Ride Report - Three Peaks 2016

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Location: Dulwich Hill

Postby Dougie » 20 Mar 2016, 14:16

Some days you’re the hammer and some days you’re the anvil. Somehow I felt that today would be an anvil kind of day. Last year I thought I had done the work. I thought I had been prepared. I thought I was a “hammer”! I was wrong. I was just another tool riding a bike.

This year in the pre-dawn gloom I knew what I don’t know last year. This year I knew that the ride didn’t begin until Omeo. This year I knew that “the Mountain doesn’t come to Mo’hammered, Mo’hammered must come to the Mountain”.

Having seen the Bounce Boys out touring the Bogong High Plains Rd on Saturday looking lean and fearless I knew there was no hope for me sheltering from the wind in their bunch, I shifted my attention to the Dulwich Hill Boys. Fit fellas all. None seemed in need of Jenny Craig’s dietary advice. My mental gaze fell on my Brother in law Dan. Dan’s physique reminded me of a hungry gazelle. Clearly inspiration would need to give way to perspiration.

I took my place in wave 4. The aspirationally grouped, 11 to 13 hour riders. When I say I took my place I mean I stood as nonchantly as possible next to wave 2 riders hoping that I won’t be publicly humiliated for not looking fully pro. Gradually the waves rolled out and found myself in the first half dozen rows of the front. The irony of the fourth wave was not lost on me. Anyone seen the movie Gallipoli? Those boys were in the fourth wave. Surely they would have worked out that we were doomed to heroic, yet spectacular failure by now and called the whole thing off? I secretly hoped that the chap would saunter up and announce that there been a change of plan and “it’s a coffee ride now lads?” The marshal consulted his watch. With a trembling hand he brought the whistle to his lips.

...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil, for God art with me.
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
My cup runneth...

What are your legs? Springs. Steel springs.
What are they going to do? They're going to hurl me down the road.
How fast can you ride?
As fast as a leopard.
How fast ARE you going to ride?
As fast as a leopard!
Then let's see you do it!

The clatter of cleats clipping in was like a platoon of soldiers laying down suppressive fire. Yet the enemy was unseen. The enemy lay dormant within each man. The descent as hellish as it was, was less Dante’s Inferno and more Mario Cart. The idea of swooping in and out of corners gave way to a terrifying game of Frogger played by a blind man suffering Tourettes Syndrome. I rolled passed some and some rolled passed me. Some came so close you could smell their chain lube. Despite the downward spiral my heart was thumping in my seemingly hollow chest cavity. “How could this be?” Gentle breaths, gentle breaths.

I snatch a glimpse of the 11 hr time target stuck to my top tube. I was a minute or two ahead of 11 hour pace as I rolled through Mt Beauty. Time enough to stop and strip a few layers and swap the long fingered gloves. To my delight Peter Bownes and Dave Ranx pulled up beside equally wide eyed from a dodgems style descent. We sent off together in search of Tawonga Gap, our first Peak. With a sharp left the road turned skyward and the ascent commenced. Those around me riding their first Three Peaks swore softly, some on the other hand swore loudly like a bull elephant with a broken tusk. To my delight I kept pace with Peter and Ranx a few bike lengths ahead. I was still deep into threshold. Perhaps the adrenalin, perhaps the effort, who knows. Short of stopping I couldn’t lower my heartrate no matter what I did. After a few kilometres I gave up worrying. I was still with Peter and dropping riders as we climbed. I felt good, no I actually felt great. The weather was delightful and I knew this climb to be quiet pleasant. I even allowed myself a few celebratory honks of my hooter.

Now picture this. The evening prior the path to purgatory was paved with tales of woe. Beware turns five and seven she said. You can bet your bippy that someone will come a cropper she chortled. This year the turns off the top of the climb were marked one through seven. Clearly this helped everyone negotiate this stage of the right. Unfortunately it did little to assist the chap who bounced off the wall like a pinball. His foray into the study of the geological features of the local area culminated in him dragging his bloody and bruised body out of the ditch with a decidedly disappointed look on his face ended on turn eight.

Left again at Germantown and onto the highway. We picked up Ben at this time and quickly formed a train. The plan was to find a bunch and sit in saving both time and energy. The reality was a bit different. Finding groups was not hard. Finding organisation was impossible. One lone solider sat on the front of a bunch. No one taking turns. Everyone sitting and letting this rider slowly grind themselves into the chip ‘n’ seal road. With a nod and flick of an elbow the roiling paceline that is personified by the DHBC Middies smoothly entered the wind and chased down bunch after bunch. Were the riders behind us? Who knows. Who cares. We swapped off like bosses and averaged 30KPH for the 19 kilometre climb into Harrietville for morning tea.

Harrietville was a zoo of epic proportions. As we rolled in the 11 hour riders called to roll out. Chuffed be thy middle name! Only a couple minutes off the 11 hour riders and bang on 11 hour pace on my cheat sheet. At this point chaos reared its ugly head. Water bottles first, no food, no water bottles then wee then food. No wee queue is too long get food. What? Finally I decide to drink first. Eat as I walk heading to the porta loos. Unzip and “hey!” The voices in my head chatter away, “What’s wrong?” “I don’t have a wizzle anymore” “Are you sure, it wasn’t ever very big in the first place?” “Nope, it was definitely there when I left Falls Creek this morning, I remember packing it” “ Well just sit down and see what happens, either way hurry the hell up”.

Mt Hotham next on the list. Yet another left turn. It starts steep and it took some by surprise. Mt Hotham actually did take me by surprise. I had forgotten just how hard it was. For me, it was all about Back of Falls and WTF. Perhaps it was the temperature being warmer than last year. I just don’t know. Either way it was tough going. Somewhere early in the Climb Chris Munro called out “Hi” and we had a brief chat. I rolled past the water station at kilometre 92. As I levelled with it the 12 hrs riders rolled out calling that they were twenty minutes ahead of schedule. WTF! According to my timing I was only about five minutes behind 11 hr pace. I hadn’t even seen these guys on the road until this point. I reckon that they would have well and truly shelled anyone whom was trying for 12 hrs. It was all a bit weird. I stuck with these guys for the balance of the climb. No one was happier than I was rolling over the summit. Well except maybe the big chap huffing and puffing, pushing his treadly up the last of the inclines. By this time the four DHBC riders had scattered to the wind. Ben and David were well ahead and Peter somewhere behind me.

A welcome and smooth roll to Dinner Plain. A couple of nasty little pinches to discourage those of weak mind featured this this descent. I rolled into the lunch stop with a plan and the willingness to stick to it. THAT went down the toilet the moment I put my bike down. It was as though I forgotten how to coordinate my limbs and thoughts. I swear I did a couple of small circles just trying to do too many things at once and not achieving anything. I bumped into Wade. He was looking strong. Wade said ha Hyphen was having a tough day and sitting under a tree. I had a quick look about to offer my encouragement but couldn’t spot him. I found my two DHBC mates and Peter Bownes rolled in. Like a whale eats krill we threw lunch down our throats, crude but effective. The 11 hour riders were leaving as I arrived. I was about 15 mins off 11 hour time and still happy with my performance. The four DHBC boys decided that we would ride together to WTF and then it was everyman for himself.

We rolled for Omeo knowing that it wasn’t until that point the ride really started. Riding with my mates felt great. We were smooth and took turns. The little “pimples” that didn’t even rate on the profile were crested and left in our wake. Those riders pedalling squares as we passed were going to find just getting to Angler’s Rest a challenge let alone climbing WTF and rolling home. There is something about having company that lifts you. It is oft said “quantity has a quality of its own”. The Omeo stop was welcome as Dave had a broken spoke. Peter dealt with this like the mobile mechanic that he is whilst Ben and topped up water bottles and handed out possibly the best scones I have ever eaten in my life. Or maybe the best scones I have ever eaten after having ridden 160KM in the sun. Either way they were welcomed and disappeared into the hole under my nose.

I enjoyed the escarpment this year. Last year I was barely hanging on to anyone whom would give me their wheel. This year we chased down bunch after bunch, rider after rider. Our tempo was fearsome and few riders could hang on.
Angler’s Rest was a hiccup in our journey of justice. We sat down. But only for a minute! This turned into about ten minutes. Shoes were removed and Nurofen was consumed. I sauntered over to the Valet bag area and gazed at the array of “supplements” strewn across the table. I am pretty sure it I had rummaged deep enough I would have found a phial of EPO and a dodgy doctor to administer it. There was everything there. I snaffled a couple of Etixx bars for later and stayed wide of the pair of egg sandwiches festering the afternoon Sun.

I have to admit I was beginning to fade. I knew that we had 45 km to go and what lay ahead. Finishing for me was assured but I didn’t want to slow the lads down. On the way to WTF Corner I announced that they should leave me to it on the Climb. These were had men. The three of them had stony faces that made the Easter Island Statues look like Playdoh. They said nothing other than “just ride your bike”. Whilst I hoped that I might climb WTF on the bike I was comfortable the notion of pushing if I had to. There was no dishonour in this, it is a damn hard hill.

Yet another left turn. I actually laughed out loud. Around us were first timers. The hill is truly aptly named. Immediately at the foot of the climb chaps were off the bike pushing. I stuck to the outside of the road. The long way round to be sure but the gradient was kinder to the legs. Strangely my heartrate was under threshold. No matter how hard I pushed I couldn’t lift it above about 155 bpm. It was a good distraction from the brutality of this parcours. Ben pushed on with Peter not far behind. Dave flatted, he urged me on saying he would catch up. I didn’t doubt this for a second. It was only a matter of when he would catch me.

I struggled passed some weird sights. A few hundred metres up the road two chaps had run into one another and clattered to the ground. By the time I came level with them a marshal was administering ice packs and soothing words. The marshal was radioing for the sag wagon. I don’t think I saw two happier blokes on the whole ride. Heroically forced out due to an injury halfway up the final climb. Their dignity intact they planned their tall stories form air conditioned comfort. A little later I came upon a bloke whom could be best described as “sprawled” across the road. His bike lying was where it fell. I gasped at him, “did you get off or fall off?” “m’ok” was the response. On I continued. 4 km up the road finally I could go no further. I managed to get off without cramping and watched Peter disappear from sight. My Garmin said 7.8kph. I started pushing at 4kph. I mental maths meant 15 minutes per kilometre walking or 8 minutes if I rode. I needed to get back on! 800 metres saw the gradient fall and leapt back on. Dave still hadn’t passed me and I was motivated to get to Trapyard Gap. Pedal squares, pedal squares. This was brutal. All around were riders and walkers. Once or twice more on and off. Dave rolled passed. I urged his to get to Trapyard. Back on again and crested the climb. I knew this point and I whooped with joy. Now the pressure was on. What time would I get. The 12 hour guy rolled up beside me. “How far ahead of schedule are you?”. “I need to be at Falls in just under two hours, what time are you looking of?”. For the first time I vocalised what I wanted. “Something with an 11 in front of it” I told him. “I reckon you’ll be fine”. “Yep, me too!”

I was in two minds about stopping at Trapyard. I had most of a bottle and I wasn’t hungry. I was very motivated and I knew what was ahead. I spotted the three DHBC boys. I quick discussion led me to understand that they had only been here a minute or two although none had had to get off and push. Such is the magnitude of the climb. I tipped a can of Solo down my throat, topped up my bottles and hit the road.

The mental maths kept my mind busy. Was it 13 kilometres of climbing from Trapyard or from the top of WTF? Work backwards, its 10 kilometres of downhill before Falls. Is it 235 kilometres exactly or really 236.5 Kilometres. More climbing clicked off. The motivation was high but the chatter was sparse. The last of the custard was being scraped from the sides of the carton called Kirkham. If you stop pedalling then you are dropped. Look! Mt Cope, that’s it lads. Just that annoying little rise after the dam. Ben suggests we cross the line together , arms raised Tour de France style, after sipping champagne at the back of the peloton for the photographers. I can’t I croak, I’ll fall off. We rounded the bend and passed the Police Station. “Watch the gutter lads” a spectacular crash taking us all out at the finish and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory was not part of this fairy tale ending.

The crowd, the cheers, our names over the loud speaker. Our Club mates calling. We levelled up and crossed the line together. How good was that! Suddenly a lump grew the size of a grapefruit in my throat and my vision blurred giving way to a veritable monsoon of tears. My mouth opened but no sound came out. Rolling to a halt the volunteer grinned at me. He held my bike as I dismounted. He had seen it a thousand times already today. He knew I was grateful . He knew I was elated. He knew that this was a special moment in my existence and that he was here witnessing it. I was handed my finishers ticket. 11 hrs 32 mins, GET THE F#CK OUT! One and a half hours better than last year. Hand me my damn statue, I have so many people thank. Is that the music playing already, I am still thanking people?

I have summited my personal Everest, I am done with Three Peaks. Now on to a new challenge. Who’s with me?
Three Peaks 2016 is dedicated to my mates. Your companionship is what defines success.
See you on the road.


Posts: 103
Joined: 19 Dec 2014, 20:09

Postby Dave_Ranx » 20 Mar 2016, 16:41

We'll written dougie.

Your right in the respect of " quantity has a quality of its own" . If I learnt anything from that ride is that its absolute gold dust. Three times I was ready I was ready to throw in the towel and jump in the Sagwagon. Then I got the flat at the bottom of Falls which at that point was a really kick in the abdominals. After fixing the flat the only thing motivating me to get to the top of that grueling climb, lead legs pulling pedal stroke after stroke, was the thought of finishing all together.


Posts: 103
Joined: 19 Dec 2014, 20:09

Postby Dave_Ranx » 20 Mar 2016, 17:37

[quote="Dave_Ranx"]We'll written dougie.

Your right in the respect of " quantity has a quality of its own" . If I learnt anything from that ride is that its absolute gold dust. Three times I was ready I was ready to throw in the towel and jump in the Sagwagon. Then I got the flat at the bottom of Falls which at that point was a really kick in the abdominals. After fixing the flat the only thing motivating me to get to the top of that grueling climb, lead legs pulling pedal stroke after stroke, was the thought of finishing all together.

great riding with you dougie.


Posts: 461
Joined: 25 Oct 2012, 07:14

Postby jcaley » 21 Mar 2016, 10:43

Thanks for the great report Dougie! Very entertaining and I get to share the pain and elation of the ride without even having to turn up.

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