Finally! I have conquered the sub five hour Taupo bike ride!
On the early hours of 29/11/14, I left Auckland at 2 a.m. and arrived in Taupo circa 5:30 a.m. I step out of the car and my lungs fill with Taupo’s cold but refreshing air. I also do some last minute checks on my bike and scoff down breakfast – a bread bun, muesli bars and a banana. 8 a.m. arrives. I start in Group 3 (expect to finish between 4:50 and 5:10) and we’re off!
The first half of the course is interesting. Although I am in a sizeable bunch, it appears no one is willing to share responsibility for breaking the wind at the front. Soon a smaller group (myself included) break from the group with the aim of catching up to an earlier and faster group. We make good headway but life is not easy with foul weather (head wind, cold temperature, occasional showers etc).
As the race progresses I find myself surrounded by much better cyclists and we have a paceline going. We zoom down Waihi Hill and the pace really picks up from Turangi onwards.
All of a sudden, a few kilometers from Hatepe Hill, my stomach churns. Running low on energy and almost out of energy gels, I am now being punished for a poor breakfast! I slow down and am dropped from the pack. I muster the energy to climb the notorious Hatepe Hill (but after doing K2, this is is not a hill!) and manage to pass a few of the riders in the group I was with! This success is short lived as I stop to refuel at the next aid station.
For the remaining 15 kilometers, I ride by myself. The wind picks up and the weather worsens – it is now quite wet. I persevere and cross the finish line in 4:59:49, beating my five hour goal by a mere 11 seconds! Today’s effort placed me 142nd out of 376 M20-34 finishers, and 810th out of 3605 overall.
Although I was happy finishing the race under five hours, I left knowing I could have done better. Had I had my usual breakfast (rolled oats), I would have been able to keep up with the bunch I was with and better my time by 10 minutes. Next year’s goal is under 4:45. To do that I plan to start in Group 2 and eat a proper breakfast!