Saturday, 30 January 2010

Yarrows Taranaki Cycle Challenge 2010

A night under my tent at North Egmont shared with possums chewing - the trees, not my tent! With a clear and moonlit sky I knew I was about to actually ride in an organised cycle event on a beautiful sunny day. I am not sure when this last occurred but it was long enough ago for me to appreciate it. I have ridden around this mountain and barely seen it four times before – twice in cycling events and twice while cycle touring. Could riding around the cloud be replaced with riding around the mountain on this day? Yes it can!

Ride Data:
Distance: 152km 7,549 Calories
Time: 5h03m50s 30 km/h
Elevation: Ascent: 1145m Descent: 1142m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player
Location: New Plymouth, NZ 30 January 2010
The Yarrows Taranaki Cycle Challenge is a well organised and supported event. There were close to 2,000 participants this year, while dwarfed by the 12,000 Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge participants it is one of the larger cycling events in New Zealand.

With the undulating hills between New Plymouth and Okato at the start of the route I was quickly into a group of cyclists relative to my current (non) fitness level. Without much breeze this time, the route through to Opunake went quickly in 2h31m, some 38 minutes quicker than in the gale force winds of the Round the Mountain on a similar route two weeks prior. While I had already made a sizable time improvement, better conditions were most noticed after turning left out of Opunake for the climb up to Kaponga and onto Eltham. The Te Kiri relay interchange wissed by as bunch that was moving well. Quite a change from the previous time struggling just to move in a forwards direction. I stayed on the bunch until just shy of Kaponga when I dropped a little off the back swapping my drink bottles around. As I pedalled harder to try and rejoin the bunch it went down for no obvious reason. Lack of concentration and wheels touching I suspect. Not such a bad time to have let them go. Safely around the bunch (for me) it was mostly solo riding to the finish. Through the first 100km to Eltham in 3h21m I was now a remarkable 1h17m ahead of my time at the same place from only two weeks ago.

With recollections of barely pedalling from Eltham to New Plymouth I was looking forward to the last 50km. With no 120km/h southerly at my back on this occasion I quickly noted the fact that from Eltham to Midhurst it is uphill. With an afternoon breeze building, while not strong was enough to hold back a little on the way through to Inglewood and down to New Plymouth. It was a warm day and just shy of Inglewood I was finished my third and final drink bottle. As I past each of the remaining organised drink refill stations I looked at the stations and at my bottles and thought to myself “There’s no way I’m stopping” as continued in an ultimately futile pursuit of a sub-five hour ride. With the temperature close to 30degC and I was feeling a tad dehydrated when I reached the finish in 5h3m50s. Under five hours would have been nice, but can’t complain about being 1h7m faster than a mere fortnight ago.

With good weather there were some fast times set today. Unusually however, the quickest recreational riders finished a minute or so quicker than the winner of the more serious premier race which started after the recreational event as the temperature rose. Warmer or not, an amazing 61 riders from the recreational solo category were around the mountain quicker than Matthew Gorter’s Premier winning time of 3h53m33s.

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