04 February 2014

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!