07 February 2012

Day 5 Preview

Congratulations to Ollie Whalley for a super-impressive ride through to Blenheim today.  He snuck in a few minutes before 9pm, completing the course in 3.5 days.  Wow! 

My predictions weren't too bad yesterday night it seems, with Lance, Darren, and Geof sure to make Nelson tonight. 

Scott might make St Arnaud, but would have to negotiate the steep Porika in the dark to do so. 

Despite what we might imagine from watching Ollie's tracker all day, the ride into Blenheim is not a piece of cake.  I'd expect those who do get as far as Nelson before 6pm or so will push on up the Maitai Valley, before grovelling up the Maungatapu Track.  The climb will have most off their bikes I suspect, at the very least just above the dam, where a steep rocky section had me a little nervous in the opposite direction on my fully a month or so ago.

Beyond that point, the climb isn't as steep, but it is long, and exposed to the heat.  At the summit,the views to the north-east are amazing, and well worth stopping to absorb.

The view from the top of the Maungatapu is worth admiring

The descent on the other side should be an absolute blast.  It is less steep, and apart from the top, is pretty smooth going.  At the bottom of the track, they follow the Pelorus River down to Pelorus Bridge, where if they're early enough, might still have a cafe open. 

After Pelorus Bridge, the road is sealed all the way through to Picton, and a little beyond.  Supplies are plentiful too, with the Canvastown Trout Hotel, stores and cafes in Havelock and the store at Linkwater all good options. 

Riders might feel like they're almost there once they hit Picton, but treating the Port Underwood Road as a done deal would be a terrible mistake.  Pat Hogan (now making his way to Springs Junction) only got as far as Picton on Day 1 of the inaugural Kiwi Brevet, such were the climbs, and loose gravel surface.  Ollie took almost 4 hours to ride this final section this evening, so those who do make Picton late in the day might well need another night out on course before knocking the bugger off the next morning. 

It'll be fascinating to see how the 5th day on course plays out! 

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I hope y'all have enjoyed the previews, and hope that they've made following the riders on the map a bit more fun with the added context.

My hat's off to all those who lined up for this Kiwi Brevet, and can't wait to start reading some of the blogs about it.  Also, a nod of thanks to Pat Hogan and Jeff Lyall who helped Simon out with some key jobs this year! 

I can't wait for the 2014 Kiwi Brevet.  Will be a hard choice between riding again, or spectating again!  Both are great options!