Tour Aotearoa – Day 1

Watch the video – featuring Wave one Tour Aotearoa 2016 Riders.  The words are below

 

We gathered at the landmark

Where our spirits will depart

The signpost answering

The question of our destiny.

CRSign

Sleeping rough each night

It is in nature that we find

The road that traverses

The fulfillment of our dreams.

And so it rises up and dips

Again,   again,      again,

Transforming bitumen to gravel

To stream, and then to sand

The riders mark their passage

With gentle wave of hand.

TePakiStream

 

The sun’s caress warms our cheeks

Making a glorious day

Golden sands glisten

In tracks made by wheel

Showing us the way.

With chattering mouths

We make new friends

On 90 mile beach that day.

Voices subdued

As the wind freed from its shackles

Sought to thwart us in our passage

Brevetters unite conquering its force

By riding in formation.

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While others ride a more leisurely pace

Pausing to eat, enjoy the view

For sure as heck, this ‘aint no race!

And that I’m telling you.

 

GordonBeach

The wind it started to resemble a gale

Brevetters now proceeded like snails

Oh how they wished for the end of the trail.

Slowly they crept

Paying their dues

Finally it happened

The end came to view

AND THEY HAD ONLY JUST BEGUN!

 

 

KB – The Aftermath

That evening after I cleaned and scrubbed myself and put on deodorant for the first time in almost a week, I rang Silas.

Hey Nicki, how are you going,” his usual greeting

Content,” my reply

I see you are in Blenheim,” Silas astuely observed

Yup,” my monosyllabic reply

The conversation continued about decisions made, lessons learnt and other matters. He offered some sage words as to what could happen over the next few days and then parted with these words, “Thanks for letting me be a part of your journey.” I was impressed.   Heck I was the one who was thanking him, not the other way round, and yet he did.

Yet as much as it was my journey there were many others who were a part of it; my husband, family, colleagues, friends and Silas were able to watch my every move and I knew I was in their thoughts, they were willing my success. So although this was a very solitary experience for me in reality I was never alone.

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The next day I ventured out to Rarangi in the hope of meeting The Three Beards. I found two, James & Alex, who again were exhibiting their fine foraging skills.   This time it was cream buns which they found along the roadside. Amazing those boys.

Two of The Three Beards still foraging!

Two of The Three Beards still foraging!

kb13 3 beards3    KB12 3 beards2

Even though they had yet to finish, they took time to chat about our respective rides and we all agreed at how beautiful Maruia Saddle was. The Three Beards had ridden it in the early morning and I, in the evening. Both beautiful experiences. This conversation allowed me to realise why I ride my bike.

It is for the scenery. It is as simple as that.

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KB Day 6 – Life is a Meditation

Havelock to Blenheim – 97.54km 2205m Ascent. Time 9h26m Moving Time 7h49m

My day started at 6am sharing breakfast with a person residing at the backpackers who lived a rather different life from myself. I was explaining about the Kiwi Brevet and then mentioned it reaches a stage where there is not thought, like a meditation. She commented, “Life is a meditation.

How profound,” I thought as I left the dreary darkness of the backpackers into the brilliance of the morning. My mood immediately lifted and the words of a Psalm came to me “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I happily set off towards Picton humming these words.

I burst out in laughter when I saw this sign after the first climb (and pee stop). For Silas’ sake I had to stop and take a photo.

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Not long afterwards I started to feel very flat and fatigued every pedal stroke became an effort. In the last climb to Picton I decided to pull over and use up my “call a friend (or in this case coach) card”. I figured that it was not quite bedtime in France so Silas should still be up. I got his voice mail, so left a message “You’d probably tell me to get back on my bike and pedal, so I will.

With that I lay down on the side of the road and enjoyed the sunshine. Unfortunately concerned passerbys kept disturbing my slumbers checking that I was OK. Foiled in my attempt to rest, I got on my bike and continued up the hill.

I limped into Picton and went straight to the 4Square, where I purchased 1 litre of coke, a bottle of water and some M&Ms. I mixed up my rocket fuel (coke/water and Nuun tablet), had a good guzzle and headed off towards Port Underwood road.

As soon as I left Picton my energy levels picked up. Around the coast I went revelling in the sunshine. Then the first of the long hills arrived. I rode for quite sometime and then felt that I needed a rest. I looked at the speed I was going and figured walking would be just as fast and a rest from riding, so that is what I did. On reaching the top I was completely blown away with the vista revealed.

WOW - Port Underwood Road

WOW – Port Underwood Road

A compulsory photograph stop. I decided it was time to slow down (OK I was going super slow already) and really enjoy the last day.

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I carried on knowing there were only three big arsed hills left. Unbeknownst to me Silas had left me a message “You can do it! One pedal stroke at a time. Just break the ride up into small chunks and focus on that.” This is advice I had previously received and was already applying.

Down the descent, some smaller ups and downs through incredibly beautiful bays I went, my mind reflecting on the past five days. It is quite amazing what five days by oneself can take one.

The next climb was gravel and the walking started early, plenty of time for me to reflect more and enjoy the wonderful day. The third climb came and went. The road turned to seal for the final climb, which I rode all but the last few metres. Then down to the flatlands, only 25km to go.

The wind threw me one last challenge and attempted to blow me backwards and off my bike. It did not thwart me. I continued on laughing in it’s face. I navigated my way through the outskirts of Blenheim, over the bridge and into Henry Street and then I saw her, Seymour Square.

Bluey & I have arrived

Bluey & I have arrived

I never know what emotion I will feel after a multiday tour. After the Odyssey I felt “emotionally drained bereft”; going over the line for the final stage in Wellington to Auckland I felt powerful. During my two laps around Seymour Square’s fountain I felt pure content.

I can think of no better emotion: pure content.

As Bruce Springsteen puts it

This life, this life and then the next
With you I have been blessed
What more can you expect

Yes indeed , with my life I have been blessed, there is no more to expect. The meditation of life.

The next post contains the aftermath

KB Day 5 – A Life Time Experience

Tapawera to Havelock (via Mangatapu Track) – 134.90km 1937 Ascent. Time 10h09m. Moving Time 8h58min

At 5:41am I rolled out of the campground and started riding in the dark. I was feeling real good, probably the best I had all week. My bottom was not that sore (obviously the tricks worked). Soon I was riding up a beautiful country back road as the sun lit the sky. Down the other side then a steady false flat, with some hills to Wakefield. I noticed a slightly deflating feeling in my rear tyre. Sure enough it was leaking air. I stopped in Wakefield with Andy Beale, who ate a meat pie as I started to put more sealant into my tyre and inflate it. Andy was on a mission to make Blenheim that night (he was one of those awesome Brevet riders) so he headed off.

I continued on the Great Taste Trail and was delighted to see it being well used by the retirees. I stopped and chatted to two ladies and on explaining what I was doing they immediatiately said “Oh we know people doing that.” In New Zealand there is only one degree of separation.

With my tyre still losing air, I decided to call into a bike shop in Nelson. I had a spare tube but did not want to ride the remainder with no spare. I rode my bike into the shop (literally), explained I was riding the Kiwi Brevet their response “We had the leader in here yesterday.” This confused me because I thought he had already finished. While I headed to the nearby café they quickly put a tube in and made a few other tweaks. I was then off to the Maungatapu Track.

I have ridden this before, so I knew what to expect. The nasty climb (walk) before the track proper. Then the track itself. It was steeper than I remembered. “Time to call on the Boss,” I declared to myself. The IPod came out for yet another Springsteen Concert, hoping that “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back,” wasn’t going to be in the repertoire. It took me over two and a half hours to walk to the top, yet there was no thought, no internal dialogue, just me, my bike and Bruce slowly making our way up.

On reaching the top, I took photos from the same position as before (different bike). Again glorious views out to Tasman Bay.

I've been here before!

I’ve been here before!

Last time I had ridden all the way down. The track was rougher than I remember with some nasty stone sections. So I walked a couple of those, mostly I rode.  I observed that when riding by myself I was riding more conservatively taking less risks, simply an observation.

When I came out of the track I saw the Outward Bound bus, causing me to reminiss about my time at Anakiwa 24 years ago. Soon the Outward Bounders appeared running down the road. I threw words of encouragement their way. The ones I was most impressed with were those of less athletic build, they had moved themselves well outside their comfort zone and were taking on the challenge, those at the back had huge grins on their faces and so they should.

In my day the Outward Bound slogan was “A Lifetime Experience” meaning that we would take the lessons learnt and apply them throughout our lives. The ability to overcome advertsity and the confidence that bestows is a key lesson learnt at Outward Bound. I was delighted to see this lesson still being taught.

The road to Pelorus was as long as I remembered and I rolled into the café just on 5pm. “Ice-cream ?” the shopkeeper asked. I nodded in reply. “Coke?” I nodded to that too. Obviously a number of Brevet riders and Brevetters had passed this way.

I was soon joined by James and Oli, who had followed my tracks all day. Having left Tapawera at a more leisurely hour of 7am. We chatted and ate. I asked if they were the ones who arrived at the campground late the night before and they confirmed it was them. We then then headed on our ways. Picton for them and, Havelock for me.

I was feeling pretty tired by the time I rolled into Havelock, got food, washed my clothes then wandered around the backpackers in my night dress (I have no shame and this far into the Brevette comfort overruled vanity).

I was feeling pretty good about my day and decided to ring Silas anyway.

Hey Nicki, How’s it going?” Silas answered my call

Yeah good. Hey how did your boy get on (referring to Greg Galway)?” I responded

Awesome”, Silas enthused. “He’s finished and I’ve just been talking to him. He came in fourth and is stoked, it’s amazing and it’s his first attempt,” Silas said sounding just as stoked himself.

Yeah, that’s bloody impressive,” I commented

Anyway, how was your day?” Silas changed the topic

A relatively short conversation ensued, with advice given as to when to start on the rocket fuel the next day

Read the next post for the final day

KB Day 4 – Hard Decisions

Murchsion to Tapawera via Lake Rotoroa 97.12km 1338m Ascent. Time 7h20m. Moving Time 6h8m

At around 5am I was awoken to the clinking of Jasper’s breakfast bowl. At around 6am there was more clinking, this time it was Andy. “OK, I better get up,” I told myself and at 6:15 I did. It took me some time to get going, and I did not get away until 8am. Perhaps a little late for a Brevetter. Never mind. Today’s plan was to make it to Tapawera and if I arrived early enough then carry on to Nelson. With an 8am start Nelson was never going to happen.

I gingerly got on my bike noting the saddle rash with every pedal stroke. Off I went and it was not long until the gravel road presented itself (so much better than the hard top). Not long into the ride I was joined by the second Brevet rider, Brian I think he is called. (The leader had passed me as I slept in Murchsion). Brian kindly slowed down and chatted to me, our main topic of conversation was of course our bums! Brian told me he could only climb standing. After a while he wished me a good day and moved forward with his.

At one of the waterways on the Braeburn Track I stopped to allow a car though. The driver pulled over and engaged in a lengthy conversation. He was doing most (all) of the talking. He was about to retire, buy a campervan and travel. He was looking for a travelling companion. Although he did not ask me to be that companion, I decided not to volunteer.

I moved through Lake Rotoroa faster than sandfly speed to avoid those pesky little fellas and onwards to the Porika Track. I knew nothing about this track, and had not traversed it previously. I started my bike hike and after about 45 minutes I had progressed 1km. I consulted my map, my garmin, my food, water, time of day, and the fact I was alone with no idea as to how far behind the next rider was. By my calculations there was another 4km to the top and then I had no idea as to whether I would be able to ride the down the otherside. With the information I had available to me I made the very tough decision to turn around, walk down, ride out Gowan Valley Road and rejoin the course at Kawatiri.

Yes there were tears as I descended knowing that I was not going to complete the course in its entirity, yet I have one rule that I must adhere to, it is the golden rule and that is to come home safely, so I knew it was the right decision. That and the embarassement to myself, Scott & Jo (the organisers) if I had to push THAT button on the Spot Tracker!

My husband was later to say to me “Accidents happen very slowly in the bush”. Yes it is usually a series of poor decisions that lead to tradgedy. One which may or may not have happened if I had continued.

Towards the bottom I met the third placed Brevet rider, Seb. He enquired as to how I was and my plans. He confirmed my alternate route plan. Fortunately the tears had abated by the time of our encounter, although they may have shown as tracks down my dirt smeared face.

I stopped at Lake Rotoroa long enough to double check my course and provide nourishment for a few hundred sandflies. On reaching SH6 I took time out on the side of the road and pulled my phone out to let my husband know of my change of plans. No reception. “Oh well, he will work it out when he sees the tracking website,” I consoled myself.

At the intersection I met cycle tourist Kim from Alaska, she too was travelling to Tapawera, although via the highway not the back roads I was taking. It wasn’t long before she left me behind as I carried slowly on, my butt seeming to hurt even more. It was a struggle along the highway with cars and trucks. I was delighted to turn off and get onto the road less travelled. My mood picked up, although my bum still hurt. Seb passed me again and quiety said to me that I had made the right decision. A nice comfort from an experienced rider.

I rolled into Tapawera at 3:30 and decided to call it a day.

That night I rang Silas

I got bad saddle rash, although the skin’s not broken yet,” I said adding “I’ve never had it before.

Have you done anything like this before?” Silas asked in a querlous tone.

No,” my sulky reply

Silas promptly dealt out detailed advice of how to make the best out of a bad situation. I’m not telling you the advice, you’ll need to be a client to glean those gems.

Can I pull out in Nelson?” I asked (shit did I say that out loud?)

NO WAY,” the emphatic response

So, if I pull out in Nelson you will never speak to me again?” I strategically asked.

A deadly silence came from the end of the phone. Followed by “I’ve riden for ages on many tours with saddle sores” As if to imply “toughen up b**ch – my interpretation perhaps not was meant or perhaps it was…..

And you think,that helps me”, I sullenly thought to myself, “you’re a ffing super hero, I’m a frumpy middle aged woman,” I continued with my internal grump.

You’ve had an easy day today, so tomorrow get stuck in,” Silas instructed.

My response “yeah it’s perspective isn’t it. Six hours use to be a long day, after 12 hour days it’s short day.” With that my sulkiness starts to dissipate.

The conversation then changed with Silas asking me if I had seen Greg Galway, another client, who had just passed Tapawera. I advised that I had seen two Brevet riders and had waved to them, although they probably wondered why the crazy woman dressed in a nightdress was waving at them.

Shortly after the conversation I started to pack my bags for the next day. Ffing awseome I found that can of whipass. I sent Silas a message informing him of the great find and that I was intending to pull it out the next day, and be damned with the sore ass.

Read the next post for Day 5

KB Day 3 – Limits Exist to Serve Their Extension

Hamner Springs to Murchison 168.87km 2201 Ascent. Time 12h30. Moving Time 10:43

Today’s plan was a bodacious one. 170km. I have never ridden that far before not even on a light road bike yet alone a loaded MTB! What was I thinking when I devised this plan?

I left Hamner Springs just before 7am and all was well. A downhill to the Lewis Pass Turnoff and even that was OK, until the wind started blowing IN MY FACE. “Arrggggghhhhh,” I sobbed as I progressively moved to easier gear to easier gear. Shit I hope Andy or was it Japser didn’t hear me as they went by. From the look I received followed by kindly words of encouragement perhaps they did!

That damn Lewis Pass filled with never ending ups and downs. At around 10am I found myself taking respite in a roadside culvert and reached for my phone. No damn reception. I had a wee chat to myself and decided that singing would help me through. Fortunately or unfortunaetly I was alone so no one could hear my renditions of “I like to ride my bicycle” and “I love to ride my bicycle up Lewis Pass hills and as I go I love to sing as my cranks go round and round, va la ree va la ra…. etc etc”. That lasted for about an hour and certainly took me to a more resourceful mood.

Then I took the approach of breaking the distance down to 5km lots, then 2.5km, as each one ticked by a little celebration was had. When I reached the top of the pass , I made a very unladylike comment (not gesture). Some thing like “Duck you Lewis Pass.” For my travails I was rewarded with a fabulous flowing descent, with a quick stop at Maruia Springs for the second to last sausage roll to take away.

On past Springs Junction into the headwind looking for West Bank road. Fortunately I am a reasonably smart bear and at 2.5km noticed Blackadders Road going to the left. My Garmin said go left, my map said go left so I went left! Yes yipee more beautiful serenity.

Not long after returning to the main road, that wonderful oasis Reid’s Café appeared. It has an excellent reputation amongst Brevet riders and Brevetters. I walked in and was welcomed, they had been expecting me. Yes the fine people here followmyspot and know when we are about to arrive. No sensible Brevetter would pass this oasis by.

Refreshed and I thought reinvigorated I continued along the main road into the headwind. I was extremely slugglish, my knee and bottom was hurting and I was seriously considering whether or not I had made a sound decision to continue. After more than an hour I made the turnoff to Maruia Saddle.

I stopped for a nature break, pulled out the Ipod and commenced what was to be the most divine three hours riding with a personal concert from Bruce Springsteen. It is amazing how quickly I can change my mood, whether it was the beautiful nature, Bruce singing in my ears or something else or all three who knows. I rode up the saddle as if it was the beginning of the day.

Dean caught me up and we chatted briefly as the rain started and I put on my jacket. He continued on. Rather than dampen the spirits the rain enhanced them. Of course after the rain stopped I recevied an amazing present, a rainbow and its promise. Fortunately I was able to capture it with my camera.

Beauty

Beauty

The Promise

The Promise

Invigorated, knowing that limits exist solely for the purpose of extending them, and that a day that started so bad could end so good, I powered into Murchison at 7:15pm well before the 4Square closed with Bruce Springsteens words in my ears

There’s a wonderful world where all you desire
And everything you’ve longed for is at your fingertips
Where the bittersweet taste of life is at your lips
Where aisles and aisles of dreams await you
And the cool promise of ecstasy fills the air
At the end of each working day she’s waiting there”

 Read the next post for Day 4

KB Day 2 – Misty Majesty

Top House to Hamner Springs 132.08km 1774 Ascent. Time 10h29m. Moving Time 8h:17m

Several years ago I rode through the Rainbow Valley on a beautiful summer’s day. I could see the tops of the mountains resting in the backdrop of the blue sky, it was majestic. Today it was shrouded in mist. A different scene, a mystical beauty. I thoroughly enjoyed my ride.

The Rainbow in the mist

The Rainbow in the mist

Lunch stop was Sedgemere Hut, certainly the Brevet riders who had slept the night there had left it immaculate.

Bluey resting while I ate lunch

Bluey resting while I ate lunch

After lunch I headed across the Tarns towards Molesworth. What a brilliant option by course creators. It was stunning. Bluey loved the track and he flowed beautifully along. Just divine.

Molseworth Station

Molesworth Station

Molesworth is different, slightly more populated and it had a tail wind! While stopping at the river to collect water Dean passed my by. I came across him shortly thereafter lubing his chain. After checking he was OK, I carried on. Dean caught me again at Acheron Accomodation and we continued. He got slightly ahead and kindly opened the gate and waited for me to catch up and pass through.

Up Jollies Pass and then down (that was steep!) and into Hamner Springs at 5:45pm. Unfortunately I did not realise that the 4Square closed at 6pm and cleaned myself up before looking for food. Fortunately Hamner Springs has numerous eating options and I was able to fill my hungry tummy.

A beautiful day, one of the finest of the Brevette.

Read the next post for Day 3