Cycle Lake Taupo and Skydive over it. Karl Shearsby

Hi all for those that don’t know, earlier on this year I was asked to attempt the Lake Taupo cycle ride. Yes you herd right and it is 160ks around the lake. Most of you know that I don’t and haven’t ridden a road bike and the whole lycra wearing thing well it just made me fell uncomfortable, not only were we going to do the ride the next day they wanted us to jump out of a perfectly good plane! 

I had no bike or anything so I approached Lisa Horn at My Ride Levin and this fantastic person sponsored me an amazing bike to use for the event. If it was not for Lisa and her team at My Ride Levin I would not of been able to do this event.

So on the 13th of November 7 Pilgrim Bandits from all over NZ headed to Levin with 4 support personnel, we were all lucky enough to stay at an ex NZDF veterans Place (Gary Brandon)  in Taupo some of you will know it as the ONWARD BAR, Gary was a fantastic host and we all thank him so much. On the Friday it was time to meet the other Pilgrim Bandits as most of us didn’t know each other and prep our bikes for a 0700 start.

14th Nov 0600 most of us were up and making sure we got in plenty of food and water. We meet up with the two other Bandits that were staying in Taupo,  this made our team of 7. We set off and man the first hill got me!!! I was feeling it then but we all continued.  As a team we all worked together to get the less experienced people up those hills.. navigational issues arose, as they always do on extreme events like this and the team ended up split in two differing directions, but all meeting back at the first main stop so that was ok..  thea who was a support rider (riding in remembrance of her husband who was KIA in afghanistan) was an amazing rider who helped me so much and if it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t have made it to 40km without stopping.  So thank you Thea for all your support!

At the 40km mark, my body was shutting down due to my medical issues, and it was great that there was no issues or pressure from the pilgrims, who supported and encouraged me in having a rest in the vehicle until I was able or ready to ride again… Thank you Ben for the chats in the vehicle.  I was disappointed in myself but knew I was not in the best shape.  I was amazed how the others were doing. As two of us were in support vehicles at this stage. We would stop every 20kms or so to rehydrate the team. I was supported in getting back on the bike and the encouragement from the team, helped me to continue with another 35k so I was able to start the event and then finish the event with the team. It was an amazing accomplishment for the team and also myself to have even ridden that distance and I think we all underestimated how difficult the course is. We all thought we would finish in about 8.5hrs, this was wrong we came in in a time of 11hrs 15mins. This has given us all motivation to do better next year and train!! 

In true Pilgrim spirit, of extreme events, the 15th Nov…..the following day from the cycle was something I was terrified about…this was the PTSD rearing it’s ugly head.  yes it was the jumping out of a perfectly good plane day. The team got themselves together and headed off to Taupo Tandem Skydiving. As we were sitting in the waiting area 3 Bandits had filled in the paperwork and were looking forward to jumping from `15000 ft, I on the other hand was shitting myself I didn’t want to do it but I did want to if that makes sense? If it wasn’t for Amy and Thea talking to me and encouraging me just to fill in the paper work I would have talked myself out of it. 

Andy was my jump master and what a guy, he new I was terrified but relaxed me and we boarded the plane to 15,000ft. As we takeoff I could feel the sweet running down my back from the thought of jumping., At 15,000 I was third out the door.  My thoughts were “oh man this is real no turning back now” we make our way to the door look at the camera and next thing I know is I’m flying towards the ground at 200 + kph (I did not see the plane again) and oh man what a rush I was loving it yes still scared shitless but enjoying the free falling. It seemed like we were falling for ages before the parachute open.

Knowing we were just flying to the ground whilst looking around at the beautiful scenery our country has to offer. Andy was flying us down and then said do I want a go at flying and yes I did. We did hard out turns that make you spin really fast that was fun. Then we made our way to the landing site and made a perfect landing. I was grinning  for the rest of the day and I am so glad I did it so thank you Amy, Thea and Andy.

I couldn’t of been with a better team and look forward to us doing it again next year.


So to end I would like top thank the following pers

  • Lisa Horn from My Ride Levin
  • Ashhurst RSA Women’s Section
  • Our host Gary ONWARD BAR
  • Our support pers, Mark, Ben, Allan and his wife Gwen
  • And of course the Taupo Ride 2020 team Amy, Ian, Tony, Thea, Mary and Bronwyn.


Thank you Pilgrim Bandits New Zealand