A sunny return to big bike rides at Peaks

The bike riding gods were smiling on the nearly 1,800 riders who signed up to tackle Australia's toughest one-day cycling challenge, with perfect weather all weekend at Peaks Challenge Falls Creek 2022.

Riders rose before the sun on a crisp but calm morning on Sunday 13 March for the thirteenth consecutive Peaks Challenge Falls Creek - the only Bicycle Network event that has not been postponed through the pandemic period.

Gathering nervously behind the all-electric Porsche Taycan lead vehicle, thanks to the first ever lead car partner Porsche Cars Australia, excitement soon filled the air as the riders started to descend down the first of the infamous three climbs. 

Noticeably different from last year when supporters were encouraged to stay home for COVID safety reasons, this year the Falls Creek event village was buzzing with friends, family and supporters enjoying the sunshine and party atmosphere.

And the good times radiated from the village around the entire 235km course, with near perfect conditions for bike riding all day, despite a few threatening thunder clouds.

Another first for this year was the fastest finisher prize money for each age group, with each of the following riders taking home $200 for their impressive efforts:

18-30 year age bracket
Female: Dione Wang
Male: Jack Aitken (overall fastest male finishing time of 7:13:39)

31-40 year age bracket
Female: Hayley Gniel
Male: Rod Redpath

41-50 year age bracket
Female: Emma Padovan (overall fastest female finishing time of 8:47:59)
Male: Chris Ling

51-59 year age bracket
Female: Bizzy Butterworth
Male: Michael O’Keeffe

60+ year age bracket
Female: Julie Cummings
Male: Des Cullen

The Bont Cycling King and Queen of Peaks Challenge, awarded to the fastest overall climbers on the day, were Jack Aitken and Emma Padovan, with a list of royalty from each mountain below:

Tawonga Gap
Queen: Jessica Hewson
King: Jack Aitken
Mt Hotham
Queen: Emma Padovan
King: Jack Aitken
Falls Creek
Queen: Emma Padovan
King: Oscar Moore

While the first finishers entertained the crowd at the finish line with their impressive times, some of the best finish line moments were saved for later in the day when groups of friends - both new and old - were able to cross the finish line together. All of the emotions and plenty of blood, sweat and tears flooded the finish line.

One of the crowds' favourite finish line moments was when the youngest ever rider to take on the challenge completed her ride. Lily Johnson, who turned 16 on Friday, registered for the ride on Saturday and then became a Peaks Challenge finisher on Sunday crossed the line with her proud father riding beside her. 

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Bicycle Network General Manager of Events Caitlin Borchers said it was amazing to see so many people enjoy riding bikes together and thanked riders, supporters, family and friends for putting on a great show.

"Riders are ready for trying conditions at Peaks Challenge, but this year Falls Creek really turned on the perfect weather for all of the riders and supporters to enjoy a return to full capacity bike riding events" said Ms Borchers.

"A big thank you goes out to our always-amazing hosts at Falls Creek, as well as all of our event partners for helping pull off the most exciting Peaks in recent memory.

"Bicycle Network would also like to extend a special thank you to nearly 150 volunteers stationed at the village and around the course, who dedicated their time to make sure the riders had the best day possible on the bike."

Click here to see event timing.

Follow @bicycle_network and #ThisIsPeaks on social media for photos and updates from the day as it happened. 

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