Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 2 - Kiwi Brevet - Hanmer to Sheffield

Rolling out from Hanmer
190 kms, 8.30 to 9pm
Day 2. Around 190 kms. We had a reasonable nights sleep, got our stuff together and headed off to the nearest cafe for breakfast. It was at this point that Jonty shared his memorable quote " I tend to steer away from flat whites in the provinces". After a leisurely brekkie, during which time, Alex's dad Mike Revell turned up, he had made it through the Molesworth the previous day, but kipped on the roadside rather than come down into Hanmer that night.  We hit the smooth tar-seal road for Culverden's Grocery store about 40kms away, and got there about 10 mins before opening. This was to be a serious shopping expedition to see us through the Lee Valley, the Wharfdale and maybe Sheffield.
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
The next phase was getting into the massive farm of McDonald downs which was problematic. There can be a lot of variation over what the 4 bike computers were telling us, so we chose to ignore the kms on the cue sheets and go by the map. This caused a problem, as when we went down the appropriate road, a farmer emerged to tell us that the road was incorrectly named on the LINZ map, and had been for years ! I guess we only lost about 20 mins or so, and he kindly set up a sign to warn anyone behind us. Plenty of other people had already made the same mistake before us.

Another pinch climb
Two of our group had done the KB before, but in the other direction. When asked what the terrain was like I suggested that it was mostly flat, with a few "pinch-climbs" . This didn't go down well as the climbs seemed to have a bit more pinch than some were hoping for. We were eventually glad to be off the gravel and trying to navigate our way across acres of farm land. Before long we came across a river which we needed to ford. Not a biggie as it was pretty shallow. We carried on until we found the entrance to the Wharfdale track which we hoped would give us some very cool single track to blast through. A few things worked against us. 1. Our bikes were heavy and unresponsive. 2. It was uphill with lots of dismounts. 3. It was a bit wet and most of us had semi-slick tires on the back.  We hung out for the descent but we felt a bit cheated when we learned that it was all open four wheel drive, wet and foggy, and getting dark. To top it off a wasp stung me under the eye which caused me to freak a bit. I opted to ride as fast as I could incase my eye swelled up. Definitely a trail best suited to ride in the opposite direction.

Alex fords river
We hit the road and shot past the accomodation we used last time which was the View Hill PonyClub/Tennis courts domain and headed for Sheffield, about an hour away. What a disappointment. A two shop town. One a pie shop and one a Pub. All closed by 10pm obviously. No tea for us other than what we were hauling.  It was spitting very lightly so some form of cover would have been nice. Sleeping in the pub's toilets didn't appeal, but Andy and I found what was to be our best accommodation yet. A shelter-belt with masses of dry spaces below it with comfy pine-needle beds, and plenty of room for our bikes and us. We needn't have even bothered blowing up our air mattresses. It was mint. Even the sound of the trains blasting through the night, seemingly metres from our heads couldn't detract from this spot.

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