After finalising my preparations in Queenstown, packing, repacking, buying last minute essentials including food, water purification tablets, suncream, it was time to leave the shores of Lake Wakatipu for the vineyards of Blenheim. My journey from Queenstown to Blenheim consisted of two legs, first to Christchurch, and after a short stopover, on to Blenheim. My planning could have been better, arriving at dusk on a cloudy day, with a 6km ride into town along a busy highway. The flight from Christchurch was in the smallest plane in the Air NZ fleet, a Beech 1900D, having a 2x10 seating configuration. Quite how my bike was squeezed into the hold, I don't know.
On arrival in Blenheim, I unpacked, rebuilt my bike, and was soon spinning my way to the town centre. I made it to Kohanui Backpackers to find a number of fellow breveteers (nice word that). We chatted and discussed the early morning start at Top Town Cinemas for the briefing. I was relieved to have arrived at the start at last, after weeks of preparation, not enough riding, but ultimately I had arrived and no more planning was possible, the only course of action to ride, eat, and sleep. Actually, I would be surprised by the fullness of the experience that was before me.
Morning arrived all too quickly, after a ragged sleep on a saggy spring bed, it was time to roll. Around 8am I was sat in the cinema with a bunch of like-minded individuals, not at the beginning of some race, rather awaiting the start of a big ride, taken at one's own pace, or, for the weak of mind, at the pace of faster riders. After a short lesson in Spot tracker operation, some words of encouragement and warning, we rolled off towards the ride departure point of Seymour Square.