How to prepare for a successful Enduro Cycling Event

I asked Andrea Davies (helmet number 9636) to write about her experiences training for and riding the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge Enduro (2 laps or 320km) event. Here is what she contributed:

I’d always wanted to ride two laps of Taupo so in Feb 2013 decided this was the year to tick it off my bucket list.  I had reconnected with trainer Ray who set my training schedule.  All was going well until I got knocked off my bike (by another cyclist) in July, which resulted in a hospital stay due to concussion and my pelvis suffering two breaks.

Cycle Training NZIt took me until January 2014 to get back on my bike so again I start Ray’s training again.  This time I was determined to get across that finish line no matter what.  My goal was finish the race feeling good and able to walk rather than how fast I could ride it !!

Ray’s training schedules came through weekly, and I have to admit that at times I wondered if I was riding enough distance during the weekend rides; after all I was heading for a 320km ride!! I should never have doubted Ray….

Training through winter was hard …and cold!!  From July I headed to Taupo once a month for training.  Each Taupo trip got harder, and especially the one where I had to start riding at 1.30am…yes, 1.30am!!  My partner Rob was so worried that he followed behind me by car until sunrise eating half a sultana cake to keep himself busy.  But I wasn’t on my own. I had a training buddy, Vicki (helmet number 9635) who had convinced me a couple of years ago to walk Oxfam 100km so it was payback time. Having a regular training buddy made such a difference to the whole experience especially the longer arduous training weekends.

One Taupo weekend ride included one lap of the lake continuing 20 km up the Napier Taupo Road, which was all up hill  – all 20km!  I will never EVER do this again!  Oh well, it was one way to test my mental strength!! However riding back down the 20 km was absolutely awesome – all downhill and a tail wind so what more could a rider want?  On another occasion, with a 4am start, it was so cold it took my feet around 5 hours to thaw….. I’m lucky to still have toes and fingers actually.  Ray told me that I needed to ride the long rides without too many breaks however, he could never get me to cut the coffee breaks from my rides…..LOL !

Friday 28th November arrived so quickly.  We left Auckland early the previous evening to ensure no stress.  A huge meal was ordered Friday morning  – carbo loading – however neither of us could eat much of it – nerves.  Off to bed 8.00pm, waking at 12 midnight – gulp….RACE DAY!

1.15am we were at the start line with approximately 80 others.  Our first team of supporters were also there to see us off.  The gun goes off and everyone zooms off…..but not us.  We had agreed a slow but steady start to settle ourselves in.  Our support crew stopped every 10km ready to provide us with what we needed – they were awesome and it was cold!  We were on our own except for Noel who rode off our wheels for the whole of the first lap…grrrr!

We made sure we ate regularly, drank as planned and yes, it was hard to keep up the nutrition but we had to – it’s really important.  There were times were I’d literally have to force food down – most unusual situation for me!

Cycle Coaching NZWe had to log in at the end of the 1stlap, where our second support crew took over.  They had parked by a guy who was just about to start his 4th lap but was in a real bad way.  Told us he hadn’t eaten enough – he looked dreadful!

We were disappointed as we started the 2nd lap as we’d missed all the other riders so no bunches to hide in plus that awful headwind for most of the first half of the 2nd lap.  We were feeling good but starting to tire but we just kept our heads down focusing on turning the pedals, and with that finish line in our sights.  Our support team again stopped every 10km waiting for us.  They’d plan stupid antics to give us a laugh and to keep our spirits up.

We had always planned to stop at Turangi garage on our way home for a pie.   Di, who rode 4 laps, taught us that trick, and that pie was simply the best!!!!  The last half was fantastic, and Hapete hill for the second time wasn’t as bad as we thought.  By this stage, yes, we were tired but we knew we were going to finish.  Our supporters were at the top of Hapete where we were greeted by huge applause and noise…… and then we headed for home.

About 5km out, which meant riding again in that dreadful head wind, some of our wonderful cycling buddies rode out to meet us to ride the final distance with us.  By this stage I have to say that we were both feeling great knowing that we were so close to home.  Our mates couldn’t believe what great spirits we were in and proceeded to shelter us from the wind – what a godsend.

Crossing that finish line with so many of our supporters there who had been a part of our journey, was such a wonderful experience.  Many had joined us on our Taupo training weekends and regular weekends rides, so they knew what we had been through to get across that line.

I could not believe how great my body felt as I climbed off my bike.  I was able to walk, I had no pain anywhere including my bum (!!), and I just felt so proud of what I had achieved.

I can’t thank Ray enough for the great training programme  – it worked! My supporters were the best and it was a real team effort.

– Andrea Davies

Although the early starts and the challenging hill climbs in training may not have been 100% enjoyable at the time, the benefit of doing them paid back in spades for Andrea in this event. Ultra endurance events are never easy and you are often challenged by a range of weather and environmental conditions during such a long duration event that you need the mental fortitude and experience from training in these conditions. – Ray

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