Kate: 50, health and safety professional.

I have been riding for much of my life. Dinking my friend on her Malvern Star step through and riding my own dragster until it literally fell apart in my primary school years. Touring on my mother’s racer and riding my steel frame mountain bike around my home town in the 1990s. Buying my first carbon road bike four years ago. A nine to five job means I can’t always get out on the bike as much as I would like but every weekend or when the opportunity presents itself I am riding around Melbourne and surrounds.

Jacqui: 32, I work in student recruitment for a university.

Cycling since 2014 – got into riding after a friend of a friend saw me post my spin class workouts on social media and invited me to join her on the road! In 2017 I’m aiming to ride 6000km, averaging 500km a month which will be a mix of work commutes and longer weekend rides. I own one road bike. I’m also hoping 2017 will be the year I make friends with hills – I still hate climbing although I love descending, so I guess it’s worth it!

Kate: The bike is freedom especially when out in the countryside away from city noise and chaos. Cycling not only keeps me fit but it’s where a lot of thinking and reflection is done. I ride with a group (on the occasions we do manage to organise a group ride!!), close friends and also a fair bit of solo riding. I relish the challenges and rewards in equal measure that climbing brings and am gradually learning to make the wind my friend.

Jacqui: I ride for fitness and all the social aspects including the cycling trips away like our “5P5D” trip. I much prefer riding with friends although I enjoy that riding is both a team and an individual pursuit – if no one else is free I can always do a solo ride. I’ve enjoyed challenging myself physically and mentally to complete some really tough rides and I get a strong sense of personal achievement from that.

Kate: I don’t see being a woman and cycling as presenting any particular challenge to me. Having grown up with six brothers it was never a case of ‘I can’t do what they do’. I just went out and did it. I don’t think I’ve ever had to prove myself. I ride for the enjoyment I get from being on the bike with a great group of likeminded people who are supportive and have probably become some of my closest friends. Tips for women new to cycling. Go and do it, challenge yourself, find your strengths and use them. Get to know your bike and at the very least … learn how to change a tyre … a man is also not a bike cleaning plan!

Jacqui: I don’t really notice any barriers although it can be intimidating when you’re surrounded by lycra-clad whippets who don’t give you the time of day – but I’d expect you’d get that in any sport. I am really lucky to have found a wonderfully supportive group I ride with – a range of different ages and abilities (I am the baby in all respects – age, skill level and experience). Tips for women new to cycling: find a great local bike shop (LBS) with staff who will answer your questions and give you good advice regardless of your gender.

Kate: Falls Creek was the first mountain I rode in 2013 with my then partner and Buffalo was the first solo climb I did. Since then I have ridden 6 of the 7 Peaks (yet to conquer Baw Baw) on more than one occasion. My favourites would have to be Falls Creek for the environment and nice climb and Hotham for the respect that it commands. My most memorable and challenging experience of the 7 Peaks was when my friend Jacqui and I completed ‘5 Peaks in 5 Days’. We went into it not really expecting that we would be successful as it rained for the first three peaks (Lake Mountain, Buller and Falls Creek) which made for somewhat challenging descents (descending not being my greatest forte). I had only ever ridden two of the peaks consecutively (Falls Creek and Hotham) a year previously so was not really sure whether physically and mentally I had what it would take to complete all five in five days. But complete them we did! Totally could not have done it without Jacqui and the encouragement and support from Heath, Greg and Ian in our cycling group who were doing their own ‘7 Peaks in 4 Days’ challenge at the same time.

Jacqui: My friend Kate and I completed our own personal challenge “5 Peaks in 5 Days (5P5D)” which was born out of an extreme challenge that some of the guys in our group had been planning (to ride all 7 peaks in 4 days without ever getting in a car). What started as us joining the trip and riding here and there turned into quite the junket (there was even a spreadsheet involved!) I didn’t actually think I would do it but we persevered through three days of rain, fog and the mental fatigue and completed 5 peaks in 5 days together.

Day 1 28/12/16: Lake Mountain (in the rain)

Day 2 29/12/16: Mt Buller (in the rain and fog)

Day 3 30/12/16: Falls Creek (in the rain)

Day 4 31/12/2016: Mt Hotham

Day 5 01/01/2017: Mt Buffalo

My favourite was Mt Buffalo – I had done it before and this time around I felt stronger and much more positive about it, probably because it was the final peak! My least favourite was Mt Hotham – I had also done it before but I was quite overwhelmed by the steep sections and the length of it, and mentally I was struggling. After shedding a few tears and walking up the steep sections I eventually made it. I couldn’t have done it without the support of Kate and our friend Greg who rode some of the way with us.

Kate: So lucky to have North Eastern Victoria and the mountains on our doorstep. It is something special – a beautiful alpine region with welcoming and friendly locals and businesses. Off the bike we can sample the wide range of food and drink options on offer – wineries, pub meals (Whitfield Pub and Tolmie Pub), Bright Brewery, Café Velo, Tomahawks, Flour and Water restaurant…the list goes on…

When doing 5 Peaks in 5 Days we ate something different at the top of each mountain (cue the best vanilla slice at the top of Falls Creek and carrot cake at the top of Lake Mountain) culminating in New Year’s Eve at the top of Falls Creek with dinner at ‘Milch’. Never got to ring in the new year – too tired!

Jacqui: New Year’s Eve at the top of Falls Creek was wonderful – we had a delicious dinner with a fantastic group of friends and I was asleep by the time my head touched the pillow at 11:45pm – I could not keep my eyes open for another minute! Food was definitely a big feature of the trip – the spreadsheet included not only the ride plans, but the lunch and dinner plans too! The beautiful scenery is always a winner.

Search #5P5D on instagram to see photos from our trip.