Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Navigation Tips I

A Cue Sheet typically forms the basis of your navigation in a Brevet. This is a list of directions/turns you make as you ride the route of your Brevet. You will be provided one for the Great Southern Brevet 2012. An example of a typical Cue Sheet:

Longest Day Ride Cue Sheet

Like your "Brevet Certificate", Cue Sheets have modern alternatives.

Paper maps would be the starting point. Reliable (if not wet) they don't run their batteries down. You can cut/copy/paste sections as needed. If you need a tool to decide which maps to buy/borrow then check out the LINZ website. The map selection tool will tell you which Topo50 or Topo250 map covers your area of interest:

Land Information New Zealand Map Chooser

Topo 250 and Topo50 maps are available on paper (at various retailers, see the website) but also are available as an image file for download to your PC (Mac?) directly from the site. The later makes printing only sections of interest so you don't have to purchase so many maps. They are large files but if you are comfortable working on a PC they can save you money.

A starting point for the Great Southern Brevet would be at least Topo250 Map 26 Alexandra. This covers the majority of the ride. Some areas can be navigated on the cue sheet alone and others are tricky and might need Topo50 type details (more on this later).

An addition (or possibly alternative if you are good at battery management) is a portable/handheld map capable GPS. There are many brands available but the most popular, and well supported, are Garmin. They have a range of models from cycling specific (EDGE 800) to small handhelds (Dakota 20) that mount on your handlebar. They feature full colour map capability and touch sensitive screens for easy selection of options.

Garmin Dakota 20

Topo Maps for GPS units are available and vary in quality and price. Some of the more popular ones are:

All feature detail Topo Maps equivalent to Topo50 series maps (they all use the LINZ data). They range from $150 to $225 for the entire country at Topo50 type resolution. A free alternative is:

The "New Zealand Streets, DOC Tracks and SRTM 10m Contours for Garmin" is a great free alternative. The map is not colour coded (eg. showing vegetation boundaries) like the others but it still features contours and the road network. Also, as a bonus  it has most of the DOC Tracks and they are routable!

You will discover that ALL GPS maps lack certain details but the majority are sufficient and given you are pinpointed by the GPS on the map the detail is pretty good.  It does however take some adjustment getting used to maps on a GPS because of colour/symbol variations. Once you are comfortable they can be handy as you can carry the entire country in a small handheld unit. Not sure what all the Topo50 paper maps would weigh if you tried to carry them ;-)

Like most things, navigating comes down to personal preference and tradeoffs. Technology is wonderful until the batteries run out. Paper is bulky and not so good if it gets wet. Maybe try a combination? And remember if you do try a GPS there is a track of the course ready to load onto your GPS (see earlier post: GPX of GSB2012 Course now available).

Monday, 19 December 2011

Ride Clarification

Just a reminder about what the ride is and isn't. It is not a race or an event. It is not run by a commercial organisation or individual for pecuniary gain.

You partake as an individual but the route is common to other interested individuals. You are not charged ANY fees or monies, donations or otherwise.

The requirement to carry a SPOT Tracker is for Private Land Access NOT public access to Conservation Areas. The SPOT Tracker allows your status on Private Property to be available to allay land owner concerns about safety. You may supply your own SPOT Tracker (beg, borrow or purchase) or hire one from a suitable place (see Great Southern Brevet Final Registration for information about hire also).

Friday, 16 December 2011

Great Southern Brevet Final Registration

You need to complete the following if you are serious about riding in January. There is important information we need. Please read fully and complete before the end of the year (31st of December, 2011). We need to have numbers for ordering SPOT Trackers first thing in the New Year.

Click on the image below to open the form. Please complete one form for each rider.

GSB Registration Form
Great Southern Brevet Registration Form

When is Tubeless not Tubeless?

Well when you are still using a tube but have the puncture protection of your tubeless cousin.

Not quite ready to go tubeless; too messy, or too expensive for you. But you need some puncture resistance, especially from those fine sharp spear grass ends. Well the simple solution is to take a leaf from the tubeless book, or in this case, the sealant they use.

Adding tubeless sealant to your tubes gives great protection for about 95% of flats (a really bad snake bite will still get you). It is a cheap option (60 ml of sealant is ~$8/10) and with tubes you can change tyres without the mess or challenges of getting a good seal again (no compressor needed).

All Presta valves feature a core that can be removed. Most are fiddly monsters that require great care as they will drop inside the tube, but a few tubes have a removable core the same as the best tubeless kits.

Continental Tubes feature a removable valve core
Pop the core out of the valve (or drop it carefully inside if non-removable, remember to keep it to one side and not lose it!). Squirt ~40/50 ml of sealant (Stan's is readily available in 60ml bottles at most cycle shops) into the tube. Ensure the tube is slack and the liquid is free to run into the tube. Pop the core back in (or do some serious fiddling to work the core back out and attach the small bead). You can now pop a little air in to assist mounting into the tyre/rim as normal.

Tubeless sealant also works in Tubes!

To finish filling,  ensure the valve is between 4 and 7 o'clock so the liquid remains at the base of the tube, and fill to your desired pressure. You are now protected against the majority of small punctures. The only messy bit is you must remember is to allow any sealant to drain from the valve (between 4 and 7 o'clock position) before adding or letting air out. Otherwise you can swap tyres with ease, and no compressor is needed, and no mess to wash up.

Leg 4 Wanaka to Cromwell Description

Time to leave the summer playground of Wanaka and head into the hills (the Pisa Range to be precise). Head out of Wanaka on the Cardrona Valley Road. Up the Cardrona Valley turn off at the Snow Farm Road and follow the DOC signs to Tuohys Gully Track.

The Historic Cardrona Hotel - you've missed the turn off if you get here!
A bit tricky navigating the gates and fence styles through the farm but follow the orange top warratahs and you will soon be rising into the Pisa Range. At the top (Tuohys Saddle) head right to the Roaring Meg Track.

Roaring Meg Track
Roaring Meg Track is famous for it's spear grass. These little (and sometimes large) plants are the antithesis of an inflated tyre. Very fine sharp tips seem to cause tyres to deflate at the mere sight. Tubeless is well worth the investment here. Your other option is to add some sealant to your tubes (a note on this later)

Spanish Spear Grass in the foreground

Once you reach Plank Creek cross to the other side of the valley for a challenging (DOC guide description) single track ride to Roaring Meg Dam access road. Drop down the access road onto Kawerau Gorge Road (State Highway 6) and head towards Cromwell (and hopefully in time for some end of season fresh cherries).

Cromwell from atop the Pisa Range

Thursday, 15 December 2011

GPX of GSB2012 Course now available

For those with GPS, or map packages that read GPX files, the course is now available in GPX format. This is a filtered version with the same level of details as the Google map but will save some hassle if you are not savvy with GPS conversion tools.

GPX of GSB 2012 Course

With most Garmin GPS models you copy the file into the GPX directory and under Track Manager enable "Show on Map" for each Leg and the tracks will appear when you are located near the route. You can change the colour they appear in the Track Manager settings.

GSB 2012 Track for GPS

The track has been filtered to decrease the data points. A more detailed track will be available later but for now this should allow you to explore the course. Waypoints for Txt-in and other information will be added to the final file (a bug in Mapsource means I have to do this combination by hand).

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Clarification of Rule 5 - SPOT Trackers

Now that we have secured a supply of SPOT Trackers sufficient for the ride, Rule 5 has been updated. You will not need to hire, or own, a PLB or EPIRB but you are required to carry a SPOT Tracker. These will be available to hire for the duration of the ride (at cost, no profit will be made) to riders. If you have your own SPOT we will have a form online to capture details to allow you to use it with Trackleaders.com

Along with periodic updates to allow rider tracking, the SPOT Tracker has emergency notification capability as well. We will require emergency contact details for each rider and pursuant to Rule 5, you agree to cover costs, if incurred, in any subsequent rescue. This is standard NZ Search and Rescue policy. Note: in a genuine emergency cost recovery is not the norm.

SPOT Trackers differ from PLBs or EPIRBs. The emergency notification is sent directly to a Search and Rescue Service, however the SPOT also provides additional contact notification options (buttons).

SPOT Buttons

The SOS button is highest priority (equivalent to a 111 call). However you can cancel a message if you feel the situation is not as bad as first thought and send an OK message. An EPIRB however cannot be cancelled (at least until the helicopter arrives). Both have their advantages but for the purposes of the Brevet the SPOT Tracker is sufficient if you are aware of it's limitations.

Rider Tracking by Trackleaders.com

You will be riding in some remote territory and also on private land in the Great Southern Brevet. It is important, both for landowners and your own personal safety, you know help is available. A SPOT Tracker will be carried by each rider to ensure this is possible.

SPOT 2S Satellite Personal GPS Messenger

Using a combination of GPS technology and satellite communications your position on the course will be relayed every 10 minutes back to our tracking partner Trackleaders.com  and displayed on the Great Southern Brevet Course Map. The SPOT unit runs on AA or AAA batteries and is a little larger than your average smartphone today. Lithium batteries are recommended and if switched off when you are not riding (you should be sleeping sometime right!) they should last 5+days (but be sure to carry a spare set of batteries).

Sample of course map on Trackleaders.com

Your progress, and your fellow riders progress, will be displayed on the Trackleaders website. The webpage is available to view any time, day or night. You won't be alone in your suffering, your mates can watch it from their desks in the city!

Haven't finalised cost of the SPOT tracker hire but it should be less than $NZ 100 for the 8 days. Good value for the piece of mind it provides.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Txt-in Checkpoints

Did you know a Brevet is a Diploma or Certificate (should have paid more attention in high school French class?). The certificate refers to the card carried by riders which gets stamped or signed at checkpoints along the way. It is also used to refer to the event itself, that is, a certificated ride.

Now with a Kiwi twist the "certificate" will be going digital. Txt-ing in at Checkpoints will replace getting your card stamped. And they might even show up on Twitter ;-)

For those coming from overseas (not just the North Island) a SIM for your cellphone can be obtained for as little as $NZ 2 and a complete phone on Pre-Pay for $NZ 39. If your phone is unlocked then a Pre-Pay SIM is a cheap alternative to expensive roaming charges. Check out these providers:

Vodafone NZ

Telecom NZ


From checking out the course, both Vodafone and Telecom have good coverage. Telecom would have better high speed data coverage.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Buses from Christchurch to Tekapo

Starting point if you are looking for transport to Tekapo. Can't vouch for any particular service, sorry. Naked Bus does seem to have issues around pickup but with any of these operators I think it needs to be made very clear when you travel and where they intend to pick you up. The confusion often seems to be people waiting at the wrong location. Would pay to ring them the day before you travel to be super clear you will be there.

These timetables were updated 28/11/11. Please check times with operator.

www.atomictravel.co.nz | Ph: +64 (0)3 349 0697 | Fax: +64 (0)3 349 3868 | reservations@atomictravel.co.nz
Christchurch 7.30am, Tekapo 10.40am, Queenstown/Wanaka 2.30pm
Queenstown/Wanaka 3.00pm, Tekapo 6.45pm, Christchurch 9.45pm - 10.00pm

www.nakedbus.com | Ph: 0900 NAKED
On-line booking service throughout New Zealand. $1 fares available if you book early.
Christchurch 9.00am, Tekapo 1.10pm - 1.40pm, Wanaka 4.30, Queenstown 6.00pm
Queenstown 8.30am, Wanaka 10.15am, Tekapo 1.10pm - 1.40pm, Christchurch 5.05pm

www.southernlinkkbus.co.nz | Freephone: 0508 458 835
Christchurch City 9.00am, Christchurch Airport 9.30am, Tekapo 1.10pm - 1.40pm, Wanaka 4.30pm, Queenstown 6.00pm
Queenstown 8.30am, Wanaka 10.15am, Tekapo 1.10pm - 1.40pm, Christchurch City 5.05pm, Christchurch Airport 5.25pm

www.greatsights.co.nz | Ph: +64 (0)9 583 5790 | Freephone: 0800 744 487 | info@greatsights.co.nz

www.intercity.co.nz | Ph: +64 (0)3 365 1113 | info@intercity.co.nz
Christchurch Airport 7.30am, Christchurch 8.30am, Tekapo 12.00pm - 12.40pm, Queenstown 4.30pm (Newmans)
Queenstown 8.05am, Tekapo 12.00pm - 12.40pm, Christchurch Airport 4.00pm, Christchurch 4.10pm (Newmans)

http://www.mackenziejourneys.co.nz/ | Ph:  +64 3 685 6045 |  info@mackenziejourneys.co.nz
Mackenzie Journeys can transfer 1-10 persons from the Mt Cook/Mackenzie region to or from Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Queenstown and the Central Otago Rail Trail (including Airports) and other destinations by arrangement.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Leg 3 Oturehua to Wanaka Description

Leg 3 starts with hopping onto the Central Otago Rail Trail in Oturehua. Check out http://www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz/ for a few details. There are countless resources these days describing the trail and the facilites available. This section from Oturehua through the Ida Valley is perhaps the most interesting section of the trail with the viaducts and tunnels. And it is largely downhill!

Auripo Viaduct
You will hop off the Rail Trail at Omakau and head up Racecourse Road for Thomsons Gorge Road. The track takes you through what was once rich gold mining territory. Starting at Matakanui you head up the gorge ascending the Dunstan Mountains to Thomsons Saddle. You pass old gold mining sites like the Rise and Shine Reef and the Come-in-Time(?) Reef. Descending the other side of the Dunstan Range drops you into Bendigo.

Gold Stamper Battery Bendigo Creek
Once you join State Highway 8, cross over and up Maori Point Road onto 8A and Luggate. From Luggate we will hop onto the recently opened Upper Clutha River Track taking us to Albertown. A gentle singletrack with great views.

Upper Clutha River

In Albertown, ride under the bridge on State Highway 6 and enjoy the pleasant cruise along the Outlet Track into Wanaka!

Wanaka (will be a little less snow in January!)

Wanaka is one of the top holiday destinations in the South Island and most facilities are available (a wide range of accomodation, bike shops, supermarket, etc.).

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Leg 2 Otematata to Oturehua Description

Leaving Otematata is a gentle climb on sealed roads. Did have the option of taking you straight over the Ewe Range but if you need a food top up then Omarama is the place.

Omarama from the air

Once refreshed in Omarama, head out of town on Broken Hut Road. The road continues up into private land (DOC have negotiated right of access to the conservation area). With a small airstrip on your left and a gate on the right you will see the sign boards for the Oteake Conservation Area). Head left of the sign boards up a good grunt to Little Omarama Saddle, down into Camp Creek and the East Manuherikia River.

East Manuherikia

Continue down the East Manuherikia River to hitting Hawkdun Runs Road (DOC sign at intersection). Hang a left and cross the river and then right down Home Hills Run Road. After a km or so you will see DOC signs for the Mt Ida Water Race Track.

Shepherds Hut Creek Track

Head up Shepherds Hut Creek to the Water Race. The Mt Ida Water Race runs 108km to Naseby and was finished in 1877.

Mt Ida Water Race

After 12.8 kms you will drop off the water race and head to Falls Dam at Hut Creek.

Falls Dam Fishing Huts

The quintessential Kiwi fishing huts dot this remote spot making it picture perfect (ala Grahame Sydney). After dropping over the dam carry on down Fiddlers Flat Road to Loop Road and State Highway 85. A short stretch on the highway and then onto Hills Creek Road to Oturehua. You are ready to join your first section of the the Central Otago Rail Trail here.