycle mechanic who rode it last year, three weeks after a hernia repair. His daughter beat him, but then she is at the AIS! He's a very hard man and it walloped him.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby HillBilly » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:03 am

snark wrote:Another +1, great report. Sounds like something to aim for next year.

Maybe the topic for a separate thread, but how do you train for something like that if the longest climb in your area is a couple of km's at best? I imagine going up and down the same climb with the break coming down is absolutely nothing like a continued climb of a couple of hours...

Cheers,
Simon.


Good report and well done for completing the challenge.

I did the ride too and I was running a compact with my easiest gear being 36 - 25. Not quite compact enough really - the back of Falls became a grind rather than my preferred spin.

Regarding training - I live in Sydney and don't really have much time do big kms or travel to find long steep hills. I do the majority of my kms commuting to work which is 25-30kms each way. I ride 4 and sometimes 5 days a week and try and get out most Sunday mornings (2 out of 3) but kids sport takes out Saturday for me.

I aim to do 1,000kms a month - reality is I'm yet to have a 10,000 km year so I average far less than that. Hopefully this year will be it.

I finished 3 Peaks just after 4pm for a total time of a little over 9 hours and saddle time of 8hr 45mins. That placed me well inside the top 10 in finishing times.

My "secret" is I commute on a heavy steel bike (20kgs +) with panniers and a rohloff and when I ride I hit every hill hard and go hard the whole time. My commute is effectively interval training. None of this dawdling nonsense.

You don't have to ride mountains all the time to have the fitness and strength to do ok in them. The quality, intensity and consistency of your riding is far more important.

By the way, I'm 41 years old 6 foot and 78kgs.

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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby snark » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:15 am

Thanks HillBilly. I'm a year older, an inch or so shorter and 3kg heavier than you. That means no excuses :)

Cheers,
Simon.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby MichaelB » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:15 pm

HillBilly wrote: ......
By the way, I'm 41 years old 6 foot and 78kgs.

Hillbilly.


Hmmm, 44, 1/2" over 6 fott, and much closer to 100kg than I should be :cry:

It is something that I'd love to try and do, but in reality would have to aim to do the 1/2 distance first, as 10+ hrs riding is huge. I like hills, and do OK, but the extra weight hurts.

There is a thread in the SA section in which some locals did it (Dr Mutley is one of them).

I'm in awe of the people that did it :shock:
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby celeste boy » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:03 pm

Great reading. Thanks for the post. If only................

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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby jules21 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:51 pm

great effort to all riders.

next year i will do this or the ACE250, or maybe both.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby tbird11 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:32 pm

Yeah it was an epic day, fog, rain, sun etc etc. Completed the course in 10hrs 20mins riding time, 11hrs flat including stops. Average speed 23km/h Just outside top 100 (104th).

The most challenging fun ride of my life, I have only been riding 10 months (coming off a endurance running background) and I had the time of my life, I'm totally hooked on cycling.
As far as training is concerned, I pretty much followed the recommended training schedule but i'm lucky as I live an hour from the alps and trained numerously on hotham and the back of falls before the event (I recommend this as the back of falls was a warzone on sunday, carnage everywhere!). I also did the alpine classic 200 and it was the perfect warm up ride six weeks out from the three peaks. But all in all you need to be doing around the 300km per week including 1 long ride a week preferably in hills or mountains to complete the course within the cut off times.

The event was pretty well run in my opinion and I thourougly enjoyed myself, my girfriend did the 115 option from dinner plain and she loved it all as well. We'll both be back!
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby jules21 » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:02 am

tbird11 wrote:I also did the alpine classic 200 and it was the perfect warm up ride six weeks out from the three peaks.

how would you compare the AAC200 to the 3 peaks, in terms of effort?
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby tbird11 » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:14 am

jules21 wrote:
tbird11 wrote:I also did the alpine classic 200 and it was the perfect warm up ride six weeks out from the three peaks.

how would you compare the AAC200 to the 3 peaks, in terms of effort?


The three peaks is a tougher beast in my opinion and requires about 30% more effort than the AAC200.

my reasons being:

a) 2 more hours in the saddle, (AAC took me 8hrs 15mins, TP 10hrs 20mins)
b) Its run in march so the weather is more variable and there is less daylight in which to complete the course. There were four seasons in one day leterally last sunday.
c) The climbs are harder. (hitting the back of falls at the 200km mark is alot worse than hitting buffallo at the 140 km mark)
d) The sections that are not mountain climbing still have some decent sustained low grade climbs. (eg 5km before and 5km after Omeo)

All in all both are fantastic rides, if you're unsure of three peaks sign up for AAC200 and see how you go. If you get through it comfortably, I would back you to finish 3 peaks as long as you keep up the hard training in between events. Hope that helps. :)
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby jules21 » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:22 am

that's great, ta. i've done both the last AAC200s and finished comfortably but slowly - i've not been able to get my training right. if i can organise properly next year i'll be doing the big one/s :)
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby Dahondude » Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:14 pm

Dont forget you have to ride one or more qualifying rides to enter the Audax 250 event. Audax take a very different view to this ride than the 3 Peaks Challenge. Of the 1100 people who had paid to enter the 3Peaks ~ 770 finished (some taking over 14 hrs according to the transponder timing - ie they were still crossing the line at 930pm), 240 did not finish (almost all recorded times up Tawonga and Hotham so pulled out or were sag wagoned after Hotham) and 122 did not start. My brother and I rode to the "average rider speed" (according to the BV chart) and finished in just under 11 hrs (total time), 9hrs 20 min (ride time) and came in just outside the top 100. Clearly in a field of 770 finishers and 240 DNF's there were a hell of a lot of people in the "slow rider" category or worse. Looking at the times up Tawonga (people who finished vs people who DNF'ed) ist pretty clear that many of the DNFers were in trouble even on the Tawonga Climb. So either a lot of people were seriously under trained or had injuries. If you cant meet the Audax qualifying ride requirements then your only option is the 3 Peaks. Just make sure you are either capable of riding 230km and/or doing 4000m of climbing (or both!) before hand.

The list of qualifying events for the 2011 ACE250 was:
# 2009 or 2010 200km Alpine Classic
# ACE 250km (2010)
# Lake Taupo Enduro 320km
# Fitz's Epic 207km
# Three Peaks Challenge (full distance)
# Audax Super Randonneur Series - 200/300/400/600km
# 2007 Paris-Brest-Paris 1200km
# Equivalent international ride
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby tbird11 » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:57 pm

^^^
hey I could be wrong but looking at your profile pic, I think I was just behind you on the back of falls climb, I was the bloke with the beard on a black old norco, we had a brief chat just as the worst of the climb was over. We parked our bikes together at trapyard gap and you were with another bloke in a black and yellow jersey. Small world! Forgive me if I've got a bad case of mistaken identity.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby Dahondude » Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:43 pm

tbird11 wrote:^^^
hey I could be wrong but looking at your profile pic, I think I was just behind you on the back of falls climb, I was the bloke with the beard on a black old norco, we had a brief chat just as the worst of the climb was over. We parked our bikes together at trapyard gap and you were with another bloke in a black and yellow jersey. Small world! Forgive me if I've got a bad case of mistaken identity.


Yep correct! Probably spoke to my brother as I was the bloke in the black and yellow jersey. But I remember you on the road to Anglers Rest and at Trapyard and perhaps the climb to Trapyard - not to many bearded cyclists on the road :-). You can see my video of the ride too here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXDWRWdnrYU
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby Tim » Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:13 pm

Very interesting video thanks Dahondude.
I lived and worked in the countryside around Omeo and Hotham for nearly ten years but never cycled much in the area.
Live down on the coast these days and am cycling heaps again, after 10 year gap.
I would love to have a crack at the Alpine ride. I'm wondering where I can find a training schedule to prepare for the ride, and also what gearing combo you used for the ride?
Sorry if both questions are answered elsewhere, but I can't find them.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby NotFlyingScot » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:24 pm

Tim wrote: a) Very interesting video thanks Dahondude.
b) a training schedule to prepare for the ride
c) what gearing combo .

a) + 1 great video
b) ride up lots of steep hills :wink:
c) if an old fart like me can get up those hills on 53-39//12-27 anyone can :)
So much want to do that ride again. Soon :!:
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby Dahondude » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:05 pm

Tim wrote:Very interesting video thanks Dahondude.
I would love to have a crack at the Alpine ride. I'm wondering where I can find a training schedule to prepare for the ride, and also what gearing combo you used for the ride?
Sorry if both questions are answered elsewhere, but I can't find them.


BV posted up a whole pile of training stuff on their website. But mostly it was nearly impossible for any normal folk (ie people who work and/or have families) to stick to...you had to be riding 300-400 km per week for months in advance. Obviously the more you can train the easier the ride is, but I reckon at a bare minimum you need to have ridden a few 200km or longer rides just so you are mentally prepared for that kind of distance and time in the saddle and do as much riding/climbing as you can squeeze in. I have been riding regularly for the last few months, but most of my training was only 50km efforts with the odd 120km ride. But I like and enjoy climbing and have done a lot of 200km or longer rides so am comfortable with the distance.
As for gearing I had a 53/39 on the front and 12-27 on the back and this was fine. My brother had a 52/34 and 11-25 and he was also comfortable.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby jules21 » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:11 pm

they grossly overestimate the required training. i wasn't well in the month leading up to the AAC200 this year and did minimal training, other than my 8km x twice daily commute. prior to that i was overseas on holiday for a month, doing nothing. i finished it in 11:30. i'm not recommending that, i'd have much preferred to prepare better, but you can get away without the recommended amounts of training.
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Re: 3 Peaks 2011

Postby Tim » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:17 am

Thanks for the training and gear suggestions.
Have to get some bigger cogs, and some bigger training distances, and some bigger hills.
Only riding 150-200 K's a week at the moment. Relatively flat ground but nearly always windy.
Might get back up in those mountains (on the bike) a bit more often, go and visit a few of the old hillbilly, sorry, highcountry mates, though they'd probably shoot me if I show up in lycra and shaved legs.
Did a few 200 Km Audax rides in days gone by. Many days gone by, like 4000 days.
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