Monday, February 27, 2012

Tightening the belt a couple of notches

Rear pulley showing signs of distress after 4000km of lovin'

While the durability of the Gates carbon drive system is touted to be ‘off the scale, astronomically good’, there is precious little real information out there about just how long it lasts. Here is my take on the system, and whether it lives up to the hype.

As a rider I can chew through a regular mountainbike chain in a couple of months (approximately 2000km). If I replace it, I can prevent the dreaded cog wear that can destroy chainrings and cassette, leaving you skipping, chain sucking and poor.

With this durability as a benchmark, and in a constant quest for more, I was an early adopter of the Gates system, first setting it up on my El Commandante singlespeed. While I’ll usually ride this bike at least once a week, it was difficult to ascertain the real durability, with the constant switching of belt lengths and cogs to suit varying rides and events. I find it amusing that while singlespeeders tout that 'one gear is all you need', the cumulative time spent tinkering with ratios is in the order of days, while for geared riders it is only the second required to execute a shift. 
Typically I’d run a 52” gear for the hills of Christchurch, dropping it as low 44” for hill savagery such as the infamously ball breaking 2010 Queenstown nationals.  At the other end of the spectrum I’d go as high as 76” for the ludicrously competitive McLeans Island World Champs which invariably came down to a leg searing sprint where the highest gear would win.

It wasn’t until I sourced a belt pulley for the Rohloff internal hub that I use on longer touring rides and ultra-races that the system got a true test. The wait for this one item was ridiculous, with some 2 years elapsing between when the cog was first announced and when I finally took delivery of the prized pulley. The reason for the delay was clouded in mystique, with a reason cited being the reluctance of Rohloff to approve the belt system for use with their hub. Despite laboratory testing form Ventana to prove the frame was sufficiently stiff, and efforts from Pure Sports in NZ to grease the wheels, the cogs were proving harder to source than prehistoric hens teeth.
That was until I got onto Cycle monkey, who as a trusted distributor of both Rohloff and Gates, could provide the pulley and adapter needed so that I could finally realise the awesome potential of this ultimately durable mountainbike drivetrain.

I built up a sparkling blue new El Commandante in August last year, and after a month of casual rides dialling the tension of the belt, I took it on a proper outing in the 2011 edition of Le Petite Brevet where it performed well under admittedly benign conditions.
It took some tinkering to get the tension just right. Not a pickle to adjust with the Ventana’s sliding dropouts, but too low and it would skip under harsh acceleration, too high and the system lost some efficiency.

Shiny new Centretrack cogs ready for some miles of their own

Since then I’ve logged some serious miles on the system, including a big summer in Nelson riding all of the technical trails on offer. I made a conscious effort to ride in the wet, slathering the system with gritty mud that I was sure would be the systems downfall. But it kept on trucking, and by the time the Great Southern Brevet rolled around I’d clocked up 2900 km. While most of the conditions around the Central Otago course were dry, there were a few sloppy sections notably through the Nevis and over the Old Man Range which started the wear in earnest.
I didn’t lube the system as fellow chain riding Breveteeers did for there chains, but in its worn state the belt needed the odd squirt with a drink bottle to clean grit and quieten an irritating squeak. I’ll admit that this was a shade annoying, especially with the temperature was pushing 30 degrees and through the Dunstan trail where I was forced to squirt precious thirst quenching water at my dirty belt.

On completion of the Brevet, I took some time to investigate the wear on the system. It was clear that the hard anodising had been stripped on the loaded face of the rear pulley, with a small gap visible on the back side of the belt teeth. Just to see if there was still life in the old cogs, I installed a new belt and was stoked to see this gap disappear, and this told me that the relatively inexpensive belt wore before the expensive and difficult to install cogs.
While my observations of belt wearing before cogs were at odds with the manufacturer’s advice, it was heartening as it meant I could extend the systems life just by swapping in a new belt, a relatively lightweight and easy to source part. I rode this for another 1050km in the Kiwi Brevet with no dramas, and it is safe to say there is plenty of life on the ol’girl left.

Stainless adds durability while the central flange simplifies setup
So with 4000km already from the system, how could it get better? Mindful of the issues with setup some people had been having, the folks at Gates went back to the drawing board and produced a new design called Centretrack, which shifted the pulley flanges from the outside of the cog to the centre. The system was more tolerant of misalignment, featured much better mud clearance, and used rear pulleys made form durable (and slightly heavier) stainless steel rather than the anodised aluminium of the earlier design.

Safe to say with these changes, the system will be even better, and while I won’t get a chance to clock up 4000km on it before the Tour Divide in June, I’m confident that the system will be suited to the epic ride that is in store in the USA. I’ll be sure to carry a spare belt, and should trail conditions prove too harsh, I can always install the spare to get me to Antelope Wells.

While there are risks being an early adopter, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the durability of the belt system. It really makes for the most worry free transmission imaginable which is just the ticket when you have almost a month of endless days in the saddle ahead!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ollie’s Kiwi Brevet 2012 – a very long ride

Ollie at the finish in Blenheim. Stoked to have made it through the Port Underwood 'Road of Doom'
Photo Dominic Blissett
In a break from tradition I’ve decided to re-mix the standard report, using a format reminiscent of a factual report rather than the rambling stream of consciousness that is the norm. Feel free to comment if you’d rather one or the other!

Always at the forefront of the gear-weenies mind, a summary of the Brevet would be remiss without a  recap of the gear that worked.

After the multi-faceted cluster muck that were my bags in the Great Southern Brevet, the Revelate Viscacha seat bag was a revelation.  Lightweight but with plenty of volume for my camping gear I could shred gnarly sections of trail without a worry that my gear would be ejected skyward.  As a rule, I am staunchly dismissive of the offensive naffness of saddle bags, and while some may cry hypocrisy at my high praise, the Viscacha may be the very seat hugging appendage that I’ll make an exception for. Evolved through careful layers of iterative design, the combination of materials makes them a winner for lightweight touring.  

Up front, a further collabo with Cactus yielded an evolved front pocket design with openings secured with bungy cords in the style of a climbing chalk bag. Ultra secure and with capacity to expand beyond the bounds of the pocket, I never lost anything nor was I left wanting for more accessible space. Heidi and I hastily assembled this custom bag in the week prior from a lighter weight PVC in stealth/bogan black.

That my Ventana El Commandante was so awesome was not really a surprise. After some destruction of Nelson’s technical trails over summer and a smooth run in the Great Southern Brevet, the combination of rigid forks and belt transmission seemed to be the ticket for the long relatively un-technical trails that fill the bulk of the Brevet’s chubby body.

When it got gnarly such as through the Wharfedale or Big River, the rigid forks demanded a level of full body input that makes for a delightful contrast with the finger numbing norm of Brevet riding. With smooth (and sometime cautious) line choice, very little is lost to a bike running suspension.

The child of obsessive German precision and with no reported failures at the hands of bearded ultra-tourers named Hans, the Rohloff is a masterpiece of bicycle engineering. All gears are captured in large hub shell which yields a super low maintenance transmission.  14 gears give more than enough range and efficiency on par with a derailleur system (depending on gear selection).  When coupled with a Carbon Drive belt which the Ventana frame allows me to run, I’d no need to stop for cleaning and lubing the chain, and with a life of about 4000km it should be just about perfect for my assault on the Tour Divide.

Fueled up on pie and ready to party.
Photo Jasper the single speed nutter
With their funky ‘chamois on the outside’ stylez, the Ground Effect Exocets that cradled my botty to the finish are a fine example of NZ made gear at the forefront of the performance stakes. They are the best shorts I’ve ever used and it was always a joy to put them on, although less so when soggy after failing to dry off three solid days of accumulated butt sweat overnight at St Arnaud.

Helter Skelter three-quarter rain pants made an appearance during rainy bouts, and kept lower half dry and happy, while a merino Risteretto vest was staple morning attire, easy to whip off at lunchtime when temperatures climbed. On top a road rage provided ample pocket room for stocking up on snacks, while still being cool in the hot spots on course, notably Murchison late on day three where my Garmin reported 30 degrees.

A Mont Bell Thermawrap UL synthetic jacket was the warm hug that signalled the end of a long day and the start of the next. I’d pull on this wee number when sweat chills started to set in, and at 250g and the size of a baseball it took up next to no room in my bag.

Balmoral reserve was a buzzing family campground with an early morning visit from a V8 driving bogan the only downer on a sweet and sheltered camping spot.

The Blackball Hilton gave hospitality that was beyond the call of duty, even throwing together a meal on my late 10:30PM arrival. Would have loved to indulge in the cooked breakfast but my 5AM departure meant otherwise.

St Arnaud. Arriving at 10:30PM after a 20km headwind slog, the sheltered shores of Lake Rotoiti made for a premium camping spot. Pitching my tent at night wasn’t conducive to a sound structure, and my flaccid efforts at inflating the sleeping mat left it more deflated than not. Still an excellent nights sleep.

My Z-Packs Hexamid Cuben Fibre Solo tent, Western Mountaineering Highlight sleeping bag and Exped Synlight Mat made for a 1350g sleeping kit which saw me through some stormy nights in a dry, warm and comfortable bliss.

Reminded of my own insignificance.
The strangest occurrence in my 1100km jaunt was on the Porika climbing out of Lake Rotorua.  While the pop philosophical cliché of ‘if a tree falls in the woods’ is bandied about like halleluliahs at an evangalestic revival, I had a strange encounter with this very scenario. I was witness to the eerie and almighty crash of a falling beech tree while riding the upper stretches of the track. I find it mind bendingly

Riding Highglight.
With sun setting over a moody West Coast sky, the stretch from Rotomanu to Stillwater was destined to be one of the awe inducing sections that will come to be a lasting memory of the Brevet.

Fiery orange sky illuminated the ceramically smooth road, with a mellow undulating gradient that carried you to Stillwater as if on a cloud. While the road was gravel, it was aggregated with a kind of blissful pixie dust that anchored loose particles and filled all the tiny crevices with smooth and fast joy. The coming together of the sunset, fantastic road and the elation of a long day on the road with destination near in sight made this my riding highlight.

While the stretch through Big River was a joy, and one I’m vowing to return to for the annual race there, it left my face and body layered with a putty of beech and mud that meant my attempts for service at the bakery would be met with a hearty West Coast ‘piss off’.

Realising this, I set about cleaning my arms, legs and face in the dingy public toilets down the road, scuttling into the corner and averting my gaze when members of the public entered the block to dispose of ones and twos. When their judgemental glares couldn’t be avoided, I saw in their eyes pity, disgust and revulsion. Clearly I was the first dirt bag biker they’d seen grabbing a sink shower at a public latrine, and with the string of breveteers at my tail perhaps not the last to cause their offense.

Always a highlight of any Brevet, the gustatory delights on the Kiwi didn’t disappoint, with the exception of an awful watery raspberry thickshake at Murchison.

The norm would be top stop at shops and bakeries on route, stocking up pockets with enough for dinner and breakfast on the road. Typically I’d spend $40 at each stop, with at least two each day.
Rolls and sandwhiches were the best in Arthurs Pass, where I regrettably left behind a half eaten slice of moist carrot cake, my eyes clearly bigger than my stomach at this late stage of the day.

Ollie sporting his thousand yard pie eating stare. Note extreme hydration.
Photo Richard Craig.
Winner on the pie front was Sheffield where no less than 4 were consumed, followed closely by  Reefton where wild pork and vension were a tasty reward for my slog through Big River. Up-and-go with its meal in a box goodness and bananas were standard breakfast fare.

My one deviation from the relatively wholesome norm was a breakfast feast at Nelson McDonalds. In the 30minutes I was there I pretty much clocked their breakfast. An NYC Benedict bagel, Hunger Buster meal, Kiwi Big Breakfast and Hot cakes. All washed down with a tall cup of the most sickly sweet orange juice imaginable. At only $25, the sheer value was amazing and the hyperprocessed mush made for easy chewing and swallowing. A grind up the Maungatapu soon after almost saw the breakfast bonanza revisited, but some steady pacing saw my stomach contents kept in check.

While it was the first Brevet where I had made a conscious decision to ride on my own, I was treated to some great company from Brevet followers along the road. Jane and Dom opened their home for a pre-race kip and post race eating binge. Slim, Michelle and Jasper joined me in Sheffield for a pie and a much needed update on fellow breveteers, some of which who were having navigational issues. The Blights of Hokitika (Helen and Peter) popped up at an alarming frequency, parking their van prior to Arthurs Pass, and then again on the final day in Wakefield when they were loaded up and heading off for their family holiday. Mum joined me for some breakfast in McDonalds in Nelson and again at the Blenheim finish. Mike and Andrew also gave me some great support on the spin up the Maitai, the latter fearlessly pursuing me in his ute till the trail became undrivable.

Looking to the future.
To come off the Great Southern Brevet with a week and a bit rest, I was stoked at how my body reacted during the Brevet.  Rather than the slump I had feared, I bounced, smashing at longer days in the saddle and meeting ambitious distance goals without too much effort. My training which consisted of high intensity bike intervals along with core sessions, running and rock climbing seemed to be ideal for this type of extended jaunt.  While I feel a bit deflated on the back of the Brevet double, having lost a good amount of muscle strength, I’m confident I can rebuild stronger than ever all ready to tackle the biggest ride of my life; the Tour Divide.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Great Southern Brevet; Epic to the power of hardcore

Ollie in full tailwind assisted flight
Photo Dave King
Day 0.5 Tekapo to somewhere past Little Omarama Saddle

After an awesome low-key briefing which belied the truly epic nature of what lay in store, organiser Dave King escorted us on our merry way. I had an almost immediate fail with the pockets on my homemade front bag disgorging their contents at the first whiff of a bump. Only 500m in I had to turn round and retrieve my phone, cues and money. Fortunately the next couple of kilometres were a sealed road and after a bit of TT action I caught the lead bunch.
What was to follow was probably the single roughest piece of road I’ve encountered. Following a baby-head boulder strewn track for some 30km, my gear took a beating  and by the time I’d reached Haldon Arm my rear bag was dangling by a thread, just kept in check by a McGuyveresque concoction of duct tape and zip ties.
This first day was especially frustrating as surges of effort to catch a flying Ian were hamstrung by bag related calamites, and this was to take its toll by the end of the day. Stopping in Omarama for an epicly sized cheeseburger, I set about buying and installing some hose clamps in a desperate attempt to secure my gear. Missing the Ian and Mark express, I instead jumped on the Craig and Geoff bus and we headed out of town with sun setting. ‘Little’ Omarama saddle was a huge 1200m climb, and my stubborn resolve to ride it all netted nothing more than some painful cramps on the descent. While they would probably have been hilarious for a third party to witness, the body clenching spasms rendered me stationary and helpless while dismounting to cross a river, and I was left with no option but to pitch my tent right there beside the river and shelter from the approaching storm.
Day 1.5 Somewhere past Little Omarama Saddle to Wanaka
Stoked to have survived the night warm, dry and in the company of a rather large weta (perhaps he was just really close to my face) I ate my breakfast of cold chips and resolidified citrus slice with resolve, packing my gear for the long day ahead.
Donning my full rain gear including jacket, Ground Effect Helter Skelters, and booties for the light rain, I had to stop only 30 minutes in to remove it all after the skies cleared to reveal snow clad hills. Craig and Geoff appeared to have bivyed in a derelict hut just prior to the water race, so would only be a couple of hours ahead, and I set to following the delightfully winding Mt Ida water race, then the road to Falls Dam, stopping only to repair a puncture from the rocky surface.
A series of road stretches and I was on the Rail trail to Oturehua, the soul crushingly straight route enlivened only by a couple of tunnels which tested one’s ability to ride with eyes closed. An excellent pie and juice in Oturehua and I was off again, pushed along to the base of Thomsons track by a handy zephyr at my tail. Aerobars started to prove their worth here, and dropping my elbows to the pads and reaching hands forward to the extensions gave a fantastic sensation of speed, as if I was piloting a jet fighter blasting to the sun at the speed of light.

Pies; official fuel of the GSB
Photo Dave King
Any such sensations of speed were quickly quashed by the grind over to Tarras. Some 22 gates made proceedings tiresome, and while I initially threw my bike over them with vim and vigour, by the final set I was reduced to opening and closing them, awkwardly manoeuvring my laden bike through the opening in between.
Riding alone with only my wandering thoughts for company, I took solace in the screaming tailwind that was building behind, and joining the road for Wanaka it would have taken a disaster for my spirits to be damped. As if to test my resolve, such a disaster happened, and on reaching for a snack while pondering the range of treats I’d purchase in Wanaka, I realised that I’d lost my money, cards and course cues out of my jersey pocket. Whether through misfortune or sheer muppetry, I’d last seen them on the climb over Thomsons when I was checking how many more metres of the climb remained. Continuing without money to purchase food would be stupid and I rolled into Wanaka fairly dejected, the delightful Clutha and outlet singletracks failing to lift my spirits.
A call to Heidi to let her know what had happened helped form a few ideas, and I was soon sheepishly knocking at the door of Mike Sidey who just so happened to reside in the resort town. While I’m not sure if my actions were consistent with the self-supported ethic of the Brevet, Mike’s generous offer of funds and a place to stay were duly accepted, and the shower and omelette were a great bookend to a taxing day.
To be honest I was on the verge of pulling the pin, but this support gave me the resolve to HTFU and come back fighting, partly motivated by the fact that I knew I’d never live down a DNF in the presence of such a perennial finisher as Mike.
Day 2.5 Wanaka to Waikaia
Bright and early I met fellow Breveteers Tristan, Anja, Rob and Jasper and we formed a peloton and set a cracking pace for the bottom of the Roaring Meg. Stoked to have good company after a long day alone, I set off for Tuohys Saddle, walking a bit more than I had during reconnaissance last year.
It was a bumpy but enjoyable fun descent with very cautious lines around the Spaniard clumps which feature an alarming ability to deflate any tires passing within their spiky force field. A section of bike carry and a high speed access road descent past the dam, and I was out onto the Kawarau George Road, on the aerobars again and storming into Cromwell.
A danish and pizza bun from New World were washed down with a litre of juice, and some more great river singletrack took me out to Bannockburn to begin the epic 1400m climb into the Nevis.
Plugging away at the climb I checked off elevation in 50 metre increments, and before long I was over the top, shredding down into a misty valley. Relatively smooth roads meant my bags stayed intact and I began to plug away at the road south.
Old mounds of mining soil bordered the road, and toward the end I had the company of flock of sheep whose pesky hooves were chewing up the wet surface. Several times I witnessed the Einstein amongst the flock break out off the road, and I pondered how similar human behaviour can be till a select individual tries something new, which in turn everyone else follows. We are by nature social animals and I was all too aware of this even after a short period alone on this lonely road.
Back on the tarseal and heading towards the bustling metropolis of Lumsden, aerobars assisted my steaming ride, not dropping under 30km/h till I reached the town.
Passing up the number of pubs and cafes on offer, I was hoping that Lumsden was cultured enough to have a café open. It didn’t disappoint and a steak sandwich, mango lassi and slice filled the void left by 10 hours of riding.
By sunset I had made Waikaia some 50km away, even pushing on to the serene Piano flat campground where I set up my tent ready for an early assault on the Old Man Range.

Day 3.5 - Waikaia to a hayshed outside Middlemarch
Dawn was clear beside the river with a claggy humidity captured by the thick beach forest that lined to undulating road leading to the climb. I’d readied myself for an aerial assault by the resident sandfly population, but no such barrage eventuated and I packed up my tent with skin and blood intact.
Climbing into the mist, the exertion of the steep climb provided good company, and as I clawed my way up the hill I could see fresh tracks of pushing riders ahead, their pins succumbing to the grade. Breaking out above the cloud, the day was clear and beautiful while the trail below flattened off to reveal a ridgeline route that appeared to have been chewed up by diesel-fuelled rubber-booted off-road monsters. The destruction these dim witted drivers wreaked on the trail was profound. In some places 15 metres wide stretches of deep ruts, filled with muddy water with nowhere to drain. I picked my way carefully around the worst spots, thankful for the tire tracks of the crew ahead as a guide as to where (or where not) to ride.
As the climb continued, I glimpsed the first patches of snow which looked to be a couple of days old. Rocky waterfalls which drained the snow melt made for a great technical challenge, while I was thankful for the fresh melted snow to fill my bottles where it cascaded off a ledge.
With snow drifts up to knee deep, I post holed through the slush taking detours around the worst sections, and where the grade was sufficiently downhill to build up momentum I called on memories of snow riding in Patagonia and sledged the descents. The snow trudges of the Tour Divide are renowned for their length and brutality so I smiled at the thought that this effort was only a taster of the epic hiking in store in five months.
Temperature was starting to rise, and hopes were buoyed on the sight of a fresh tire track, knob prints still defined by a globule of water. Traversing the ridge they became clearer and clearer until finally I could see way off in the distance the figures of three riders.
Pursuing the trio in earnest, I caught them just at the radio tower before the huge descent, and their surprise to see me was nothing compared with my elation at having a group to ride with.
The descent fitted my mood well with the banked corners and rocky surface fuelling my stoke, the promise of a meal in Alexandra which was twinkling far below my due reward.
Some roadside plums at the base of the hill proved to be the entrée for a Subway feast. Double meat meatball was the order of the day with endless fountain L&P to wash it down, and while I waited for the others I repaired a broken spoke which had given up on the brake heavy descent from the Obelisk.
Geoff’s fan club had come out to support the local hero, and as we stocked up at an omnipresent 4-square on the way out of town we revelled in the support of these avid Brevet fans.
Riding out of town on the rail trail, we branched off for the Dunstan Trail, a fantastic rolling road with stops at the Poolburn Dam for a refreshing swim in the baking afternoon heat.
After such an exciting morning the day seemed to drain on, with mind fading to a haziness that was personified by the deathly mist that descended into the evening.
The fast and bumpy descents dealt more blows to my rear bag, and in a last ditch attempt to keep things in tact I plied the rails with my last length of duct tape.
Despite my efforts to stock up on food I was running low after a very long day, and I was relieved when our group decided to put in for the night at a hay barn at the bottom of the descent. Dinner consisted of a small tin of tuna with crackers that proved to be some of the most satisfying meals in recent memory. There is nothing like a Brevet to make you appreciate the simple pleasures and this thought stayed with me as I drifted off to sleep.
Day 4.5 Middlemarch to Tekapo

Breakfast of an Up-and-go and we were up and off, easing into the ride to Middlemarch where a second cooked breakfast awaited. After such meagre pickings yesterday evening it was no surprise that I racked up a $45 food bill at the rail trail cafe. The quantity was so good that I was left thankful that the trail ahead was of the flat grade typical. The worst thing would have been to have that delicious breakfast repeat on me on some gut busting hill climb.
Back on the bikes and we smashed out the 60km to Ranfurly, mindful that a big day today would see the Brevet done and dusted. My riding companions were less determined than I on this front and weren’t willing to commit to the lofty 300km goal. For now they made excellent companions as we discussed all manner of things which were at the front of our wandering minds.
A salad heavy wrap in Ranfurly made for a delicious morning tea, while the back roads to Naseby with a cheeky bit of water race singletrack were a great prelude to another 4-square lunch stop.
Danseys Pass loomed ahead and as we rolled into it I was eager to get to the gentler climbs that lay on the other side. A picturesque setting with great views and a warm day made the riding fantastic, so it was only natural that I tried to push the limits of a weary body. After cresting the pass and inhaling the expansive views of the Waitaki, we raced down the other side, our group regathering at the head of a mob of sheep. Mark commented I was on a mission, and on reflection I was, so when the group dawdled prior to the next climb I made a decision to go hell for leather and push solo for the finish some 150km away. Low on the aerobars and with a downhill grade to Duntroon and Kurow I made great progress, focussed on the long road ahead.
Stopping only to text in, fill my bottles and retrieve my last remaining power cookie bar from my bag, I was off on the sealed road to the Hakataramea, a steady wind at my back pushing me up the gradual climb. For only the second time on the Brevet I called on my Ipod to keep boredom at bay, the riveting tales of apocalypse survival from ‘We’re Alive’ keeping me motivated to the very top of the Haka’ Pass. With sun starting to wane I was treated to the most amazing view of the Mackenzie, Mt Cook illuminated with golden plains as far as the eyes could see. Donning most of my warm gear for the descent in the shade, I was thankful for doing this at such a friendly weather conditions with a tailwind blasting me down the coarse gravel road. A 90 degree turn promptly quashed this stoke as a 60km/h flyer was reduced to a 3km/h grovel. Again I was thankful I only had this for a short stretch, and some less lucky with their timing would have to battle the wind for the whole 100km from Kurow, surely something I wouldn’t wish upon the worst bicycle thief.

Rolling into Tekapo with the sun properly set, I was greeted by the cow bells of Swiss patriots Walt and Zita, their gracious hospitality at the Chalet prior to the ride was repeated with a hearty steak and roast vegetables, and after the rush of finishing quickly faded and fatigue set in, a warm, soft and comforting bed.

Ollie at the finish and straight on the text machine
Photo Denise Blance
The Great Southern Brevet experience was easily one of the toughest of my short ultra-endurance riding career. I had seriously underestimated it and had made some mistakes along the way, some of which were exacerbated by a spot of bad luck. I took pride in the way I’d overcome this adversity and had some fantastic experiences along the way, whether it was the great company of Geoff, Mark and Craig or the breath-taking vistas highlighted by the descent from the Old Main Range into the meatball serving oasis of Alexandra.
Above all else Brevets are a fantastic opportunity for the bike obsessed to explore unseen parts of our beautiful country. Dave King’s epic Great Southern Brevet did this and more, serving as a spark for further adventures exploring the wonderously expansive and varied landscapes of Central Otago.