Nearly 1,000 riders from across Australia enjoyed perfect conditions for the first Peaks Challenge Gold Coast.
In near-perfect conditions, the pristine, sub-tropical rainforests of the Gold Coast hinterland proved the ultimate test for riders in Bicycle Network’s and Bicycle Queensland’s first Peaks Challenge Gold Coast.
Despite frosty conditions, nearly 1,000 riders rolled up to the start line at Metricon Stadium, ready to conquer the 235km circuit, which included five ascents and more than 4,000 vertical metres of climbing.
With lights on, valet bags packed and a Finisher’s Jersey on their minds, nervous anticipation soon gave way to excitement as riders set off for the hills, rolling out at 6am.
With the promise of sunshine ahead, riders set a cracking pace to reach the base of the first climb, Henri Robert Drive, well ahead of the cut-offs. Arguably the toughest climb of the day, the notorious Henri Robert Drive is a sharp, steep climb up the eastern side of Mount Tamborine (7.5km, 492 vertical metres with sections that reach gradients of 18%). The average climb time for peak one was 40 minutes and 29 seconds.
Next up was the beautiful but brutal climb of Beechmont, rising 428 vertical metres over its 7.2 kilometres. After cresting the summit of Beechmont, with more than 2,000 vertical metres already under their belts, stunning views and a seemingly endless descent greeted riders as they approached the halfway mark of Peaks Challenge Gold Coast.
Lunch of a veggie wrap was a quick reprieve for weary legs before the route took riders back inland for the final three climbs of the day – Springbrook (7.7km, 4.8% average gradient), Natural Bridge (5.3km, 4.2% average gradient) and Tomewin (4.4km, 7.4% average gradient).
Postcard-worthy views served as some small distraction from the unrelenting grind. With five peaks now conquered, the challenge still wasn’t quite over. Event organisers Bicycle Network and Bicycle Queensland threw in some more sneaky pinches in the final 25 kilometres (at points reaching maximum gradients of 22%) to really test riders’ training and preparation.
There were many weary smiles as more than 89% of participants finished the ride within the 12 hour deadline. This is a huge achievement given that nearly 70% of riders were new to any Peaks Challenge series event.
On cue, Lanterne Rouge riders Anna and Bill crossed the finish line to thunderous applause (and some well-timed fireworks) at 6:30pm, signalling the end of the ride.
Debates raged at the finish line at RACV Royal Pines on whether the ride matched the toughness of its predecessor Peaks Challenge Falls Creek. The resounding conclusion was that the route certainly proved itself as “Peaks Challenge worthy”.
Whether you finished or not, a massive congratulations and thank you to all riders, volunteers, event partners (Winners and Hydralyte Sports), mechanical support (The Rolling Fix) and staff who took part in the first Peaks Challenge Gold Coast event and helped make it an outstanding success.
We’d also like to extend a special thank you to the following groups who without their support the event would not be possible: Queensland Police Service, New South Wales Police Force, City of Gold Coast, Scenic Rim Regional Council, Tweed Shire, Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland), Metricon Stadium and RACV Royal Pines Resort.
Now we throw down the challenge – will you become Peaks Elite?
Next event: Peaks Challenge Cradle Mountain, 1 November 2015
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