Insider: The Pioneer – Day 3 – Fairlie to Lake Tekapo
“Hey Mike, keen to do something a bit crazy?” Alex said, only minutes into the stage. The road ahead of them was blanketed by a cold wet rain. The other riders were reduced to silhouettes, moving and shivering against the dark grey sky. Freezing temperatures, rain, and the predicted fluctuating gale force wind had made it impossible to follow the original route to Lake Tekapo. The news had just come in: the stage route had been modified. Mike looked across to Alex, a nervous smile on his face. ‘Let’s go’.
“Sure – what’d you have in mind?” he said. They both shivered, the cold air burning their lungs. Rain blurred the trail ahead.
“Let’s just f–ing go!”
Putting their heads down, Alex and Mike went for it, battling against the brutal weather out front. Although the original stage from Fairlie to Lake Tekapo was modified, the route still had significant challenges, including having to climb up the first section of the Albury Range.
“We were faced with at least 8km of road before hitting the gravel and then into a short climb up to the first feed. It gave us roadies a chance to stretch the legs without pushing too hard. It was fun to be racing at the front again,” Alex said.
For the first hour of racing, The Cyclist team pushed on at the front of the field. “The early break in the rain seemed like the right idea at the time,” Mike said of their decision to be aggressive at the start of the stage, “I heard there was a bit of carnage back in the bunch so we were safer off the front.”
As the faster teams started to pass later on in the stage, our Cyclist team maintained their own pace, keen to take on more opportunities later in the week.
“We may have lost some time by the finish but we’re both still very keen to keep pushing on. Tomorrow’s flatter start may be good for us so who knows, maybe we’ll try again,” Alex said.
As the day went on, the wind peaked, violently lashing against them as they rode. The wind would prove to be the main hurdle of the day with riders having to push their bikes at the top of one climb that peaked at over 1,000 meters above sea-level. After
After a tough two stages, our Cyclist duo is happy to get through yet another unforgiving day, still in good spirits and holding a solid overall standing.
“We never expected to be in third place coming into this stage so we have to be happy with the ride. Our goal is to get through each day unscathed – which is far from easy out here – and we ticked off another stage relatively well,” Mike said.
Tomorrow the boys will tackle a 104km route that features 1,915 meters of climbing, before backing up the follow day for another 100+km stage. Pioneer is certainly living up to it’s ‘epic’ reputation.
Stage 3 – Details