With no clearance to drive/ride (for medical reasons) in October, I missed the 2020 NZDR rides and my riding buddy Steve was therefore given a dispensation to ride the NI800, with other buddies on that weekend, as part of his double-badger entry, then ride the 1600 with me once I was cleared. That happened in December, but Steve hasn’t been available until now, which was sort of convenient as that gave me time to do a bit of conditioning and rearrange a few things.
The rides are all blogged, but they included, the 2017 (failed) and 2020 1KC’s, the 2017 (failed) NI1600 (modified to a 2,000km ride), then the 2020 NI800 (modified to a 1600 after deciding not to attempt coupling the NI800 & 1600 back-to-back as a Bun-Burner) …and now, finally, this.
The route was modified for a Wellington start-finish, which expanded it to 1700km, ride plan done, ride-day selected (Friday, since Steve works weekends), weather checked and plan to meet at Z mana for an 0200 start (as that would get us back in time for a proper night’s sleep).
I had had new tyres fitted a little early, (they probably had enough life for the ride, but the front had squared off somewhat, the rear was getting down and it wasn’t worth the risk) plus they had an air filter in stock, and since that was about 4,000km overdue and the economy was poor, I had that done too. After the usual packing and prep, I hit the sack at 2000 and was surprised that I got about 4½ hrs sleep in, awaking with the alarm at 0100, scrubbed etc, joined Steve at Z Mana, fueled, paired our Senas and departed just before 0200.
I led out and it was a relatively sedate and uneventful trip up SH1 to Sanson, then across SH3 via Whanganui, although the cold squeeze (it was 14º, but a cold 14º) required a brief pause there, then it was on to Hawera and round the Surf Hiway to the 1st CP at Challenge Rahotu. From there it was a short hop to Caltex Elliot St in New Plymouth for fuel.
By now it was 0605 and finally, sort of light, with the prospect of some better riding, or at least, some more interesting roads and I must say, both Mt Messenger and the Awakino Gorge were delightful. We paused at BP Te Kuiti for a CP pic, then carried on up SH3 to Te Kawa, then took more good stuff on the Waikato back-country roads past the next CP at Wharepapa School, then carried on over the Arapuni Dam to Putararu, to take SH5 across to the Rotomas.
We had encountered our first stop-go of the day in the Awakino Gorge, but we had barely arrived, then filtered to the front of the queue when we got the go, but as we were descending SH5 to Ngongotaha, we caught one that had us sitting there for 8mins ….and we were to later strike another two with lights and four on lollipops around the East Cape …that was bloody tedious, costing us about 20mins all up. But anyway, we had a jolly good fang over the Rotomas and were soon stopping at Z Awakeri for our next fuel stop and a light snack.
The temp was getting up into the 20’s now, so I removed the skivvy before heading to the next CP, being the Te Kaha RSA. Up until now we had been cruising along on the usual allowable limits and had an overall average of 85kph arriving at Awakeri, but that had dropped to 82kph after the 22min stop. We were now about to embark on the good riding for the day, but with our next fuel stop set at BP Kaiti in Gisborne, at 385Km, I figured that with the curvy, hilly roads ahead, we would be pushing the limits on Steve’s 400’ish Km range, so we dropped the pace a notch and adopted a more economic style. We could fuel at the CP in Tokomaru Bay if we’d needed, but we were riding to a plan.
It didn’t make too much difference though, because even with the the two CP photo-stops at Te Kaha and Tokomaru Bay, plus all the roadworks (some of it thick, slip-slidy, dusty, gravel) and the stop-goes, we still managed to maintain and 85kph overall average to Gisborne. We had been warned of the bad slumping as well …and there were the odd moments, but I must say, the KSS reworked suspension on the ST handled it a breeze and it was a nice ride. We were now 1,143Km into the ride and after another extended (25min) stop at the BP for a pie and coffee (not the norm for me on these rides) it was now 1544, when we moved on.
At this point, I crossed the road to wait for Steve, then got blocked by the traffic, as he came to the flush median then merged, so Steve took the lead from there to Napier and that was more sweet riding. I’ve been over these roads a couple of times in the last few months, but it was now getting later in the day and the temp had already peaked at 25º, so not too hot and on this occasion, there was no worries about tar melt. Steve was therefore able to take it up a notch again and we made good time, through to Napier, even with an abundance of traffic, but then we nearly had a wee incident at one of the roundabouts on the Expressway, whereby some stupid bitch cut across the oncoming traffic, causing them to emergency brake in the middle of the roundabout, causing Steve to have a few palpitations, while I was off to one side and slid back through to the lead. We got through unscathed then made our way to the narrow lanes out of Waipuk’ and eventually made it to the CP with a moving average of 93kph at the junction of Te Uri and Mangahei Rd, then onto the last fuelstop for the day at BP Dannevirke …because I wanted to be home by 2200hrs.
It was a lovely evening with dusk seeming to linger for ages and even once it got dark, the temp was still 17º so I hadn’t bothered to put the skivvy back on, then we were onto the last wee fang for the day, the Rimutaka Hill. I was still leading and tried to take it at a gallop …but by then it was quite dark and after a long day and very average night-riding skills at present, ….it was more of an uncomfortable trot!! What was amazing though was that we didn’t encounter/pass any vehicles until just after the summit!
Steve pulled off at Brown Owl and I carried on, finally getting home at 2156hrs, having done 1708Km for the day. That had taken 22hrs 22mins with 1hr 55mins stopped time, which translated to a Moving Average of 93kph and Overall Average of 84kph.
That’s 17 1,000 milers done now, so maybe I’ll get to 20?
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.