Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Le Petit Brevet

The Saturday morning of the 20th of November brought together a bunch of die hard Kiwi Brevet veterans and a few new Brevet virgins to take on the ambitious challenge of Tim Mulliner’s Le Petit Brevet. This 300 plus kilometre mountain bike ride around Bank’s Peninsula has it route strategically place so as to included as many gruelling climbs as possible, giving a total climb of over 5600m.  With a 36 hour time limit and drizzly southerlies this ride was no picnic.

Le Petit Brevet riders ready to go.
At 8am armed with large quantities of lubricant, enough to make a porn star jealous, we set of up the Rapaki track for the first of many climbs.  The single track of Mt Veron and Bownvale quickly gave way to the Summit Road as everyone found their cruising pace.   The first few hours took us around the bays to Diamond harbour and then over the top  and down in Port Levy.

Ollie and I discussing tatics

The climb out from Port Levy to Pigeon Bay was nice and gradual, but my legs were slowly getting heavier. Down into Pigeon Bay and out again via the steep climb of Pettigrews Rd to the beginning of the reverse Double Fence Line track. Just as I was crossing the styles Lance came charging up the hill, to catch up to any riders to tag along with for the ride across the now cloud engulfed Double Fence Line.  I was lucky that I had ridden the track a few weeks prior with Ollie, as the visibility was next to nothing.  Lance and I soon caught up to Simon Kennet and a rider from Wanaka who were trying to navigate the fog. The four us then pursued up to Mt Fitzgerald, the highest point on the course, and after two hours were descending down into Cooptown and then back into the all too familiar position of climbing, lucky this climb ends at the Hill Top Restaurant. 

Double Fence Line

At the Hill Top we caught up to the leading one man peloton rider Oliver Whalley feasting on the remains of his lunch.  We quickly ordered up large and in no time were enjoying the late lunch.  Although it would have been nice to call it day at 15:30, we were merely a quarter of the distance into the ride, so on we pressed into the afternoon.

Okains Bay

Along the Summit Rd and down into Little Akaloa, some more climbs up and down, then up and down again, and Lance and I were in Okains Bay.  ‘What a beautiful little village in a picturesque bay’  I thought to myself as I climb up the Big Hill Rd that certainly lived up to its name.  We continued on the long climb for an eternity and came to an intersection that had me slightly confused. The course notes said to go right along Cameron’s Track, but my instincts said to go left down Lavericks Ridge Rd. Seeing that the Ollie and another rider’s tracks went along Cameron’s we headed off in the same direction, only to find out a half later that we did take the wrong turn.  Oh well, on we went.  We rode along the Summit Rd and just before descending the walking/4wd track down into Akaroa Ollie caught up to us out of the blue.  He also realised that he had gone the wrong way and descended down Le Bons Bay Rd and then climbed back out to make up for going the wrong way, honesty is sure punishing!  We just got into Akaroa in time to get the last of the hot pies from the Four Square.

We enjoyed these pies and I got into my thermals for predicted cold night’s riding ahead.  Ollie pressed on as he was already wearing every last bit he had.  Lance and I then finally rode out of Akaroa into the quickly darkening night. It took two hours to circumnavigate the bays around to Wainui and then the fun began.

Lance and I sheltering it out
For two hours we suffered the brought force of the cold wet southerlies relentlessly driving itself against our bodies whilst we clambered on.  This made for an ordeal that will be well remembered whenever I think back of the Le Petit Brevet.    The numerous fake summits finally succumbed and we were descending into Little River.  Lance rang his wife to come pick him up as he had had enough of the cold and wet.  Whilst the two were huddling in the toilets, Tim had made his way down the hill and joined us in the toilets. When Lance’s wife picked him, Lance kindly lent me the use of his emergency blanket and Tim and huddle it out for a totally of five hours.  We left Little River at 5:30am as the southerly died out and headed out along the rail trail towards the Lake Elsemere spit. 

Out on the Elsemere spit

Out at the spit we were forced to push our bikes through the loose sands, at least we didn’t have to do this in the dark like Ollie.  Once around the spit it was simply a matter of riding out the kilometres back to chch for last hurray up to the Summit Rd via Kenndy’s Bush. 

The joy of finally descending down the Rapaki track in the beautiful midday warmth of spring made for a memorable moment.  A total time of 28 hours 9minutes it took me in the end.  Somewhat slower than I initial planned to do it, but I’m still satisfied that I had completed what I had set to do.   


Ah Brevet road muck


  1. Congratulations son! What an effort!
    You certainly got the spirit!
    Not so sure,about the choice of shelter; but then again, rather rest in a toilet than get caught out by the cold! Love your blog,love the photos! Love and Cheerio Zita

  2. Very good blog Michi!! Actually ou did a lot of beautiful and hard adventures!

    Please continue to put all this on the blog ;) And when you want we can do an adventure in France :p

    See you!

    Thomas M.