Anna's three Peaks experiences

Full of excitement, with a no-fuss, give it a crack attitude, Anna rode and completed her third Peaks Challenge in 2021.

Anna's first crack at Peaks was in 2018, where she finished in 11 hours and 47 minutes. Her smiling face at the finish says it all; she finished, she did it in under 12 hours and didn’t walk one bit up the back of falls – a good day on the bike.

Anna’s second Peaks ride in 2019 was a year of personal improvement. By maintaining the same distance and elevation training, but adding in a weekly strength session, Anna knocked a full hour off last year's time, finishing in 10 hours and 47 minutes – a great day on the bike.

2020 was unfortunately missed due to an incident on the bike that led to a short break recovery break. But as soon as 2021 tickets opened Anna was back on her bike and ready to go, but this one presented some struggles:

All smiles after finishing her first Peaks Challenge in 2018

“2021. I've been here before. I felt like a seasoned pro by now. But this year was by far the hardest. Even with perfect weather conditions, I had done the training, the hours in the saddle, the elevation, the kilometres but at one stage I didn't think I would finish.

"I had cooked myself in the peloton from Germantown to Harrietville making Hotham the most grueling climb of the day. Feeling sick the whole way up, my aim was to get to the water station before the last 10km of the climb. I ran into a friend there who was also having a bad ride.

"I smashed some gels and got back on the bike. Bit by bit I made my way up. Then I was at the top and started descending. My happy place. The thing I'm best at. Bombing it downhill. So, I got some mojo back and just kept going. The idea of stopping was just not on my radar.

"I kept going and somehow made it in 11:47. My longest time but it's not always about being faster and better every year. Not every ride is a good ride, and this was one of them.”

Anna’s Peaks preparation was uncomplicated, measured, but flexible and free flowing – much like Anna. The necessary kilometres and elevation were completed on a weekly basis (most of the time) with the addition of strength training after her first year as mentioned, and the rest was up to conditions on the day.

So, Anna’s Peaks experiences have varied: 2018 – the year of firsts, 2019 – the year of improvement, 2021 – the year of struggles.

But that's the nature of the beast, she says: "You don’t know what the days going to give you, you can’t predict the conditions, you could do everything right. You could have the best bike, the best kit, everything, and still, something could happen. So, you kind of just have to be open to just giving it a shot."

Over the years Anna’s circle of riding friends grew: “My first year I had no expectations, I didn’t really know anyone else doing it. The people you meet along the way and expanding your horizons makes a huge difference – even meeting people on training rides, throughout the whole experience just adds to that sense of community."

Anna has always been someone that enters into challenges with a 'prepare for the worst, and hope for the best' type of attitude.

"You don’t want to live your life with regrets – so give it a go. It doesn’t matter if you don’t finish. Not every ride is a good ride, but you learn something from every experience, and you can take that knowledge to use next time.”

Anna has always had this attitude when it comes to bike riding. At the age of seventeen she was doing solo rides from North Balwyn to the Dandenongs. She bought her first road bike in 2011, and did her own fundraising ride from Warrnambool to Melbourne in 2016, riding 472km in 4 days and raising $5,000 for a woman against sexual assault campaign.
Anna completes her Warrnambool to Melbourne fundraising ride, 2016.
A few triathlon events prior to Peaks Challenge familiarised Anna with riding in big groups and helped her hone her key skill - descending. 
The self-proclaimed descending Queen has always been able to gain time heading down hill by: "Thinking of myself as like a Formula 1 car. I’m thinking of the racing line, and on those quieter country roads I will kind of come out wide, and then come in to kiss the apex and carry that speed through. I’m thinking of myself as a car, I love the speed and the flowing."
Anna does make the point though that descending is about going at your own pace, because everyone has their strengths, and this just so happens to be hers.
To summarise Anna's three Peaks Challenge Falls Creek experiences: "Don't let the fear of striking our keep you from playing the game."

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