What is the Kiwi Brevet? What defines it? How does it differ from a race? Can it be won?
The Kiwi Brevet is a cycle touring challenge. It is defined by the course and the event rules. You can complete the course without following the rules, but you will have completed something that is, to some degree, different from the 'Kiwi Brevet'.
In 2010, most riders followed the Kiwi Brevet rules perfectly, but many did not. Some missed parts of the course, some entered Molesworth Station early, some picked up gear that was waiting at private addresses, some rode as domestiques for others. This was disappointing and lead to a complete lack of enthusiasm for finalising finishing results.
After completing the Tawhio o Whanganui last February - a far more relaxed brevet style event - I concluded that results are not important. In fact they can be counter-productive, as they encourage a level of competitive riding which detracts from a truly fine cycle tour.
A really great dirt brevet has a challenging time component, but that is only one small element of what defines success in this event. If there were 'winners' in the inaugural Kiwi Brevet, I would say they were the riders who exceeded their expectations and shared their adventures with others (through photos, blogs, amusing call-ins and articles, etc). If you can meet some of the locals, enjoy some great food and scenery; and finish uninjured with a little bit left in the tank, then you have done very well indeed! And if you enjoy the company of fellow breveteers - deepening old friendships or developing new - you've really hit the jackpot.
The event culture is largely determined by its participants, but the rules lay the groundwork for how the riders tackle the course. With that in mind, here are the rules for 2012.
1. Do it all yourself, under your own steam.
2. Riders must carry all their own gear (i.e. no domestiques, unless you are part of a team).
3. No outside support (deliveries only to public addresses, no support from friends along the way, no support vehicles of any kind meeting you along the way). Prior to the race you may only post supplies to post offices.
4. Follow 100% of the course.
5. Riders must carry a personal locator beacon, and agree to cover the cost of rescue in the event they need to be evacuated.
6. Rider must not complete the course in less than 4 days (This event is not about finding the fastest rider).
7. Riders must finish in under 8 days.
8. Between 9am one day and 9am the next, every rider must spend at least one block of at least six hours not travelling. That is, the maximum time any rider may spend travelling along the course will be 18 hours (between each 9am-to-9am period)."
9. When on public roads, follow the NZ Road Code.
10. Text-ins are to be made from designated towns along the route until you either finish or abandon the brevet.
11. Riders must observe all rules laid down by land mangers along the route (such as the Department of Conservation). Riders must not camp or light fires in the McDonald Downs Station section of the course.
In the event of Molesworth Station being closed to cyclists due to fire risk, riders are to proceed through the Rainbow Station. Note that riders must not be on Molesworth Road between Old Molesworth Homestead and Acheron Accommodation House between 7pm and 7am.