Kathy describes her bike riding as: “not amazing at descending or ascending or flats, I just do it, I’m slow but consistent, I’m consistently slow.”
For some Peaks Challenge riders, it's all about levelling up and chasing the next time limit; sub-12 hours, sub-10 hours, etc. But for many riders, it’s about having the guts to kick-off from the start line, and no matter how consistently slowly you might be, crossing the finish line at the end. Kathy is one such rider.
Having taken part in a few triathlons in the past Kathy had experience doing some bunch riding, and also rode a bit back in her 20’s but wasn’t what you would describe as an addicted road cyclist... at least at the start.
Kathy is a woman with amazing focus, and naturally likes having goals. It was a simple post on social media that sparked Kathy’s interest in Peaks Challenge, after seeing people describe the difficulty and feeling of accomplishment – “why not give it a shot?”
Being someone that enjoyed riding but was more or less allergic to hills and bad weather, starting her training was not pleasant and full of many learning curves, or steep learning hills. Kathy was on the early bird train immediately after Peaks Challenge 2019, and began riding in her local area along the Peninsula.
It was at Arthurs Seat that Kathy was levelling up her strength and stamina, increasing her reps until she reached a level that she felt prepared. But the peninsula is home to hills, not mountains, and between having a family, a business, and committing time to training there was a fine juggling act at play to ensure Kathy could fit it all in.
It wasn’t until a month out of from Peaks Challenge that Kathy climbed her first mountain with a group of local riders. Whilst they were a hugely supportive group offering all sorts of encouragement both on and off the bike, Kathy spent most of the weekend riding solo, crossing paths with friends while she was on her way up and they were on their way down.
It’s group rides like this that offer people an invaluable opportunity to share stories, swap tips, meet up with old friends and make some new one. Not to mention hanging out in ever-changing regions for weather; hot, cold, windy, still, overcast, sunny, you could get a mix of it all which was great preparation for Kathy going in to the event.
Kathy was well-prepared with her equipment during her first Peaks event, ready to brave the cold, and prepared in the case things heated up. Kathy explained it was her nutrition that was ultimately what stunted her ride. Hydration was down, food was on the up. Half-way up the Hotham Kathy starts to feel sick, and cramps were setting in. “Just make it to 200km, that’s a good day out”, Kathy thought.
With the back of Falls still ahead Kathy thought, “I’m not going to be able to do it with the way I’m cramping, but if I can make it there, then that’s all good, and I’m happy with that result”. Then she made it to the back of falls and thought “well I’ll see how far I can make it up the back of Falls and I walked most it, I got off my bike. I cramped. I got back on my bike. I cramped. On and off just the whole way from the bottom to Trapyard Gap. It stopped being about finishing the event, but rather personal milestones, and making it to the next stop.
Coming across the finish line with only minutes to spare, Kathy was done and greeted her smiling daughter as she crossed the finish line.
As determined and hardworking as Kathy is, the next year came around and she had one goal in mind; to do it better. “I wanted to do it better. You know you do something, and you go, ok, that was hard, but I know where I went wrong and I know I can do it better. Not necessarily faster, I was never after faster, I just wanted to do it better. My whole goal was to just ride the back of Falls, I just wanted to get up there and stay on my bike, and just do it, just so I can say ok I can do this”.
With a major focus on her nutrition throughout the whole next year trialing homemade snacks, not breaking in her training, focusing on hydration, and the added benefit of a new bike Kathy was in good stead to achieve her goal. “It’s just a mental game isn’t it, when you’re out there, it’s all just about what you can push your mind to do you know.”
With training done and dusted all Kathy had to do was ride for 13 hours or less on one of the hardest one day cycling events in Australia. Knowing what she was in for, Kathy was as ready as she would ever be.
“If anything went wrong mechanically, there was no way that I was getting myself out of that situation – I knew nothing about my bike, I’m still trying to work out this new fancy bike I’ve got, so I was really just lucky that I got through without any issues. I got my bike serviced one week before, then took it for a few test rides. I didn’t want my bike to be the thing that let me down. If I was not going to make it, it was because I couldn’t make it, not because my bike wasn’t up to it”.
Fast forward 12 hours and 25 minutes and Kathy crossed the finish line. “I did it. It was hard, and I really wanted to get off my bike, really desperately wanted to get off the bike, but I just kept on pushing, and pushing and then before you know it, it’s over”. Kathy did not walk up the back of Falls.
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