A few weeks ago I got a nudge on fb that some of my old mates from the ‘70’s were gathering at
Ohakea/Bulls for ANZAC day.
The Air Force is/was a classic place for nicknames, to the point that one often didn’t know the real name of close friends and on more than one occasion, I recall turning up at home with mates and saying, “Hi mum, this is …..??...... TK!!” So I get this message, “Greek, there’s a bit of a Ohakea get together this coming ANZAC day in Bulls. It would be a good ride from where you are. Just saying.....” and that led on to, “Yep it’s Punjab !!! There’s about 20 or more of us gathering in Bulls for ANZAC day this year. I can give you some names, Pedro, Bob and Nuts, Cookie, Gerrie, Snow, Lee Parts, Taiters,” …and so on. “We will be settling in the day before then off to the Dawn parade next day, most of us are there for a day or two more. (Probably recovering) There is rumour of a tour on base and maybe a couple of quiet ones at the Sgts Mess It would be nice if you can turn up but no pressure. It’s a bit of an Ohakea reunion.”
I looked at the names and thought, “Bloody hell, could be dangerous, ….. I’m a bit busy but how could I not.”
I did 20 years service, ended up in Wellington, exited in 1993 and stayed here. Shelly Bay closed down a couple of years later and from that point I had very little contact with any of the old mates. In fact, I’ve only been back on two bases since then to attend an Avionics Reunion in Auckland about 20 years ago, then for the Ohakea Air Show in April 2012. I mean, I have caught up with mates from time to time, but just not that often.
So I figured I really should make the effort. A week ago I dropped the bike in for a service and was planning to take that, possibly even leaving early enough (0430’ish) to make the Dawn Parade, but as it transpired, I needed a new rear tyre (mumble f…. after only 6500km ….although that did include two fairly spirited 1600km rides). Anyway, Easter delayed the order, then shonky couriers that took three days to provide an overnight delivery meant that I didn’t have the bike and had to take the Merc.
The other problem I had was that I’d left the mobile on the counter at the bike shop and told them to put it in the top box (expecting to get it back the next day) so I never had it. Punjab had given me her number so I could contact her to find out where I needed to go once I got there and I wrote her number down on an old envelope (as you do) …..and I forgot to grab it with my stuff, so I get to Bulls about 0800, go to the RSA and find nobody there, go back to the car to get Ann’s mobile and the number ….and find out what an idiot I am!!
After a bit of faffing around (because I couldn’t ring Ann since I had her phone) I eventually get the number and get hold of the group to find they have just gone on base, so I make my way there.
I finally catch up with them and as I’m walking up to the group I comment, “Bloody hell, I came to meet up with my old mates, but all I see is their grandparents!!” to which a dry response comes back, “Go look in the mirror.”
The rest of the day was great. We watched a couple of relics and a few trainers take-off, went for a wee drive around base, had a couple of photo-ops, then settled down in the Sgts Mess to reminisce.
I’d run into Pedro on a TT2000 about 8-10 years ago, Fish when I was on a Uly ride about 13 years ago, Dawn around the time I got out (25 yrs) but the rest I hadn’t seen since before my eldest son was born, so that’s over 40 years. That’s a bit scary really.
The other very Kiwi thing is how small the country is. I asked Gerry where she was living and she said, Nelson and that she’d been working at the Alliance Works. I said, “One of my boys had been working there.” And quick as flash she replied, “Lance is your boy? I thought he looked a bit like you. …wait till I see him” she says. Then talking to Taiters, who has been living in Taumarunui and I mentioned how we had been stopping there to visit a couple of young boys with Muscular Dystrophy on our Uly MDA run. Turned out that she was good mates with their mum and that both boys were now deceased. Bloody sad to hear, but it’s so 2 degrees to be Kiwi.
I didn’t drink at all because I figured if I had one, who knows how I’d end up and I had to drive back to Wellington, so we finished the day (or at least my part) with a visit to the scrub under the Bulls Bridge, where, back in the day, we used to go for ‘bridge parties’, then headed back to their motel. Bridge parties used to involve drinking until closing at the ‘Baggies bar’ then cruising down to the river and lighting a bonfire under the bridge to continue partying until breakfast. On occasion, the fire has been known to get so big that the tar in the seal on the bridge was melting!! It wasn’t exactly approved behavior at the time but wouldn’t be PC nowadays and no doubt some minority group or other dickhead would be up in arms, but such was life in the ‘70’s! …but it wasn’t any worse than a group of officers at the time, dragging a piano down from their mess and throwing it off the bridge! …probably because it was out of tune. I think they called that high-spirits.
After chilling (literally) at the motel for a bit, I headed off at about 1730.
Many thanks for the nudge Eileen! ….sorry, …Punjab! What a great catchup.
Todays ride was a Clayton’s Ride up SH2 to Mangatainoka …that’s the ride you have up SH2 when you’re not riding up SH2, or in other words, taking as many side roads along the way, to minimize the actual time spent on SH2.
We had eight bikes leave Brown Owl, I had a pretty clean ride over the hill, catching cars at opportune times to make good progress and we were joined by John Medlin in Featherston.
From there we stayed on SH2 to Tauherenikau, taking Moroa Rd (Gravel …although hard-pack with distinct, clean wheel tracks …so even the ST maintained 80kph across it) & Bidwells Cutting Rd, coming back to SH2 at the Southern end of Greytown. We puttered through Greytown and once across the Waiohine River, we took Matarawa Rd to Watersons Line; Thomas Rd; Brookly Rd; Mannings Rd; Belvedere Rd, Cobden Rd; Haringa Rd; Magatarere Valley Rd; Chester Rd and Norfolk Rd to run along the Western Side of Carterton and emerge back on SH2 just before the Waingawa River and Masterton.
Having crossed the river, we were straight back off SH2 on Ngamutawa Rd to get to the Loopline, another Km on SH2 and then onto the delightful Mauriceville Rd to Kaiparoro and rather than taking Falkners Rd, we kept left on Opaki-Kaiparoro Rd in order to get back to SH2 and cross straight over to South Rd No2.
South Rd is quite pleasant riding but it tends to be a ‘road less travelled’ and it’s been some years since I’ve been along these roads so it was quite nice to get back on them. Mangaroa Rd turns to gravel though, which continues for 5-6km along Mangaraupiu Rd and I have known this to be relatively clean and quick, or freshly laid thick stuff and today was somewhere in between.
I found the road to be a bit like riding along a hump, with no clean wheel ruts, but the gravel appeared to be thinner along the centre, where the inside wheels from cars going both ways had tended to sit. The problem was that as soon as the big radials on the ST drifted of that apex, they felt like they wanted to drift down through the thicker stuff and who knows where to. I hate that feeling!! I ended up shuffling as far forward and onto the tank as I could to get more weight on the front and just hammered it!! ….averaging 55kph through here. ….Bloody pussy! ….did I say how I don’t enjoy gravel on the ST …and guess who planned this ride!
It was all over in a few minutes though and we were soon scooting along Kakariki, Doughertys, Pukewai & Mangamaire Rds to Bridge St, the Scarborough Rd took us to the Track road and into Pahiatua, where we crossed SH2 to finish the ride on the Eastern side of SH2, getting to the Tui Brewery before 1230.
We went in, only to find there was a 45 minute wait for food! I don’t know what’s wrong with that place because it wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams and this is the second time I’ve experienced big waits here. I suppose 45 minutes isn’t that long but when one has been in Ulysses for a few years, they get a sense of entitlement and a somewhat curmudgeonly demeanor …and as old farts we haven’t got 45 minutes to waste ….so we continued on to Woodville for lunch.
In keeping with the ride, we took Troup Rd once we’d crossed the Manawatu River and slipped into Woodville from the Hawkes Bay side, then had problems finding a decent place to eat because I hadn’t stopped there for so long.
We got away from Woodville at around 1400, most of the group still together and I was home just after 1600 (177Km) and 397Km for the day. I had the thermal liner back in the jacket so it was a cosy ride and quite pleasant.
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.