Ready for the ride of your life?
Taupo Weekender Thursday August 16 2012
It's the biggest event in Taupo each year, and so organisers of this year's Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge are hoping that changes to freshen it up for 2012 will boost numbers over the 10,000 riders mark.
After year-on-year increases since its inception in 1977, cycle challenge numbers peaked at 11,500 in 2005, and although they've been reasonably stable since (last year saw 9100 riders entered), event director Kay Brake says she's keen to see them back up near previous highs.
This year is Kay's first full year in the job after she took over the helm of the cycle challenge last year just two months out from the event, so she's been involved in the planning for the 2012 event from the beginning and says while the cycle challenge is sticking mostly to its tried-and-true formula, there have also been a few tweaks.
``The feedback we've received over the last few years is that we definitely have to give our riders a real experience so we're working hard around making sure that they get the whole experience when they come to the event; and that it's not just a ride that they can do any other day.''
That complete experience begins with the goody bags cyclists receive at registration, includes entertainment, event services such as massage, the food and drink that's available and the selection of people and products at the expo.
``It's keeping it fresh so that people keep coming back, because we've got people who've been doing our event for years. ``We've got nine riders who have done it more than 25 times.''
However focusing on the nice-to-haves doesn't mean the organising team is forgetting the big picture, adds Kay.
``The other thing that's really, really important is the whole safety aspect, so we put a lot of time and effort into all sorts of measures to make sure that our cyclist safety is our number-one priority.''
Mountainbiking is one part of the cycle challenge that is continuing to grow and this year there's a new event category, the 40km Contact Huka Cruiser mountain bike option for those mountainbikers who don't want to tackle the 85km Contact Huka Challenge or find a relay partner.
Another change will be to the Kids' @Heart Ride, the 5km kids' cycle from Rainbow Point to the Tongariro Domain.
In the past the children have had to ride with an adult riding in the cycle challenge event but in 2012 any adult rider will be able to escort the child into town if they give a $2 or $5 donation to @Heart. Kay hopes that this change will make it easier for the children who want to ride the event, but don't have a cycle challenge adult to bike with.
With a team of 12 working on the event in the lead up and 800 volunteers plus contractors and services to organise on the day, it's a massive logistical undertaking, but one of the comments that's often heard in the feedback they get about the cycle challenge is about how well-organised it is.
The cycle challenge is preceded by a week-long BikeFest, a celebration of cycling bringing a range of events to Taupo in the lead up to November 24.
Entries for this year's Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge are now open at www.cyclechallenge.com. Enter before the end of September and you're also in the draw to win a Polar RCX5 bike training computer.