Queenstown Games hopeful has the bike stuff

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Life’s a blur of kilometres, fundraising, kilometres, sports massages, kilometres, nutrition, work and then more kilometres for Queenstown’s Kate Fluker.

It wasn’t meant to be this way.

The cross-country mountain biker took it up four years ago on a $400 bike as a social activity.

Now she’s national champion and has the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in her sights.

“It’s hard to believe it’s happening,” Fluker, 26, says. “I started biking in 2010 just to meet people in Queenstown.

“So to think I’m trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games is pretty strange. Dad’s stoked – he gets pretty emotional at the finish line of races like the Motatapu.”

Fluker moved to Queenstown from Levin, in the North Island, in 2009 with partner Reon Boe – a talented downhill biker.

They’ve now been together nearly 10 years.

“He was riding just over six years before I decided to give it a go – it was the only way I could see him,” Fluker jokes.

The rural property valuer began training for the Motatapu with friends.

It was her first race but she managed to finish second in the Open Women category. The next year she was the fastest woman overall – winning the Elite category – and has now defended her title three times, breaking her own record each time.

Her stunning four years competing has seen podium finishes in scores of domestic races – crowned by becoming national cross-country champion earlier this year. 

Fluker also competed on an international stage last year, scoring a series of top 50 finishes in Mountain Bike World Cup series races. 

It’s come as a shock to her – she says she wasn’t even particularly sporty before moving to Queenstown.

“Not really at all,” Fluker says. “I grew up riding horses but that didn’t really require much training, they move themselves.

“I’d try to go running a couple of times a week but I’d only ever last about 20 minutes – so I was pretty unfit before I started this.

“I grew up in quite a sporty household, mum played hockey and dad’s into cricket, but I didn’t play really.”

That’s all changed now. She’s training more than 20 hours a week as she prepares for the 2014 World Cup series races in Australia and Europe.

That sees her cover about 200km a week on a road bike before mountain bike work. It will change to shorter but more intense sessions as she gets closer to racing.

Fluker covered an astonishing 400km in nine hours and 24 minutes on a stationary bike on Saturday in Queenstown’s Brian Smith Park for a fundraiser for her and Boe’s World Cup trip.

Friends and passers-by helped out, volunteering to ride four other stationary bikes – with every km covered matched by sponsorship dollars.

The event raised $1700 in total.

“It was amazing,” she says.

“I had images of me all by myself with no one on the other bikes but they were busy the entire day.

“It’s the longest I’ve ever done in a day. My legs were achy and throbby the next day, but not too bad considering.”

A fun-duro race by Queenstown’s mountain biking community that morning brought the day’s total to $5000.

“We’re stoked. It’s the most financial support we’ve ever had – everyone’s been so supportive.

“And the camaraderie definitely helps. I like to hang out, go for a beer afterwards – but I just have a water or something.” 

Fluker says they’re aiming to raise $20,000 and still have some way to go before they fly out in just three weeks, having raised about $7000.

Well-known Queenstown biker Boe, who finished an impressive 10th at the Oceanias last month after recovering from dislocating his shoulder’s AC joint, will also compete in events in Europe along with acting as support crew for her races.

Fluker says her strength is uphill blasts – “unfortunately”. She hopes for a top 25 finish in each of the three World Cup races she’ll contest.

“This is only my second year racing internationally so I don’t have very many points, so I’ve had to prove myself domestically, which I’ve done.

“But now I’ve got to do that internationally – it’s going to be pretty hard because I have to start right at the back of the pack.

“I’ve just got to fight my way up hard the first lap and then keep going.”

The next fundraiser is at Rabbit Ridge Resort this Saturday, from 10am. Entry by gold coin donation. Fluker is also taking donations on her website and keen to find more corporate sponsors.