Taupo Enduro!

I can now say I have biked two laps around Lake Taupo after completing the 320 km Taupo Enduro! Woot! I must say, after finishing the race, I didn’t feel overly sore just tired. I guess that will be due to the 12 hours and 31 minutes I was out on the bike for!

The race kicked off at 0130 h. You read correctly. 1:30 am in the fricken morning! They do this so that the multiple lap enduro cyclists end up finishing around about the same time as the single lap riders.

Most of the first lap is in the dark it is essential to have good bike lights. The 1W LED front light that I had ended up being sufficient but you wouldn’t want to use anything weaker. That’s because the course is out in the wop wops with no street lighting or civilisation what so ever. High visibility clothing is also required, as are thermal layers as it was quite nippy out there.

I’ll confess. I was a little under-prepared for the event. I hadn’t biked in the dark before. Not to mention only having experienced the course through a Youtube video. During the build up to the race I intended to do some night rights but didn’t carry through. It took a little while to get used to night riding, but after getting over my nerves I actually enjoyed it more than biking in the day time! Perhaps it was something novel and made things more interesting. You know, not being able to see what is around the corner and not knowing how fast you were actually going down the hills.

I started the race carrying enough supplies to make it around once, with the exception of water. My bike only has space for two water bottles and I was anticipating that I would need more than 1500 mL of fluid. I found that I didn’t end up drinking or eating as much as I thought I would, particularly during the first lap.

If you are contemplating doing the enduro at some point, be warned! Although there is the occasional sage car along the route, there wasn’t any drink stations that were operating on the first lap. My advice is that you should carry all of your food and water that you think you’ll need for the first lap. Perhaps you might need fit a third drink bottle holder to your bike?

I had finished the first lap in 5:45 and headed back to the back packers to refuel, freshen up and change clothes. I was feeling surprisingly alive after doing 160 km of a reasonably hilly course. Must have been that cool morning fresh air. I then went back on track and began the second lap.

At this time the solo riders were being released in waves. Despite being given heaps of encouragement and moral support from the solo riders, I found the next 40 km of the second lap demeaning. Riders were passing me left right and centre! Although I could almost keep up on the flats, their fresh legs breezed past my already fatigued ones on the ascents. Several bunches past me before I eventually latched onto a group who were riding at a pace I could maintain.

For me, the first half of the second lap felt like an eternity. Although I was still able to pedal, I remember frequently looking at my bike’s odometer and somehow wishing 10 km had lapsed since I had last looked at it a minute ago. But it didn’t happened. I just kept soldiering away and the road slowly rolled by.

Fortunately, the remaining half of the second lap went much quicker. The hard hilly part of the course was over and I was now on the fast and flat home stretch. Thus the second half of the course whizzed by. I didn’t have any problems making it up Hatepe Hill for the second and final time.

Before I knew it, the finish line was only 10 km away. By this stage the group had spread out. I guess everyone wanted to improve on their last years time and were gunning it. I put what was remaining in the tank to use and actually managed to pass people for a change. With the finish line now in sight, I was overcome with joy as I crossed the finish line.

Taupo Enduro. Done!

Thoughts before the Taupo Enduro

A month or so ago I signed up for the Taupo Challenge. The dilemma at the time was what category to enter in. I eventually settled the two lap enduro race. My reasoning for entering this 320 km bike race, despite not having done the Taupo Challenge before, was as follows:

  1. It’s cheaper by the lap! Both the Solo 160 km and the two lap 320 km Enduro race cost $110.
  2. I already know I can survive a 160 km ride after doing a 191 km one back in May.
  3. I wanted to how sane my mind would be after exercising for a similar length of time to an Ironman.
  4. Bragging rights.

I’ve arrived early down in Taupo. The enduro starts in a few days from now and I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on this decision. I’m now asking myself, what the heck have I got myself into! Only time will tell…

Lake Pupuke swim and swimming progress

Determined to improve on my open water swimming ability, this morning I tagged along with a group of who were to swim across Lake Pupuke  and back, an approximately 2 km swim.

Lake Pupuke is on Auckland’s North Shore and is fresh water. Over the years, a number of people have drowned at Lake Pupuke. This is because it is fresh water (so you don’t float as well), it is quite murky from weeds, and is some 60 m deep.

Armed with this knowledge and my novice swimming ability I gingerly entered into the lake, somewhat comforted by the fact that I’ll be surrounded by competent swimmers. As I got half way across the lake, I was struggling to keep up and was still nervous. I stopped and told the others I was going to cut my swim short and head back. The return swim was no problem and I headed back to do the remaining distance in the pool.

Obviously there are many differences between pool and open water swimming. But the question is why was I somewhat afraid swimming in open water?  I attributed this fear mainly due to not being able to see the bottom. I understand this is quite a common fear for newbie open water swimmers such as myself. Accordingly, I decided from here on in I needed to put more emphasis on my swimming ability and swim more often!

Stroke and Stride race #1

I’ve signed up for the Stroke and Stride series and have just completed the first one. Having not swam in the ocean much nor been in any group swims, I must say, swimming amongst other people is nerve racking! So for most of the swim I had my head above water and swam like a water polo player. Despite containing only a short 500m swim in this race, I was glad when it was shallow enough to touch terra firma and start the 5 km run. I spent a lot of time in the transition removing my wetsuit. Makes you appreciate how quickly seasoned triathletes manage to change in the transitions. All in all, I think doing the Stroke and Stride series is a good move and will be great preparation for me. I also found the short course quite enjoyable as well.

Trying out my wetsuit!

I ordered a wetsuit from an online retailer and it has arrived, quicker than I had thought. Win. I haven’t swum in a wetsuit before and not sure what to expect. I headed down to the pool during my lunch break and gave it a whirl. First thing that I found out is that it is quite difficult to get into. I hope this gets easier as it goes! It also almost cuts off blood circulation to your limbs and is on the brink of strangling my neck! I guess it does need to be a tight fit so that you don’t carry the whole ocean when you swim through it.

I waddled towards the pool and lowered myself in. I did a few warm up laps and immediately noticed how I was a lot more buoyant. I was also a lot faster! I continued doing a few blistering (read: now at warm-up speed of any competent pool swimmer) laps but my joy was cut short. I got a bleeding nose for no apparent reason and had to cut my swim short.