Cook’s tour a change of pace

Dunedin pupil Reuben Cook prepares for the Cycling New Zealand virtual tour. PHOTO: SHARRON...
Dunedin pupil Reuben Cook prepares for the Cycling New Zealand virtual tour. PHOTO: SHARRON BENNETT
Reuben Cook has traded his oars for pedals over the past two weeks.

The star Otago Boys’ High School rower is one of many pupils around New Zealand set to compete in Cycling New Zealand’s virtual tour.

The tour begins today and runs until Sunday cyclists riding a different stage each day on stationary exercise bikes from their homes.

It uses the Zwift app in conjunction with a smart trainer, which simulates various courses around the world both in providing visuals and adjusting the difficulty of riding to match the terrain.

Cook, who is in the New Zealand under-19 rowing squad, has cycled over the past few years as cross-training.

When he saw the virtual event come up, he decided to have a go at it.

‘‘I’m just having a bit of a break from the old rowing, just doing a bit of biking, and saw it pop up,’’ Cook (18) said.

‘‘I thought I might as well give it a shot. It’s been pretty fun just going on and doing different courses and stuff, different segments and little journeys with your avatar and having the fastest time.

‘‘I thought I might as well give it a crack.’’

He said it was good to have an event to compete in, as many other school events — notably all of winter tournament week — had been cancelled.

Cook was among those impacted, having been set to go to Napier with the Otago Boys’ First XI football team.

Since the beginning of lockdown he has been cycling every day, going for 40km-50km rides through different courses.

Having online school helped give him more training flexibility, as he could train then come back and do his classes later.

He said there was plenty of crossover from his rowing training, particularly in the hill climbs, where the work load and intensity was not dissimilar.

That was a stage in which he hoped to contend.

‘‘I want to give the hill climb a good shot.

‘‘The speed and stuff’s all done on how much power you put out and how much you weigh. I’m not that big of a guy but I can put out some power so hopefully I’ll do all right on the climbs.’’

Cook was enjoying having a break from rowing, his first since the winter of 2019.

However, he would be back on the water soon enough and planned on making it a focal point when he left school at the end of the year — either going overseas to row or remaining in Dunedin.

Cook is one of several southerners racing in the virtual tour.

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