Chris Bellman’s Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Ride Report

Hi David,

After few days of reflection, here is my PCFC report on what turned out to be an eventful day.

Having completed the event last year using your program through Bicycle Victoria and some gut instinct, I hoped a more formalised and consistent training program would see me getting somewhere near an 11 hour time. The day started well, until the cadence meter dropped out part way through the descent of Falls. I had replaced the batteries in all the Garmin systems the week before and all were working well the day before on a test ride, so no explanation for this.

Made good progress up Tawonga Gap and reached Harrietville just on 11 hour time but was guessing a bit at the tempo without the cadence meter. Fuelled up, filled the water bottles, made a futile attempt to fix the cadence meter, then back on the road for the ascent of Hotham. Climbed the first section well, had no problems with the Meg and kept the heart rate below threshold.

The next section also felt fine and I decided to stop at Buckland Gate, just to fill the water bottles. A few hundred meters before I got there, felt some cramp in one leg, which hit hard as I got off the bike. I thought I had been eating plenty of food and drinking more than enough, so perhaps lack of sleep due to a difficult week at work was the culprit. Had to spend some time easing out the cramps, taking in more food and fluids and plotting the next move, knowing I still had CRB Hill and the Diamantina to conquer. Having done the event the previous year, mild panic was also setting in at the thought of the Back of Falls and the sneaky hills either side of Omeo with cramping legs.

Climbed cautiously up the remainder of Hotham, made sure I ate more food when I crossed the top and got to lunch just behind the 12 hour group. Decided to let them go and make sure I got as much food and drink into me as possible. Arrived at Omeo in reasonable shape, no further cramps and well ahead of 13 hour time. Quick stop, back on the road and straight into a headwind, gusting to 50 km/h. Getting warm now, about 30 degrees, no groups to hide behind, just me, the road and the wind.

Long slow grind to Anglers Rest, another quick stop, then on to WTF corner, with the cadence meter suddenly working again. Turned the corner, uttered the usual expletives and started the climb, conscious that the legs might cramp at any moment. Very slow progress, not much faster than walking pace, but continued to grind up the hill. Very pleased that I managed to get to Trapyard Gap without stopping. Had a quick rest, then on to the top of the climb.

Up on the high plain, the wind was howling again but now it was cold. Hypothermia was a real possibility, so stopped to put a jacket on and saw a few riders by the side of road wrapped in space blankets and plenty more in the same state at the finish line.

Headwind made the last 10kms harder than necessary but managed to get over the line with about 20 minutes to spare. Disappointed that the time was 10 mins slower than last year but the conditions were much more difficult than the perfect conditions of 2016. Without the CI training program, I would have been one of the riders beside the road half way up Back of Falls, waiting for the sag wagon.

Many of your tips were going through my head during the day. Unfortunately, there were no smooth pedals strokes up the BoF at 7 km/h. You said at one point that you can’t control what happens on the day (weather, punctures etc.) you just had to trust the training. I did and it got me through, including up the BoF without having to walk the 2 kms I did last year.

Many thanks for the program and the guidance.


Chris Bellman