Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012. Day 4

Flock Station to Waiuta Trail; 196km
Another good early start! Was pretty special riding through such grand country as Arthurs pass early in the morning with sun busting out onto the peaks around me. I had my sights set on second breakfast at Arthurs pass café. Another healthy feed of bacon, beans and eggs washed down with chocolate milk and a flat white. I was soon making my way towards Arthurs Pass. I found this side of the pass a lot easier than when I came up the other side a couple of years ago. I think maybe because it had been split it into to chunks. The West coast side has a 16% gradient!!!! It was real pleasure to ride down here and take the amazing engineering that went into constructing many parts of this road. As I hit the bottom of the pass, I picked up a tail wind that blew me all the way to Jacksons and then further onto Stillwater. The course took us through a series of back roads to still water which included the very scenic Lonely Lake reserve. Such beautiful country to be riding through. I was fortunate enough to have maintained the tail wind at my back. At around 4.30 I was eating an ice cream at the Ikamatua General store having covered 172km. My body was feeling great. I was joined by Karen, Joel and Clair(team Aussie) as we found a patch of shade under a tiny tree across the road. Four of us cramped under a tiny tree shelting from the beating sun. I soon loaded up with water and supplies. Due to the mining in the Waiuta – Big river area, there is arsenic in the water up there making it undrinkable. The ride up to the Waiuta road end is a beautiful gradient. I arrived up there around 7.30. So in classic Outward Bound styles, I decided to make use of daylight hours and ride as far into the Waiuta as possible. This was so I could camp somewhere on the track. I managed to get 3km in. I also wasn’t completely convinced that this track was as good as had been stated. I was still having nightmares of walking my through here last time round. I found a nice flat spot to camp on. As I was cooking dinner I was sung to by two kaka. I thought to myself, I love this outdoor adventure carry on. Sometimes it’s hard and full on but it is also full of so much magic “Through violent storms and peaceful dawns we find ourselves in Balance”.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012. Day 3

Lees Valley to Flock Station; 125km
A typical start to this day with a can of cold bake beans. Yum! The night before I had realised that I had left a pair of bike shorts somewhere in the Brothers station. Oh well, this was going to be a one pair of bike shorts event. As many of you will know, keeping things clean down stairs is top priority. I was going to have to wash my shorts in the evening when the opportunity presented itself. I broke camp around six. The road down to the head of Wharfdale trail was awesome. Slight downhill and superb scenery. Into the Wharfdale trail and I was soon joined by some other riders. Some navigation issues out of the way and we were soon at Wharfdale hut. I knew the next section was going to be a bit of a push, but I didn’t quite anticipate how muddy it would be! I was soon pushing/riding with Peter McKenzie. He was not so into this, whereas I loved it as it was for filling the adventure side of the brevet for me. On the down side it certainly was slow going. We soon cruised out of the Wharfdale towards Sheffield and then devoured some well-earned pies and coffee.

I rolled on towards Springfield and the impressive Porters pass. Half way up I was regretting the third pie. As I summited, I joined up with Martin and Alistair and we proceeded to ride to Flock Hill Station together. I was blown away when discovered that these two guys were in there fifties. I thought to myself how inspiring and I will be happy if I am doing these crazy bike adventures at that age. Top marks Alistair and Martin! The scenery through the Castle hill area is truly spectacular. The one down side was there was a heap traffic on the road as most of Christchurch was returning home. We arrived at Flock Hill station around seven.  The first, second and third beer went down real well, closely followed by a really good chicken burger. We were soon joined by Clair, Joel and Karin. Great sharing with them adventures of the day.  It was certainly great having a shower and feeling the comfort of a mattress. Roll on day three. Good to go to sleep knowing that a good chunk of the Arthurs pass climb was out of the way.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012. Day 2

Molesworth Station to Lees Valley; 195km.
The ranger at Molesworth station opened the gates for at 6.00am which was nice of him as they don’t normally open them till 7.00am. So just after 6.00am a precession of enthusiastic bike riders left with the thoughts of late breakfast in Hanmer Springs. First up was the climb up onto Wards pass (1060m), which is the highest point of the Brevet. The climb from this side is not as tough as you have gained a lot of your altitude from the previous days hard work.  From Wards Pass it was relatively straight forward 60km ride through to Acheron.  I soon found myself whistling down Jollies Pass towards Hanmer springs. I cans see why I had a walk up here last time I rode the brevet. It is steep!!! Found a café in Hanmer to have breakfast at which was very well deserved. Amazing to see fellow breveteers roll into town and join me for breakfast.  On commencement of my third flat white some friends of mine Princess Jen and Lord Aaron found me. Great to see them and share some stories in my journey so far. Princess Jen had spot tracked me to Hanmer in my first brevet and had popped into town specifically to find me which was very special!

Hit the road a little after 1 having picked up supplies from the four square. The next section is a road ride down to Culverdon. A quick coffee and pie stop before heading in land towards McDonalds down farm. The first time I rode through it was a real privilege to ride through here and it was know different this time. Such a beautiful landscape which felt like a continuation of the Molesworth Station. Weather conditions for most of this day had been ideal. Overcast with a slight drizzle. It was great to be riding  for a little while with Martin and Alistair. I Popped out on the Brothers Station just a little after 8 and proceeded to ride up to Lees pass. A real awesome decent into the Okuku river where there was a little tent city set up. I was still feeling fresh, so I decided to push on for a bit which only turned out to be 3km. I found the appropriate road side camping venue. Tent up and hot water on while I cleaned and oiled my bike. Hmmmm…..dinner in bed with a hot herb tea. A big days riding but didn’t real feel like it. Sound asleep by 11. Another stellar brevet day under the belt.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012.Day 1

Blenheim to Molesworth Station; 120km

Now if riding the Kiwi Brevet once is not enough for one person, who would be insane enough to ride it twice. Guess that would me! The main reasons for doing this event again; are that it is an event with no winners. In my book everyone that completes the Kiwi brevet is a winner. The other reason for doing this event again is the adventure aspect of it. From day to day you don’t know what you will be presented with: weather and track conditions? Where will I stay tonight? How will my bike, body and mind hold up today? Preparations for my second brevet went fairly smoothly although I didn’t train as much with a dodgy left knee giving me a little grief. The setup had been thought about for since the completion of my first brevet. Cooking gear and lightweight tent would be carried again just to give me flexibility in where I stayed. The goal of this epic adventure was to go under my previous best time of 7 and ½ days.
So when I cued up on the start line with 59 other riders there understandably a little nervous energy on how my body, mind and bike were going to hold up. But once it all kicked off at 9.00am on Saturday 4th of February that was quickly forgotten as we made our way towards Jacks pass and the Awatere valley. The ride started in pleasant overcast conditions which soon became very typical hot and dusty conditions. The field soon split into two: The riders that wanted to ride the 200km through to Hanmer Springs on the first day and then the more leisurely riders that took their time to ride 120km to Molesworth station. I was definitely in the latter. No point blowing a head gasket on the first day! I took my time riding in and arrived at about 6.30. Quite a few riders struggled with the heat of the day. I rode with Dean for a while and gave him one of my bottles of water as he was finding it tough. This was 4th time riding through Molesworth station and every time I am truly blown away by this grand landscape. Pretty hard to imagine that they farm this remote and rugged terrain.  A top days riding!