For two-wheeled speed fiend Gordon McCauley, Saturday's Port of Tauranga Half will be a matter of reigning in his cycling demons sufficiently to allow a strong home run.
Last year, 39-year-old McCauley was the first to break the 2 hour barrier for the cycle section in the 22 years since the launch of the Tauranga event.
Blasting around the 90km in 1:59.04, the Hibiscus Coast-based powerhouse carried Team Rehab to the team title and the second-fastest teams time in the event's history. Having put aside pro cycling and now working as a cycling coach, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games time trial bronze medallist now has his sights set on Ironman New Zealand in Taupo in March and July's triathlon world long distance titles. Making his individual triathlon debut at last month's Taupo half, he finished a creditable fifth in his 35-39 age group and blitzed the bike record by more than 7min in the process. "I'm known for pushing big gears on the bike and the Tauranga course allows me to do that. It's not conducive to a good run, but hey ho. I ride to numbers on the powermeter and I reckon having the run to follow will mean 15 per cent off my ride," McCauley said.
The Cycling New Zealand people's champion plays down any suggestion of hacking further into his bike record this Saturday. "No, riding in a team gives you the opportunity, it's really different as an individual," McCauley said. "I'm not a strong swimmer. Last May when I decided I was going to move towards the full individual ironman I couldn't even swim. At Taupo I was surprised how much the swim took out of me."
McCauley came out of the lake about 300th in the field of 800 but in a blur of overtaking climbed to 11th at the second transition.
Despite his disadvantage in the water he doesn't work hard on his swimming, covering between 2.5km to 4km twice a week in the ocean. The bulk of his training comprises four to five sessions of running and cycling, riding up to 170km followed by 10km on foot. Finishing at Taupo in 4:45, he was rapt with 50th overall and fifth in his 35-39 age group.
The ITU long distance triathlon world championships are in Spain in July and McCauley's move into the 40-44 age grade won't do his bid for an age-group berth any harm. "If I can slip in there somewhere in the last few, 10th or even 12th, that'd be great," McCauley said.
Quizzed about a blog entry stating he'd been the most nervous lining up at Taupo than in years of top-level competition, McCauley put it down to fear of the unknown.
"I'm just like any other age-group guy, I'm in a new sport and testing myself," he said.
Also in the winning team on his only other tilt at the Tauranga event in 1995, McCauley's experiences here are all good.
If powermeter and prospect of worlds qualification fail to motivate, McCauley can draw on another great sustainer: One-upmanship. "I'll be watching an Auckland mate, Craig Neale, who's also the husband of a woman I coach. He beat me by four minutes at Taupo and every time I see him there's been a lot of smack talk."