Saturday, November 13, 2010
Tim and I have decided that there will be another 24 Hour World Solo race sometime in the future - I have unfnished business. I really believed I had a chance at a podium finish in my age group and I am disappointed not to have achieved this.
My preparation was as good as I could have expected given the weather and the very major distraction of being made redundant! There are a couple of things I would change next time but nothing major. I would like to thank Lisa Morgan, my long suffering coach for preparing me so well for the event.
The race started well for me and I quickly settled into a relaxed pace. I can't say I care for le mans starts! I really enjoyed the course with the first ascent to the top being an easy gradient with a few rocks to keep you honest. Unfortunately there were not many places to eat or drink. The descent down the back through Western Wedgetail and Pork Barrell were rocky and reasonably steep. I am pleased to say I rode every section in the light and dark. I put my foot down once, I think, when a lady ended up down a bank in the dark, I thought it would be nice to pull her bike off her!
The 2nd climb to the top was mostly 4wd track, in my practise laps and during the first 8 hours or so this wasn't much fun – it felt very hot. After about 5am I enjoyed this climb as so many people were walking! It is great motivation to give a little more when other people have given up!
The descent back to the pits was fun, the first 3 corners of Rollercoaster got a bit sketchy after awhile and of course the corners on luge were always fun! I think the total descent time was 12 – 15 minutes.
The race fell apart for me early on, after about 9 hours. I just did not drink enough, it was quite hot and with the excitement of the race I just didn't drink. I came into the pits and said to Juliet and Tim that I was in trouble, at which point I was shaking like it was cold. It wasn't cold as both Tim and Juliet were still wearing t-shirts. At this point Juliet and Tim realised I was dehydrated and did their best to get me to drink. After an hour and a half I was back out there, after one lap I felt good however after the 2nd I was back in the state I had been a few hours before. This time it took me longer to get going. I stopped again about 1.30am and didn't get going until 4am. In total I had 5 hours off the bike – easily 2 laps and quite possibly 3 missed. I hate doing these numbers it makes it clear what might have been.
Once I got started again I started to feel much better. I was pleased to be still riding and was determinded to salvage something from what was a disaster for me. I kept riding strongly, and made sure I finished my bottle every lap, I also “paused” at the top at each pass to eat a gel. This strategy worked well and I got 5 laps in between 4am and just after midday.
I am disappointed with how I went, I am pleased that I got out there and kept riding at the end. How easy would it have been to pack up and go home?
A special thanks to the following, R&R Sport, Juliet for being my Pit Crew Manager, Tim for giving up his birthday to support me, my Mum, my Dad, Marc from R&R in Dunedin for tuning the Tallboy during the night, all the other people cheering and yelling and all the people back in NZ watching the event on the net – next time I'll deliver....
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Last time I looked it was August, somehow it is now October!
The last few weeks have been spent organising gear, packing gear and spending endless quantities of money, however I found time to complete my preparation by participating in my first road race for over 5 years. The Wellington Veterans Cycle Club put a great event and fantastic weather in Featherston this year. I opted for the shorter 64km ride, there would have been about 100 people in this event and when I saw the amount of fluro I headed to the 2nd row of the start.
Pretty soon there was a breakaway of three riders, four to five of us managed to reel them in after about 5 minutes, then we hit the first hill and I promptly got dropped! This left me in no mans land, I could see the first bunch but couldn't quite get there and when I looked back there was no sign of anyone chasing. I decided to put my head down and time trial and wait until I caught. In the meantime I was catching the tail enders from the 80km and I picked up a rider from my bunch who had also been dropped.
I pulled this guy around the rest of the course, I would do a heap of work and he would come to the front and give me a rest and then as soon as he slowed I would take the lead again. He kept saying he wasn't pulling his weight but it did help me as I certainly would have been slower without him.
In the end we finished in 2.03 and the 2nd bunch never caught us, though at times I could see them. I had to do an epic 1km sprint at the end as a girl from the 2nd bunch had bridged the gap and there was no way she was finishing ahead of me. The results aren't up yet, however I am sure I was 2nd girl and in the top ten to cross the line.
I was really impressed with the roadie seen and might just join in a bit more!
I'm in transit to Canberra right now, by the time I post this I'll might even be there. I feel under control and maybe a little apprensive, whatever happens, it will be fun.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Last weekend was my last big weekend of training. On Saturday I headed out for a 10 hour road bike. I was lucky with the weather, it was slighly damp in Whiteman's Valley, a little windy at the bottom of the Akatarawa's and mighty freezing going down. It was warm in the bus stop on the corner of SH1 and Peka Peka Rd when, I was changing a puncture, and calm and sunny behind Te Horo. At Otaki Beach people were swimming and between Waikanae and Paraparumu I needed a sail to take advantage of the wind and then a shelter as I changed my 2nd puncture! I was glad of the wind over the Paekakariki Hill and cursing the wind swirl on the Haywards, and then smiling all the way home. It was a great day out with 230 plus kilometres of riding.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny. I sprung out of bed and headed on my mountain bike towards Makara Peak for a planned 8 hours. At the very top of Makara the rain started, and oh did it rain! This is when I realised I was quite tired, and some mental fortitude would be required. As the rain poured down I really couldn't be bothered with whole thing and decided I was going home. By the time I was back at the Hutt River the sun was out again so I changed my mind, and headed along the Hutt River Trail, over the Kennedy Good Bridge and then home. Once home I decided I was soft and should try and resurrect my ride. After putting on dry clothes and gloves I was like a new person and headed off to Pencarrow Lakes with renewed spirit. It was great to ride in places I hadn't ridden for ages, of course I had forgotten about the evil head wind on the Pencarrow Road. I eventually returned home after 6 hours and 30 minutes satisfied that I hadn't totally given up.
I have a busy three weeks ahead of me getting ready for Australia - best I start now!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Last weekend I made a quick trip to Canberra to see what the terrain could be like for the worlds. A couple of months ago I found a 7 hour race that fitted nicely with my plans. My Mother joined me for the trip. We left Wellington at 6.45am on Saturday morning and finally arrived in Canberra about 1pm Australian time - wild life count, one dead Wombat!
After a quick supermarket stop it was off to Stromlo Forest to get a practise lap in. I was really surprised how wet the track was. It had rained all week and the hill was literally weeping - lucky we have had a lot of rain as this didn't phase me. There was a lot of panic from the Australians, an apology for there being mud at the race briefing, and the race marshall's putting wooden planks over the worst of the mud!
The race started at 7am on Sunday, with a very cold 3 degree temperature. The day was sunny but cold. I still managed some tan lines though. The first lap was a total pain. The course headed into single track far too early and there were very polite queues waiting to enter. The standard of riding was very high, everyone was polite when passing or being passed - a refreshing change from the aggression of Moonride or Daynight Thriller.
The course was neat, with lots of variety and plenty of rocks. This required concentration and so the time just disappeared. The course really didn't suit me as in the 10km lap there was 200m of climbing all at once, I am much better with a bit of undulation. By the end of the day the most of the muddy sections were unrideable however the downhill was still just fantastic.
I didn't have a good day and I didn't have a bad day, my head wasn't quite in it, and the early start the day before took its toll. I finished 7th out of 17 women and my only regret is deciding not to complete an 11th lap, if I had done this I would have come 4th. The field was strong with the first 3 finishers all contenders for the world 24 hour solo world title.
We headed back to Sydney straight after the race and I was home by 3.30pm on Monday.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Since the race at Santoft, I've done a lot of riding but no races. I completed my longest ride about 4 weeks ago - twice around Lake Taupo and a few deviations.
I started at 4am in a relatively mild Taupo, I had so many layers on I could hardly move. As I got close to Kinloch I rode into a freezing fog. I knew the road was a little frozen and so was exceptionally careful and also very slow. It was pretty cold and tough to drink and I was kind off my drink because there were "chunks" it - I was questioning my bottle washing ability. When it got light I realised it was ice and my drink was semi- frozen. It was so cold any moisture on me, on my jacket, gloves, shoe covers, cables and lights had frozen. It really didn't melt until I got to Turangi.
I stopped to top up my food at the Motel in Taupo and headed out for my 2nd lap. This seemed to take forever and I was pleased to finally reach Kuratau Hill. Near Pukawa I had a chat to a chap out on his road bike. He asked where I had been/was going I mentioned I was riding around the lake, he commented that I was looking good and riding well. If only he had known it was my 2nd lap! Just outside Turangi I got a puncture and managed to limp to the BP where I bought a pie and a hot chocolate, and fixed the puncture.
After Turangi I developed a severe dislike of the rumble edge strip used on SH1. Between Turangi and Motuoapa there has been two attempts at placing the edgeline. The first attempt has been ripped up and the next set placed slightly further into the lane. Unfortunately the actual "rumble" is has not been removed and so the ride is super uncomfortable.
Just before Hatepe Hill, a car cruised by, and I realised it was my car, out jumped Tim and Belle, with tonic water, sharkies, and Red Bull. It was fantastic and I flew up the hill I really hadn't been looking forward to. Tim also mentioned the rain in Taupo. Up until this point I had been very lucky with the weather.
When I reached Taupo I decided to call it quites as it was raining and of course dark again. After 15.5 hours, about 380km and 3000+ metres on climbing I was pretty happy. Tim had chicken and salad waiting as well as a hot spa and red wine.
The next day I dropped Tim off at the start of the W2K track and drove around to Kinloch to meet him. I felt so good that I managed a 2 hour walk with Belle!
It has been two months since I've raced and I'm really looking forward to my adventure this weekend...watch this space sometime next week
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Santoft was on Sunday, so what better way to enjoy a particularly vicious southerly storm than to go and ride in it for 5 hours on Saturday. For some reason I decided riding to the top of the Akatarawas would be a good idea, I am particularly good at poor route choices! The road was closed for an unknown reason, and I made it to the top enjoying the lack of traffic. The ride home was a slog straight into the southerly. It was so windy I nearly didn't make it around the corner into Point Howard. All character building stuff. Did I mention how windy and cold it was?
The poor weather continued all day and all night and Sunday did not dawn bright. During the drive up to Santoft the weather didn't seem to improve. It was ;ucky the trails were in a very sheltered area. The canpoy of tree cover protected us somewhat from the from the wind and rain. Thanks to Shane I got a great park and elected not to do a warm up lap, instead I idilly chatted and watched the dirty riders come back from their practise laps.
The race started bang on time and I couldn't see Jude. It turned out she kind of missed the start and got stuck behind some people who proved very difficult to get past. I had to ride faster in the first lap than I really wanted to as I was constantly being held up. Once I got some clear track ahead of me I found my rhythm and rode a consistent pace.
The course was awesome and considering how wet it was it held up very well. There were losts of pinch climbs and no long climbs and so playing to my strengths. The course was swoopy and lots of fun. As the day wore on the laps got longer and longer as the track got chewed up and porridgy. The last couple of laps were really hard work with the track being a super mudfest. It seems that the Santoft mud is special and is super glued to my bike! I need to have a 2nd attempt at cleaning it.
I was so impressed with everyone who participated. It was very relaxed with people pulling over to let me past before I even got close, kids keeping out of your way and faster people calling early and being cheery. The event had a great spirit and is maybe reflective of the attitude of the Manawatu Mountain Bike Club - they certainly seem to attract a neat bunch of enthusiastic people.
In the end I completed 10 laps in 4hours 45 minutes and achieved all my goals for the day. My I really wanted ride consistently and not hold anything back and I did this well. I was first female, Thomas Lindup and first male (I am pretty sure I was the next rider after Thomas), Jude was 2nd female and Shane and Ken came third in their category, so all in all Wellington riders did very well and took home a selection of nicley sprayed painted pine cones.
As I had hoped a hard race has blown on my cobwebs and I am ready to get my head down and focus on some quality training days. In fact, I'm fizzing :)
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
One thing that concerned me about Moonride was the 10pm start, effectively meaning that a 40 hour stint without much sleep was required. In the week leading up I made sure I went to bed early and slept in until 7.30am. Maybe extra sleep makes you super sleepy because all day Friday I couldn't stop yawning.
The lead up to the start was very relaxed, I had spent the two weekends previous, packing stuff into boxes, getting food ready and writing instructions for my crew and so I really didn't have much to do once we arrived in Rotorua.
On Friday I was pleased to see a nice layer of cloud and so keeping the temperature warm. Of course, as darkness fell the clouds cleared and it started to get really cold. We registered and set up camp at 4pm. We camped next to Paul and backed our easy ups together so that our support crew had company all night.
After a quick plate of pasta at Fat Dog it was back to the ranch and bed for me. I got 2 hours lying down but didn't sleep - there was too much laughing at America's next Top Model going on next door.
I got to the start at 9.30pm and didn't bother with a warm up, it was mighty cold and I made a last minute decision to wear a beanie under my helmet and I was pleased I did. The first 3 laps were a blur, getting used to the track, getting passed by people all enthused on their first lap, finding good lines and trying to relax. By about lap 6 a felt settled and relaxed and was getting feedback that my lap times were consistent.
My first milestone was a battery change after 3 hours and these first 3 hours just disappeared. Poor Juliet wasn't looking warm at all and was wearing 2 puffers!!! Prior to the start and after a practise lap I set a goal of completing 45 laps. I thought if I got to 40 I'd be happy and 45 would be great. After a few hours I realised that 45 was certainly on as my lap times were consistently under 30 minutes.
Somewhere during the night Juliet told me my calorie consumption was trending down and because it was cold and I was not drinking as much as anticipated I needed to eat more. So, I forced some more food down. This was awesome, early feedback and prevented me from being in a deficit position that would be very hard to come back from.
The hardest time of the night was about 4am. I realised I was struggling as I was feeling a little nausious and so came into the pits for a sit down in front of the heater, some hot soup and some bread. I started to get pretty cold and didn't stop for long. By the time I got half way around the next lap I felt great so it was well worth the stop.
Just before daylight it got pretty cold and there was an eiry mist in the forest. Once it got light it was like we were riding on a new track. Everything was new and new lines opened up. As a consequence the next few laps flew by and I sped up considerably. It was suggested I slow down a little as there was still along was to go. I never really got warm and kept all my thermal clothing on.
Tim had gone back to the Ranch for a nights sleep and arrived back at around 8am. I had set a goal to get to 20 laps by the time he arrived and I think I was on 21 or 22 so was super pleased. Juliet then headed back for a sleep.
At this point I swapped bikes for a lap while Tim gave the Santa Cruz a clean and lube at this point I managed to go out on a lap without a drink bottle! After this I stopped every lap for a small mug of soup and to grab some food (bread mostly) as well as a Sharkys resupply. This strategy seemed to work very well. The odd cup of coffee that I was provided with was most welcome too.
I couldn't have timed the start of the 12 hour any worse. Just as I was going over the bridge the first guys passed me. I was kind of unimpressed with the behaviour, and Chris Sherwood was unfortunate enough to hear what came out of my mouth as I got hit. It was nice to hear other riders give the aggressive ones a hard time.
The 12 hour people eventually settled down. I was disappointed to be hit by 12 hour riders 4 times. There seemed to be a lot of aggression and lack of paitence and I hope some people new to mountain biking weren't put off by this.
Sometime before Juliet returned, possibly about 3pm, I had a bit of a grizzle and said to Tim I wanted to stop. He of course took this literally - I was just having a grizzle. Tim even texted Lisa but lucky for me Megan had just gone past and when I caught her and had a chat I felt a lot better and so by the time I got to the pits again I was happy. Tim was very confused and claims that it will never ever be possible to understand women!
I continued to pause every lap, and a mercy dash for extra soup was required! I saw Jude a few times and found out she had had a flat tyre in the night. As darkness fell I lost my way a little and slowed a lot. I just didn't have a goal, time seemed to be standing still.
Then just after 8pm I heard I was catching the girl in front. My enthusiam multiplied and I was off! I wanted to see how close I could get. I pulled out 3 of my 10 fastest laps in the last 3 laps. In the end she did 49 laps and I finished with 48. I can't help but wonder if I could have caught her with a couple more hours notice!
I am really pleased with my how I went in my first 24 hour event. I've got one more of these lined up and then I think I'll find something new involving long distance and mountain bikes!
Monday, April 19, 2010
This was my 2nd weekend of hyper training. The first involved 10 hours and then 5 hours the next day, and this one was 12 hours plus 6 hours. After much contemplation of route, i.e. should I fly to Auckland and see how far home I can get in two days etc, I decided riding most of the way “around the block” would be a good option. Tim offered to leave the car in Featherston for me and so eliminating finishing the 12 hours with a climb over the Rimutakas.
So, at 4.45am on Saturday morning I left home heading for the Akatarawas. At home it was about 7 degrees with a light northwesterly and so I was quite comfortable in my short sleeved Helly Hansen top, arm warmers, cycle shirt and wind proof vest. This didn’t last for long, the temperature plummerted at Silverstream and the during the descent into Waikanae it was 3 degrees.
I always enjoy riding the Aka’s, it didn’t really get light until Staglands and so progress felt good. By the time I reached Waikanae I was pleased to feel the change in temperature because I was super cold. My plan was to stop in Waikanae for a coffee but I ended up going through to Levin as the traffic was light and the wind favourable. It was a nice feeling to have ridden for 4 hours and be barely feeling it. At BP Levin I bought some food and a coffee and rode through Levin drinking my coffee (until I dropped it and covered one foot in coffee!)
The section from Levin through to “top of” Palmerston North was just horrible. The road surface was rough, and there is very little road shoulder. The behaviour of motorists was bad too. Twice, a car overtook a truck just when I was passing in the other direction forcing me to ride on the grass!
I tested a Red Bull Shot at the bottom of Pahiatua Track and it made the climb over seem pretty good – the nice tail wind was also very helpful. I decided to go to Pahiatua for some lunch rather than take to more direct route to Masterton and started to get ahead of my planned timing. I picked up some lunch and another coffee and headed to Eketahuna. I was anticipating a tail wind and instead battled a very strong wind that wasn’t quite head. It was also a false flat. This was a low point for me but there is no point in grizzling when there you don’t have an audience.
I soon started to warm up (8.5 hours into the ride) and took my jacket and arm warmers off and then my ride became awesome. After Mt Bruce there was 30km of down hill with a tail wind into Masterton! My attitude changed and everything looked good again! It did help that it was warm and sunny. The further south I got the better the weather got too.
At Masterton I knew I would be about an hour early to Featherston so did some loops to make up the time arriving at the car at exactly 12 hours. The day ended with a spectacular sunset.
So, some good miles banked, now for the important job of recovery!
We took the 6.30pm Interislander to Picton on the Thursday before Easter. As we had bikes and had to wait for all trains, and vehicles to be loaded first we were last on. Of course, as this was the busiest sailing of the year there were no seats and so we had 3 hours sitting on the floor!
We stayed at the Tombstone Backpackers in Picton and I would thoroughly recommend them. Cost effective, modern, clean, pleasant staff and close to the Ferry with a good outlook.
On Friday we set out for Port Underwood Road. The day was sunny and warm and with a tail wind the ride was great. After fixing some problems with Tim’s rack we were on our way. I forgot how many hills there are on this road and I enjoyed being able to stay ahead of Tim on some of the climbs. At some point around Cable Bay Tim mentioned he was having a hungry emergency and we agreed that we’d stop lunch in the next bay. In the last 2 hours we had climbed one big hill and then lots of little ones that dropped into nice relaxing looking bays. Not this time, 35 minutes later we were at the top of the next hill and as we headed into Robin Hood Bay and had a quick stop. There was a very brisk northerly blowing and so with full stomachs we headed up another big climb that lead to a decent into Whites Bay. We had planned to ride the Whites Bay loop but decided instead to go and sit on the beach (a decision I am now regretting). To me, Whites Bay was a pleasant surprise. It was sheltered and the beach flat and smooth. We brewed up a cup of coffee and generally relaxed. We made a plan to head to Spring Creek and the pub.
As we headed in the direction of Blenheim Tim quickly ran out of gears and so it was my turn to continually check he was still there (that made a change). Tim was dreaming of strawberry milk, and cranberry juice (the contents of our fridge) as he was still feeling the effects of his hungry emergency. Then disaster, the Pub and the Four Square at Spring Creek were both closed! Lucky there was a small icecream shop/takeaways open. This was a perfect opportunity for another brew, 1.5 litres of coke zero, hot chips and Strawberry milk for Tim, and an icecream.
There was a serious headwind on our trip back to Picton on SH1. I love that there is so much space on the road and the consideration the traffic gave us. Back in Picton it was time for a beer then a spa and then dinner and wine to go with our slight sunburn. All up about 100km and 1700m of climbing.
Saturday was our big day - The Queen Charlotte Walkway all in one day. It wasn’t like we weren’t a little tired from the day before! We left Picton on the 8am water taxi to Ship Cove. I always enjoy a trip through the sounds and especially enjoy Queen Charlotte Sound.
The only way to describe the climb out of Ship Cove is “brutal,” and on a full stomach it is even worse! After 26 minutes we were at the top and enjoying a cool traverse with views of Resolution Bay and then a neat descent into Furneaux Lodge. One thing that surprised me was the number of rocks on the trail, I suppose I was expecting more dirt and tree roots. At Furneaux Lodge we had a quick beer in the sun and luckily the wind was strong enough to keep us moving.
We were passed by a group of cyclists also riding right through. It was a situation where they could see us and so they smashed past us, and then couldn’t get away. They had a girl with them who couldn’t keep up and so we ended up stuck between them. Eventually we let them go, or Tim opened a gate and they went through and left Tim to shut it! They clearly thought they were better riders than us and were getting frustrated with their girls inability to pass us. Of course, we just cruising, knowing we had a long day ahead. The ride around the coast was nice and we passed many walkers who always let us past.
Next stop was Camp Bay. I didn’t realise that we could have avoided a big climb by not going into Camp Bay. At Camp Bay because of the wind our coffee took an age to brew and a Weka stole my sandwich. I can tell you I was not amused! I chased it through he bush until it dropped it. There was no way I was giving up my food supplies! Of course, this was entertainment to at least 10 German Tourists!
We found the next section of the track hard going. There is something about pine trees that just doesn’t cut it after native bush, there were also a lot of small pitches in the track making it hard work. Just as the track got nice Tim got a puncture – sidewall tear in the small block 8.
I really enjoyed the section along the ridge where you could see Queen Charlotte Sound on one side and Kenepuru on the other, then there was a long descent into Portage. By this time it was 3.30pm and we had covered 50km. There were still 21km and one big climb to go.
In this last section we had passed two lots of couples. On both occasions the girl was at the back grovelling and the guy was up to 1km ahead waiting impatiently. We couldn’t help but notice the tension in the air. It didn’t seem like a fun weekend for either party. Tim and I are lucky we can ride at a similar pace and can enjoy long rides together. (well, I can ride fast enough not to annoy Tim)
I started to make another coffee while was decided what to do. Lesson learned – it was too windy for the Bialetti to work, it just wouldn’t get hot enough. In the end 30 minutes was wasted. This swayed our decision and we headed along the road from Portage to Havelock adding 10km to our trip but cutting out climbing. It was 50km to Havelock, and in no way flat. The road was pretty and quiet and it was neat riding out of Kenepuru Sound to Mahu and the Pelorus, though the hill over to Pelorus was totally mean and unexpected.
After 10 hours of riding we arrived at Havelock with Tim redlining and having another hungry emergency. I can recommend the pub at Havelock for a good meal at a reasonable price.
It was fair to say that the YHA Havelock is pretty average and after a terrible sleep, the inability to get food early on Easter Sunday and being kind of tired we decided to head back to Picton and head home rather than tackle Nydia Bay.
The ride back to Picton was nice and easy with a stop in Anakiwa. At this stage I kind of regretted skipping the last 20km of the track…..so, we’ll have to go back I think.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
My Brevet preparations started on 15 January when a few things fell into place freeing up the opportunity to complete the Brevet. A quick email to Simon confirmed it was still possible to enter and so the preparation began. This was an event I would do by myself as due to work constraints it wasn’t possible for Tim to join me.
My bike choice was limited to the only bike I currently own, a Yeti ASR full suspension bike. Prior to the event this wouldn’t have been my first choice but looking back it was a great choice. I used Stans The Raven Tyres – 2.2 on front and 2.0 on the back
I kitted this out with a Topeak rear rack that worked exceptionally well with a 10 litre dry bag strapped on top. On the front I fitted some borrowed aerobars and a 7 litre dry bag. In total fully loaded with water the weight was 18kg and so not the lightest set up ever!
With 10 days to go I commuted to work fully loaded and discovered some issues with load tying on and also how hard it is to ride with extra weight.
With a week to go I decided a test camp would be a good idea. So, at 6pm on a Saturday night Tim and I headed around the Pencarrow Road over the hill and to the Catchpool Valley for the night. It was a good thing we did as I learnt my shelter was bad in wind, about sandflies, and more about tying my load on. At 11.30pm in the middle of a southerly storm we decided to head home. This is where I realised keeping going in bad weather is sometimes better. The highlight of the trip was dodging drunken ACDC fans in inner Wainui and heading down the Pt Howard walking track in the dark.
Before I knew it, it was Friday night and I was relaxing in Blenheim. The feeling was different as the Brevet wasn’t really a race so the anxiety level wasn’t really there, more a feeling of anticipation and wonder.
After some navigational issues I found the cinema and the venue for the briefing, managed two flat whites and a couple of sandwiches and before I knew it was midday and we were off. I think starting at midday with a hill near the end of the day was inspired. It had the effect of splitting the field, those who crossed the Maunatopo Track and those that didn’t.
My day could have started really badly…. according to John and Bill the Stans that was shooting out of my rear tyre after 5 minutes was reaching heights above my head. With in 30 seconds the hole was sealed and I was away again.
I was very very careful on the beach front section as there was Matagouri everywhere. I was astounded by the number of punctures I saw – losing in the end. The road to Picton was hot and very dusty and the scenery suberb. It is definitely a ride Tim and I will do soon. It was so hot I drank 2 ½ litres before Picton .. In Picton I refuelled with 2 bottles of Powerade, some Coke Zero, lollies and a cookie. I was surprised to see the Revolution guys and Mike from Bike Hutt. After Queen Charlotte Dr came Havelock and another stop again I was surprised to see Barryn and Trevor. A quick visit to the Four Square a tin of pineapple more Powerade and some fruit and I was off to Pelorus Bridge. I was still in two minds as to whether I would stay at Pelorus Bridge to cross over to Nelson.
I reached Pelorus Bridge at about 7pm and so there was no choice but to keep going and so off up the Maungatapu Track I went. I had half an idea to camp at Murders Flat but just kept going. Once it got dark the going got pretty tough and I had to walk. I was pleased to reach the top and please to see the Australians, Ed, Joel and Phil coming up behind me. We all descended together and so not requiring any navigation in the dark from me. I would like to see the track in the daylight – I just pointed and went, it seemed pretty rough and I only crashed once.
Just as we reached the dam we ran into Ian Gordon who had had an awful day 3 punctures and a broken light. Ed lead Ian out and then poor Ian got puncture number 4. I leant Ian a tube. We managed to fit a 26” 2.1 tyre into his 700c wheel and I believe he finished the Brevet still using this tube! What was meant to be a very temporary fix that lasted 1000km.
The guys went into Nelson and I stuck with my plan to stay at Maitai Valley Camp Ground. I think I arrived about 11.15pm. I set up camp and went for a shower only to find I needed $2 coins for the shower of which I had none. So, it was a cold shower for me. I never really warmed up and shivered under my shelter. There were dogs at the campground that barked all night – who takes a dog camping that barks?
I was up at 6am and ready to go before 7am and headed into Nelson where I refuelled on Coffee and McDonalds and headed to Richmond and the Wairoa Valley. The Wairoa Valley felt like an unnecessary diversion from the path to Murchison - as pretty as it was.
At Wakefield I refuelled again and ran into John Morris and the Ian and Scotty. We all headed towards Top House together but soon split up with me rounding up the rear. By the time I got to St Arnaud I had passed John and caught Ian and Scotty. It was hot so at St Arnaud I had my first very tasty beer of the trip.
Ian Scotty and I rode to Murchison together. I was pleased to have some company. The scenery was great and the Porika Track into Rotoroa fun. We finally got to Murchison about 7pm and I decided to stay in a hotel and had a fantastic sleep! I joined Ian and Scotty for dinner and was in bed by 9.30pm. Ian and Scotty were unsure if the 200 plus km to Blackball the next day, I decided to stick to my plan and not let them put me off.
I was out the door by 6am and travelling up the Matariki Valley to the Maruia Saddle. This was an great ride with a nice gradient through beech forest. Next stop after 30km of road was Reids café at Maruia, more coffee and a bagel and a chat to Laurence and Guy and I was off just behind them. The ride to Springs Junction was unexpectedly good and the climb to Rahu saddle was made worthwhile by the 20km of descent into Reefton.
Reaching Reefton at lunchtime I was optimistic of reaching Blackball. I ran into Trevor and Barryn as well as Bob and Chris, again I was very surprised with who I was riding near and my spirits were lifted by encouraging texts from Tim and Lisa!
Laurence invited me to join them on the climb to Big River. Again it was great to have some company and navigation help. Laurence and Guy are super passionate about all things mountain biking and were neat to get to know. It took about 3 hours to get to Big River where the last part of the climb was difficult and rocky requiring some walking. I started to notice that I was having trouble shifting with my right hand. Laurence informed me that the decent to Waiuta was awesome and “benched just Rotorua” and so I was expecting a quick 12km descent on cool singletrack. Unfortunately their last trip was 15 years ago and the track was rooty, with many difficult stream crossings. At one stage I feel down a bank and another time I dropped my bike between some huge logs. Of course I had a grizzle too but when there is no one to listen it is not worth the energy
I emerged at Waiuta at 7.40pm with 40km still to roll to Blackball. I rang the Blackball Hilton said I would be about 2 hours. They were awesome and even made me a sandwich for dinner. I arrived about 9.45pm to be greeted by Barryn, Trevor, Chris and Bob and a cold beer.
I then joined Trevor and Barryn for 2 pints and in that time Jeff, Jonty and Nick arrived. It was neat to have a good chat after a long day. Scotty and Ian ended up arriving at 1.45am!
Sitting on the bar stool I realised that my butt was getting pretty sore even though I had adopted the 2 pairs of short strategy that day. I also noted that my feet were pretty sore and my big shoes seemed small.
The following morning I had an enforced sleep in (6.30am) as breakfast was at 7am and I couldn’t afford to miss it. Then it was off over the Alps to Canterbury. The days route took me over some hills behind lake Brunner (though I never actually saw the lake itself) and past some other lakes. The scenery was nice but at some points the road have a couple of centre metres of sand on it that made the going tough. It was also raining lightly. I emerged onto SH73 and cruised up the road to Jacksons to be greated by Trevor and Barryn. Then Jeff, Jonty and Nick arrived. I tucked into a morning tea of a pie, coke zero and a coffee and before long was on my way again. It was great to get another cheery text from Lisa as well as one from Jude.
As I climbed towards Arthurs Pass I decided I was carrying far to much gear and my pack seemed heavy and my butt and feet really sore. So, just before Otira I tied my pack to my handle bars and with some relief carried on. The climb up Arthurs Pass was relentless, about ¾ of the way up Jonty cruised past like the hill was a small, easy incline. The scenery was neat and the traffic very civilised. Finally at the top I cruised into Arthurs Pass for lunch. I copied Jeff, Jonty and Nick who were drinking milkshakes had some sandwiches and then rang Tim. Tim had been doing some calculations based on other peoples Spot Trackers and was able to tell me how long it would take me to get to Castle Hill and the to Springfield this was super useful. I also booked some accommodation at Springfield.
The journey through the Canterbury high country was just awesome. It was a hark back to memories from my Coast to Coast Days and the time through to Mt White Bridge just flew. The country really is “big” and the road incredibly quiet. You can understand the why the NZ roading spend in the South Island is limited as there are just no people.
By this time I had my pack on my back again and my feet were very sore and the sun was out. I stopped and took my socks off and this seemed to help for a while. I even rode for a little with my feet on top of my shoes! As it cooled down my feet felt better and if I didn’t move too much my butt was ok but I was finding myself standing more and more especially on the climbs.
Finally I reached Porters Pass and after what was actually a shortish climb was flying down the other side where I hit my top speed for the Brevet of 74.8km/h. I arrived in Springfield around 7pm and rushed into the service station to stock up on food for the next day as well as getting 2 litres of chocolate milk that I promptly sculled a litre of.
I joined Chris, Bob, Barryn, Tervor, Jonty, Nick, Laurence and Guy at the Yellow Café. They were discussing the merits of heading up the road a little towards the Wharfedale Track. I was tempted to join them but was in two minds. Eventually I decided to grab some fish and chips (and a beer while I waited) and stick with my original plan of staying in Springfield. I ended up not eating much of my dinner – not to self drinking a pint of beer and 1 litre of chocolate milk limits the amount of other stuff you can fit in your tummy!
I managed to wash everything and get it dry and be in bed my 9.30pm except it was difficult to sleep and my knees where twitchy and aching.
I ate some cold fish and chips for breakfast and was on my way towards Wharfedale at 5.30am. It was a nice morning with a little drizzle and the ride to Sheffield was great. There is something neat about being up early and riding in the dark. I found the boys camped at a domain near the start of the road to the Wharfedale and was pleased to see they were just getting up and so I wasn’t far behind at all. After which I promptly missed the turn off to Wharfedale and rode about an extra 7kms.
I am sure the Wharfedale track is nice, it just wasn’t nice for me. My front fork decided it didn’t want to work anymore, of course this was just when I really needed it. My butt was also increasingly sore and the way I was sitting on the seat made my knees sore. I would really like to go back and ride this again some day to give it justice. At the end of the track I crossed the Townshend River and into Lees Valley. I then had to negotiate the biggest flock of sheep I have ever seen. I already knew sheep were dumb but these guys were something else, jumping over each other to getting away from my noisy hub (or maybe I smelled).
Well in Lees Valley I demonstrated my inability to read maps and was looking for the “brothers” in the wrong place – more time wasted. It was great to be able to ride through someone’s farm and very generous of them to allow us through. I then understood the scale of operation required to farm in sheep and cattle in the South Island. The area was vast and much of it empty. I also imagine many of the passes would be covered in snow for at least some of the winter.
After emerging form the farm at McDonald downs it seemed like a very long way to SH 7. It seemed that Simon had sent us through every single gravel road he could find. At this point my phone came back to life and I found my spot wasn’t tracking (thanks Jude) so I fixed that issue and ran into Jeff, Jonty and Nick at Hurunui Pub. I then realised with 50km to Hanmer (37km according to the publican and he was wrong) I wasn’t going to get to Hanmer early enough to re supply.
I had wedges and beer at the pub, chatted to the publican and considered my next move. By this time it was 6.30pmish. The publican was nice enough to make me some lunch for the next day and I bought 5 Cookie Times from him and so then felt I had enough food for the long haul to Blenheim the next day.
After I left Hurunui the rain started. I stopped at Culverden and bought some lollie cake and coke and was on my way towards Hanmer. It seemed to take forever to get there (uphill for 50km) and as I turned my lights on I realised I had ridden every daylight hour that day.
I reached Hanmer about 9pm in a rain storm. I had a look at the YHA hostel and thought a motel would be nice and the one over the road had a vacancy. It wasn’t cheap but it was warm and the lady made me some breakfast that I ate most of for dinner.
I went to bed about 10.30pm and was restless with sore knees and no more Nurofen. I had a fitful sleep and when the alarm went at 5.50pm I dragged myself out of bed knowing I wouldn’t have to do it again.
Just before I left Hanmer (thankfully it had stopped raining) I got a text from Lisa saying “go for it.” – thanks Lisa. I made it halfway up Jollies Pass before my butt settled in and the rain started. It is a big climb up to the Molesworth Road and at the top Jeff, Jonty and Nick caught me again (familiar story). I enjoyed the ride through to Acheron House and the landscape is certainly big and totally awesome. I cruised through the road but began to suffer on the 50km plus of corrugations with no front suspension. I was at the stage where I couldn’t even shift using my right hand and so quick gear shifting wasn’t happening. Lucky there was no more single track. I made the mistake of thinking that once I had passed Molesworth I was nearly there. Of course in the context of the event I was but in the context of the day I was less than halfway!
The Molesworth high country was my favourite section and I can’t wait to get there again. The mountains are fantastic!
The weather was great until I reached the Awatere Valley. It was one extreme to the other. I went from my favourite scenery in the whole trip and sunny weather to freezing rain and my most hated part of the whole trip where I didn’t see another person for about 6 hours. I was wondering if I was the only person left in the world.
I got pretty cold pretty quickly and should have stopped to put dry clothes on before I did. I was looking for some shelter but there just wasn’t any. Eventually I stopped under some trees and put on everything dry I had (beanie, long sleeved icebreaker, yesterdays shirt I had managed to dry and my Ground Effect jacket). Lucky for me there was still a whole lot of hills to go and this saved me as I warmed up on the climbs.
Finally I reached Taylors Pass Rd. I swear the Awatere Valley is the longest valley ever and was pleased to finally be out. Taylors Pass Rd was an easy climb and then there was a 20km descent to the end. Of course there was a sting in the tail with some riverside navigation into Blenheim required. Finally I reached Blenheim just after 10pm after 5 Days and 10 hours. I was pretty pleased with my effort.
I tried a few places for accommodation and had no luck and so I negotiated a price with a taxi driver and headed to Picton and jumped on the 2am Bluebridge. While I was waiting at the ferry office I made friends with some truck drivers who ensured I got a good price for the sailing as well as a cabin and some breakfast – all for $55
After nearly a weeks reflection I can say the Kiwi Brevet is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. I found the last two days tough (weather, sore butt, and right hand and knees) but all in all really enjoyed the experience. I never felt alone and I always felt safe (except in the Blenheim forest at the end). It wasn’t until I started that I realised that most other people were riding in groups where as I probably rode 80% on my own. I can’t help but imagine how much faster or further I could have gone each day if Tim and I had been riding together.
Now, what’s next?