Curious fact of the week - most of the visits to this blog last month came from the USA, followed by NZ, then Lebanon. Lebanon?! 43 visits from Lebanon?!
Anyway...that's not what this post is about. It's about a new option for the 2014 Kiwi Brevet - the 700 km Kiwi Brevette. With this option you can shave 400 km off the ride's length by turning left at Springs Junction and heading east over Lewis Pass. I've ridden that was with a mixed group before and it was really rather good. Lewis Pass is a surprisingly easy and beautiful climb across the north end of the Southern Alps. The run in to Hanmer is still quite tiring, but nothing like the long haul from Arthurs Pass to Springfield. It includes the highlights of Queen Charlotte Drive, Great Taste Trail, Braeburn Track, Maruia Saddle, Rainbow Valley and lots of groovy towns in between.
Timing-wise, it'll start at the same time and place as the Kiwi Brevet, and there will be the same 4-8 day time challenge. But fewer km/day means fewer saddle sores and more time to enjoy the journey - lets face it, cafe stops, picnics, swims (maybe in hotpools), a bit of shopping (god forbid) and general goofing around can take up a good chunk of the day, especially when you only have 90 km to ride between dawn and dusk (about 14 hours in first week of Feb).
What else is different from the bigger loop? Spot Trackers will be optional for the Brevette. And the gruelling Porika Track will also be optional (we want to keep the hike-a-bike to a minimum). That leaves the Maungatapu as the only spot where Brevetteers will likely have to walk for 15-30 minutes. Here's a Google Map that very roughly shows the Kiwi Brevette route (although it will include a chunk of the Nelson Great Taste Trail and also the sublime Braeburn Track, and hopefully the Northbank route alongside the Wairau River). While I'd recommend a MTB with chubby slicks, this ride will be totally do'able on a touring or cyclocross bike.