We have just made what we are fairly certain is the last tweak to the course. The section from Blenheim to Rarangi (the first 22-odd km) has been altered to simplify navigation & farm access, and also to include a couple of kilometres of foreshore. Big thanks to Willi and Robin for helping with that. Our Google map has been altered accordingly and I'll now finish the cue sheets and email out tomorrow or the next day.
This change doesn't effect the course stats significantly. Computer guru Hamish Seaton has put together some more accurate maps of the course and generated some fine altitude graphs. His calculations have concluded that the course is very close to 1100km long, with 12 900 m of climbing. The first quarter of the course is by far the hilliest - keeping morale high going into the second quarter will be pretty important.
The 45 SPOT trackers from the USA arrived today - phew! And they are smaller than I remembered. In fact, one fits quite snugly in the palm of my hand. They don't come with batteries, so riders will need to get these. They take 2 AA lithium batteries each (non-rechargeable). I suggest you get them before arriving in Blenheim, as they aren't common (although most hardware stores have them).
Wellington riders may wish to pick up their SPOTs before heading over to the South Island (one less thing to do on the morning of the start). We'll have a meet at Revolution Bicycles in Northland between 6-8pm on Thursday 4th Feb. This will also be a chance to compare gear and have a look at maps.
The gear selection for this event is wide and varied. I'm inclined to think you can finish (and really enjoy some sections of the course) regardless of your set-up, but I'm also curious to see which bikes finish with happy riders at the end (and without needing to be nursed home). A hundred years ago, when cycling conditions weren't that different to the Brevet course, the French completed bicycle touring trials - hilly long distance rides designed to test different makes of bicycle and derailleur gears. Later, the British ran bicycle reliability trials.
This year, I'm keen that we get a photo of every starter's loaded bike and a couple of lines about the bike and gear selection. At the finish, if we get a couple of lines about how well the bike performed and how happy the rider was with their gear, then we could do a pretty interesting article about all-terrain touring set-ups. Might be something that people look at in another hundred years and have a bit of a chuckle over.