250Km ACE –
Alpine Classic Extreme – 3 Climbs – 4200m of climbing – 2 start times
One of the most spectacular and testing loop rides in Australia.
In 2017 there are no qualifying requirements, but be aware that this is an extremely challenging ride in remote areas, requiring optimum levels of fitness and preparation. Underestimating the preparation required is not smart.
Lighting requirements apply for riders starting at 4:00 am and a reflective vest must be worn outside daylight hours (this includes late finishers).
Ride Route – Bright – Mount Hotham – Omeo – Anglers Rest – Falls Creek – Mount Beauty – Bright
Start Time – 4:00 am or 6:20am
Finish Time – 8:30pm for both start times
Maximum Time Allowed – 16.30 hours for the 4am start – 14.10 hours for the 6.20am start.
– $220 Early Bird – to 30/11/16
– $265 (Standard ) – 01/12/16 to 08/1/2107
– $295 (Late) – 09/1/2017 to 27/1/2017
A 4:00 am start from Howitt Park allows you to enjoy the splendor of a sunrise over Mt Hotham and hit the Back of Falls as early as possible, but a 6.20 start is available if you only want to ride in daylight hours…
It’s a 25km false flat from Bright to Harrietville, great for warming up the legs before the start of the 28km climb up to Mount Hotham. The first 10km are very tough (as are the final km’s after the Entrance Station portables), but the smell of the forest is beautiful at this time of day. The first official water point is at Chain Bay 4, Star Extended Spur, approximately 17km up from Harrietville. It’s starting to get light, the birds are waking up, but the impact of the 2013 bushfires is still apparent! At this point you are still fresh, but are aware that you need to save your legs for later in the day, so don’t push too hard as you begin the final testing kms to Mount Hotham.
After a ghost like ride through Hotham Village, the rolling 13km push to Dinner Plain is majestic, with the sun coming up and sweeping views across the High Plains.
Hobbit’s breakfast is at the Dinner Plain Control and is followed by 22km of rolling descent to Cobungra Station. There could be livestock anywhere along this section of road, so be vigilant. There is a bit of a climb past Cobungra, before the very steep windy descent to Omeo for the second control – (at the Footy Ground – RHS top of the hill, before you leave town). Even if you aren’t hungry after the stop at Dinner Plain, you should collect food here to get you through the long and very hard section to Falls Creek.
From Omeo, you follow the river valley on the Omeo Valley Highway, a truly gorgeous section of road to Anglers Rest, a hidden gem and your only place to buy anything before Falls Creek. Along this stretch, there are a couple of bike eating bridges, so take care and be prepared to get off and walk for maximum safety!
The turnoff to the Bogong High Plains Road is a little over 10km beyond Anglers Rest – the dreaded Back of Falls! – It’s steep, it’s hot and you have 150km in your legs already. Fill up with water at Shannon Vale near the bottom and grind the 21km up to the High Plains!
Another water stop at the Raspberry Hill campground, on the LHS near the top, means the hardest climbs of the course are behind you. Ahead an undulating ride over the spectacular high plains (with a very good chance of a head wind), across the dam wall and into Falls Creek.
Refresh and replenish at the Falls Creek control then set off on the descent to Mount Beauty. Before you know it, you’re in Mount Beauty and Tawonga Gap is looming. The last water stop is a couple of kilometres up the hill and provides an excuse for a welcome rest if needed.
Tawonga Gap has been elevated to the status of a Peak by some, but is a pimple in comparison to what has already been climbed. However the descent on the Bright side can be deceptive and has the highest incidence of cycle accidents in the Alpine area. A number of events including the Tour of Bright, have had major accidents on it! Tightening bends, uneven road surfaces, adverse cambers and rock faces have all seen the undoing of a large number of riders. Being fatigued on this descent will likely require greater concentration/care and maybe a bit less speed to compensate for diminished reaction times. The advisory speed signs on bends for motorised vehicles can provide good advice for cyclists too.
Finish where you started in Howitt Park and catch up with family and friends to replenish those depleted carbo stores!
Enjoy – congratulations!
Ride Difficulty – Very Hard –
It is not just the 250km distance with 4200metres of climbing and descending, but also the variations of the Alpine climate that will test you. Even though this ride is held at the height of summer, it is not uncommon for conditions at Mount Hotham and Falls Creek to be freezing, maybe even snowing, when the heat is stifling in the valleys. Make sure you have adequate clothing for differing conditions. Proper physical and mental preparation is very important, together with a “pace yourself” approach. The only person you are racing is yourself, as the task is simply to finish safely, within the time limit.
On all Alpine roads, you will find steep sections, blind corners, uncertain and uneven road surfaces, loose gravel, slippery spots (from water, vehicle or Eucalyptus deposits), fallen trees or branches and unexpected wildlife, (all often mid corner). Please take care and be extremely vigilant whilst braking and cornering, especially when descending.
Controls – see Control locations
Bright, Dinner Plain (catered), Omeo (catered), Falls Creek (catered), Bright
Water Points – see Food and Water Map
17km up from Harrietville, Chain Bay 4, Star Extended Spur.
Dinner Plain (67.4km),
Shannon Vale x 2 (153km and 158km),
Raspberry Hill Campground(172km),
Falls Creek (190km),
Tawonga Gap (227km).
Dinner Plain, Omeo Football Club, Falls Creek.
ACE Bike & Clothing
Latest Weather – Click here – to check the current weather in Omeo, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek.
Mobile Phone Coverage –
Reasonable reception Bright to Omeo – virtually no coverage between Omeo and Raspberry Hill (“The dark side”) – limited coverage between Raspberry Hill and Falls Creek – reasonable reception Falls Creek to Bright.