31 January 2014

Photo Sharing

If you have any photos of the Kiwi Brevet that you'd like to share, please email them to jonathan [at] kennett [dot] co [dot] nz

We love seeing the big views and the small, the riders and other forms of wildlife.

Weather-wise, it's a forecast of two halves from the Metservice. They predict four days of sunshine followed by four days of showers. Looks like an incentive to ride faster, but who really trusts weather forecasts beyond the next couple of days? We'll know for real soon enough!

29 January 2014

Rules for 2014

 What's shown below is an edited version of the rules blurb from 2012. The main thing is to complete the course under your own steam, without a support crew.

Note the 10th rule;
Text-ins (rather than 'call-ins') are to be made from designated towns along the route until you either finish or abandon the brevet. Tweet your texts to 8987, or text event HQ on 027 284 5599. Tweets are preferred as they'll go up on the event blog directly, but they must be limited to 140 characters. If you want to share something longer, text the cell phone number.

The designated towns are shown on the course Google map.

Regarding the map, note that it shows the most direct way through Nelson via the I-Site. The more detailed cue sheet sent out this week shows 'Google Directions' suggestion, which includes a few backyards along unformed road. Once in Nelson, just follow your nose to the i-Site on Hallifax St, on-road please.

Note also that there will be an open home in Nelson on the Saturday and Sunday nights, with room for several riders. I'll give out the details at the briefing.


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 - a far more relaxed brevet style event - I've 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. This year we have two optional sections which I hope will mess with the instinct to complete the course as fast as possible.

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. It is recommended that riders carry a personal locator beacon, and agree to cover the cost of rescue in the event they need to be evacuated.

6. Riders 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. That is, by noon on Sunday the 9th Feb.

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. Tweet your texts to 8987, or text event HQ on 027 284 5599.

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 or the North Bank of the Wairau forest section of the course.

In the event of Rainbow Station being closed, riders are to proceed through the Molesworth Station. Please note that Rainbow Station (about three quarters of the way between Hamner and St Arnaud) is closed during the hours of darkness. The dogs at the homestead will wake the manager if you go past after dark.

In the unlikely event that the private forest on the North bank of the Wairau is closed, riders should proceed directly down the valley on the highway.

28 January 2014

Musettes for Singletrack

Hana, Mark, Jo and Scott have come up with these groovy Kiwi Brevet musettes - a lightwieght cotton bag designed to carry cycling fuel. They're making 50 musettes, which we're selling for $16 each. $10 from each bag sale goes to cover the $500 we've given to the Castlehill Village trail crew so they can hire a digger to open up a new section of singletrack for us in the Craigieburn area, just in time for next week.

If you'd like us to put you down for a musette, email simon [at] kennett [dot] co [dot] nz
We'll collect the money at the brevet briefing and hand out as many as Hana, Mark, Jo and Scott get made this week to the people who order first. The rest will be posted out in mid-Feb.

27 January 2014

Some last minute notes...

Hello Kiwi Brevet riders
I've tweaked the course a little bit on the way out of Blenheim - don't worry about the detail as we'll be lead out of town by Rob from the local council. Also, I've altered a few hundred metres of the google map through Nelson, so it aligns properly with the cue sheet.
Brian Alder has developed the cue sheet further with distances for virtually every turn - handy for those without GPS's. Please see a copy attached. I've only cast a quick eye over it - it looks good, but you might want to check it in detail. If you use a cue sheet, don't forget to get your maps sorted this week.
The Spot trackers have arrived from the USA (just need to clear customs). If you are hiring one (and I think there may still be a couple to spare) you'll need to bring some batteries - three AAA lithiums. Only lithium batteries have the power needed to last the distance.
We've checked the donations to the Kiwi Brevet 2014 charities and see that most of you have been generous - $5,000 has beed raised so far. Awesome! However, a couple of dozen riders have yet to make a donation. Please do this in the next day or two and email me with confirmation (as this will save the hassle of dealing with cash at the briefing). The details are here: http://www.kiwibrevet.blogspot.co.nz/2013/11/how-to-enter-for-2014.html
The main briefing will be at 10am on Saturday at Top Town Cinema, Kinross St, Blenheim. There will be an early briefing for riders in Wellington at 6pm on Thursday, at Revolution Bicycles, Northland Rd, Wellington.
There are some health & safety conditions that we are required to meet to go through the private forest on the North Bank of the Wairau River. These include lights and some form of high-vis (something that will have you stand out in the shadows in mature pine forest). Please bear this in mind when packing your gear.
That's all for now. See you at the end of the week!

21 January 2014

Looking After Yourself

I bumped into a Kiwi Brevet rider who was nearing the end of a very long ride yesterday and was suffering some loss of feeling in his little finger. It's not uncommon for people to suffer nerve damage by the end of the Brevet. Sometimes it takes months to come right. Just a reminder about how to avoid this:
1 - Use lots of different handlebar positions - change frequently.
2 - Use a good pair of gloves (maybe two different pairs, and change every few hours)
3 - Run soft tyre pressures and/or plush suspension
4 - Raise your handlebars so that your have less weight on your hands

The other most common complaint is a raw backside. This generally comes right quicker, but can result in a LOT of discomfort. Solutions include:
1 - Move around on the bike frequently (also, stand-up on the pedals and walk from time to time).
2 - Wear two pairs of shorts with different pad design. Swap them around and wear two pairs at once during the first hour or two of riding each day.
3 - Change your saddle angle or height (or switch to a different saddle)
4 - Use a good chammy cream. My favourite is Sweet Cheeks Butt Butter. I've found it works well to prevent sores and also heals minor problems before they get worse. There will be some small 100 gram pottles available at the briefing for $15. That's what I'll be taking.
5 - If things get icky, try some talc powder at the end of each day.

There's also a tendency to suffer from tendinitis (usually minor). I treat that with a small dose of Voltaren anti-inflammatory pills (one 25mg pill per day, at the end of the day). They are available over the counter at pharmacys. Best check to see if you have a bad reaction to that before you try it in the Brevet. Some people do, but usually with a much larger dose.

Sun screen and oral hygiene are fairly obvious, but do slip when riders are exhausted. Peeling skin and mouth ulcers are not a good look at the finish.

Of course it is possible to finish the Brevet looking sharp, which is exactly what we want, but it'll take a bit more effort that your average tour or long, day-ride. If you have any more hints, please add them to the comments below or the Kiwi Brevet FB page.

18 January 2014

Navigation Resources

Here's a list of handy resources for navigating your way round the Kiwi Brevet successfully. I suggest you take a laminated copy of the cue sheets (or photo of them on your phone). If you have a GPS, you might also like to take some photos of the maps and directions for the tricky off-road sections. If you don't have a GPS, a bike speed is very handy.

Personally, I love maps, so I'll be taking most of what's listed below. Whatever your system, it's a smart move to have a back-up.

If you haven't received the cue sheets via email yet, please contact me at simon [at] kennett [dot] co [dot] nz

Oh, and good luck to all the Great Southern Brevet riders out there right now. You can follow their progress at http://greatsouthernbrevet.blogspot.co.nz/

1100 km Kiwi Brevet

1 - Cue sheet to get from Blenheim to Rarangi (or keep an eye on the locals)
2 - Google directions to Pelorous Bridge via Port Underwood or CNZCT’s ‘Picton to Nelson’ 
3 - CNZMBR Maungatapu ride
4 - Topo250 map 13 (bottom half only)
5 - Street map for Nelson (or Google)
6 – CNZCT for Great Taste Trail to Wakefield, and ‘Golden Downs Trail’
7 - Topo250 map 18
8 – CNZMBR/CNZCT Pioneer Heritage Trail via Porika & Braeburn Tracks
9 - CNZMBR Big River - Waiuta
10 - Topo50 map BT21 Waiuta
11 - Topo250 map 17
12 - Google directions for Waiuta to start of Wharfedale Track
12b – For CastleHill Single Track option, refer to http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=14/-43.1619/171.7016&layers=C and list of tracks on cue sheet
13 - Topo250 map 23 (top third only)
14 - CNZMBR for Wharfedale Track
15 - Topo50 map BW22 Oxford
16 - Topo50 map BV23 Virginia
17 - Cue sheet through private land after Lees Valley (to be distributed at briefing)
18 - Google directions to Hanmer
19 – CNZMBR/CNZCT for ‘Rainbow Valley’ directions
19b – CNZCT for St James option
20 - Topo250 map 19
21 – Cue sheet for route through private forest on North Bank of Wairau (to be distributed at briefing)
22 - Cue sheet for final leg into Blenheim

700 km Kiwi Brevette
1 - Cue sheet to get from Blenheim to Rarangi (or keep an eye on the locals)
2 - Google directions to Pelorous Bridge via Port Underwood or CNZCT’s ‘Picton to Nelson’
3 - CNZMBR Maungatapu ride
4 - Topo250 map 13 (bottom half only)
5 - Street map for Nelson (Google)
6 – CNZCT for Great Taste Trail to Wakefield, and ‘Golden Downs Trail’
7 - Topo250 map 18
8 – CNZMBR/CNZCT ‘Pioneer Heritage Trail’ via Braeburn Track (Porika Track is optional)
9 – From Springs Junction, Google directions to Hanmer
10 – CNZMBR/CNZCT for ‘Rainbow Valley’ directions
10b – CNZCT for St James option
11 – Cue sheet for route through private forest on North Bank of Wairau (to be distributed at briefing)
12 - Cue sheet for final leg into Blenheim

CNZMBR = 'Classic NZ MTB Rides' (7th or 8th edition)
CNZCT - 'Classic NZ Cycle Trails (2nd edition)

10 January 2014

The 2014 Kiwi Brevet Course

Everything is shaping up nicely for this year's course.

Many thanks to Mondo for negotiating access through Manuka Forest on the North Bank of the Wairau, and the Patterson family for allowing access through MacDonald Downs Station again. Please note that both these sections of private property are normally closed to the public. They are not open for practice rides - we only have permission to ride through during the Kiwi Brevet, with certain conditions such as no fires, no camping, leave gates as you find them, only riding through during daylight hours, pull over for trucks, etc.

Please note that there is an access fee to be paid as you pass through Rainbow Station - $2 as you pass by Rainbow Cob Homestead.

In the Craigieburn-Castle Hill area there will be the option of getting off Highway 73 for about 10km, onto a mix of skifield road and sweet singletrack for about 24km. The sale of Kiwi Brevet musettes will be helping to fund the construction of the first section of singletrack (Coal Pit Spur track) which will be built next week. However the bridges won't be complete - you'll need to ford Craigieburn stream a couple of times. If you like the sound of this option check out this map http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/-43.1391/171.7429&layers=C for more details.

Here's the Google map for the whole course - note that the detail for the North Bank forestry roads will be put on an A4 map and handed out at the event briefing (at Top Town Cinemas in Blenheim on the morning of the 1st Feb).

If you're wondering how hilly this is, our original altitude graphs from 2010 give a pretty good idea - http://www.kiwibrevet.blogspot.co.nz/2009/12/altitude-graphs.html . The major difference is having the Molesworth replaced with the Rainbow. There's an altitude graph for the Rainbow Road in the latest edition of Classic NZ MTB Rides.

We'll send out cue sheets, and guidebook and map references in about a week. Details regarding SPOT trackers should be out in the next day or two. In the meantime, good luck with your final preparations!

09 January 2014

Gear and Food

While away on holiday I received a couple of emails about the course - specifically, where there are shops and whether or not a cooker is necessary.

The course is almost finalised - the last changes won't have much of a bearing on what gear you take or your strategy for re-fuelling. The crux move as far as food goes, is whatever you decide to do north of Hanmer. For those doing the long course, it's a very long way between Reefton and Arthurs Pass - and depending on your timing, the shops at Ikamatua or Arthurs Pass might be closed. 

Of course, the time you plan to get to a shop and the time you actually get there are two quite different things. A mechanical, strong headwind, navigational blunder, or hitting the wall...all of these might set you back an hour or two. Combine a couple of these and you could be a half day behind schedule before you know it.

It pays to think flexibly on a dirt brevet. Having a cooker (and other camping gear) certainly allows for planning on the fly. When I'm cycle touring, that's the way I like to go - bit like a nomad. In the Kiwi Brevet, however, I prefer to travel light and fast. That means foregoing the cooker, but still carrying extra rations incase things go pear-shaped.

So, first up I'll pack the food and drink I think necessary to make it to the next shop that will be open. That'll usuallly be a large water bottle per hour plus a banana size snack per hour (which might be a large cookie, nuts, peanut M&Ms, or other fruit). If there's an overnight stop, I'll add a One Square Meal, fruit bun, chocolate milk, etc.

Emergency rations are on top of that. They're usually something pretty robust, as they may remain unused for several days. For me this stuff will be something like a PowerBar, sachet of sports drink, carbo lollies, and/or nutbar.

When you do get to a shop or cafe - go for it! Fats, carbs, protein are all good. If it's tasty and easy to eat, shovel it down! Personal favourites for me are chocolate milk, yoghurt, icecream, scrambled eggs, Coke, spaghetti on toast, raisin buns. That said, don't force it. If you have a big climb straight after your meal, try a lighter meal and take something to go as a summit snack.

We'll send out cue sheets next week. These note where there are shops or other services of significance (that we know of).

You might also be getting down to the business end of sorting out your gear. There are loads of good gear reviews out there from other riders at the Kiwi Brevet or similar events. Here's a wee write-up I did for NZMTBer a couple of years ago...

Long and Light – the way of the Dirt Brevet

There's a new style of mountain biking slowly spreading across the globe – call it a dirt brevet, bikepacking, or fat tyre randoneering if you like. It doesn't matter. It's about travelling light and covering big distances. Eighty kilometres a day is good for a starter; 250 kilometres isn't out of the question. When that includes gravel roads and dirt tracks, you can expect to be riding from dawn to dusk.

Sometimes it's an event, like the Tour Divide; usually it's just a bunch of mates out to see as much of the country as they can in a long weekend. Of course, the best way to see the country is from the saddle of a bike. The best way to see a lot of country is to travel light and quick.

New Zealand is well blessed with rough-stuff touring terrain. Where else could you see rainforest, glaciers, alps and grasslands all in the same day? Over 35 000 kilometres of quiet sealed roads, a similar number of unsealed road kilometres, 200+ mountain bike rides, and countless 4WD tracks provide almost endless opportunities. But our young terrain demands good gear choice, as well as good legs. After 25 years of touring, I'm still learning, but here's the set-up I enjoyed at the 500km Te Tawhio o Whanganui:

29er – the big wheels roll a little easier over rocky roads
Stans Crow tyres – minimal tread means low rolling resistance and light weight. At 40 PSI they will absorb most normal road shock.
Front Suspension – comfort, even on 4WD tracks, is a big part enjoying a long day off pavement
Aero bars (with extra padding) – a handy place to hang a bag, rest a map, and a position that gives hammered palms a chance to recover. Useful in a headwind, too.
Front bag – 5 ltr dry bag, for clothes
Seat bag – About 5 ltr, for tools, first aid, food, rear light, etc
Spare tube taped above BB – tucked out of the way

Gear carried:
Sleeveless riding top
Woollen riding top
Long-sleeve top
Lycra shorts x2 (with talc powder)
Pair of baggies
Wool socks x2 pair
Long fingered gloves

Sun block
Lip save
First aid kit
Spoon & can opener
Ear plugs

Spare tube taped to frame

Cell phone
Cash and Cards
Contact details & guidebook notes
Reflective ankle bands

2 large water bottles (1x H2O, 1x Sports drink)

2-4 Bananas
Peanut M&Ms
Raisin biscuits or OSM
Salty Cashews
Fresh fruit
Emergency Powerbar & drink powder

Total bike and gear weight = 15kg
The weight is important when touring hilly parts of New Zealand. The Kiwi Brevet has over 10,000 metres of climbing. On adventurous routes, some bike pushing is often part of the deal - you must be able to carry your loaded bike. If you carry enough gear to be prepared for every possible problem you might encounter, you'll have created a problem that you can be sure you'll encounter (right from the very first pedal stroke).

Extra gear for the Kiwi Brevet:
Small backpack to increase food carrying capacity, and water purification tablets. Depending on your timing, this could come in handy for the stretch between Reefton and Arthurs Pass, and also north of Hanmer.

Small sleeping bag, bivy bag and closed cell foam mat (on a Freeload rack). Not essential due to the accommodation options available, however, being able to camp opens up your riding range and elements a fair bit of stress associated with making it to your lodging by the end of the day. Lightweight summer camping gear needn't increase the load by more than 2 kg, and it opens up a huge array of itinerary options.

If you're not carring a sleeping bag, then a light & cheap emergency blanket might save your life (or the life of a fellow rider).

Gear I wish I'd had:
A couple more maps (1:50,000 topomaps)
Sweet Cheeks chammy cream
Pack towel