28 September 2009

Some photos from the route

Here' a few pics from places along the route - some old some new:

The first half of this Super8 silent film from 1986 shows the first bit of downhill on the Port Underwood road. (The second part shows the excellent single track above Whites Bay.)

 Old-school: Simon on Maungatapu Saddle heading down towards Nelson.

Porika Track - overlooking Lake Rotoroa.

Maruia Saddle public road.

The Braeburn track.

Paul on the Warfedale.

A classic old cycle touring photo - river crossing in Lees Valley.

27 September 2009

Short-cut confirmed, and the question of Sleep

Just got of the phone with the Patersons who run the farm north of Lees valley - we have a green light to pass through their property. This is excellent news - the alternative would have been to stay on public roads (some of them busy) and gone the long way round the south side of Mt Grey. We won't know the finer details of this short-cut for a while (the Topomap is incorrect, so we'll need local man Ben Kepes to check it out for us) but I can tell you it will be about 60 km of gravel road and some farm track between Lees Pass and Hurunui.

While out riding last Saturday morning, my friend Andrew and I were caught up to by a guy called Brad. It was about 9:30am and he'd been riding since 4am (and still had about 100 km to ride to get home). We rode together for a bit and chatted about ultracycling. He'd come second in the Taupo Audax a couple of times and was interested in doing the Race Across America. He mentioned a couple of people had died in that race recently.

It got me thinking about safety a bit more seriously. Roughly 15% of New Zealand's road toll is attributed to fatigue-related accidents. People drift off ever-so briefly and then veer off the road or into an oncoming vehicle. The Ministry of Transport is currently considering adopting a European law which forbids driving if you've been awake for more than 24 hours.

Ultracycling usually doesn't require any amount of sleep, although Adventure races sometimes deny access to dangerous sections of a course after dark. The Kiwi Brevet is different from a normal brevet in that there will be some very long stints between towns and some very rough tracks where navigation is tricky; and it's different from the Great Divide races in that 50% of the course is on sealed roads shared with New Zealand's driving public (so you'll need your wits about you). It's different from RAAM in that there will be no support crew driving behind to pick you up if you fall off your bike. And...the Kiwi Brevet is NOT a race.

All this considered, and after much discussion with riders likely to do the event, we've decided to introduce a new rule:

"Between noon one day and noon the next, every rider must spend at least one block of at least four hours not travelling. That is, the maximum time any rider may spend travelling along the course will be 20 hours (between each noon-to-noon period)."

This can be monitored by reviewing riders' SPOT navigational tracking device.
We're not suggesting you limit yourself to four hours sleep per day. You'll surely enjoy yourself more if you sleep closer to eight hours. But you might decide to get a really early start on one day (and catch up on sleep another). Anyway, as with all the rules at this stage, it's just a draft. We'd love your feedback.

23 September 2009

Training or Practicing?

By now, anybody thinking of doing the Kiwi Brevet will be thinking about preparation. What do you need to do to complete 1200 km of all terrain in less than 8 days?

If you look at long events - ranging from a double century to a Great Divide style race - there are a few common things that can ruin your ride.

1 - Have a reliable bike.
Be prepared to fix multiple punctures, a slashed sidewall, a broken chain, a buckled wheel, wornout brake pads, etc.
Don't start with untested gear, or worn rims or chainrings, etc

2 - Be fit enough to comfortable do a hilly century by yourself, preferably with a good chunk of gravel road included. If you can do something like Round Taupo in less than 6 hours, and have reasonable MTB skills, you are probably physically good to go.

3 - Don't get Sick.
This is a biggy. Avoid dodgy food and water. Try to keep you hands clean. Eat and drink plenty of the stuff you find easy to digest. Take some sort of water purification system.

4 - Don't crash your brains out!
Be familiar with how your loaded bike handles off-road. Ride within yourself, especially when you're feeling fatigued. Use bright clothing and lights when out there in low light conditions.

5 - Be prepared for extreme weather.
You'll need to be ready to fend off both hypothermia and hyperthermia. Temperatures may well range between zero and forty degrees C.

6 - Know where you're going.
Once you've worked how you're going to navigate, practice using your system. Most of the navigation on this course is fairly straight forward and can be done using a 1:250,000 Terrainmap (possibly supplimented by directions from Google Maps). However, the navigation in/out of Blenheim and Neslon might need a street map. And finding your way through the Maungatapu, Porika, Big River and Wharfdale sections will require the directions in Classic NZ MTB Rides and/or a 1:50,000 Topomap. Same goes for the Molesworth, but we'll be going in the opposite direction described in the guidebook. The sections west of Lake Brunner and north of Lees Valley have yet to be described accurately - the 1:50,000 Topomaps for those areas can not be trusted - we'll work out a cue sheet and email it out prior to the start.

If you want to know more about 'serious' training for long distance cycling, check out this site http://www.ultracycling.com/

Personally, I reckon you don't need to do massive miles to enjoy something like this. 15 hours riding in a big week is plenty. Try to get one really long ride done every couple of weeks and the usual 1-3 hour med-fast rides done every couple of days. What is 'really long'? Five hours by the end of October, building up to an 8-10 hour ride (or a tour with your Brevet gear) early in the new year. Then sharpen up with a bit of fast riding or racing, and remember to give yourself heaps of rest and recovery. Enjoy!

10 September 2009

Couple of rule revisions...

1 - Old Rule:
No outside support (deliveries only to public addresses, no support from friends along the way). Prior to the race you may only post supplies to post offices.

This now becomes:
No outside support (deliveries only to business addresses, no support from friends along the way). No posting stuff to anywhere (not even post offices) prior to the race.

In NZ we don't have small towns with only post offices but not shops, so this exception doesn't make sense - it just erodes the self-sufficiency ethos.

2 - Old Rule:
Cell phones OK, but must not be used to call for food or supplies (or any other assistance) to be delivered (except to a public address/business).

Rule Change:
This rule has been removed. Delivery of supplies is covered by the previous rule.

3 - New Rule:
If a rider leaves the course, they must return to the course where they left it, under their own steam.
If a rider takes a shortcut (or long-cut) they will incur a time penalty for the section they miss, equal to twice the slowest riding time taken for that section during this year's brevet.

As the route is new and detailed navigation cues are not available, riders will not be disqualified for missing a section of the course. The time of the slowest person will be determined by their spot tracker.

Feel free to post comments if you have any thoughts on these revisions.

04 September 2009

Kiwi Brevet - 6th February 2010

View Kiwi Brevet 2010 in a larger map
Note: Sections in red not fully finalised.

We are planning to run a Great Divide style event in the South Island - a 1200 km, mixed terrain, self-supported cycle tour with a reasonably challenging time cut-off. Here's a map and some notes on the event (below).

We are still working through land access issues, which may well be resolved by requiring every rider to carry a personal locator beacon, but we thought we'd go public now so that you all have time to sort out gear, leave, fitness, etc.

We'll set up a dedicated blog shortly and then get some serious discussion going then. In the meantime, if you have any burning questions or comments, fire away.

Proposed start date: noon, Sat 6th Feb 2010

(trying to get long days and good weather, but little holiday traffic).

Proposed course:

Start Blenheim, round Port Underwood road, Queen Charlotte Drive, Maungatapu
Track, backroads to St Arnaud, Porika Track to Lake Rotoroa, Braeburn Track
to Murchison, over Maruia Saddle backroads to Springs Junction, Rahu Saddle
to Reefton, Big River and Waiuta Tracks, then backroads to Blackball,
backroads to Jackson, over Arthurs Pass to Sheffield, Wharfedale Track, Lees
Valley to Hanmer via back roads (?), Molesworth Station, Taylors Pass and
then singletrack back to Blenhiem.

Approx 1200 km (note: our Google Map takes micro-shortcuts and
under-estimates the total distance).

Approx 50% sealed roads, 40% gravel roads, 6% 4WD, 4% singletrack

Proposed rules:

Do it all yourself, under your own steam.

Riders must carry all their own gear (i.e. no domistiques).

No outside support (deliveries only to public addresses, no support from friends along the way). Prior to the race you may only post supplies to post offices.

Follow 100% of the course.

Riders must carry a personal locator beacon, and agree to cover the cost of rescue in the event they need to be evacuated.

Times under 4 days will be recorded as 4 days, 0 hours. (We're not after an exercise in sleep deprivation).

Riders must finish in under 8 days.

Drafting is OK.

When on public roads, follow the Road Code.

Cell phones OK, but must not be used to call for food or supplies (or any other assistance) to be delivered (except to a public address/business).

Call-ins to be made from designated towns to an 0800 number.

In the event of Molesworth Station being closed to cyclists due to fire risk, riders are to proceed through the Rainbow Station and North Bank road.

No entry fee; no prizes. Some sort of koha will be requested for community charities along the route (yet to be determined).

Email your ideas to simon at kennett dot co dot nz or leave a comment here.

Cheers, Simon Kennett