New Zealand organizers build a bridge for their race

Tony Hogg leads out Marcus Roy and Kashi Leuchs in the Motatapu Icebreaker, a mountain bike race on the South Island of New Zealand.

Tony Hogg leads out Marcus Roy and Kashi Leuchs in the Motatapu Icebreaker, a mountain bike race on the South Island of New Zealand. (Image credit: Derek Morrison)

When safety of mountain bike riders crossing State Highway 1 became a concern for the organisers of the Wattyl Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge in New Zealand, they decided to build a bridge to take racers over it.

"The safety of the 600 riders expected in this year's Contact Huka Mountain Bike Challenge is of utmost concern to us," said Mike Langley, Mountain Bike Director of the off-road challenge which is part of the annual Cycle Challenge on November 28 in Taupo.

"After the popularity of last year's inaugural off-road event, we quickly identified that it was not ideal to have the riders combat the traffic on State Highway 1 so we will be building a bridge to get riders over the road."

The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is New Zealand's largest one day cycling event - 11,000 entrants from around New Zealand are expected to take part in 12 different challenges.

The mountain bike course takes in 80 km of Taupo's most popular mountain bike tracks, most of which is flowing singletrack.
"Entrants start with the rest of the Cycle Challenge riders and then head off-road. They will follow the Waikato River before riding through a tunnel under SH1 into the Wairakei Crown Forest Park (next to Craters of the Moon) where all 45km of mountain bike tracks are used before heading back out through the tunnel."

After riding an event-only section down to Aratiatia Dam, they cross the dam and then come back to the Huka Falls trail, through the Rotary Ride before completing a brand new section of the trail. Riders will then cross State Highway 1 on the temporary bridge finishing their 80km mountain bike challenge.

Building bridges over State Highways is nothing new to Taupo - the self-proclaimed "events capital" of New Zealand also has a bridge built over the country's main trunkline for entrants during the annual Ironman race.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.