This was my third ride of the Peaks Challenge series having survived ‘3 Peaks’ in 2014 and finished the Gold Coast Challenge in 2015, so I was expecting a tough long day in the saddle. Tasmania is stunning to ride with lots of rolling hills and short climbs through farmland and forests and the occasional mountain, all made more challenging with the varying weather.
The day before the ride was sunny, warm and still which set some false expectations, overnight a north westerly rolled in from the Antarctic bringing with it strong winds and rain. Luckily the ride began with a following wind which pushed us along and up the first of many climbs, then the showers began.
This made the climb up Cethna to Moina a little slippery but I quickly settled into a rhythm and was soon at the top where the first rest stop was a welcome break for a warm drink and a chance to dry off. The next 32km ride out to Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain was a gentle climb again with the wind behind us, finally the sun came out.
With the weather timing is everything, the following day we re-visited Dove Lake as tourists and walked around part of the lake in 2 cm of snow! As we rode towards Cradle Mountain the top finishers rode past on the way back tucked behind one of the support cars who were taking pictures, nothing to do being protected against the wind. The briefing we received from the Peaks Challenge organisers warned us about the exposed ride back from Dove Lake to Moina so we formed a group to share the workload. So far so good, legs feeling good, ahead of the 11 hour ride leaders and ready for lunch.
The afternoon was sunny and warmish but the cross winds nearly blew you off your bike which meant riding back to Devenport was a lot harder than planned.
There were plenty of chances to roll down hill to recover but what goes down generally goes up and the course organisers ensured we had lot of rolling hills to climb some of them causing riders to get off and wlak. I was looking forward to a fast finish, however, the last 50kms was not as flat as I hoped.
At the 200km mark a rolling 7km climb up Top Gawler slowed me down and the legs started to feel the distance. This is nothing like the back of Falls Creek but enough, combined with the wind to take out anything that remained in my legs.
I was attempting to break the 11 hours but failed by 10 minutes due to the strong winds combined with riding solo over the last 50kms. Maybe next time.
This is a great ride, very well organized and very challenging. Tasmania was fantastic and I would recommend this to the keen cyclists looking for something different.