Saturday, February 18, 2012

Final day - Kiwi Brevet - Pelorus to Blenheim

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). 

Alex climbs
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.

Bandolero Bill

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! 

Day 5 - Kiwi Brevet - Murchison to Pelorus

200kms, a big climbing day. 8am to 11pm.
Day 5, around 200 kms, Murchison to Pelorus. We all managed to roll out at 8 oclock with a brief brekkie stop at the cafe at Murch. The lady behind the counter was one of the friendliest we had met. Its refreshing to meet nice people when your butt hurts, you are tired, are about to wolf down a greasy pie and they talk to you like they are genuinely interested in what you are doing. We headed up the Mangles Valley at a reasonable pace but some how dropped Thomas who was having a "I dont like mornings" moment. We had decided to give it a bit of stick on this day, and it was likely that it was going to break apart a bit when we hit the Porika track which was a seriously heinous push. In fact, looking at the altitude map, it appears we had around 2000 metres of vertical climbing on our plates for the day, a fair bit of it actually walking. I was amazed to see Alex ride about 60% of the Porika, even with a knackered knee and tight achilles tendons. Apparently Dave Sharpe cleaned it all but for one dab. 

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.