Another one down, but that was a strange day.
I revised the 2020 NI800 route out to 1611Km and I cut it out OK, but I can’t say it felt comfortable.
After spending a bit of time on the routing and ride plan, doing the usual stuff to sort the bike and gear, updating the music in the GPS, making a tweek to the phone to keep it awake (as recommended by Chris, (our NZDR resident IT expert), (although I must add that I didn’t do exactly what he said as that was just a general instruction), I was all set for an 0400 start on Monday, as that was Wellington Anniversary …and forecast as a nice day.
With these ‘casual’ rides, I tend to be a bit casual with the start so I don’t set the alarm and just get ready once I wake up. In this case, I was in bed a little after 2100, and although it felt like I didn’t get to sleep, as I seemed to be checking the clock every hour, I was obviously napping, but in the end, I awoke around 0100 and by 0115 I figured I wasn’t going to go back to sleep and an earlier start would mean an earlier finish, so I got up and scrubbed, snacked and prepped to leave.
That involved, activating Bubbler on the phone, sticking the ride plan to the tank, mounting the GPS, putting Vaseline on the earplugs before inserting them, putting the phone on charge to the 10AH power Pack and activating ‘No Screen Off’ then putting that in a bum-bag thingy, then that in the camera bag (to keep it secure to prevent it coming off charge). Then I took a photo of the bike dash (mileage) before starting, then pulled the phone again to force a start spot and check Bubbler was all good. ….only to have a WTF moment because Bubbler had tossed it’s toys out the cot and didn’t want to play. I spent about 10 mins farting around and in the end, thought, “I have no idea what I’m doing and I just want to ride!” So I hopped on the bike and left …at 0201.
I’m half way down the Ngaio Gorge when I decide that I need some music and when I look at the GPS, I notice the friggin’ thing is still searching for satellites! “She’ll be right, I’m sure it’ll find them”. Music now playing.
It was a rather cool 12º and I had decided to put 98 in for the first fuel up, because that leg would include the Gentle Annie, so I was heading for the 24-7 BP Upper Hutt, but when I got there, there was nobody home. Bastards! I’d even googled it to make sure, so I just cruised on to Caltex Rimutaka and left my card with the window-man while I filled and since I was intending to apply for IBA status on this ride, I photographed the dash, with the cash receipt before leaving. 7 minutes wasted!
The ride plan for the first leg was via the Wai’rapa, over Vinegar Hill, up to Taihape, then across the Gentle Annie to the next fill at Bay View. By the time I got to Masterton, the temp had dipped to 8º, then hovered between there and 10º up to Taihape. I did pause to photograph the Kiwi in Eketahuna as a CP and the ride to Taihape was over very familiar roads and pretty uneventful, but I’ve been noticing that I’m not very comfortable with the night riding. This will be partly due to not having done much, but I’m also thinking that the indicator that I’d had a stroke was visual and although that’s all been dealt with, I have the feeling that maybe the night vision isn’t quite what it used to be …or perhaps the old brain is still working on rewiring new pathways for the visual stuff and hasn’t quite got it sorted yet ….and maybe that’s because I haven’t been using it??? Oh the joys of being a silly old prick!!
Oh yes…and the new music playlist had already completed, then when I opened the Media Player, I noticed that there were only 36 songs on board!!?? (Having now checked the unit the other 100+ songs turned out to be MP4 files, but at the time I thought they were MP3) ….alas and alack ….and the silly old prick used to be a techy!!!??
Anyways, I was travelling on 95 and figured I had enough to get me to Napier (considering it was mostly a downhill run from there), but as I was about to leave Taihape, I thought I should respond to ‘natures call’ and put on the wets jacket and winter gloves for a bit of warmth. At this stage it was 0514 and I was 290Km into the ride …..and had just wasted another 4 minutes ….but let the fun begin!
Yes well, oddly enough, it was still dark with no real hint of dawn when Katie tells me to turn right and I thought, “Shit that was quick”, then “Doesn’t feel right ….but it is a bit dark, oh well, Katie Katie knows best!” Yeah right! 10.2 Km down the road, that still seemed a bit narrow and not quite right ….but it was still rather dark and Katie says, “When possible, make a u-turn!” and then the chorus chipped in … “Ahhh FFS!” “I knew it!” …and so on and so forth, so I turn around but when the tart says to turn right, I ignored the bitch and went all the way back to Spooners Hill Rd because I knew she was trying to lure me into some gravel. So I get back onto the route, make the ‘right’ turn and start to make much better progress.
By the time I got to the Suspension Bridge over the Rangitikei River (37Km) it was fully light and I had flipped into Eco-mode to ride as efficiently as possible, however this was causing me similar problems to my last ride, whereby I found myself entering corners a little hot and off the gas, which then led to a bit of braking and losing my line ….and of course, less efficiency!! It’s amazing how that little bit of power on just sucks you through the corners, but I was at odds with myself and just couldn’t get into the groove, even though I knew what I was doing wrong …..yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, …..silly old prick!!
I made it to Bay View in reasonable time though, with 84kph average to Omahu, then up to 85 to Fernhill, but then it dropped a bit in the traffic to Bay View. I had been warned on the NZDR fb page that the BP had had the tanks ripped out, so I would need to use the Mobil, so I considered filling on 98 prior, but in the end I carried on with the plan. But the temp by now (0745) was climbing into the 20’s, so I took the opportunity to get out of the jacket and heavy gloves, as well as having a snack and drink, so that was 8 minutes wasted on filling and paying, then another 9 on the undressing and snacking, plus another minute taking a pic of the BP site beforehand (This had the canopy removed as well as tanks out, so I thought that perhaps it was permanent, but apparently they’d had a fire on the site). So a very casual pause was had.
Departure was at 0755 and I was very happy to be getting on this road at the early hour, before the temps started to melt the tar, but even so, I was riding with caution as the sun was out and the temp was soon at 24º. I made reasonable time through to the next CP at Z Wairoa though (94kph), considering the amount of traffic, with lots of trucks, many of which were log-haulers, fully laden against my flow and returning empty for the next load going North. That made riding a little more difficult because the curly road through to Wairoa reduced the passing opportunities, but I probably found it more difficult with the big, blunt-nose Kentworths coming the other way, as I would invariably catch them at a right hander. The big trucks took up all their lane, so with the tall ST, I would have to take an extra wide line to keep my head well inside my lane and quite often it felt like I was riding off-cambered corners, plus get a big buffet from the truck for good measure.
The photo stop in this case was only 45sec, then it was onto the next CP at Caltex Opotiki (The Bridge, Z Wairoa & Caltex Opotiki were the three CP’s for the NI800). I was scheduled to fill at the Caltex, but decided to extend to Z Awakeri, as that would ensure making it to Turangi easily and the 94kph average was maintained all the way to Awakeri. The temp had risen over 25º by now and I still had my skivvy on, so another relaxed 13min stop was taken to strip off, snack and hydrate, eventually getting back on the road at 1217, which was just over halfway on distance, at 858Km (which included the extra, unplanned 20Km out of Taihape), so 10¼ hrs was a quite a slow time to this point, considering I had been travelling a reasonable clip, but the stopped time was adding up.
From Awakeri, I was heading across to Te Kuiti via SH30 …..and being a silly old prick, as soon as I left the Z, Katie was telling me to turn left (onto SH30 I might add), but I was thinking, “Dumb bitch, I don’t want to go via Galatea” and “Yeah right, and look what happened when I listened to you earlier!!”, so I stayed on SH2 ….and watched the ETA bang out by 10mins, but of course, I didn’t turn around ….or take the next turn at Westeren Drain Rd! No, I carried on through Edgecumbe, before it dawned on me that going via Awakeri Springs was the desired route and I’d just added another 8-10Km onto my track. What a bloody pillock!
I pressed on though and made good time around the lakes (Rotoma, Rotoehu and Rotoiti), which is a delightful ride (when they’re not resealing) and once past Rotorua, enjoyed the ride (fang) through Atiamuri, Whakamaru, then that very nice section through Bennydale before emerging at Te Kuiti and doing the 225Km at an average of 97kph. Even though the temp through here did peak at 28º, it is such a good surface, with minimal tar bleed, that less caution was required.
After a tardy 2min photo stop, the fang continued down SH3 to Eight Mile Junction, across SH4 to Manunui, then SH41 to the next fuel stop at Turangi and after the burn through Bennydale, I was riding in a much better rhythm and managed the 147Km at an avg of 101kph …I did have a sore butt now though and that was mainly due to the heat and wearing jeans under the corduras, but I guess it has to be expected when doing these sort of distances. Once again, I took plenty of time (13mins) with the fill with more snacking and plenty of hydration. I now had just over 400Km to go and the ETA was still hoovering around 2030-2045 with two CP’s (Upok Pub and Ashhurst) and the final fill in J’ville to go.
I departed from there at 1620 and was now riding in the groove, albeit getting more uncomfortable in the nether regions ….and I had long since turned the music off, as once I’d been through the playlist three times, I’d had enough, so I didn’t have any distraction there to take my mind of the growing discomfort. So …I guess the only answer was to tweek the pace to get it all over and done with and now I had convinced myself to keep the power on, I made really good time across to National Park and down the Para’s. (103kph to Whanganui in fact). I should note here that when I took my photo at Upukongaro, I went to send a text to Ann ….but the phone was flat!! I couldn’t believe that the ‘Stay Awake’ App had caused the phone to flatten a 10AH power pack, plus flatten itself, so I plugged it into the bike power and carried on.
From here I certainly didn’t need to do the extra Km across to Ashhurst, but it was on the plan and ….it took me off the main roads …so the gallop continued …then I ruined it by taking 3mins to take a photo and now I was down to the home stretch with 151 Km to go.
That was tedious but 146km and 1hr33 later I was filling at BP J’ville at 2026, then I was pulling into the driveway at 2039, so just over 18.6Hrs to do 1652 Km (according to the GPS) or 1665Km from the speedo. So rides stats from the GPS were MA of 96kph and OA of 88kph with 1:23 of stopped time.
Once again, I wasn’t exactly sleepy tired, but I had had enough and was glad to be off the bike, enjoying a nice hot cup of tea and a hot feed. The early start did mean that extra couple of hours of night riding, but the benefits were getting onto the BayView – Wairoa road before it got too hot, then getting home early enough to wind down before getting another early night before work in the morning.
It was a nuisance that the Spotwalla failed (again!) as that’s put paid to putting the ride toward LongHaulPaul’s 1M Mile quest for MS, but I look forward to a quiet week now, then I better check how the tyres are wearing before the next one, around the two Capes with Steve.
Route and Planning sheet posted on fb.
getting the clearance to drive/ride again last month, I’ve now completed the 2017 1KC, the 2020 1KC and the 2017 NI1600, as conditioning rides. Failing to complete the two 2017 rides, (where the clutch failed due to too much carpark slow stuff on the 1KC and not being attentive to the small stuff caused issues on the 1600) and these have been gnawing at me a bit.
Well, that all done now with completion of the 2017 NI1600 ride on the weekend, but, I couldn’t settle for just doing the 1600km because otherwise there are a few ‘knockers’ and those that ‘like to find fault as if there’s a reward for it’ out there and the 2017 event produced the worst weather conditions of any NZDR rides wince we started them in 2014. Well, you know how it is! They would be saying, “Yes, but you didn’t ride in 20hrs of rain like the real riders!!”, so I needed a point of difference to up the ante.
Now, I hate riding on wet roads on my 300+Kg ST with no traction control, so that wasn’t going to happen and to up the difficulty factor, I added Kms ….400 of them, to make the ride 2,000km in 24 hours by starting and finishing from home in Wellington and joining the route at the Kai Iwi checkpoint, then riding the route as it was set, but just doing the legs in different order.
Well ….It was the best of rides, it was the worst of rides….
I spent a bit of time on planning and setting up this ride as I’ve been a bit slack on that stuff in recent times. That included sorting a route and the order of legs (this ride had four out-and-return legs from Turangi), sorting fuel stops, establishing fast and slow target times to be able to monitor progress on the fly, getting the route into the GPS (which it wouldn’t co-operate so I had to drop the CP’s, then enter it manually), setting up the Spotwalla Tracking, getting in provisions of water, nutbars and bananas, packing some gear in case I needed to pull, as well as the normal stuff. At first I was thinking of an 0800 start, but in the end, I decided to go, depending on when I awoke, so I printed a couple of timing sheets to put on the tank. …Oh yes, and I’d been monitoring the Rain Radar and did defer to the day of my choice!
As it turned out, I awoke at 0300, lay there for a bit, then thought, “Bugger it! I’m not going to get any more sleep!” so a dragged myself out of the pit, scrubbed, snacked and was ready to go at 0400, which was jolly convenient because one of the printed sheets just happened to be 0400. (NB. The bike clock is running about 10-12 mins fast and times are taken from the GPS Tracklog)
I should mention that I intended to apply for an IBA SaddleSore2000 status on this one, so that meant I needed to have the Spotwalla working and faff around with things like pre & post-ride fuel and receipts, etc. etc.
So, the ride ….5mins to J’ville, the 7mins at the pump (It seemed slower than paying across the counter), then the tedious 200km crawl up SH1 and across SH3 through Whanganui to Kai Iwi. It was dark when I left and I don’t recall when it got light but being SH1, it didn’t seem like any of it was dark. There were a couple of bursts through here, but generally a steady pace with little traffic resulted in arriving at 0610 with a Moving Avg of 103kph. Temps were generally 12º-14º, so after taking the pic and scoffing a banana, I had to relieve the pent-up tension resulting from the ‘cold-sqeeze! I say cold-squeeze, but perhaps it just an age thing, but it’s a bloody nuisance and resulted in a tardy 3min stop. Oh yes, and then there was the Spotwalla thing with the phone! I had it in the camera bag hooked up to a power pack, because if the phone isn’t on charge, it thinks it knows best and manages your Aps for you. ie it shuts them down to conserve power. Well the bloody charging cord has disconnected, so I plugged that in and stuck the combo in my jacket pocket.
Now I was on the 2017 route and the fun could begin in earnest, but my riding on this leg was very average as I struggled to find a rhythm and I put this down to telling myself, “you need as ride as fast and efficiently as possible!” Yes well ….when riding a heavy beast like an ST through curly stuff and/or fast, just isn’t efficient, so I found myself at odds with myself, because the key to efficient is getting it up to pace and holding that pace. Therefore I was finding myself overcooking into corners, resulting in heavier braking than required, resulting in crappy lines, resulting in nasty internal memos and hitting reset ….then rinse and repeat! Eventually I woke-up and asked myself, “did I wasn’t to ride fast, or efficient” and the answer was “Yes!!” Well …at least that was enough for one of the voices to chip in, “Sort your shit out!!” and we got on with it. (between the music tracks, there are quite a few us chatting away in there). Well, the result was a tardy 97kph average for the 80Km from the outskirts of Whanganui to Raetihi, but average for the 184Km leg to Z Turangi was 104kph, despite the fog, or low cloud, or whatever it was …and it was cold ….and you know what that means!
So, I was stopped at the pay-at-pump pump by 0800, jiggling about as I faffed around with the transaction, filled, logged the fill, pushed the button on the Bubbler to send the Spotwalla track thingy, then danced to the dunny. Oh, the relief! Then I returned to the bike for another banana ….and a nut bar ….and a swig of water and all in all, wasted 12.5mins on the stop! Alrighty then, Ngaroma, here we come!
So, I pulled out and the scoot up the Western Lake was quite brisk, or ‘spirited’ if you prefer, then the road through the forested area by the Waipapa Dam is always a treat, and I was soon on the goat-track that threads across to Te Kuiti from there. But it’s a very nice goat-track, which has a blend of marked and unmarked (narrow lane) sections, but it generally has a good surface and one can still make good progress whilst exercising reasonable care. So in the end, the 129Km leg to the Ngaroma Hall (and that’s all there is in Ngaroma) took 1hr 15min for a 103 avg. Of course, maintaining this good average pace isn’t much good when you’re riding with a dog-with-dysentry and you have to make tardy 3min photostops! …although, to be fair, there was the drama with logging the point on the phone ….and nutritioning oneself …and hydrating!
The next leg was a shorty of only 53.5Km to a Farm Sign at Otohina and this now reflected the none-highway road, with an 86Kph average, but at least the stop was only a minute this time before I was on my way to the next CP at the Rangitoto Hall, only 10Km down the road at a 79 average, but the dysentry-dog turned up again as well to stretch that pause to 2mins ….and now I would enjoy a good romp to Awakino.
I must say that from Turangi, I had been riding back in the groove and although my pace through Nagaroma to Te Kuiti wasn’t fast, it was smooth and the Awakino Gorge was the usual real treat. So the 87Km from the Rangitoto Hall to the Awakino Pub was done at 91kph, but that included a 2min pause at the stop-go lights in the gorge. As I approached the road works at the start of the gorge, I was in a bit of day-dream and having not taken notice if the signs, I actually found myself airborne where the road dropped away at the entry to a work area. Fortunately it wasn’t gravel, but it certainly wasn’t like landing a jump on the old XL250. Then coming to the lights, I filtered to the front and when the I got the green light, I had a clear run through to the pub …..Bloody Marvelous it was! Just bloody marvelous!
Heading back through the gorge wasn’t so good as there was much more traffic heading North, so I encountered and overtook quite a few vehicles coming back, then filtered past a huge queue at the lights (which were just before the tunnel, so pretty much at the Northern end of the gorge), but I wasn’t stopped long before they changed and I was out of there.
This return to Turangi had me cutting through Aria to SH4 and a fuel stop at BP Taumarunui and I had done that because of all the twisty stuff on this leg, so it had me refueling short at 396Km, but then putting 98 octane in for the next fuel leg which was generally 440Km of State Highway riding. So, I pulled into Taumarunui at 1239, having done the 114Km from Awakino at 92kph and that was quite good considering the traffic through the gorge, the goat-track road through Aria, although, once again, it’s quite a good goat-track. Then once again, I had a pretty casual 9min stop, doing all the hydration and snacky stuff, texting home, Spotwallaring and so on. I was now 780Km into the ride, having been on the road for 8:36 with an Overall Avg of 91kph and I was pretty happy with that, as it was basically a sub-18Hr pace for the 1600 and I was well ahead of my targeted schedule.
I finished off the loop back to the Turangi hub doing the 66Km at 97, paused by the pumps for a minute45sec to do the photo/Spotty/Texty stuff, then I was off to Rotorua. Yukky SH1 traffic on roads with newly lowered limits and lots of double-yellows! I still made quite good progress though, doing the 133Km to the Skyline Centre at 91kph, taking 3mins on this occasion to document the stop. Next CP was Karapiro Mobil.
This was another short (70Km) leg through lots of traffic, but managed that at 96kph, took another 3mins on the stop, then returned the way I came before cutting down to Puketurua (out of Putaruru) for an even shorter 27Km leg, at 98kph …and another 3min stop, then finished the loop back to Turangi with a 141Km fang along Old Taupo Rd, then down via Whakamaru and the Western Lake Rd again, but managing to lift the pace to 106kph.
I was now 1219Km into the ride having been on the road for 13Hrs 29min, (90kph OA), so still on the 18Hr 1600-pace, but of course, a very relaxed 13min stopped pulled the OA back to 89, but I was still feeling very good. I seemed to make better progress back through to Taupo this time and had an easy ride over the Napier-Taupo Rd, to arrive at BP Bay View (174Km) at an avg of 100kph, but it was bare minimum, so only stopped for 2min before embarking on the Gentle Annie, back to Turangi for the last time.
It was around this time that I realized that I hadn’t planned this too well on the leg order, as I was now expecting quite bad sun-strike on this leg, but when I did the planning, I was expecting to ride it at night off a much later start. However, as it turned out, between clouds, trees and hillsides, I only had to lift my hand to my eyes a couple of times, so I made the 117Km to the next CP at the disused Suspension Bridge over the Rangitikei River at 93kph, took 2mins for the stop, then finished off the last 115Km back to Turangi at 100kph.
I was now sitting on 1625Km for the trip, so had completed the 1600 in 17:58 and pretty much all in daylight as it had only got dark a bit before I got back to SH1. I was feeling pretty good for having done the 1600, but I had had enough and wasn’t looking forward to the grind back down the Para’s, then home via SH1, so I took my time on a 10min stop, putting on my wets jacket (for an extra warmth layer, as it was down to 10º), and swapped the summer gloves for the full winter ones (I also carry mid-weight gloves).
I had two CP’s to go, with one at the Upok’ Pub (to force the ride down the Paras), then one at he Rangitikei River Bridge by Halcombe, but that one was in anticipation of needing some extra Km to bring the ride up to 2,000Km and as I seemed to be ahead on the Km, I was looking to drop that off and perhaps just extend the ride a few Km by riding to the train station when getting back into Wgtn.
I had about 370Km to go and departed Turangi at 2209, did the 160Km to Upukongaro at 94kph, had a 2min stop, then completed the last leg to home (via the Train Station) at 96kph (from Turangi) ….and that last leg was hard. I was pretty much on autopilot and coming down the Para’s was probably 5-10kph off the pace when going up in the morning. It was odd, because I didn’t exactly feel tired, but I was pretty shattered and I think not having done a lot of night riding didn’t help. Would it have been any different if I’d started at midnight and finished in daylight or dusk? ….I don’t know? ….But it certainly wasn’t enjoyable! I was just on a mission and had to finish, so I pushed on.
I arrived home at 0158 having done 2,006Km in 21Hrs 58min. OA of 91kph and Moving Avg of 99kph. Total stopped time of 1Hr 37min and considering the tardiness on the 17 stops, that would have added about 40+mins to the time over what I would normally do on one of these rides? I had a feed, scrubbed, felt marginally better and hit the sack!
I’d just hopped off the bike and staggered in, (forgetting to take an odo Pic) so in the morning, I had to retrieve all my gear, (camera, GPS, leftover supplies, etc. etc) and once I checked the Spotwalla, noted that there were sections where it had dropped out and it finished in Whanganui!!?? I’d also forgotten to get a few fuel receipts, so that finished the idea of an IBA recognition.
At last I could put the failure to complete in 2017 behind me. That brings the total of 1600Km rides to 15, with four of them exceeding 2,000Km. I’ve decided to not push myself and do the next ride on the programme, which was to be a 2660Km in 30Hrs, so we’ll see where I go from here??
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.