Monday, February 27, 2012

The wrap, Kiwi Brevet 2012

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.

Getting connected
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
The course
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 !