By Jake Beleski
Scott Lyttle’s return to competitive cycling looks set to carry on a little longer than expected.
Lyttle, son of Steve and Sue Lyttle of Carterton, came out of retirement to compete in the seven-day Pioneer mountain bike race in the Southern Alps.
He won the race with teammate James Williamson, and that success has quashed any thought of heading back into retirement once again.
“Part of winning this race is that it gained us entry to a race call the Cape Epic, and there’s nothing bigger in the world in terms of mountain bike events — it’s the Tour de France equivalent.”
The Cape Epic covers roughly 700km in South Africa each March, and Lyttle will compete in the 2018 edition.
He is due to head back to his current residence at Boulder, Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains on Sunday, where he had trained for the Pioneer race.
“That was one huge advantage for me, living at altitude,” he said.
“You start at 5000 or 6000 feet where I live and do 15-20km climbs to 15000 or 20000 feet which is really tough, but it certainly gets you in pretty good shape.”
The Pioneer was the toughest mountain bike race he had competed in to date, and lived up to all expectations, he said.
“Even in terms of doing a one-day mountain bike race I haven’t covered distances like that, let alone for seven days.
“I’ve done it on the road, so some of the experience definitely crossed over.
“I had no idea it was such a big event and how well-organised it was, as well as how professional it was . . . to see the countryside and different parts of New Zealand, it’s just mind-blowing.”
Lyttle competed with former road racing teammate Williamson, of Alexandra, but the pair had very different preparations for the event.
“We had no training together . . . the first time I saw him was the day before the race.
“The last time we rode together was back in 2011 when we were teammates back in the day.”
Lyttle’s success had created opportunities he had not seen coming, and now he wants to work out a plan to be in peak physical shape for next year’s Cape Epic ride.
“I’ll look at the calendar and there’s a few good races this year in America — I need to do a bit of research and target a few of them.”
Lyttle said his success would not have been possible without the support of local sponsors Watson and Sons, as well as the local cycling and athletics clubs.