The strong westerly wind made the Lake Taupo Challenge very tough for many riders this year. Times were certainly down on previous years and many were disappointed about their individual times. Apparently, the wind on Tihoi & Western Bay Road was a direct head wind which reduced some riders to a 20km/hr crawl. Glenys Taylor, who had set a personal goal to go under 6hrs simply was unable to hang on to any bunch and almost rode the 160km journey on her own. “I was at least 45mins slower as a result of the wind”, she said.
Glenys story was similar to that of Toshiaki Yamauchi, who lectures at Massey University. He was well down on his time that he had set for himself prior to the race beginning and the wind had a big effect on his performance. At 55kgs, Toshi can climb very well but he struggled to hang on to bunches heading into the wind and he eventually decided to conserve energy and settle with a bunch that was moving at a moderate pace. As a result he was able to avoid fatigue and cramp but that decision also meant his time was considerably slower than he had originally anticipated.
If the weather wasn’t bad enough, young U19 juggernaut and NZ Representative, Angus Findlay had high hopes of finishing in the top 20 of the Classic ride (elite men’s race which starts off first). He had gradually been building up for the race over several weeks but his hopes were dashed when there was a crash about 7-10km into the race which included Angus and several other prominent riders. The damage sustained to Angus’ bike meant he was unable to carry on and his ride ended as quickly as it started.
Steve Stannard tells a slightly different story of turning up to the start line not quite warmed up sufficiently. As a result he popped off the back of the bunch too but gradually picked up riders who also struggled under the tough conditions. “some were working on the front but it was a very select few”, he said
So far no stories have reached me regarding the Alp D’Huez of climbs, the dreaded Hatepe Hill ascent. That always produces a yarn or two by those who overcome adversity through sheer determination and physical torment to get to the top without getting off their bike. Perhaps these can be saved for another entry?
An on a final note – oh how the weather gods can be cruel because Sunday produced what I believe the best day in a number of weeks. It was an absolute stunner with no wind and lots of sun. I could imagine the cursing and swearing being muttered under peoples’ breath regarding the unfortunate synchronisation of weather as people rose from their slumber to find perfect conditions. Well there is always 2012.