Sunday, November 25, 2012

2012 Le Pitet Brevet

I can’t believe two years has passed since my last Brevet style ride.  So this year I had no excuses to undertake Tim Muller’s 2012 Le Petit Brevet, other than the general lack of training, but that is no legitimate excuse.  Causally arriving at Hanson’s park 5 minutes before start I felt calm, relaxed and ready to ride. After a quick chat with Tim he asked what the time was. ‘1 minute to go I replied’ Then Tim relayed it to the other 40 or so eager riders. 
We lined up and “Let’s go” was called out by Tim. The Chamios-cream socked mood of Le Pitet Brevet riders commenced on the adventure.
Going up Rapaki my friend Dan and I worked out that at the top of Rapaki we will have done around 3.5% of the hill climbs, yikes! 
Along the summit Rd, down the snaky bastard and around the bays to Diamond harbour the fresh morning air keep me cool at comfortable riding temperature.  Then came the first of the bigger climbs up the Moment track and along to the Double Fence Line trail. It didn’t take too long to work out I should have put a smaller chain ring on to reduce the gear ratio of my Rohloff. Oh well too late now - so I got off the bike pushed. This strategy of pushing my bike rather than riding whenever the gradient got too steep has proved to be very effective for me in the past and once again prove its effectiveness during this Brevet. 
Riding under hill 761m, I had my first and only tumble of the race where my single track riding eagerness got the better of me and allowed me to attempt to ride down over a few rocks. I got to the bottom of it and got hang up where I lost my balance and butter side down scenario I fell hill side down the steep bank.  Luckily as I was tumbling over I was able to free myself from the cleats and stop the bike from coming down on top of me.... Lucky escape.

Dan riding down the Moment track.
Myself, pointing out into in the general direction where we should be going
On to Double Fence Line and the weather remained for perfect riding conditions.  Soon Neil and I reached Little River where it was time to fill our water bottles and re-apply the all important chamios cream.   The climb out from Little River in the heat of down was for me one of the harder climbs. But once reaching the summit very satisfying as the relation that some of the bigger climbs had now been dealt to.
Neil pulling a skid over looking Akoroa

Out of the Akoroa bay and into Little Akaoa, up and down, and up and down again and then came Okains.  I had been dead set of having fish n chips all week at Okains bay after hearing that riders from two years ago rave the mouth watering Fish n chips at Okains.  I had to take a short detour from the route and left my riding buddy Neil to go for Akoroa on his own.  As I neared the chippy I could see the open sign on a stand and got very excited, I could taste the blue cod battered fish and thirst quenching coke in my mouth. But, oh no, clearly displayed on the shop window was the one word I didn’t want to see ‘CLOSED’.
After the climbing the appropriately named Big Hill Road and watching the sunset over the Akoroa bay as I descend the steep trail into Akoroa I was rewarded for my efforts by the kind hospitality of the Akoroa Hotel who prepared one last meal from me.  This meal of a fisherman’s basket went down a treat and satisfied my fish n chip craving and with only the additions of a few lollies saw me through to the end of the race.
The night climb out of Akoroa was my most enjoyable climb. I felt good breathing the cool peaceful evening air, and satisfied with my progresses as I watched a thin procession of riders traversing along the Summit Rd before descending into Akoroa. Once at the top the realization that only three more climbs loomed before me keep me focused and powered me through night. 
Cresting the Western Valley Rd climb, the second last climb, at 3:45am was very rewarding and pumped a surge of life into me.  Down into Little River, a short brake to fill my drink bottle and I was off on the home straight. Never has the thought of riding the rail trail been so appealing to me.  I was able to ride the trail tucked on my aero bars so the final kilometres faded away with the darkness of the night. 
After finally reaching the Kennedy’s bush trail after battling a head wind for the previous hour I climb the final climb with my proven mix of pushing and peddling.  Reaching the Summit Rd just after 7:30am I sent myself the goal of completing this epic ride in less than 24 hours.  I fought to get the last bits of energy out me, my legs and shoulders were awaking, as the finishing line drew near, the final stretch over the heavy morning grass of Hanson Park my longs began to cough. I stopped and rolled to the ground at the cricket pavilion and looked at my watch to see 23hours, 59minutes, and 30 seconds.   
I was relieved that it was all over and delighted with my efforts, as this ride was the longest duration, the largest distance(297km)  and the most elevation (~8000m)  I have ever ridden my bike at once. 
Self portrait at 4am in Little River toilets


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