They only decided where they were starting on Tuesday night. It's a very informal plan for riding their bikes around Lake Taupō on Saturday on what would have been the day of the cancelled 2020 Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge.
Beginning in 1977 with 26 friends deciding to ride around Lake Taupō for fun, the event has morphed into New Zealand's biggest cycling event. Cancelled this year due to Covid-19, this year 12 mates have decided to ride around the lake for fun and as a training ride for the upcoming Gentle Annie Ride.
Not worried about his time, this year cyclist Crunchie Donaldson, 67, has scaled back his usual multi-lap effort and is simply riding around the lake once (instead of twice), with his mates. Cycling companion and wife Jo is taking a break this year and saving her efforts for the Gentle Annie Ride the following weekend.
"It all came about because a group of us had entered the Cycle Challenge, and when that was cancelled we entered the Gentle Annie Ride instead," said Crunchie.
Having ridden in the very second Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge in 1978, Crunchie has gone on to ride most years of the famous cycling event, notably taking up the chance to do one-off 1000km and 1200km ride options.
Training together since lockdown, Crunchie says the group typically go out for an 80km to 90km road cycle on Saturdays, followed by a mountain bike ride on Sundays.
"It's just a bit of fun. Last Sunday we did a four-hour mountain bike ride, about 60km."
Crunchie is missing out on seeing his mates from Auckland who come down especially for the event and says for him, the Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge is a bit of a get together.
Disappointed the event was cancelled, Robbie Hislop says this would have been his 20th entry into the Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge. It wouldn't have been 20 years in a row as broken bones from cycling accidents have held him back from entering a couple of times.
"It's always the people falling off in front," says Robbie.
Robbie runs a big business and says cancelling the Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge was a necessary evil and says this year has been a very different year business wise. Earlier in the year Robbie and wife Denise had to rush home from riding the Otago Rail Trail just before the country went into lockdown.
Denise rides an electric bike, and Robbie said she might join them on Saturday for the last 10 to 15km.
The group of 12 is made up of riders of all ages, some vets like Robbie and Crunchie, some training for Ironman like Nick Hume and some college-age students. All three say they all say they are looking forward to a day out cycling with friends and family. Just like in 1977!