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?
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??
The TT2000 was this weekend, which was a ride incepted in 2009 by Mike Hyde, who wrote the Twisting Throttle Books and hence TT. The 2000 is because it is 2000 Km in 48 hours …or at least, it is for most. The ride concept / details are usually released around July for the February ride and in the current format (it has morphed through a few variants over the years) riders are given a cluster of compulsory checkpoints which they can collect in any order, plus there are 4 ‘Mystery’ checkpoints (one is given a photo to work out what and where), then there are optional ‘Flyers’ in the general location of the checkpoints, plus ‘Adventure Flyers’ (ie gravel road access for those who like to lurk on the darkside!) I should mention that Mike died a few years ago and fortunately Wayne Poll and a few others have kept the ride going ….and I might add that the organization of this ride way exceeds what we have to do for the NZ Distance Riders rides.
When I saw this year’s options I was quite interested because the ride was in the North Island (in the past it has had optional sections in the North, or in 2018 one could opt for a North or South total route). I should also mention that just getting the compulsory CP’s doesn’t accumulate enough points, or enough km to qualify for the ‘badge’. Anyway, it struck me that this ride could probably be done in 24 hrs: a) because it was in the North Island and I was sort of familiar with most of the roads and b) because I knew where three of the Mysteries were and they were on the route, so all I would need to do was run up a few extra km on an unmonitored quick road.
From there I did nothing as I was a bit preoccupied with other things but the concept and a plan was lurking in the back of my mind, then after Christmas I had a good look, formulated a route, changed it, then invited one or two like-minded souls to join me. ….well I thought they were like-minded but all I got in response was, “You’re mad!!” So much for thinking people are friends! Although to be fair, the main reason the invites went out was because someone who has a bit of a say in what I do ‘demanded’ that I be accompanied! FFS, when I responded that I was and there were another 160 riders doing it, apparently that wasn’t good enough!! *Sigh* … It took some convincing, but in the end, I was granted leave!
I should mention here that on past TT2000 rides I have done, I could put in up to 40 hours of prep work, fine tuning the route and CP options, identifying CP’s that could be dropped if we were slipping behind schedule and trying to allow for all sorts of contingencies. This year there was very little of that …..because I’m just a dickhead!!!
The extent of provisioning and prep was: 1) to see if the organisers would allow my plan, (it certainly wasn’t encouraged, but you could sort of sense the sigh and the thoughts of “oh bloody hell, one of those” running though their minds, 2) get the bike serviced for it’s 132,000km check, 3) print a booklet of the CP’s, scale the route schedule to the requirements of a 24 hour tie frame and drop the route to the GPS …oh yes and liaise with Chris Wiltshire to work through some issues I was having with Spotwalla and this was important as it would mean I could apply for an IBA 2000 Km in 24 Hrs Saddlesore.
During the ride I recalled an old saying that went, “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail!” Yes well more on that as we go.
Thursday night rolled up and the forecast was generally good, the bike was prepped and clean, a bag was packed (on the pretense that I could then stop if I needed to). I had a supply of water, nut bars and bobby-bananas, wets, which I wouldn’t need, and all the other crap that one carries when they get into this type of riding.
Friday morning and I was on the road by 0800, headed up to Ashhurst, filled at the Mobil there at 0945, then went to the start/finish at the pub to register. I then remembered to reset the odo’s on the bike and GPS, take a photo of the bike mileage, then loiter about meeting riders I knew etc until the briefing at 1145, then grabbed my T-Shirt (CP photos need to have the T-Shirt in them as this means they can only be recorded after the start), then I was one of the first riders away, which was a good thing as I was opting for an anti-clockwise route which meant my start would take me over the Saddle and it’s bad enough passing cars over there but nothing worse than trying to pass bikes …that aren’t passing cars. So I was off to a cracking start!
I guess I forgot to mention that this ride involved 20 photo stops and 5 fuel stops, with my plan allowing for a generous 2 minutes per photo and 10 minutes for fuel, which equates to 1½ hours of stopped time. Now I have managed to get photo stops down to 45 seconds and fuel down to 4 minutes, so there is potential to save up to 45 minutes in the stops, ….however, it is easier to take longer than the provisioned times, or need extra unplanned-for stops that chew time on the road,. Another thing I did for this ride was tape the ride schedule to the tank so I could easily identify the CP’s as well as check my distance, fuel and compare my progress to the schedule So I needed the cracking start.
Anyway, I scooted over the Saddle (sometimes within the limit) bypassed Woodville, flicked off at Mangatainoka (the home of Tui Beer), skipped across to Kaitawa Rd …only to find it was closed (Roadworks) (FFS?). There are certain roads in this area that I know very well and quite a few that I’ve never, ever been on and Mangaramarama Rd was one of these, but I took a punt that it might link across to Hamua Rd, but alas, this is Tui country so that was a big “Yeah Right!, it was a dead-end and I just wasted 5Km! ….(double FFS!!!). There were bikes stopped at the closure when I got back and sprinted in to Pahiatua to head South to Hamua Rd and I found it odd that a couple of the Masterton boys were on SH2 (but they must have known about the closure, I passed them with several other bikes in tow and took Hamua-Rongomai Rd to get to the other end of Mangaone Rd, which would have me back on track to Alfredton, via Pa Valley Rd, then I was surprised to see the others continue straight ahead on Tawatai Rd! That’s Gravel! …but they were on adventure bikes ….bloody darksiders just saved themselves 6.5Km! Meanwhile I galloped through to Alfredton and on to the CP, pulling in from the North as the dirty dogs pulled in from the south ….must have been slow gravel?? Oh yes, and Pa Valley Rd had a section with a good sprinkling of dust and grit. I came onto it at pace, misread the dusty surface and experienced a massive slide on the front wheel as the whole bike started to drop to the right. I had corrected on the front as the back wheel started to slide, then it stopped sliding and turned into a high-side …but fortunately the correction to the front wheel had started to correct and it had just enough momentum to bring it back upright and back on track! Biker Hail Mary’s were uttered!
I pulled my T-Shirt and camera out, stuck the T on the tank stepped back, the T blew off the tank, I picked it up, positioned it again, took the pic, then had to pull the phone to force a point on the Spotwalla track as it only samples every five minutes and this was an out-&-return point, then finally got back on the road …using all of my 2 minutes!!
My plan originally had me collecting this pic, then going out the same way to SH2 to go to Dannevirke, then into Weber for the next CP. This was because I needed extra Km on the ride and knew that I could collect extra Km whilst making better average time (even within the limits), so whilst taking the diversion I had considered whether to now take Route 52 via Pongaroa instead and that is what I did. The other thing that happened at this time is that the GPS had fixated on some phantom, missed via point, so I had to stop the route and reset it, only to find that the Weber CP had fallen off the route!! Bugger Me! I added it and got on with the job …all on the fly.
I caught three other riders through here considered that we were hammering along at a good pace, but shit it was hard work and I didn’t really need that with another 23 hours to ride. Initially I was riding the rut to avoid the abundance of loose grit, then as the temp got up to 29º, I found myself riding the hump to avoid the glistening ruts. I passed the other riders before Pongaroa then lost them after that, thinking they must have stopped there, but then I encountered them again when they caught me at a stop-go for Road Works!
We scooted through to Weber to find the Renshaw boys already there, I fumbled around three times with the T this time, did the phone thing again, then was surprised to see all the other riders had opted to head back out to Dannevirke rather than opt for Route 52. Damn that would have been hard work to make good progress in this heat and I was operating to a strict time frame.
I caught the other three, we passed the Renshaw boys and mate, then I lost the others as we approached Dannevirke and I took Tipapakuku Rd to bypass Dannevirke. From there I was extremely happy with my choice to come back to SH2 because I was clipping along at a little over the allowable limits, but it was very relaxed and easy riding. …and then I discovered that the Waipawa CP wasn’t on the GPS route either!! …so I added it. (Fortunately I had downloaded the whole GBD file including every CP, so these CP’s were coming up at the top of the list, being the closest to my current position, in the ‘favourites’).
I pulled into the Waipawa CP to find Roger & Bee Allen taking a snack stop in the shade, so I took my pic (without issues) then had a short chat (using all of my allotted 2 minutes), then carried on. Next stop was the first Mystery CP, being allotted the nomenclature of Mystery #4. Obviously the producers of the route were ‘Clockwisers’ and I was going the wrong way. Interesting that I was asked before the start which way I was going, to which I replied, “Anti” and the response to that was, “That figures!” Now what the hell does that mean?
Anyways, Christ Church appeared to be hosting a wedding or the likes at the time so that was almost convenient and I didn’t even cross the road to get close, just hopped off, placed the T, snapped the pic and lit out for Bay View.
Once again (this is looking bad isn’t it) BP Bay View was scheduled as my first fuel stop (to get the 98 octane and AA fuel discount) while Mobil Bay View was the CP ….but it wasn’t coming up on the GPS!! No worries, I pretty much knew them off by heart…and I had the list on the tank …but it would get dark later and the list wouldn’t do me much good then, would it?
So, bike fueled, my third or forth wee banana snacked, with a gooey nut bar this time (do you realise it’s almost impossible to buy a decent nut bar without chocolate on these days?), a natural break taken and probably well and truly past the 10 minute allocation, then it was 200 metres down the road for the CP pic, then it was on-on to the next Mystery, being the Lighthouse by the river in Wairoa.
It’s always nice riding through there so I continued to make good time and arrived to see Topher & Goose enjoying a snack, they departed as I was doing my thing with the T and another banana, and then I was surprised to catch them on the road. I say surprised because Topher is not a rider I’d like to try to keep up with when he is ‘on a mission’. As it was, I was happy to slot in behind them as they were almost on the same pace as I had been, however, he was more relaxed with the passing and in the end I felt I needed to keep on track to stay ahead of the schedule, so I passed them. Well, I passed Goose and I’m sure at that point Topher lifted the pace ever so slightly?? …now I couldn’t attest to that in court, but to support my claim, a quick check in the mirrors indicated that Goose had dropped back a tad!? Of course, perhaps he just forgot to speed up again after letting me pass?!
Anyway I lifted again, failing to keep those beautiful lines that topher does, …but managing to make good progress in my own poor form!
As I entered Gisborne I happened to notice that I had just ridden past the turnoff to the Te Araroa (East Cape) road and thought, “Hmmm, I’m sure I should have taken that road?” and a quick check revealed that sure enough, the GPS was taking me into town, for no particular reason, then onto Opotiki??? Another sigh sighed, a quick addition to the route and I had to ride through the Main St of Gisborne to get to Wainu Beach! It wouldn’t have been much, but more time lost!
This time I had to have a quick check of the booklet to ensure I was photographing the right thing, then Topher & Goose turned up as I was ready to leave. At this point I was about 550Km into the ride and about an hour ahead of schedule as it was closer to 1730 than the calculated 1830, and I was about to embark on the Waioeka Gorge and the temp was dropping from the 32º peak experienced earlier.
Now heading for Opotiki, I wasn’t passing much traffic, but there was a bit coming the other way and it wasn’t until he was right on me that I noticed a big white ute had some natty squares painted on it. Whew, he either didn’t have a device, or it wasn’t on, (probably didn’t have), then another 5 or 10Km down the road I spotted a car with similar markings. Now I did have the sun in my eyes at this point, but I’m sure he was giving me the evil-eye and possibly a finger shake, but he didn’t turn and pursue so I was obviously operating within the allowable limits aye?
The ride through there was quite good (thankfully with a dry road as lots of potential slick spots) and I had soon fueled at Caltex Opotiki, then taken the CP pic as I left town. On this occasion I had to check the booklet again as I pulled up beside a sign, then discovered I needed to take the ‘50Km Opotiki’ sign, but I was able to do that from where I had stopped. Next stop Maketu and my plan had taken me via Taneatua as this adds 5Km to the distance for about 2 minutes extra on the time.
Now prior to the ride, I had had discussion with other riders about the merits of the Taupo Turangi road (which has major roadworks) versus the Western Lake road and at this point I realised that Wai-o-Tapu (Sth of Rotorua) isn’t that far from Awakeri, and that perhaps this would be a better option as I could then drop straight to Turangi from Tirau. Problem at this point is how that would affect my fuel plan and timings and since I’d known about the road conditions prior to the event …I’d failed to plan for contingencies, so stuck to the plan I had!
The 116km trip from Opotiki to Maketu saw it transition from dusk to dark and with just a sliver of moon, it was to be a very dark night. (this section was scheduled as approx 2100 to 2200, but I was still about an hour ahead).
The Maketu CP was new territory for me and it had dunnys, so was rather convenient. I did my thing, put on a skivvy as I was starting to feel cold, in the ever so balmy 17º, and got back on the road to find the GPS was trying to get me to decide whether or not to take the toll road, so I selected yes to take it, but turned out I had selected yes to not take it. I wasn’t too fussed either way, but it probably would have been better to get straight on the Expressway. Tauranga didn’t pose any problems and then I had the 60’ish Km of double-yellows to Waihi and a bit more traffic than I was expecting, but that was probably partly due to me being ahead of schedule.
I enjoyed a good fang up to the next CP at Whangamata, then down 25A to the Mystery #2, the Bugger Café Tractor (I thought it was Bugger-It Café) on SH25 at Pipiroa.
From there it was on to my next fuel stop at BP Bombay and that was really odd because I was thinking it was a manned 24Hr jobby? Well it is, but via a window slot for fuel only, which was a bloody nuisance and at this point I did put the wet jacket on as the temp had dipped further.
The next CP was just down the road at Pukekohe and once again, I got to the CP ok, but then had issues getting out. I was supposed to do a loop, coming out on a different road, but the turn didn’t come up and I found myself heading off to NeverNever Land. I thought I should have been heading towards SH1, But I had no idea, so I turned around and headed back into Pukekohe, then I missed the turn to take me back to Bombay so went around the block, chewed up a bit more of my bonus time and eventually got back to the motorway and onto my next CP at Whatawhata.
I thought the Huntly Bypass had opened a few weeks ago but not so, and I was stuck in traffic due to lots of lane closures, so when I got through Huntly, I stayed on the (familiar) road to Ngaruawahia, through to te Kowhai and on to SH39. I was soon at the Whatawhata Rugby Club, then off to Tirau …the next right royal pain in my arse!
Nice easy riding through Hamilton, onto SH1, around Cambridge, through Karapiro and got to Tirau …only to find the Main Rd (ie SH1) was closed!! FFS you Double-Die Kiwi Bastards!! I didn’t have time for this so I slipped onto SH27 and headed East, with half an idea of where I was going?! What really pisses me off though is now that I have had time to look, I’m not totally sure but I did about 10Km up to Okaroire and back, whereas now I see that there was a street 200mtrs up the road that would have taken me across to the CP at the Fire Station! I don’t know if that was just another problem with the GPS, or perhaps that it hadn’t re-calculated the route after turning off and I was passed the turn, however, it should still have suggested a back track?! …or perhaps it was and just got lost I the blur of my mind?
I now needed to get to SH5 to get across to Rotorua, then down to Wai-o-tapu. Before the ride I had had a discussion with Topher, about the Taupo-Turangi Rd and made the decision to take the Western Lake, as that would buffer up my total Km mid-ride, rather than at the end, but it occurred to me whilst on the road that this could upset my fuel programme as I wasn’t totally sure how many Km I was adding (even though I was on a very conservative programme). I made a decision to pause by the BP on Fairy Springs Rd, where I was on about half a tank and thought, “I should have heaps” then carried on, but after grabbing the CP pic at Wai-o-tapu and as I approached Wairakei, I noted I was down to three bars, but hadn’t been monitoring the level close enough to know how far into the third bar I was, so I gave in and headed straight to Turangi.
The road wasn’t bad at all, with a a few sections of gravel, but there were two sets of stop-go lights and the first set was several minutes. Not what you want when you’re on a mission. Another issue that manifested at the first stop was for me to notice fumes rising out of the front of the bike and a bit of an odour that I didn’t recognise …but I wasn’t in a position to check it out so I continued, took the CP pic at the rest area as I entered Turangi, then headed to the Z for fuel. This is another 24 hr fuel stop that in the past has been open all hours, but now isn’t even manned!
Next stop, Awakino, so I was off over SH41 to Taumarunui, SH4 to Eight Mile Junction, then down SH3 to the Waitomo Garage at Awakino. I had now been up for over 20 hrs, this leg was taking me between 1400 and 1600km into a ‘spirited’ ride (not to mention the 150Km to get to the start) and I was starting to feel the affects of fatigue. Not what one wants so as I came into Pio Pio, I made the sensible decision to have an extended unscheduled stop.
I pulled into the dunnys which had a nice disabled/mothers restroom in the middle. I was therefore able to take the helmet and jacket off in order to put a 2nd skivvy on, as the temp had come down to 11º. It was also raining, though not very bad, which the forecasters had predicted, but I thought it was just local so I left the wet pants off and just changed to the winter gloves. I took the time to have a daily constitutional, then took a multi-vitamin tablet with water and a nut bar, jumped around a bit, which the trucky sitting across the road must have thought a bit strange and eventually felt pretty refreshed and continued on my way, feeling much better and prepared to attack the Awakino Gorge.
Yes, well, I had been advised about roadworks at the start of the gorge, but once again there were two lots of lights and more wasted time. I did end up behind a big truck but took an assertive approach and he didn’t bother me for long and I soon had the Awakino pic in the camera. It was now lightening up and next stop was Okato!
I was surprised to find that Mt Messenger has finally been resealed and has a good surface, I made my way through New Plymouth and in no time all had the Okato pic, but where I had expected to be coming out of the rain now, it was just getting worse. This was a real problem for me as I was relying on opening up the taps as I made my way around the Surf Highway, but now I had to take real care …you could say I was torn?!
In the end I decided that I was too close to the goal and I needed to throw caution to the wind. This did too things. It meant I was able to stay on track and preserve my time buffer, but probably more importantly, it required heightened focus that really did get rid of any more symptoms of the fatigue that was starting to creep back.
I took huge care to ride the hump to maintain the best traction possible and let the speed roll off if I thought it needed to and ….well I guess I’m still here to tell the tale, so all was good …and I made it to Manaia to get Mystery #1.
When I got to Hawera for my last fuel stop, I used the pay-at-pump option and couldn’t get a receipt, but figured I didn’t really need it anyway. I also finally put on the wet pants and changed back to the Summer gloves with Rain-Offs then continued the battle with the conditions and a bit more traffic to the last CP at Kowhai Park in Whanganui.
That done I was still only on 1900Km so I needed to burn some Km and started to think about the best option as I headed for Ashhurst. In actual fact, considering I had added a few Km in a couple of spots, I was actually close to target, so I must have been cutting a few corners, although Route 52 via Pongaroa would have slashed a few K off the total. In the end I opted to take Whanganui rd into Marton (rather than Makirikiri Rd to bypass it), then headed up to SH1 North of Marton before heading down to take the halcombe – Feilding – Colyton roads to Ashhurst.
When I got to Ashhurst the odo was reading 1990Km and the GPS was showing 1984Km, so I decided to head up the Pohangina Valley for 10Km to give me enough buffer to cover both readings, plus I’d forgotten to send a forced point on the out-&-return to Wainui Beach, so I went about 1Km past Pohangina Valley East Rd and stopped to plant a message/point on the phone …only to find the phone was dead! FFS! It was pissing down so I just hopped on the bike and headed back to the pub.
I got back to the pub at 1122, took the gloves off and grabbed a towel to dry the dash and the GPS, pulled the camera and photographed the odo and GPS Tripmeter, then went inside for some relief, after which I realised I needed to contact Ann to let her know all was well (in case she had been trying to contact me) and Wayne to advise I had finished and hadn’t just gone Awol.
The phone had been plugged into the bike power, in the topbox, for the whole ride and as it transpired, it had decided it didn’t want to be charged any more and (fortunately) it was dead flat rather than cooked (it had felt a bit warm). I then grabbed a power pack and went back into the pub to make the text and call. I was going to have a feed, but as I was dripping I decided to just get back on the bike and putter home!
I was back home by 1330, having done 2306Km all up and feeling a little shattered! I figured I was OK for the TT, but had lost my track for the Iron Butt, so I downloaded the photos and dropped them in the TT dropbox, then went to download my GPS tracklog ….only to find there wasn’t one!! That pissed me off more than anything as I usually refer to that for the blog and check stuff and hence a blog with now ride stats at all. …and that really finished the thoughts of qualifying for the Iron Butt saddlesore.
This would have to be the worst ride I’ve ever been on for issues, especially with the GPS combined with the most inconvenient road closures, but along with the lack of options due to lack of planning was just dumb!
I nodded off on the couch a few times before finally going to bed and now my wife is telling me I should have listened, not gone on the ride alone and although I can say, “I knocked the bastard off!” there’s certainly some merit in enjoying doing it over two days, at a comfortable pace, with stops and meals, and drinks, and telling lies over a beer with like-minded mates at the end, but hey, although maybe I shouldn’t have got out of bed for this one, “I did knock the Bastard off!” That’s three 2,000+Km rides I’ve done now and takes my 1600km ride tally to 14. I’m still anti, an arsehole and certifiable!
Some fool came up with the idea of riding both the 800Km & 1600Km rides this year and calling it a Double-Badger! …and some other fools bought into it!! For myself, someone known to be a bit psychotic at the best times, someone who tends to enjoy operating on the fringe, someone blessed to have several ‘internal’ friends …..yes well …this idea sparked a bit of a discussion along the lines of …. Oooh mate, that’s great, you can turn up and flip one way or the other depending on the weather!…bloody great idea! ….ride most of the 1600 in daylight! …pick a nice day and start when you want!! Yeah, yeah, yeah! (Perhaps I should mention here that this idea played into my hands because although I had all these secret thoughts and discussions between me and my internal mates, in the end I had the perfect excuse, “I had to ride the 800 so I could do CP Marshal duty for the 1600). ….*Sigh* …..yes well, some people never learn.
I suppose I should also mention that, as it turned out, this year’s 1600 riders enjoyed a pleasant start to the ride, then rode though a God-Damned-Awful wet front as it slowly worked it’s way up the island through the night and all turned up at our Taihape checkpoint looking like drowned cats …. and did that put a smile on my face?? …you bet (‘cos as well as being marginally psychotic, I’m a fully fledged arsehole!)
As I mentioned, all these great ideas kept being passed around in my mind with the reassurances, longest day, warm summer weather, and yesterday I did the Double-Bloody-Badger 1600 component with my (real) mate and riding buddy Steve.
Since we live in Wellington, that meant our plan was to join the ride at Shannon, so that would add about 130-200km to the distance, depending on where we started and finished, so the start was set at BP Mana and finish would be Brown Owl, since it made more sense to return through the Wairarapa and over the Rimutakas, since that was more-funner riding than back down SH1 …and of course, Steve lives in that Brown Owl area (so I would have another 30’ish km on top of that.
There was no fixed plan as to when we would ride, but probably on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year, (or some nice day in that period), but as the fates would have it, Saturday the 21st was scheduled to fall at the end of a wet week, whereby a massive high would sit over the country and it would be just perfec’ …and it just so happened that Sunday the 22nd was schedule to be the Longest Day ….and a few other things happened that meant I needed to get it done and dusted before Christmas! …so 1am at BP Mana it was!
Friday I knocked off a little early, checked the tyres and packed, eventually getting to bed at 2030, with the alarm slamming me at 0001 (midnight would have been too early), then after dithering about I was away late at 0050, arrived at BP Mana at 0105 …it was shut and Steve was waiting at the curb!! (you’re not seeing a trend here already are you?) So we popped down the road to Z Mana (Steve had already filled), arrived there at 0106, took 7 minutes to fill at a pay-at-pump bowser, because on the 20Km from home I had realized that a T-Shirt and unlined jacket with summer gloves, just didn’t cut it, so the wet jacket and mid-weight gloves went on!
0113 we were on the road and on our adventure, with the first scheduled stop at Shannon, but we had to stop at Paekak’, 14.7km at 0124, because some dickhead couldn’t drive! (I think I already mentioned that I was an arsehole) but on this instance, a car was upside down on the other side of the road, in an 80kph zone and on a straight section of road!!?? …FFS …there may have been extenuating circumstances, but at face value, the cynic in me doesn’t have a lot of sympathy at this stage ….and because the dickhead cost us 10 minutes!
So at 0134 it was on-on and at 0218 we had travelled 83.5km to Shannon where we joined the prescribed NI1600 route by taking a photo of the old Post Office …and did I mention it was a bit cold at 8º? Well it was, because the heated grips were on, but I still had to change to my winter-weight gloves …so the photo-stop took 2 minutes!
Next stop was BP Taihape, so SH1 bland riding and at 0341 and we had 218km done at an overall avg of 89kph. This was just another photo stop, but as we approached I asked Steve if he wanted a coffee because at that point, the temperature had dropped to 4º and I was freezing ….and severely feeling the affects of the cold squeeze, so we pulled in for a 25 minute extended stop where I had to strip off the jackets and put on two skivvies and I woofed down a banana, bar and some water.
The next leg of our adventure took us up to Taumarunui for fuel, then we had a CP at the junction of River, Ohura and Mangaparo Roads, then another CP by the junction of Ohura Rd and SH4. The scoot to Taumarunui saw us transition from a very cold black night to a lightening sky as we transitioned up SH4 to the west of the mountains and it almost got properly light as we entered Taumarunui. We arrived there at 0527, 352km into the ride and we had another relaxed 11 minute stop, then it was time to visit the Ohura Loop, from the Forgotten Highway end.
I’ve been through this road several times over the years, with the last visit being on the 2015 NI1600, however it must be about 13 years since I’ve been through in this direction. I thought the road seemed rougher than my last visit, with more care required, then, a few km after passing through Matiere, I was a bit distracted, saw a road sign indicating the direction to Taumarunui and next minute the GPS was telling me to make a u-turn. Whaaat!! Being a dingbat from way back, I stopped, then thought, “stupid GPS, this is a great road (a vast improvement from what we had been riding on), so we continued, but my vague recollections were casting doubts ….but we still continued to continue ….and emerged on SH4 to find that the dillbrain leading had taken us over the Okahukura Saddle!! ….Bloody dickhead, 25km later we had nipped up SH4 to the CP on Ohura Rd and back!! ….and it was still a cold 8º!
From here it was on to a revised CP at Kurutau School, as I had had “one of those discussions” with the NZDR Routemeister and because of the extra km we were doing, he gave us a dispensation of not having to go all the way to Turangi and back to Kurutau (a saving of about 40km), so at 0747 we were pulling in, 520km done and 45 seconds later we were pulling out for the scoot up the western lake road, where we extended the pace from the holiday tolerance to the normal tolerance. That’s always a nice pootle and the ride up Waipapa Rd was even nicer and we had soon crossed to and were pulling into the next CP at Wharepuhunga School. Well it seemed soon as we were now 651km in and it was 0904. ….and we still had the wets on to keep warm.
A minute later we were doing the 22km across to Tihiroa Hall, changed the gloves back to the summer jobbies, then went up to the next fuel stop at GAS Whatawhata. (715km at 0947) The GAS servo didn’t have facilities for another cold squeeze induced natural break, plus the temp had finally elevated enough, so we went across the road to a café for another break, so the 10minute fuel stop morphed into a 45minute fuel and coffee stop …..ok, I tend to avoid caffeine on these rides so I settled for a hot chocolate and cheese scone, but I also removed the wets and one of the skivvies. Then as the next CP at the New Beginnings Church was only 1km down the road, within another 2 minutes we had that (and the photostop was somewhat quicker with the summer weight gloves back on), so at 1038 we were embarking on a gallop over the Raglan Rd, then up H22.
On the NI800, Highway 22 was wet, I was losing time on the ETA and it wasn’t that pleasant, but this time it was dry and we were able to maintain a better pace and start peeling back some time, so by 1156 we had travelled 830km, picking up the CP at Naike Hall and the CP at BP Bombay. I must say I rather enjoyed that leg of the trip. But next we had the tedious job of going across SH2 to Kopu.
I must say, the dorklander car drivers weren’t too bad on this occasion, because if they didn’t see me, at least they tended to move over for Steve after I had squeezed past between them and the yellow line …..(pfftt…how can someone not know they have an ST behind when it’s looming in their mirrors!!??), but we actually managed to maintain an average of 90kph across to Kopu, and then we were to embark on our treat for the day. Up SH25A to Opoutere, then down to Waihi, before encountering more tedious double-yellows to Z Bethlehem …but that was not to be!!
We were romping through traffic over 25A when we had barely made halfway and encountered a bloody great queue of stopped traffic, so as you do when you are on a bike, we started filtering to the front. We had averaged 81kph across the 20km to that point, and filtered for 1km, when we met a motorcyclist coming back the other way, who informed us that there had been a bad accident and there was no way the traffic would be moving anytime soon! We were nowhere near the front of the queue and there were busses and big boats being towed, so there was no way they would be turning back, but we flipped around, had a brief discussion of options and decided to return on 25A, go down to Paeroa, but because we had plenty of fat, by way of surplus kms and because we’d been robbed of the one of the peachiest parts of the ride, we wouldn’t go through to Waihi and endure the crappy ride through to Bethlehem, but instead we would cut across to Te Kuiti from there on the NI800 track. I suppose in hindsight, we should have gone along Old Te Aroha Rd to rejoin the route by Te Poi, but we didn’t think of that at the time because we were gutted that we’d been deprived of our fang over half of 25A, then down 25 from there to Waihi ….criminal it was, just criminal!
We encountered our first enforcer for the day shortly after Otorohanga. He was following a vehicle that was obviously aware of the cops presence and hence driving at the indicated speed of 100kph ….but his true speed was actually varying between 89 and 93 …so we passed them in a very restrained fashion and arrived at BP Te Kuiti with 1,102km done at 1515. This was a CP and our newly revised fuel stop (due to the change of route) so once again, we enjoyed another casual 40 minute fuel-up, snack and Hot Chocolate before embarking on SH30.
We now felt we were getting through the ride with only 600’ish km to go, and we made very progress across 30. In fact, one could almost say we were making up for earlier and had a jolly good fang that continued across Poihipi Rd to Taupo where we transitioned through town and embarked on the Napier-Taupo Rd within the tolerated holiday limits, but the temp had now plummeted back to 8º …and then it started to bloody rain, so we stopped to don the wets and got passed by all the cars again.
Much care was now required thanks to the marvelous condition of the NZ highways and as we descended close to Bayview, the rain was easing and we could see some blue sky ahead …but it was still friggin’ cold! Napier was dry as we made our way down the Expressway and across to the CP at the junction of School and Middle Rds, then enjoyed a nice pace over Middle Rd down to the next and last CP at the Patangata Tavern, then on to our last fuel stop at BP Waipuk’. Those occurred at 1398km / 1905; 1429km / 1927 and 1452km / 1942 …and now we really were on the scoot for home.
I should mention that there was a car upturned on it’s roof, on a straight, along the Western Access road and between Pahiatua and Eketahuna, we encountered another care in a ditch, on a straight, being attended to by Police, Fire and Ambulance personnel, so we encountered four quite bad accidents on our day out, when the lowered tolerances are in place and people should be taking more care! …and the dickhead powers-that-be are talking about lowered limits and more barriers!!...maybe I need to write a rant blog on that subject?
Anyway, longest day and it was daylight all the way down to Woodville, then various stages of twilight through to Pahiatua-Featherston …and then it got really, really dark, really, really quick, to the point that I found myself rather disoriented on the Rimutakas. Not in a way of being impaired, but more so like I didn’t recognize the road or where I was on it ….and then we were finished! 1682km done in 21hrs 05 minutes (which included a couple of hours of stopped time) and I ended up doing 1741km in 21hrs 53.
…. And it was a right royal pain in the arse!! Literally and figuratively! It was much bloody colder than when the ride was held in October and we encountered a goodly chunk of crappy rain! OK, it was mostly in daylight, which was alright, but Double-Badger idea be damned. Do it in the middle of Summer he said ….when it’s warm and the days are longer! Global Warming my arse! (I’ll accept the Climate Change argument, but warming be buggered!!) And then being much inconvenienced by dickheads that don’t appear to know how to drive. That might be a bit harsh as there are many factors that can cause strife, but upturned on a straight dry road in an 80kph zone?? …*Sigh*
It was a ride but! Quite a long ride at that, but nothing like it was supposed to be…and it was my 13th 1,000 miler. Lucky for some I guess!
After a very hectic year with minimal riding, then a rather stressful couple of weeks before Christmas, as well the week just gone, which included having to work on Boxing Day, I finally got as close to ‘clearing the desk’ as I’ll ever get and thought, “Bugger it! I need a ride!”
What ride, one might ask and that was easy, I still needed to redeem my failure to complete the 2017 Nth Island 1600, after I had to pull out at 1,200 km because I couldn’t see ( 2017 NI1600 ).
It’s funny because there’s an expression that goes ‘some people find fault like there was a reward for it’, and that’s what many of our Distance Riding friends are like. I knew that if I just did the ride in mint conditions, next thing it would be, “That doesn’t really count because those guys that finished on-the-day, rode through 3 days of rain to complete the ride in 24 hours, so your effort was just soft!!” For God’s sake, it’s a 1,000 mile ride in 24 hours, in the parlance of the old Rusty Nut days, it’s a Grand Challenge ….it’s tough. Does it really matter if I happen to complete it on a pleasant day closer to the Solstice than the Equinox …..yep, yep, yep, yep, yep!
Now let’s face it, there’s no way I’m going to wait for a cruel and bitter day to do this ride, but I have to get to there and back, so by joining the route at Whanganui, I would end up doing 1,980 km, add in another 20 km filler and I would then be doing 2,000 km (still within the 24 hour parameter), so surely that would count? Well probably not for some but that was the plan.
Yes well, the best laid plans!! Turns out there have been multiple slips on the Paraparas (SH4) and I was required to go up and down that piece of road. No worries, you say, just go up and back on SH1 instead, but those nay-sayer Distance Riders would just have more to bleat about so I canned it, however, at the same time, there was discussion on a thread about the East Cape Road, which I haven’t been that fond of doing in recent times thanks to this ride ( 2011 Grand Challenge ) In particular, this bit, ….Steve did pop off the road for a breather whilst going around the Cape as there were quite a lot of spots where the road had subsided (one way or the other) leaving some drop-offs or bumps in the region of 3-6”. Steve hit a bump whilst engaging a very tight left hander. As usual, I was right up his date and it was severe enough to bounce him off the seat causing his feet to disengage from the pegs. Not a great look when one is keen to apply pressure to the brakes…and can’t find a foot, or free some fingers to use. Anyway, as I eased around the corner, look of disbelief on my dial, I saw Steve bounce, straighten, (WTF), brakes….back wheel locks (puff of dust and crap from loose shit), thoughts to the effect of, “Oh crap……I hope nothing’s coming…..is he going to ease it around?…..is he going to stop?…..Oh fuck! not again!! That’s a 3’ drop there Steve….and there’s a fence………………bugger he’s gone…..ooooh! nicely popped there Steve……..Holy Shit! He’s parked it......Hell, how are we going to get it back up on the road?....(looks around for somewhere safe to park the bike)…….Ooooh, nice one Steve! (he just rode it back up the bank!!) We exchanged notes, wiped brows and moved on!
Anyway, Dreds (Sth Islander) and others have been bleating about including the East Cape in an NI1600 for some time, and it just hasn’t been on my radar, so I thought, that’ll be nice, I can check it out and do both Capes in one ride, because although Steve and I did the Southern Cross Ride in 2009, which started at East Cape and rode across to Cape Egmont, we didn’t actually do the full distance because it was 24 hours between check-ins. I now had a plan and reasonable weather conditions. (maybe a bit of scattered rain in the Bay of Plenty).
The route planning was easy, the ST would need fuel at Wairoa, Opotiki and New Plymouth, then I’d just need a CP along the East Cape, so that was GAS Tokomaru Bay, and one along the Surf Hiway, which could be either Challenge or the big gates at Rahotu and that was it. Shortest distance across took me along SH30, which I haven’t done for some time, that was loaded into the GPS, tyres were checked, I grabbed the usual bananas and nutbars and I was good to go.
My preference was to do East Cape Nth to Sth, as the last couple of times I’ve done it was up and across, but I wanted to do it in daylight so I figured I needed to do that first, then I was looking at a 6am start, but in the end, an earlier start meant I could finish by midnight and it would hardly interfere with my sleep patterns, so I set the alarm for 0330 …nah, make that 0340 for a 4am’ish start, which eventually saw me rolling out at 0431.
The last fuel to go in the bike was a month and a half ago (after the 1KC ride) so I needed to fuel at Caltex Rimutaka and 20 minutes after departing home, I was making a 6 minute stop …and then I was enjoying a rather ‘spirited’ ride over the Rimutakas, only having to pass two cars and one truck. I guess the ‘spirited’ thing sort of continued afterwards as well, since the revenue collectors would be still slumbering and I wanted to get home before midnight, so within an hour I was on the Masterton Bypass and it was light enough to see.
This was all pretty mundane riding up SH2 so within 2 hrs I had bypassed Woodville and was 198 km into the ride, nearly at Dannevirke where I bypassed the main road to get past a couple of cars, at 3 hrs I was 311 km in at the Fernhill area …and the fun was soon to start because basically, from 340 km to 850 km one is served with a 500+ km feast of corners from where you dip away from the coast just north of Napier, right through to Opotiki.
This part of the country isn’t an area I frequent and it can often years between visits, but oddly enough, this was the third time I would be doing the Napier-Gisborne road this year as Steve and I did it through to Tolaga Bay (Nth of Gisborne) in February on the TT2000, then again in the dark of a very dark night on the NI1600 in October and now this. I had gotten quite disoriented on the moonless night in October and even though I know the road reasonably well, at that time I generally had no idea where I was, so it was much nicer doing it in daylight. I was also glad it wasn’t wet as there are a few bits that even glisten in the dry and the ‘Powers That Be’ think it is OK to keep us safe by putting signs to advise “Slippery when wet” (…but I won’t get on that soapbox right now).
Wairoa and my next fuel stop was at 439 km and normally, for an ST, that would be very conservatively placed, but considering I had had fueled 32 km into the ride and was now on reserve at just under 410 km was …??... poor form! ST’s can be quite economical and I have been known to get in excess on 20 km per ltr, but they don’t like round-town stop-start stuff, and they don’t like a twisty-wrist! One needs to set a pace for the road and hold it with minimal throttle input. I have managed 13.8 km per ltr absolutely caning it through the Para’s on one occasion and this time, between the ‘spirited’ pace, combined with what might be considered a fang over the Rimutakas and quite a twisty-wrist between Napier and Wairoa, I had managed just 15.4 km per ltr. This next tank needed to get me to Opotiki with few options between, it was only a 422 km leg, but the were a lot more corners and hills ….so I squeezed as much as I could in and it took 24 Ltrs on board (29 Ltr tank be damned. I managed 26 Ltrs once and that was cramming it in on a very empty tank). It was now just before 0900 and the temp was up to 17°.
After losing the 6 minutes filling at Rimutaka, I’d managed to pull that back before Masterton, and the average of 106kph from Rimutaka to Wairoa, had picked up quite a bit of time on the ETA, getting it down to 2230, I expected to continue this trend, but that was not to be so. The temperature soon settled between 21-23° and the ride from Wairoa to Gisborne although a little more moderate, but still peachy, with little traffic out and about, was still quite quick and had almost hauled back the cruisy 10 minute Wairoa fuel stop. I skirted Gisborne (535 km) just before 1000 and being the height of the holiday period, now encountered steady traffic (but nothing like the crap one encounters around Auckland and Coromandel at this time of year …so I was still making good progress but the average through the East Cape section dropped to 95 kph.
The road up to Tokomaru Bay is pretty good, except that over the hill north of Wainui beach, the beaches were crammed with campers and the roads had Temporary 70 kph Limits imposed. I got to Tokomaru Bay at 1052, 625 km into the ride with an overall average of 99kph, I took 50 seconds to get a photo of the 4-Square / GAS stop, then continued.
The road heading North of Tokomaru Bay was OK, but between my doubts about the state of the road, the fact that I was now encountering more patches of roadworks (even if that was often signs with no apparent work taking place), or often, finding myself riding on mottled chip, or surfaces that I found hard to read (ie had the appearance, or gave the impression that it might have had loose stuff, when in fact it didn’t …or at least the bike wasn’t squirming on it!), anyway, I found myself riding with a greater margin for error. It’s hard to explain really, because there are a lot of other factors ….like the road getting narrower and/or tighter, there were a couple of sections towards Te Kaha that were controlled by lights (that took an eternity to change), but the bottom line was, the average from North of Wainui Beach to Tokomaru Bay was about 102kph, Tokomaru to Te Araroa was 96kph, Te Araroa to Te Kaha 89kph, the Te Kaha to Opotiki 94kph. …Of course, it’s actually more likely that I just slowed down to take in the magnificent scenic beauty!! ….he said as he reached for another Tui.
Bottom, bottom line is that checking out this section was the reason for the ride. There was no slumping to speak of on my riding track, the road had it’s defects, but we live with that on Godzone’s roads and to sum up ….it was better than it was, but not as good as it used to be ….and I give it a tick of approval!
So by 1325 I was pulling into the Caltex Servo in Opotiki for a casual stop, 861 km into the ride (a tad over half way) with an overall average of 97kph, I was back on reserve with the economy back on 15.4 Km per Ltr again, I squeezed in 25.5 Ltrs this time, had a ‘natural break’, scoffed a couple of bananas, a nut bar, gulped some water down and was pulling out at 1342, 9hrs 11minutes into the ride, with the average now down to 94kph, and the ETA at 2244.
The last forecast I had seen the night before indicated I should expect rain in this area, but all was clear so far and I was more preoccupied with other things when I left Opotiki, so it wasn’t until about 10 km along as I turned in from the coast that I encountered a few spits and noticed how dirty it was looking to the South, so I expected I would need to stop to put on the wets at some stage, but at this time I just zipped up the jacket vents.
Then the GPS started getting a bit moody! As mentioned earlier, I had been very minimalist in my route planning, which I do in MapSource, then take it through Basecamp to transfer to the Garmin 595 Unit (because it won’t interact with MS). I run NZ Open Maps in MS, while BaseCamp has NZ Open, Global & NZ/Aus Maps and the unit seems to run on both NZ Open and the Garmin NZ/Aus maps. Then of course, it’s quite likely that the route preferences are different in the various Aps. Consequently, the GPS wanted me to go via Ohope-Whakatane, but I knew for the way I was going, that would be a few km shorter, but some minutes slower. Sure enough, when I went past the turnoff, the Arrival Distance popped out a few km and the ETA went to 2235. however, shortly afterwards it bounced to 2330!!!! ….WTF!!!
Next thing, my mate Kate or Emily or whoever (GPS) started telling me “Low Battery!”….bugger. She departed around Tane Atua, so I crossed the light-controlled one-way bridge and stopped to connect a power-pack (2 minutes lost). Music back I rolled on!
Next thing, passed the Awakeri Z, turned onto SH30 and the GPS flipped it’s lid by suddenly bouncing the ETA to 2330! That threw me and I was thinking, “Shit, does the bloody thing think we’re going via Galatea!?”, so just to be sure, I turned around, went the few hundred metres back to SH2, (another 2 minutes lost) turned onto that behind one of “those” cars and followed him to Edgecumbe, by which time the precipitation was definitely looking imminent ….so I stopped and put my trusty Warehouse jacket on, (and another 2 minutes lost) so for the 68 km from Opotiki, I had just managed to average 84kph.
Next thing you know it was raining enough to clean the visor I hadn’t cleaned in Opotiki ….and I was on slick roads with traffic in front of me, making it slightly harder to pick lines for good traction whilst still putting oneself in a position for passing. I continued to make progress though, and by the time I was off the Rotomas and coming into Rotorua the rain had cleared, the average (from Opotiki) was up to 87kph, then as I turned back onto SH30 on the South side of Rotorua, it was 86 …but now I entering the ‘rampant roads’!!
SH30 is one of those sweet Kiwi roads that meanders through rolling countryside with nice sweepy turns that make the ride interesting …and quick! Without exceeding the tolerated limits by too much, I managed a 110kph average to the Kopaki turnoff and it was still 108kph when I came out on SH4 and arrived at Eight Mile Junction. SH3 required a bit more restraint, but the Awakino Gorge has to rate as one of the sweetest, must ride Kiwi roads, so by Awakino I was still on 106kph and maintained that through to New Plymouth and the next fuel stop, which turned out to be at Challenge Spotswood. (Economy for this leg at 16.4 km per ltr at an average of 97kph between fuel stops and 95kph from the start).
Another pre-pay pump, more relieving, snacking and 9 minutes later I was pulling out on the last 378 km leg at 1818hrs.
At this point the GPS played up a bit again, with the ETA bouncing out. It was a bit odd as it was almost like the track wanted to go down SH3 but I had a CP at Rahotu …so who knows what was up, but once I was out of town the GPS was indicating and ETA for 2300?! That was crazy because a sub 100kph average should still have had me in before 2230, …so I got on with the job of pruning it back.
The Surf Hiway is generally pretty straight, and sort of remote, so I dialed it up to a few km more than Steve and I would normally do in GC (Grand Challenge) mode and the minutes were peeling off the ETA, then from Hawera, I was having to finish the ride on SH3 and SH1, so I had to settle back closer to the allowable limits. It was an easy way to finish and pretty droll, but I just focused on maximizing progress through whatever traffic I encountered.
The minutes continued to tumble though and I finally swung into the driveway at 2209, parked up and had trouble extricating myself from the bike, particularly as the way I park it, I have to climb over the bike to the right, and my butt was feeling pretty tight.
It was a pretty quick trip doing 1672 km in 17hrs 38mins at an overall average of 95kph and moving average of 100kph. I’d enjoyed some of the better riding that the North Island has to offer, namely the Rimutaka Hill, Napier to Wairoa is premo and Napier to Opotiki just extends the pleasure by 5 times! SH30 is sweet going and the Awakino Gorge would have to be in the top 5 must ride roads.
That ride makes it a dozen completed 1,000 miler rides (two of which have exceeded 2,000 km), I got to re-evaluate and give the big tick to the East Cape road for future NI1600’s, ….and I had a bloody good fang to blow out the cobwebs from work and finish off 2018 with a bang, rather than a whimper!
Bring on 2019!
North Island 1600 - 5-8/10/18
With the event looming, I thought my riding prep was minimal but OK, and then came the bike. I had ordered two new tyres, advised that I thought the front seemed a little spongy, so requested they check the suspension and sure enough, after four years and 60,000 km, the oil did need replacing, along with the rear pads, so after a wee cough I walked out of the shop about $1100 lighter ….and we hadn’t even started buying fuel yet!
The bike felt much harder and more like it was back on rails though, so I figured I was ready.
Friday 5th Oct I departed home a little after 0800 and scooted over to the Wai’rapa to drop T-shirts etc for the Marshalls for the Masterton checkpoint, then noted with a little surprise that, as I left Carterton, my ETA for Turangi was 1250 and I was hoping to be there by midday. Damn, no stops required so I pootled off, somewhat akin to a dog just released off it’s leash and after a relatively unexciting trip arrived at the cabins at 1210 after scooting up and around Woodville, over the Saddle, up Vinegar Hill and along SH1.
The rest of the afternoon was a blur, getting a hug from Riza, setting up, getting the bike checked, bumbling around with not much to do, having a feed, then releasing the routes at 1900 and finally slipping off to bed at about 2200.
Usual story, I awoke a 0400 and the brain was too busy thinking about all sorts of things so I knew I wasn’t going to get any more sleep …but tried to just relax and doze, then arose at 0630, scrubbed and went for breakfast. The morning went quite quick with the 800 ride having their briefing at 0930, then departures starting at 1000, but after that we still had over two hours before our briefing, so time started to drag. I killed a bit of time by going to town for supplies (the usual nutbars, bobby-bananas & water), filled the bike, then went for another scrub and got into my jeans etc, packed the camera and bits, kitted up after the briefing and joined the queue in the first starting group with Steve.
My aim was to do the ride at a semi-relaxed pace in about 20 hours. ….and we were off!
Steve led and we were sitting on or just over the tolerated limits as we made our way down to Vinegar Hill, got stopped at the lights where the road has slipped away, then I ended up leading out to the first CP at Cheltenham and that’s the way it stayed for the rest of the trip.
I was surprised to see our moving average to this point was 105kph, but we now had the slowest part of the whole route to negotiate so that would see to that.
It was quite a nice fang up past Kimbolton, but we did encounter a few crazy sheep along the way. I came around a corner to see one as it decided to come on to the road from the right, so a quick scan and assess whether I should swing left of right, it was progressing, …so right it was, to go behind it …then the next bastard panicked and followed the first. Damn!! ABS was fully deployed and luckily their three other mates stayed on the verge. We continued.
It wasn’t far to CP2 at Rangiwahia, then a km or so down the road we took Te Para Para Rd into the Pohangina Valley. A lot of this is unmarked and narrow but the surface was clean and dry so we continued to make good progress, unlike a month before when we did the 800 ride through here.
On that occasion, whilst we were negotiating the top end of the Pohangina Valley there had been a few slips, …causing shits. There’s nothing like the feeling as you ride through the back country, as fast as you can but you are still losing time on your ETA, then you round a corner to find the road covered in mud, of mixed states of saturation from clumps to goo. You pick a line then start to scan the surrounds and just as your eye spots the solid grey dark matter constituting the bank (that used to be larger) and before you can utter “Jack Robinson”, or any other utterance, like “bugger-me it’s papa clay!!!”, your back wheel is dancing with delight!!
Anyway, this time around we were surprized to see that the road had received some TLC and was in very good condition, so good progress was maintained.
From here we scooted over the Saddle, took Oxford Rd to Pinfolds, crossed SH3 and emerged on SH2 via Priests Rd, then took that to the 1st Manned CP at Mobil Nth End. We arrived with the Moving Average on 100kph and had a relaxed 15 minute stop here as I needed to put another layer on, which meant removing my jacket and helmet, we snacked, watered and left.
Next we were off towards Castlepoint and the junction at Langdale Rd. It’s pleasant riding, but the section between Blairlogie and Langdale Rd is particularly sweet with some tight’ish sweepy corners having quite a bit of banking angle on the road. In other words, the original man with the Ministry of Works grader needs a hug! Pic taken quickly and it was across the narrow, unmarked Langdale Rd and on to Riversdale.
From Whareama to Riversdale was noted as two-way event traffic and at it was through here we saw GaryP at the front of the field with my arrival distance indicating 17km to the CP. A quick calculation to double that and I estimated about 20 minutes ahead (plus a minute for the CP photo), we arrived just behind Bandit Rider on his Conny, blocked him in, then he had to follow us to the windfarm.
The trip back is more quite good riding with a tight’ish section between Whareama and Blairlogie, then we took Stronvar and Lees Pakaraka (another narrow lane) Rds to cut across to Te Whiti Rd, which passes through Gladstone and onto the Tablelands. Tablelands has three sections of narrow unmarked lane, but one can still make good progress and we were soon preparing to take the turn onto Te Muna Rd. … Yes, well, some of us were.
Te Muna Road joins the Martinborough Rd at a very acute angle approaching from the East (of course, coming the other way it’s like a slip road) and last time we did this, even though I’ve done a lot of slow handling stuff, I ended up well into the right lane once I had made the turn and would have been toast had a car been coming down to the intersection. I will note here that on this occasion, there was also an abundance of gravel scattered about on the Martinborough Rd. Anyway, I flip my indicator about 350mtrs out (as you do) and at about 100 mtrs, whilst threading my way through to avoid the gravel, I was also picking a line to flip wide to the right so I could throw the bike over, drop a gear, take the tight hairpin and come out on the left under power to take the rise. Easy aye!
Yeah right! I remember slowing, flipping right across the centre line then hanging left ….and hearing through the intercom, “ooooooaaaahhhhh!!!” and glancing round to see Steve nearly give it to me up me date! I commented, “didn’t you see my indicator?” to which he responded, “I was too busy avoiding the gravel!!” …or something.
The road straightened here, took a couple of 90° turns then hits 2km of gravel, but it’s easy riding and even the ST could maintain 80kph across it.
Just a short squirt now and we were at the Windfarm.
Andrew must have gotten frustrated behind us because he got away first and by the time we got to the really, really long straight, he had totally disappeared. I even wondered if he might have wandered off the road, but my concern wasn’t enough to go back and check!
That was all the tight stuff done and we were now on the scoot into Martinborough, onto Ponatahi Rd (where we passed a group heading the other way to avoid the narrow section and gravel), to emerge on SH2 via East Taratahi Rd. Then we virtually stayed on SH2 all the way to Paengaroa.
Steve’s range wouldn’t get him to Bayview so we discussed fuel strategy and in the end, decided on a big fill at Dannevirke, a splash-‘n-dash at the next manned CP in Bayview, then fuel in Opotiki and Te Kuiti.
So we took the Masterton Bypass, pootled up to Priests Rd to bypass Woodville, had a long 30 minute stop at BP Dannevirke, where I put my wets on (for warmth because it was 9pm and getting cold) and had my first ever pie whilst riding a 1000 miler, took SH50 to get to the Napier expressway, then embarked on the lovely curly roads that took us to Wairoa, then Gisborne and via the Waioeka Gorge.
Once we left Bayview it was a really dark night (no moon etc) and I found it a bit disorienting as I couldn’t work out where we were. Life at the time was just a series of corners and afterwards, there were parts of the road I couldn’t remember passing, because I never saw any of it!!?? We were making good time though, averaging around 90kph from Bayview to Opotiki and I definitely remember seeing the massive, humungous, stupendous, ginormous slip. There was nothing happening but there were lights for Africa and it looked really, really impressively big.
It was hardcase when we reached Opotiki (just after 0200) because as we pulled into the servo, there were cars at every pump and one would have thought it was just after work on a 10c discount day. There were also quite a few young people in the café and I guess it’s a small town thing, but it just seemed odd to a city slicker.
From here the weather was deteriorating and since it was two in the morning, we decided to try the road through Ohope and Whakatane since I hadn’t been through there for years. That was OK, then shortly after we headed out of Whakatane, it started to piss down, then the road was dry, then wet, then it pissed down again ….and so on and so forth. By this time it was after three in the morning and slowing down a bit took me out of ‘the zone’ so I started to struggle with the fatigue, but we eventually got to Paengaroa and as I turned off SH2 onto Wilson Rd, the bike had a huge twitch on the slick patches ….I hate it when that happens!
We made our way onto the forecourt of the Gull station and the poor marshals were away with the fairies with all the excitement, we took 10 minutes to do our bit and headed for lake Rotorua.
Once we were back on the road I started to struggle with fatigue again, so made a conscious effort to lift the pace and dragged the four of us (we had now been joined by Tony and Nik) over SH5 to Putaruru, across the Arapuni Dam, over to Kihikihi and down to Z Te Kuiti for our last fill. We had averaged 100kph from Paengaroa, it was now 0530 and Steve and I took a leisurely 13 minutes at this stop as several more riders came and went.
When we did get back on the road, my ETA for the finish was 0712 and I thought that since we were way ahead of our 20 hour target, we might as well try to pick up those 12 minutes and go for an even 18 hours, so I tweeked it a bit.
By this time it was 0545 and although still dark, there was a hint of dawn, whereby one could sort of see the road now. That is, one could identify different shades of grey through black on the mottled surface of the road. I never gave this much thought at the time but on reflection, I guess I was subconsciously avoiding the black sections …maybe clipping the edge every now and then. Nek Minute ….I’m pootling along, taking care of business and minding my own, when I hear the scream of an engine and a thud …and maybe another of those “0ooooaaaahhh’s” …or perhaps something more like an “Oh fuck!!” My instant reaction was to check the mirrors, thinking that Steve had baled on his mission, or something, but there was nothing to be seen. It’s all a bit vague but next thing Steve emerges from behind me into the mirror view and I commented, “Are you OK?”
Turns out that Steve hit one of the black sections and went into a full tank slapper for 40-50 mtrs! No doubt his Biker Hail Mary’s were somewhere between, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit …and …I’m toast! I’m toast! I’m toast!” But the big Ten’ and Big Steve survived without ….well, there was probably a stain or two!!
It was most odd really because I was about 50 mtrs ahead but I clearly heard the engine rev-up and a thud, but on reflection, that was probably delivered via the Sena intercom …and the other odd thing is that the Tenere has traction control …so how can that happen?
Anyway, that was the end of any 18 hour finish as I eased off and we poot ….limped home.
That in itself caused other problems because the reduction in speed came with a reduction in focus and the onset of fatigue as I was soon struggling to stay awake, whereby I found myself on occasions drifting towards the verge, or the centre line! Not much fun and anyone with half a brain would probably pulled over for a nap, ….but we weren’t far out …..and the weather was crap ….and I’m just a dickhead!!
Consequently, we pulled back into the cabins at 0719, having covered the 1600+km with an Overall Average of 88kph and Moving Average of 97kph. That was all thanks to dry roads in good condition (until the last bit) and it was a good ride, but I must admit, I never quite felt totally ‘in the groove’, especially at night when I was tending to compensate by riding from the centre-line to give myself more latitude each way. We made it though and now I ask myself, “Is eleven 1,000 milers enough? And is it time to give it away, give it away now?” (We’ll see)
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I don’t remember much about checking in the pix etc, I do remember scoffing a feed and Ken telling me I looked like crap, then hearing that AlanD had ‘torn a new one’ on a sheep as he exited Wairoa, ending up in hospital, and that several chappies had been warmly greeted by one of “those” cars as they exited Te Kuiti and were all now travelling much lighter in the wallet department and much heavier under the burden of all those demerits!
*Sigh* …All good but. Skinny has survived and is adamant to get yet another bike (where I’m sure I wouldn’t be allowed to!!??).
Having coma’d for a good eight hours, I arose early on Monday, scrubbed, packed the bike up, had breakfast and helped clean up, then got on the road for work at 0930. It was a nice day and I was riding solo, operating at somewhere between a pootle and the tolerated limits and making quite good progress. Then, as I was on the big rise before Mangaweka, GaryP passed me and waved. I was all “Hey Gary” (to myself), as I continued to pootle along and Gary disappeared into the distance …but never really fully out of site …but almost. This was helped every now and again, by me giving it a bit of a squirt and of course, some strategically placed traffic, so I would catch-up a bit.
Now listening to how Gary rides I figure he’s probably got a few more OCD tendencies than my own self and because I’ve always professed to be a bit of an arsehole, I figured for me to suddenly appear behind him would be a bit of a surprise, so noticing there were a few trucks and a bit of other traffic on the approach to Bulls, with Gary about a km ahead … I couldn’t help myself. Depending on luck and that sort of thing, I gave it a bit of a squirt, took Fagan St on the northern entry to Bulls at a good clip, to see Gary cross in front about 30mtrs ahead of me, I pulled behind a slow car, passed it and what do you know, I was right up Gary’s date! I don’t know but would have to assume he had one of those WTF moments as I was giggling like a schoolgirl (privately in my helmet of course).
If luck had abandoned me and I not caught Gary, I would have been sorely tempted to take the road behind Ohakea and ‘give it death’ to emerge on SH1 ahead of him and that really would have ‘knocked his socks off’!
I slowly drifted back a bit again but getting into more traffic, I found myself back with him in Foxton, and when he hesitated, I passed, then went into ‘Full Assertive’ riding mode, because now we were well and truly in the traffic stream.
That was fun and I got to work at 1247 after my ETA departing Turangi was for 1330 …so that was quite good progress …. And since then I’ve been working my arse off to catch up!
This weekend was the 4th NI1600 and the 2nd NI800 at Turangi, so at around 0820 on Friday morning I was getting on the road. Brett had commented on the weekend before that the forecast predicted a massive high that would linger over the country for days, with the bonus of a full moon, ...by Thursday we were looking at a clear first third of the ride, ...by Friday we were looking at the pits and Saturday dawned a dismal, dreary affair.
I arrived just on midday, we setup the hall, checked in, got scrutineered, then settled down to business while the poor scrutineers toiled in the rain.
Brett and I strolled down to the tavern at 1700 and I enjoyed a nice steak before returning to setup for unveiling the route at 1900 and with that done, spent the rest of the night assisting riders to get to grips with the route.
As predicted, Saturday dawned another dismal day and was the first time since I started doing Rusty rides that a pre-ride briefing has ever been held in the hall because no matter how bad the weather got on the rides, the Saturday mornings always seemed beautiful. It seemed no time at all before the 800 riders were departing, then in no time we were being briefed and departing ourselves and the NI800 has certainly broken up the hurry-up-and-wait syndrome that used to be the case.
In the weeks before the ride I had arranged to ride with Dreds, a rider who nearly (inadvertanly) led me to my doom on the Takaka hill ( https://longjohnbiker.weebly.com/old-blog/tt2000a-fangers-delight ) and on subsequent rides, although I never actually rode with him (at least not for any real duration because we couldn't keep up) he always impressed me as a very smooth operator on his steed of choice, the Africa Twin. On Friday night I tried to share the route via our Garmin 595's, but that didn't work so he had to manually input it, then Saturday morning, we paired up our Senas and about a minute or so after the others, we rolled out of the camp as part of Group 1 with me in the lead.
We started relatively sedately on the wet roads and gradually ramped up the pace as we rolled up SH32, especially once I remembered that the fleet on Goldwings were in group 2 and I didn't fancy following them through the tight stuff between Waipapa Rd and Te Kuiti. Also the rain had cleared and the roads were drying!
Another thing that happened was that once I started riding, I noted the GPS hadn't activated and with having oversized gloves on, I couldn't seem to activate the route, but in the end I managed to load to the first checkpoint. We had a good scoot past Waipapa Dam, and as we approached the turnoff, I was expecting the GPS to try to send us along the gravel road, but I would take the second turn. Well ...bloody GPS knew which road to send us down so I flew past, only to find the next road was gravel and we had to turn back ....and then the fun started.
Wairehi Rd is a single lane track but it's in pretty good condition so we made good time and were soon at the CP, clicked the photo, got the cards signed and were on our way again ...but guess who forgot to initiate the route into the unit! Bugger me and the bloody thing still didn't want to take it (thanks to the dodgy gloves). Shortly after CP1 I spotted JohnG parked up and apparently fiddling with his GPS so I paused long enough to give him a nod to join us and on-on we went, with me still fiddling!
We negotiated some fantastic corners through here and in between I continued fiddling with the GPS and that led to a minor pucker, when that moment of inattention had me offline into a right hand corner and next thing I knew, I was in through the loose stuff and onto some horrid spongy crap, but remained upright and bounced back on to the road with Mark in the lead.
By the time we had cleared checkpoints 2 & 3 through to Te Kuiti, we had had such a jolly good fang that there was no way I would make the 460Km for the leg back to Turangi and I wasn't even sure if I would make Taumarunui, so I joined Mark to fill before continuing in a much more sedate manor for Awakino.
At this stage the temp hit 17° so riding was rather pleasant and the Awakino gorge is always a treat and 15Km out from Awakino, we passed Gary coming the other way, putting him about 20 mins ahead (wow). We had soon taken our pic, returned on our path and were taking the turn onto Totoro Rd to head across through Aria. There was a couple of Km of roadworks to negotiate here and although it wasn't gnarly, by the time we had gone about half a Km, the Sena started peeping to me, indicating that Mark was already out of range because he doesn't linger when it comes to the dark side!!
I eventually caught him though and the scoot through Aria to SH4 is usually more good riding before finishing the first loop on SH41 and arriving back in Turangi at 1805, so we had taken just over 5 hours for the first 460Km, then had a relaxed 15 minute break before heading out on the second leg to Kai Iwi and back. I led on this leg and between the dusk and the rain, I struggled to get into the groove and ride at a decent pace.
We had averaged 92kph to get to Kai Iwi at 2022, it was pitch black and I was relieved to pause at Z Dublin St on the return and while Mark was topping up, I was able to give my specs and visor a good clean, so when we got back on the road I felt much more comfortable. Oddly enough, although the weather seemed to improve a bit on the way back to Turangi, we still only averaged the same pace, arriving at 2235, then getting back on the road for the third leg at 2255, Mark back in the lead.
This was supposed to be the easiest riding leg up to Rotorua, across to Karapiro, then back via the Western Lake, but the weather had really closed in now and the temperature was dropping. It wasn't a 'heavy' rain but a really persistant 'light' rain coming down in huge volumes ...if that makes any sense? and in hindsight, I think this is where my problems stemmed from.
I believe I had failed to secure my outer wet jacket properly and the because the fine, light rain was sort of 'floaty' and 'drifty', it managed to come in under the helmet and around my neck, so by the time we as got to Rotorua, I was starting to feel the cold and had the perception of being a little wet. Our track to the Skyline Sign CP was a slow 87kph, there was no cover there, so after a 3 minute pause, we headed straight for Mobil Karapiro, where I had decided I would put more layers on and have a good cleanup.
We managed the 70Km at a slightly improved 90kph, arriving at 0120, so while Mark and Graeme, who had joined us from Skyline, filled, I put on two skivvies, leaving the third to keep dry for the next day, then I changed my wet gloves ....and threw them in the bag on top of the dry top!! (There's some dumb bastards out there). I then took care to ensure the gear was all in the right place before moving out .....forgot to restart the GPS (although I'm not sure why it was stopped) ....and within half a Km, my visor had fogged up, so I cracked it one notch ....and within another two Km my glasses were speckled with drops of rain!! ....and my GPS wasn't going ....and it was difficult to get the route in with my rain-off over gloves on!! In the end, Mark got sick of giving instructions and took the lead when it looked like I was going to turn the wrong way ....and then I had to tell him we were at the CP as he was accelerating past it!! What a pair. ...Oh yes, and I was so busy at the Karapiro CP that I forgot to take a photo so I had to hope I was in one of the others pix?!
Graeme had left the Mobil before us and he was leaving the Puketurua CP as we were arriving, but he was heading off down Pearsons Rd which takes one out to Putaruru, so I figured he must be opting for an SH1 return to Turangi. After had our photos and I had cleaned my specs and visor again, I asked Mark if he wanted to do the Western Lake or SH1 and Western Lake was the outcome, so we took to the roadworks, which was pretty hardpacked and easy going and made our way to Whakamaru, which is about 50Km and I had to stop in the shelter of the GAS to clean specs and visor again, at which time Graeme turned up. It turned out that his GPS was telling to depart Puketurua on three if the five roads, so he had done a loop and swung in behind us again.
My vision was buggered because the slightly damp clothes were causing the visor to fog instantly. This is compounded by the screen and lack of airflow on the ST, but the nature of the rain meant that the slightest of cracks in the visor to clear the fogging resulted in a multitude of small water droplets on my specs. Bloody marvelous! I was as good as tits on a bull so tucked in behind Mark and followed his light.
My recollection was that we were making good time down the lake, but the GPS Tracklog says otherwise, so it must have been occasional spurts as the average was just 90kph. I was operating on the edge with marginal vision and was also concerned that by the time we got to Bayview, the wet gear would also lead to getting much colder ....but I followed on relentlessly and the only time I ventured out of Mark's wheeltrack was just over the bridge out of Tokaanu, when he was in the left wheeltrack of the lane and he sent up a huge bow-wave as he scooted through a massive pool of standing water ...then did it again 20 mtrs further on, so I drifted right and may have even crossed the line to avoid doing the same.
Next thing you know, we were pulling into the Z and Mark bypassed the pumps, parked by the store, got off the bike with a sort of sheepish grin and announced, "I'm done!"
I had sort of paused by the pump, then followed him to the park and I don't really recall if I thought, "Thank God for that!" or "Aahhh FFS!" ....probably both, but the doubts that had already been festering in my mind made it an easy decision and we all pulled, noticing at that point that Graeme's rear tyre seemed to be losing air!
We packed up, went back to the cabins for a cuppa, had the bestest long hot shower and went to bed, only to be awakened by some noisy bloody biker at 0750 ...and thought, "I've got time to kit up and rejoin the fray", then rolled over, then figured I wasn't going to get any more sleep, so got up for another long, hot shower, sorted my gear to start drying it, then went around for my post-ride meal ...and spent the day relaxing, chatting, turning my gear every hour or so and finally went back to bed at about 2130 for a really good kip.
By Monday morning all the gear was dry and we hit the road for home by 0840. I rode back with James and it was dry and rather pleasant. He has asked me on the Sunday if I would redo the ride and I quickly said, "Nahh!", but the more I thought about it on the bike, the more pissed-off I got with myself. When I was sorting the gear, it became apparent that my clothes hadn't really got that wet and that it had most likely happened because I was too casual, so I had no one to blame for my failure except myself. Not my gear, not my riding buddy, just me!
Am I still pissed off with myself? ....you bet!
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.