Five Minutes With... Emma Bateup

Five Minutes With... Emma Bateup

17 May, 2022

Emma Bateup is a staple of the cycling scene in New Zealand but somewhat unheard of in the ultra-cycling world. However, in January 2022 this all changed when she had a storming win for the Tour Te Waipounamu, flying over the finish line as first woman despite losing a pedal in the earlier stages of the race. We sat down for 5 minutes with her to find out more.

Picture by Henry Jaine

The 2022 Tour Te Waipounamu was your first ultra-race, can you tell us why you decided to tackle this awe-inspiring race?

I'd dotwatched the race the year before because I knew some of the competitors and thought it looked like a good challenge! It looked perfect for me to start with because it seemed to be a combination of the riding that I usually do, just for a whole week! I loved the backcountry aspect of it and was very inspired by the photos I saw from the initial race, it looked like a great way to see some more of the island.

Photo by Andrew Laurie

We were all closely following your dot, as such a newcomer to the sport your finish time as 1st woman was impressive, to say the least! Are you looking to carry on ultra-distance racing after this experience?

Thank you! For sure, I'd love to do a few long cycling events each year, I've also just started doing some Adventure races which have been fun too. I'm hoping to be on the TTW 2024 start line to put what I learnt this year into practice so I guess I'll spend the next couple of years obsessing about it and doing events that give me more experience.

Photo by Ian Davidson

What preparation did you go through to get yourself ready for the TTW? Take us through your training and tactics!

To be honest, that's the part I didn't do a very good job of, I had big intentions to do some specific prep with my setup but I ended up finalising that in the week leading up to the race! I guess my lifestyle just suited the race, I really like riding my bike so I do it a lot, that seems to give me a good base fitness. I was careful about how much riding I did in the month leading up, I really burnt myself out at the end of 2021 so I made sure I was well rested before TTW.

Photo by Emma!

Your setup for the TTW was quite minimal, definitely an advantage on a long MTB race. However, there are always those one or two things you want to amend. Could you talk us through your packing and what you might change?

I was really happy with my setup and would keep it very similar for next time. The things I would change would be more around what I was taking, I don't currently have a lightweight puffer jacket but definitely would get one to take next time! Also things like another light battery, and maybe a better bivvy bag (I just took a lightweight emergency one).

Photo by Mathew Knight

On the TTW you had a bit of a pedal malfunction! Can you tell us a bit more about this and also how you overcame this challenge?

It was an interesting start to the race! At about 180km into the race my pedal bearing seized and pedalling would cause the pedal to unwind itself from the crank. I tried a few different techniques to keep going, luckily I've spent time working in bike shops and riding around on bikes without pedals. I ziptied my foot to the pedal that was still working (I use flats which was definitely a disadvantage in this scenario but perfect for everything else!) and would push down on the crank with the other foot. This worked well on the flat and I just walked up the hills. It was 80km to the next town so I called up a bike rental place and asked if they would sell me some pedals the next day. It was pretty demoralising being passed by lots of the other riders but I managed to keep my spirits up and it provided some good chasing (and dotwatching) once I had new pedals!

Photo by Dominic Blissett

We’ve seen a lot of your mountain bike shredding, road riding and everything in between! What other events do you take part in and how do they compare to something like the TTW?

I've been doing a wide range of events lately, so far this year I've done six events and all have been different disciplines. I enjoy mixing it up to keep it fresh but I have been spreading myself a bit thin. Going forward I want to focus on Enduro races alongside long distance races, it helps my skills and are great social events. The goal is just to keep having fun on bikes and spend as much time on them as possible!

Photo by Emma

Top Tip: What’s your go-to ride snack?

I'm gluten and dairy intolerant so it makes things a bit tricky, especially in long distance events! My go-to snack is Clif Bloks, they're a safe, yummy option that provide heaps of energy.

Photo by Dominic Blissett