Insider: The Pioneer – Day 5 – Lake Ohau to Lake Hawea
After 4 days of relentless racing across some stunning, challenging and enduring countryside, the Pioneer stepped it up again for stage 5. Given its title as the ‘Queen stage’ of the event, today’s route from Lake Ohau to Lake Hawea would push the teams beyond what they thought possible.
Stage 5 was always going to be the ‘grand challenge’ of the Pioneer. With an 112km route, featuring 3,500m of elevation gain, it was the day highlighted by most teams.
With the fatigue setting in, Alex and Mike pushed through on what would be the longest stage so far.
“It was obvious from the start that I just didn’t have it. Fatigue has well and truly set in… It was a yo-yo of a day. Ups and down, literally and mentally,” Mike said.
Despite the mental and physical hurdles that our team needed to overcome today, the opportunity to be racing through some of the most pristine landscapes in New Zealand isn’t lost on Alex and Mike.
“This race is just immense – in every way. Today was the queen stage, the toughest of the week, and yet amidst all the suffering (there was plenty) you really have to pinch yourself,” Alex said.
It turned out that it wasn’t just the physical boundaries that slowed down our Cyclist duo today.
“There were a number of times where Mike and I stopped pushing hard on the pedals and simply looked around to admire what surrounded us,” Alex said.
With the big support back home in Australia, it’s hard to describe exactly what it is like to experience the Pioneer, which oscillates between brutality and beauty at every turn.
“I’m finishing each day with about 60 messages from friends…asking ‘how was it today?’. It’s a struggle to explain how stunning and brutally hard this race/event is – both in equal parts of beauty and brutality,” Alex said.
The final descent into Lake Hawea to complete the stage was a chance for Alex and Mike to have some fun at the end of what was an unforgettable day.
“The descent into Hawea, off the Grand View climb really finished the day on a high note. We were carving the corners and getting a bit loose. I even had a little lay down, but we both laughed it off,” Mike said.