Having spent the best part of two decades in the advertising business, I’ve long been an admirer of the way Victorian Tourism have gone about their business. Queensland do okay, NT and SA have had their moments, and NSW keeps on trying with varying degrees of success. But it’s the Vics who, for mine, have consistently been the domestic benchmark for many years. Which brings me back to cycling and the super simple super clever 7 Peaks Challenge, the latest edition of which began on 18 October and runs until 31 March next year.
If you’ve not come across it before, it’s an initiative run by Victoria’s Beechworth-based Tourism North East, designed to attract cashed-up cyclists to the Victorian Highlands. (If tourism bodies in other parts of the country were smart, they’d do well to copy it too.)
In a nutshell, 7 Peaks encourages riders of all abilities to test themselves against seven of Australia’s most testing alpine climbs in and around the Victorian Alps. Unlike some of the epic one-day sportifs, the beauty of 7 Peaks is you decide how and when you climb them. Hard core riders can do them all in quick succession, possibly on the same trip. Mere mortals like the rest of us can space things out nicely over the 5 months, giving our legs more than enough time to recover before tackling the next epic ascent.
There are prizes on offer for riders who reach each summit, as well as those who climb more than four. And should you complete all seven peaks in the allotted time window, you even get a finishers’ jersey to show off to all your mates.
Tailormade for GPS-based riding, it’s no huge surprise that in 2013/14 the 7 Peaks Alpine Ascent Challenge has a series of new Strava segments for the seven designated climbs – Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buffalo, Mt Buller, Dinner Plain, Lake Mountain, Falls Creek and Hotham. They’ve also enlisted local boy done good, Simon Gerrans, as 7 Peaks ambassador who offers up some personal training tips on the 7 Peaks website. Everything the GreenEDGE gun says makes total sense. Whether it does you any good when you’re dying half-way up Mt Hotham, well, that’s a different story. Just remember what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
If you want to be a part of it, just register for your free 7 Peaks Passport at the website or at the top of your first climb. I’ve just got mine in the post, and am heading down to Mansfield to tackle the 16km Mt Buller climb next weekend. Possibly twice. Given this is roughly twice as far as my previous longest climb, it should make for an interesting post-ride report. Stay tuned…