They came, they rode, they felt satisfied. It was a weekend designed for bike riding in Victoria’s High Country. Five days before the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek 2022, I was asked, ‘Would you like to ride?’ Of course. This is my story…
– A blog and video by Rob Arnold
At the end of it all, I sat on a wall overlooking the village at Falls Creek. Down the road a little was the finishing structure. I’d seen it 10 hours (and a bit) earlier as I rolled away for a ride that I’ll remember for a long time. I saw it again after I rode down the hill leading to the final corner.
The finish was pleasant. The vibe brilliant and I felt like more of a bike rider than I am. People cheered me as I took the left-hander and then I started to think about what I’d do when I rolled over the line, “a ‘Peaker’”.
In the end, I raised my right hand and pointed my index finger… towards nothing, signifying nothing. But I felt an expression of some kind was warranted. It wasn’t a victory salute, it was just an acknowledgement: I’ve done something cool. (Phew.)
Finishing the Peaks Challenge felt like a reward. I’d done something I wasn’t sure I was able to do. Yes, I like to ride my bike. And yep, I’ve been lucky this summer as I’ve been able to ride a lot. I’m at my teenage weight, but I’m now 51. And doubt creeps up just like age. Could I? Would I? I’d at least try, and see how it went.
I’m happy to say it went well. It was better than good, it was memorable in many ways and I’ll not be able to fully express how doing a long ride in a beautiful location has helped me. This was a day that came quickly and gave me an experience that I’ll cherish. I finished. There was a reward. It isn’t a financial gain or any trophy to display, it is the gift of satisfaction blended with the reality of seeing what the beautiful thing we know as ‘the bike’ can do.
I have long believed that cycling brings people together. And on the weekend, I saw that in action. It was a time when a whole town – a whole region – came together and hosted bike riders and made them feel welcome on roads that beg to be ridden… again and again and again, etc.
Falls Creek, take a bow. Victoria’s High Country: I’ll be back… thanks for the experience. (If we could kindly repeat that kind of weather again in 2023, I’ll be very happy.)
Two wheels, a chain, a frame and fork, some components and something to hold onto and sit on… there’s much more to The Bike than listing a few items that make it one. But, in relative terms – in this complex world of ours – it is a simple machine, and it does wonders for the soul.
I got on my bike. I went for a ride. I finished. But that’s not the victory. The real triumph was in seeing what could happen when cycling becomes a focal point, and our bikes are used to carry us to beautiful places while we meet strangers and talk about our lives and ride.
Sometimes you don’t need words. There were many interactions on the journey from Falls Creek to Falls Creeks – the long, beautiful, challenging way – and not all of them verbal.
You know who you are: I saw you too. A little breathless at the time, it wasn’t possible to say so, but I know you meant it, just as I did even though nothing was said.
‘Good riding! We’re going to do this. I’m here if you need any help.’
No one verbalised this to me, but I kept going, knowing that if I did stop, those who also had the thought-bubble linger overhead while we rode silently side-by-side, would be there. Help would be on hand if it was needed because encouragement was all around. And, as it so often turns out, that is often all we need.
I know you’re there for me mate, back at ya!
‘Good riding.’ It was.
‘We’re going to do this.’ We did.
‘I’m here if you need any help.’ So am I.
It was a good weekend. It was a cycling challenge. It was prowess and courage on display. And it offers a strong reminder that there’s a big community of us who like doing this beautiful thing called bike riding.
Please click play on my videos from the weekend and watch the story of my ride… and, if you like them, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
(If you feature in them: thank you for being part of a brilliant cast in a few little films I’m really quite proud of.)
– By Rob Arnold
PS. Oh, for the record: 10hr19min. I did stop quite a bit. I certainly ate a lot. And I do like to have a look around when I’m riding my bike. I am 51. For me now, it’s pacing not racing… but I’m going okay. Next year: under 10. What about you?
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