BRUTAL conditions and a demanding 230km course didn’t deter more than 1600 riders from taking on the inaugural 3 Peaks Challenge cycling race yesterday.
The challenging race through Victoria’s High Country lived-up to its billing as one of the most taxing one-day rides yet held in Australia, with the storms that swept through the region yesterday making life even more difficult for the athletes.
Belgrade-based cyclist Luke James was first across the line, arriving at the finish at Falls Creek about 3.40pm after starting his challenge at 7.20am.
James said he took a battering completing the course.
“It was epic (and) it was harder than I expected,” he said after crossing the line.
“Some of my team dropped out at Dinner Plain and one of the hardest aspects of the ride was (trying) to keep warm.
“I kept the legs rolling over and the scariest part of the entire ride was the very steep ascent when you leave the Omeo Highway and begin the climb on the Bogong High Plains Road, heading back to Falls Creek.”
Fellow rider Mick Mitchell said the climb up the steepest section of the Bogong High Plains Road was incredibly difficult.
“Words wouldn’t do it justice,” he said.
“It was one of the toughest climbs I’ve ever done.”
The race started and finished at Falls Creek, taking riders across Tawonga Gap, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek from Omeo via the Bogong High Plains Road, and was open to individual and team entries.
The race, organised by Bicycle Victoria, featured athletes from Norway, Singapore and New Zealand.
Event manager Julie-Ann Davies said the challenge would only get bigger and better.
“The 3 Peaks Challenge is probably the ultimate ride in Australia,” she said.
“This event will grow in the next three to five years and we know resorts such as Falls Creek enthusiastically embrace cycle tourism.”