This article discusses some of the important things to consider in the final weeks leading up to Bicycle Victoria's 3 peaks cycling challenge.
Peaking for the event
There is not a lot that you can do with your fitness in the last week before the 3 peaks cycling challenge so take it easy with your training to ensure that you are fully rested and recovered leading up to the day.
You still want to be riding throughout the week though to keep your legs spinning over. You can do a few intense efforts in the last week but keep them nice and short.
Make sure that you get good quality sleep in the nights leading up to the challenge too!
There is no one size fits all for nutrition as everyone is different. General guidelines are to consume 1 gram of carbohydrate per kg of body weight for every hour. So, 70kg’s body weight = 70 grams of carbohydrate. But, if you work on your energy metabolism using special training techniques you can half this.
I’m not concerned as to how you get this... Bananas, sports bars, sorts drinks, fruit cake, ANZAC biscuits, or gels. You'll have your own preference and what works for you.
In the last week you'll need to have this nailed and have your nutrition planned out for the day. There are food drops along the course so make use of them.
The night before the event have a carbohydrate meal with no protein. In the morning of the 3 peaks cycling challenge have another carbohydrate meal before you ride. If you have problems eating first thing then a "up and go" can be a good substitute.
Hydration is also really important so ensure that you are drinking regularly based on the conditions. In hot weather drink more, cooler weather drink less. You can drink up to 1.2 litres of water an hour. Anymore and your body can’t digest it. But, you’ll only want to drink this much on the really hot part of a really hot day. Otherwise 750 ml per 1-1.5 hours is fine.
Simple rule, if you get thirsty then you aren’t drinking enough, but don't drink too much that you need to go to the toilet every 30 mins!
Ideally you'll want to have your nutrition and hydration plan sorted and tested in your training rides well before the 3 peaks challenge.
This is super important! You'll be going into a exposed alpine area so treat this with great respect when riding the 3 peaks cycling challenge. If it's going to be a cold and wet then you could be faced with descents close to zero degrees. If this is the case you'll be riding through wind-chill temperatures in the negatives! If you are not protected on these long descents you’ll be out in this cold for over forty-five minutes to an hour. Plenty of time to develop first degree hypothermia.
Booties, long finger gloves, fleecy leg warmers and arm warmers, a jacket or wind vest and a thermal (preferably merino wool) undergarment is absolutely necessary in wet or cold conditions. Don’t kid yourself that you can tough it out. In these conditions the mountain will always win. Use the food drop stations during the 3 peaks cycling challenge as a chance to discard clothing and replace wet clothing with dry.
You'll want to have a pacing plan in place. Don't go out too fast from the start of the 3 peaks cycling challenge. Keep your cadence up in the early part of the ride to save your legs. You want to finish fast not dead. Ride at your own pace. Try not to get caught up in the event fever and start too fast.
Get off the bike every two hours and have a quick break for no longer than five minutes. The regular breaks are important to ensure that you rest your body neurologically. The short breaks are to ensure that you don't cool down!!! Take this time to adjust your clothing, have some food and go to the toilet.
Make sure that you have all your stuff together before the 3 peaks cycling challenge. Create a checklist in the week leading up to the event all the things that you'll need to take with you. Go through it before you leave to travel to the 3 peaks cycling challenge. Make sure that you have all your food and clothing sorted a few days before the ride.
Make sure that your bike is recently serviced and that you have tyres that are in excellent condition. If you have cuts or nicks in them you'll need to replace them. Make sure that you have a way of repairing a flat if you do get one or two on the day. The roads are rough around this alpine area on the 3 peaks cycling challenge so this is very important. You don't want to spend time repairing flats.
Remember that you have put a lot of time into your training. A forgotten item, mechanical mishap or a poorly executed pacing plan may mean the difference between a great 3 peaks cycling challenge and a total disaster.
Check the latest news for the 3 peaks cycling challenge on the Bicycling Victoria web site so that you know how to use the feed stops and where they are, if there are going to be any road closures and any important rules for the event. Might be a good time to consider and work out an exit plan if things go wrong too.
This is not an event that you just rock up to and ride. You need to have a proper cycle training and nutrition program in place and be working through it for at least 12 weeks before the 3 peaks cycling challenge. Your success and comfort during this ride is directly related to how much good quality training you have done leading up to it.
Check out our other great articles on training for the 3 Peaks: