Wow, doesn't time fly when you're spending it above ground!!
It's been a year (end of July) since they embedded my very own defibrillator / pacemaker thingy in my chest ( https://longjohnbiker.weebly.com/blog/is-johhnie-walker-the-phantom ) and next week a year ago was when I went in for the TOE procedure (shifty scope down the throat) ( https://longjohnbiker.weebly.com/blog/being-johhnie-walker-wk13 ), which led to the puncture repair procedure and subsequent clearance to drive/ride again.
Well, a year on and I've done a heap of motorbicycling long rides, had a trip to Queenstown with Ann and started to prep for this year's North Island 1600 & 800 events, as well as the planning for the 1KC (1,000 Km Cruise) rides, however, the weather hasn't been that friendly and now we find ourselves back in a Covid lockdown for 3 days ....which is sure to be pushed to the next 4-6 weeks!!
So after my first prep ride at the beginning of the month, last week (Saturday), I got back on the pushbike and rode to Eastborne and back (about 50Km in just over 2 hrs) and that brought back all the memories from last year, then on Sunday, I joined the Wgtn Ulys for a ride to Ngawi (but I didn't wear a fox hat) and that was good.
It was a rather fresh (3 degrees) but splendid, cloudless, windless day. It was a massive surprise to turn up and find there were 17 bikes on the ride, because in recent times it has been more common to only get 2 or 3. Once getting to Featherston, I settled in near the tail of the ride for the scoot down the Western Access, across to Pirinoa and along the coast, providing a taillight for the more relaxed riders to follow.
It was a bit of a surprise to find that, apart form a short section of road works,the road is now sealed all the way, including the entry into Ngawi ...and the pink bulldozer has gone!!
After a bit of a pause, we returned and this time I opted for the middle of the field, pausing to let oncoming cars come over the one way bridges in order to create space between myself and Richard ahead of me, but alas, we were back on his tail a few corners into the curly section. I then paused again at Lake Ferry Rd to provide a lead for the relaxed riders and head to lunch in Martinborough. Wow, that was humming, but I enjoyed a coffee and eventually, another good fang over the hill to get home. The ride was about 290Km.
This week (Wed) we were plunged back into lockdown and it has thrust me back to the no-riding days of last year, so yesterday, I pedalled the 3Km to the office, then back again and this morning, decided to go for a pedal around the Ngaio and Khandallah hills. That was about 15km, but harder work than last week and took about 45 mins. It started out fresh, but sunny, but by the end it had clouded over and has since drizzled ....so it feels like Johhnie Walker is back!
But she'll be right. Apart from needing to shed a few Kgs again, life is good! Or at least it will be if any gummint imposed restrictions don't impinge on our October and November events!!??
I went for a ride last Sunday with the Ulys. It was a rather tedious affair being a 'local' round-the-bays jobby, but the big rain during the week before meant the road through Ohariu Valley had been closed for repairs, so much of the short ride was through town traffic ....namely amidst numpties that haven't got a clue, not to mention that the nice day brought many of the locals out and we had to bail from lunching at 'The Bach' in Island Bay, then the 'Chocolate Fish, at Shelly Bay, because there were no tables and/or big queues.
I had not5hing scheduled for today, dropped Ann at work, went to the gym, then just decided, 'Bugger it, I need a decent ride, so with no plan or planning, I went home, geared up and hit the road, departing just before 1000, then filling at the Caltex on Hutt Rd ....and while making my way there, quite a few plans came to mind .....but it kept changing! ....and I just kept riding and listening to the music!
After puttering along along SH2 through the Hutt , I found myself on the hill with light traffic and enjoyed a good fang up to the summit, where some chap on the side of the road appeared to take a photo as I was cranking through the bend. (Wouldn't mind seeing that, but that's not going to happen as I was in the groove and not in a frame of mind to stop).
Shortly after the top, I caught a chap on the sprotty, behind a queue of cars. That was interesting because he wasn't as assertive as some, but he did pass eventually, then we has a short burst where i found it easy to keep up as he seemed to be entering the corners a bit early. I was hoping that me being there wouldn't push him to overcook worse, so once we got to the next car, when he was over to the left, I went past, then cleared the rest of the cars, only to have to stop in Featherston. *Sigh*, the affect of age on the prostate ain't much fun, because the cold squeeze, combined with drinking a litre of water at the gym, left me with an urge ....b ut I felt better after the pause!
From there it was up to Masterton, as I'd decided to sample Route 52 up to Alfredton, then go back to SH2 via Tane-Pahiatua, but in the end, as I rolled into Alfredton, I decided to stay on Route 52 up to Weber, then as I approached Pongaroa, thought, 'Bugger it, might as well go all the way!'
Route 52 is a bit of a mixed bag at present, with the usual smattering of grit along the way, a large flock of sheep being herded towards me, patches that hadn't seen any sun (all winter probably) so care needed to be taken on the wet and green seal, then roadworks prior to Pongaroa, then more road works between Weber and Wimbledon. It was still a good ride though.
So, after a mix of fang, pootle and careful riding and I was approaching Porangahau, I thought I should put home into the GPS to start getting an ETA and was surprised to see that it was after 5pm! (1709 in fact) (and I had to pick Ann up from work at 5!!). I was a bit surprised at this as it was only a bit after 1330 and although I figured I had plenty of time, I didn't want to push the envelope, so I flicked into full GC mode, gave the first couple of directed turns a miss (to avoid gravel and/or tighter roads), took the cut across to Takapau to bypass Waipuk' and by the time I got to Dannevirke (about 80km later & 1420), my ETA was down to 1653.
With the curly roads and heightened pace, I figured I would be on the fringe of whether or not I'd get back to Wellington on the tank, so here was the best place to fill, but I wasn't that impressed when I spotted the $2.60 price tag on the 98 as I was filling! Then I got inside, 3rd in the queue, but instantly elevated to 2nd as one finished paying ....then waited ....and waited ....and waited! FFS, what should have been a 4-5min fill took closer to 10mins and the ETA was back out to 1703, so I didn't dally about from here on in.
Next check was Woodville and as I turned left at the entry to town, I was surprised to see the GPS ETA bang out another few minutes, then realised it had wanted to take me over the Saddle and home via SH1. Well that wasn't going to happen, so it gradually kept edging out to 1718 until just before Eketahuna, before finally relenting and accepting that home was to be via SH2.
More assertive riding saw me drift through moderate traffic until Featherston, where I encountered a solid queue, so slipped into filtering mode, cleared that for a good start on the hill, then saw a bloody great logging truck and trailer with another big queue, complete with four adventure bikes!
I wasn't very optimistic about behind, or should I say, getting past other bikes in heavy traffic, but luckily, they were pretty social, then inadvertently, left a clear space on the right of the lane, so I didn't linger, was past them before they realised, then quickly made my way up to the truck .
I had to sit there for a bit at 20-35kph (5mins in fact), because he was so wide and so long and I didn't get past until he got room to pull into a big slow bay after half-way up ....then I was off! Well that was bloody marvelous, because nothing had got past him since near the bottom, so I had a clear run, in daylight, to the top and didn't catch any cars until a half dozen corners from the bottom, so I'm not sure how much time I might have lost before I passed the truck, but ended up with another 3 mins off the ETA by the time I was coming into Kaitoke, with an 11 minute buffer to get home and in the car for the 10 minute trip to town. It was tight!
So more assertive riding,a bit of lick with most of the lights and I finally pulled into home at 1640, had time to get more relief, strip off the bike gear and get in the car ...and that was my day!
I usually start conditioning with State Highway riding to harden up the butt, so this was different, where I started relaxed and cruisy, then had to finish in full GC mode in order to not get told off. (although there was also an issue of not submitting the ride plan prior to departure ....because there wasn't one).
I was quite happy with the riding and progress, but at times did find my lines weren't quite right, so a bit more general riding and conditioning will be needed for the NI1600 in October, not to mention a heap of night riding this year to see if I can get the brain and eyes back in synch.
I ended up doing 548Km with a moving average of 90kph for the day and overall average of 82kph (having 35 mins of stopped time along the way), so that was pretty good for that road and the conditions ....but I was a little naughty on the way home!
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.