Emma, the kids and I headed down to Blenheim in the weekend to watch the start of the inaugural Kiwi Brevet. For the next eight days (four and a bit for some), 65 cyclists and a wide range of bikes will attempt to cover over 1100kms. Race organiser Simon Kennett has picked a pretty epic route with more off-road than road and over 12900m of climbing.

I followed the race for the first day and the general order has stayed pretty much the same (you can follow it live on here via GPS trackers) Andy Reid set a blistering pace off the bat and when they passed Whites Bay (home of some of the best singletrack in the South Island) Andy, Thomas Lindup and Ollie Whalley  all had a good gap on the field.

After shifting our camp to Canvastown (by the end of the South Island's best piece of singletrack, the Wakamarina) I left Emma and the kids and hightailed it to Pelorus Bridge to try to beat the leaders to the top of the Mangatapu Saddle. Pulling out of Canvastown I passed Ollie and Andy, a quick stop at the Pelorus bridge shops meant a ten minute delay, but surely I was still in front of them. I cruised up Mangatapu Rd and parked just before the bottom of the climb, positive I'd put a large enough gap between Andy and Ollie.

Half way up the Mangatapu track comfortably in my 32t ring I heard a noise. Dammit. Andy on his cycle-cross bike just plain whizzed pass. Five minutes later Ollie followed. Determined to reach the top before the next rider I pinned it. For some bizarre reason it seemed shorter than the last time I rode it and actually not that bad. Although you can bet your bottom dollar an 800m climb was the last thing you wanted at the end of a 35+degree day, after over 150km of riding.

Andy and Ollie's gap was impressive with the next rider not cresting (albeit walking)  the summit until at least a half an hour after I reached it and over an hour behind Andy and Ollie. A succession of riders followed, John Randal, Lisa Savage, Tony Bateup and Simon Kennett were among them. Without lights and with a 800m descent ahead of me I decided, with the sun rapidly setting, it was time to get down.

I came across a tonne of riders on my descent, some just under the summit like Chris Burr and Brenda Clapp and some just before the hurt begins Like Ground Effect's Guy Wynn-Williams and Laurence Mote. Jonty and the Revolution boys were just getting started and at 9:30pm a bunch were crossing the bridge before the the bottom of the climb.

If you're not following the Live GPS tracking, bookmark this page now... it's quite addictive. The official site is here.