|Always a sucker for a woman in uniform|
|Bill chatting up Viking chick|
|Team shot with extras|
|The first fateful morning, where we sadly had to exclude Ollie from the shot.|
|Thomas, Jonty, (with a Voodoo chicken above his head) Alex and Matt, examining his meal for traces of non-vegetable based contaminants|
|Some crazy munters walked/rode 740 metres vertical up the climb from Nelson to the top of the Mangatapu track to put up this sign. There were also detailed instructions for Thomas who became lost more than once on the Kiwi Brevet|
Kiwi Brevet 2012
|200km, 9am to 9pm|
On the way we observed the damage done to some pretty classy riders as they struggled with a combination of heat, pace, and I suspect skimping on the water. We caught up to Great Divide Rider Lance Griffen who was looking a bit worse for wear, and desperate for more liquid. It was easy to see that he was an ex single-speeder as he rode standing up a lot of the time, skidding his rear wheel with each power pulse.
|Andy, Alex, Jonty, Matt |
somewhere up the Awatere
|Lance, Jonty, Alex on |
a rare piece of seal
|Jonty catching zeds at Molesworth|
The Molesworth itself was devoid of most of the corrugations that messed with our heads and butts last time, but the head wind as we entered the last 30 or so kilometres was a bit tough on us.
|David, Lance, Jonty, Alex, Stephen |
on a summit somewhere
200kms rolled over on my computer as we hit Hanmer around 9pm, and we stocked up on fast food for tea. Matt turned up not much later and scored some nice vegan Thai food. Hanmer's accommodation was all gone so it was out with the bivvy sacks and into the camping ground. At least they had washing machines and driers which we put our dirty clothes in. It was quite warm that night so I didn't even need my bivvy bag.
|Jonty and Alex|
|Rolling out from Hanmer|
|190 kms, 8.30 to 9pm|
We hit the road again and before long were surfing on some fresh new gravel. The damn grader looked like it had been through the previous day. Bugger..
|Resting up before our wrong turn|
|Another pinch climb|
|Alex fords river|
|Matt settles down for the night in the Hedgerow Hilton|
|Plenty of room in this locale|
|The front entrance to Hedgerow Hilton|
|Fueling up near the top of the Wharfdale|
|Somewhere in the Lee Valley|
|Jonty in the Wharfdale|
|8am to 9pm, 210 kms|
|Alex adds some air|
Matt appeared over the horizon and hot on his tail was Jonty ! Up until that point we didn't know if Jonty was in front or behind us. It turned out that I had bought the last packed of Sour Snakes in the shop, and Jonty had turned the wrong way for a while and was headed to Christchurch! Luckily he ran into an old buddy of his who confirmed his error. Its a small world. It was nice travelling across the divide, but the descent down the Otira Gorge reminded me why I bonked when doing the KB from the other direction. It was bloody steep, especially on a rear tire that has been leaking a bit of air.
|Retro jacket moment|
Eventually we hit Arthurs Pass and indulged in some over priced pies, chips, chocolate milks and the usual confectionery. We were half expecting to catch up to Nathan Mawkes who we had been leap frogging pretty much from day 1. Nathan tended to ride a bit slower and take a few more rests. No sign of Nathan although we met Mark Watson whose partner Hanna was doing the event, and we also met Ollies girlfriend. We were approached by a lot of people who were interested in what we were doing which was cool.
Before long we were on the road again and heading for Jacksons.
|Sons of Anarchy- Season 2|
We managed to snag some junk food there and were pleased to hang a right and hit some less frequented roads. Apparently this move eluded Thomas Lindup some many hours earlier and he had ended up riding to Kumara and back ! The roads in this area were smooth and fast. Even the gravel was nice when we got to it. The best time of the day to be riding is the evening, but we enjoyed our relatively early finish at Blackball at around 9pm. It seemed like everyone was there. Dave Sharpe and the single speeders, Nathan, even Thomas in his bright yellow puffer jacket, looking like a demented Big Bird - apparently bivvying in a hedge somewhere since the room rates had gone up since our previous stay.
|Somewhere out the back of Moana|
Although the kitchen was closed at the Blackball Hilton the chef whipped us up some very nice sandwiches, and even managed to build one acceptable to our resident vegan who was doing way better with his eating than on the previous Brevet. A beer and raspberry and coke later and it was time to wash our spare shorts and prepare for the next day. Unbeknown to me poor Andy was up all night with a bad belly. Was it the chicken pie or a hard day ? We never knew, but Andy stayed on the next day until he started to feel a bit better.
|200kms, 7.30 to 11.50 pm|
|The Otututu River|
|Blackwater enroute to Waiuta|
We cruised up the lovely quiet country roads into the old Ghost town of Waiuta were my mother went to school. Theres not much left these days so after a quick look at the accommodation which was all locked up we hit the Waiuta trail proper. Before long Matt and I came across Thomas who had discovered that his latest puncture was proving difficult to fix since his tool bag had sprung a leak and his tire levers were awol. Matt kept going and I lent Thomas mine until he had at least beaded the rim. While he worked on his wheel a Bellbird tweeted vociferously less than a metre from our heads. I have never been so close to one in the wild.
|Matt in the Waiuta|
It was easy to see that a heap of work had been done on the Waiuta track. There were no more of the treacherous creek crossings that we had experienced last time, but unfortunately the track was wet, and once again our semi slick tires were as good as useless with a full load on. We rode and walked for several hours until eventually Alex, Jonty and then Thomas caught us near Big River. We decided to have a bit of lunch and Thomas pulled out a flask full of whiskey! Big River was a lot more fun and from memory there was a bit of competitive descending going on which resulted in another flat for Thomas.
Before long we had exited the bush and hit the shops at Reefton for more pies, choc milks and supplies. Not sure why but we seemed to spend around 2 hours mucking about in Reefton.
|Rare bush goblin|
The Rahu saddle was the next stretch, but it took a little while for Thomas to find his legs. Eventually his legs and sense of humour returned and from that point on the day just got sillier and sillier. Sparking up the cleats on the descents was the new cool thing, after Jonty demoed brushing his teeth while riding. After descending the big hill into Springs Junction there was a strange encounter between Jonty and a very wolf-ish looking cat, which he proceeded to stroke - with a piece of cardboard, so he didn't get ring worm !
The next piece of road had us ending up on some tarseal where a new game started. The idea was to be the last person standing still wearing their sun glasses. We had already stopped to put on our lights so it was getting pretty silly. I can't remember who won in the end, I wasnt playing.
|Hoodlums on the road|
We hit Murch at 11.50 and I went about finding the Camping Ground we booked from Reefton. I went around to the office. Rang the number and listened as the phone went off in the house and I heard the guy stumble out of bed ! The keys were in the doors and the lights on. Excellent.
We were very disappointed to find that we had to pay for a hot shower, but once again Thomas impressed with his ingenuity by putting hot water from the hand basin into his camelbak and inverting it for use as a camp shower. The last I saw of him that night he was walking around like a skinny sasquatch wearing a jersey upside down on his lower torso while his bike pants dried... hanging off his aero bars, over the heater in his cabin. Hmmmm. Luckily he had a cabin to himself.
|200kms, a big climbing day. 8am to 11pm.|
We caught Nathan Mawkes part way up the Porika, and Peter Maindonald on the decent. If there was an award for the most improved rider from the previous Kiwi Brevet it would go to Peter. The first one took him 9 days. This time he was on a 5.5 day schedule and he was armed with some serious kit. A carbon forked rigid 29er and all the accoutrement's. I am so impressed at how these rigid 29ers descend, he wasnt giving away much to me, if anything on my 26 inch fully.
The piece of road from the road's end to St Arnaud, although tarseal, seemed really hard. Aparrently it was false flat. It certainly messed with our heads, as we had been looking forward to it for ages, and imagining a fast downhill descent finishing with pies and chocolate milk! We fueled up at St Arnaud and rolled over Kerrs Hill, through Golden Downs and eventually got onto 88 Valley Road. We passed the two single speeders Stephen and David as they dealt with a recurring puncture. This stretch also seemed to take a long time. It was hot with a head wind, and a fair few climbs that seemed to have skipped my memory banks form doing it in the opposite direction in 2010. Plus my arse was in agony. At this point the Team Voodoo Lounge contingent had been whittled down to myself, Jonty and Alex, who never complained although he was obviously in pain.
The navigating of the cycle lanes after Wakefield was not a lot of fun, but better then mixing it with the 4.30 rush of traffic as people made their way in and out Richmond, one of the biggest growing towns in NZ. We were pleasantly surprised to meet Chris Burr on the trail and he advised us on where we could find a nice place for Pizza and Beer!!! YUM. But before we got there a car pulled over on the side of the road and some kids jumped out and offered us fresh Banana and Chocolate Muffins! It was awesome. We have no idea who they were or who they were supporting but it was surely appreciated.
We eventually rode into Nelson, after a warning from Chris about how cyclists were public enemy number one. He was later to be proven correct with as bigger displays of moronic behaviour as I have seen in any boganised area in New Zealand. The Pizza and Beer were awesome and we were also met by my Cuz, Paul McNabb who had been watching our approach online. I did a quick grocery shop while waiting for the Pizzas and we took off, probably less than an hour after we arrived. It was probably around 5 or 5.30 pm as we headed up the Maitai in search of our next destination, maybe Murderers Rock on Mangatapu, or Perlorus.
The new alternative trail to the Mangatapu track was well worth the deviation, as it was rideable, and dry! Unfortunately Alex got a sidewall cut that we had to sort out with a boot and some duct tape just before the caretakers house. I was happy to be using all the crap I had in my tool kit. Duct tape, valve stem tool, and a few other things all came in handy at different times. It was a coolish night so the climb was a lot easier than it would have been during the heat of the day. As we approached the summit it was well and truly dark and we had a quick stop to send a text to Matt to tell him where we thought we might be camping, and to put on some more clothes for the long descent down onto the Pelorus side. This was less fun than it might have been as we had to form a sandwich formation with Alex being the meat, as he had no lights. After the descent the next 13km gravel segment to Perlorus seem overly hilly at that time of the night and I think we were all pretty damn happy to stop there and bivvy up. Unfortunately we couldn't find the official tent camping site, which was just as well as it turned out to be crap. I found a dry spot in the bush and we slept the sleep of the dead, and were only awakened briefly by the arrival of a late night addition to our camp. Nathan had caught up, with Thomas in tow. Thomas carried on, to who knows where, while Nathan settled in with us.
|Around 120 kms I think. 7.30 to 1.10pm|
Jonty woke up and looked pretty damn groggy. He said he was missing the usual 8 hours sleep that he needs to function adequately. It was no surprise then when that when the Lone Ranger turned up to chastise us about our non-legal camping spot that the responses to his accusations were less than cheery. It turns out that there was a proper camping ground, we just didn't find it. It also turned out the Matt did! Apparently he turned up some time after us, only a couple of hours I think, and by virtue of his superior tertiary education he found the correct place to camp. It was out on the grass and of course he got covered in dew which wasn't so good. We only found all this out later.
|Queen Charlotte Drive|
Nathan had already done a sneaky depart while we were waking up at around 6.20. Then Peter Maindonald rolled by, having bivvyed at the bottom of the Mangatapu descent. He mentioned that Matt, Nathan and Thomas had all passed him in the night! Wow. We had already lost 4 places while were were asleep ! (Not that its a race).
We hit the road at around 7.20 is my guess, the earliest departure we had the whole time. I was super motivated as I knew all the roads we were about to ride, with the exception of Port Underwood, which I had ridden on the previous Brevet, and really enjoyed. At Jonty's suggestion we ordered short blacks at the Havelock cafe because they take the least time to make, and snacked on a few buns and supplies. Peter Maindonald was there having his daily eggs benedict. Peter took off a few seconds before us, and he didn't seem to be mucking about. We caught him on a little climb a couple of minutes later and didn't see him again.
I was feeling good, maybe the best I had the whole time. Even my butt felt better. The Queen Charlotte Drive was a blast and we got to Picton in short time, brought some more water and coke, gave Jonty some time-out for an expresso-ablution and hit the hills that make up Port Underwood. Man that first one just went on for ever. It was beautiful. It was sunny and hot with a cool damp sea breeze that was going in our direction.
|A nice bay, not sure which one|
There were 3 or 4 hills, I cant remember. They went up, they went down, the way all hills do. The scenery was awesome. Unfortunately Alex's knee was giving him a hard time and he lost contact on the 2nd to last hill I think. I was thinking that Nathan could have been close, but figured he wouldn't be doing his usual stopping every 2 hours for a leisurely break on the last day. At one point Jonty hallucinated that he saw Nathan sitting in the shade on the side of the road up ahead. Maybe it was hotter than we thought?
I was starting to gap Jonty on the climbs, but I knew he would get back on again on the descents which he was doing way faster than I could. On the last hill I did get away a bit and put my head down, I knew that if I could get down on the Rarangi straight I could see if there was anyone for me to run down. Sure enough I saw a dark figure 500 metres up ahead so I reeled them in. It was Scott Emmens. He was pretty much blown, and we hadn't seen him since our one hour rest stop at the Molesworth Station water point on day one. He said that Nathan had been through about 10 minutes earlier and so had Thomas ! I had no cue-sheets as I had given them to Matt days earlier when he lost his, but Scott had cue-sheets AND a GPS ! We cruised along until Jonty turned up and we all rode back together. This GPS lark is so easy it seems wrong!
|Another pretty bay in Port Underwood|
Up ahead we saw another rider that Scott recognised as Thomas, so we formed a paceline and shot past him at 50kmh screaming like banshees, for a wind up. We slowed right down but he didn't seem keen to join us. We didn't realize he had yet another flattie and a shagged tire and had been riding on the rim for ages and continued to do so until he got too Blenheim.
We made our way into the finish at Seymour square and Nathan Mawkes and Geof Blanc were there to meet us, with my family turning up a few minutes later. Its always an anti-climax at the finish, so having someone there to meet you and shake your hand is always nice. I feel bad about not being there when Matt turned up but I figured he was going to have a hard time on the hills and unfortunately the dial-up at my parents place wasn't doing a great job with the trackers. Matt did awesomely. With less fitness than last time he managed his exercise induced nausea really well and was rarely more than a few minutes behind when we stopped at the top of any particular hill.
It was another great event by Simon, although I have to say I think the original direction is the best. Once again we were incredibly lucky with the weather. We had some awesome bivvy spots, almost always had a tail wind, unless we were going downhill when we had a headwind on a few occasions. We had great company and all of us finished. Most of our butts were in worse shape than when we started, but its hard to get everything right eh?
|Voodoo Lounge Proprietors. Thanks heaps!|
|Team Voodoo Lounge, some of these |
people are real, some of them are not
Strange things happen in the Voodoo Lounge. Its a comforting place, but beware when your guard is down, the fridge is full of beer, there's a roast in the oven and the massage chair is waiting to caress you. One of us began speaking "in tongues" during the nights after our Brevet was over. A kind of falsetto voice with an English accent. Who was this "persona", and what was it trying to tell us? Could it have been someone from the Maungatapu murders trying to speak to us? Jonty spoke of his fear of white mans tapu when we slept at the murder site two years ago on the previous Brevet. Was it someone trying to contact us, because we just bowled through in a rush this time, without paying our respects? In the previous Brevet many of us were completely bushed, and Murderers Rock was the only flat place to bed down between Pelorus and Nelson. We spent a lovely night under the stars. This time, coming from the opposite direction, it was cold, and a little foggy so we didn't stop. Maybe this nightly communication was in some way related . Check out the harrowing account of the murders and the grisly execution that followed.
|Thomas understands the importance |
of getting the hole-shot
The Voodoo lounge comes with a freezer, fridge, toilet, showers and a small kitchen, along with a TV, and a garage with ample room for bike tinkering. This year I did a big fry-up at about 5.30 on the morning of day one, cooking in the garage, baked beans, bacon and eggs. I can't recall what Matt ate. But it wouldn't have been the bacon, ditto for Jonty who also has hi ethical and religious standards in relation to eating dead pigs. I think it set me up well for the day, and I also had 6 cheese, baked-bean and salami toastie pies secreted on my person. These lasted me 3 days and were a welcome change from muesli bars, and more muesli bars. Carrying two full water bottles on my bike and 3.0 to 3.5 litres of water on my back at all times meant that I never run out of water either, while I observed plenty of other people who seemed to be skimping in order to save a bit of weight. I also had a spare half bottle on the back of my rack which came in handy a few times at the end of a long day, for some of my ridding buddies.
I do have a bit of a fear of the "bonk" so I pretty much ate constantly the whole time. Standard stuff that I learnt from the previous Brevet. Pies, chocolate milks, muesli bars, and way too many lollies. In fact my tongue still hasn't recovered from the lollies. I think it was the Blackballs I bought at Reefton that did the damage. I always had two bottles of Powerade (from Gas stations) in my cages, and the Nuuns tablets in my camelback. No wonder I didn't get any skinnier.
|Camera bag attached to back pack|
The late addition of two cut down water bottles attached to my handlebars were great for storing my wind breaker on the left, and muesli bars on the right. Easy access all the time was a bit of a theme for me this time, and I didn't want anything on my back except water and the day's maps. Next time I think I would look at a vest, instead of a full jacket. The weather was so good I had no need to even get out my rain jacket, and arm warmers and a vest would be a pretty good combo. A Revelate Gas Tank could have replaced all my little zip-tied add-ons a lot more cleanly, but they were lying about the shed, and they were free.
I reckon if you are going to have so much fun, and go through so much beautiful scenery it would be silly not to take a few photos. My camera from the 2010 Brevet died after some water exposure on my daughter's Duke of Ed trip, so sourcing a new one was at the back of my mind. I spied a mint one for $29 at Cash Converters one day so snapped it up. Its no use having a camera if its not accessible so I built a system that allowed me to access it with one hand while it was mounted in its case on my right lapel. It had a safety cord and was very easy to extract from its case, and turn off and on one-handed. Think about this if you are shopping for a camera. One-handed operation is a must. I have a better camera at home, but the on button is too far to the other side, and every part of its surface is a button or a slide or something that turns something off or on. Too gadgety by far.
I spent a fair bit of time setting this up. My idea was to do a quick blog when we had some down time or when we were doing our text-in locations. For the most part it worked, but I am guessing with a few delays. These days, with an Android phone all you need to do after you take a photo is to press-hold on it and you are given a list of ways of sharing that image, from Twitter, Facebook, email, Blogger etc etc. I had an email-to-blog address that would send anything to my Blog and at the same time also post it on Facebook, and Twitter. Plus if I tweeted (txted) anything, the tweets would also go to my twitter feed, my blog, my facebook and the Kiwi Brevet twitter feed. For the less technically inclined people I had their email addresses designated in my blog settings so that they would automatically get my updates in their email in box. There is a limit of ten people on this.
My body went great. Not even a bonk, no sore knees or muscle strains, a slight numbness in my right fore-foot, probably a result of some last minute cleat surgery but my butt was not that flash. I am not sure what the problem was with my nether regions, but I reckon it was even worse than last time, despite having good quality chamois cream and shorts, and having well and truly gotten used to my saddle. Maybe I need to try one of those big fat Brooks saddles? Most people who used them seem to think they were great. Not everyone, but the majority.
|Click for a blow-up|
The bike was brilliant. Faster rolling 29 inch wheels would have been better, but you travel at the speed of the people you are with, and 9 times out of 10, you end up at the same place each night. Speed is rarely an issue. Comfort is. The Superlight is a great bike to ride and with aero bars and a Freeload rack on the back I cant imagine a set-up that would suit me better right now. I have to admit, the new 29er Santa Cruz Superlights look awesome. I had a small slow leak on the rear Stans Raven that I needed to add air too a couple of times. In the future I might sacrifice some wheel resistance for a tire with more grip, as the Raven was pretty hopeless in the Wharfdale track and through the Waiuta, both tracks being quite wet. These should have been the best parts of the Brevet, but for many they weren't. Carrying a full load obviously doesn't help either! Everywhere else they were mint.
My bike is essentially my cross country race bike with aero bars and rack attached. 23.5 pounds in race trim, but 39.8 pounds loaded, without any full water bottles on board. If you add up two 750ml water bottles and a 3 litre camelbak, you can see that there is a lot of weight in carrying your water. I was scared for my 28 hole wheels at times, but I am sure there are guys fatter than me riding on them more aggressively than I was.
|Wharfdale - Photo from Andy|
It was great, and doing it in reverse was a fun way of letting me enjoy it again. I suspect the original direction (counter clockwise) is the more natural one for the flow of the trails. Good weather and tail winds the whole time were the order of the day. Thanks heaps to Simon for thinking it up and holding it, as he promised would at the end of the first one, every two years.
Write it down this time, 1st to 9th Feb 2014. You know who you are !