Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 2 - Richardson to Murchison

Distance: ~150km
Time: ~ 11 hours

Now that I have access to internet that isn't priced at $2 for a mere 20 minutes, the verbal splurge of memory and reflection of the Brevet can continue unabated and hindering nothing more than university preparation. Hooray. Having to dig back into the past now a little to write, but the memories are fond!

Day 2 began after fewer than four hours sleep, at about 6am in Richmond. Blearily we rose and had a very slow breakfast in the fantastic hospitality of Chris and Bob. Our departure ended up being about 8am, and we were greeted by fantastic riding conditions - cool temperatures, still air and a clear sky. The first section through the Wairua Gorge is certainly a fond memory in the gentle morning air - some crisp, lush valleys, and enough bubbling brooks to enchant any drought-ridden Aussie..... the inner kayaker was tempted by some stunning white water through the gorges! Wakefield arrived as a convenient brunch location, and copious quantities of iced coffee were consumed so our bodies would ignore the sleep deprivation. Here we ran into Chris on his Crosscheck and very cool woollen Swiss jersey. This meeting also resulted in a high speed chase down the highway, screaming to let him know he'd missed the turning into Eighty-Eight Valley Road!

The next section is something of a blur. While it was still scenic, by New Zealand's standards, the road to St Arnaud was somewhat mediocre - dry, boring hills, pine forests and a slight headwind. What made this section frustrating was the persistence of an almost interminable false-flat gradient. I remember descending down from an anonymous range into an anonymous valley, and being somewhat heartbroken to see a sign saying that 20km still remained until St Arnaud! Nevertheless, before I do protest too much, the good surface and easy paced allowed plenty of scope for mid-ride schenanigans.

After another lengthy and enjoyable repaste in St Arnaud - including running into Ian and Scotty , as well as Charlotte (who admirably ordered a beer for lunch!), we headed towards the next great dirt challenge of the Brevet - the Porika track through the Nelson lakes. Personally, as a mountain biker, these bits got me all excited and motivated, even though they'd blow the average speeds through the floor at times. I was not disappointed - the Porika track was a beautiful climb through picturesque valleys, beech canopies (beeched az, bro! - runs away) that gradually became steeper and more technical as it progressed. It was all rideable, and some fun rockgardens demanded some technical attention! I was pretty happy with riding on the drops here - the Fargos were making short work of the rocky terrain. The descent down to the spectacular Lake Rotoroa was equally enjoyable - it was probably my second experience of the concept of brake fade. Washed out, rocky and ridiculously steep chutes were combined with spectacular views. Fun times!

The Braeburn track that followed started in a devastating fashion - I had overlooked the 150vm climb on the profile sheet and conveniently forgotten about it. Grumbling our way to the top, we were treated to the sort of descent any cyclist can enjoy - smooth, fast gravel roads swooping through a beech valley with numerous shallow fords. There was plenty of whooping and hollering going on here!

The road to Murchison via the Mangles Valley was a fitting end to the day - sculpted hills tinged golden in the refracted evening light. We decided a relaxing end to the day at the Murchison camping ground was in order, and found a peaceful spot next to the river. Despite the pestilence of sandflies (that resisted repellents), a very, very contended night of sleep was in order for all....

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