2017 Brevets - the obligatory foreword ramble

After a decent break from any real structured cycling (or events - I haven't raced since Karapoti in 2014 I think!) I managed to sneak in a few solid rides over "Summer", with the intention of being reasonably fit for a couple of new-to-me rides; the 2017 Great Southern Brevet, and the Kiwi Brevette.

While I used to average 12 - 20 hours a week on the bike, I'm much closer to 2 hours a week these days - a function of a busier work life, busier home life, absolutely shocking weather, and a general lack of motivation. This, of course, can make preparation for distance events rather difficult!

Riding is much more of a hobby for me now than it has been for the past 10 years - so I'm older, heavier (fatter), weaker, and generally much more of a pussy than I used to be... but I digress.

Laying some foundations

I'm a little blase when it comes to physical prep for long rides - for most long day-rides, I will normally just ride to my abilities, and see where that leaves me, knowing I'll at worst end up getting to my destination later than calculated. Trouble is, when you're covering new terrain, and are totally self-reliant, you need to be able to count on your ability to knock out 200km+ days, back to back to back. This, naturally, requires a little physical conditioning. What better way to achieve that, than by riding 200km days?!

Back in October, a lap of the Big Coast (165km door to door) was the start of things - my commute was about 4 days a week, 24km return each time - nothing major, but much better than nothing! A few little hill rides thrown into the mix through November and December, before a couple of weeks away from home, travelling the South Island in a camper van. Thankfully, there was room aboard for a bike, allowing me a few awesome jaunts along the way! Notably, the ascent from Milford Sound to (and through) the Homer Tunnel, and an assault on the Coronet Peak and Remarkables access roads - 732m, 721m and 1,279m elevation, respectively. Thrown in were a cruise over the Port Hills on Christmas morning, and the traverse of the Routeburn Track for good measure, and 2017 was looking pretty decent on the fitness front. This trip should probably have a dedicated post, with two weeks of scenery and awesomeness crammed in....

A couple of wee rides rounded out 2016, and I intended to make the most of the time away from the office in January! First, a 232km loop from home, around the coast to the Wairarapa, then a loop out the back of Martinborough before heading over the Rimutaka Incline and back home:



The scenery was a little dull, matching the weather - it was a drizzly, shitty old day, unfortunately - but I needed to get some riding done before heading back to the office! I didn't remove my jacket, overtrou or gloves until I was back in the Hutt Valley, maybe 180km into proceedings - this was to be similar to the second day of the Great Southern, a few weeks later...

One of the more rugged sections of the track between Ocean Beach and the Wainui Coast

Rain, rain, go away....

Evidence of sunshine, albeit near the end of the loop

Looking towards Wellington from Petone foreshore

Then, after a day to rest, I hit another grunty loop - a little longer, this time. Leaving home a shade before 06:00, it mimicked a ride I'd done earlier in 2016 with a motley crew of misfits - from Wellington, along the Hutt River Trail, the Rimutaka Incline, out to Cape Palliser, through to White Rock, back over to Martinborough, then home via the Incline and River Trail, for a nifty 310km:


These two rides provided a great confidence check in the fortnight prior to the 2017 Great Southern Brevet - not only for my gear and physical ability, but probably moreso for the ol' noggin. See, distance cycling isn't for everyone, and even if it is for you, it's not necessarily for you all of the time.

Anyway, I made it back home from both, with generally positive things rattling around in my little head. Highlights are always the solitude, the serenity, the scenery, and the silence - no emails, no phone calls, no noise. Just the sound of the breeze, birds, insects, waves, gravel... that sort of shit.

I'd read of this property, and the owners' plight - who'd've thunk beachfront property on the Wairarapa's
notoriously wild coast would be subject to natural erosion? Not these folks...

I always gawk at these cliffs, between the Putangirua Pinnacles and Ngawi.
I think they are Pupu/Poopoo rock, but that's because it sounds fun.


I'd taken 3.5 hours to make it to Cross Creek - however, almost the entire stretch from Cross Creek through to Cape Palliser, I was slogging into a shit headwind. Something like 80km, mainly flat, but slamming along at maybe 20kmh - it took 5 hours for that flat 80km, with only a couple of stops.

The ocean was big, the Southerly pushing some big rollers ashore.


As soon as I made the turn around the Cape, I had the wind at my six - progress was much better, and I started to perk up. I had heaps of fuel and fluid on board, along with lights and warm stuff - the type of thing which gives a lot of confidence when you're just about half way through a ride, almost 9 hours in. I even managed to snatch my own KOM for the Palliser to White Rock segment, with a few photo stops for good measure.

This massive shingle fan is always a highlight - I've been around this coast 4 times now


WHITE ROCK IS WHITE

The ride back over to Martinborough from the Coast was really nice - a tailwind up the valley, and the knowledge of the few lumps between the coast and the last decent hill made going much more pleasant than in April 2016. As I normally do, I take snippets of information from my Garmin, and attempt to extrapolate my ETA at certain points - it's rarely accurate, but mental arithmetic is a great way to pass the time! I made it to Martinborough at 18:00 on the dot, 12 hours after leaving home. After a quick refuel, I was back on the road for the familiar run back to Wellington.

I stopped mid-dinner to assure my partner, Jay, I was looking
after myself - Biersticks are part of a balanced diet.

Rolling down the Hutt valley beside (and over) the River was great, a nice gentle way to finish.

Apart from the climb up Ngauranga Gorge, of course. That sucked.
I was back home by about 11pm, making for a pretty big day out in some tough conditions.

I rounded off the week with a couple of commutes, and a nice 100km on the CX bike on Sunday, for a 32 hour/668km week - my largest for the summer by some margin, topped only by a week in 2014 including a couple of days of Kiwi Brevet goodness!

A cruisy week later, I was on the plane to Timaru International Airport with enough stuff for a week away. This included a 15kg bike, probably more suited to shredding trails at Makara Peak or Wainui than 200km+ days of mixed terrain - the 2.4" tyres, grunty fork, and 1x11 setup would back me up there. The only change made to the rig from trail-duty was to swap out the dropper post for a regular one.

Niner ROS9, Fox 34, 2.4"/2.35" rubber, and gear for the week


After landing in Timaru, I shuffled some equipment, assembled my steed, jettisoned a $20 hoodie, and made tracks for Tekapo, about 100km inland. The riding was great, the roads quiet, and the weather sublime - no wind, no cloud, and about 22 degrees.



A few backroads later, I crested Mackenzie Pass, and dropped down into the Mackenzie Basin for the first time - it was hot, dry, and beautiful! With a bit of a cross-wind, I stopped for a bit on the roadside, marveling at the scale of my surroundings - a massive basin, flanked my mountains on all sides.

I hooned off this pass (Mackenzie), down a straight, long gravel road


This was just the start of the adventure, and with things coming together I was looking forward to whatever was in store during the week ahead!

Until nek time, cheers!


Comments

  1. Great stuff. Always a pleasure to read your work!

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