15 Dec

How to burn your energy during the Three Peaks Challenge – Falls Creek

Three Peaks Challenge. 235km. 4000m of elevation. In under 13 hours.
The numbers themselves suggest a tough cycling event but what happens at the 200km mark is what makes this ride really tough: The WTF corner.
Yep, WTF is the official name of the corner at kilometer 200 of this cycling challenge. Why?  Because a nice flat road goes straight into a double-digit gradient that remains that way for the following 12 km.
It drags on. It hurts. It is mentally devastating. And you are not alone!
During the event, carnage is lined up at the side of the road.
Exhaustion. Hot feet. Cramps. Dehydration, You name it.
But is this Falls Creek climb really that tough though?
No question, it is definitely during the Three Peaks Challenge while riding faster and harder than usual.
But how about on a training ride?
I was able to find out last weekend when I  rode the Three Peaks Challenge course with the only difference being the start at Bright instead of Falls Creek. That meant I faced this infamous climb at 153km instead of 200km.
With two extended breaks and less kilometers in my legs, I would get to Falls Creek with fresher legs than during the Three Peaks Challenge in March.
So, the climb must have felt a lot easier, right?
The first kilometer, although steep, seemed ok. I thought, oh wow, maybe Falls Creek is not as bad as I remembered.
But soon enough, I realized how relentless and steep the climb actually was. No, it is truly a tough climb, no matter how I rode it.
This climb is the make or break of the Three Peaks Challenge and thus a pivotal point for the riders’ strategy.
So how much energy do you want to reserve throughout the challenge to survive the last 35km?
If you were a car and you had to use your fuel efficiently for the Three Peaks Challenge, these are my suggestions how to use it (from 100% to 0%):

  1. Descent of Falls Creek: Full tank. Let it roll. Little pressure.
  2. Tawonga Gap: Moderate pace up the climb to get the legs warmed up, Fuel level: 90%,
  3. Flat stretch to Harrietville: If you find yourself in a group with a comfortable pace, great, if not, go your own pace. Conserving energy is priority. With 80% fuel level, you don’t feel any exhaustion.
  4. Mt Hotham: You will burn quite a bit of energy, by now you have used half of your energy level , especially the steep parts of the MEG and CRB hill will drain some energy. Ride a moderate and energy-efficient pace in the other parts of the climb.
  5. To Omeo: Being mainly a downhill section, you don’t have to waste a lot of energy. Take the bumps easy. Fuel: 45%
  6. To Anglers Rest: With a small climb and a fast road to Anglers Rest, try to conserve as much energy as possible while taking advantage of the fast road. 35% fuel.
  7. Falls Creek: You have 35% fuel left in the tank. You definitely feel the past 200 km in your legs but you are mentally and physically ready for the toughest part of the course: Falls Creek. Now you can blow out any remaining energy. But don’t try too hard. The climb will take it anyway.

More on pacing strategy has been published here.
The Three Peaks Challenge is not only a well-organized and exciting cycling event – the course makes it spectacular and one to remember. With its ever-changing scenery and panoramic views, it is an interesting and exciting event. But the strategy and toughness of this course makes it so special.

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