Saturday, 25 January 2014

Pre-Brevet Shakedown No2

The second shakedown weekend was a last minute decision upon hearing the weekend prior that a road linking the Rainbow and the Acheron Valley's, through the Alma Valley was open by DoC for January and February.

Scott was super keen (as always) and he soon rounded up Andre (a fellow Brevet virgin) to join us. It also gave us the opportunity to check out one of the optional legs (as if 1100 kilometres wasn't enough!) in the Kiwi Brevet. Which was UP through the St James Cycleway ...

Leaving Christchurch early Saturday morning it was a quick drive through to Hanmer with only one coffee stop along the way, we saddled up and headed over to the bakery ... where else do you start a big ride!

With tummies full and pockets stuffed, we saddled up again and headed north over Jacks Pass, up the Clarence Valley until we got to the St James Homestead turnoff and turn off we did.

Quickly through Peters Lookout we started descending when a big pffffttttt came from my front tyre! Slowly coming to a stop, my tyre was spewing Stan's sealant at a great rate of knots ... just like Scott was descending in front of me! Andre was behind me and pulled over to help. It was obvious that a rock had sliced the side wall and we would need to put in a tube and boot on the inside of the tyre. Scott had reached the bottom of the hill and realised something was going on without him! Not one to miss out, he started back up the hill!

We were soon back on the track heading down into the Edwards Valley, up over Charlies Pass and into the Waiau valley, it was starting to warm up and we taking every opportunity to refill our bottles, we crossed the river a few times over the bridges, pushed on a few points, took in some magnificent views, rode through a group of wild horses and foals.

After five hours we stopped at the Lake Guyon turnoff in some shade and had a snack, feeling slightly refreshed we headed on up the valley and soon got to the bottom of Mailing Pass, from the bottom car park to the Pass is about 6 kilometres and climbs 810 metres. It soon ramped up and we spread out, finally all walking pushing our bikes up ... tired and hungry I was not in my happy place, in fact it was a pretty dark and deep hole!  I had never been so happy to make it to a top of climb before as I was then!

We bombed down the other side until we reached the Clarence River just near Lake Tennyson. We stopped  for a snack, lie down and to relive the climb! Well, we still had Island Saddle to climb which we could see and then an unknown distance to the turn off and find somewhere to camp. It was just on seven in the evening, so we threw our legs over and headed off when Scott's rear tyre went pfffttttttt! See doesn't want to miss out!

The tyre wouldn't self seal! So it was a tube insertion, not too major surgery but time consuming when you are tired. Ten minutes later we were back on the road again! Again we were climbing for once I wasn't trailing, must of been the Ems Power Bar I had just consumed, holding the sausage roll fueled Andre off until 100 metres from the summit when he jumped out of my slip stream and made for the top!

Regrouping, a quick look at the map, we headed off down hill 10 kms of it ... pure bliss ... huge grins spread across our dusty and grimy faces! We were soon at Lake Sedgemere Shelter our turn off just on dusk and 2900 odd metres of climbing behind us ... What a day!  

I set up my tent and tucked into dinner, it was not long before I rolled into my sleeping bag to stack plenty of ZZZZZZ's

Morning came around to quickly, but dawned another stunning day. Sunrise was beautiful , the coffee was even better!

By seven we were back on our bikes, riding through the Alma Valley, this was a quick 24 kms through to the Severn bridge. We soon saw the new shelters/toilets and information boards which are part of the National cycle way, we pushed along the rolling road down towards the Acheron/Clarence confluence and homestead at a reasonable rate.

This caught up with me a few kms later when the tank started to feel empty ... so stopping I dug out some food and feed the worms to stop them screaming! We cruised along beside the Clarence river until we got to Jollies Pass, by twelve we were back where we were 25 hours earlier ... the bakery!

The discussion was whether it was a one pie or two pie day? After 170 kilometres and 4200+ metres of climbing it seemed the most important decision to be made. These were scoffed in the shade of the trees on the lawn when the second most important question needed to be asked ... Where for coffee?

But that was side tracked when I noticed that my front tyre was flat again! So back to the van load the bikes in and a quick change into some reasonably clean clothes - coffee was back on the agenda!

A great weekend, with some interesting terrain, stunning scenery and bloody good company!

I thought I was 99 % sure of my kit before this weekend, but after another night in the tent, it's been given the boot and I have gone back to my bivy bag, probably only 1 or 200 grams heavier but won't flap about keeping me awake. I had been using my Garmin 705, the charge was only lasting 12 hours and would take four hours to charge when plugged into the wall, with navigation and pace being reasonably important  it too got the boot and I am know the proud owner of a Garmin etrex (again, I had one of the original ones years ago) on AA lithium batteries these last 3-4 days, problems solved!

With having been away for the last two weekends and the next two on the Brevet, this one has been spent at home cleaning and sorting out gear, getting last minute items sorted, along with a few chores.

I am sure this week will go quickly and Friday evening will see me arriving in Blenhiem ready for the noon departure on Saturday. I have mixed feelings, nerves, excitement, can't wait for it to start ... which will no doubt change to can't wait for it to finish! Moments of doubt ... can I finish! Can I finish within my goals!

What ever happens it is going to be a great adventure!

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