The question I've been asked most is - Will the course change? The answer is yes, a little bit.
The 2010 course had a lot going for it - the mix of coastal, forest and even subalpine scenery was fantastic. And, overall, the roads were quiet. But a few changes can make it even better.
We'll probably tweak the first 20km to reduce the number of punctures.
On the way out of Nelson we'll join the new NZ Cycle Trail to Richmond, if it's finished (and might not end up going round the Wairoa Valley).
We'll see if the farmer is happy for us to go through McDonald Downs Station closer to the time. If not, we may go through Ashley Forest.
If we can get permission to go via North Bank in the Wairau valley, we might go via the Rainbow Valley rather than Molesworth. We'd change that if we got word that the Molesworth Rd would be maintained in January (which seems unlikely). If we do go via Molesworth, we'll pop into the riverside single track a bit later (near the Wither Hills MTB park entrance).
You'll note there are no plans to avoid the Waiuta Track. I seriously considered that, despite many riders saying it was a highlight (in hindsight) but DoC are fixing it up and it sounds like it'll be in much better condition next year. Here's their progress report:
"What we have done is
- Cleared the old windfalls, the full width of the track and open up potential riding lines.
- Explosives leading into stream crossings
- The entrance track at Waiuta has been completely re-benched and gravelled.
- Across the whole section we have done a heck of a lot of hand grubber of slips, erosion etc.
- We have a digger and two power carriers still in at the St George mine where we have re-benched sections and gravelled a long flat sections of timber corduroy (that will be out this week).
- We also took a digger along Big River road to improve drainage, so we had the opportunity to fix the road and some sections of track just after the hut.
- Our last goal is to extend the board walk of the pakahi across the red tussocks.
There is still some carry section but we have isolated them to the worst of the corduroy (where it was clearly too expensive to upgrade)."There will probably be some tweaking to the rules - maybe an extension of the compulsory down time (to 6 hrs per day) and the recognition of 2-person teams. Other suggestions welcome.
I've heard a rumour that there will also be a brevet in Central Otago, but have no details. If anybody knows anything about that, please let us know. Hopefully the timing is right so that we can do both events (if it's more than a rumour).