Triple Peaks Challenge – Walk or Run? Nah – do it on your Mountain Bike!
The MCL Construction Triple Peaks Challenge is a huge mountain biking, running, and walking event over three big-ass peaks here in Hawke’s Bay every March. It’s somewhat of an institution, having been going for 30 years. Most local mountain bikers have had a crack at it, either completing it solo or as part of a team. Whether it’s the unexpected routes, river crossings, or previously unridden terrain there’s always a story to be had there.
While part of the challenge is no doubt just lasting the distance (a 56 km adventure almost entirely off sealed road), a big attraction for mountain bikers is access to fresh new ground, as much of the event is raced over privately owned farmland. The views are stunning if you take the time to look up too.
As a mountain biking family this event has always been significant to us, whether we were riding ourselves or supporting others. It’s been in our lives almost as long as we can remember. Working in the biking world, we unhesitatingly support the organisers with the event’s promotion, prize sponsorship at the gold level (a MTB to giveaway) and in previous years as a venue for event registration (this year we’re going posh for rego at the new Porter’s Hotel). This event is good for people, good for mountain biking, good for Havelock North.
Now in 2018 it feels like the Triple Peaks Challenge is growing up. The organisation has been taken over by a talented duo, Richard (Ricko) Mills and Emma Buttle, both of whom are mountain bikers. This can only mean good things for the riders, especially with Ricko’s background as a NZ Mountain Biking Commissaire. You don’t get to be a commissaire without a hell of a lot of track inspections, and a practical understanding of the rules for a fair race.
The latest breaking news from the race directors is the new option of just riding Mt Erin as a solo race. Perfect for those of you out that don’t back yourself for a hard hot 50 km day but want to ride on new trails across private land on a seldom ridden mountain with stunning views and different landscapes. Check out the One Peak Explorer if you can’t find any team mates for the full event. You still need to train hard for hill work as this leg has the largest proportion of climbing. Plus a river crossing. What – I didn’t say it would be easy!
I recommend you read the course info from event co-director Ricko Mills (on the Triple Peaks website). Heads up, if you don’t know this guy, he is a mountain biker with a sense of humour. You are expected to carry your bike up in at least two of the stages. My advice is to get your climbing chain rings dialled in so you can smash your way up.
To practice your descents, Ricko suggests you hit the Te Mata Peak tracks from the Saddle Car Park to the Main Gates (underneath the Peak House – NOT the new uphill only track!). These are shared tracks so remain in control. For the out of town entrants something like Mt Maunganui at full noise or some of the steeper tracks on Mt Vic in Wellington.When descending keep OFF your front brake as much as possible! Lower your saddle – a dropper post comes in handy about now – and hang your weight more over the rear tire. Hands light on the bars. And smile. You’re having fun!