Rotorua - Taupo "social" ride
This is a massed start, 3000 participant "social" or (in the French tradition), "cyclo-touriste" event. That is, the first 200 people across the line are serious competitors and the other 2800 participants have an ambition to finish, to beat a certain finishing time or to beat someone they know. In other words, there is usually very little which is social about these events or, "touriste" about them either!
Rotorua and Taupo are both towns set on lakes. The profile for the ride and readings from the Polar Heart Rate Monitor used suggest a net climb of 110m in 100km - not bad.... until you find out that the major climb on the route reaches its peak at 720m (with about 100m of climbing in 1km (10% ave gradient)). There is also another major climb, or grind, of about 180m in about 12km just before the end. All in all, a tough day for most......
The day was warmish and sunny throughout. The average temperature was about 21'C, which would have been very pleasant except for the chill in the Southwesterly breeze, which strengthened during the day and which apart from hitting New Zealand's South Island first, would have blown straight up from Antarctica...... However, with armwarmers and a sleeveless zip-up vest, the conditions were good.
Highlight of the day for almost everyone would have been the ascent of "The Hill". The night previously at registration, everyone was talking about it and it was implanted in minds that it was at 44km covered. That underestimates the rolling countryside which leads up to the climb. The first 10km go generally uphill, before the profile rolls upwards towards The Hill.
At the summit of The Hill, there is a piper playing the bagpipes to congratulate riders on the ascent, before a fast, generally downhill, rolling section prior to the last 20km, where that 12km drag is encountered before the final (thank goodness) drop into Taupo itself.
There were large groups scattered along the route, each composed of riders hanging-in, or driving forward their peers en-masse. The groups were more bunches than organised lines, but it was possible to find some good wheels amongst and get a good tow. Indeed, the male / female pair on the Cannondale tandem, who were dressed in Saeco kit deserve a big ThankYou. They towed me for about 30km and although I managed a couple of turns early on, was not able to come through again after the first 20 minutes. I know they knew I was there and I hope if I see them again, I'll be able to do more. Just before the road went upwards and they powered on, they pulled over to let me through, but I promise, I did not have the legs - it wasn't 'glass cranks' syndrome at all.
The winning times were impressive - see below for the 3 women's categories. There were also some long days in the saddle by some novices - they did well to finish such a severe ride and, given that over 50% of the field finished within 4 hours, the standard was high anyway.
The prize-giving was an entertaining event on its own - names were pulled from the hat for the (very generous and desirable) Spot Prizes and then there was a 'climb off' for the three lucky(?) women then men. Inside the Taupo Leisure Centre, which was destination HQ, there is a climbing wall and the first to touch the roof from the female and male representatives won a $400NZ indoor trainer. Second was a Camelbak hydration system. Third - a free bungee jump.......
New Zealand Olympic athlete Sarah Ulmer was there to present the Avanti Bike spot prizes to the lucky winners and she also took the prize for the Elite Women's event.
Everyone who took part did well to finish. The oldest woman finisher was 71 years old and the following all deserve a mention - they all completed the 100km as the final finishers in their categories:
Katrina Agnew from Howick (F35 - 44) - time 5:40:34
Juliane Lessmann from Wanganui (Female Social) - time 6:53:55
Robin Davis from Hastings (F45+) - time 7:06:13
Overall, a great day which was well organised and although the ride was hard, it was enjoyable and it would have been very difficult to get lost - there were marshals everywhere! Thanks go to the organisers, volunteers and sponsors.
Women 35- 44 years
Women 45+ years
Photos : Click on a photo to see an enlarged image
Photos : Sorry - these are not too good - taken from a distance without zoom - but you'll get the idea!
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