12 February 2014

Kiwi Brevet 2014 Musettes

We have about 20 of these sturdy and stylish musettes left...and they are a bargain at just $16 including postage! We guarantee they'll last longer than your average saddle sore.

If you'd like one (or two) send your address and a cheque to Simon Kennett, 22 West Rd, Northland, Wellington. Alternatively, email me you postal address and you can deposit the payment into my BNZ account. My email is simon [at] kennett [dot] co [dot] nz

09 February 2014

What did you like the most?

You are invited to share your e\xperiences from your Kiwi Brevet / Brevette adventure. Click on the links below:

08 February 2014

Saturday's Updates

The full(er) picture

Still lots of drama happening out on the roads. Here is series of texts from Steve MacLeod:
"Epic fail. Been nurturing my rippied tyre for 350 km. Finally shredded itself on the straight flat Ranwick Road. All tubes have been blown. Just too far to carry the bike before my flight back to Auck. Although my detour up the scenic Okuku Pass puts me at well over 1100 km, I have done only 99.9% of the course. So see you next time for a finish in Symour Square. Many thanks to everyone." Steve at 12:12am

Six hours later, just after dawn...
"But wait! Went to pack my bike away and found my spare tyre. So off to complete the Ranwick to Seymour Square." Steven.

And three hours later...
"At the airport and done thanks. So my official time should be 100% of the course in about a week, which I think is perfect time in the spirit of a brevet. And having not showered for about a week, some poor person has to sit next to me on the plane, still wearing my soggy stinky mtb shoes. Cheers. Over and out. Steven MacLeod".

Meanwhile, Lou decided not to take her road bike over the Rainbow and has cycle 136 km today to Kaikoura! She said it was beautiful. Good for her.

Now it really is wonderful to hear all the stories from different riders. So a BIG THANKS to Richard for writing up a blog today. Here is the link to his most excellent adventure: http://www.velocrazy.blogspot.co.nz/

And finally, for today, we are wishing all the best for the riders still out on the course :-)

07 February 2014

They have him!

A big thank you to Michelle and Richard for going out, covering big miles to find Dean and take him back to their place to recover. Dean has had a helluva day, but has survived to ride again :-)

Thanks to John Randal, Shane Wetzel, Paul Kennett, Oxford Police and others who supported the rescue.

Update on Rescue

Michelle and Richard have just passed through Oxford and are 50 km away from Dean travelling at about 60 kph. Dean is back on Okuku Pass Road and is heading north, away from them.

Go Michelle and Richard! Reel him in!

Situation under control

Rescue on the way

We have had a few messages and phone call from people watching Dean's spot tracker today. Thank you for your concern and help.

We know Dean has been lost for several hours now and are very thankful that Michelle Paterson and Richard Craig are driving out from Christchurch to pick him up. They has a spot tracker on them, so we will know when they have found him.

Just in case plan A doesn't work, we have contacted the Police and they are standing by.

The Kiwi Brevet - is it a race?

I was reminded of a gaping hole in my literary education a few days ago by a friend, Tom, who wrote "A rose by any other name..." to describe the early brevet goings on.  "Is still a rose", I thought, but after a quick google search, I found that Shakespeare actually wrote "... would smell as sweet".  The intent is that the name of a thing does not matter, rather what it is matters.  So, is the Kiwi Brevet a race?

It bears many similarities to a race, the most relevant, I think, are a set course, and a mass start.  By providing these two things, the opportunity to treat the event as a race is there, and no amount of "don't do that" will prevent those who choose to race from doing so.

Even though the event is not quite done and dusted, we've seen a huge variation in pace - from Dave covering the 1100km Kiwi Brevet course in three days, seven hours and 24 minutes, to the group that will finish the 700km Kiwi Brevette course on Saturday afternoon (noon Saturday will be 7 x 24 hours, but Saturday is the 8th riding day) - average paces of 340km and 100km per day, respectively.  Thanks to the SPOT trackers, we can make those comparisons, another feature of the event that facilitates "racing". 

A huge part of the brevet, and event like it, is the opportunity to meet and ride with others.  This, I think, is one of the strongest factors working against a pervasive race mentality.  From early on the first day, we saw the emergence of clusters in the blue dots - groups of riders comromising their own pace to ride with others - some riding faster than they would alone, others slower.  In an event this long, and hard, attacks would have been rare - likely even non-existent.  Most un-race-like.

Is "getting it over and done with" racing?  Riding hard, and racing, are not the same thing.  In my mind, racing is to try to beat one's "competitors" - not much fun if no-one's competing back - and my hunch is there would've been little of that.  Riding hard, on the other hand, is still a race of sorts, but against the clock.  And not in a simple sense - as soon as you fix a destination in mind (at whatever point in the day that happens) there are really two clocks, and you're trading one off against the other.  When riding long days, I tend to value the time I have to put my feet up at the end of the day much more highly than rest-time during the day, and I'll shun rest stops, and pedal a bit harder to get as much clean-time as possible. 

An interesting reinforcement of this notion comes from the fact that very few people have opted-in to the St James section, and I haven't seen a single person tackle the Craigieburn long-cut.  I daresay riders are deciding to skip these not because they would lose time on their "rivals", but because the event is hard enough as it is without making it harder.  Riding a bike in the terrain that greets these riders is tough, and other things equal, less is more.  

I know when Simon came home from the Great Divide Race, he was suffering some ill-effects that took months to resolve.  He wanted to bring the multi-day, unsupported, bike-packing style event to NZ shores, but without the nerve damage, sleep deprivation, and weight loss, and he set up the Kiwi Brevet with that in mind.  Since the first edition, he's tweaked the rules in line with his philosophy for the event.  But, he's still offering entrants a challenge that to a very large extent, is what they make of it.

This year, I've noticed a bunch of "rule violations", many of which will have been quite deliberate.  A good example is Charlotte and Tim taking the highway down the Wairau Valley instead of the north bank forestry roads.  I suggest that this wasn't a mistake, but rather a purposeful choice designed to let them enjoy what remained of the event.  The event organisers can't stop people making these decisions (or mistakes!) any more than they can stop people racing (or riding in a way that onlookers might regard as racing). 

I'm sincerely hoping the adventure doesn't stop in Seymour Square, and that we get hours of words and pictures to wade through once the riders return to their computers!  Therein, I anticipate we'll detect very little racing in the overall sense, but plenty of micro-racing: to get to the top of the hill, to get to the shop before it closes, to get to an early shower, or maybe even a bunch of new friends cranking the pace up and racing to the next lamppost, laughing as they go, the better to pass the time.

At the end of the day, the Kiwi Brevet (and Brevette, and short-cut versions of the two) provides 100 brave souls an opportunity to ride through some wildly varied country at the top of the South Island.   And what an opportunity it is!  Let's hope someone picks up the baton for 2016!

06 February 2014

The secret lives of holiday riders

Some of you may be wondering what the riders still out on the Brevet course are up to. Well, this email reveals another side to the Kiwi Brevet!

"Hi Jonathan

After making it to Hanmer Springs and having dinner with Craig and Mark who we have leap froged the 700km with and Paul who rode the 1100km. Kelly and I realised what a different experience we have had to the other people doing the event. Until now we haven't really wanted to connect with the outside world as we have been on hoilday. The whole mind set we went into this trip with was we were going to make it a 'biking hoilday' stop and enjoy cafes, catch up with friends and family, stop at nice rivers to go swimming and take afternoon naps if we need and this just what we have done. To prolong out trip we are going to stay in a DoC hut on the rainbow. Here a some images from our great adventure. 

Huge thanks for beinging apart of making our adventure happen for us. 

Cheers Mckayla"


Course Alternative

Choose between North Bank and Highway 63 to Blenheim

Over the last two days several riders have chosen to ride straight down Highway 63. Those that have taken the North Bank option have mostly found it rewarding, but also challenging.

As there is an easterly headwind forecast for the next two days we have deciced to make it clear that riders can take the Highway option if they want to. The Highway is about 100 km, all sealed. The Northbank is 118 km, with lots of gravel and some hills. Northbank may simply be too much for those that are getting worn down.

If you prefer, take the highway and enjoy the last day of the Brevet.

05 February 2014

Times are getting tough

Kiwi Brevet hit by cold and rain

Reports are now coming in of rain and cold temperatures in North Canterbury. This may continue throughout the day, but the forecast for tomorrow is excellent.

Here are some updates that have come in that were too long for tweeting.

Dave Sharpe finished yesterday and may have continued riding. Nathan Favae is in the home straight, battling a head wind between Renwick and Blenheim right now (1:45pm, Wed).

"Sam Davidson is calling it a day. Legs blow up going over jacks. Had to ride some single track back to town. Bugger. Had a blast for the rest of the day. Rose some awesome tracks. And spun many a yarn. Thanks to all the riders for the positive vibes. And to all the crew for organising a great event. I'll be back next time with fresh legs and lighter bike. Yeow time for soak in pools and some short single track tomorrow. Ride on." Sam last night.
"Sam. Don't make your decision until tomorrow. OK?" Jonathan
"Righto boss. I'll c tomorrow. They weren't good today tho." Sam

"Mark and Richard at St Arnaud. Lovely long lunch at Lake Tennyson. Headwind most of the way and got sick of the corrugations on the cx bike. Felt strong today." from last night.

After John de Garnham pulled out when his carbon belt drive broke someone (I think the agent) found one and sent it to him and he is now back on the road. Does go to show the danger of touring with uncommon bike bits.

Life is easy after the Brevette...
"OK, 3 coffees in, brunch and a good sleep and I'm feeling much better. Thanks Simon and brevet(te) HQ for a great ride. Some awesome riding and some rough roads! Hanging with riders at the stops was great and something I missed once I turned off at springs and didn't see any other riders till Blenheim. Good company from Pat, Andrew, and Tor especially. Thanks again." Michael Dam

Steven MacLeod has been dreaming of moving to Holland since day one (to avoid hills) and is now learning dutch somehow.
"Steven Macleod scoffing van pies in Sheffield. Gevoel behoorlijk comfortabel op de viaktes van Canterbury Plainsboro zijn zeer vergelijkbaar met mijn nieuwethuis Holland."

The trials of the road and pulling out gracefully...
"Martin Harry and Alistair Brown have had to pull out. Achilles problems for both of us and a smacked up ankle on Big River. Thx for organising such a great event, a fantastic four days."

And just got a call from Nathan saying he has finished and has the best saddle sores of his life! No more information required thanks Nathan.

04 February 2014

It's Complicated

Messages to clear up confusion

Strange things are happening on the roads of the Brevet. Several riders have switched to the Brevette, a couple of spot trackers aren't working and others have simply taken a wrong turn. Here are some updates.

"Perfect day, some great riding over Porika & Braeburn, swim in the river, lunch at Rivers Cafe, siesta under a tree and then some more riding, bit of a bugger the next bit is uphill." From Malcolm Hughes yesterday afternoon.

"I have just had the most enjoyable days riding, partly due to not being in a hurry. I will be turning left at Springs Junction, so a DNF for the Brevet, but a few days of riding with no pressure. Pretty Happy." From Michael Hoogeveen yesterday evening

"Hi. Craig Madsen and Mark Humphreys at Murch. Changing to brevette due to the over abundance of native flowers being picked for pressing on our return. So we have been unable to make out timings. So the Brevette it is." Yesterday evening.

"Charlotte and Tim have switched to the short brevette course and are now in Hanmer Springs." Yesterday evening.

"Ric D in Reefton (by foul means...) resume biking tomorrow as planned. Lost in admiration for hardcore breveteers..." Yesterday night.

Kirby and Mick report their spot tracker has died. They camped at St Arnaurd last night, along with a dozen other brevette riders.

"Sam Davidson texting from Springs Junction. And turning left over Lewis. Body is cooked from two days of boiling heat. Numb hands and back. But pushing on tonight. Yeow!!" Sent yesterday night - hang in there Sam.

"Got to Murchison this avo. Loved the ride over Braeburn. Heading to Springs Junction tomorrow. Will see how I go. Might divert to the shorter Brevette course.: From Iain D last night.

Dean Fleur Fod Pawsey team are currently off course. They missed a turn and are heading to Lake Brunner. Wonder when they will realise?

Has anyone taken the Craigieburn deviation yet? Not that I know of. If there were prizes, a special one would go to those that do. But their aren't prizes. Everyone is out their for the love of cycling!

Watching the Kiwi Brevet

I must admit, over the last couple of days, I've become mesmerised by those little blue dots.  It is incredible to think that from the comfort of our homes (or offices), we can get real time information as the Kiwi Brevet (and Brevette) unfolds.

On the one hand, the information we're privy to is incredibly detailed.  When I finally succumbed last night and went to bed, I knew that Dave Sharpe was travelling towards Culverden at just over 30km/h.  I remembered the stretch from Hurunui well, having made the same dash four years ago (though, a full day behind Dave's incredible schedule).

We get other snippets of information too.  The twitter feed on the Kiwi Brevet site reminds us that not everyone is carrying a SPOT-tracker.  Jeff Lyall is updating his blog as he goes, and many of the riders are posting photos and comments to Facebook.  Just about everyone's mentioning the heat, and most, rightfully so, are describing how damn hard this event is.

On the other hand, there's a lot we miss - part of the fun of an event like this is being able to fill in the gaps once the riders return home and start sharing their tales.  I wonder where David Drake is?  I'd love to hear about Nathan's shopping trip in Greymouth, and what John de Garnham went there for (is he still there?).  I look forward to hearing why Craig, Craig and Mark didn't turn in to Lake Rotoroa after bypassing the Porika Track, thereby missing one of my highlights of '10, the sweet Braeburn Track.

The Brevette adds an interesting dimension.  There's a big posse of Brevette riders just now thinking about leaving St Arnaud, the event's creator, Simon Kennett among them.  They're on 8-day pace, and I've seen photos of roadside blackberry feasts, wildflower posies, and swimming holes.  Closest to Blenheim are Michael and Sarah (and perhaps others without trackers), though I dare say they'll see the back of Dave before they reach Seymour Square.

Springs Junction marks the point at which Brevet riders head west, over Rahu Saddle, and Brevette riders turn east for Lewis Pass.  Yesterday, Charlotte and Tim ditched plans for the former, and turned into a Brevette team.  The blue dot doesn't tell us why, just reports that it is so.  Troy looks to have made the same choice this morning, though Paul, who posted a teaser last night, is on his way to Reefton.

It will be interesting to see whether or not anyone takes the optional sections.  Not many have had the opportunity yet, but those at the pointy end of the Brevet have politely skipped the Craigieburn section, while those in the Brevette have given the St James the swerve.  I predict we'll see some of the mid-pack riders opt in (and I know Simon will be doing the St James). 

Many, like me, will be enjoying the online spectacle, and some will be hoping that someone steps into Simon's shoes and organises KB2016 - he has said he won't.  Seeing it from within will be a much richer, but possibly less fascinating, experience.

We shouldn't forget that the seemingly self-propelled dots are rather misleading though - they are only moving forward on account of someone's not insignificant effort.  I was wrecked for months after the 2010 edition, and wonder if there's been a subconscious "don't do that to yourself again" switch thrown inside me.

While beautiful and varied, the terrain these guys are traversing is tough, and there's lots of it.  Food and drink will not always be available on demand, and riders will be confronting all sorts of possibly unfamiliar emotions, including occasional fear.  I dare say that while the photos will be stunning, the most amazing sights and scenes for the riders will be the ones they confront within.

I really look forward to reading about it!

03 February 2014

The Drama Unfolds

Day 3 of the Kiwi Brevet cycle touring challenge

Just over 100 riders left Blenheim at noon on Saturday and most are making good progress around the top of the South Island.
You can see them starting at this Utube clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtB8vVwWzl0
You can check out the progress of two thirds of the riders at http://trackleaders.com/kiwibrevet14
About one third of the riders don't have trackers, but all riders must call in at the seven call in locations.

Some riders found Port Underwood hillier than expected, with Steve MacLeod stating upon his arrival at Picton that he would be "moving to Holland where it is flat". Most seem to be really enjoying their ride, and many are travelling in groups, enjoying big meals together and staying at comfortable lodgings. Early starts also seem to be popular, especially as the afternoons have been hot.

Dave Sharpe is many miles out in front, as he is testing himself to see if he wants to do the Great Divide later this year. He is past Arthurs Pass now.

Nathan was not to far behind him until his bike fell apart last night (freewheel bearings gone, BB bearings on the way out and buckled wheel). His spot tracker has been off since then. But he rode off to Greymouth, had a huge cooked breakfast, got his bike fixed at a bike shop and is now back on the road. The rest will have been good for him.

Thomas Lindup, David Drake and a few others have also had serious bike problems. I guess riding lightweight racing bikes loaded up with gear can do that - or it's just bad luck. Thomas has somehow recovered and is making incredibly good time.

Peter Maindonald went off course at 158mph. No, he wasn't in a private jet, he just suffered from what TrackerHQ call a 'rough point'

Nathan has just turned his tracker back on.

Some riders don't have trackers because, like Simon, they are just riding for pure fun. He and several Brevetteers are riding an average of 100 km a day, and are really connecting with the places they see along the way.

A few riders have got themselves a little lost, and have ridden off the course. This morning, a group missed the turn-off at Wakefield and continued south on the main highway, missing some lovely riding up 88 Valley. Navigation is all part of the brevet challenge.

Thank to Jo Wynn-Williams for the following photos.


01 February 2014

It takes a village to raise a Brevet

It's perfect conditions here in Blenheim this morning - overcast with a light southerly breeze. Should make the vertigous Port Underwood road considerably more enjoyable! Before heading off for the briefing, I've got to take a minute to acknowledge all the people who've helped make the third Kiwi Brevet and Brevette happen.

- The Kennett Bros (Jonathan and Paul) for sorting out all manner of admin hassles and being event HQ while I'm off enjoying the Brevette.
- Jeff Lyall for doing the rider profiles and helping unravel the mysteries of Twitter feeds
- Dave Sharpe for setting up/managing the Kiwi Brevet 2014 Facebook page, and arranging the donations to the rescue helicopter
- Mondo Kopua for negotiating and signposting the land access through Wairau's North Bank forest
- Duncan at Top Town Cinema for providing us with a theatre for the briefing
- Robin Dunn for suggesting the route out of Blenheim and agreeing to lead the way at the start
- Marlborough Bike-Fit for letting riders leave gear at their shop and receiving the Spot Trackers when people finish
- Scott and Matthew for sorting the Spot Trackers leaderboard
- Hana, Mark, Jo and Scott for handling the musette design and construction
- The Pattersons and Manuka Island Trust for allowing access through their land
- All my friends who've helped sort out accommodation for this adventure at a time when I've been too busy to think about such 'minor' details.
- Jennie Taylor for the free Sweet Cheeks Butt Butter samples and agreeing to be a 'Trail Angel' (she prefers 'Trail Witch') on the first leg.
- My buddy John for agreeing to help spice up the blog while I'm on the road
- My long-suffering wife and daughter for putting up with my frequent absences into the computer room, and my mother-in-law, Shona, for looking after Miro this week (while both Sarah and I ride).

And all those who have offered encouragement along the way. Cheers!