As a KB2010 vet, I hope I'm able to give those who didn't get around the course that time (or this!) some insight into the challenges of the day.
I came totally unstuck at the end of the event in 2010. The day was so simple to describe: "ride to Hanmer Springs [from Culverdon] then through the Molesworth back to Blenheim". When I saw the 1:250000 topo maps laid out in Jonty's shop last night, I was pretty shocked at how far the ride is, even despite having a pretty tough experience through there last time. There's a lot of country to pass through, and while relatively simple riding, it is arduous.
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I've no doubt the riders will be totally amped come 9am tomorrow. With luck they'll have enjoyed a good sleep, and start with energy to burn. They'll need it!
The course profile has a distinct upward trend over the first 130km or so, but it amounts to less than 10 vertical metres per kilometre. It is the variation around that trend that will hurt. But, to some extent, that will be minimised by getting it done up front.
The riders have a deadline to meet: they need to clear the southern boundary by the curfew at 7pm. Simon will be advising them at the briefing on Saturday morning, that they shouldn't proceed past the northern boundary after 5pm. So, it will be an early night for some, but one which they should make the most of! There will no doubt be quite a crowd there, and it should make for some great conversation as this part of the field gets to know one another.
|Photo: Jeff Lyall, who's out there again|
There's not a single shop on course between Blenheim and Hanmer Springs, so no chance to demo time sitting waiting for a plate of scrambled eggs and a latte. Those that manage to knock out the distance in time (managing an average speed of just over 16km/h), should handle the corrugations that await them in the Moleworth with aplomb, and with gravity on their sides, clear the station by 7pm. I'd be surprised to see people stopping at Acheron, and forgoing the amenities of Hanmer Springs for the sake of knocking off an hour or so early.
Those that do reach Hanmer should be satisfied with such a great start, and one which should provide a good platform for Day 2. Riding further would bring the major climb to Porters Pass forward, but at the expense of rest and recovery.
It will be interesting to see if anyone's keen to roll the dice! And ain't it cool that come 0-dark-hundred tomorrow, the trackers will let us know who's pressing on... I'm excited for them, and us!