Darren Shank’s Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Ride Report

Hi David

So here’s my story…

I was on the 13 hour program just in the hope to finish this event.

We decided to follow the 12 hour pacers just to have something up our sleeve perhaps if needed at the end.

The day started obviously with the descent of falls. What an awesome experience that was although a bit sketchy at times in the light drizzle. On the way down there were some with flats and a couple of crashes. 1 in particular I remember being quite nasty. Luckily I made it through unscathed to the bottom. I did make the mistake of wearing too much clothing and was overheated by the bottom strangely enough.

So on to towonga gap, from what I remember it wasn’t too bad, made it to the top in 35mins which was ahead of schedule. Stop fill water bottles and we were on our way ahead of time. The descent again was great fun. Turns 5 and 7 we took reasonably easy from instruction the night before and made it down comfortably.

On the way to Harrietville got into a good bunch of 30 or so for most of it and everyone was working together well which made arrival to the next stop easier and again ahead of schedule.

Then it was off to Hotham and to endure the toughest couple of hours ever on a bike. I think everyone around me underestimated Hotham as we were all struggling. I handed out 4 salt tablets along that stretch to other riders. (I hope it helped them) It really messed with my mind a bit just not knowing where the end was, it seemed to never end. Thankfully I finally got to the top and began the descent to dinner plain.

Lunch time. By this stage I was feeling a bit rough. My nutrition was working well although I had gone off what I was used to (just didn’t want it) and was trying some other types, fruit cake/banana and winners bars. We were still on 12 hour pace when we left lunch stop which was a bit of a moral boost to be honest. Can’t really remember much of the ride from dinner plain to Omeo but I think we were all a bit scattered by that time. Only small bunches of 4 or 5 to cling onto but made it through without much problems.

I think by this time, the negative thoughts started. “I can’t finish, I don’t think I can get through this” I had this in my head all the way to Anglers rest stop and by the time I got there I more or less had convinced myself I was done.

I think knowing what was to come and knowing what I needed to get it done after experiencing Hotham, I was convinced I didn’t have what was necessary. I told my mate to head off and I would just hang there for a bit and figure out if I wanted to go on. He headed off and I looked at the wagon and contemplated racking my bike. But I decided to at least head to WTF corner and see what it was like. Thankfully enough I did because the ride there wasn’t too bad. I was on my own for most of it which was good for me.

Then I hit WTF corner… and just kept going. My head just went blank, the negative thoughts had gone and I just rode up the damn thing. It was a tough first 5k indeed, people were stopping all over the place, walking and just resting. I thought that looked like a good idea but thought if I stopped I may not get going again. Eventually I had no choice and walked for 2k. then I got back on at a reasonably flat part and got myself to trapyard gap where the 12 hour pacers caught me but by this time it was just about finishing for me.

By this stage my stomach was a mess so I couldn’t really eat much more, tried coke but was no good just grabbed some bananas and I was off to the finish. I was lucky I had ridden the day before in the other direction because I knew it was pretty easy ride back home.

There was a bit of a head wind in the opening which wasn’t that great but all I was looking for was the bridge crossing.

Was getting a bit cold towards the end so I threw on my jacket and headed for the finish.
As I rounded the last corner the noise was amazing even for the last one’s in. I looked up at the timing board and saw 11:54 I was stoked!

The ending sounds all dramatic I know, but it is exactly how it was for me.

Some things everyone should understand if they want to tackle this thing.

Take it easy on the descents but enjoy them.
If you think you’re done, just take another step.
Take hydrolyte or something other than water. Everyone I gave a salt tablet to only had water.
Fill water at every stop, even if its 2/3rds full.
Seriously, ride at your own pace
Don’t underestimate Mt Hotham
Take a look around and enjoy the scenery.

Thank you David for the training program, I honestly had no chance without it.

The webinars were a great source of information and the forum is a great tool or opening up discussions.

Kind Regards

Darren Shanks
General Manager Design & Project Management