They're about 12 hours in, with:
- a large group chilling out at the northern end of the Molesworth getting a great opportunity to compare setups and backgrounds
- a few still desperately trying to clear the Molesworth after underestimating the time they'd take to get through
- another large group in Hanmer, or about to be,
- Thomas, who's just left Hanmer,
- and Ollie, who's almost in Hurunui!
* * * * *
After the riders turn off SH7 at Hurunui, it will be fast travel on gravel roads through to the only private land section on the course. It's a great section from the riders' point of view, as it connects nicely into Lees Valley.
|Simon in MacDonald Downs, 2010|
I don't have fond memories of Lees Valley itself- while reasonably flat, the loose and rough road surface was energy sapping.
After overcoming that, the riders will be onto the Wharfedale, and some pretty sweet singletrack through beech forest. This will be the first major test of the various gear stowage systems, but will be really enjoyed by the mountainbikers. There will also be a bit of walking - not much fun with a heavily laden bike - so look to those with too much gear to lose a bit of time here.
Soon after the Wharfedale, the riders will hit the seal again, and apart from some short and fast gravel sections, they'll be on sealed roads all the way across the Southern Alps and down to Jacksons.
Food, and perhaps a bed for the night will await at Sheffield, or a bit further down the road, Springfield. Porters Pass will be an intimidating climb, and one which I predict many will save up for the next day. At the rate Ollie and Thomas are going, I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both of them up high for the night, perhaps even at Arthurs Pass. They'd be mad to keep going - apart from the energy involved, I gather the views are off the hook!