Jeff's Bike Kiwi Brevet Voodoo lounge

Jeff’s Bike – The wrap, Kiwi Brevet 2012

Team Voodoo Lounge, some of these
people are real, some of them are not

Strange things happen in the Voodoo Lounge. Its a comforting place, but beware when your guard is down, the fridge is full of beer, there’s a roast in the oven and the massage chair is waiting to caress you. One of us began speaking “in tongues” during the nights after our Brevet was over. A kind of falsetto voice with an English accent. Who was this “persona”, and what was it trying to tell us? Could it have been someone from the Maungatapu murders trying to speak to us? Jonty spoke of his fear of white mans tapu when we slept at the murder site two years ago on the previous Brevet. Was it someone trying to contact us, because we just bowled through in a rush this time, without paying our respects? In the previous Brevet many of us were completely bushed, and Murderers Rock was the only flat place to bed down between Pelorus and Nelson. We spent a lovely night under the stars. This time, coming from the opposite direction, it was cold, and a little foggy so we didn’t stop. Maybe this nightly communication was in some way related . Check out the harrowing account of the 
murders  and the grisly execution that followed.    

Thomas understands the importance
of getting the hole-shot

The Voodoo lounge comes with a freezer, fridge, toilet, showers and a small kitchen, along with a TV, and a garage with ample room for bike tinkering. This year I did a big fry-up at about 5.30 on the morning of day one, cooking in the garage, baked beans, bacon and eggs. I can’t recall what Matt ate. But it wouldn’t have been the bacon, ditto for Jonty who also has hi ethical and religious standards in relation to eating dead pigs. I think it set me up well for the day, and I also had 6 cheese, baked-bean and salami toastie pies secreted on my person. These lasted me 3 days and were a welcome change from muesli bars, and more muesli bars. Carrying two full water bottles on my bike and 3.0 to 3.5 litres of water on my back at all times meant that I never run out of water either, while I observed plenty of other people who seemed to be skimping in order to save a bit of weight. I also had a spare half bottle on the back of my rack which came in handy a few times at the end of a long day, for some of my ridding buddies.

I do have a bit of a fear of the “bonk” so I pretty much ate constantly the whole time. Standard stuff that I learnt from the previous Brevet. Pies, chocolate milks, muesli bars, and way too many lollies. In fact my tongue still hasn’t recovered from the lollies. I think it was the Blackballs I bought at Reefton that did the damage. I always had two bottles of Powerade (from Gas stations) in my cages, and the Nuuns tablets in my camelback. No wonder I didn’t get any skinnier.

Camera bag attached to back pack

The late addition of two cut down water bottles attached to my handlebars were great for storing my wind breaker on the left, and muesli bars on the right. Easy access all the time was a bit of a theme for me this time, and I didn’t want anything on my back except water and the day’s maps. Next time I think I would look at a vest, instead of a full jacket. The weather was so good I had no need to even get out my rain jacket, and arm warmers and a vest would be a pretty good combo. A Revelate Gas Tank could have replaced all my little zip-tied add-ons a lot more cleanly, but they were lying about the shed, and they were free.

I reckon if you are going to have so much fun, and go through so much beautiful scenery it would be silly not to take a few photos. My camera from the 2010 Brevet died after some water exposure on my daughter’s Duke of Ed trip, so sourcing a new one was at the back of my mind. I spied a mint one for $29 at Cash Converters one day so snapped it up. Its no use having a camera if its not accessible so I built a system that allowed me to access it with one hand while it was mounted in its case on my right lapel. It had a safety cord and was very easy to extract from its case, and turn off and on one-handed. Think about this if you are shopping for a camera. One-handed operation is a must. I have a better camera at home, but the on button is too far to the other side, and every part of its surface is a button or a slide or something that turns something off or on. Too gadgety by far.

Getting connected

I spent a fair bit of time setting this up. My idea was to do a quick blog when we had some down time or when we were doing our text-in locations. For the most part it worked, but I am guessing with a few delays. These days, with an Android phone all you need to do after you take a photo is to press-hold on it and you are given a list of ways of sharing that image, from Twitter, Facebook, email, Blogger etc etc. I had an email-to-blog address that would send anything to my Blog and at the same time also post it on Facebook, and Twitter. Plus if I tweeted (txted) anything, the tweets would also go to my twitter feed, my blog, my facebook and the Kiwi Brevet twitter feed. For the less technically inclined people I had their email addresses designated in my blog settings so that they would automatically get my updates in their email in box. There is a limit of ten people on this.

My body went great. Not even a bonk, no sore knees or muscle strains, a slight numbness in my right fore-foot, probably a result of some last minute cleat surgery but my butt was not that flash. I am not sure what the problem was with my nether regions, but I reckon it was even worse than last time, despite having good quality chamois cream and shorts, and having well and truly gotten used to my saddle. Maybe I need to try one of those big fat Brooks saddles? Most people who used them seem to think they were great. Not everyone, but the majority.

Click for a blow-up

The bike was brilliant. Faster rolling 29 inch wheels would have been better, but you travel at the speed of the people you are with, and 9 times out of 10, you end up at the same place each night. Speed is rarely an issue. Comfort is. The Superlight is a great bike to ride and with aero bars and a Freeload rack on the back I cant imagine a set-up that would suit me better right now. I have to admit, the new 29er Santa Cruz Superlights look awesome. I had a small slow leak on the rear Stans Raven that I needed to add air too a couple of times. In the future I might sacrifice some wheel resistance for a tire with more grip, as the Raven was pretty hopeless in the Wharfdale track and through the Waiuta, both tracks being quite wet. These should have been the best parts of the Brevet, but for many they weren’t. Carrying a full load obviously doesn’t help either! Everywhere else they were mint.

My bike is essentially my cross country race bike with aero bars and rack attached. 23.5 pounds in race trim, but 39.8 pounds loaded, without any full water bottles on board. If you add up two 750ml water bottles and a 3 litre camelbak, you can see that there is a lot of weight in carrying your water. I was scared for my 28 hole wheels at times, but I am sure there are guys fatter than me riding on them more aggressively than I was.

Wharfdale – Photo from Andy

The course
It was great, and doing it in reverse was a fun way of letting me enjoy it again. I suspect the original direction (counter clockwise) is the more natural one for the flow of the trails. Good weather and tail winds the whole time were the order of the day. Thanks heaps to Simon for thinking it up and holding it, as he promised would at the end of the first one, every two years.

Write it down this time, 1st to 9th Feb 2014. You know who you are !

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Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Final day – Kiwi Brevet

Around 120 kms I think. 7.30 to 1.10pm

Jonty woke up and looked pretty damn groggy. He said he was missing the usual 8 hours sleep that he needs to function adequately. It was no surprise then when that when the Lone Ranger turned up to chastise us about our non-legal camping spot that the responses to his accusations were less than cheery. It turns out that there was a proper camping ground, we just didn’t find it. It also turned out the Matt did! Apparently he turned up some time after us, only a couple of hours I think, and by virtue of his superior tertiary education he found the correct place to camp. It was out on the grass and of course he got covered in dew which wasn’t so good. We only found all this out later.

Queen Charlotte Drive

Nathan had already done a sneaky depart while we were waking up at around 6.20. Then Peter Maindonald rolled by, having bivvyed at the bottom of the Mangatapu descent. He mentioned that Matt, Nathan and Thomas had all passed him in the night! Wow. We had already lost 4 places while were were asleep ! (Not that its a race). 

Alex climbs

We hit the road at around 7.20 is my guess, the earliest departure we had the whole time. I was super motivated as I knew all the roads we were about to ride, with the exception of Port Underwood, which I had ridden on the previous Brevet, and really enjoyed. At Jonty’s suggestion we ordered short blacks at the Havelock cafe because they take the least time to make, and snacked on a few buns and supplies. Peter Maindonald was there having his daily eggs benedict. Peter took off a few seconds before us, and he didn’t seem to be mucking about. We caught him on a little climb a couple of minutes later and didn’t see him again. 

I was feeling good, maybe the best I had the whole time. Even my butt felt better. The Queen Charlotte Drive was a blast and we got to Picton in short time, brought some more water and coke, gave Jonty some time-out for an expresso-ablution and hit the hills that make up Port Underwood. Man that first one just went on for ever. It was beautiful. It was sunny and hot with a cool damp sea breeze that was going in our direction. 

A nice bay, not sure which one

There were 3 or 4 hills, I cant remember. They went up, they went down, the way all hills do. The scenery was awesome. Unfortunately Alex’s knee was giving him a hard time and he lost contact on the 2nd to last hill I think. I was thinking that Nathan could have been close, but figured he wouldn’t be doing his usual stopping every 2 hours for a leisurely break on the last day. At one point Jonty hallucinated that he saw Nathan sitting in the shade on the side of the road up ahead. Maybe it was hotter than we thought? 

I was starting to gap Jonty on the climbs, but I knew he would get back on again on the descents which he was doing way faster than I could. On the last hill I did get away a bit and put my head down, I knew that if I could get down on the Rarangi straight I could see if there was anyone for me to run down. Sure enough I saw a dark figure 500 metres up ahead so I reeled them in. It was Scott Emmens. He was pretty much blown, and we hadn’t seen him since our one hour rest stop at the Molesworth Station water point on day one. He said that Nathan had been through about 10 minutes earlier and so had Thomas ! I had no cue-sheets as I had given them to Matt days earlier when he lost his, but Scott had cue-sheets AND a GPS !  We cruised along until Jonty turned up and we all rode back together. This GPS lark is so easy it seems wrong! 

Another  pretty bay in Port Underwood

Up ahead we saw another rider that Scott recognised as Thomas, so we formed a paceline and shot past him at 50kmh screaming like banshees, for a wind up. We slowed right down but he didn’t seem keen to join us. We didn’t realize he had yet another flattie and a  shagged tire and had been riding on the rim for ages and continued to do so until he got too Blenheim. 

We made our way into the finish at Seymour square and Nathan Mawkes and Geof Blanc were there to meet us, with my family turning up a few minutes later. Its always an anti-climax at the finish, so having someone there to meet you and shake your hand is always nice. I feel bad about not being there when Matt turned up but I figured he was going to have a hard time on the hills and unfortunately the dial-up at my parents place wasn’t doing a great job with the trackers. Matt did awesomely. With less fitness than last time he managed his exercise induced nausea really well and was rarely more than a few minutes behind when we stopped at the top of any particular hill.

Bandolero Bill

It was another great event by Simon, although I have to say I think the original direction is the best. Once again we were incredibly lucky with the weather. We had some awesome bivvy spots, almost always had a tail wind, unless we were going downhill when we had a headwind on a few occasions. We had great company and all of us finished. Most of our butts were in worse shape than when we started, but its hard to get everything right eh? 

Voodoo  Lounge Proprietors. Thanks heaps! 

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Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Day 5 – Kiwi Brevet

200kms, a big climbing day. 8am to 11pm.

Day 5, around 200 kms, Murchison to Pelorus. We all managed to roll out at 8 oclock with a brief brekkie stop at the cafe at Murch. The lady behind the counter was one of the friendliest we had met. Its refreshing to meet nice people when your butt hurts, you are tired, are about to wolf down a greasy pie and they talk to you like they are genuinely interested in what you are doing. We headed up the Mangles Valley at a reasonable pace but some how dropped Thomas who was having a “I dont like mornings” moment. We had decided to give it a bit of stick on this day, and it was likely that it was going to break apart a bit when we hit the Porika track which was a seriously heinous push. In fact, looking at the altitude map, it appears we had around 2000 metres of vertical climbing on our plates for the day, a fair bit of it actually walking. I was amazed to see Alex ride about 60% of the Porika, even with a knackered knee and tight achilles tendons. Apparently Dave Sharpe cleaned it all but for one dab. 

We caught Nathan Mawkes part way up the Porika, and Peter Maindonald on the decent. If there was an award for the most improved rider from the previous Kiwi Brevet it would go to Peter. The first one took him 9 days. This time he was on a 5.5 day schedule and he was armed with some serious kit. A carbon forked rigid 29er and all the accoutrement’s. I am so impressed at how these rigid 29ers descend, he wasnt giving away much to me, if anything on my 26 inch fully.

The piece of road from the road’s end to St Arnaud, although tarseal, seemed really hard. Aparrently it was false flat. It certainly messed with our heads, as we had been looking forward to it for ages, and imagining a fast downhill descent finishing with pies and chocolate milk! We fueled up at St Arnaud and rolled over Kerrs Hill, through Golden Downs and eventually got onto 88 Valley Road. We passed the two single speeders Stephen and David as they dealt with a recurring puncture. This stretch also seemed to take a long time. It was hot with a head wind, and a fair few climbs that seemed to have skipped my memory banks form doing it in the opposite direction in 2010. Plus my arse was in agony. At this point the Team Voodoo Lounge contingent had been whittled down to myself, Jonty and Alex, who never complained although he was obviously in pain. 

The navigating of the cycle lanes after Wakefield was not a lot of fun, but better then mixing it with the 4.30 rush of traffic as people made their way in and out Richmond, one of the biggest growing towns in NZ. We were pleasantly surprised to meet Chris Burr on the trail and he advised us on where we could find a nice place for Pizza and Beer!!! YUM. But before we got there a car pulled over on the side of the road and some kids jumped out and offered us fresh Banana and Chocolate Muffins! It was awesome. We have no idea who they were or who they were supporting but it was surely appreciated. 

We eventually rode into Nelson, after a warning from Chris about how cyclists were public enemy number one. He was later to be proven correct with as bigger displays of moronic behaviour as I have seen in any boganised area in New Zealand. The Pizza and Beer were awesome and we were also met by my Cuz, Paul McNabb who had been watching our approach online. I did a quick grocery shop while waiting for the Pizzas and we took off, probably less than an hour after we arrived. It was probably around 5 or 5.30 pm as we headed up the Maitai in search of our next destination, maybe Murderers Rock on Mangatapu, or Perlorus. 

The new alternative trail to the Mangatapu track was well worth the deviation, as it was rideable, and dry! Unfortunately Alex got a sidewall cut that we had to sort out with a boot and some duct tape just before the caretakers house. I was happy to be using all the crap I had in my tool kit. Duct tape, valve stem tool, and a few other things all came in handy at different times. It was a coolish night so the climb was a lot easier than it would have been during the heat of the day. As we approached the summit it was well and truly dark and we had a quick stop to send a text to Matt to tell him where we thought we might be camping, and to put on some more clothes for the long descent down onto the Pelorus side. This was less fun than it might have been as we had to form a sandwich formation with Alex being the meat, as he had no lights. After the descent the next 13km gravel segment to Perlorus seem overly hilly at that time of the night and I think we were all pretty damn happy to stop there and bivvy up. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the official tent camping site, which was just as well as it turned out to be crap. I found a dry spot in the bush and we slept the sleep of the dead, and were only awakened briefly by the arrival of a late night addition to our camp. Nathan had caught up, with Thomas in tow. Thomas carried on, to who knows where, while Nathan settled in with us.

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Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Day 4 – Kiwi Brevet

200kms, 7.30 to 11.50 pm
The Otututu River

Day 4. About 200kms. I’d finally eaten my way through the 6 cheese, salami and bean toastie pies I had made in Blenheim on friday night, so I would have to pay more attention to my diet. Matt and I decided we would head off a bit early from Blackball as there was no doubt Jonty and Alex would catch us, and poor Andy was still in his Hilton sick-bed. If we had known how long the day was going to be we would have risen even earlier. It was a beautiful morning on fast rolling west coast roads. We headed for Ikamatua and on route we rode past the Pike River turn off. At the Ikky store I got chatting to a local who knew my Nana and the infamous Aunty Murtle who passed away last year aged 105. I thought about hiding all the sour snakes in the shop to wind up Jonty but apparently he was into more healthier things when he made his purchases. I was more impressed with his diet than anyone else I came across the whole time. When we all caught up at the Brevet’s end Andy told us a story of how, when he was doing his shop at Ikky, he was sitting outside refueling and he watched a train slow down and stop opposite the shop. The driver jumped out, brought a chocolate milk at the shop and hopped back into the cab and was on his way. 

Blackwater enroute to Waiuta

We cruised up the lovely quiet country roads into the old Ghost town of Waiuta were my mother went to school. Theres not much left these days so after a quick look at the accommodation which was all locked up we hit the Waiuta trail proper. Before long Matt and I came across Thomas who had discovered that his latest puncture was proving difficult to fix since his tool bag had sprung a leak and his tire levers were awol. Matt kept going and I lent Thomas mine until he had at least beaded the rim. While he worked on his wheel a Bellbird tweeted vociferously less than a metre from our heads. I have never been so close to one in the wild. 

Matt in the Waiuta

It was easy to see that a heap of work had been done on the Waiuta track. There were no more of the treacherous creek crossings that we had experienced last time, but unfortunately the track was wet, and once again our semi slick tires were as good as useless with a full load on. We rode and walked for several hours until eventually Alex, Jonty and then Thomas caught us near Big River. We decided to have a bit of lunch and Thomas pulled out a flask full of whiskey! Big River was a lot more fun and from memory there was a bit of competitive descending going on which resulted in another flat for Thomas. 

Before long we had exited the bush and hit the shops at Reefton for more pies, choc milks and supplies. Not sure why but we seemed to spend around 2 hours mucking about in Reefton.

Rare bush goblin

The Rahu saddle was the next stretch, but it took a little while for Thomas to find his legs. Eventually his legs and sense of humour returned and from that point on the day just got sillier and sillier. Sparking up the cleats on the descents was the new cool thing, after Jonty demoed brushing his teeth while riding. After descending the big hill into Springs Junction there was a strange encounter between Jonty and a very wolf-ish looking cat, which he proceeded to stroke – with a piece of cardboard, so he didn’t get ring worm !

The next piece of road had us ending up on some tarseal where a new game started. The idea was to be the last person standing still wearing their sun glasses. We had already stopped to put on our lights so it was getting pretty silly. I can’t remember who won in the end, I wasnt playing. 

Hoodlums on the road

It was a shame because when we hit the Maruia Saddle it was pitch black, apart from a near full moon, and the silly games continued,  with Thomas, whose legs had returned in full, attacking Jonty til the summit . I was riding sensibly with Alex who didn’t actually have a proper head light with him. The last 30 kms into Murchison seemed to take for ever, with more little pinch climbs than any of us remembered, but the road surface was the best kind of gravel there is, as someone else suggested, like fine talcum powder. We rode for quite a while with our headlights off, under the light of the moon. It was pretty damn cool.


We hit Murch at 11.50 and I went about finding the Camping Ground we booked from Reefton. I went around to the office. Rang the number and listened as the phone went off in the house and I heard the guy stumble out of bed !  The keys were in the doors and the lights on. Excellent. 

We were very disappointed to find that we had to pay for a hot shower, but once again Thomas impressed with his ingenuity by putting hot water from the hand basin into his camelbak and inverting it for use as a camp shower. The last I saw of him that night he was walking around like a skinny sasquatch wearing a jersey upside down on his lower torso while his bike pants dried… hanging off his aero bars, over the heater in his cabin. Hmmmm. Luckily he had a cabin to himself.

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Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Day 3 – Kiwi Brevet

8am to 9pm, 210 kms
Alex adds some air

Day 3 (around 210 kms)  from Sheffield to Blackball was hopefully going to be a bit
easier, given that most of it was on sealed roads. We decamped from our
pine needled paradise and headed out for Springfield in search of
pies.The food at the Springfield Cafe is always good, and there weren’t
so many of us that the staff were completely overwhelmed as we
experienced on the last KB. Luckily we all remembered what we ordered
and then shot next door for more provisions for the road. As we were about to
leave Jonty asked if I would share my “Sour Snakes” with him. I meanly
replied that he could only have one, so he decided to go and buy his
own. We said we would carry on slowly and he could catch up. 5 mins
later there was no sign of Jonty so we decided to carry on. The road was
fast and at some point we started on the Porters Pass. This was a
pretty steep climb for the tarseal and I think we took the time to stop a
few times to air up my leaking rear tire and oil Andy’s chain. It was
spitting lightly so the steep descent was a bit scary for us guys with
glasses on who were experiencing about 10 metres visibility. After the
rain cleared and we picked up our usual tail wind some time later we
stopped for a snack at the top of a big climb.

Cleetus arrives
Matt appeared over the
horizon and hot on his tail was Jonty ! Up until  that point we didn’t know if Jonty was in front or behind us. It turned out that I had bought the last
packed of Sour Snakes in the shop, and Jonty had turned the wrong way
for a while and was headed to Christchurch!  Luckily he ran into an old
buddy of his who confirmed his error. Its a small world. It was nice
travelling across the divide, but the descent down the Otira
Gorge reminded me why I bonked when doing the KB from the other
direction. It was bloody steep, especially on a rear tire that has been
leaking a bit of air.
Retro jacket moment

Eventually we hit Arthurs Pass and indulged in some over priced
pies, chips, chocolate milks and the usual confectionery. We were half
expecting to catch up to Nathan Mawkes who we had been leap frogging
pretty much from day 1. Nathan tended to ride a bit slower and take a
few more rests. No sign of Nathan although we met Mark Watson whose
partner Hanna was doing the event, and we also met Ollies girlfriend. We
were approached by a lot of people who were interested in what we were
doing which was cool.

Before long we were on the road again and heading for Jacksons.
Sons of Anarchy- Season 2
managed to snag some junk food there and were pleased to hang a right
and hit some less frequented roads. Apparently this move eluded Thomas
Lindup some many hours earlier and he had ended up riding to Kumara and
back ! The roads in this area were smooth and fast. Even the gravel was
nice when we got to it. The best time of the day to be riding is the
evening, but we enjoyed our relatively early finish at Blackball at
around 9pm. It seemed like everyone was there. Dave Sharpe and the
single speeders, Nathan, even Thomas in his bright yellow puffer jacket,
looking like a demented Big Bird – apparently bivvying in a hedge
somewhere since the room rates had gone up since our previous
Somewhere out the back of Moana
Although the kitchen was closed at the Blackball Hilton the chef whipped us up some very
nice sandwiches, and even managed to build one acceptable to our
resident vegan who was doing way better with his eating than on the
previous Brevet. A beer and raspberry and coke later and it was time to
wash our spare shorts and prepare for the next day. Unbeknown to me poor
Andy was up all night with a bad belly. Was it the chicken pie or a
hard day ? We never knew, but Andy stayed on the next day until he
started to feel a bit better.

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Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Day 2 – Kiwi Brevet

Rolling out from Hanmer
190 kms, 8.30 to 9pm

Day 2. Around 190 kms. We had a reasonable nights sleep, got our stuff together and
headed off to the nearest cafe for breakfast. It was at this point that
Jonty shared his memorable quote ” I tend to steer away from flat whites
in the provinces”. After a leisurely brekkie, during which time, Alex’s
dad Mike Revell turned up, he had made it through the Molesworth the previous day, but kipped on the roadside rather than come down into Hanmer that night.  We hit the smooth tar-seal road for Culverden’s Grocery
store about 40kms away, and got there about 10 mins before opening. This
was to be a serious shopping expedition to see us through the Lee
Valley, the Wharfdale and maybe Sheffield.
We hit the road again and before long were surfing on some fresh new
gravel. The damn grader looked like it had been through the previous
day. Bugger..

Resting up before our wrong turn

The next phase was getting into the massive farm of
McDonald downs which was problematic. There can be a lot of variation
over what the 4 bike computers were telling us, so we chose to ignore
the kms on the cue sheets and go by the map. This caused a problem, as
when we went down the appropriate road, a farmer emerged to tell us that
the road was incorrectly named on the LINZ map, and had been for years !
I guess we only lost about 20 mins or so, and he kindly set up a sign
to warn anyone behind us. Plenty of other people had already made the
same mistake before us.

Another pinch climb

Two of our group had done the KB before, but in the other direction.
When asked what the terrain was like I suggested that it was mostly
flat, with a few “pinch-climbs” . This didn’t go down well as the climbs
seemed to have a bit more pinch than some were hoping for. We were
eventually glad to be off the gravel and trying to navigate our way
across acres of farm land. Before long we came across a river which we
needed to ford. Not a biggie as it was pretty shallow. We carried on
until we found the entrance to the Wharfdale track which we hoped would
give us some very cool single track to blast through. A few things
worked against us. 1. Our bikes were heavy and unresponsive. 2. It was
uphill with lots of dismounts. 3. It was a bit wet and most of us had
semi-slick tires on the back.  We hung out for the descent but we felt a
bit cheated when we learned that it was all open four wheel drive, wet
and foggy, and getting dark. To top it off a wasp stung me under the eye
which caused me to freak a bit. I opted to ride as fast as I could
incase my eye swelled up. Definitely a trail best suited to ride in the
opposite direction.

Alex fords river

We hit the road and shot past the accomodation we used last time
which was the View Hill PonyClub/Tennis courts domain and headed for
Sheffield, about an hour away. What a disappointment. A two shop town.
One a pie shop and one a Pub. All closed by 10pm obviously. No tea for
us other than what we were hauling.  It was spitting very lightly so
some form of cover would have been nice. Sleeping in the pub’s toilets
didn’t appeal, but Andy and I found what was to be our best
accommodation yet. A shelter-belt with masses of dry spaces below it
with comfy pine-needle beds, and plenty of room for our bikes and us. We
needn’t have even bothered blowing up our air mattresses. It was mint.
Even the sound of the trains blasting through the night, seemingly metres from our heads couldn’t detract from this spot.

Matt settles down for the night in the Hedgerow Hilton

Plenty of room in this locale
The front entrance to Hedgerow Hilton

Fueling up near the top of the Wharfdale

Somewhere in the Lee Valley

Jonty in the Wharfdale

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Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Day 1 – Kiwi Brevet

200km, 9am to 9pm

Day one of the Kiwi Brevet was a bit of a pressure cooker. It was run in the reverse direction to last time. We had a deadline to travel 118kms to get to the Molesworth station gates by 5pm, and we had no idea how long it was going to take. In the end we needn’t have worried as we got there with 2 hours to spare, but in the process we cooked poor Jonty with our 21kmh average uphill speed. It also caused unnecessary trauma to both Andy King and Matt Gerstenberger who were also in our little group.

On the way we observed the damage done to some pretty classy riders as they struggled with a combination of heat, pace, and I suspect skimping on the water. We caught up to Great Divide Rider Lance Griffen who was looking a bit worse for wear, and desperate for more liquid. It was easy to see that he was an ex single-speeder as he rode standing up a lot of the time, skidding his rear wheel with each power pulse.

Andy, Alex, Jonty, Matt
somewhere up the Awatere

The cool tail wind was kind to us and it was a great feeling to stand atop some of the high points and be cooled down by the gentle cool air. The two singlespeed riders in the Brevet ( David Kleinjan – Gryphon Singular, and Stephen Butterworth – Lynskey Pro29 ) were impressive and the hilly nature of the course meant that to stay on top of their gear they really needed to ride a lot faster than we were. They did.

Lance, Jonty, Alex on
a rare piece of seal

As we reached the Molesworth station water point, we met a few other riders who were resting up from the earlier pace, and as we waited some more turned up. Geoff Blance, recovering from the Great Southern Brevet the week before had been riding with Thomas Lindup and gave us a bit of a report on what had been happening up front. Not long after, he left with Lance Griffen in tow, and they ended up doing the entire Brevet together. Darren Tatom had been suffering with cramps, and he turned up, as did Peter Maindonald, Scott Emmens and Nathan Mawkes. Most of these guys refueled and took off fairly smartly but we hung around to rest Jonty into better shape. By that time, Matt and Andy were back in the fold and it was game on again. Matt took off for an early start and it was to be a good while before we pulled him back.

Jonty catching zeds at Molesworth

Some time later Alex and I were smacking away on the aero bars into the now persistent headwind as we headed for Jollies pass. Alex suggested that it was getting “challenging” so we pulled over for a Muesli bar or two. No sooner had we done this than Jonty turned up. The twinkle was back in his eye and the power back in his legs! Andy also turned up a few minutes later and we shared his big bottle of coke.

The Molesworth itself was devoid of most of the corrugations that messed with our heads and butts last time, but the head wind as we entered the last 30 or so kilometres was a bit tough on us.

David, Lance, Jonty, Alex, Stephen
on a summit somewhere

We got to the Acheron accommodation house where we finally caught Matt who had been resting for about 10 mins, and we regrouped and headed off for Jollies pass and Hanmer. The decent down Jollies was nothing to write home about, a bit rough, and Alex had a close call with a car we met driving up it.

200kms rolled over on my computer as we hit Hanmer around 9pm, and we stocked up on fast food for tea. Matt turned up not much later and scored some nice vegan Thai food. Hanmer’s accommodation was all gone so it was out with the bivvy sacks and into the camping ground. At least they had washing machines and driers which we put our dirty clothes in. It was quite warm that night so I didn’t even need my bivvy bag.

Jonty and Alex

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Jeff's Bike Kiwi Brevet

Jeff’s Bike – Kiwi Brevet quick and dirty pix

Some quick and Dirty Pix from the 2012 Kiwi Brevet

We had a ball, only gave it some stick on the final day. Was great running with the Voodoo Lounge crew.

Thanks to my folks for putting us up, and thanks to Simon for compelling us into more character building experiences !

199 pix here:

Matt and Jonty near Hurunui

Lance Grifffen, Jonty and Alex
Primo digs, in a tree, soft, dry, heaps of rooms
The front door to the digs!

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Jeff's Bike Kiwi Brevet

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Matts story

Awatere Valley day 1

Kiwi Brevet 2012 – By Mathew “Cleetus” Gerstenberger

After going into the 2010 brevet in
some of the better fitness of my life, and, one might say, having
some issues
, I went into the 2012 brevet with a different plan:
do significantly less training and hope for a better result! It’s
possible that I’ve never been too clever with my race plans. After
doing some consideration of my previous experience, I had four main
goals for 2012

  • No vomiting

  • Make it to the top of Taylor’s
    Pass with Team Voodoo Lounge

  • Make it through the Molesworth on
    Day 1

  • I absolutely cannot remember what
    it was, but I do recall I was determined to let goal one trump
    everything else

Somewhere near Hurunui

Apparently, I did not think too far
ahead with my goal setting, and I think that was a wise decision.
Goal Two proved to be much less of a challenge than I expected, and I
was very relieved by that (but was disappointed not to get a Team
Singular Gryphon photo at the top as DK and I crested together).
Goal Three also proved to be much more realistic than I had feared;
however the sun was out in force and was putting Goal One in
jeopardy! My relentless relationship with nausea was returning.
Luckily I seemed to be able to keep it slightly in control through a
heavy reliance on Endurolytes and also, possibly, the large number of
ginger tablets I was downing helped – I cannot be sure.
Endurolytes, ginger and the occasional SeaLegs remained my theme for
the next five days. Thanks to Jonty’s meltdown on Upcot Saddle I made
it to the start of the Molesworth not too long after the rest of the
Voodoo Lounge (Thanks again Jonty!). I was there around 3.20pm, with
plenty of time to spare! I took a slightly less luxurious stop than
the rest of the guys and then managed one of of my small personal
victories: I beat them all through the Molesworth! Waa Hooo!
 I had  made it through on Day 1, albeit at 15 minutes past 7pm. The ranger
did not seem to mind, however, and offered Peter and me a nice cup of
tea while we waited for the rest of TVL. All of this and no vomiting;
however, I was certainly pretty cooked. As would happen over and over
in the next days, I did not try and stay with the guys on the ride in
to Hanmer, and I think I even had a few choice words for Jefe when he
tried to pull me back up to them. Despite that I got into Hanmer only
a few minutes after them. I even managed to down some of my Thai tofu
fried rice. All-in-all, not a bad start.

Hedgerow Hilton

Day 2: Hanmer to Sheffield. I kept my
goal to stay as long as possible with TVL, but to be careful and not
to push my nausea over the edge. This seemed to work quite well and I
was able to ride with them for much of the day and mostly kept
them in sight through the relentless hills. I somehow managed to
catch them again just before Lee’s Valley and had a nice ride on the
flat gravel road with what must have been a strong tail wind (which
we had a lot of!). The Wharfedale. What happened?! I really enjoyed
this single track in 2010. This time I was not having much fun! It
got even worse when I realised I had lost my sunglasses somewhere on
the track. Much to my amazement I made it through with TVL. They
swear they did not wait…. We had hoped to make it into Sheffield
in time to get some accommodation at the pub, but we had no such
luck. Instead we found the best accommodation of the entire ride:
The Hedgerow Hilton. Fantastic. Who would have ever thought you could
get 5 people and bikes inside a hedgerow and stay dry through a
drizzly night? Once camp was set up I tried to down some canned
apples, which had been my savior in the past. No such luck. My guts
were wrecked. Ah well, at least my sleep was fantastic.

Top of Porters Pass
Blackball Hilton

Day 3: Sheffield to
This day started out as the low point of the ride, and
ended with a high point. I got down what food I could, which was
pretty much nothing. Unfortunately, my nausea had not improved over
night. A bottle or two of juice was about all I could handle. Time
for the SeaLegs. Hopefully they would not wipe me out. I had a bit
of a head start to and up Porter’s Pass, but unfortunately it only
lasted a short while and TVL-with-no-Jonty passed me quickly. Jonty
must have been up the road somehow. The sight of me “riding” up
Porter’s Pass must not have been pretty, but luckily I was mostly
shrouded by drizzle and fog. Much to my enjoyment, the top came much
before I expected. Wow. What a boost that was. After a bit of a
descent down into the sun I saw the rest of TVL on the side of the
road dealing with some bike issues. But hold-on, Jonty was not with
them! He was behind me! Waaaa Hooo!! Small victory number two!! He
took a wrong turn at the bottom and rode the wrong way. So I beat
him. Up Porter’s Pass. Fantastic. I did not care if he maybe rode it
30 minutes faster than me. I still beat him. I vowed right then to
never forget it.

Unfortunately, by
this point it was clear that my replacement seat for my recently
broken Arione Twin-Flex was a poor choice. Ouch. I have never had
such bad chaffing (since Day one). I was also starting to get pins
and needles in my glutes and lower back whenever I would sit down. So
I did a lot of standing for the last 3 days. My left knee gave me a
fair bit of grief in the first three days too. I was a bit concerned
I might not be able to go on early on Day three, but it mostly went
away later in the day. I have no idea why.

Heading for Ikamatua

Again I watched
them ride away from me as we started going uphill. It did not worry
me, at this point I was most happy riding on my own at my own pace.
Again I met up with them at Arthur’s Pass (they must have had another
luxurious stop) and here I managed to finally get some food down
again. After another coke stop at the Jackson’s Pub, we were off
onto the back roads to Blackball which had been a highlight for me
last time. Again, it did not disappoint, and I really enjoyed this
stretch and I finished the day out with TVL again. The Blackball
Hilton was another highlight, with my stomach now slightly
cooperating, I enjoyed one of the best sandwiches I have had – the
gherkins really seemed to do the business. Thanks very much to the
owners for going out of their way to make me a vegan meal well after
their kitchen was closed. A bed and a shower were very welcome, and
it was encouraging to see a good contingent of breveteers at the
hotel and possibly only four were up the road. To top it all off,
Nathan Mawkes had found my sunglasses on the Wharfedale and kindly
gave them back to me!


Day 4: Blackball to
I managed to get down what must have been about three
tins worth of tinned fruit – a good start! Jefe and I headed down
the road before the others, knowing they would catch us up on the
Waiuta/Big River track. On the down side, Andy K had come down with
a bad case of stomach lurgy and was forced to start later in the day.
The Waiuta/Big River was a completely different experience than the
previous time. Waiuta required some walking due to mud, etc, but was
generally a pretty relaxed experience. Big River on the other hand –
ugh. Where did all of those nasty rocky steep climbs come from?!?!
Unfortunately, they got the better of me and I lost the rest of TVL.
However, we had picked up wrong-way-Thomas earlier in the day and he
was having endless tire problems so there was always someone around.

Stillwater to Waiuta

After a big fuel
session in Reefton, I headed down the road ahead of the guys again
and they caught me just as we started the climb. I managed to hang up
for most of it and still had them in sight at the top. Whew, that was
a pleasant change. Again, I had another enjoyable dusk & evening
ride into Murchison – but it was quite a late night, getting in
just about midnight. The last 30+ minutes I had ridden alone and
really enjoyed it. I am not sure why. I was in no hurry to get to
Murch and had just decided to cruise it alone. Something I did a lot

Day 5: Murchison to
Pelorus Bridge.
Uh oh. I had some concerns about this day. I think
Jefe must have sensed that and he announced that he planned to smash
it into the finish. Ah well, it had been good riding with them to
this point. I was happy to go it alone. They intended to make it to
the Pelorus Bridge campground and hopefully I would meet up with them
there. Somewhere up the Braeburn I lost them and I would not see
them again; I would just hear rumors of their presence in certain
locations. The heat also started picking up again and my nausea was
coming back strongly. So, after a short lunch stop at St. Arnaud I
realised there was no sense in pushing it. I decided to take it easy
and make sure I did not overheat. That meant a few stops under shady
trees! Fortunately, that was the right decision. I think I made it to
Nelson about 2 hours after the rest of TVL but my guts were in good
shape. After a series of navigational disasters (@$%@$ Charlotte
Lane!!) and a colossal amount of time wasting trying to find Subway,
I did a serious amount of eating. It must have been just past 8 when
I started heading up toward the Mangatapu and I was somehow looking
forward to going over it alone and in the dark, but with a full moon.
After freaking out the local publican with my shaking, while she
kindly refilled my bottles, I was down the road.

The Mangatapu did
not disappoint me, but I did a bit more walking than I had
anticipated. At the top I was very impressed to see someone had put a
sign up in support of Team Voodoo Lounge! That was pretty spectacular
and I got a good laugh and a boost from it. The sign with directions
for wrong-way-Thomas was even better. I stopped and said a prayer for
2010-Matt at Murder’s Rock and finally rolled into Pelorus Bridge at
an obscenely late hour after a beautiful full moon descent down the
valley – but those endless little climbs in the last few kms nearly
did my head in!! Downhill, little farm house, climb, downhill,
little farm house, climb. Over and over and over. I just wanted to
be in my bivvy! I rode around in circles at Pelorus Bridge for at
least 15 minutes looking for the TVL Encampment, but never managed to
locate it. I imagined that they must have gone on to Havelock:
something I was very tempted to do. However, the ranger informed me
in the morning that TVL was indeed there and had just dumped their
bivvies somewhere in the bush and not used the official campground.
Sneaky buggers. I had ridden right by them. I pretty much ate
everything I had left and managed a short nights sleep.

Riding in the Waiuta

Day 6: Pelorus
Bridge to Blenheim.
One might be tempted to say that I took the
“take it easy” motif a bit too much to heart on this day, and
they would probably be correct. It was already hot early on and I was
scared to death of another meltdown on Port Underwood, which had been
my undoing in 2010. Havelock appeared much earlier than I expected
and I had an enormous meal of baked beans on toast and assorted items
and even my first coffee since Day 2. The ride from there to Picton
is a beautiful and fun one, but the heat was bringing out all of the
demons. I wanted to be able to eat normally in the days following the
race, so I continued to take it easy in to Picton where I had another
extra large serving of baked beans on toast, and some more coffee. A
local stopped me at the cafe and said he had been following us
online. That happened a few times during the ride and is quite a fun

temperatures continued to climb as I headed into the Port Underwood
hills. At this point the “take it easy” theme really got the
best of me. I
almost regretted
it when the David and Stephen the singlespeeders passed me about 1/2
way through – how’d I get ahead of them?! As expected, there were
a few more hills than I remembered and I had really had enough by the
time I hit the tar seal. Too bad the road kept going up. Once down on
the flat I was helped along by what was mostly a strong tail wind and
with much easier navigation than the previous finish!! Finally I was
at the Square in 5 days and 9 hours – very relieved to be finished,
but mostly just glad to not have to sit on that saddle.

I suppose I should
say I met all of my goals, even if I cannot remember one of them.
However, I think the spirit of Goal One slightly eluded me, and next
time I need to shoot for nausea-free! I am afraid that would require
not starting, and that just may not be a possibility.

Big River

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Jeff's Bike Kiwi Brevet

Jeff’s Bike – team voodoo lounge meal: take 1

My mum is looking after us too well !

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