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Archive for December, 2018

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge 2018

November generally means one thing…Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge!

This year was extra special because it was going to be our first road trip with our baby Gryffin Looi.  
We packed up the car, baby in the back seat….

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It took a while to get up to Taupo- we had plenty of stops, including the mandatory Ice-Cream stop in Hunterville


and on the desert road

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We arrived in Taupo about 7pm. This year I had the number 2 plate (I had stayed up till midnight to register, but missed out on number 1 again!).  I won a pump as a spot prize.  
I had intended to ride my 36, but haven’t got around to replacing the bearings, so it would be another year on the 29.  The setup was similar to last year- my Triton 29 with Carbon wheel and 89mm cranks.  The main difference would be that I finally get to try out my Mad4One handle saddle.  It’s generally not recommended to use a brand new seat for the first time on a 160km race, but I had a quick ride on it beforehand and it felt fine….
The start was wet- the forecast was for rain through the day.  It was great having my support crew Anna and Gryffin at the start:

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3,2,1, go!


I set off in Group 8, which is for riders expecting to take 7- 8.5 hours.  Taupo starts with short descent followed by a gradual climb.  By the time we hit the top of the first hill I’d overtaken all the bicyclists except for one rider….the gradient is perfect for a unicycle.  From there it was lots of rolling ups and downs, and we spent much of the next 80km trading places.  It stopped raining for an hour or so, and I was able to knock off the first 80km in under 4 hours.  Unfortunately, I had a fall at 70km, wiping out on a bump I didn’t see.  There was no major damage apart from some scrapes and bruises, but I started cramping and lost my free spinning speed when I got going again.  
It started raining and getting quite cold by the time we reached Kuratau, and the legs went on strike.  It was a long slow climb and descent before hitting the flat. I stopped at the Turangi Z-station for a quick pie before slogging the rest of the way back to Taupo. Apparently it was not a fast year, with few people going under 4hrs.  It was amazing to roll into the finishing straight with Anna and Gryffin patiently waiting for me!

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My time of 9hrs 02min was slower than previous years, partly because of the weather but mostly due to the legs not co-operating in the second half of the course.   I still had a great ride and was happy to get to the finish for the 15th or 16th time (I’ve lost count!)
The Mad4One handle saddle (medium) worked well. It was very light and easy to maneuver, although I was more used to a lower handle with the Flatfish/T-bar combination.  When you ride 160km on a unicycle, any seat is going to hurt. The Mad4One and Flatfish/T-bar are the best setups I’ve used, they just hurt in different places.  I had more wrist pain with the Mad4One, because the upright position forced my wrist to abduct for prolonged period.  On the other hand, without the plastic base of the KH style saddle, I didn’t get sore palms from pushing down with my hands.  I have to ride it a bit more to form a stronger opinion, but I think the Mad4One would be a good medium distance saddle, whereas I prefer the KH/Flatfish for shorter distances, and perhaps the KH/Flatfish/T-Bar combo for longer distance.