Kicked off my training for the SINZ Unicycle Tour (www.sinzuni.org) on the weekend with another ride around Lake Taupo.
It’s NZ’s biggest cycling event, around our biggest lake, with 10,500 cyclists taking part. This year we had 2 Unicyclists- Rowan Chivers and myself, both riding solo.
I was an awesome day with thousands of riders filling up the main road out of Taupo. The weather was perfect, apart from the strong headwind which I found rather pleasant but most people hated.
We started off in waves of several hundred. It took over an hour and a half to start all the riders. I joined in the 7-9.5hr group, which I think meant that we were at the back but also in a pretty relaxed and friendly bunch. I started alongside my flatmate Byrdie and a recumbent rider I knew called Peter (incidentally also a unicyclist). Rowan was a few hundred people in front of us and I couldn’t see him. I prepared for the worst after the commentators poked the usual circus and camo* jibes at poor Rowan. (*he likes wearing army camouflage gear but still stands out in the crowd of 10,000). Luckily I snuck past with barely a comment.
It was a short sharp downhill followed by one of my favourite hillclimbs. It was the perfect gradient for a Coker and I was passing hundreds of cyclists up the hill. I caught Byrdie but then she motored off when she got passed by the unicyclist
It was up and down for the first 40km or so. For some reason I had no power in the legs and couldn’t figure what the problem was. I thought I was riding on a flat tyre until I looked down and realised that my seat was too low. I stopped and raised my seat about 15mm which made it feel like a totally different machine. Climbing much better now, I managed to ride another 40km before I realised that it was still too low. Another 5mm and it was perfect. Unfortunately my legs were blown because of that stupid error and I was really struggling to maintain my speed close to 20km/hr. The other disappointing thing was that I found myself struggling on the downhills also. I’m still looking to regain that ‘freespinning’ technique for descending. Instead, I found myself fighting the Coker all the way down each hill which is last thing you want. I think I lost at least 10km/hr on these descents compared to previous years.
Anyway, I finally hit the 80km half way mark in just over 4hrs. The legs were starting to feel a bit wobbly so I had to take a 15min break at my favourite pie shop before Kuratau Hill, one of the biggest climbs of the day. I reckon the best ingredient for a Steak n’ Cheese pie is a 100km unicycle ride immediately beforehand. If you could package that into a pie you’d could easily build a multimillion dollar meatpie empire.
After Kuratau was the descent towards the Lake, the first time it comes into view. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this downhill like I usually do, still struggling with my descending technique. It was a long descent and a long time to be fighting your unicycle. Just as I thought my hands were going be permanently clamped onto my GB4 handle in a state of rigor mortis, we made it to the bottom.
It was at that point I was humbled to see crazy Robin ride past. This guy get’s nuttier every year. Last year he rode 100km to the registration, then, with only an hours sleep, did the 2 Lap 320km enduro challenge, then wanted to ride 100km back home. This year he was riding the Super Enduro Challenge- 4 Laps or 640km in total. He did take a few breaks now and then- catching sleep on the side of the road. Not bad when I think he’s probably aged in his in his late 50’s to mid 60’s. Old guys are so hardcore
Another 20km of flat stuff, then 10km of windey road around the Lake, then a short sharp climb, followed by a gradual descent, then it was the final leg to Taupo.
I finished in 9hrs 3min according to my watch, which is way off my previous time of 7hrs 43min. Still…it was a great day to be out riding
Rowan rolled in to the finish line in about 13hrs, which is a looonng time to be out riding. It must have takens some serious determination to finish. He was riding a 28" with (I think) 125mm cranks. Good stuff!
Total Distance: 160km
Total Elevation climbed: 1600m
Avg Heart Rate: 151bpm
Max Heart Rate: 195bpm
Calories burned (according to HRM): 6396
Food eaten: 3x Peanut Slabs, 2x OSM bars, 1 banana, 250g of salted Cashew nuts, 1x 660mL bottle of Coke, 1 x Steak and Cheese pie, 1 Liquirice/Chocolate roll. 2L camelbak and about 1-2L of water/energy drink at support stations.
Semi Diet Coker. I swapped my superlight frame and seat set up for the more familiar Std Coker frame and GB4 Handle. The main reason was that I thought the Diet frame was too flexy for the climbs and that the Deathgrip handle too small a platform to rest your hand comfortably on for 8-9hrs. For something like this, I probably should also have used my heavier Bicycle Euros than the superlight but wider Q factor Schlumpf cranks.
It still weighed in at about 8kg:
- Coker tyre
- Tubeless conversion
- Airfoil rim
- Tommy Miller spokes
- UDC narrow hub
- Schlumpf 114mm alloy cranks
- Std Coker Frame
- KH carbon seat
- Fusion cover and cut down foam
- GB4 Handle
- Lucky ding ding bell