Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Kiwi Brevet by GPS?

Disclaimer: Any co-relation between red-circles and left turns, or green-circles and right turns with the cue sheet for Kiwi Brevet are entirely coincidental. The completeness and accuracy of this data is unverified – do not depend on it and also carry the relevant maps and cue sheets supplied by Simon Kennet and the Kiwi Brevet organisers.


This file is the result of converting the source .kml to .gpx with GPSBabel, which had some sectors out of order that I stitched back together with a text editor. Note: you should depend on GPS data created by some random dude that you have never met, that is still finding the most efficient ways of doing things.


Elevation data was added via an online service (so waypoints re-calibrate the barometric pressure in my Etrex30)

Waypoints were added in Memory Map and the final output was massaged in Basecamp before loading onto my GPS. There must be easier of ways of doing all of this… I’ll find one in the future no doubt.



  • Many of the mountain passes and hill saddles on the route have waypoints marked with a “mountain” icon.
  • Left turns are marked with a solid red circle icon.
  • Right turns are marked with a solid green circle icon.
  • Straight-ahead directions are marked with a solid blue circle icon.
  • Where a direction is a compass bearing it is marked with solid purple circle icon.
  • Call-in locations are marked with a telephone icon.
  • Cycle lanes and the entrance to mountain bike trails are marked with a bicycle icon.
  • Some of towns and villages where cafe, food, dairy or service stations may be available are marked with dinner plate icon.


That said, if your GPS is different or the GPX file is not loaded via Garmin Basecamp software it is entirely possible you will get a completely different, or even randomly applied.



  • Left turns are prefixed the letter “L
  • Right turns are prefixed with the letter “R
  • Straight-ahead cues are prefixed with the letter “S”



I have not had time for proper QC of this data. If you see any errors or omissions please let me know so I can add them to the errata.



GPS is an additional navigational tool. It is best used to supplement other information from compass, maps, intuition, altimeters and cue sheets. You should make sure that your GPS is set to display locations using the “New Zealand TM” position format on your GPS to ensure GPS position information is compatible with grid references from NZTopo50 maps.






So this is why they call it mountain biking?






I hereby agree to use the information is this GPX file at my own risk and to advise the author of any errors or omissions I find via comments on this post, or a “tweet” to twitter.com/craigofnz.


If you need this file in an alternative format please try GPSBabel or http://www.gpsies.com or Google for many alternatives.

Monday, 30 January 2012

My 3-season solo home away from home


On my previous post I detailed my 265g portable kitchen. This is my current ultralight shelter/sleep setup for 3-season solo trips and is what I will travel with on the Kiwi Brevet next week. I believe that this set of a equipment is light, without being stupid self-destructing or getting myself into trouble kind of ultralight. For example, the McIII sleeping bag is rated to –2C which should make this camp setup useful for all non-alpine, 3-Season conditions.


This setup is based around an incredibly light cuben fibre shelter from Zpacks.com. It is difficult to find weight efficient solo shelters. I haven’t used this the ZPacks shelter enough to judge yet but I may be close to having cracked that issue. It is so light, it can be difficult to trust it not to tear requiring mental recognition of the science of the amount of power this fabric can handle when used for sails in yacht racing. For tramping trips I can leave out the pole and use a trekking pole instead. There is no external loop for tieing the peak of the roof to a tree, or upside down bicycle so a pole is needed for bikepacking journeys. I will be interested to see how this shelter compares to my Huntech Two-man Bivvy which I rate highly, but it is much larger and substantively heavier.



The titanium pegs are light, but easy to lose. I painted the heads to make them more difficult to lose in the grass. ZPacks.com also offer an option of pre-painted peg heads for a fee.


I could probably shave grams from the groundsheet by trimming it a bit. I do find myself using it folded, but all the same I like having it oversized for comfort and use under the stars on a clear night, or in a rock bivvy etc. A lighter cuben fibre groundsheet would be a lot lighter (and more expen$ive ) too. For jaunts into sandfly territory swapping the groundsheet for a ZPacks Hexanet bug shelter could be a great investment for very few additional net-grams. [hint: birthday; christmas :D]


I’m still using the same Thermarest Prolite 4 Short mattress that I have for years. It seems current models offer more insulation for less weight but with an emphasis on flash-packing and comfort not a lot of opportunity to save weight. As I favour through-trips and spend more time carrying than camping so comfort for me is making it easy to carry.


There are several sleeping bags lighter than the Mc-III but were not stocked by my local retailers. I haven’t gone extreme on the saving of the grams here with the Mc-III is a quality bag rated down to –2C which will meet my 3 season requirements. My scales weighed it in at 758g including the manufacturer supplied Cordura™ compression sack (claimed 680g is presumably sans compression sack).



tem Brand My scales
Cuben fibre Fly/Tarp ZPacks Hexamid Solo-Plus, including tie lines & stuff bag 111g
Carbon fibre pole ZPacks 30g
8 Pegs Titanium – from Zpacks, I added some paint on the heads 46g
Large Tyvek groundsheet Dupont (“homewrap”) 193g
Sleeping insulation mat Thermarest Prolite 4 (short) 384g
Sleeping bag Sea to Summit McIII 758g
Total   1,522g


Adding in my 265g kitchen, I now have a 1.787g solo 3-season ultralight camping setup for use on both tramping and bikepacking trips. This provides me with a complete camp and kitchen setup for approximately half of the weight of most popular tramping backpacks.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A complete, functional, durable and inexpensive camp kitchen in just 265 grams

Making your pack, or saddlebag lighter is not always about departing with hard earned cash. With a combination of items l already owned I now have what I would consider an ideal, durable yet ultra-light cookset. No individual item cost more than NZD$12.00 although I have owned most it for some years assembled in different and heavier configurations. This setup has neither expensive titanium nor any gimmicky plastic components.


It may well be possible to get this to sub-250g. It should be possible to save at least another 10g on a lighter lid - the Milo tin was surprisingly thick and durable.


My ultralight, yet fully functional and durable cooking setup:


Item Brand My scales
1 litre anodised aluminium billy Old and has no labels 117g
Plastic smiley mug Generic MIC from the Red Shed 30g
Pot lid DIY (from large Milo tin) 30g
Ghetto Beer Can Stove DIY (from two aluminium beer cans) 11g
No6 wire pot stand DIY (some orange paint to prevent losing in grass etc) 13g
Fire-steels Light My Fire 26g
Anodised aluminium spoon Sea to Summit 14g
Knife Victorinox (+ inner tube sheath) 18g + 8g
Total weighed together (2g lighter due rounding) 265g



The 1 litre billy came with a second billy of soup bowl dimensions that could be stacked above it to provide a fuel efficient lid. I did not find the dimensions of that billy useful, and it made a terrible mug. From the base of a Milo tin, some plastic tubing and some wire came the 30g lid. Amazingly, the rim from the tin lid fits perfectly around the edge of the billy. I think It should be possible to make an equivalent lid for less than 20g if only I could find the right bits… With the lid removed, you can see the mug, pot-stand, ghetto stove and fire steels contained within. With the fire steels I do not have to worry about wet matches, or broken cigarette lighter flints ever again.. yay! To complete the kit, the cutlery. A Sea-to-Summit spoon and a Victorinox steak knife that will easily slice through vegetables, cable-ties or anything else I may need a knife for.


All packs together except for the full length cutleryAnd all together it weighs in at just 265g


To think I used to carry a very good, but unfortunately heavy MSR Billy set that was 379g without cutlery, cooker, lighting equipment or a mug!! The lid/frypan 135g and pot-lifter 45g made the whole set if carried a whopping 559g!!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

GSI Halulite Minimalist Ultralight Cookset Review

As I look forward to Kiwi Brevet, I have been tweaking and lightening my kit for both Bikepacking and Tramping applications.

Unfortunately while this cookset has some excellent ideas, it didn’t quite reach my expectations.


The minimalist set is designed to operate as a billy by being made of cooking grade anodized aluminium, with the addition of a neoprene sleeve and a sipper lid to turn it into a mug. It also comes with a foldable spork (or foon?) and is designed to be able to enclose a small butane burner with a 110g canister as a single tight cooking package.



The weigh-in according to the manufacturer, and my independent but not certified as calibrated scales:


Item Claimed My scales
600ml billy 92g 100g
Sipper lid 42g 44g
Neoprene sleeve 20g 24g
Silicone pot gripper 14g 12g
Spork/Foon 9g 9g
  177g 189g


What I like:

  • Single integrated and adaptable package
  • Large mug is good for social cups of tea
  • Neoprene sleeve works well (and also reduces rattling when placed inside other items)
  • Fairly inexpensive
  • The silicone pot gripper is very functional and could be used for other hot items too – e.g. move pot stands or other peoples pots.

What I didn’t like:

  • Because the anodised aluminium stays hotter than the contents, without the sipper lid it is too hot for my lips
  • While the sipper may keep a drink hot for longer, it doesn’t have the same ambience of a cup of billy tea in the outdoors
  • The lid it too heavy (nearly half the weight of the function pot!)
  • Couldn’t bring myself to depend on the reliability of foldable/ and gimmicky spork/foon
  • Not so “ultralight:” – I have a 1 litre billy with handles that weights 117g. This billy is 40% smaller, and with the silicone gripper only saves 5g.

What could be improved:

  • A silicone or plastic ring or sleeve around the rim would address many of the things I don’t like about this set – providing the user kept the flames away from the rim. It would eliminate the need for the sipper lid, neoprene sleeve and pot-gripper which would bring it down toward 100g.
  • More solid cutlery, a straight spoon would suffice.


Hard to knock something for a soft issue like ‘ambience’, so if drinking a cup of tea at a campsite with a takeaway coffee cup feeling does not disturb you, and you want something solid and light then this set may work well for you. If not, there are some great ideas in this set to borrow to either customise this kit or another that you may already own.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Get more detail with the NZ Open GPS Project

I might like all maps, but I really love FREE maps!


Back in 2009, I wrote how to get free street maps from the NZ Open GPS project loaded into a Garmin Edge 705. As I look to venture into more mountain biking and perhaps even do a little more tramping I have found other maps from the NZ Open GPS Project that provide more detail and as such are far more useful when leaving tarmac.


For best results:

  • Build UltraMaps (Free Open GPS NZ Combined mapset) with Mapsource and send to your GPS. Make sure that the ~700Mb gmapsupp.img file is copied to the Garmin folder of your Micro-SD card.
  • Copy the gmapsupp.img file from  “Free Open GPS Autorouting” mapset into the Garmin directory for the internal memory of your GPS
  • When on the road for latest maps and less screen clutter to help read street names disable the “Free Open GPS NZ Combined” mapset in Setup –> Maps
  • When in the mountains or trails enable the “Free Open GPS NZ Combined” mapset in Setup –> Maps

Free Open GPS NZ Autorouting (~38Mb)

The Free Open GPS NZ Autorouting Maps (updated every weekly) are a well known and heavily used mapset. It includes all the NZ roads and are suitable for road navigation from a car, or a road based cycle tour or brevet. You can download the latest image from http://www.nzopengps.org/public/Direct_gmapsupp/ and copy it onto your GPS [instructions]. This mapset is about 30Mb is size.




Use this mapset if:

  • You have limited storage
  • You do not have Mapsource or Basecamp software
  • Your journey is entirely on the road.


For mountain biking or tramping, a little more detail may be cleaned from the NZOpenGPS_DOC_SRTM map set (last updated 2010) – this adds Department of Conservation tracks, streams, rivers as well contour lines from the NZ Topomap series, increasing the size to over 200Mb.




This mapset is updated infrequently. Probably best to miss this one.

I would generally recommend that you use either the Free Open GPS NZ Autorouting (above) or UltraMaps (below). But use this mapset if:

  • You are venturing away from the roads and have limited storage capacity on your GPS.
  • You don’t mind some old data and the screen is too cluttered, even after reducing detail when using the “UltraMaps” mapset


UltraMaps / Free Open GPS NZ Combined mapset (~700Mb)


“UltraMaps” or NZ Open GPS Combined set. Fully integrates the NZ Topo series with the routable street maps. This mapset is very complete at about 700Mb in size and may in some situations provide too much detail for a handheld GPS screen. It is not available prebuilt as a GMAPSUPP.IMG file, so it is more complex to install. You will need to have Garmin’s Mapsource or Basecamp software to build it and transfer it to your GPS.


This mapset was a little hard to find, but after delving into the forums of the NZ Open GPS project I came across a post from “Mr Purple” – thankyou sir. When installing it will be worth looking at more recent posts in the same forum to look for newer versions of this mapset.

MrPurple wrote:

LATEST VERSION includes latest changes to zoom levels, typ skin, and a recent road update.
Ive combined all the different ones I've made including Nevs improvements to the typ skin with the offical OS maps and provided an updater as a seperate program to grab any new OS road map you might install. To be clear the OS road updater doesnt update the OS roads, it grabs the OS roads you have installed and copies them into the combined map. You need to update the OS road maps yourself first.
Once you unzip the archive with 7zip you've got an installer with topo/title boundaries/OS roads/residual tracks
Part 1 of 4
Part 2 of 4
Part 3 of 4
Part 4 of 4
OS road updater
If you dont want any of the maps on your device just dont select them when you transfer, or better yet prepare multiple mapsets by renaming the gmapsup.img which you create to make mapsets that you can switch between.




This detail is fabulous when in the hills, especially on foot. In urban areas with a small  GPS sized screen it can be cluttered and getting the detail right so you see all the street names you desire can be a challenge.


Use this mapset if:

  • You have plenty of storage
  • You have Mapsource or Basecamp software
  • You are spending time in the mountains or trails



The Ultimate Combination…

As per the “for best results” summary at the beginning of this post, I am now having my cake and eating too. When navigate the cities and towns of New Zealand I am disabling the “Free Open GPS NZ Combined” mapset. There may be other ways to achieve these same means but this is a simple and easy to understand method of achieving this result. Alternatively, if only routing from the “Free Open GPS Autorouting” mapset there may be more pure topomap sets to load which I will investigate over time.


I have tested this process on both a Garmin Etrex 30 and a Garmin 705 GPS.


For best results:

  • Build UltraMaps (Free Open GPS NZ Combined mapset) with Mapsource and send to your GPS. Make sure that the ~700Mb gmapsupp.img file is copied to the Garmin folder of your Micro-SD card.
  • Copy the gmapsupp.img file from “Free Open GPS Autorouting” mapset into the Garmin directory for the internal memory of your GPS
  • When on the road for latest maps and less screen clutter to help read street names disable the “Free Open GPS NZ Combined” mapset in Setup –> Maps
  • When in the mountains or trails enable the “Free Open GPS NZ Combined” mapset in Setup –> Maps

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Folding Bicycle Cults

With Russ and Laura from the Path Less Pedaled blog currently touring New Zealand on their Bromptons, I have for the first time become aware of the folding bicycle cults. While using Facebook to arrange a meeting with their readers one response asked "Can Bike Friday riders come?"

I found this odd, I had presumed all readers were welcome regardless of bicycle type. It was appearing there just might be a Brompton pride/envy among folder riders I know nothing about. When randonneuring I certainly have no need to feel like I must seek permission to bring my Trek. Previously I had never considered any cyclists to be tribal, and noted that most cyclists like all bicycles (but not necessary Bicycle Shaped Objects or BSO's). Can anyone can explain why foldable riders are far more brand tribal than all other cyclists?

It seems to go something like this:
A Bike Friday, a Brompton and a Dahon rolled into a bar.

The Brompton said "I'm the ultimate contortionist, I bet none of you can fold as compactly as I" and disappeared under the barstool.

The Bike Friday said, "So what I fold, unfold and go faster than any of you." and promptly disappeared into the sunset.

And the Dahon quipped, "as folders can change the world of transportation - providing we make sure the average person can afford one of us. Remember Henry Ford?

Note: I do not own or possess a folder of any brand. I am however very interested in seeing how the increasing popularity of foldables can make public transport more.convienient and car ownership less necessary. There are many other folding bicycle brands although these appear to be the three most popular brands.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Poisson Lune Film: PARIS BREST PARIS The long ride toward a distant dawn

I recently watched the movie on Vimeo titled “PARIS BREST PARIS The long ride toward a distant dawn”. It is a 46 minute film about some Paris-Brest-Paris history, and then some coverage of the 2011 event. I am still has me inspired by this great event and I can’t wait to get back to France to do it all again in 2015. From watching this film, it is apparent that there was greater sleep deprivation in the riders a few hours behind me, than amongst those that I was riding with.



PARIS BREST PARIS The long ride toward a distant dawn from Poisson Lune Films on Vimeo.