Adwenture Wednesday: Le Petite Brevet

Postby Rik on Wed 9/Nov/16 11:09am

Welcome to another adwenture Wednesday, and this week I'm travelling way back into time to cover my effort at he 2014 Le Petite Brevet. If that seems strange or wrong, I don't think so. As I sit here and re-tell this, every memory, every mental image is just as vivid now as it was the day after it happened. This was a truly profound ride for me. It was my first attempt at a self supported brevet type ride, and it was going to put me way out of my comfort zone of know riding, in terms of time, distance, the amount of climbing and where I was going. I had been waiting, training, four years to do this event. I was all set to do the 2010 event, when, just two weeks before hand, I stooopidly crashed my motorbike and broke my leg. Four years, multiple surgeries later, I was back, ready, with one slightly shorter leg, for another try. So you get how much this mean't to me, and needless to say that this time, in the weeks preceding the event, my levels of exposure to danger where drastically reduced.

DSC_0257.jpg
Packed and Ready


The course: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6461935

6:30 am and I rolled into Hansons park early, the second man, Rob (some random guy, and fellow brevetter , I met there) and I shared a park bench chatting away, as slowly one by one, our numbers grew. 22 was the final count I believe. Just before the 7am organizer Scott turned immaculately presented, complete with his CX bike (which he had clearly borrowed from the QC photoshoot ;) ) handed out additional cue sheets to aid in the task of navigating Double fenceline backwards, at night, in questionable, frigid conditions. After a quick briefing, we where waved on our way at ten minutes past the hour. A quick sprint across the park, over the foot bridge single file and into the course proper. I think I was solidly mid-pack into the first corner, but once on the road after the footbridge I think my pace onto the road was more of a (slowly) moving chicane than a "contender".

Within a Kilometre of the start the climbing began, straight into the Huntsbury climb. Which seemed to really stretch out the field. I had to settle into a pace that I could mange all day (all two days infact) and resist the temptation to hunt people down going up the hill. About half way up the sealed section of this climb, I recognised the distinctive jersey of fellow vorber, Noel_Whiteside. We slowly plodded up the hill chatting, as and when we had sufficient breath to allow talking. ie. gradients <10%.

From the top of the hill, it's a right turn, in a westerly direction along "The Traverse", a narrow single track traversing the northern edge of the Port Hills, just below the Summit Road and offers spectacular views out over Christchurch city and beyond to the Southern Alps.

The course route for this petite brevet snakes itself all around the Port hills so as soon as you have climbed a hill, you'll soon be descending the other side of it. So the enjoyable cruise across the ridgeline soon pitches us back down onto the Canterbury plains. But not before highlighting one of the weaknesses in my bike packing. My Lezyne bento box (or energy caddy as they like to call it) runs along the frame, the lid opens in the same direction and is attached at the end by velco, Which mean't that the rattlely descents, apart from from being great fun on a hardtail, there was enough gap between lid and box to shake out 25% of my caddied energy bars (that's one out of four for those who refuse to do mental arithmetic).

Then at the bottom of the hill I had to stop to re-secure my saddle bag that had rotated on the seatpost. Using a small carabiner which was part of my sleeping solution I manged quickly secure the zip tab to a saddle rail, fixing the problem. I don't know why I didn't think of that pre-event, but hey, that's how we learn. Sometimes enlightenment only comes through experience, especially for us stoopid folk.

My impromptu stop had allowed Noel and another rider Lee to catch up. The three of us rode together, and onto the start of the Little River rail trail. Which is a local ride for me and one of my favourites. It meanders alongside the banks of the Hallwell River, which itself meander it's way through farm land. The soft wild grass was tall and overgrown on the trail edge, encroaching onto the track, was whipping our arms and legs as we pedalled in a three man pace line. Heading for the next hill. So we left the rail trail at the beginning of the boring, dead straight bit, but don't worry we'll be back on the rail trail later on. We're only leaving it so we can go up another hill, which was the 450m climb to Packhorse hut.

As soon as the climb started in earnest, Noel started to drift away from me, and having lost Lee a few miles earlier to a coffee stop, I was on my own for the rest of this one. I've ridden to the Packhorse hut a handful of times, so I knew this part of the route well. The hut has always represented a watershed to me because it sits on the saddle of a hill range, that once you drop down the other side, you are now two hill ranges from home. That extra vertical barrier, psychologically, puts you feeling a very long way from home. This isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing, this remoteness is a key part of adventure.

The Packhorse hut more importantly represented first lunch, and the first scheduled rest stop of the day, which makes it a great target to aim for. The trail climbs steadily though pine forrest, before the going gets just too steep to keep pedalling. You then have to push you and your bike's way up the switchbacks to the top of the tree cover. From there the trail breaks out onto naked hillside, along a narrow rocky traverse till the glorious sight of the saddle and the hut comes into view. There I bumped into another rider, who had ridden the brevet route to this point, but this was his intended turn around point to head home. It was a great feeling to sit down, rest and tuck into round one of my packed lunch sarnies, Mmm egg mayo, probably not to everyone's liking, but they require very little chewing, so go down quickly. making them idea trail food for when your on the clock.

Off we go again. Down other side of Mount Bradley, which was a straight drop through lush grazing land. It's a fast and easy descent back down and onto the Kaituna valley road. Along there, pop over SH75 and you're back onto the rail trail. And I'm back into pace mode, I don't have a power meter, so I pace myself using a heart rate monitor, and in this section I was hold a steady 160 bpm. It was, steady as she goes cap'in, 65Ks in and the legs where feeling good. Another 15Ks and I'd be in Little River for second lunch.

At two o'clock in the afternoon it was crazy to think that Little River was only halfway. I stopped for a rest and a quick bite to eat, second lunch. I bumped into two fellow breveters, just heading off as I arrived, so there was only time enough for a couple knowing 'sups. Halfway through my sausage roll and milkshake, my hare paced mate Lee had caught up. The rage of having to wait 20 minutes for a coffee at the cafe had clearly been a good motivator for him to up his pace. Knowing he (and everyone else) where stronger up the hills than me. I bid farewell, and we agreed we would see each other on the hill. Though it was never discussed which hill, and there's a few between Little river and Akaroa on this sadistic LpB course.

I was very excited to leave Little River, because this was the start of the adventure for me. Up to this point all the trails where know quantities. What was about to come was all virgin trail to me, and there-in lies the adventure part.

Riding up the very pleasant Harmens track, nestled in a lush green valley, lined with pretty houses. I just couldn't help but get distracted from the beauty, by the fact that every metre that the SH75 gained besides me meant a steeper incline to face in order for the track to meet back up with the SH75 at the top of HIll Top. Man-oh-man did that track get steep, by three-quarters of the way up about all I could manage was to push for a few hundred metres then stop for a rest. And on the last really steep part it was a few tens of metres between rests.

Swooping down the tar seal into Little Akaloa Bay delivered some of the best descending I can remember. My Schawlbe Sammy "semi" Slicks where rocking it down that road.I was just fizzing when I got to the bottom. The pain of all the morning's climbing had been swept away as swiftly as the rate of my altitude loss. I stopped at a picnic bench about a kilometre up from the bay for a little rest and a hand full of jelly beans. Across the valley I could see two other bikers swoop down into the bay. It's funny how you can spot brevetters even at a kilometre range. I mean who else would be mad enough to cycle out to this remote spot of the peninsular. I took their imminent arrival as motivation to move on. They soon caught me later on up the hill. It turned out to be to be two female brevetters, Zoom and ScaredyCat? Dunno they zoomed(sorry no pun intended) past with only a few words. But it was nice to follow somebody else for a bit and not have to worry about navigation. Navigation is a good part of the event, and I it was a surprising amount of stress on top of an already stressful event.

IMG_1415 Looking back to Okains Bay.JPG
Okains Bay Beauty

The next bay on this beautiful sight seeing, oh I so want to call it a tour, but it's not, nor is it a race, but I wish I could tour, aargh. what the hell, lets call it a tour. The next bay on this beautiful sight seeing tour was Okains Bay. across the bridge and up Big Hill Road. Big Hill Road, that's it right there, exactly as advertise on the tin. Big Hill road is a BIG hill with a killer initial gradient right off the bat,from the sea-level start, it climbs to 520m at a steady 10%. Andy Beales time was 30 something minutes, my time was 1 hour 20 something. I think the difference may have been that he probably didn't walk most of it.

Whilst stood at the cross roads at the top, having a internal debate with myself about who was right. Scott's GPS trace which clearly showed right down Panorama road, against the cue which I'd added which said left. I suspect that If I'd looked closer it would have read "LEFT onto Panorama" which was clearly wrong. At that moment, a voice hollered "Hello", it was my friend Lee who's hare pace had caught my own tortoise pace up, again. Last seen in Little River.

Panorama was steep, downhill and recently graded with some pretty large gravel, Sammy "semi" Slick was not too happy on this terrain, but with large servings of what the Americans like to call "Body English" I managed to keep my Sammys pointing in the right general direction. Some times Sammy won the argument and we went where Sammy wanted to go, and sometimes I won the argument and we went where I wanted to go. but we made it to the bottom.

Lee's comment at this point was choice, "Only a five kilometre ride to the next top, and it's all tar seal".
"Yey", I tried to contain my enthusiasm.

Slogging up that hill we talked about getting some beers and a pizza. Pretty dreamy, but by this point I was shattered and was getting slower and slower. We might have been close to Akaroa, but at my current speed, there was still a lot of riding to be done. The light was fading and my Garmin was beeping about it's fading battery. Lee had disappeared around the next corner and was off into the dusk. Great! Lee's gone, the sun's gone, even the GPS has gone. I was proper lonely now, and my fuel gauge was beyond empty and it was difficult to keep momentum up on anything that wasn't a descent and the summit road at this point was not a descent.

My Lifeline lights where awesome over the top (probably because you don't need much light throw at 2kph), but 80 lumins was not up to the job of speeding down the decent into Akaroa, best to play it safe this close to home (for the night). I'd booking a camping pitch at the Top 10 Holiday park. By the time I'd cautiously picked my way down through the corners. The office was I long time shut. But my pitch was all mapped out, and stuck to the office door. It didn't take long to erect my tarpaulin hanging from my bikes handlebars and unfurl my sleeping bag to turn my patch of grass into "accommodation".

DSC_0256.jpg
Photo taken not onsite, but this was my encampment, worked well.

I wandered up to the shower block for a shower and a rummage in a box they have in the kitchen normally full of free food people leave behind. A tin of baked beans would have been mean-as, but today, all there was was half a pack rice crackers. That's like about 50 calories, total, I would have burnt more calories just trying to chew that lot, yeah, nah. Shower and to bed then. I must have spent an hour in that shower, It was so so good, just couldn't get out.

And that should have been the end of the days story, but as soon as I snuggled down into my sleeping bag I felt distinctly queezy, I'll be alright I thought, a few deep breaths, nope that didn't help I needed to get out, and out quick to throw up. That was pretty much the story of the night battling between throwing up in the bushes and trying to get some shut eye. I didn't know if it was my body's reaction to exhaustion or a possible dodgy egg in the sarnies.

Tomorrow (or today as it was by now) was not looking good with an empty stomach and little sleep. Plan A (wake at 5am) was now realistically out of the window. Plan B was to lay in and see how I felt later in the morning and make a later start if possible.

The morning brought another beautiful day. As I was packing up my meager encampment. My glamping neighbours wandered over to offer me a place at their table for a full fry-up breakfast. That offer was all that my weak willed conscience to continue could take. I texted Scott to say I was withdrawing from the event :( and joined my new found friends for leisurely breakfast before commencing the five hour grovel back home.

DSC_0259.jpg
The Result - 2 Kilos lost in 2 days!


Time
13:47:00
Distance
174.51 km
Average
12.66 kph
Climb
4806.50 m
Rik
User avatar
""Cities are becoming more rational again, after the folly of car-centric planning," Colville-Andersen"
Member for: 9 years 5 months

Re: Adwenture Wednesday: Le Petite Brevet

Postby noel_whiteside on Wed 9/Nov/16 11:48am

That brings back lots of memories. It was a fantastic weekend. What adventure do you have planned next?
noel_whiteside
User avatar
Member for: 10 years 3 months

Re: Adwenture Wednesday: Le Petite Brevet

Postby Rik on Wed 9/Nov/16 12:05pm

Hey hey Noel, I knew that story would pry you out of the woodwork.

Nothing much really planned at the moment, but got a few idea/desires. In order of their probable materialisation:

Heaphy
Alps to Ocean in more than one day.
Roadie coast to coast, Chirstchurch to Greymouth
Rik
User avatar
""Cities are becoming more rational again, after the folly of car-centric planning," Colville-Andersen"
Member for: 9 years 5 months

Re: Adwenture Wednesday: Le Petite Brevet

Postby Scaredy_Cat on Wed 9/Nov/16 1:07pm

Heh - that event broke me good and proper! I made the noob mistake of not eating enough or often enough and totally ran out of physical and mental gas. Luckily zoom knew the area and has a good sense of direction. We diverted via road to Akaroa (where we had a motel booked) - then made a reasonably early start and spent the next day touring back (via coffee and pub stops). Must go back one day!
Scaredy_Cat
User avatar
""RIDER!!!" :-D"
Member for: 11 years 2 months

Re: Adwenture Wednesday: Le Petite Brevet

Postby noel_whiteside on Wed 9/Nov/16 1:30pm

Rik wrote:Hey hey Noel, I knew that story would pry you out of the woodwork.

Nothing much really planned at the moment, but got a few idea/desires. In order of their probable materialisation:

Heaphy
Alps to Ocean in more than one day.
Roadie coast to coast, Chirstchurch to Greymouth


That looks like a good list.
Alps to Ocean is on my list as well. I'd probably take some time and ride to the start in Tekapo when we do it. It might take a couple of years before we get round to that one though. I've already put in all my leave requests for the next couple of years.
noel_whiteside
User avatar
Member for: 10 years 3 months

Re: Adwenture Wednesday: Le Petite Brevet

Postby swtchbckr on Wed 9/Nov/16 1:57pm

is the Petit running this year?? it'd be in a couple of weeks if it is... nothing on the blogspot site... did no one organise? (or has it gone to every 2 years?)
swtchbckr
User avatar
"Freakin' Mellonfarmer"
Member for: 12 years 8 months

Re: Adwenture Wednesday: Le Petite Brevet

Postby noel_whiteside on Wed 9/Nov/16 2:17pm

noel_whiteside
User avatar
Member for: 10 years 3 months

Canterbury | Cycling | Epic Riding | Middle South Island | Mountain Biking | New Zealand | News | Regions - Latest Posts

Who is online

53 Users browsing this website: DotBot, Google [Bot] and 50 guests

REMEBER TO CLICK THE LINKS WHEN BUYING FROM VORB SUPPORTERS


  • GT Bicycles
  • Merlin Cycles
  • ProBikeKit
  • Vorb Shop
  • Wiggle
  • Chain Reaction Cycles