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The 3 Peaks challenged and conquered again

10 March, 2014

Riders showed up tougher than ever to conquer Australia’s toughest bike ride. Simon Vincett reports from the finish line of the SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge 2014. 

Photo by Simon Vincett

Darren Reeks of Cowra, NSW. Photo by Simon Vincett

In the best weather ever for the event, an impressively fit and well prepared bunch of riders assembled for the 2014 running of the Scody 3 Peaks Challenge. By thirteen hours after the start, when the Lantern Rouge back marker officially closed the route, a host of new records had been set.

“The calibre of the rider has definitely improved,” says Darren Allen, General Manager of Rides for Bicycle Network. “Average speed is on the increase and at the same time we had a fantastic completion rate.”

An impressive 92% of the nearly 1,800 2014 starters finished the 235-kilometre route, with it’s three major climbs of Tawonga Gap, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek.

“They’ve obviously done their preparation and followed our training plans,” Allen suggests.

The average time to climb the first peak of Tawonga Gap was 33.01, which was 31 seconds faster than 2012, the last year when the ride took the original route. The average climb time for Mt Hotham was 2:04:10, 2 mins faster than 2012.

There were also more people aiming for a sub-ten-hour completion of the ride. For instance, the quickest climb of Mt Hotham, the second peak,was 1:22:17, which was 7 mins faster than 2012. 

The first rider to finish was Steve Cunningham, former professional rider from Adelaide, who completed the event in 7 hours and 35 minutes, a record for the course.

The first woman to finish was Tani Ruckle, from Mossman, NSW, in a time of 9 hours 16 minutes. Ruckle is 52 and a silver medalist in the Auckland Commonwealth Games in long-distance running.

In another record, 11% of the 2014 field were women, an increase from 5% in 2013.

The 2014 event sold out a month before running, which is the first time in the event’s history In 2013, the event was listed in Global Cycling Network’s Top 10 Best Sportives and Gran Fondos – one of only two events in the list outside of Europe. More than half the riders were from outside Victoria and some came from overseas as well, with entrants from South Africa, Singapore, Scotland, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Canada,

Liz Joiner was riding for the first time in 2014 and came in in under 12 hours. “I felt fine at Dinner Plain and I was raring to go.  The climb up Falls wasn’t as bad as I expected but it’s still a huge effort. My legs felt fine but they just weren’t putting out any power – it’s like they were empty.”

Liz Joiner, Scody 3 Peaks 2014 finisher. Photo by Simon Vincett

Liz Joiner, Scody 3 Peaks 2014 finisher. Photo by Simon Vincett

Check out the recently released event highlights video:

Share your experience of the SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge onTwitter #3Peaks14.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. Tony Quinney permalink
    11 March, 2014 10:00 am

    I would like to congratulate the organisers of the event as it without doubt the best I have ever been in. This was the comment from many of my fellow riders. Sure it was tough but the people involved were all great. A wonderful job well done.

  2. 11 March, 2014 1:38 pm

    Reblogged this on Australian Biathlon News and commented:
    3 Peaks takes in Mt Hotham, the home of Australian Biathlon

  3. 11 March, 2014 2:42 pm

    Bicycle Network, you have impressed us all again with another great event. Our guests felt the same. Some have sworn they’ll still have a challenge to face and will be back. Others have given it a second or third go and felt it isn’t getting any easier and won’t be but will inspire others to tackle the challenge.
    Thank you for making Falls Creek part of this epic experience for riders from all over to come and experience “our backyard” and see its beauty and its challenges!
    Well done EVERYONE for taking this on, completing the challenge, supporting those that took part and making this event happen.

  4. Deborah Makin permalink
    11 March, 2014 5:17 pm

    Congratulations on a superbly run event! The staff, volunteers and marshals were all very attentive, friendly and encouraging! Thank you!

    Lunch and post event pasta was awesome. It was also great to see this event attracting a growing field of strong female riders. Well done to all that tackled the challenge!

  5. Jennifer richmond permalink
    11 March, 2014 8:08 pm

    The name of the guy in the first photo riding under the finish sign is Darren Reeks, he is from Cowra NSW and came in 19 th!!! Awesome effort!

    • 13 March, 2014 1:10 pm

      Thanks for the ID. Well done Darren on a big effort but still looking fresh at the end: a worthy pin-up for the event.

  6. Mick Kirk permalink
    11 March, 2014 8:40 pm

    It was a great weekend but tough, but could only be achieved with the support and commitment of all the volunteers and those who supported all the riders – ‘ The Domestiques’ and the Organisers. On a personal note I would like to thank David Heatley for all his supportive emails and training plan. Owe you a beer my friend! A special thanks too all at Falls Creek Resort.

  7. Petro Jonck permalink
    12 March, 2014 6:01 pm

    It was awesome – Epic, challenging and well organized! Every km was worth it! I’ll be back to do it again! A big thank you to everyone behind the scenes as well as those that waited for us on the road!!

  8. David Argent permalink
    12 March, 2014 6:54 pm

    There was also a blind guy on the back of a tandem riding in the event – but he didn’t rate a mention??

    • 13 March, 2014 1:05 pm

      Right you are, awesome effort from him and his pilot team. Honestly, it was really moving to see what an achievement it was for the finishers, particularly those at closer to the 13 hour deadline.

      • 4 August, 2014 4:37 pm

        My vision-impaired mate Leon rode the 2012 event with me on a tandem in 12hrs 16mins. Good to see another tandem make it.

  9. JOAN permalink
    12 March, 2014 11:04 pm

    Thanks to all the volunteers and the organisers. You make this event really enjoyable. Well done. See you next year again 🙂

  10. Mike permalink
    13 March, 2014 9:44 am

    Well done BV & 3 Peaks team, beautifully organized. Every stop, every turn was covered, great atmosphere at start, fantastic at the end. Pasta and Coke at finish were perfectly timed. You’ve set a new standard for sportive events!

    Food, water out on course excellent and the Hydralyte got me through the 10 hours, must have drank about 10 bottles of it with no upset stomach. Winners bars good as well. Great to see Marshalls on motorbikes keeping an eye on things. Your high level of organisation allowed us to focus on the riding, it’s a gruelling event and being able to focus 100% on riding made it a wonderful cycling experience.

    I have only one`suggestion, ditch the ‘moronic comments from Hells500 wannabes on Back of Falls’ – do we really need this – why give this group status – what’s their contribution to the event apart from smart aleck comments? I would have preferred useful information such as a K marker or grade marker. Cheers Mike.

    • Geoff permalink
      14 March, 2014 11:22 am

      Booooooooo! to you Mike, need to lighten up Pal most people enjoyed the giggle going up the BoF!

      • Paul permalink
        14 March, 2014 12:08 pm

        I enjoyed the carrot ahead one, no one was there at the ‘hugs’ sign (sad face), the lap 1 of 2 scared me, the rest confused me, but probably took my mind off the climb though! First time I’d been up the back of falls..

    • James permalink
      16 March, 2014 4:30 pm

      I think what the Hells 500 group has done with the The Climbing Cyclist has contributed so much to this sport. They have grown the 7 peaks series massively, ensuring many many additional riders complete climbs that they would have thought impossible. They have made me book multiple nights of accommodation in areas that I would not normally travel and to me they have made the 3 Peaks Challenge that once would have been just a dream a possibility (by their support in the FREE series of supported rides). They have taken their passion and made it a mission of theirs to share it with thousands. I love the signs and I hope Hells 500 keeps up the great work!

  11. Paul permalink
    13 March, 2014 4:04 pm

    The satisfaction of crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings you can imagine. The cheers and support from the crowd at end, capped off a perfect day.

    I hope the chap that was only about 2 km out of falls and looking like he had hit the wall was able to complete the epic. One of the TFM crew was with him trying to will him on, well done TFM..

    Congratulations to all involved in organizing and running the event!!

  12. John Hayes permalink
    18 March, 2014 10:35 am

    I have never been so mentally challenged over 10 hrs. It is very emotional looking back at your short video . Thank you to all the organisers ,volenteers ,and Falls Creek it is something I won’t forget for a long time see you next year.

  13. Steve Taylor permalink
    24 June, 2014 5:50 am

    What a great event!! We have a similar one in the UK – still called a three peaks challenge but climbing up the three highest mountains in the UK. I’m doing one next year for WellChild ( where you have 36 hours to climb all three – should be a great personal challenge with the benefit of being a brilliant cause as well.


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