Not your typical race report – Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

By no means a pro athlete - casual rider Lucas Bateup recounts to us what a long day on the saddle is like for an everyman.

"Well I entered the full around the lake race because I’d done the half, and it felt like it was a bit of unfinished business until I’d come back and cracked the full. We’d had a fair few mates in the past who had done it and a good crew signed up for this year.

The fellas

A fairly dysfunctional peloton. Take everything you know about serious sport and throw that away. This is a crew of weekend battlers. (Left to right in photo below)

George – The 'back for his sextuple (6th) race round the lake'

Hugh – The 'easy going'

Chris – The 'overly confident, under prepared'

Eliot – The 'quiet achiever'

Lucas (Me) – The 'could not manage 20km at the first training ride'

Nick – The 'last min sign-up'

Things kicked off with an early start, a bit of breaky of weetbix and banana. Loading up with one-square-meals and caffeine gels, the boys were good to go.

Start line

All the boys were lined up in the ambitious 5hr 20min group – Some would say this was a little above their pay grade. Spirits were high and there was a bit of nervous energy.

Chris, who had just come off a solid month of weekend-to-weekend drinking, took initiative to roll at the front of the 5:20 peloton – racing ahead was his tactical move, while we held a rear position.

Slowly all the other boys got out ahead, while ambitious Chris slowly slid back to his more appropriate place in the rear.

This first 40 or 50km we took it in our stride, racing past the odd punter on the downs, but overall running a negative net gain, getting passed by more of those than we could manage to pass ourselves.

At a certain point, I chose not to look back. First drink station – no Chris in sight. It was fair to say at this point our groups finishing order was starting to firmly take shape.

The next 30 or 40km became a serious solo grind, constantly up and down, overall quite the mental drain. The first half around the lake brings a lot of big ups and down, relative to a much flatter second half – it’s a huge win to make it to the ~80k half way mark. We made sure to keep the liquids flowing and one square meals heading down the hatch.

Absolutely screaming downward towards our beautiful trout capital of Turangi, I bypassed a sorry looking sod on the side of the road with a broken chain – the easy going Hugh. A quick stop, a quick piss and quick chat. Luckily the race mechanic was a short wait away. I left him be.

The next 10 or 20kms was spent trying to get in the slip stream of a nicer 50yr oldish lady. It was a little hard to get the dynamic right, I wasn’t sure quite how to liaise when you are asking a gal twice your age to do all the work. Thankfully after a few awkward interactions our peloton of two grew to 10, then 20, as we managed to bridge the gap, pulling two pelotons together as one.

Not long after that, a group of easily 100 enduro riders (those doing two laps of the lake) essentially lapped us, setting a tough pace for us to keep up with. Impressive that this lot had already covered roughly 250km at this point.

50km to go

It was all fairly easy going along the flat until the real challenger of the second half – the Hatepe hill. Winding down we let the enduro peloton ride ahead, I bunkered down for 16 mins of immense grind, thinking of all the good things in life to get me through. It did not help we arriving on peak day heat, getting brutally hot by this point we were sweating buckets.

At the top the enduro peloton was regrouping, chasing them down we found some speed wobbles - I don’t have the luxury of running a speedo but we were easily moving more than 60km/hr on the down.

From here it was a steady pace with the rest of the endruo peloton all the way to the finish – getting to cross the line with other people in my fitness bracket, mainly 50-60 yr old men.

All the fellas bar Chris were there to greet me at the end. Great to get off the saddle at this point.

A dip in the lake and stretch in hot tub was beneficial, certainly required at this point, however the race feeling didn’t really subside until late Sunday night at which point my knees stopped sizzling.

Immediately after the race, I would say I was feeling like didn’t want to do that again, however looking back we might just have to do it once more. Serious type 2 fun on the day."


Lucas 6:44

George 5:20

Eliot 5:23 (towed in by George)

Nick 6:03 (huge start, blowout last 100km)

Hugh 6:10 (with a half hour broken chain stop)

Chris 7:10