17 February 2015

A week after!

Hi everyone, I hope you are all recovering and still basking in the glory of doing the 2015 Kiwi Brevet?

We have caught up with our normal life, whatever that is.

We received an email from the Air Rescue Trust confirming we managed to raise a whopping $7370! Thank you all for your contributions.

Jo is coming up with a feedback form which we will try to get out to you this week. We would love to  receive any comments you have about the event, good or bad.

We would also love to share your stories about the Brevet with other riders and potential riders.
We have received a couple of Blogs already which I will load up here to help others find them.

I turned the KB phone on this morning, just in case someone had txt in, but alas no!

OK, carry on, catch up soon, Scott and Jo

Brian Alder's report below:

A kiwi Brevet.
I’d been hooked on the idea of these bikepacking events since I found out about the 2012 Kiwi Brevet a week before it started. I was horrified that I’d missed my chance for two whole years and set about making up for it. Thinking I was pretty fit for cycling, I entered a 70km road race and got totally spanked, quickly realising that a 2-3 hour recreational mtb ride and these other events were going to be completely different. For the next 12 months I focussed on the road, riding the Milk and Honey, Taupo, club races and Le Race and generally feeling comfortable riding 4-6 hrs at a time. The 2013 Le Petite Brevet was to be a bit of litmus test of my theories and once that went pretty well I knew I was on the right track.
My plan for 2014 was to ride the Great Southern Brevet and if that went ok the Kiwi Brevet. In the GSB I got lucky as I hooked up with Craig Phillips, a veteran of this event and with plenty of long mtb touring journeys under his belt. My basic strategy was to stick with Phelps as long as I could and learn everything that was on offer. Through some incredibly tough times this worked out to be a good plan and as the days unfolded we ended up riding with Tristan Rawlence & Anja MacDonald. Tristan’s ability to generate energy on the singletrack and Anja’s iron determination were abject lessons in how to cope with the highs and lows that events like this produce. In the end we were the first to complete the entire course. The GSB taught me that no matter how bad it is, it will get better if you keep going and the trick was to keep rolling at all costs. Ten days later I lined up for the Kiwi Brevet with a bit more confidence in my ability and rolled around the course in much smoother fashion than the GSB, feeling pretty chuffed that only Dave Sharpe’s ludicrous ride and legend Nathan Fa’avae were in front of Steve Halligan and myself. To my surprise I had discovered that I was quite good at this game.
Once Scott & Jo announced that they were going to run the KB in 2015 and then there’d be the Tour Aotearoa in 2016, I started giving serious thought to what I would do differently for this years’ Kiwi Brevet. I had ridden my Scott Genius full susser in all these events so far and was pretty happy to stick with that approach. Partly as I only had one bike and partly as I found riding the technical / singletrack sections on an appropriate bike gave my spirits a huge lift and was something to look forward to while slogging out the road sections. I’d realised that the time I’d spent being a roady was quite handy and I could keep pace with the rigid 29er crowd on the flats and then have a fun time off road and not get too beaten up to boot. The biggest area of improvement I could see was in spending more time on the bike. Only a couple of short stops during the day, eating on the bike and using the “dark zone” hours for more than sleeping – carrying food to eat in that time and getting chores done like bike maintenance etc done in those hours too. I figured I couldn’t ride much faster but I could ride for longer. When Scott announced the course I realised that the first couple of days were pretty flat and fast so back to the roady I went trying to get plenty of time in spinning miles and on aero bars. This didn’t quite play out as planned as work interrupted a bit, but generally I felt pretty happy with my preparation. My goal was to complete the course in close to 4 days as I could. This would mean I would need to ride a couple of 300km+ days, something I’d never done before. On paper it looked possible but I wasn’t quite sure whether my 50 year-old body would be up to the repetitive grind.
As it turned out, it was. As predicted the pace was high up the valley the first morning and when the hammer went down as we hit the gravel I put my head down wanting to be at the pointy end by the time we hit the main road again. I popped out with Keith Payne, with Seb Dunne and Ed McDonald a short distance back and Steve and Joe Jagusch up the road. Seb, Keith and I hooked up with Ed cruising off to the Brevette course. Once into the St James my bike came into it’s own. Keith punctured and Seb & I made Scotty’s just on dark. Seb decided to stay there when Joe appeared out of the darkness. He’s been in front but had detoured to Lake Tennyson. Joe & I rode onto the homestead for the night, with Stealth and then Dean Ford turning up a little later. Stealth and I made our way into the Hanmer bakery next morning, and with a pie in my belly and a pastie in my pocket I was out of town before 6am. I spied Seb at Culverden, grabbed a bit more food and together we cruised through to the Wharfedale in the early afternoon. I found the last few ks into the hut frustrating, but the track upgrades leading to the saddle made for some great riding. Seb waved me on here and I had a whale of a time out to Sheffield and then boxed onto Springfield in the building NW for dinner. I was pretty daunted about riding through Arthurs Pass into the wind alone and briefly contemplated waiting for Seb who had just arrived but I heeded my own advice and crawled my way to the bottom of Porters and then up the hill. Once in the basin the wind wasn’t too bad and when I realised I could make Flock Hill lodge for a feed, shower and bed I took that option, arriving at 9.30 pm.
Passing Lake Pearson in the dark on Day 3 was a bit demoralising, the wind was buffeting me sideways, trucks were ripping past and progress was slow. I set my sights on Klondyke Corner and made it for a morning kea show. Once over Arthurs I was having a great morning, thinking only Steve was in front of me and easy miles were coming. I was behind my 4 day schedule but once I clicked past halfway I felt every revolution was taking me home. I started to notice two sets of tracks and figured that Seb had gone past me in the night and sure enough I finally caught him at the Blackball junction. He was heading up for lunch and having plenty of food onboard I rolled onto Ikamatua, having a great chat with some cycle tourers along the way. Arriving in Waiuta mid afternoon I reckoned on missing the shops in Reefton but making the pub for dinner and set my goal on Springs Junction for the day. The single track was much better than I remembered and I rode most of it, only getting stumped by a downpour just before Big River. However the sun soon came out & I had a ripping time over the cobbles of the Big River road, finishing with a sprint down the road to beat the store’s 7pm closing. A Giant burger later and the evening breeze at my back I rode in digestion-mode up the Rahu. The mix of twilight and mists gave an other-worldly feel and the dreaded slog drifted by with the empty road. Springs Junction felt unwelcoming so I wound down along the west bank into Maruia, parking up at the school about 10.30 pm feeling very chuffed with my 290 km day which had started so badly.
I turned off my lights at the top of Maruia Saddle and let the dawn light do the work down to the Glenroy bridge the next morning. By now I’d written off the concept of finishing near 4 days and made a plan of seeing what time I got to Nelson that night and taking it from there. The Mataki valley was a drag, but a decent breakfast and being back on familiar ground from a winter tour helped alot. Catching a few Brevetteers gave me a boost too. Finally by the top of the Porika I started to feel better and I kept the stoke going as I boxed into the wind at Kawatiri. Here I met brevette cruiser Dean Cameron, and though he dropped me over Tadmor Saddle I kept him in sight down the valley to Tapawera where a mixed berry smoothy took the heat out of the afternoon sun. Dean assured me that Nelson was in easy reach, and with the “Seb ghost” not far back, I left the sanctuary of the cafĂ©. It was a welcome relief to have a few hills as my butt had been in a bad way for a few days now and was far worse dealing with it on the flat. Passing the Dovedale domain I reminisced of my first game for the Waimea College 1st XI cricket team at the ground and how I’d held a screaming catch. The last time I’d been over the road to Wakefield was way back then, 35 year ago – so plenty of good memories to keep the spirits up. Nice tail winds made the trails into Nelson pretty cruisy as did a few ks with Jasper and the fat bike. My brother and then Andrew Smith stalked me into Nelson where a resupply at Akbars had been the carrot for the last hour or so. It was 7pm and the Maungatapu loomed – I needed to refocus a bit and set a new goal as the Pelorus and 300km + was now possible. The cool evening made for pleasant riding up the Maitai and I decided to go all out over the Maungatapu to see if I could make it before dark. Not quite but I was down in the Pelorus just after 10pm and cruised out to Havelock under the full moon and little traffic to finally bed down before midnight – 305km and my biggest day ever.
At the Picton bakery next morning I checked my phone and was surprised to see Seb just about in town. I realised he must have skipped stopping in Nelson last night and was now only 10 minutes back. I once again thought about waiting and finishing together but decided I’d worked bloody hard on my own up to this point and it was worth carrying on, whether he caught me or not. I stuffed food down my mouth and scooted out of town. I tried to ride consistently round the Port Underwood road but the hills were taking their toll. Out of Robin Hood Bay I saw Seb back in the distance and realised that he was unlikely to catch me with 30kms to go. Man that was a relief! Once on the flat I kept a wee eye over my shoulder just to be sure, tacking into the wind all the way to Seymour Square.  I was happy! 4 days, 1 hour, 38 minutes and second home.  Clare my wife was there to meet me and Steve Halligan crawled out from under a bush (figuratively) after his epic last few hours. Seb rolled in 15 minutes later. The podium snap felt pretty special with me the old crusty….
Standing in the shower a few hours later I reflected on my ride. I felt I’d ridden as best I could, I had ridden within the spirit and rules of the game and I’d managed to ride most of the route alone. Apart from an hour or two in to the wind at Arthurs Pass I’d had a positive mindset and enjoyed myself immensely. My prep and planning had worked out great and my bike had been a joy. Once again I had surprised myself with what I had achieved and couldn’t quite believe it.
Thanks to Jo and Scott for taking the reins and your enthusiasm and positive vibes. Thanks to all the folks in blue–dot land who keep the wheels spinning when the legs don’t want to. See you at Cape Reinga next year.

Brian Alder