“Swaying pine trees, brutal wind gusts… put 9000 cyclists to the test in the annual Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge event…. Strong wind gusts made riding treacherous for road and mountainbike riders in the 35th annual 160-kilometre lake circuit on Saturday. Large pine trees swayed precariously in 85kmh wind gusts. Cyclists, pedalling into energy-sapping headwinds, negotiated scattered branches and debris…” Dom.Post 28/11/11*
This time last week I was a tortoise on two wheels- definitely not a hare- in the 35th Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. At least I didn’t turn turtle in the blustery conditions. Quite a few entrants didn’t even start.
After a 6am start in the slow pack, my time of 9 hrs 46:57 in the 60-69 years solo 160 k division (I just qualified-it was the day before my 70th birthday) put me 328th in the division but, apart from the timing equipment, who’s counting? It was great just to finish again in the conditions, described as “one of the more difficult rides on record”, in reasonable condition. Three months after my last Taupo outing in 2008, I had two stents inserted after a coronary.
My previous three Taupo rides since 2006, once in the 40K relay and twice in the 160k solo ride, were on my old second hand road touring bike which I bought off a departing Swedish cycle tourist who wasn’t murdered in 1991. It came complete with four panier bags for camping gear.
For three years I was the only Taupo entrant with paniers and a rear vision mirror. Bikes are built either for speed or for comfort and mine was in the latter category, unlike the emasculatory razor seated road bikes that are de rigueur.
This year was different. My Canadian mate Gord Miller, doing the Solo Challenge at Taupo for the second time, has tried for years to convince me to get a more suitable steed for the event. It was my daughter Sandra who applied the killer psychology. She has an Events and PR company and does the public relations for the Pure Black Cycling Team*
First she got me some sporty PB riding gear. Then she persuaded me to get a sleek carbon fibre Cadent* bike from Avanti, Pure Black sponsor, to match the outfit. It’s a speedy machine with a slightly ‘softer’ attitude for riders who want something a little more relaxed. It made all the difference, especially with the wind, and the Geltech cover over the original seat was almost comfortable.
I did also add a snappy Vaude clip on under the seat detachable carry bag. I like to be self sufficient and carry more food and water, extra clothes and tools than most, despite the support stations en route, though stories about an on board kitchen sink are calumnies.
Pure Black riders were 1st and 2nd over the line. I was 4236th overall so they were probably pleased I wore a high viz. vest over my sporty PB racing shirt.
I was also helped this year on the nutrition front by Shane Miller, Gord’s son, a gym instructor and high performance coach from Ottawa. Last time I cramped up 10 times on Hatepe Hill at the 132 k mark. This time nary a twinge after a good balance of protein and pasta and several magic potions during the ride. None would have got Lance Armstrong into trouble.
My father Gordon Lukey was a well known long distance cyclist and endurance record holder and all round iron man in the days of gravel roads and no gears. He would have been amused at the hi tech nature of cycle riding today and the fancy fashion and food but he would have applauded the numbers participating.
The biblical age is a bit hard to come to grips with, though these days maybe it’s only mature middle age, at least for the fortunate survivors thus far. The big 70 is inevitably accompanied by a bit of philosophical introspection.
The old black joke is ”A fatal coronary is nature’s way of saying ‘slow down’. Sadly, just a few weeks ago the old friend I usually stay with when doing Taupo died suddenly while still in top gear in a top corporate job with lots of demanding overseas travel. Earlier in the year he put off accompanying his sister on a cycle tour of France because of the demands of the business.
Only three weeks ago, on a Rotary cricket tour of NSW- (geriatrics in pursuit of hattricks-or even a single wicket) – the player in our opponents’ team in the third game, who had just received Man of the Match award, collapsed and died. Sad, but what a way to go.
It’s important to keep doing things you like to do or that provide new challenges while you can. Always at my back I hear times winged chariot…
Supporting Heart Kids
Thanks to those who supported my Heart Kids web page as part of the Taupo Challenge. Overall $57,000 has been raised to date this year-donations open until 31 December-see my HK webpage below*. Alternatively you can txt HEART to 2427 to make a $3 donation.
http://www.everydayhero.co.nz/lyall_lukey Make a donation to Heart Kids via web or txt HEART to 2427 to make a $3 donation.