The Kiwis have been doing it for years – and now the Australia’s cycling fraternity is invited to join the party. New Zealand’s largest cycle event, based on a circuit around one of the most picturesque lakes in the world, is set down for Saturday 27 November.
It will be the 33rd Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, an event that has grown to be a must-do annual among Kiwi riders since being established as a social ride involving just 12 recreational cyclists in 1977. This year the race organisers are looking to attract more Australian cyclists to join the programme of 12 separate events within the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge.
Last year 313 riders crossed the Tasman to ‘do the lake’. Entries are already opening with registrations from all across Australia, there is a very good chance that come November, the Australian rider numbers will smash last years record. The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge now has an international convenor, Steve Jacobs, to specifically cater for queries from overseas riders. Last year there were 10,000 participants in all with local riders and a large contigent of international cyclists.
From recreational riding to professional competition
The race spokeswoman, Clare Ponton, says the focus of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is on participation, rather than competition. The lake circuit covers 160 kilometres and can be done as a solo ride, or as a teams event, so it is suited to families, couples or groups of friends.
There’s a competitive ride for the hot-shot elites – last November, 18 year old Patrick Bevin set his home town of Taupo alight with a sizzling 3 hours 46 minutes and 31 second ride, with a superb sprint to the line after completing the 160 kilometres. For those into masochism, there’s a number of day-night events, ranging from 320 kilometres – twice around Lake Taupo – to the Extreme Enduro covering 1280 kilometres – eight times around the lake!
The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge schedual also caters for Mountain bike riders who can enter the popular 80 kilometre Contact Huka Mountain Bike Challenge. It is mostly run on the single trails for which the Lake Taupo region has now become internationally recognised.
Traveling to Lake Taupo
New flight schedules have made it easier for Australian cyclists to travel to Taupo for the big event. Air New Zealand is now operating twice-weekly direct flights from Sydney to Rotorua, just 50 minutes drive from the visitor mecca of Taupo. Other flights are available between Hamilton – two hours’ drive to the north of Taupo – and either the Gold Coast or Brisbane. Nine carriers in total fly between Australia’s eastern seaboard cities and the City of Sails, Auckland, but it’s crucial flights are confirmed and bike box space booked now as cargo is limited on many of these services, especially into Rotorua and Hamilton.
A range of accommodation is available within the Lake Taupo area, from backpackers, to B and Bs, motels, quality hotels and luxury lodges. There’s also a large number of holiday homes made available for the weekend, especially suited to groups. You do need to plan and book now as accomodation will be hard to find if you leave it too late. You can also still benefit from “Early Bird” entry fees now.
“Taupo is a town of about 23,000 people and, as one of the North Island’s major tourism meccas, it is well served by commercial accommodation operations. But as we see more than 30,000 additional people coming in for Cycle Challenge weekend, things always get tight” Clare advises. The event website has an accommodation service to assist visitors and participants.
The race organisers are well and truely ready for the Aussies and have the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge geared up to make registration, travel and accomodation booking a breeze.
Detailed event information and bookings online: www.cyclechallenge.com
Queries from overseas cyclists can be directed to the International Convenor, Steve Jacobs: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about the region from the Taupo Vistor Website: www.greatlaketaupo.com
Air New Zealand is now operating twice-weekly direct flights from Sydney to Rotorua, just 50 minutes drive from the visitor mecca of Taupo: www.airnz.com.au