Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Outdoor Education at its Finest!!

It has been a long time since I have added to my blog. Full-time study seems to be taking the most of my time, aghhhhh!!!!! Our first dump of snow has arrived for the winter and the closest I will get to it is looking at it from a distance across Tasman bay. But none the less at Easter time I was privileged enough to go into the Mt Arthur region with a bunch of young folks from schools around the Nelson region. They were doing a Whenua-Iti Trust junior journey. The main purpose for these folks was to have an adventure and positive enjoyable outdoor experience. On our first day the crew walked into the Gridiron Rock shelters just below the Mt Arthur car park. Just quietly, if you want a superb over-niter then a trip into here is well worth the visit. Such as awesome area for students to marvel at great geology and fantastic bush. The following day we greeted with some warm North-westerly rain which put a slight dampener on the spirits of the students. They were very happy to have a hot raro in there mitts at Dry Rock Shelter. Again like many of the shelters in this area this is a natural bivouac that can sleep a lot of people. Lunch taken care of we were soon off with our caving helmets in hand heading into the heart of the tablelands. We took the students into a couple of caves that are very close to Sailsbury Lodge. We just poked our noises in to have a look around and we were all blown away by the beauty that lay in these underground wonderlands. Complete with glow worms, wetas and big columns of limestone. The students did amazing in what were very cold conditions on the tablelands. We made our way back to dry rock shelter where some hot raro and food was well in order. One of the goals of this journey for the students was to promote as much independence as possible. This included looking after themselves while moving as a group, setting up shelter and most importantly cooking food. The following day we had planed to go over Gordons Knob but weather conditions did not allow. We made our way up to Flora Hut where we set up camp for the night. Awesome evening that we combined with a mini solo and then the mandatory roasting the marshmallows over the fire. A gentle stroll out the following day saw the end of a very sucessful journey. The students took away some great personal learnings aswell of having fun, adventure and some tough times. I must admitt that I feel super lucky to be able to take students into these truly wild and magical places. Till next time. G

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kiwi Brevet 2012: Day 7

Nelson to Blenheim; 148km
Breakfast was a little different on this day. With anticipation of finishing I cooked up my last back country and some bake beans for breakfast. It was going to be a big day as I knew I had roughly a couple thousand metres of climbing during the day. The Nelson side of the Maungatapu trail is very steep. It was a gruelling hour and half push up. I was met by Owen and Mick on the summit, they were traveling light having sent a bunch of gear home from Nelson. The decent down into the Perlorus was amazing, fast and furious! I soon hit the seal and turned left towards Havelock. A piece of road I have cycle so many times on my roadie. I had the Havelock bakery firmly in my sights. I was soon enjoying a flat white with various treats from the bakery. I sent a text to my transport people telling them that I would be in Blenheim roughly between 5 and 6. I soon began riding around the very scenic ride around the Queen Charlotte drive. I cycled past my old home (Anakiwa) and worked out that I roughly had 70 km to go. How hard could it be, considering what I had already put my body through. I knew the Port Underwood road would be hard but I didn’t think I would grovel as much as I did. I really hit the wall around Robin Hood Bay. Cold pizza was the perfect remedy for what I would consider to be a cycling hangover. The hills around this road are super steep and when chuck the added bonus of having climbed the Mangatapu that morning it was no wonder I was hitting the wall. I finally rolled into Blenheim around 19.00.w I was greeted by my good friends Jim and Felicity with a beer. It didn’t touch the sides. Awesome! What an absolute feeling of elation! I had knocked a full day off my previous time completing the Kiwi Brevet in 6 and ½ days at a rough average of 173km a day by my speedo. Now I have writen up 7 days of brevet action. So brevet day goes from 9.00am through to the following day at 9.00am, so starting on Saturday at 9.00am and finishing Friday at 19.00 puts me at 6 days and 22 hours.


From a gear perspective I was really lucky. My previous Brevet had been hampered by flat tyres and my pannier rack falling apart. I was super impressed with my freeload racks which took severe punishment but handled so well. My Bike responded so well and as far as only one flat tyre, that just comes down to pure luck. I carried a tent, cooker and dehydrated meals(x4) which I would do again. This gave me the ability to camp anywhere. I was amazed that had my clothing down to about 15 items. On the food, I ate lots when I hit towns (cooked breakfasts, pies, chocolate milk and flat whites) and survived on nuts, bananas, carrots, muesli bars and the occasional gel plus dehydrated meals in between towns.
The journey itself was amazing! I met so many inspiring liked minded bike nuts, who just love getting out and having an adventure. I was really happy how my body held up, as my knee had been giving me grief beforehand. Good on ya knee! One thing I did most nights was rub some of that natural anti-flam into my legs which helped with some of the stiffness. Even at some of my lowest moments it wasn’t hard draw motivation on the fact that I really love this sort of thing. I so love these sorts of adventures as they really feed my soul. Do it again. Hell yes! Will it be a challenge? Hell yes! You never know what curve balls the weather, trail conditions, bike, body, mind is going to throw at you. Well hopefully I will line up in 2014. Finally some thanks must be given to all my friends who texted during the event keeping me motivated to pedal on. To David for putting me onto this crazy as event and finally Simon Kennett for putting together such an amazing event!
Final Thought: I am an avergae cyclist, there is nothing elite about me! I just love having adventures in the outdoors. First time round I never thought I would complete the brevet. I know different now! If you are reading this thinking that you need some adventure, go out and find your own brevet to complete. Rock on Gilby

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012. Day 6

Murchison to Nelson; 178km     

I was greeted on this morning with cold fog. The first 20km seemed drag on for ever. My body took an age to warm up. First climb of the day was the gentle Braeburn saddle. By the time I summited the Braeburn, there was a small posse of riders cresting over together. The fast decent down into Lake Rotoroa was awesome. Taking a quick pee stop was a mistake as the local sand flies are more than friendly. Next up was the gruelling walk with a bike up the Porika Track. This side of the trail is steep and rocky. It felt good to roll over the top where I soon  began a very fast decent down into St Arnuard. Some really awesome riding where you have to concentrate making sure you get the best line possible. Another important thing is to make sure you have everything strapped on well! Strap it on as my good mate S.H would say. As I hit the seal it was again some long straights before I was feasting on some pies from the local shop in St Arnuard. This feed was well needed as I felt like I was hitting the wall. All washed down with chocolate milk. Next on the agenda was the road through to Nelson which is relatively downhill give or take a couple of large bumps, but ultimately you end up at sea level having started at 700m(St Arnuard). It was great to give the legs a break on some of the nice long descents. As I was entering Nelson on some of the coastal cycleways it was very cool to see some local support out for K.B riders with chalked up support on the cycleways. I arrived in Nelson around 6.30 and headed straight to Pizza Hut where I ordered to large meat lovers pizzas. I went to the Cathedral steps and enjoyed pizza followed by a Flat White. I stashed half a pizza in my day pack for the following day. Oh, if I had known how crucial this cold pizza would be! The temptation to stay at home was very high but in honour of completing this brevet by the rules. With belly full of pizza I headed up the Matai valley campground. Was thinking if David Mangnal(My Training manager from Ob who put me onto this silly event) might be around. I spied through the fence and saw a very distinctive pair of yellow holey soles. A quick catch up with David, Ange and Hannah before I was cruising through the new single track in the Matai which is now permanent feature of famous Coppermine loop. Thank you Nelson city council! I headed up to the base of the Mangatapu climb and camped at water reservoir. A superb camp spot! A quick cup of tea and some sleep was in order. Before I went I checked my stats on my cycle computer. Average speed of around 12.5km and 11 hours sitting on the saddle. From memory none of my days were under 10 hours. Some people may think this is unhealthy but genuinely, most of the time I love this!!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012. Day 5

Waiuta Trail to Murchison; 165km

Another typical start to this day breaking camp around 5.30 having consumed a can of cold bake beans. I soon found myself cruising past Bill, Julie and Tomas who had camped a couple of km in front of me. Was pretty interesting to be cruising through such beautiful wilderness and then hear the loud sound of a generator pumping water. A firm reminder of the mining that still goes on in this area. I was soon in enjoying the sunshine from big river hut. The next section of 4wd drive track can only best be described as full on. Rocky and busy. I didn’t envy the folks on skinny tyres. It was the first real test of my freeload racks. They handled the jandal superbly. Very impressed! Another little bonus of getting out the Big River section was I didn’t manage to set my spot tracker off!!!! Although, I must admit any time I heard a chopper through the entire Brevet I quickly looked at my spot tracker to make sure it wasn’t me. A call into Reefton for a second breakfast and the usual pick up supplies from the 4 square. Back on the road around 11.30 facing a climb up Rahu and then down into Springs Junction. It felt like an eternity before I summited Rahu saddle. Three hot days in a row were probably effecting my judgement. Was delayed in Springs for a while I fixed a flat tyre. Back on the road, I headed through to the Maruia Saddle. Was pretty funny to be on the saddle at 19.00. It was very reminiscent of Brevet 1 where I was up there at the same time, the only difference being I only had 40km to ride instead of 70km. The ride into the Matakitaki valley is very beautiful and felt like I was heading into home territory as I have done a lot of paddling in this area. I arrived at the Murch campground just after 21.00. A quick plead with the campground owner to get a cabin. A chance to do some washing. Another quality day. I Drifted off to sleep very happy knowing that I was well and truly on the home track.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012. Day 4

Flock Station to Waiuta Trail; 196km
Another good early start! Was pretty special riding through such grand country as Arthurs pass early in the morning with sun busting out onto the peaks around me. I had my sights set on second breakfast at Arthurs pass café. Another healthy feed of bacon, beans and eggs washed down with chocolate milk and a flat white. I was soon making my way towards Arthurs Pass. I found this side of the pass a lot easier than when I came up the other side a couple of years ago. I think maybe because it had been split it into to chunks. The West coast side has a 16% gradient!!!! It was real pleasure to ride down here and take the amazing engineering that went into constructing many parts of this road. As I hit the bottom of the pass, I picked up a tail wind that blew me all the way to Jacksons and then further onto Stillwater. The course took us through a series of back roads to still water which included the very scenic Lonely Lake reserve. Such beautiful country to be riding through. I was fortunate enough to have maintained the tail wind at my back. At around 4.30 I was eating an ice cream at the Ikamatua General store having covered 172km. My body was feeling great. I was joined by Karen, Joel and Clair(team Aussie) as we found a patch of shade under a tiny tree across the road. Four of us cramped under a tiny tree shelting from the beating sun. I soon loaded up with water and supplies. Due to the mining in the Waiuta – Big river area, there is arsenic in the water up there making it undrinkable. The ride up to the Waiuta road end is a beautiful gradient. I arrived up there around 7.30. So in classic Outward Bound styles, I decided to make use of daylight hours and ride as far into the Waiuta as possible. This was so I could camp somewhere on the track. I managed to get 3km in. I also wasn’t completely convinced that this track was as good as had been stated. I was still having nightmares of walking my through here last time round. I found a nice flat spot to camp on. As I was cooking dinner I was sung to by two kaka. I thought to myself, I love this outdoor adventure carry on. Sometimes it’s hard and full on but it is also full of so much magic “Through violent storms and peaceful dawns we find ourselves in Balance”.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012. Day 3

Lees Valley to Flock Station; 125km
A typical start to this day with a can of cold bake beans. Yum! The night before I had realised that I had left a pair of bike shorts somewhere in the Brothers station. Oh well, this was going to be a one pair of bike shorts event. As many of you will know, keeping things clean down stairs is top priority. I was going to have to wash my shorts in the evening when the opportunity presented itself. I broke camp around six. The road down to the head of Wharfdale trail was awesome. Slight downhill and superb scenery. Into the Wharfdale trail and I was soon joined by some other riders. Some navigation issues out of the way and we were soon at Wharfdale hut. I knew the next section was going to be a bit of a push, but I didn’t quite anticipate how muddy it would be! I was soon pushing/riding with Peter McKenzie. He was not so into this, whereas I loved it as it was for filling the adventure side of the brevet for me. On the down side it certainly was slow going. We soon cruised out of the Wharfdale towards Sheffield and then devoured some well-earned pies and coffee.

I rolled on towards Springfield and the impressive Porters pass. Half way up I was regretting the third pie. As I summited, I joined up with Martin and Alistair and we proceeded to ride to Flock Hill Station together. I was blown away when discovered that these two guys were in there fifties. I thought to myself how inspiring and I will be happy if I am doing these crazy bike adventures at that age. Top marks Alistair and Martin! The scenery through the Castle hill area is truly spectacular. The one down side was there was a heap traffic on the road as most of Christchurch was returning home. We arrived at Flock Hill station around seven.  The first, second and third beer went down real well, closely followed by a really good chicken burger. We were soon joined by Clair, Joel and Karin. Great sharing with them adventures of the day.  It was certainly great having a shower and feeling the comfort of a mattress. Roll on day three. Good to go to sleep knowing that a good chunk of the Arthurs pass climb was out of the way.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kiwi brevet 2012. Day 2

Molesworth Station to Lees Valley; 195km.
The ranger at Molesworth station opened the gates for at 6.00am which was nice of him as they don’t normally open them till 7.00am. So just after 6.00am a precession of enthusiastic bike riders left with the thoughts of late breakfast in Hanmer Springs. First up was the climb up onto Wards pass (1060m), which is the highest point of the Brevet. The climb from this side is not as tough as you have gained a lot of your altitude from the previous days hard work.  From Wards Pass it was relatively straight forward 60km ride through to Acheron.  I soon found myself whistling down Jollies Pass towards Hanmer springs. I cans see why I had a walk up here last time I rode the brevet. It is steep!!! Found a café in Hanmer to have breakfast at which was very well deserved. Amazing to see fellow breveteers roll into town and join me for breakfast.  On commencement of my third flat white some friends of mine Princess Jen and Lord Aaron found me. Great to see them and share some stories in my journey so far. Princess Jen had spot tracked me to Hanmer in my first brevet and had popped into town specifically to find me which was very special!

Hit the road a little after 1 having picked up supplies from the four square. The next section is a road ride down to Culverdon. A quick coffee and pie stop before heading in land towards McDonalds down farm. The first time I rode through it was a real privilege to ride through here and it was know different this time. Such a beautiful landscape which felt like a continuation of the Molesworth Station. Weather conditions for most of this day had been ideal. Overcast with a slight drizzle. It was great to be riding  for a little while with Martin and Alistair. I Popped out on the Brothers Station just a little after 8 and proceeded to ride up to Lees pass. A real awesome decent into the Okuku river where there was a little tent city set up. I was still feeling fresh, so I decided to push on for a bit which only turned out to be 3km. I found the appropriate road side camping venue. Tent up and hot water on while I cleaned and oiled my bike. Hmmmm…..dinner in bed with a hot herb tea. A big days riding but didn’t real feel like it. Sound asleep by 11. Another stellar brevet day under the belt.