After months of training, and no doubt some moments of fear and uncertainty held at bay by fierce determination, Peaks Challenge Falls Creek 2020 is finally here.
The forecast for Sunday’s ride is looking cold and wet, but that’s okay! You didn’t come all this way to let a little winter chill stop you. As we all know, there’s no such thing as bad weather in cycling, only bad clothing.
With this in mind, there are a few things to consider when preparing for the conditions – from clothes, to nutrition, to adjusting how you ride.
First and foremost, your clothes
It’s going to be cold in the morning, wet at times, and knowing the area, probably blazing sunshine when you least expect it. Tactical costume changes are essential. Jacket on, jacket off.
In the cold you’re probably going to want to wear a cycling cap to trap in the heat off your head, plenty of layers with undershirts and jackets, and protect the extremities with warm gloves (and an extra pair of dry ones if you have them) and shoe covers or boots, veloToze are great.
Keeping warm when descending
Very regularly in grand tours like the Tour de France you’ll see riders grab newspaper or plastic jackets and stuff them down the front of their jacket. This trick is designed to add an extra layer of wind protection when descending at high speeds.
You can carry these with you when you ride, and when you get to the bottom simply fold it back up and place it in your jersey pocket for your next descent.
Or take advantage of our new op shop clothing drop...
Op shop clothing drop zone
This year we’ve partnered with The Mount Beauty United Church opportunity shop to set-up a clothing drop zone located just after the roundabout as you come into Mount Beauty – before you take on the first climb.
Lord knows it will be cold in the morning at the start line, so this initiative is designed to encourage riders to stay warm in the morning with a jacket they are happy to part with after the first decent down Falls, then drop the weight on the route to Mount Beauty.
The idea is that you go to an op shop between now and then and buy some suitable warm kit (or use some you already have) that you can wear when descending Falls, and donate this clothing to the roadside marquee as you pass through.
In previous years we have had clothing left on the side of the road, which has a negative impact on the natural environment and community. We’re excited to offer a more sustainable alternative this year, but the only way this initiative will work is if donations are suitable for resale.
The valet service could be the different between victory and defeat
You will receive four valet bags with your rider’s kit when you check-in on Saturday.
- 2 x valet bags for food (bound for Harrietville and Anglers Rest)
- 1 x valet bag for food/clothing (for Dinner Plain)
- 1 x return valet bag (to be placed inside Dinner Plain valet bag)
Pack any change of kit in the Dinner Plain valet bag, remembering to also pack the empty “return valet bag” inside this bag for used clothes that will be returning to Falls Creek.
At the 115 kilometre mark, a dry pair of knicks, socks, gloves, jersey or jacket could be a game-changer.
Adjusting how you ride for the conditions
Perhaps the most important adjustment you’ll need to make if the weather’s wet is adjusting how you ride. This means slowing down and riding to the conditions.
Watch the white lines
As you know, road markings can be slippery at the best of times. In the wet, you will need to be extra cautious around white lines, avoiding them altogether when possible.
Brake early and gently
You’re going to want to break early and gently before going into corners. Pre-brake gently to clear your rims of excess water, allowing you to then gently apply more pressure and cut speed smoothly before the turn.
Slow down on descents
It may go against the instincts of some the fearless descenders, but we strongly recommend taking that extra minute to descent in a safe manner for you and the riders around you if conditions are wet. You’d rather finish a tad slower than not finish at all due to a crash.
Keep as upright as possible
Along with cutting your speed, try to get off your bike keeping your center of gravity towards the uphill slope, holding your bike away from you in as upright a position as possible. There isn’t much grip on your rims, so stick to the tread instead.
Look after each other
Not that any of you need reminding, but it is never more important to look after one another than in wet conditions. Call out to each other, identify any hazards or debris, ride responsibly and help your fellow riders reach the finish line. We’re all in this together.
The only important thing to mention here is that — unlike your riding kit and technique — nothing changes for nutrition in the wet weather.
While you may not feel as parched as you would when the sun is beating down on your back, it is just as important to keep up your regular fluid and carbohydrate intake.
Refuel as required at the rest stops, always leave with two full bottles and listen to what your body is telling you. No one knows your nutrition requirements better than you. Stick to the plan.
Additional tips for riding in wet conditions
- Take an extra tube: The chances of getting a puncture increase as the roads get slippery and possible rain drags debris onto the road.
- Protect your eyes: Your darkest lenses probably won’t be appropriate for a dull days. Many cycling eyewear makers provide clear, amber or yellow lenses for low-light situations. These are highly-recommended when riding in wet or inclement conditions. A low-worn cycling cap can also help shield some or the rain (or spray) from hitting your glasses.
- Keep your phone and electronics dry: While most GPS bike computers are fully waterproof, many phones are not. Pack your phone and anything else you want to keep dry in a waterproof case, zip-lock bag or ride wallet.
- Keep your lights on: Everyone will have their lights on as they cross the start line in the morning. If the weather isn’t looking clear, keep them on all day.
Of course it’s not all doom and gloom. Cold, rain, wind, heat, we've seen it all at Peaks before. This is what finding your limit is all about! Keep an eye on the radar over the next few days so that you can give yourself every chance against whatever conditions are thrown at you. You’ve got this.
Good luck and safe riding!EVENT INFO