Monday, 17 February 2014

Kiwibrevet Day 4. Reefton to Jacksons

The day started cloudy and a bit moist in a return to West Coast form, due to having to wait for Reefton Sports to open at 9am I got to take my time getting ready and having breakfast. Breakfast these mornings now included a dose of voltaren, my hands and shoulders were now beginning to give me some grief, my chaffing was no worse and the legs we a bit stiff in the morning but otherwise OK. The shop opened a little early, I got my cable and a replacement rear light for the one I had lost on the first day. Phil and Brett had long departed and those that had spent the night at Springs Junction were starting to roll in, I met a couple of riders just as I was about to leave town, I'm pretty sure it was Martin and Muzz, I didn't linger as I was keen to get moving
Morning in Reefton
The ride to Big River started as a gentle 4WD climb, but soon got rockier and steeper, at the Big River Goldfields sign a group of DOC workers passed me and told me I was on the right track and that they would see me about lunchtime. About an hour later Paul caught up to me, I hadn't seen Paul since Picton on day one, he had stayed at Springs Junction and had had the benefit of a tailwind into Reefton where I had a headwind the night before, it seemed appropriate that we would meet again in damp beech forest reminiscent of the Akatarawa forest back home. Paul soon got ahead of me, his fixed gear forcing him to move at a faster pace than me, the only time I was able to catch up was on the rocky descents where his rigid cross setup gave him a disadvantage. As promised the Big River hut arrived around lunchtime, the friendly DOC workers were there doing track and hut maintenance, I'd caught up to Paul again, the DOC guys put the billy on and shared their coffee with us. Their hospitality was a delight and one of the small moments that make the Brevet, we left with promises of a downhill run all the way to Ikamatua. I can't remember the last time I had to work so hard for a downhill, the magnificent boardwalk accross the saddle was followed by a genuine piece of jungle riding, including the odd push or carry, in the middle of which I got my second puncture, a pinch flat after hitting a rocky dip a bit hard. The ride out of the Waiuta Ghost Town gave me the closest call I had all week with a vehicle, I got squeezed between an oncoming camper van and a fallen tree that was resting partially across the road, I don't think the driver even saw me.
Big river Boardwalk
The 36km through Big River/ Waiuta had taken 4 and a half hours, the reason mountain bikers tend to measure rides in time rather than distance. That said I would love to return to the area with more suspension and a lot less weight. Ikamatua was a chance for something to eat and drink before the ride through to Blackball, which had developed a good reputation as a stopping point after previous Brevets. I met Paul again at Formerly The Blackball Hilton, the publican, a blue dot junkie, after consulting his ipad proceeded to tell us who we were, and after a magnificent repast of venison, mash, beer and entertaining company it was time to move on again. We had talked of getting to Jacksons, but that seemed a distant 70km away, I suggested Paul not hang around as he was moving faster than me.
The Formerly Black Ball hilton
I made a navigational error after crossing the Grey River when I turned right and headed to Dobson instead of turning almost immediately left down Arnold Valley Rd, an error that apparently had people yelling at computer screens telling me to turn around, I realised something wasn't quite right and turned to the sanctuary of google maps to work out where I had gone wrong. Reoriented I headed off in fading light towards Lake Brunner angry at myself for having wasted an hour. The evening was pleasant enough and on back country roads I felt comfortable enough riding in the dark.

 Jascksons arrived about midnight, rather than waking up the camping ground I set about finding a spot to bivvy, it had started to drizzle so I was keen to find some shelter, I camped under the awning at the front of the now abandoned Jacksons Hotel   
Jacksons Hotel
   Day 4 about 152km in 15 hours


  1. Think I passed you there early morning, Dave - was wondering who that was... Ric the Rim...

  2. I saw at least one rider go past,I was a bit late getting going that morning. really felt for you at bottom of the Rainbow.