Into a spin with Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

New Zealand’s growing recognition as a world-class cycling destination owes much to one major event - the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is the must-do annual outing that has been putting the Kiwi cycling community into a spin for almost 40 years.

It’s New Zealand’s biggest cycling event, attracting 8,000 riders plus bikes and families from around New Zealand and at least 20 other countries into Taupo for a high-energy weekend of events.

Thousands of riders participate in the event's most popular category, the 160-km Bike Barn Solo - a one-lap ride around Lake Taupo - but this is just one of 18 categories on the schedule.

The around-the-great-lake course inspires cyclists of all levels, from top professional and endurance road cyclists through to mountain bike enthusiasts, weekend and occasional leisure spinners, competitive business relay teams and family groups on shorter loops.

Over the full 160km route, cyclists circumnavigate New Zealand’s biggest lake - the beating heart of the volcanic central North Island is a gigantic crater left by an ancient eruption. The classic route is an up-hill, down-hill on-road journey that’s a visual feast of lake shores, forests and rural farmlands and played out before crowds of enthusiastic roadside spectators.

New categories

When the 38th edition of the cycle challenge rolls out on 29 November 2014, participants will have the option of four new categories - from a half-course, to extra thrills warming-up round on a motorsport track or testing their skills on a MTB course.

The Half the Lake is a new 73km road course created in response to participant feedback. This mid-length category caters for solo riders who might not be quite up to the full lake distance with an opportunity to ride the half distance along with a team mate. Their bikes will be transported for them so they can ride the final 80km.

The new Time Trial will take cycling Taupo to a new level as competitors test themselves on the track at Taupo Motorsport Park with eight laps under pedal-power. Scheduled for Friday afternoon, the Time Trial event would offer "the perfect warm up for the big ride on Saturday," according to Event Director Kay Brake.

The Urban Jungle MTB Challenge, designed to give riders a chance to display their mountain biking skills on ramps and jumps, is the third new event. Fast and furious is how the organisers see this elimination style event, and the downtown set-up will provide entertainment for spectators.

The fourth new option is the Contact Steamer - a middle distance 60km mountain bike race.

Benchmark cycling event

"A single turn of a pedal is all it takes to kick off into riding New Zealand’s benchmark cycling event," Kay Brake says.

"Whether you’re a weekend warrior, a mountain bike enthusiast, an elite or enduro, cycle the café circuit with your mates, looking for some family fun, or a weekend away with the girls, there’s a ride for you.

"It’s a challenge but it’s achievable and you’ll definitely find something that suits your cycling style best!"

Enter online at

Background: Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

  • New Zealand’s largest cycling event
  • 8,000-plus riders from 20 countries
  • 160km circumnavigation of Lake Taupo
  • 18 categories include shorter routes, road cycling and mountain bike options for individuals and teams for all levels of cycling and fitness abilities

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