Wednesday, 26 February 2020


Place for everyone in Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

A large group of Mercury Bay locals took on the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge on Saturday 24 November. 

From small beginnings in 1977, when a small group of just 27 riders set out to cycle the almost 160km one lap circumnavigation of Lake Taupo, the event has grown to attract more than 7,000 cyclists every year. 

The “Round the Lake” one lap circumnavigation is now just one of 14 categories the event has on offer. There are both road and mountain bike options for individuals and teams, catering for all levels of cycling and fitness abilities. 

What started out as a one-off challenge for many has over the years become an event not to be missed for a host of different reasons. Well-known Whitianga resident, Merv George, is a good example. Merv, who completed a quarter lap of Lake Taupo this year, was challenged to give cycling a go when his good mate and brother in-law, Brad Davies, wanted to form a relay team and give the 2015 “Round the Lake” challenge a go.

“Brad was in remission from cancer at the time and wanted to set a challenge that not only took us outside our comfort zones, but focused on exercise and wellbeing,” says Merv. “Sometimes it takes a call from a mate to get you cracking and to give yourself that wakeup call about trying to improve your health and fitness.” 

Sadly Brad never got to the start line. The cancer returned and he passed away before the event.  Others in the initial group were Bruce and Bronwyn Troughear and Janelle Holmes. They decided to complete the challenge and rode in memory of their good friend. Since then, the majority of them have continued on, riding the challenge every year in Brad’s memory. “We formed a group called ‘Brads Bunch,’ which has been added to over the years, including my regular training partner, John McKenzie,” says Merv.

This year had even more significance for the group as they lost another good friend, Phil Berge, who died suddenly from a heart attack earlier in the year.

“It’s the great thing about events like the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge,” says Merv. “Everybody has their own reasons for taking part. Some are more competitive than others, but there’s a place for everyone and everyone is treated as an equal. I can’t think of a better way to remember my past mates. Brad was the one who got me taking my health more seriously and doing something about improving it, while Phil was such a great guy and family friend.

“As strange as it may sound, riding alongside lake Taupo among thousands of fellow cyclists is the perfect way to have a quiet moment and to think about, and be thankful for, past friendships.”  

Leith Wilson, a former Mercury Bay local, was someone for whom this year’s Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge was very much a personal challenge, completing a full lap of the lake after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was awarded the Dan Dunne Trophy for riding with hardship/adversity.

Other Mercury Bay resident who participated in this year’s event include Kev O’Brien (Hahei - riding in the 70 plus age group, completing two laps of the lake), Anita Jenkins (Whitianga - one lap), John McKenzie (Whitianga - half lap), Murray Strachan (Hahei - half lap), Paul Cutelli (Hahei - half lap), Shaz Iseli (Hahei - half lap), Bruce Troughear (Whitianga - half lap), Chrissy Baird (Hahei - half lap), Margaret Ivory (Hahei - riding in the 70 plus age group, completing half a lap of the lake), David Ivory (Hahei - riding in the 70 plus age group, completing half a lap of the lake), Browyn Troughear (Whitianga - quarter lap) and Grant McDonald (Whitianga - 82km Huka Challenge for mountain bikes).


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.