For someone who'd just ridden 1280km and had less than seven hours sleep in three days, Christine Couldrey looked remarkably fresh.
The Raglan scientist says after spending 72 hours and 21 minutes making eight laps of Lake Taupo as an extreme enduro cyclist in this year's Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, she felt "knackered'' but the epic ride was "a whole lot better'' than she had expected.
"I enjoyed it a whole lot, most of it anyway. There were a few not-so-good bits,'' said Dr Couldrey, only moments after a rapturous welcome from the crowd as she crossed the finish line. The doctor set off on her eight laps last
Wednesday at midday and finished just after midday Saturday, having had very little sleep.
"I slept for 45 minutes on Thursday morning and I had time to give myself the luxury of three hours sleep Friday morning and three hours last night.''
Dr Couldrey finished well inside the 76 hours required to qualify for the Race Across America, which had been her goal, but said she was unsure whether she would be able to head to America in 2013 to compete in it because money would be a limiting factor.
However, she said she hoped to be back at the cycle challenge, although perhaps not for quite as long.
"Four laps is looking pretty appealing now.''
Dr Couldrey was one of five extreme enduro cyclists this year and the only woman.
She was one of 8214 cyclists who flocked to Taupo for this year's cycle challenge, including 600 mountain bikers and around 2500 relay riders.
Taupo turned on warm conditions and light winds to make for an enjoyable day's riding as the bikers headed out on the 160km circuit around the lake or onto the mountain bike trails.
The oldest two riders were both 80, while the youngest, a Heart Rider who rides 5km with an adult, was aged just two years.
In the elite sections of the event, the 160km men's classic race was won by recent Tour of Southland winner Mike Northey in 3h 45m 15s, while Rushlee Buchanan smashed the record for the 100km OPI women's road race by 10 minutes, coming in at 2h 44m 50s.
First-time solo rider Liam Friary of Auckland said he had had a great day and was very happy with his time of 4h 20m, especially considering that only four years ago he had weighed 134kg. Then he got bitten by the triathlon bug and also discovered cycling. Now he goes to schools and talks about his journey from couch potato to fitness freak.
Mr Friary said the scenery on the course was "pretty awesome'' and although there had been a head wind on the Tihoi section of the course, it was counterbalanced by a tail wind from Turangi back to Taupo.
Cycle challenge event director Kay Brake said the day went off brilliantly and organisers had already had lots of positive feedback from happy cyclists.
"Overall it was just ideal conditions,'' she said. "The day went very smoothly.''
Safety on the day had also been pleasing with a low accident rate for such a high number of cyclists, she said.
Ms Brake also paid tribute to the 700 volunteers, saying they had done a superb job and the cycle challenge could not be held without them.