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!