Monday, 22 February 2016

The Backside of Falls...

So on the weekend of 20 – 21 Feb, I went back to the Alpine region as I wanted to tackle a few more climbs before the big day (which is in 3 weeks….eeekkk).

During the week, I went about my usual training schedule with CF Altitude on the Tuesday and AOC KOM class on the Thursday. During both sessions, I worked on my weakness which has been out of the saddle work.

Come Thursday night, I was panicking slightly while I packed for my weekend away. I have heard plenty about the “Back O’Falls” as it has the final (and steepest) climb. I was stressing about this as much as Baw Baw…

As this climb is part of the Peaks Challenge, I couldn’t delay this like I did with Baw Baw. I needed to tick this climb off before the big day and the 20th Feb was the day planned. I booked my accommodation Mt Beauty and the plan was to ride up the front of Falls Creek, then ride to Anglers Rest return. I checked on the map and the distance from my motel to Anglers Rest was about 77km so the total trip would be about 150-160km.

I had also planned on a ride on the Sunday as well but that didn’t eventuate – more on this later.
I arrived at my accommodation around 9pm on the Friday night. I settled in for the night and went to bed around 10pm. I woke up around 7:00am and started the ride at 8am. The ride up to Falls Creek was good. It was my 3rd attempt up the front of Falls Creek and by the looks of my data, it was not my fastest. I was passed by plenty of vehicles carrying mountain bikes and it wasn’t until I reached the toll gates that I found out that the Gravity Enduro is on that weekend. When I reached the top of Falls Creek, I stopped for a toilet break, bought a coke, an orange juice and filled up the remainder of my bottles. A lesson learnt from previous rides is that I take too long to finish off a can of coke so what I did was filled up my bottle with coke along with some salt and water. The salt degassed the coke as well as providing me with some sodium.

I then took off down the back of Falls. I had my jacket on as it was windy but I didn’t realise the back of falls still had a few climbs to do. I stopped about 5km on to take off my jacket and it was then I saw how nice the top of Falls Creek was.

It was around 50km into the ride was where the big descents were and I knew that I was close to the infamous “WTF Corner”. When I rode down the descent, my hands on my brakes were so tight that they were close to red raw and bruised when I reached the bottom. It was a very sharp descent and I knew that I was in for a bit of a shocker of a climb. I rode all the way to Anglers Rest so I could refill my drink bottles and stop for the toilet.

I decided to order a coffee at the Blue Duck Inn which made my total time longer than needed. For the Peaks Event, I need to adjust my strategy and reduce “wasted time”. No buying of coke and then drinking it, no coffee breaks, nothing which will put my finishing of 3 Peaks into high risk.

So after my coffee, I got back onto my bike and rode towards Falls. As I approached WTF corner, I told myself that I was to not look up and just do what I can. The climb was steep and the gradient was something which I had never done before. I saw the gradient >15% a few times on my Garmin and I did ride from side to side. I had no idea how I managed the ride but I was adamant to not stop, more because I could never get back on the bike…

All the negative thoughts came into my head – I was doubting myself for Peaks due to how difficult the climb was and the fact that I would be doing this climb with 200km in my legs having already climbed Tawonga Gap and Hotham….

The ride was a shock to my system and I didn’t realise it until 100km into the ride that I had run out of hydration. I was desperate and panicked about how I was to finish the remaineder of the climb back to Falls Creek (30km) ride with no hydration…I waved a car down and luckily, they had a tank of water in the back of their car. LIFESAVERS!!!! With one of my bottles filled, I rode the remainder of the 30km tired but I knew the worst was over and I would make it in one piece.

When I reached Falls Creek for the 2nd time, I was too late to refuel. All the shops (Foodworks and the café) were closed. Luckily there was a vending machine there and I topped up my bottle with Gatorade and was on my way back down to Mt Beauty.

At this point, I had done 125km or so and I was worried that I would be riding in the dark. I put on my jacket as it was getting cold at the top of Falls Creek. I would say that my descent back down to Mt Beauty was my slowest. I was tired and I concentrated harder than I had ever been. My aim was to get back to my accommodation before 7:30pm. I actually made it around 7:15pm which was too late to buy dinner from Foodworks but similar to October training camp, I was so exhausted to be hungry.

I ended up having my protein shake, my carrots which I had packed for my car trip and the motel biscuits provided. I showered and then went to bed from the exhaustion.

I didn’t end up sleeping until about 3am due to my legs throbbing. I decided the that I would give Sunday’s training a miss and would treat myself to wholefoods at Bright and then drive home early and that was what I did.

  • ·       Pack more nutrition than needed. I had originally planned to be out on the bike for no more than 10 hours but it ended up being about 11:30 in total.
  • ·         Always fill up bottles at rest stops and ration with reason…I think at one point I drank half a bottle in one go as I was thirsty but ended up with half a bottle to last me for the 30km….luckily on the event day, there will be more water stops.
  • ·         My Lumiere cycling knicks are the way to go and will wear it for the event.

 I have plans on going back to My Beauty again this weekend. I would like to ride up to Mt Hotham again before the big day…

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