Last year, Natural High client Kirsten Edelkraut visited New Zealand from Switzerland for a spot of cycle touring…and knocked off the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge as well. With this year’s challenge now open for registration, we asked Kristen to give us her thoughts on New Zealand’s biggest cycle event…
How did you hear about the challenge and what compelled you to enter?
The story begins in 2012. I was on a bus trip to Taupo and Rotorua, when we passed Taupo on the day of the 2012 Lake Taupo Challenge. I got crazy about all these cyclists and asked myself, why the hell I didn’t bring my road bike… next time, I decided.
You took part in the 160km one-lap circumnavigation of Lake Taupo. What sort of hydration, food and supplements did you take on the ride?
It’s always a risk to rent a bicycle for any trip at all, in particular for a road race of 160km! I am used to road biking, to long distance riding as well, but never did a race about this distance. So, quite a challenge. I stocked up with sports food I’m used to – I brought these things from home. Two gels, two power bars, one banana. Plus one bottle of water, and another with electrolytes. On the race around the lake I needed one refill. Good preparation before the race (lots of carbohydrates during the week before) and some regeneration drink after.
You’ve completed a number of bike races, how did the Lake Taupo Challenge compare?
Do I? Thanks. In fact, I do a lot of road biking in Switzerland but only a few races, most of them during the Swiss Gigathlon, which is a big multiple sports event – maybe the biggest in Switzerland. The Lake Taupo Challenge compares very well to our events. Nothing completely different, except the big prices in the end.
This is your second visit to New Zealand. Why did you decide to cycle tour this time?
Last time, when I was here, I really missed my bike. I do a lot of bike touring in many different countries. My longest trip was from Triest (Italy) to Al Aquaba (Jordan) over nearly eight months. So, biking or bike touring is often part of my holidays and I was sure that when I came back to New Zealand, I would definitively have a bike with me.
Some of the scenery in Switzerland is stunning, how does the New Zealand landscape compare?
The scenery is completely different. That’s why I came to the North Island, because of its subtropical and volcanic scenery. What I can say: the wide landscape and these huge areas with nobody living there – wilderness – is completely different from Switzerland. We also have some wild areas, especially the high mountain areas, but I never feel so alone like here in the forests.
What has been your favourite ride in New Zealand and why?
Oohhh – I think, this is the most difficult question… and I think, I have not done the best ride yet. I hate-loved the ride in Whangarei, because it was probably the most difficult. I enjoyed the W2K2W-trip, especially the downhill to Kinloch. And I liked the Waikato River Trails – all of them outstanding landscapes, interesting views, nice riding. Some trails seem to be too perfectly built to me: lots of sharp (and unnecessary) curves, which take away the flow and the speed. But most parts of the trails are really good. I’ve also run some of the trails around Taupo. I like trail running and these trails are perfect for running, too. Luckily there weren’t any bikers out there that day!
Like to give the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge a crack?
This year’s event takes place on Saturday 29 November…which means you’ve got plenty of time to get into training. Not that you have to be an elite athlete to enter – there are rides to suit every level of ability and riding style, from on road to off, short to ultra-long (we’re talking 1,280km long)! Check out the website for full details.
Need to hire a bike for the event?
If you’re coming from overseas like Kristen, or want to rent a high-performance bike, we’ve got two great deals for you:
2-day performance road bike hire + event insurance + bike relocation to and from Taupo: $178 (normally $268).
2-day Specialized Sirrus hire + event insurance + bike relocation to and from Taupo: $148 (normally $238).
You’ll be able to pick up your bikes in Taupo on Friday (we’ll make sure they’re fitting you right) and return on Saturday after the event. Drop us an email to reserve your bike today.