Three Peaks

Taryn Heather

You may not have heard of Taryn Heather, though it’s more than likely you’ve seen her in finish line photos. She has a double degree in Exercise Science and Psychology and postgraduate studies in Psychology, and currently works for the Department of Education as a Psychologist.

Three Peaks

Taryn Heather

You may not have heard of Taryn Heather, though it’s more than likely you’ve seen her in finish line photos. She has a double degree in Exercise Science and Psychology and postgraduate studies in Psychology, and currently works for the Department of Education as a Psychologist.

To her team mates she is the ultimate domestique, not in the way that her skillset or talent is less than say the GC rider nor her ability to win a bike race, but in her attitude and determination to put everything on the line to ensure the team achieves their goal. Some would say she is one of the most underrated female amateur cyclists on the National circuit – one who casts aside fanfare and lets her aggressive style of racing do the talking rather than her social media platform. How can we make these observations, well Taryn has been representing Specialized Women’s Racing Team since 2015, and we’ve never witnessed someone race as selflessly as Taryn and someone with her talent who is so willing to put her own personal aspirations aside. In fact, she’s so reliable that just recently the Specialized Women’s Racing Director Sportif, Mark Brady, has given her the affectionate title of the Post Woman… Because she just always delivers.

Just to name a few achievements in the first 4 months of 2019 so far; 11th at Nationals Road Race, 8th overall at the Women’s Tour Down Under,  2nd Melbourne to Warnambool, Currently 2nd overall in the National Road Series.

So it was no surprise, when Taryn lined up to take on 3 Peaks Falls Creek in Victoria, a challenge of 235km with 4,000+m of climbing through the Victorian Alps, where she wasn’t riding for the team and was off the leash to ride as hard or as technical as she wished, that she wasn’t only the first female to cross the line, but smashed the previous course record and is the first female to go under 8 hours for the event.

We catch up with Taryn to get an insight into how the day unfolded.

 

What was the goal leading into the event?

To be honest I liked the idea of trying to go for the QOMs and get some cash* but I am also super competitive and like to set myself goals so I wanted to try and go sub 8.5 hours. I had tossed around the thought of going sub 8 but was informed by a few people (prior to the event) that that goal may be a little unrealistic.

I guess my goal was to ride hard and see what happens.

(*Prize money from the event organisers Bicycling Network, was to be awarded for the fastest female and male up the three significant climbs … But controversially not the fastest overall time)

Did you significantly change your training to focus on the increased distance and climbing elevation?

No, not really. I hadn’t planned on riding Peaks Challenge Falls Creek (3 Peaks) but after completing the Melbourne to Warrnambool, and having so much fun, I decided Peaks Challenge was my next challenge. With a coach like mine, I always knew I would make the distance and had the mental toughness (for those who know Michael Freiburg, you know that you have to be pretty tough to get through some of his training sessions).  I had done a lot of long kms and climbing over the summer period and knew this would come in handy.

When did you think you could break 8 hrs?

After the decent of Falls and 30km into the ride, I told myself I could break 8 hours. I continued to tell myself this for the entire ride, with only a 5 minute period climbing the back of Falls (205km into the ride) where I questioned if I was insane for thinking I could ride that fast.

 

There was significant prize money up grabs for the fastest QOM times but not the overall, why did you not just focus on this?

Because I am a bike racer! My competitive side came out and when there is an overall win and a record on the line, I would choose that over money every time.

 

How has the recovery been since the event?

The week following 3 Peaks I felt fantastic and kept training (against the advice of my coach) and didn’t notice any signs of fatigue. Rookie mistake…. It hit me about 1.5 weeks after the event. It felt like I had been hit by a truck. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I have had a couple of easier weeks on the bike and am feeling recovered and pumped for the first NRS race in Brisbane this weekend.

(Editor note: Taryn went on to be arguably the most aggressive rider during Tour de Brisbane and created the winning break where she placed 2nd overall).

 

Advice for other riders looking to complete 3 Peaks?

It is unquestionably a tough ride but so worth it to have that feeling of accomplishment at the end of it. Do not underestimate the power of your mine … Believe in yourself and continue to be positive. Be committed and positive about your training and carry that through to the event.

My only other advice would be to take a friend along for the ride. To have a friend by your side to share the highs and the lows of training and the day of the event would make it even more special.

 

What are your goals and aspirations for the year ahead?

  • Assist Specialized Women’s Racing to have a successful season and finish as the No.1 team in the NRS.
  • To mentor some of our younger riders on the team and watch them develop and strive to achieve their personal goals.
  • To continue to have fun riding bikes with some of the most inspiring and dedicated women I know.

 

We wish Taryn all the best for this coming season, to stay up to date be sure to follow the Specialized Women's Racing Team here.

Photographers
Kye Wylde
Kirsty Baxter