The TT2000 was this weekend, which was a ride incepted in 2009 by Mike Hyde, who wrote the Twisting Throttle Books and hence TT. The 2000 is because it is 2000 Km in 48 hours …or at least, it is for most. The ride concept / details are usually released around July for the February ride and in the current format (it has morphed through a few variants over the years) riders are given a cluster of compulsory checkpoints which they can collect in any order, plus there are 4 ‘Mystery’ checkpoints (one is given a photo to work out what and where), then there are optional ‘Flyers’ in the general location of the checkpoints, plus ‘Adventure Flyers’ (ie gravel road access for those who like to lurk on the darkside!) I should mention that Mike died a few years ago and fortunately Wayne Poll and a few others have kept the ride going ….and I might add that the organization of this ride way exceeds what we have to do for the NZ Distance Riders rides.
When I saw this year’s options I was quite interested because the ride was in the North Island (in the past it has had optional sections in the North, or in 2018 one could opt for a North or South total route). I should also mention that just getting the compulsory CP’s doesn’t accumulate enough points, or enough km to qualify for the ‘badge’. Anyway, it struck me that this ride could probably be done in 24 hrs: a) because it was in the North Island and I was sort of familiar with most of the roads and b) because I knew where three of the Mysteries were and they were on the route, so all I would need to do was run up a few extra km on an unmonitored quick road.
From there I did nothing as I was a bit preoccupied with other things but the concept and a plan was lurking in the back of my mind, then after Christmas I had a good look, formulated a route, changed it, then invited one or two like-minded souls to join me. ….well I thought they were like-minded but all I got in response was, “You’re mad!!” So much for thinking people are friends! Although to be fair, the main reason the invites went out was because someone who has a bit of a say in what I do ‘demanded’ that I be accompanied! FFS, when I responded that I was and there were another 160 riders doing it, apparently that wasn’t good enough!! *Sigh* … It took some convincing, but in the end, I was granted leave!
I should mention here that on past TT2000 rides I have done, I could put in up to 40 hours of prep work, fine tuning the route and CP options, identifying CP’s that could be dropped if we were slipping behind schedule and trying to allow for all sorts of contingencies. This year there was very little of that …..because I’m just a dickhead!!!
The extent of provisioning and prep was: 1) to see if the organisers would allow my plan, (it certainly wasn’t encouraged, but you could sort of sense the sigh and the thoughts of “oh bloody hell, one of those” running though their minds, 2) get the bike serviced for it’s 132,000km check, 3) print a booklet of the CP’s, scale the route schedule to the requirements of a 24 hour tie frame and drop the route to the GPS …oh yes and liaise with Chris Wiltshire to work through some issues I was having with Spotwalla and this was important as it would mean I could apply for an IBA 2000 Km in 24 Hrs Saddlesore.
During the ride I recalled an old saying that went, “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail!” Yes well more on that as we go.
Thursday night rolled up and the forecast was generally good, the bike was prepped and clean, a bag was packed (on the pretense that I could then stop if I needed to). I had a supply of water, nut bars and bobby-bananas, wets, which I wouldn’t need, and all the other crap that one carries when they get into this type of riding.
Friday morning and I was on the road by 0800, headed up to Ashhurst, filled at the Mobil there at 0945, then went to the start/finish at the pub to register. I then remembered to reset the odo’s on the bike and GPS, take a photo of the bike mileage, then loiter about meeting riders I knew etc until the briefing at 1145, then grabbed my T-Shirt (CP photos need to have the T-Shirt in them as this means they can only be recorded after the start), then I was one of the first riders away, which was a good thing as I was opting for an anti-clockwise route which meant my start would take me over the Saddle and it’s bad enough passing cars over there but nothing worse than trying to pass bikes …that aren’t passing cars. So I was off to a cracking start!
I guess I forgot to mention that this ride involved 20 photo stops and 5 fuel stops, with my plan allowing for a generous 2 minutes per photo and 10 minutes for fuel, which equates to 1½ hours of stopped time. Now I have managed to get photo stops down to 45 seconds and fuel down to 4 minutes, so there is potential to save up to 45 minutes in the stops, ….however, it is easier to take longer than the provisioned times, or need extra unplanned-for stops that chew time on the road,. Another thing I did for this ride was tape the ride schedule to the tank so I could easily identify the CP’s as well as check my distance, fuel and compare my progress to the schedule So I needed the cracking start.
Anyway, I scooted over the Saddle (sometimes within the limit) bypassed Woodville, flicked off at Mangatainoka (the home of Tui Beer), skipped across to Kaitawa Rd …only to find it was closed (Roadworks) (FFS?). There are certain roads in this area that I know very well and quite a few that I’ve never, ever been on and Mangaramarama Rd was one of these, but I took a punt that it might link across to Hamua Rd, but alas, this is Tui country so that was a big “Yeah Right!, it was a dead-end and I just wasted 5Km! ….(double FFS!!!). There were bikes stopped at the closure when I got back and sprinted in to Pahiatua to head South to Hamua Rd and I found it odd that a couple of the Masterton boys were on SH2 (but they must have known about the closure, I passed them with several other bikes in tow and took Hamua-Rongomai Rd to get to the other end of Mangaone Rd, which would have me back on track to Alfredton, via Pa Valley Rd, then I was surprised to see the others continue straight ahead on Tawatai Rd! That’s Gravel! …but they were on adventure bikes ….bloody darksiders just saved themselves 6.5Km! Meanwhile I galloped through to Alfredton and on to the CP, pulling in from the North as the dirty dogs pulled in from the south ….must have been slow gravel?? Oh yes, and Pa Valley Rd had a section with a good sprinkling of dust and grit. I came onto it at pace, misread the dusty surface and experienced a massive slide on the front wheel as the whole bike started to drop to the right. I had corrected on the front as the back wheel started to slide, then it stopped sliding and turned into a high-side …but fortunately the correction to the front wheel had started to correct and it had just enough momentum to bring it back upright and back on track! Biker Hail Mary’s were uttered!
I pulled my T-Shirt and camera out, stuck the T on the tank stepped back, the T blew off the tank, I picked it up, positioned it again, took the pic, then had to pull the phone to force a point on the Spotwalla track as it only samples every five minutes and this was an out-&-return point, then finally got back on the road …using all of my 2 minutes!!
My plan originally had me collecting this pic, then going out the same way to SH2 to go to Dannevirke, then into Weber for the next CP. This was because I needed extra Km on the ride and knew that I could collect extra Km whilst making better average time (even within the limits), so whilst taking the diversion I had considered whether to now take Route 52 via Pongaroa instead and that is what I did. The other thing that happened at this time is that the GPS had fixated on some phantom, missed via point, so I had to stop the route and reset it, only to find that the Weber CP had fallen off the route!! Bugger Me! I added it and got on with the job …all on the fly.
I caught three other riders through here considered that we were hammering along at a good pace, but shit it was hard work and I didn’t really need that with another 23 hours to ride. Initially I was riding the rut to avoid the abundance of loose grit, then as the temp got up to 29º, I found myself riding the hump to avoid the glistening ruts. I passed the other riders before Pongaroa then lost them after that, thinking they must have stopped there, but then I encountered them again when they caught me at a stop-go for Road Works!
We scooted through to Weber to find the Renshaw boys already there, I fumbled around three times with the T this time, did the phone thing again, then was surprised to see all the other riders had opted to head back out to Dannevirke rather than opt for Route 52. Damn that would have been hard work to make good progress in this heat and I was operating to a strict time frame.
I caught the other three, we passed the Renshaw boys and mate, then I lost the others as we approached Dannevirke and I took Tipapakuku Rd to bypass Dannevirke. From there I was extremely happy with my choice to come back to SH2 because I was clipping along at a little over the allowable limits, but it was very relaxed and easy riding. …and then I discovered that the Waipawa CP wasn’t on the GPS route either!! …so I added it. (Fortunately I had downloaded the whole GBD file including every CP, so these CP’s were coming up at the top of the list, being the closest to my current position, in the ‘favourites’).
I pulled into the Waipawa CP to find Roger & Bee Allen taking a snack stop in the shade, so I took my pic (without issues) then had a short chat (using all of my allotted 2 minutes), then carried on. Next stop was the first Mystery CP, being allotted the nomenclature of Mystery #4. Obviously the producers of the route were ‘Clockwisers’ and I was going the wrong way. Interesting that I was asked before the start which way I was going, to which I replied, “Anti” and the response to that was, “That figures!” Now what the hell does that mean?
Anyways, Christ Church appeared to be hosting a wedding or the likes at the time so that was almost convenient and I didn’t even cross the road to get close, just hopped off, placed the T, snapped the pic and lit out for Bay View.
Once again (this is looking bad isn’t it) BP Bay View was scheduled as my first fuel stop (to get the 98 octane and AA fuel discount) while Mobil Bay View was the CP ….but it wasn’t coming up on the GPS!! No worries, I pretty much knew them off by heart…and I had the list on the tank …but it would get dark later and the list wouldn’t do me much good then, would it?
So, bike fueled, my third or forth wee banana snacked, with a gooey nut bar this time (do you realise it’s almost impossible to buy a decent nut bar without chocolate on these days?), a natural break taken and probably well and truly past the 10 minute allocation, then it was 200 metres down the road for the CP pic, then it was on-on to the next Mystery, being the Lighthouse by the river in Wairoa.
It’s always nice riding through there so I continued to make good time and arrived to see Topher & Goose enjoying a snack, they departed as I was doing my thing with the T and another banana, and then I was surprised to catch them on the road. I say surprised because Topher is not a rider I’d like to try to keep up with when he is ‘on a mission’. As it was, I was happy to slot in behind them as they were almost on the same pace as I had been, however, he was more relaxed with the passing and in the end I felt I needed to keep on track to stay ahead of the schedule, so I passed them. Well, I passed Goose and I’m sure at that point Topher lifted the pace ever so slightly?? …now I couldn’t attest to that in court, but to support my claim, a quick check in the mirrors indicated that Goose had dropped back a tad!? Of course, perhaps he just forgot to speed up again after letting me pass?!
Anyway I lifted again, failing to keep those beautiful lines that topher does, …but managing to make good progress in my own poor form!
As I entered Gisborne I happened to notice that I had just ridden past the turnoff to the Te Araroa (East Cape) road and thought, “Hmmm, I’m sure I should have taken that road?” and a quick check revealed that sure enough, the GPS was taking me into town, for no particular reason, then onto Opotiki??? Another sigh sighed, a quick addition to the route and I had to ride through the Main St of Gisborne to get to Wainu Beach! It wouldn’t have been much, but more time lost!
This time I had to have a quick check of the booklet to ensure I was photographing the right thing, then Topher & Goose turned up as I was ready to leave. At this point I was about 550Km into the ride and about an hour ahead of schedule as it was closer to 1730 than the calculated 1830, and I was about to embark on the Waioeka Gorge and the temp was dropping from the 32º peak experienced earlier.
Now heading for Opotiki, I wasn’t passing much traffic, but there was a bit coming the other way and it wasn’t until he was right on me that I noticed a big white ute had some natty squares painted on it. Whew, he either didn’t have a device, or it wasn’t on, (probably didn’t have), then another 5 or 10Km down the road I spotted a car with similar markings. Now I did have the sun in my eyes at this point, but I’m sure he was giving me the evil-eye and possibly a finger shake, but he didn’t turn and pursue so I was obviously operating within the allowable limits aye?
The ride through there was quite good (thankfully with a dry road as lots of potential slick spots) and I had soon fueled at Caltex Opotiki, then taken the CP pic as I left town. On this occasion I had to check the booklet again as I pulled up beside a sign, then discovered I needed to take the ‘50Km Opotiki’ sign, but I was able to do that from where I had stopped. Next stop Maketu and my plan had taken me via Taneatua as this adds 5Km to the distance for about 2 minutes extra on the time.
Now prior to the ride, I had had discussion with other riders about the merits of the Taupo Turangi road (which has major roadworks) versus the Western Lake road and at this point I realised that Wai-o-Tapu (Sth of Rotorua) isn’t that far from Awakeri, and that perhaps this would be a better option as I could then drop straight to Turangi from Tirau. Problem at this point is how that would affect my fuel plan and timings and since I’d known about the road conditions prior to the event …I’d failed to plan for contingencies, so stuck to the plan I had!
The 116km trip from Opotiki to Maketu saw it transition from dusk to dark and with just a sliver of moon, it was to be a very dark night. (this section was scheduled as approx 2100 to 2200, but I was still about an hour ahead).
The Maketu CP was new territory for me and it had dunnys, so was rather convenient. I did my thing, put on a skivvy as I was starting to feel cold, in the ever so balmy 17º, and got back on the road to find the GPS was trying to get me to decide whether or not to take the toll road, so I selected yes to take it, but turned out I had selected yes to not take it. I wasn’t too fussed either way, but it probably would have been better to get straight on the Expressway. Tauranga didn’t pose any problems and then I had the 60’ish Km of double-yellows to Waihi and a bit more traffic than I was expecting, but that was probably partly due to me being ahead of schedule.
I enjoyed a good fang up to the next CP at Whangamata, then down 25A to the Mystery #2, the Bugger Café Tractor (I thought it was Bugger-It Café) on SH25 at Pipiroa.
From there it was on to my next fuel stop at BP Bombay and that was really odd because I was thinking it was a manned 24Hr jobby? Well it is, but via a window slot for fuel only, which was a bloody nuisance and at this point I did put the wet jacket on as the temp had dipped further.
The next CP was just down the road at Pukekohe and once again, I got to the CP ok, but then had issues getting out. I was supposed to do a loop, coming out on a different road, but the turn didn’t come up and I found myself heading off to NeverNever Land. I thought I should have been heading towards SH1, But I had no idea, so I turned around and headed back into Pukekohe, then I missed the turn to take me back to Bombay so went around the block, chewed up a bit more of my bonus time and eventually got back to the motorway and onto my next CP at Whatawhata.
I thought the Huntly Bypass had opened a few weeks ago but not so, and I was stuck in traffic due to lots of lane closures, so when I got through Huntly, I stayed on the (familiar) road to Ngaruawahia, through to te Kowhai and on to SH39. I was soon at the Whatawhata Rugby Club, then off to Tirau …the next right royal pain in my arse!
Nice easy riding through Hamilton, onto SH1, around Cambridge, through Karapiro and got to Tirau …only to find the Main Rd (ie SH1) was closed!! FFS you Double-Die Kiwi Bastards!! I didn’t have time for this so I slipped onto SH27 and headed East, with half an idea of where I was going?! What really pisses me off though is now that I have had time to look, I’m not totally sure but I did about 10Km up to Okaroire and back, whereas now I see that there was a street 200mtrs up the road that would have taken me across to the CP at the Fire Station! I don’t know if that was just another problem with the GPS, or perhaps that it hadn’t re-calculated the route after turning off and I was passed the turn, however, it should still have suggested a back track?! …or perhaps it was and just got lost I the blur of my mind?
I now needed to get to SH5 to get across to Rotorua, then down to Wai-o-tapu. Before the ride I had had a discussion with Topher, about the Taupo-Turangi Rd and made the decision to take the Western Lake, as that would buffer up my total Km mid-ride, rather than at the end, but it occurred to me whilst on the road that this could upset my fuel programme as I wasn’t totally sure how many Km I was adding (even though I was on a very conservative programme). I made a decision to pause by the BP on Fairy Springs Rd, where I was on about half a tank and thought, “I should have heaps” then carried on, but after grabbing the CP pic at Wai-o-tapu and as I approached Wairakei, I noted I was down to three bars, but hadn’t been monitoring the level close enough to know how far into the third bar I was, so I gave in and headed straight to Turangi.
The road wasn’t bad at all, with a a few sections of gravel, but there were two sets of stop-go lights and the first set was several minutes. Not what you want when you’re on a mission. Another issue that manifested at the first stop was for me to notice fumes rising out of the front of the bike and a bit of an odour that I didn’t recognise …but I wasn’t in a position to check it out so I continued, took the CP pic at the rest area as I entered Turangi, then headed to the Z for fuel. This is another 24 hr fuel stop that in the past has been open all hours, but now isn’t even manned!
Next stop, Awakino, so I was off over SH41 to Taumarunui, SH4 to Eight Mile Junction, then down SH3 to the Waitomo Garage at Awakino. I had now been up for over 20 hrs, this leg was taking me between 1400 and 1600km into a ‘spirited’ ride (not to mention the 150Km to get to the start) and I was starting to feel the affects of fatigue. Not what one wants so as I came into Pio Pio, I made the sensible decision to have an extended unscheduled stop.
I pulled into the dunnys which had a nice disabled/mothers restroom in the middle. I was therefore able to take the helmet and jacket off in order to put a 2nd skivvy on, as the temp had come down to 11º. It was also raining, though not very bad, which the forecasters had predicted, but I thought it was just local so I left the wet pants off and just changed to the winter gloves. I took the time to have a daily constitutional, then took a multi-vitamin tablet with water and a nut bar, jumped around a bit, which the trucky sitting across the road must have thought a bit strange and eventually felt pretty refreshed and continued on my way, feeling much better and prepared to attack the Awakino Gorge.
Yes, well, I had been advised about roadworks at the start of the gorge, but once again there were two lots of lights and more wasted time. I did end up behind a big truck but took an assertive approach and he didn’t bother me for long and I soon had the Awakino pic in the camera. It was now lightening up and next stop was Okato!
I was surprised to find that Mt Messenger has finally been resealed and has a good surface, I made my way through New Plymouth and in no time all had the Okato pic, but where I had expected to be coming out of the rain now, it was just getting worse. This was a real problem for me as I was relying on opening up the taps as I made my way around the Surf Highway, but now I had to take real care …you could say I was torn?!
In the end I decided that I was too close to the goal and I needed to throw caution to the wind. This did too things. It meant I was able to stay on track and preserve my time buffer, but probably more importantly, it required heightened focus that really did get rid of any more symptoms of the fatigue that was starting to creep back.
I took huge care to ride the hump to maintain the best traction possible and let the speed roll off if I thought it needed to and ….well I guess I’m still here to tell the tale, so all was good …and I made it to Manaia to get Mystery #1.
When I got to Hawera for my last fuel stop, I used the pay-at-pump option and couldn’t get a receipt, but figured I didn’t really need it anyway. I also finally put on the wet pants and changed back to the Summer gloves with Rain-Offs then continued the battle with the conditions and a bit more traffic to the last CP at Kowhai Park in Whanganui.
That done I was still only on 1900Km so I needed to burn some Km and started to think about the best option as I headed for Ashhurst. In actual fact, considering I had added a few Km in a couple of spots, I was actually close to target, so I must have been cutting a few corners, although Route 52 via Pongaroa would have slashed a few K off the total. In the end I opted to take Whanganui rd into Marton (rather than Makirikiri Rd to bypass it), then headed up to SH1 North of Marton before heading down to take the halcombe – Feilding – Colyton roads to Ashhurst.
When I got to Ashhurst the odo was reading 1990Km and the GPS was showing 1984Km, so I decided to head up the Pohangina Valley for 10Km to give me enough buffer to cover both readings, plus I’d forgotten to send a forced point on the out-&-return to Wainui Beach, so I went about 1Km past Pohangina Valley East Rd and stopped to plant a message/point on the phone …only to find the phone was dead! FFS! It was pissing down so I just hopped on the bike and headed back to the pub.
I got back to the pub at 1122, took the gloves off and grabbed a towel to dry the dash and the GPS, pulled the camera and photographed the odo and GPS Tripmeter, then went inside for some relief, after which I realised I needed to contact Ann to let her know all was well (in case she had been trying to contact me) and Wayne to advise I had finished and hadn’t just gone Awol.
The phone had been plugged into the bike power, in the topbox, for the whole ride and as it transpired, it had decided it didn’t want to be charged any more and (fortunately) it was dead flat rather than cooked (it had felt a bit warm). I then grabbed a power pack and went back into the pub to make the text and call. I was going to have a feed, but as I was dripping I decided to just get back on the bike and putter home!
I was back home by 1330, having done 2306Km all up and feeling a little shattered! I figured I was OK for the TT, but had lost my track for the Iron Butt, so I downloaded the photos and dropped them in the TT dropbox, then went to download my GPS tracklog ….only to find there wasn’t one!! That pissed me off more than anything as I usually refer to that for the blog and check stuff and hence a blog with now ride stats at all. …and that really finished the thoughts of qualifying for the Iron Butt saddlesore.
This would have to be the worst ride I’ve ever been on for issues, especially with the GPS combined with the most inconvenient road closures, but along with the lack of options due to lack of planning was just dumb!
I nodded off on the couch a few times before finally going to bed and now my wife is telling me I should have listened, not gone on the ride alone and although I can say, “I knocked the bastard off!” there’s certainly some merit in enjoying doing it over two days, at a comfortable pace, with stops and meals, and drinks, and telling lies over a beer with like-minded mates at the end, but hey, although maybe I shouldn’t have got out of bed for this one, “I did knock the Bastard off!” That’s three 2,000+Km rides I’ve done now and takes my 1600km ride tally to 14. I’m still anti, an arsehole and certifiable!
Some fool came up with the idea of riding both the 800Km & 1600Km rides this year and calling it a Double-Badger! …and some other fools bought into it!! For myself, someone known to be a bit psychotic at the best times, someone who tends to enjoy operating on the fringe, someone blessed to have several ‘internal’ friends …..yes well …this idea sparked a bit of a discussion along the lines of …. Oooh mate, that’s great, you can turn up and flip one way or the other depending on the weather!…bloody great idea! ….ride most of the 1600 in daylight! …pick a nice day and start when you want!! Yeah, yeah, yeah! (Perhaps I should mention here that this idea played into my hands because although I had all these secret thoughts and discussions between me and my internal mates, in the end I had the perfect excuse, “I had to ride the 800 so I could do CP Marshal duty for the 1600). ….*Sigh* …..yes well, some people never learn.
I suppose I should also mention that, as it turned out, this year’s 1600 riders enjoyed a pleasant start to the ride, then rode though a God-Damned-Awful wet front as it slowly worked it’s way up the island through the night and all turned up at our Taihape checkpoint looking like drowned cats …. and did that put a smile on my face?? …you bet (‘cos as well as being marginally psychotic, I’m a fully fledged arsehole!)
As I mentioned, all these great ideas kept being passed around in my mind with the reassurances, longest day, warm summer weather, and yesterday I did the Double-Bloody-Badger 1600 component with my (real) mate and riding buddy Steve.
Since we live in Wellington, that meant our plan was to join the ride at Shannon, so that would add about 130-200km to the distance, depending on where we started and finished, so the start was set at BP Mana and finish would be Brown Owl, since it made more sense to return through the Wairarapa and over the Rimutakas, since that was more-funner riding than back down SH1 …and of course, Steve lives in that Brown Owl area (so I would have another 30’ish km on top of that.
There was no fixed plan as to when we would ride, but probably on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year, (or some nice day in that period), but as the fates would have it, Saturday the 21st was scheduled to fall at the end of a wet week, whereby a massive high would sit over the country and it would be just perfec’ …and it just so happened that Sunday the 22nd was schedule to be the Longest Day ….and a few other things happened that meant I needed to get it done and dusted before Christmas! …so 1am at BP Mana it was!
Friday I knocked off a little early, checked the tyres and packed, eventually getting to bed at 2030, with the alarm slamming me at 0001 (midnight would have been too early), then after dithering about I was away late at 0050, arrived at BP Mana at 0105 …it was shut and Steve was waiting at the curb!! (you’re not seeing a trend here already are you?) So we popped down the road to Z Mana (Steve had already filled), arrived there at 0106, took 7 minutes to fill at a pay-at-pump bowser, because on the 20Km from home I had realized that a T-Shirt and unlined jacket with summer gloves, just didn’t cut it, so the wet jacket and mid-weight gloves went on!
0113 we were on the road and on our adventure, with the first scheduled stop at Shannon, but we had to stop at Paekak’, 14.7km at 0124, because some dickhead couldn’t drive! (I think I already mentioned that I was an arsehole) but on this instance, a car was upside down on the other side of the road, in an 80kph zone and on a straight section of road!!?? …FFS …there may have been extenuating circumstances, but at face value, the cynic in me doesn’t have a lot of sympathy at this stage ….and because the dickhead cost us 10 minutes!
So at 0134 it was on-on and at 0218 we had travelled 83.5km to Shannon where we joined the prescribed NI1600 route by taking a photo of the old Post Office …and did I mention it was a bit cold at 8º? Well it was, because the heated grips were on, but I still had to change to my winter-weight gloves …so the photo-stop took 2 minutes!
Next stop was BP Taihape, so SH1 bland riding and at 0341 and we had 218km done at an overall avg of 89kph. This was just another photo stop, but as we approached I asked Steve if he wanted a coffee because at that point, the temperature had dropped to 4º and I was freezing ….and severely feeling the affects of the cold squeeze, so we pulled in for a 25 minute extended stop where I had to strip off the jackets and put on two skivvies and I woofed down a banana, bar and some water.
The next leg of our adventure took us up to Taumarunui for fuel, then we had a CP at the junction of River, Ohura and Mangaparo Roads, then another CP by the junction of Ohura Rd and SH4. The scoot to Taumarunui saw us transition from a very cold black night to a lightening sky as we transitioned up SH4 to the west of the mountains and it almost got properly light as we entered Taumarunui. We arrived there at 0527, 352km into the ride and we had another relaxed 11 minute stop, then it was time to visit the Ohura Loop, from the Forgotten Highway end.
I’ve been through this road several times over the years, with the last visit being on the 2015 NI1600, however it must be about 13 years since I’ve been through in this direction. I thought the road seemed rougher than my last visit, with more care required, then, a few km after passing through Matiere, I was a bit distracted, saw a road sign indicating the direction to Taumarunui and next minute the GPS was telling me to make a u-turn. Whaaat!! Being a dingbat from way back, I stopped, then thought, “stupid GPS, this is a great road (a vast improvement from what we had been riding on), so we continued, but my vague recollections were casting doubts ….but we still continued to continue ….and emerged on SH4 to find that the dillbrain leading had taken us over the Okahukura Saddle!! ….Bloody dickhead, 25km later we had nipped up SH4 to the CP on Ohura Rd and back!! ….and it was still a cold 8º!
From here it was on to a revised CP at Kurutau School, as I had had “one of those discussions” with the NZDR Routemeister and because of the extra km we were doing, he gave us a dispensation of not having to go all the way to Turangi and back to Kurutau (a saving of about 40km), so at 0747 we were pulling in, 520km done and 45 seconds later we were pulling out for the scoot up the western lake road, where we extended the pace from the holiday tolerance to the normal tolerance. That’s always a nice pootle and the ride up Waipapa Rd was even nicer and we had soon crossed to and were pulling into the next CP at Wharepuhunga School. Well it seemed soon as we were now 651km in and it was 0904. ….and we still had the wets on to keep warm.
A minute later we were doing the 22km across to Tihiroa Hall, changed the gloves back to the summer jobbies, then went up to the next fuel stop at GAS Whatawhata. (715km at 0947) The GAS servo didn’t have facilities for another cold squeeze induced natural break, plus the temp had finally elevated enough, so we went across the road to a café for another break, so the 10minute fuel stop morphed into a 45minute fuel and coffee stop …..ok, I tend to avoid caffeine on these rides so I settled for a hot chocolate and cheese scone, but I also removed the wets and one of the skivvies. Then as the next CP at the New Beginnings Church was only 1km down the road, within another 2 minutes we had that (and the photostop was somewhat quicker with the summer weight gloves back on), so at 1038 we were embarking on a gallop over the Raglan Rd, then up H22.
On the NI800, Highway 22 was wet, I was losing time on the ETA and it wasn’t that pleasant, but this time it was dry and we were able to maintain a better pace and start peeling back some time, so by 1156 we had travelled 830km, picking up the CP at Naike Hall and the CP at BP Bombay. I must say I rather enjoyed that leg of the trip. But next we had the tedious job of going across SH2 to Kopu.
I must say, the dorklander car drivers weren’t too bad on this occasion, because if they didn’t see me, at least they tended to move over for Steve after I had squeezed past between them and the yellow line …..(pfftt…how can someone not know they have an ST behind when it’s looming in their mirrors!!??), but we actually managed to maintain an average of 90kph across to Kopu, and then we were to embark on our treat for the day. Up SH25A to Opoutere, then down to Waihi, before encountering more tedious double-yellows to Z Bethlehem …but that was not to be!!
We were romping through traffic over 25A when we had barely made halfway and encountered a bloody great queue of stopped traffic, so as you do when you are on a bike, we started filtering to the front. We had averaged 81kph across the 20km to that point, and filtered for 1km, when we met a motorcyclist coming back the other way, who informed us that there had been a bad accident and there was no way the traffic would be moving anytime soon! We were nowhere near the front of the queue and there were busses and big boats being towed, so there was no way they would be turning back, but we flipped around, had a brief discussion of options and decided to return on 25A, go down to Paeroa, but because we had plenty of fat, by way of surplus kms and because we’d been robbed of the one of the peachiest parts of the ride, we wouldn’t go through to Waihi and endure the crappy ride through to Bethlehem, but instead we would cut across to Te Kuiti from there on the NI800 track. I suppose in hindsight, we should have gone along Old Te Aroha Rd to rejoin the route by Te Poi, but we didn’t think of that at the time because we were gutted that we’d been deprived of our fang over half of 25A, then down 25 from there to Waihi ….criminal it was, just criminal!
We encountered our first enforcer for the day shortly after Otorohanga. He was following a vehicle that was obviously aware of the cops presence and hence driving at the indicated speed of 100kph ….but his true speed was actually varying between 89 and 93 …so we passed them in a very restrained fashion and arrived at BP Te Kuiti with 1,102km done at 1515. This was a CP and our newly revised fuel stop (due to the change of route) so once again, we enjoyed another casual 40 minute fuel-up, snack and Hot Chocolate before embarking on SH30.
We now felt we were getting through the ride with only 600’ish km to go, and we made very progress across 30. In fact, one could almost say we were making up for earlier and had a jolly good fang that continued across Poihipi Rd to Taupo where we transitioned through town and embarked on the Napier-Taupo Rd within the tolerated holiday limits, but the temp had now plummeted back to 8º …and then it started to bloody rain, so we stopped to don the wets and got passed by all the cars again.
Much care was now required thanks to the marvelous condition of the NZ highways and as we descended close to Bayview, the rain was easing and we could see some blue sky ahead …but it was still friggin’ cold! Napier was dry as we made our way down the Expressway and across to the CP at the junction of School and Middle Rds, then enjoyed a nice pace over Middle Rd down to the next and last CP at the Patangata Tavern, then on to our last fuel stop at BP Waipuk’. Those occurred at 1398km / 1905; 1429km / 1927 and 1452km / 1942 …and now we really were on the scoot for home.
I should mention that there was a car upturned on it’s roof, on a straight, along the Western Access road and between Pahiatua and Eketahuna, we encountered another care in a ditch, on a straight, being attended to by Police, Fire and Ambulance personnel, so we encountered four quite bad accidents on our day out, when the lowered tolerances are in place and people should be taking more care! …and the dickhead powers-that-be are talking about lowered limits and more barriers!!...maybe I need to write a rant blog on that subject?
Anyway, longest day and it was daylight all the way down to Woodville, then various stages of twilight through to Pahiatua-Featherston …and then it got really, really dark, really, really quick, to the point that I found myself rather disoriented on the Rimutakas. Not in a way of being impaired, but more so like I didn’t recognize the road or where I was on it ….and then we were finished! 1682km done in 21hrs 05 minutes (which included a couple of hours of stopped time) and I ended up doing 1741km in 21hrs 53.
…. And it was a right royal pain in the arse!! Literally and figuratively! It was much bloody colder than when the ride was held in October and we encountered a goodly chunk of crappy rain! OK, it was mostly in daylight, which was alright, but Double-Badger idea be damned. Do it in the middle of Summer he said ….when it’s warm and the days are longer! Global Warming my arse! (I’ll accept the Climate Change argument, but warming be buggered!!) And then being much inconvenienced by dickheads that don’t appear to know how to drive. That might be a bit harsh as there are many factors that can cause strife, but upturned on a straight dry road in an 80kph zone?? …*Sigh*
It was a ride but! Quite a long ride at that, but nothing like it was supposed to be…and it was my 13th 1,000 miler. Lucky for some I guess!
After missing last year’s MDA ride due to a bike issue, I nearly missed it again this year, but in the end, things panned out and I ended joining 17 others (15 bikes, two with pillions and two more in the support sled) for an 0900 departure from Brown Owl on Friday. I first attended a Muscular Dystrophy Ride in 2005 and it continues to be a highlight of my year with the combo of a great ride and a good cause.
We actually did the local Wellington children last Sunday and where we normally buy presents for 25-30 children, this year there were a few away and another change over the last couple of years is for the new Plymouth families to join us at the marae for dinner, which has made the Sunday morning section of the ride a bit easier. It is also good as bringing the families together helps them connect and form networks.
I had planned 3 route options for Friday, 2 for Saturday and 1 for Sunday, so after a late notification that a couple of the children weren’t up to the Friday evening get-together, we embarked on option 4.
I left a minute or two early to set up and take photos of the other riders on the Rimutakas, then had to play catch-up, however, there was 5 or 6 of ‘those’ cars tripping back and forth over the hill and they appeared to be training new recruits in the vagaries of pursuit driving. Well, I caught one of these cars at the summit, then witnessed some of the worst and most inconsiderate driving I have experienced on the Hill. One could easily identify the instructor in the passenger seat, waving his arms about as he tried to explain the finer points of driving and the poor young trainee was obviously trying to blend the IAM principals with maintaining pace …which just wasn’t working at all (at least, not in my humble opinion!!) He was all over the place, erratic and not really very quick …hard to tell if he didn’t see my lights filling his mirrors, was so focused on making progress that he didn’t see the passing bays …or he was just a prick! …*sigh*
We had soon made our first stop at a school in Carterton, then diverted via Mauriceville, Alfredton, Tane, Mangatainoka, along the eastern side of the Manawatu River, onto Hopelands Rd and back out to SH2 at Oringi, then had a lunch and fuel stop at BP Dannevirke (we had a cruiser and a sprotty that were only designed for trips to the local dairy). From there we were met by the next family’s Biker-Dad, who led us to their place just north of Dannevirke, then our programmed trip from Waipawa up the eastern side of the Tuktuki River was changed to a scoot up Middle Rd, School Rd, onto the Napier Expressway to couple of visits in town before coming back to the Matahiwi Marae in Clive.
After being joined by the families and some Hawkes Bay Ulyssians, we were welcomed on, went through our Santa formalities and enjoyed a great feed, then later relaxed over a few drinks.
Saturday was another nice day and after enjoying a cooked breakfast at 0730, we were away a bit after 0800 to head to Bayview for fuel before attacking the Napier-Taupo Road, which I haven’t done for a few years. However, when one of the chaps tried to put air in his tyre, the machine sucked it out and because it was already quite hot, Steve led the team out while I stayed to help as he went over to the Mobil to get the air he now desperately needed.
We had a fairly relaxed romp over to Z Tauhara, but were a little behind schedule when we got there, so flipped from the Option 2 route (via Marokopa) back to the direct option 1 via SH30, many enjoyed a coffee break and we had to go up the Expressway to take Spa Rd into town because it was all closed off for a big Ironman Event. I wanted to go through town because I haven’t done Poihipi Rd for a few years and it was nice to re-acquaint. We then paused at Bennydale for lunch before taking the turn at Kopaki to cut across to SH4, on to Eight Mile Junction, down to another fuel stop at PioPio, then a jolly good fang through the Awakino Gorge (I couldn’t help myself) …then another relaxed refreshment stop at the Awakino Pub.
Down to the last leg for the day, we stopped to get supplies at Urunui and got to the marae at Sentry Hill at 1630 again for a repeat on Friday …ie Santa doing his thing, having another great feed, then relaxing later before hitting the pit.
Sunday’s weather was flagged as being the pits and during the night, a couple of guys had awoken and mentioned seeing quite a few lightening flashes (no thunder) and Ann sent a text first thing saying how bad the weather was in Wgtn ….and that we shouldn’t be riding. We reviewed the weather reports, then decided that it might be better to return via SH2 through the Wairarapa …then heard that SH2 was closed ….then decided to make a decision when we got to our lunch fuel stop in Whanganui.
After another cooked breakfast we got away at 0900, fueled, did our two visits, headed for Whanganui, (with next to no rain) decided to return via SH1, only struck heavy rain as we approached Wellington and I got home at 1415, relieved, a little weary, but quite satisfied that we’d done our bit to help a few children afflicted with Muscular Dystrophy. (Amd on that point, many thanks to all the riders that support the 1KC rides which raise the funds to buy the presents for this event, plus the VTNZ who provide sponsorship to help bring the families together).
Saturday saw the running of the 13th 1KC, formally the C1KC (Capital 1,000 Km Cruise), but that name was dropped after the NZ Distance Riders included the event on their calendar and commenced a separate route out of Hamilton.
The ride started in 2007 when my riding buddy Steve and I were discussing whether or not to travel to Christchurch to participate in the ‘Longest Day’ ride, which is a 1,000Km ride run by the Chch Ulysses, however, being a bit of a tight-arse, in the end it was decided that we could run a 1,000Km ride and save the cost of a ferry ride!!
And so it came to be. 2007 saw 19 riders embark out of Caltex Rimutaka, 2008 saw the numbers escalate to 50, an entry fee charged for badges which were introduced and the ride became a fundraiser for the Wgtn Ulysses Muscular Dystrophy Ride, whereby Christmas presents are purchased for children afflicted with the disorder in the Central and Lower Nth Island. That seemed like a good idea at the time because I had been going on MDA rides since 2005 and I found it disappointing that the presents up until that time were ‘very average’!
In 2007, I was awed that the Rusty Nuts had been running their Grand Challenge 1,000 miler for 21 years and never considered we would still be doing this, especially after Grub Collins died on the Forgotten Highway on the 2008 C1KC, when riding in a group with Steve and myself. That wasn’t very pleasant and could well have been seen the demise of the ride, but for encouragement from his partner Kari and the fact that we were raising funds for the MDA kids….and for some years now, the 1KC has been fronting with $1,000 per year for the 25-30 presents needed.
It’s been hard coming up with routes, but thusfar we have still managed to include new roads to the event each year and the punters seem to be enjoying it.
Fortunately I don’t have to worry about the 1KC (Nth) out of Hamilton as Topher attends to that and we just focus on the 1KC (Sth), which this year, the route included a bit of farting around in the Wairarapa before a scoot around Mt Taranaki (since the Northern route went around East Cape).
I’d packed the bike and checked the tyres the night before and my plan was to get there by 0600 to get the bike ribbons, disclosures, certs and badges to Brett, then get an early start in order to get back early to help him at the finish, but I didn’t get there until 0607 to find that there were already about a dozen eager-beavers ready to get on with the day’s event. After handing over the stuff, I had a quick chat with Steve and we decided to ride together, getting away just after 0615.
It was steady as she goes stuff over the hill and we caught a group, that didn’t seem to be interested in passing a car or two, near the bottom of the hill, so we scooted past them, then found they hooked on the back as we went up to Masterton, took the bypass, went out to Te Ore Ore, losing them temporarily on Route 52, but they arrived at the first CP just before we departed (84Km – 0712). It was surprisingly warm (20º) and I had left home with the thermal liner in my jacket and winter gloves on, so the gloves came off here and got swapped for the summer jobbies.
We continued on our steady pace to the 2nd CP at Alfredton (109Km – 0730) and more of the same over Pa Valley Rd, through Tane and across to CP2 at the junction of Mangaramarama Rd and Pahiatua-Pongaroa Rd (141Km – 0751). The Masterton starters were loitering there when we arrived and were still loitering when we embarked on leg 4 to Pongaroa.
That was quite nice with more steady-as-she-goes stuff, but by the time we got to Pongaroa, (190Km – 0825 overall average at 88kph) the thermal liner definitely had to come out and we actually took longer than a minute at that stop, which was enough time for Big Col to rock in and rock out, the Masterton Gp to turn up and the Napier starters to come in from the North.
On-on and on this leg we started discussing fuel options because, for the first time in a long time, I hadn’t planned anything as originally I was planning to ride solo and it wouldn’t be an issue on this route, but now we had to think about Steve’s range. In the end we got to CP5 just before the Dannevirke town limits (249Km – 0903 – Avg 89kph) and he had plenty so decided we would divert for a fill in Feilding.
We took Makirikiri Rd to SH2, turned left for Woodville taking Pinfolds and Oxford Rds to bypass the town and take the Saddle over to Ashhurst, then out via Colyton to Feilding. It was now 310Km into the ride at 89kph average, but the 7½ minute fuel stop had our overall average back to 85kph as we started the short scoot via Cheltenham and Kimbolton to the next CP at Pemberton Corner.
More steady as she goes and we re-caught ChrisA, MarkI and CliveB at Cheltenham, …or at least, nearly caught them because they had paused at Cheltenham to meet up with more mateys, but Chris passed us just out of there and they did a runner, then their mateys passed us with a hiss and a roar through the curly section north of Kimbolton. I was riding a bit cautiously through there as I found it difficult to read the road surface, which looked like it had grit on it, although it didn’t really feel like it did, so I was ‘riding the rut’ in the car tracks.
We soon pulled into the junction of Rangiwahia Rd and Mangamako Rd to find that group still there at 358Km – 1022 and avg back to 87kph, but our leisurely 1min 20 sec photo stop was too casual to get us out in front of them …and this last piece of nice curly road for the day saw them do a real runner as they had soon gapped-it out of sight.
Once we emerged at Ohingaiti, we took SH1 South and diverted though Marton and onto the tedious slog up SH3 from Whanganui to Hawera, where we diverted via Meremere to bypass the town and head on to Stratford. At that point it was looking really dirty ahead and Steve’s Sena had gone flat, so we stopped to puts the wets on and for him to hook up a power pack. Halfway for the ride was just before Patea and we were now at 577Km – 1243 and back to 89kph, but an 8minute stop saw that back to an 87 average. The worst thing was that less than 15 minutes down the road at Inglewood, the roads were dry again!! *Sigh*
The Sentry Hill CP7 was reached at 614Km – 1316 and back to 88 avg. Bandit rider turned up while we were there, then gapped-it, it was getting hotter but I kept the wets on as it was hard to tell what it was like on the coast and we set out for our next fuel stop in Oakura as that would see Steve get back to Wellington. That was at 640Km – 1340 and now we just had to get the last CP at Rahotu before the crappy State Highway slog back to Wellington (The route planner deserves a bullet!!) We were literally on a down wind run through here though and even though we upped the pace a little, the economy was up over 18 Km per Ltr. It was really smooth riding too …until every now and then the road would hook left and you would feel the full affects of the wind and how strong it was. The BanditRider caught us at Rahotu again and gapped-it again, but we on a bit of a bungy cord and every now and then we would reel him in …especially once he caught the Revenue Collector and followed him from Opunake to Manaia. If we had been dialed in on the comms, I would have been encouraging him to pass the prick when he slowed to 98, but Andrew obviously didn’t want to push his luck!
Consequently we followed Andrew off and on down to Sanson, where he continued straight on for home in Palmy and we turned for Wellington. This leg was tough with all the bum-numbing SH riding taking it’s toll and I seemed to be constantly dropping my right leg, or both, or standing on the pegs though the towns, or shuffling onto the back seat! Anything to relieve the stiffness that was afflicting the bum and legs and we finally pulled up outside the backbencher in Thorndon at 1,011Km – 1738 for 11 hours 22minutes and overall average of 89kph. Colin had been there for a bit and we went in to join him, Ann and Brett, for a coffee and a snack …and now I think about it, that must have been the first ride I’ve ever been on with Steve that didn’t involve caffeine and a sticky-bun somewhere along the route!!
So that’s another 100Km done, another $1,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy kids and another really lucky day (weather wise) for this ride …even if it did end up feeling more like a conditioning ride than a jolly good fang!!
At last! ...Last week we were into the final countdown for the NI1600/800 event and there had been much printing (Rider Guides, Certificates, Rider Cards, Map Sections, etc, etc) receipt of T-Shirts, Badges and Patches, preparing other bits and pieces to take for HQ …and Friday morning we were off, Ann in a fully packed up car and me on the bike.
I left home around 0700, spent a bit of time at the office and got away from there at 0750, topped up on the cheap fuel in Levin and arrived at camp, after an unexciting scoot up SH1, at 1118 (overall average of 91kph) and Ann pulled in a few minutes later with all the gear.
After catching up with Riza, we went to the hall and started setting it up to suit our needs, I got the bike scrutineered, we pottered around meeting and greeting old mates and new initiates, met a rep from the local constabulary who was somewhat concerned about the hordes of filthy bikers descending on his patch, went for takeaways and finally got to release the routes at 1900, then spent the rest of the evening helping various bods work out their routes, fuel and answering questions.
Saturday morning was quite nice as the weather tried to lull us into a false sense of security (But I knew better and my wets were parked with my other gear, ready to don before the ride started). The camp was pretty ‘buzzy’ with about 110 bikes this year (two on the 800 carrying pillions) and the atmosphere was much like that of the old Rusty Rides …bloody marvelous …and we even had an international entry in the 1600 this year with PeteH from Aussy, who had done a lot of IBA stuff.
For myself, I was riding the 800 this year because we couldn’t get volunteers to act as checkpoint marshals at two of the manned CP’s, so a couple of us would head out late that night to attend to that. Originally we were to go to Te Kuiti for a few hours, but in the end thought it would be more important to man the CP at Z Dublin Street in Whanganui (from 0100 to 0800), but three days before the event, a massive slip closed our planned route up the Paras, so some quick changes were made to move the route to SH1 and the CP to BP Taihape.
I had no fixed plan in mind this year, except that I would start at the back of the field, ride by myself, at my own pace and see what panned out.
After breakfast, 0930 comes around pretty quick (for the briefing), once one has fueled, checked the tyres, packed the camera and sorted the GPS and it was quite refreshing after years of awful waiting for the 1500 GC and 1300 NI1600 starts. The briefing took about quarter of an hour, I put the wets on and it was soon 1000 ….damn, I still had 18 minutes before Group 7 would leave so I grabbed the camera and took a few photos, then fluffed around putting the ear plugs in, starting up the GPS, cooking on the bike for a bit, then noticing that our start group had closer to 20 riders rather than 11 (because some had held back to ride with mates) ….FFS….and that meant delays so I didn’t get to depart until 1023.
Did I mention that I was planning on a daylight ride? Well yes, I was planning to get in before 1930! …or cut the ride out in about 9 hrs, which would require a brisk pace and minimal stops for good progress. …So with me instantly into GC-mode, by the time I’d got onto the road, then along to SH41 and sneaked out while others were faffing around waiting for traffic, I had already passed about 6-8 riders ….and I suppose that set the tone for the day.
It wasn’t raining at all but the roads were wet in places so care was required, and the riders ahead of me seemed to be maintaining quite a good pace, but I passed a few more of them on the way to Kuratau Junction, then a few more along the Western Access road, where we did encounter short bursts of heavy rain as we approached Whakamaru and it was really nice to wave as I passed riders who had stopped to put their wets on! …*Sigh*…some people really are aresholes!
I was soon off the sweepy, quick SH32 and onto the sweepy, quick Wapapa Rd, which turns into a nice tight section as one approaches the Waipapa Dam. The road was wet but I was still making good progress until pulling up to about 8-10 bikes following an SUV. There’s not many passing opportunities in there but I did pass one chap, then couldn’t believe it as we came to a clear section ….and nobody was moving …..so I did! Passing all the bikes and the SUV and I was back in the clear to continue making my very good progress to the first CP at Korakonui School in the Wharepuhunga area.
As I pulled into the CP there must have been at east a dozen bikes and many of them were still there as I departed, GPS indicating that I almost took 45 seconds to park up, grab the camera, take the pick, pack the camera away and start moving again. (175Km done and it was now 1158)
Back on the bike, I slotted in behind MarkI, who was riding with ChrisA (Both Double Badger entries) the roads were still wet and 7.3 Km later we pulled up alongside BanditRider, ColinL and JohnG (more Dbl Badgers) at the SH3 intersection opposite the Te Kawa servo. What amazed me was how these very experienced Distance Riders turned left on SH3 after watching us cross onto Te Kawa Rd, but I suppose we all have the odd brain-fade on these rides …and it suited me immensely as these are three very experienced and efficient riders who effectively just waved me on through!!
Shortly after that, Mark had a moment (joys of a wet road), causing him to slow slightly, so I slipped past him and next thing same happened to Chris, so I found myself leading and since it was only 22km between checkpoints, within 12½ minutes of leaving Korakonui School, I was pulling into the Tihiroa Hall amidst what must have been 15-20 bikes …So another 45 second stop and I found myself pulling out behind Steve, Woody and Dave with what looked like about half of the other bikes still there, so I figured I must have been about half-way through the field at this stage.
I should mention, that up to this point, my friend Kate (the GPS lady) wasn’t talking to me. She hadn’t said a peep since I left and I figured that I knew the route, had the picture on the screen if I needed it and therefore, I should let the sleeping dog lie ….rather than try to wake it up and have it spit the dummy!
So I was now puttering along behind the boys, with Dave leading at a comfortable pace, listening to my music, the roads dried and as we entered Pirongia on SH39, the Wiltshire group pulled off (obviously for fuel for the teeny-tanker Stella was riding) so 3 more bikes were passed. Then North of Pirongia, the boys passed a couple of trucks, so I followed and as I’m about midway along, I notice the street sign for Te Pahu Rd …..Doh!! I was going to take that road!!
Oh well. I stayed in behind the guys and continued puttering to Whatawhata and around the corner to the next CP, New beginnings Church at the top of Te Pahu Rd. This leg was only 42 Km long, taking us 25 minutes, followed this time by a 55 second photostop, so the others were still getting off their bikes as I waved goodbye to take on the delightful Raglan Rd (SH23).
I attacked this road with a hiss and a roar because it’s one of the few roads in the country with a clean hotmix surface, fantastic curves and short straights with enough room and vision to pass when required …in other words, a bikers delight and I was being absolutely delighted!! …at least, I was for a little bit because about half-way along, the road got wet (it wasn’t raining though). Now on this road, that shouldn’t be much cause for concern, but what the hell, there was a proliferation of squiggly tar-snakes about an inch wide.
I didn’t think much of this at first, but then I clipped one and was most surprised at the amount of movement as a result, so from there on there was a slight reduction in pace and much care on the lines and avoidances of said snakey bits!
I still made good time out to Te Uku and turned onto H22, which I haven’t done for some years. Once again, the road was wet, but this one is narrow, prone to having loose grit on it and also has it’s share of slick patches, so now the pace really did slump. It would have been nicer in the dry, but I did still enjoy the ride and I managed to push hard enough through here that I didn’t seem to lose much time off the ETA.
I got to the next CP at Naike Hall, 63Km from the Church and that took 43 mins (a humble 87kph for the leg) and after another 50 second photo-stop, I was on my way to the next CP and fuel at BP Bombay.
This 53 Km leg was done in 36 mins, so more of the same pace, but the surprise was to come at Bombay.
I’ve done 550Km out of a tank of gas on the ST, but that was generally on State Highways, under the speed limits and with a locked wrist. One can get 500Km with a little care, but I’ve also had just over 400Km out of a tank, so the bike economy is very much related to pace and curves (ie when one is on and off the throttle). In this case, I was 334Km into the ride and the bloody thing took 22 Ltrs on board into a 29Ltr tank (that one can only get around 25Ltrs in). I suppose in short, one could say that I’d had a bloody good fang!!
After a relaxed 7 minute fuel stop, I got on my way again, made it onto the SH1 slipway ….then realized I hadn’t taken a photo!! …what a bloody dickhead!! Fortunately I wasn’t onto the single lane yet so I flipped around and went back, took a photo and worst of all, wasted a whole two minutes!! *Sigh*
On-On again and I was soon onto SH2 and those lovely 90kph zones with solid double-yellows! I really hate this road as it’s always chocker with horrid, arrogant, Dorklandeers, however, on this occasion, I have to eat my words because using the ST’s ‘presence’ (as you do), 9 out of 10 cars were moving over for me …and well ….the tenth ….I just seemed to get past somehow.
It was still slow going but 63 Km later I was embarking on a couple of the sweetest roads in the country, SH25A & SH25!
And what an absolute blast that was! The roads were dry, there was a bit of traffic, but nothing that really hindered my progress and the ST was in its element. ie. a 300Kg truck that handles like a Lotus. (Sorry if the analogy shows my age).
Anyway, the scoot down to Waihi was interrupted by two checkpoints, the first (CP6) at Opoutere School (437Km into the ride, so about halfway) and the 2nd (CP7) was 12Km later at Whangamata School. The ‘blast’ continued to Waihi, then got tempered by the Karangahake gorge (which is littered with double-yellows) then I was into the boring crap to Paeroa, across through Morrinsville, Mystery Creek, Te Awamutu and down SH3 to Te Kuiti (CP8).
This was the home stretch and SH30 was dry, clean and another of those sweet roads around the Island that is just a series of high speed sweepers, where one just dials in a pace, locks the wrist and sits there …or perhaps that should be ‘flies along’. Considering that the pace wasn’t far off that of the first stint up the Western Lake, the economy was a full 2 points better …I’m not saying the economy was good, but 2kph is 2kph and another 50’ish Km out of the tank! …But the smile ….that was from ear to ear! ….and the ETA was tumbling! So I was pulling up at Whakamaru at 18:02:33 and pulling out by 18:03:15, picture snapped, Cheshire-cat-grin still in place, a dry western lake road beckoning and me thinking, “Hmmm, I could probably do this in 8½?”
The last scoot down the lake and across SH41 wasn’t anything special, apart from being a bit quicker than my usual pace but I pulled into HQ at the Turangi Cabins at 1847 absolutely fizzing …and ready to do that again. What a buzz ….but there were no other bikes there!!??? Damn, I’d been wondering where the rest of the bikes were since New Beginnings Church, as I hadn’t seen anyone since then??
I took my last photo of the odo and checked in, faffed around a bit, had beer and eventually had a feed, sneeked off for a scrub and bed about 2200 and caught a couple of hours kip prior to the next phase of my night, ie CP duty at Taihape.
I was up before midnight and we got away shortly after (Brett, Ann and myself), arriving at Taihape a little before 0100. The weather was crap and man, was I glad I did the 800! Hehe, I did advise the 1600 riders at the briefing the night before, that, “although I appeared to be grinning, I was weeping for them on the inside” and sure enough, when the first guys started coming through around 0200, on faired bikes with top of the line gear …they were wet through!
We were trying to monitor their progress via Spotwalla, but that was very erratic and the job was a real bore so it was really fortuitous that our selection of CP’s was made on the basis of coffee & pies. It also made me feel really, really guilty about the poor bastards running the CP at Gull Paengaroa in 2018, because that 24 hour Servo turned out to be an unmanned card pump, and they were hunkered down on picnic tables, outside, with no refreshments whatsoever!
Last guys through at 0830, we finally left at 0900 to head back to Turangi and fart around for the rest of the day, then headed home on Monday.
It was a great weekend! We did have a few glitches and problems, but it generally went smoothly and I suppose the event continues to improve and evolve. I just need to do the 1600 now for my Double Badger!
Another last minute decision was made to ride yesterday, after finding that perhaps I wasn’t as far behind at work as I thought. Next decision …where to?
That wasn’t too hard because this year I have registered as a Double-Badger with the intent that I need to ride the NI800 on the weekend in order to take off afterwards to do Checkpoint duty for the NI1600, as we couldn’t get volunteers for two of the three manned CP’s this year. Therefore, I figured that I don’t need to focus on the butt, but I do need some technical riding to get the eye in, the lines good, the pace into corners right …and all that with some semblance of good economy!
I sat down with the laptop and within a few minutes I had a plan.
I needed to get Spotwalla sorted to test that for the NI800 …but being more focused on other things, as it turned out, that didn’t work, so enough said about that.
I sorted the GPS, phone and checked the tyres then got away just before 0900, filled at the Caltex on Hutt Road and the mission had started. The route was 576Km and had me scooting over the hill, nipping out to Martinborough to take middle road back to Masterton, onto the bypass and head for Mauriceville, cut across Dreyer Rock Rd to Alfredton, back out to Pahiatua so I could go via Makuri to get to Pongaroa, then to finish off, I’d cut back out to Dannevirke, via Weber, but divert further north to exit on SH2 in the Ormandville area, just to get that extra top-up of technical, then have a nice return on SH2.
Leaving Caltex had the ETA at 1512, which seemed a bit quick for that ride but hey, the thought of trying to get back by 1500 seemed like a ‘plan’ and I had a good start over the hill, with little traffic (for a Sunday), then more empty roads over to Martinborough and through Ponatahi, had a few minutes off the ETA …and then I was into the good stuff.
The Mauriceville road is always a treat, Dreyers Rock Road always needs care, I continued to make good progress through Alfredton and out towards Pahiatua, but I was only just maintaining the ETA at 1508 …which just isn’t fair because I thought I was pushing along at a rather good clip. I haven’t ridden the Pahiatua-Pongaroa for a few years and that was east to west so this was a good test for the riding. Once again, I thought I was making good progress …but I lost 3 minutes!! …and as I swung onto Route 52, I needed to pause for a ‘natural break’! …and I spotted Steve, Woody and Dave so I refreshed then stopped for a chat. (These guys were out doing the same thing, prep-riding).
After a few minutes (8:17 to be precise), I carried on with my mission and maintained good pace along the Weber Road, but after turning off to head up toward Ormondville, that road is really narrow (single lane stuff) and a really good test of how one is riding. ….umm, yeah, I guess I’m riding sort of OK. It was certainly a great way to finish of before enjoying the easy trip back down SH2.
Maintaining a good pace on these sort of roads comes at a price, and by the time I got down to Dannevirke I thought I might as well fill-up, which at 366Km is a bit light for an ST …although I would have made 400Km so only 100-150km short of a normal, placid State Highway riding! …oh and while I was prepping to pull into the BP, who should I see filling their faces at the Black Stump café, but Steve, Woody & Dave.
The rest of the trip was pretty same ol’, same ol’ and at the end of the day, I manage a moving average of 90 kph (after losing heaps in the usual Sunday traffic over the hill).
That was a good day and only two weeks now to the event.
I missed the opportunity for a ride in the mint weather last Sunday as I had to mow the lawns at the flats (…kinda lucky I did because after about 4 months, it was a bit of an effort). So anyway, with another primo weekend on the forecast, I decided that Saturday had to be ride-day.
I figured about 600Km would be nice and as the clock is ticking down to the Ooctober event, a mix of technical and bum-numbing State Highway would be good, so that was easy, a scoot up Route 52 to Dannevirke, then over to Whanganui and back would be a blend of techy, sweepy and bland roads.
After putting some air in the rear tyre, I was ready to go at 0817 and as the fuel was on three bars, and Caltex is now off the AA card, I thought I might as well wait until Masterton to fill to see if it’s any cheaper than the Wellington prices (turns out not much).
It was a bit cool over the hill, dipping to 5º but the traffic wasn’t too bad and I was heading out of the BP on Chapel St at 0938 after a casual 7 minute stop …well …the heated grips had been on full and the cold-squeeze had been nipping at the bladder!!
Route 52 needed a bit of care due to the temperature and the bright sunlight as it is one of those roads where sections never see the sun through the winter and with the bright sunlight, the transitions into the shade make the road hard to see/read ….so I tried to make good progress …with care!? I thought I was doing OK too, but it was frustrating to watch the ETA slipping …so I upped the pace ….and I upped the pace ….and at times I was flying ….and occasionally I might pickup a minute!!
It’s been awhile since I’ve been up Route 52 and at times it was great, then others I was surprised at the amount of repairs, slumps and crap. It was good for the riding though and getting back into tune and once I’d got past Weber, the road widened, was cleaner and the pace got fresher.
I bypassed Dannevirke and as I was heading South, it occurred to me that I hadn’t done the backroad form Oringi to Bluff Rd (by the Bridge south of Woodville) for some years so I thought, “Bugger it, lets go mate!” and I swung off at Oringi. Trouble was, most of the time I did that road, it was south to north and so it transpired that, I sort of knew that I was taking a wrong turn, but I did it anyway and ended up taking the lane along the south side of the river to Mangatainoka!! *Sigh* …oh well, I’ve only done that one once or twice and that was refreshing.
I made my way back to SH2 and although the GPS was suggesting to swing west to bypass Woodville, but I thought nah, and took Troup road to make my way to Pinfold and Oxford Roads to go over the top, then onto the Saddle. That’s certainly improved with a big section of wide hotmix, but the 80kph is a bit tedious.
From there I was onto the Colyton road, through Feilding and onto Halcombe Road …and I do enjoy the Halcombe road with it’s nice rolling sweepy corners …and before you know it, I was in Whanganui. I was actually supposed to visit whanau, but by the time I got there, I just wanted to get home and thanks to the fresh pace I’d been maintaining much of the time, I was already down to three bars on the fuel so I headed back to Bulls for a fill.
I was now onto the home stretch, but a few more km would be nice, so I took a few backroads to get across to Shannon, avoiding SH1 traffic, as well as Foxton and Levin. A lot of good that did though because it turned out there had been a big accident on the Expressway and I had to endure shitloads of traffic to get through Waikanae and Paraparumu. Bloody frustrating.
In the end I managed 613Km for the day in a bit over 7 hours, which was sort of slow considering the pace at times, but I suppose I lost a bit of time through sections of Route 52 and at least I’m still here to tell the tale.
Just over a month to go to the big event so I might get another ride or two in before then.
The other day I was looking at stuff for this year’s NI1600/800 and realized it’s only a month before cutoff for entries, and that lead on to realising we are only two months out and I still haven’t done any prep, whereas normally I’d start doing a couple of rides in July, so I thought I better get off my arse and do something.
Apart from being a bit preoccupied with other things, I suppose I’ve been a bit slack as I’m just thinking of doing the 800 on the weekend this year and that shouldn’t need much butt hardening, but then again, it’s also about getting in the groove so one feels comfortable and the ride goes smoothly.
So after being put off by the weather forecast and dithering around a bit, in the end, I decided yesterday that I would be riding today!! …albeit in a pretty relaxed manner. As usual, I normally start the programme with a simple SH ride in order to start with acclimatising, or hardening the butt and SH2 looked like it would be drier with the weather coming in from the west. So a scoot to Woodville and back was all I was looking at.
I needed to have a gym session first, so got there by 0725 and did an hour of cardio before going home to prep the bike. ie check fuel and pump the tyres, make sure I had charged power packs, Sena and phone, and get the gear on.
By the time I was ready, it was 1000 and I thought I should but the wet pants on, …in the hope I wouldn’t need them …and told myself I was a bloody dreamer!! I put them on anyway, but not the jacket and hit the road ….which was generally wet even though it wasn’t raining.
The hill was pretty clagged in, but I still didn’t put the wet jacket on and when I got to Featherston I need to stop to put that and the Rain-Offs on. That wasted three minutes and I had to pass all the same cars again.
The weather through the Wai’rapa was reasonable through to Masterton, but worsened as I approached Mt Bruce …and then it pissed down, so I considered diverting via Mauriceville to head east, but I continued through Eketahuna and a bit before Pahiatua, the roads were dry ….and then it started to rain again!!
It ended up taking two hours to get to Woodville and I just headed straight back with plans to fuel up in Pahiatua or Eketahuna (since I’d started with only half a tank), but I was still on two bars at both places so continued to Masterton. I was also figuring I would like to do 400km and I was going to be a bit short, so I decided to throw in Wainuioru and the Water Towers ….and that road was dry, but from Middle Road to home was wet again, so I enjoyed a bit of a burst before settling back to a sedate and careful finish.
It was quite a good day as I haven’t been out for a couple of months now and the butt seemed to cope OK, but I don’t enjoy the wet roads and experienced quite a few very minor twitches, even though I considered I was riding carefully. Riding the Hill was rather tedious as very few vehicles made room and only one used a slow-bay, so that combined with the wet roads made for a very casual pace. I did 409Km for the day and I suppose I need to figure out a plan for conditioning and prepping for the event …and if I am to do the 1600 or 800 on the day.
Pretty much got the tucker sorted now and probably down to only overeating by two times ……maybe 2.5?? ‘Cos I feel good after the muesli fruit & yoghurt, but I keep on trucking to get through the omelette, beans & bacon, then we may or may not have a light snack in the afternoon and we’ve pretty much given up on the evening buffets. (last night we just shared a pizza …and fries ….and washed it down with a Fiji Gold.
Yesterday was a real blobby day and I finished my book, but there was some excitement in the morning. After my brisk walk around the resort and 10 minutes on the Cross-Trainer, I took to the water for my daily kayak workout. I headed straight out into the bay, (as you do) and next thing the man taking the snorklers, or whatever out, yells at me! (bloody cheek of the man to yell at me …like he didn’t know who I was!)
I turn towards the boat and as I approach he starts telling me off, …so I just say, “What, I can’t hear.” Then he repeats himself telling me to stay inside the island, to which I reply, “I can’t catch any swells in there!” and he says, “Too bad, get in there!” Bloody cheek of the man …I’m thinking, “You’re not the boss of me”. Or things to that effect….
So I swing around the island and into ‘the gap’ where there’s always little waves and chop etc, and I play for a bit in there.
Today I decided, (once again), he’s not the boss of me and no-one has actually bothered to tell me the rules, so I’m good. Usual format, brisk walk around the resort, few minutes in the cross trainer…and today I shall complete my quest ….which was set on the first day …and that was to go out around the island and back in through the gap. …I just needed to modify he plan!!
So I lit our from the launch point and scooted along the beach, lulling them into a false sense of security and soon I was out of earshot and heading through a gap in the broken pier on into the next bay, which is also a river outlet, perhaps estuary if you will. I zipped up outside the pier, then just for show, came back into the lagoon at the broken section at the outer end, where a couple of other kayakers had ‘parked-up’ on the beach of the 2nd island. So I drifted in a bit, then towards the beach, until I was out of sight behind a wee point, then I was off!! Out the gap, around the island and coming back into the bay on the swells.
Now I hadn’t finished though because the original plan was to come in through the gap, so I just made my way back there, paddled (ever so innocently) out through there, turned on a dime and came back in on the swells.
Now he definitely wasn’t the boss of me any more, so I just paddled around and behaved myself!
Buggered if I know what today has in store??!!
*Sigh* …. I must be getting used to Fiji-Time, which is a bit scary ….but this morning (at breakfast of course), ….let me start from the start.
Chilled last night just reading a faffing around, then some inconsiderate personage wakes me this morning at 0630 and did it in such a way as if it was normal to wrenched from ones slumber as soon as the sparrow farts! Bugger me! Oh well, I arise and join her for a walk ….then 12 minutes on a cross-trainer ….then a kayak session.
I grab a paddle, don my life jacket, launch from the beach, then it occurred to me that I didn’t have my pretty shocking-pink spectacle stays on! What was I thinking. Well the answer was that I wasn’t. Oh well, I’d just have to be careful.
It was quite pleasant, with the usual stiff-breeze out beyond the wee island, so that’s where I headed. Before we leave the resort, it’s my plan to paddle around the island and come back in to the lagoon via a narrow channel, but thus far, the tides have been against me and it’s been a bit rough through the cutting …you know, the usual life or death stuff that us geriatrics thrive on.
Anyway, on this occasion, the tide was full enough but I couldn’t afford to come off and lose my specs so I needed to exercise some restraint ….and of course I washed my hair last night so I didn’t want to get that wet!! So here I was, cutting out through the tide on a close haul, but that was causing drips from the upwind side paddle to wet my hair, so I adjusted my bearing to point into the eye of the storm, and the swells and was soon coming off the peaks and dipping the bow into the next mountainous swell (they were about 50cm high ….ok ….maybe 30cm). I fixed that with a little lean aft to weigh the stern and that worked a treat to keep the nose up and prevent the nasty surf from splashing on my specs and hair.
Next thing, I hear a siren, or something and think, ‘shit, I hope that not for me?’ and as I was making progress like a torpedo, I figured I’d ventured out far enough so I turned across the swells for a bit, then turned back toward the beach to see if I could maybe catch a swell.
Well, before you know it (maybe three or four ‘Jack Robinsons’) I had slipped off the back of one, then latched onto a swell and I was rocketing toward the shore, adjusting my cadence to stay with it, giving a little right check to ease and move across it before finally slipping off the back after about 100mtrs …..or maybe 50mtrs …..OK, 20mtrs but it couldn’t have been less than that!! Almost too much excitement for one day anyway!
After that I had a wee paddle around the rest of the lagoon, Ann had finished at the gym, we went back to the room and got cleaned up for brekkie.
By this time it was about 0830, so we were early’ish ….and there was no queue for the eggs!! As per usual, we headed straight for the muesli, but there were no bowls, so we ask the lady. About three or four minutes later, (still no bowls) Ann suggest we go for the eggs while there’s no queue …and I just looked at her!! We’ve been sharing a bed for over 20 years (although we don’t eat breakfast together that often) but she should know that a person with a few OCD tendencies like myself just couldn’t possibly consider having the main before the entre or the soup, or in this case, the muesli with the yoghurt, peaches (yes peaches again) and the pawpaw.
Well another minute or so passes and a man brings bowls …..all two of them! Alright for us but pity about the rest of the poor sods!
We savour the experience and Ann heads for the eggs while I fetch the coffee and tea …that’s after a discussion though, whereby she askes what I’d like. “Cheese omelet” I replied, to which she queries, but there’s this and that and that, so I relent and say, “OK, egg and tomatoe”, then go a fetch the drinks.
I get back and look around for Ann …..oh dear …..the queue for eggs is about 10 mtrs long!!!
All I can say about that is that it was worth the wait and I coped OK with three coffees….again. I did get ‘that look’ form Ann but!
So, the point of all this saga is that, I guess I must be winding down, chilling out and getting into the Fiji groove. C’est la vie and all that crap.
Not quite sure how I’ll amuse myself for the rest of the day, but no doubt it will include another adventure out onto the water when the tide comes back in and all other manner of excitement!
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.