I’ve been hooking up with all my coaching clients this week that are doing the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek and here is what I have been advising them. These are the nine important tips in no particular order of importance for the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek:
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip One – Wear sunscreen:
If the predictive UV index of Very High then it’s going to be a warm day out on the bike. Even if you are targeting a sub 10 hour, you’ll still be out there in the sun during the worst part of the of the day for sun exposure. Make sure you have a small tube of sunscreen on you and apply it regularly. Long sleeve lycra arm warmers will give you additional protection from the sun as well.
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip Two – Drink regularly:
For exactly the same reason as tip one its important to ensure that you are drinking regularly to avoid dehydration. As this new course will have you in the valleys in the heat of the day, you could find that your sweat loss may exceed your consumption. Make sure that you are on top of your hydration for all of the day by sipping on your drink bottle frequently. You’ll need to drink more when it gets hotter so adjust the frequency depending on the temperature. Hopefully, you have practiced riding in hot conditions as part of your training so have accustomed your body and fine-tuned your hydration schedule.
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip Three – Ensure you consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour every hour you are riding:
This is another critical tip. Bicycle Network in conjunction with myself have put together the nutritional plan for this event. There will be regular stops for food and water, but you will still need to take along additional food to supplement what is available at the stops. If you have been training off my plan, you’ll have been tuning this with your training rides leading up to this event and should have this down pat. Don’t try anything new on the day to avoid problems. Stick with what has worked for you in your training rides.
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip Four – Make sure that you have all your stuff together before the event:
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 ride. Make sure that you have all your food and clothing sorted a few days before the ride. Nothing is worse than getting up to Falls Creek only to find that you have forgotten your cycling shoes!
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip Five – Wear the appropriate clothing for the conditions:
I would recommend that you descend off Falls Creek with a jacket or wind vest and arm and leg warmers, but this is dependent on the temperature at the top of Falls. It’s quite cold at that time in the morning so dress appropriately for it. If its less than 10 degrees I’ll be wearing booties and gloves as well. I’m not expecting to be wearing these items for the decent off Hotham as I’m hoping that it will be warm enough when I get there. There is a clothing stop where you can dump extra clothing and swap out your clothing. Please check the details in your information pack as there are special bags that you are supplied with to use for this.
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip Six – Check your tires:
The climb up the back side of Falls Creek has a very rough quartz surface that will cut any light weight racing tires to shreds in the wet resulting in an unrepairable number of punctures. If the weather is going to be dry, then there is a far better chance of getting up this quartz surface without shredding your racing tyres. Remember to check your tires before you start the event for embedded glass that you have may pick up on previous rides. This is usually the main cause of punctures. Remember to keep your tyre pressure around 80-90 psi for 700 x 25c tyres and 100-110 psi for 700 x 23c tyres. The roads are rough, so this is the optimal tyre pressure. Don’t think a higher tyre pressure is going to make you faster. That only works if the road surfaces that are smooth. A higher tyre pressure won’t work for these roads.
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip Seven – Take advantage of the bunches that will form in the valleys:
If you are sitting in a bunch, you’ll be riding on roughly 5 km faster for the same effort than if you are doing it alone. If you do get passed by a bunch and it’s going at a pace that you are comfortable riding at then jump on and save some of your energy while getting a faster ride. Keep it safe though and be careful by watching out for riders that lack the necessary bunch riding skills and avoid riding behind them.
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip Eight – Secure your items on your bike:
When I descended down Falls Creak in the early hours of the morning last year, I was surprised by the number of saddle bags, pumps and drink bottles that littered the road. All had bounced off the bikes because they were not secured correctly. My mantra has been to not trying anything new on the day so all these issues around poor equipment should have been well and truly addressed weeks ago in your training rides. On the same note, your bike should be in tip top condition for the ride. You have trained hard. Don’t let mechanical issues spoil all those many hours of hard training. Get your bike serviced right now if it hasn’t already and go for a few rides on it before the event. I’ve recently had a major service on mine last week and had to adjust the headset and speed cadence sensor afterwards. So, have these issues sorted before the event.
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek Tip Nine – Keeping left at all times and being courteous to other riders and road users:
While the road down off Falls and Tawonga Gap will be closed, it’s still important to keep left at all times. Emergency vehicles will still have access to the road so you still may encounter traffic on the climbs. If you do need to stop please indicate, look back and move off the road when IT’S SAFE TO DO SO and make sure that you are well OFF THE ROAD when you are stopped. Finally, remember that many of the roads are not closed so will have local and tourist traffic on them. Just because you are riding this mass event please do not be arrogant and ride as if you OWN THE ROAD. Please be respectable and be courteous to all road users on the day by conducting yourself in the appropriate way.
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek – Final Important tip (OK, that’s Ten) – Dispose of your rubbish appropriately
2013 was an appalling year for litter at the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek. I got reports from the locals about the bags and bags of gel and sports bar rappers that they collected from the side of the road for days after the event. Fortunately, the last few years have been much better. Do the right thing. It’s your responsibility to dispose of your gel and sports bar wrappers into the appropriate rubbish bins. Remember that you are riding through Australian National Parks so help to keep them clean and tidy.
I hope that you have the best Peaks Challenge Falls Creek ride ever and will see you on the start line.