Turning Up The Training For the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

Lake Taupo Cycle ChallengeSix weeks to go until Andy and Logan head to Taupo for the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge (held on Saturday 29 November). Like last year they’re both competing in the 160km Bike Barn Solo – a one-lap circumnavigation of Lake Taupo. This week, we’re catching up with Logan to see how his training is going…

Logan’s Training Regime
Logan’s training regime began last Friday (eeek!) However, he has just returned from several weeks of mountain biking in Canada, which should give him a head start. Here’s his plan for the next six weeks:

  • Commute to and from work by bike three days a week. This is about 22.5km each way, adding up to around 135km per week. This will hopefully help me lose some weight and build base fitness.
  • One long ride each week, starting at about 2.5 hours and building to 5 hours the week before event. I’m not worried about distance/average speed, just time on the bike.
  • One 1.5 to 2-hour hilly road ride or MTB ride each week.
  • Walk/jog a few times a week.
  • Drink less alcohol!

Fancy joining Andy and Logan?
There’s still time to enter the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge – and it doesn’t have to involve a 160km slog, either. There are heaps of different entry categories available, from a leisurely 16km ride to kid’s races and relay events. Head to the Challenge website for full details

Can’t make Taupo?
There are plenty of other fun events coming up all over New Zealand. Here’s a selection:

MS Bike the Bridge, Auckland 
16 November 2014
The Auckland Harbour Bridge only opens to cyclists twice a year – don’t miss your chance to pedal across this well-known landmark. This is a charity event with three different categories: a 115km Clip On Classic, a 50km challenge or a 20km event.

Milford Mountain Classic, Milford 
24 January 2015
A 120km journey around the remote peaks and valleys of Fiordland. This new race starts at Milford Sound and ends in the little town of Te Anau.

BikeFest Nelson 
31 Jan-15 Feb 2015
Two weeks of bike-filled fun. Events include road races, family rides, bike maintenance workshops, mountain bike orienteering, heli-bike adventures and a food and wine festival to top off the festivities.

Queenstown Bike Festival, Queenstown 
13 March – 22 March 2015
Mountain bike, downhill and road biking events for all ages and abilities. Highlights include a mountain bike night ride, the Vertigo Bikes Dirtmasters Downhill and a 16Inch Pub World Championship (sure to be as wacky as it sounds).

Forrest GrapeRide, Marlborough 
28 March 2015
A 101km circuit that starts and ends at the Forrest Wines winery and includes 40km of riding through the stunning Marlborough Sounds. The grande finale? 100 riders crushing 3 tonne of pinot grapes…with their feet. (Let’s hope they shower, first).

Need a bike to help you slay the Taupo competition?

We’ve got two great deals for riders tacking the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge:

  • 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.

We’re Gearing Up for the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge…Are You?

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?

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge
Raring to go! Logan and Andy at the start of last year’s event.
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.

Andy & Logan Survive the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge
Raring to go! Logan and Andy at the start.

It’s one of New Zealand’s biggest cycling events, bringing together cyclists of all abilities; from lycra-clad whippets to weekend warriors to the “I’ll give it a crack even though I’ll be sore for the next month” type.

Competing in the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge has been on my radar since I first took up cycling and even though the stars weren’t really aligning for this year’s event (held on 30 November), I did it anyway!

This year, over 8000 people took up the challenge, competing in solo road races, relays, mountain bike challenges and children’s races. Now, as you’ve probably noticed, my heart lies in the rough back country hills but Logan, my faithful riding companion and Auckland Natural High manager, was adamant that I should start with the classic challenge: the 160km road race that takes you anti-clockwise around the lake. Logan completed this race a couple of years ago and after starting in a slow group, did a tough solo ride of six hours and five minutes. This year he had something to prove.

Unconventional preparation

Logan only started training a month out from the race and had put in a total of six long rides (between 60-80km) plus his regular commute to work and quick spins throughout the day testing out our bike fleet. Perks of the job.

My training consisted of daily bike rides to work and a 10-day cycle tour of Myanmar (Burma) with Red Spokes. Not the speed race training I was hoping for, although constantly having to navigate around ox carts and basket-balancing locals gave my hand signals plenty of practice.

What to carry on the day

Getting the nutrition right on a 160km race is tricky. Although I’ve ridden plenty of long-distance days, they’ve always featured lots of stops along the way to smell the roses and refuel.

Before the race, Logan presented me with a small food bag to attach to the top tube of the bike, which I filled with a small bag of jet planes and nuts, a tube of gel and a power bar. This proved to be perfect. I scoffed between 80 and 120km, guzzled down the gel to stave off cramp and nibbled on the power bar, although I found the dry crumble hard to swallow and a small mouthful from about 40km was the best I could do.

Natural High at the Taupo Cycle Challenge
Andy in front of the Natural High stand.

Our game plan was simple

A slow start to ride our legs into a good cadence, then hammer it from Turangi. By the 40km mark Logan and I had starting working in with a couple of others and were making excellent time. But then disaster struck. My right cleat broke while powering up a small incline. Considering I’d had problems with these the week before, I was cursing my lack of preparation and being reduced to three-quarter power while raring to go at race speed proved frustrating and energy sapping.

The straw that broke the camel’s back

Anyone that has cycle toured from Turangi to Taupo will recall the long, taxing incline of Hatepe Hill. It was here while struggling to get my legs going, that an Aussie bloke in the 320km/twice around Lake Taupo category, flew past as if we were standing still. And he wasn’t young! 13km from the finish, a fella from Rotorua nursed me home, drafting me from the windy conditions that had been the bane of the day’s ride. Our time: five hours 22 minutes. We were stoked!

Good times

Over the weekend I talked to cyclists from all over the world and heard many inspiring stories. Like our Japanese client who, four years ago, suffered a tyre blowout in this event and has felt compelled to settle the score ever since. A father and son team from the UK and Australia respectively, who share a love of cycling and decided to meet up in New Zealand for this race. And Kristen from Switzerland, who’s currently here on a MTB touring holiday. Last year she travelled around New Zealand by bus and regretted every minute she wasn’t on her bike.

Regardless of our reasons for entering, the challenge is the same for all of us. We ride for passion, the thrill of being a part of something special…and the feeling of satisfaction when we finally cross the finish line.

I expect to see you joining me next year!