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.
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.