Pretty much got the tucker sorted now and probably down to only overeating by two times ……maybe 2.5?? ‘Cos I feel good after the muesli fruit & yoghurt, but I keep on trucking to get through the omelette, beans & bacon, then we may or may not have a light snack in the afternoon and we’ve pretty much given up on the evening buffets. (last night we just shared a pizza …and fries ….and washed it down with a Fiji Gold.
Yesterday was a real blobby day and I finished my book, but there was some excitement in the morning. After my brisk walk around the resort and 10 minutes on the Cross-Trainer, I took to the water for my daily kayak workout. I headed straight out into the bay, (as you do) and next thing the man taking the snorklers, or whatever out, yells at me! (bloody cheek of the man to yell at me …like he didn’t know who I was!)
I turn towards the boat and as I approach he starts telling me off, …so I just say, “What, I can’t hear.” Then he repeats himself telling me to stay inside the island, to which I reply, “I can’t catch any swells in there!” and he says, “Too bad, get in there!” Bloody cheek of the man …I’m thinking, “You’re not the boss of me”. Or things to that effect….
So I swing around the island and into ‘the gap’ where there’s always little waves and chop etc, and I play for a bit in there.
Today I decided, (once again), he’s not the boss of me and no-one has actually bothered to tell me the rules, so I’m good. Usual format, brisk walk around the resort, few minutes in the cross trainer…and today I shall complete my quest ….which was set on the first day …and that was to go out around the island and back in through the gap. …I just needed to modify he plan!!
So I lit our from the launch point and scooted along the beach, lulling them into a false sense of security and soon I was out of earshot and heading through a gap in the broken pier on into the next bay, which is also a river outlet, perhaps estuary if you will. I zipped up outside the pier, then just for show, came back into the lagoon at the broken section at the outer end, where a couple of other kayakers had ‘parked-up’ on the beach of the 2nd island. So I drifted in a bit, then towards the beach, until I was out of sight behind a wee point, then I was off!! Out the gap, around the island and coming back into the bay on the swells.
Now I hadn’t finished though because the original plan was to come in through the gap, so I just made my way back there, paddled (ever so innocently) out through there, turned on a dime and came back in on the swells.
Now he definitely wasn’t the boss of me any more, so I just paddled around and behaved myself!
Buggered if I know what today has in store??!!
*Sigh* …. I must be getting used to Fiji-Time, which is a bit scary ….but this morning (at breakfast of course), ….let me start from the start.
Chilled last night just reading a faffing around, then some inconsiderate personage wakes me this morning at 0630 and did it in such a way as if it was normal to wrenched from ones slumber as soon as the sparrow farts! Bugger me! Oh well, I arise and join her for a walk ….then 12 minutes on a cross-trainer ….then a kayak session.
I grab a paddle, don my life jacket, launch from the beach, then it occurred to me that I didn’t have my pretty shocking-pink spectacle stays on! What was I thinking. Well the answer was that I wasn’t. Oh well, I’d just have to be careful.
It was quite pleasant, with the usual stiff-breeze out beyond the wee island, so that’s where I headed. Before we leave the resort, it’s my plan to paddle around the island and come back in to the lagoon via a narrow channel, but thus far, the tides have been against me and it’s been a bit rough through the cutting …you know, the usual life or death stuff that us geriatrics thrive on.
Anyway, on this occasion, the tide was full enough but I couldn’t afford to come off and lose my specs so I needed to exercise some restraint ….and of course I washed my hair last night so I didn’t want to get that wet!! So here I was, cutting out through the tide on a close haul, but that was causing drips from the upwind side paddle to wet my hair, so I adjusted my bearing to point into the eye of the storm, and the swells and was soon coming off the peaks and dipping the bow into the next mountainous swell (they were about 50cm high ….ok ….maybe 30cm). I fixed that with a little lean aft to weigh the stern and that worked a treat to keep the nose up and prevent the nasty surf from splashing on my specs and hair.
Next thing, I hear a siren, or something and think, ‘shit, I hope that not for me?’ and as I was making progress like a torpedo, I figured I’d ventured out far enough so I turned across the swells for a bit, then turned back toward the beach to see if I could maybe catch a swell.
Well, before you know it (maybe three or four ‘Jack Robinsons’) I had slipped off the back of one, then latched onto a swell and I was rocketing toward the shore, adjusting my cadence to stay with it, giving a little right check to ease and move across it before finally slipping off the back after about 100mtrs …..or maybe 50mtrs …..OK, 20mtrs but it couldn’t have been less than that!! Almost too much excitement for one day anyway!
After that I had a wee paddle around the rest of the lagoon, Ann had finished at the gym, we went back to the room and got cleaned up for brekkie.
By this time it was about 0830, so we were early’ish ….and there was no queue for the eggs!! As per usual, we headed straight for the muesli, but there were no bowls, so we ask the lady. About three or four minutes later, (still no bowls) Ann suggest we go for the eggs while there’s no queue …and I just looked at her!! We’ve been sharing a bed for over 20 years (although we don’t eat breakfast together that often) but she should know that a person with a few OCD tendencies like myself just couldn’t possibly consider having the main before the entre or the soup, or in this case, the muesli with the yoghurt, peaches (yes peaches again) and the pawpaw.
Well another minute or so passes and a man brings bowls …..all two of them! Alright for us but pity about the rest of the poor sods!
We savour the experience and Ann heads for the eggs while I fetch the coffee and tea …that’s after a discussion though, whereby she askes what I’d like. “Cheese omelet” I replied, to which she queries, but there’s this and that and that, so I relent and say, “OK, egg and tomatoe”, then go a fetch the drinks.
I get back and look around for Ann …..oh dear …..the queue for eggs is about 10 mtrs long!!!
All I can say about that is that it was worth the wait and I coped OK with three coffees….again. I did get ‘that look’ form Ann but!
So, the point of all this saga is that, I guess I must be winding down, chilling out and getting into the Fiji groove. C’est la vie and all that crap.
Not quite sure how I’ll amuse myself for the rest of the day, but no doubt it will include another adventure out onto the water when the tide comes back in and all other manner of excitement!
24 hours and I’m already sick of this place….
It was only 30° yesterday and even cooler today
The Indian buffet for dinner last night was too big and I couldn’t make much of a dent.
Same at breakfast …I could only eat the muesli with yoghurt, pears & pawpaw, then barely half of the other stuff, settling for beans on toast, bacon, sausage and an omelette, then finishing with marmalade on toast with a coffee.
I had tried to work up an appetite by going for a 25 minute walk around the resort, then a 20 minute kayak and 10 minutes on a cross trainer …but I think that only helped work off dinner!
We hired a car for the afternoon and tomorrow morning to check out resorts in the area for Mu’s wedding next year. The plan there was to head back to Shangri-La (the wedding venue) then see what alternative accommodations are like as the Shangri-La is quite expensive. On the way there though, the plan changed to just check-out the venue, then look at the Outrigger.
The Shangri-La is huge, utilising about half of the 200 acres it is set on (Naviti is a reasonable size and only 21 acres). It has a large conference centre and the marquee that can be used as an inclement weather alternative can cater for up to 800 guests …like I said, it’s huge and pretty damned tidy ….just a pity about the price. We were able to have a good chat and look around with the wedding-planner man and that was all good.
We had tried to get into the Outrigger for this trip, but there were no vacancies and that’s pretty damned big and about 20 minutes up the road compared to the 40plus minutes to naviti.
So that was that, we returned to the resort, had snack, had a read, went for a latish dinner, which was a seafood buffet, but it didn’t look that appealing or have tht many options that I’d be into ….plus not being very hungry from the snack, I just had a burger and Ann had tomato soup.
Finished off the day reading ….It’ll be tough but I will survive!
The tedium continues, but this morning I had a plan!! I ate too much yesterday so this morning I decided to drop the toast & marmalade and the sausage.
Scoffed the muesli but with yoghurt, peaches and pawpaw, then slipped the toast in prior to going for eggs. (a change in strategy here as there's a wait for eggs to be cooked and the other stuff cooled yesterday so I had a fix).
Bread did it's first run through the machine, but I hate raw toast, so in it goes for the second of three runs and at that point I happen to notice the length of the egg queue!! (Thinks Oh FFS). I put raw toast in for third run. Then continue a scan of the dining area (sort of like scanning the road ahead, as a good biker does) and notice a cute wee boy licking a spoon ....nah...it was a damned big ladle stuffed stuffed down his gob!! ....and then he put it back in the peach bowl!! (Double FFS) (I knew it was the peach bowl because he started scoffing them by hand as he headed back to his table). I go back to the table to scoff the toast (with marmalade) and second coffee as I come up with a new plan.
By this time Ann had finished her muesli etc and was heading for eggs, offered to get some for me and I was all, ‘nah she’ll be right, I’ll just give it a miss and have the other stuff (also thinking there was no way I needed eggs!) So off she goes and I’m sitting there thinking she’ll be getting scrambled eggs …that’s good because I don’t need or want a full omelette ….or maybe I should go for a cheese omelette?? ….nah, scrambled will be good. Then as she gets to about forth in the queue, I go up and make the toast ….then she gives me my full omelette!! Bugger, I think, Oh well, can’t waste it so I get the bacon and beans and a third coffee!!
Came out of that a little fuller than I should have been and we head for the car to go for a wee drive towards Suva, but Ann suggests, “Why don’t we go all the way?” so that’s what we did!
I was thinking it’s only about 80 Km, so should only take about an hour or so …yeah right.
Max Speed Limit all over Fiji is 80kph, the roads are narrowish and potholed. The drivers drive at 80kph and brake for most / many of the corners. They don’t have yellow or double-yellow lines as in NZ, they just stick with white paint ….but mostly it’s a double-white. The towns / villages can be 60 or 50 kph ….but most tend to have a proliferation of humps (definitely at each end but often a few in the middle as well) and any faster than 20kph could do damage to the undercarriage. I mean, I say humps, but one gets the impression that they were cast using a forty gallon drum cut in half!
….and more on the potholes! Sometimes they been fixed and the road surface is a little rough, other times they are just potholes, but every now and then, you can’t see the bottom!!! I mean, you see a pothole up ahead, you swing one way or other to avoid it, then you find yourself heading for a series of ever-enlargening, bloody great gaping holes and wishing the car was a rubber-tracked vehicle!
….and back to the drivers! I mentioned they are brakers, but they are also tailgaters, double-yellow (or white in this case) passers and generally totally spatially-unaware. ie. They sit in the right lane on passing lanes ….and don’t pass; they pull out, take off, then slow down; even if they don’t want to pass, they still tail-gate to prevent others from passing ….and there aren’t slow bays or much room for trucks to[J1] make room ….but I suspect they wouldn’t anyway and it’s nothing to have a truck with a queue of twenty odd vehicles following …at 50-60 kph in 80 zones!!!
So we went for a drive to Suva ....and I won't be doing that again!!
We got back, went for a swim in the pool …..ok, we hopped in the pool and chilled out, then later Ann went to the gym while I went kayaking for 45 minutes and tonight went to the Chinese Restaurant rather than overindulge in the lovo evening meal …..and I’ll finish the night with a read. (Mark Twains – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court ....since I saw the Bing Crosby movie as a kid and don't recall much of it)
A few weeks ago I got a nudge on fb that some of my old mates from the ‘70’s were gathering at
Ohakea/Bulls for ANZAC day.
The Air Force is/was a classic place for nicknames, to the point that one often didn’t know the real name of close friends and on more than one occasion, I recall turning up at home with mates and saying, “Hi mum, this is …..??...... TK!!” So I get this message, “Greek, there’s a bit of a Ohakea get together this coming ANZAC day in Bulls. It would be a good ride from where you are. Just saying.....” and that led on to, “Yep it’s Punjab !!! There’s about 20 or more of us gathering in Bulls for ANZAC day this year. I can give you some names, Pedro, Bob and Nuts, Cookie, Gerrie, Snow, Lee Parts, Taiters,” …and so on. “We will be settling in the day before then off to the Dawn parade next day, most of us are there for a day or two more. (Probably recovering) There is rumour of a tour on base and maybe a couple of quiet ones at the Sgts Mess It would be nice if you can turn up but no pressure. It’s a bit of an Ohakea reunion.”
I looked at the names and thought, “Bloody hell, could be dangerous, ….. I’m a bit busy but how could I not.”
I did 20 years service, ended up in Wellington, exited in 1993 and stayed here. Shelly Bay closed down a couple of years later and from that point I had very little contact with any of the old mates. In fact, I’ve only been back on two bases since then to attend an Avionics Reunion in Auckland about 20 years ago, then for the Ohakea Air Show in April 2012. I mean, I have caught up with mates from time to time, but just not that often.
So I figured I really should make the effort. A week ago I dropped the bike in for a service and was planning to take that, possibly even leaving early enough (0430’ish) to make the Dawn Parade, but as it transpired, I needed a new rear tyre (mumble f…. after only 6500km ….although that did include two fairly spirited 1600km rides). Anyway, Easter delayed the order, then shonky couriers that took three days to provide an overnight delivery meant that I didn’t have the bike and had to take the Merc.
The other problem I had was that I’d left the mobile on the counter at the bike shop and told them to put it in the top box (expecting to get it back the next day) so I never had it. Punjab had given me her number so I could contact her to find out where I needed to go once I got there and I wrote her number down on an old envelope (as you do) …..and I forgot to grab it with my stuff, so I get to Bulls about 0800, go to the RSA and find nobody there, go back to the car to get Ann’s mobile and the number ….and find out what an idiot I am!!
After a bit of faffing around (because I couldn’t ring Ann since I had her phone) I eventually get the number and get hold of the group to find they have just gone on base, so I make my way there.
I finally catch up with them and as I’m walking up to the group I comment, “Bloody hell, I came to meet up with my old mates, but all I see is their grandparents!!” to which a dry response comes back, “Go look in the mirror.”
The rest of the day was great. We watched a couple of relics and a few trainers take-off, went for a wee drive around base, had a couple of photo-ops, then settled down in the Sgts Mess to reminisce.
I’d run into Pedro on a TT2000 about 8-10 years ago, Fish when I was on a Uly ride about 13 years ago, Dawn around the time I got out (25 yrs) but the rest I hadn’t seen since before my eldest son was born, so that’s over 40 years. That’s a bit scary really.
The other very Kiwi thing is how small the country is. I asked Gerry where she was living and she said, Nelson and that she’d been working at the Alliance Works. I said, “One of my boys had been working there.” And quick as flash she replied, “Lance is your boy? I thought he looked a bit like you. …wait till I see him” she says. Then talking to Taiters, who has been living in Taumarunui and I mentioned how we had been stopping there to visit a couple of young boys with Muscular Dystrophy on our Uly MDA run. Turned out that she was good mates with their mum and that both boys were now deceased. Bloody sad to hear, but it’s so 2 degrees to be Kiwi.
I didn’t drink at all because I figured if I had one, who knows how I’d end up and I had to drive back to Wellington, so we finished the day (or at least my part) with a visit to the scrub under the Bulls Bridge, where, back in the day, we used to go for ‘bridge parties’, then headed back to their motel. Bridge parties used to involve drinking until closing at the ‘Baggies bar’ then cruising down to the river and lighting a bonfire under the bridge to continue partying until breakfast. On occasion, the fire has been known to get so big that the tar in the seal on the bridge was melting!! It wasn’t exactly approved behavior at the time but wouldn’t be PC nowadays and no doubt some minority group or other dickhead would be up in arms, but such was life in the ‘70’s! …but it wasn’t any worse than a group of officers at the time, dragging a piano down from their mess and throwing it off the bridge! …probably because it was out of tune. I think they called that high-spirits.
After chilling (literally) at the motel for a bit, I headed off at about 1730.
Many thanks for the nudge Eileen! ….sorry, …Punjab! What a great catchup.
Todays ride was a Clayton’s Ride up SH2 to Mangatainoka …that’s the ride you have up SH2 when you’re not riding up SH2, or in other words, taking as many side roads along the way, to minimize the actual time spent on SH2.
We had eight bikes leave Brown Owl, I had a pretty clean ride over the hill, catching cars at opportune times to make good progress and we were joined by John Medlin in Featherston.
From there we stayed on SH2 to Tauherenikau, taking Moroa Rd (Gravel …although hard-pack with distinct, clean wheel tracks …so even the ST maintained 80kph across it) & Bidwells Cutting Rd, coming back to SH2 at the Southern end of Greytown. We puttered through Greytown and once across the Waiohine River, we took Matarawa Rd to Watersons Line; Thomas Rd; Brookly Rd; Mannings Rd; Belvedere Rd, Cobden Rd; Haringa Rd; Magatarere Valley Rd; Chester Rd and Norfolk Rd to run along the Western Side of Carterton and emerge back on SH2 just before the Waingawa River and Masterton.
Having crossed the river, we were straight back off SH2 on Ngamutawa Rd to get to the Loopline, another Km on SH2 and then onto the delightful Mauriceville Rd to Kaiparoro and rather than taking Falkners Rd, we kept left on Opaki-Kaiparoro Rd in order to get back to SH2 and cross straight over to South Rd No2.
South Rd is quite pleasant riding but it tends to be a ‘road less travelled’ and it’s been some years since I’ve been along these roads so it was quite nice to get back on them. Mangaroa Rd turns to gravel though, which continues for 5-6km along Mangaraupiu Rd and I have known this to be relatively clean and quick, or freshly laid thick stuff and today was somewhere in between.
I found the road to be a bit like riding along a hump, with no clean wheel ruts, but the gravel appeared to be thinner along the centre, where the inside wheels from cars going both ways had tended to sit. The problem was that as soon as the big radials on the ST drifted of that apex, they felt like they wanted to drift down through the thicker stuff and who knows where to. I hate that feeling!! I ended up shuffling as far forward and onto the tank as I could to get more weight on the front and just hammered it!! ….averaging 55kph through here. ….Bloody pussy! ….did I say how I don’t enjoy gravel on the ST …and guess who planned this ride!
It was all over in a few minutes though and we were soon scooting along Kakariki, Doughertys, Pukewai & Mangamaire Rds to Bridge St, the Scarborough Rd took us to the Track road and into Pahiatua, where we crossed SH2 to finish the ride on the Eastern side of SH2, getting to the Tui Brewery before 1230.
We went in, only to find there was a 45 minute wait for food! I don’t know what’s wrong with that place because it wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams and this is the second time I’ve experienced big waits here. I suppose 45 minutes isn’t that long but when one has been in Ulysses for a few years, they get a sense of entitlement and a somewhat curmudgeonly demeanor …and as old farts we haven’t got 45 minutes to waste ….so we continued on to Woodville for lunch.
In keeping with the ride, we took Troup Rd once we’d crossed the Manawatu River and slipped into Woodville from the Hawkes Bay side, then had problems finding a decent place to eat because I hadn’t stopped there for so long.
We got away from Woodville at around 1400, most of the group still together and I was home just after 1600 (177Km) and 397Km for the day. I had the thermal liner back in the jacket so it was a cosy ride and quite pleasant.
We had a Uly meeting this week and it was mentioned that Charlie, our Rides man, was in hospital, so I figured I needed to come up with a ride and stand-in as Ride Lead. Steve and myself have done quite a lot of this so I figured it wouldn’t be hard, I pulled my list of local rides and ended up coming up with a short ride (that wasn’t on the list), sent it to Jim to fire out on the branch kumara vine, and that was my Sunday sorted. I guess I wouldn’t be working for a change.
Tyres checked, various battery driven devices and power packs charged, kitted up with the old ride-crew hi-vis with large big-nose patch on the back, I left work a bit after 0900, scooted to Caltex Rimutaka for a fill and got to Brown Owl at about 0940. By the time I did the briefing at 1000, there were twelve bikes, although two were pulling at Masterton to carry on through to Palmy and we hit the road.
I was surprised at the volume of traffic on the hill, although it turned out it was compounded by a group of 5 or 6 camper vans. Most traffic these days are really good at sliding across and making room …that is ….until they’re in a convoy and then they can’t dare to spend time on a glance in their mirrors, or use a slow bay in case other cars pass them as well …..*sigh*!!
The worst for this today was when a camper pulled into the slow lane near the top of the hill for the Maxima in front of me to pass, which she did so …but screw the bikes queued behind her! That elicited a burst from the Nautilus Air Horn as I ventured …..almost ventured onto the yellow!
We regrouped in Featherston then scooted across to Martinborough, took Ponatahi Rd and Carters Line to emerge just before Masterton, flicked onto South Belt and Manaia Rd past the airport, slipped off on Lees Pakaraka rd to get to Stronvar Rd and took that to the Deep Gorge Bridges at Ngaumu.
This has an ancient old disused wooden bridge next to a 1984 vintage new bridge over a 100 ft plus gorge with some slow moving water at the bottom. It’s not too special but several of the riders hadn’t been there before, we loitered about for a bit and had a photo-op on the old bridge then continued via the Water Towers road to the Gladstone Pub for Lunch, arriving at 1223.
That was quite good, there weren’t too many people, we were fed, chatted and left at 1352.
Nobody seemed to want to take the lead, so I did, and came directly home, bypassing Carterton, then once again, making quite good progress over the hill and got home at 1503 having done 277Km for the day.
I think I’ll be doing a few more of these this year.
Bring on 2019, the man said …yeah right! What a sad Sack, 2½ months in, some pretty damn good riding weather and I’ve only had two short rides ….and I haven’t even made time to blog about it.
In late January our friend Fliss dropped by. She had stayed with us for a couple of weeks when she moved to Wellington and advised she was heading back to Auckland (go figure!!) so I made an offer to take her for a ride to see a bit of the local area and on the 27th, that happened.
She wanted to go to Castlepoint, but the weather in Wellington wasn’t that great so we started off by going through Karori and over to Makara, had a brief stop at the beach, continued on to Johnsonville then out to Whitby, around the Pauatahanui Inlet and up the Paekak’ Hill for a Photo Op’. It’s a great view from the lookout, along the coastline and with Kapiti Island in the background ….*sigh* …at least it would have been if we weren’t in the clouds!
“Oh well”, I said, “lets go to the Wairarapa.” So we went back down the hill and over to Haywards, where the skies were crystal clear.
When we embarked on the Rimutaka Hill it was 18°, by the time we got to the summit, it was 24°, as we entered Featherston at the bottom it was 29° and another 13km down the road, before Greytown the temp peaked at 33°!
I always consider 20 - 25° to be optimal riding conditions and at 33 I was opening all my jacket vents and picking lines that ensured I wouldn’t be slip-sliding about on the melting tar slicks and when we arrived in Masterton we decided to pause for a cool drink. 20 minutes later we were back on the road, 40 minutes after that we were at Castlepoint, after another 30 minutes paused we were back on our way and 2 hours later (including a fuel stop) we were home, having done 400km for the day.
It was just a pity we didn’t go straight to the Wairarapa and do a bit more exploring, but Fliss seemed to enjoy the outing.
The other ride was a Ulysses Club ride on the 03 March. It was a short ride to Lake Ferry, which was convenient, the weather was OK and the day before I had worn myself out mowing lawns and trimming trees, so a wee outing was welcome.
After doing the usual tyre checks etc, I had to swing by the office and got away from there at 0920, refueled at the BP on the Self-Serve Hutt Rd, as I was a bit behind time and that would be quicker. I got to Brown Owl at 0950, then we departed at 1005 and I had an uninhibited ride getting away first, so I had quite a good fang over the hill, considering there was a bit of traffic on the way down to Featherston.
After regrouping, I took a position in the middle of the group of 9 bikes as we scooted down the western lake and down through Pirinoa for a pause at the Lake Ferry Pub. We were supposed to go back to Pirinoa for lunch, but because there seemed to be quite a lot of people there, we decided to lunch at the Pub, after which some planned to take an extended ride home, while others just headed straight back.
I was one of those as I needed to go to Harvey Normans to shop for a new washer and dryer because the washing machine had shit itself the day before and the dryer was still functioning OK, but has been on the blink for a while.
Once again I made very good progress through the traffic on the hill and didn’t see any sign of the couple of other riders I was with once we were out of Featherston.
It was another good blowout and now that I have been joined by two new partners at the office, hopefully I’ll see more road time this year.
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!
I took the bike for a WoF on Thursday, went for a coffee while I waited and got back to find it was leaking fluid from the right fork ….bugger! No worries though, the guys at Boyles ordered new seals (overnight), gave me scooter to get back to work and all was good …well almost. I haven’t ridden a scooter before so I hopped on, started it up, gave it a bit of juice ….and nothing happened! I looked down and, as expected, there was no gear shift, so I gave it a bit of juice ….and nothing. Repeat, repeat, turned it off and went to ask. “Give it some juice” the man said, so went back, gave it some more juice and it finally started to move when it seemed to be nearly red-lining! Fifteen metres later I was coming to the giveway sign so I grabbed the clutch and found it was a bit ‘grabby’! … ie a handful of rear brake suddenly applied causes the back wheel to skip a bit sideways. Next thing I’m pootling along Karo Dve …which leads to the motorway and I thought, ‘oh shit, I shouldn’t be taking this thing on the motorway’, then figured, oh bugger it, I’m straight off again and continued. It was raining so I dropped it home and took the car back to work.
Next day I took the scooter to work and had to brave the even worse elements to pick up the ST. Scooters don’t do it for me!!
I let Steve know my plan for the day to see if he wanted to join me, then once I eventually got home, I did the usual stuff, tyres, packed, got the gear ready etc.
I got up just after 0500, scrubbed, kitted (fully with wets), farted around trying to get the new rear tyre pressure sensor to work, but couldn’t and was late getting away, so I didn’t arrive at Caltex Rimutaka until about 0605 and was surprised to see about 20 bikes there already, I filled, signed the disclaimer to say I wouldn’t blame myself if anything went wrong, took a few photos, then Steve and I were first away at 0617.
It was still wet with the occasional drizzle so we embarked at a semi-brisk pace and as we descended into the Wai’rapa there was no improvement, however, as we skipped along the Masterton bypass at 0700 some of the road was dry and I spotted the tiniest hint of blue off towards Woodville ….and now the fun began.
We still needed to leave plenty of margin for error, but these roads are pretty good so we slipped into GC mode, adopted a pace at the top end of the allowable limits and averaged 102kph through to the first checkpoint at Mauriceville, grabbed the pic and continued via Dreyers Rock Rd, through Alfredton and onto Pa Valley Rd to the next CP, being the road sign at the junction with Estcourt Rd.
It was still wet with the occasional drizzle so we embarked at a semi-brisk pace and as we descended into the Wai’rapa there was no improvement, however, as we skipped along the Masterton bypass at 0700 some of the road was dry and I spotted the tiniest hint of blue off towards Woodville ….and now the fun began.
We still needed to leave plenty of margin for error, but these roads are pretty good so we slipped into GC mode, adopted a pace at the top end of the allowable limits and averaged 102kph through to the first checkpoint at Mauriceville, grabbed the pic and continued via Dreyers Rock Rd, through Alfredton and onto Pa Valley Rd to the next CP, being the road sign at the junction with Estcourt Rd.
We were now back onto main roads up to Ashhurst, across via Colyton to Cheltenham, over Vinegar Hill to SH1 and up to Turangi for our first fuel stop. We were operating at the top end of the allowable limits and were making good time, but once we passed Waiouru, for some unknown reason, the pace lifted another notch, but our average through here wasn’t that great as there were queues of traffic to negotiate over roadworks. We did catch two of the Masterton boys through here and got caught by the third, but they all left Z Turangin before us and we never really saw them again. The roadworks were crappy too because they were wet, but where that usually offers a bit ‘sticktion’ between the bits of gravelly pieces, this stuff was sort of slushy, with cement mixed in (and my poor baby still hasn’t had a clean up).
We pulled into Z Turangi for fuel at 1013, having done 370km at a moving average of 96kph and we’d only paused for 4 minutes on the 3 CP’s, so we were doing OK and had a relaxed 13 minute fill, snack, drink, clean-the-visor (for Steve) and Colin arrived while we were there.
Back on the road we passed Phil at Tokaanu (who, it transpired, had paused to remove a bee from his helmet) and had Colin in tow as we crept (yeah right …at an avg of 104) over the saddles to Kuratau and up the western lake road. For some odd reason we seemed to carry our pace (and some) from the Desert Road over to this leg, so the average pace was a little higher than the allowable limits, but hey, the sun was shining, the roads were dry and the dogs had been couped-up for ages!!
Steve had to pause to fix something at Whakamaru, so I dropped to ‘putter’ mode and Colin gapped it (probably because he didn’t want the slow-pokes in front of him through the good bits), Steve caught up again and we embarked upon the choicy bits for the day by the Waipapa Dam. Once again, I wasn’t totally comfy through here but still managed to make quite good progress through to Ngaroma Hall, arriving as the Masterton boys departed, then leaving a minute later with Phil pulling in. (but that was all we saw of that lot for the rest of the day) PS. We’d ended up averaging 105kph for the 128km from Turangi.
Next stop was the Otohina farm and we had to negotiate 53km of sweet tighty-witey stuff to get there ….primo Waikato roads that were built when the gents driving the graders knew how to do it and when the Ministry of Works boys weren’t leaning on their shovels, they laid a good base. Bloody sweet and the best part was that having a GPS that knew where it was going, I could just focus on the ride …..and we arrived as Nathan was leaving. (I guessed it was Nathan since the tail of his bike looked very ST’ish!)
Once again, the stop was barely more than 35 secs before we were moving again and with the next CP only being about 10km away at the Rangitoto Hall, we were there in 7 minutes, stopped for 50 secs this time and I was surprised that we didn’t see Nathan again, but we did catch him on the run into Te Kuiti and he pulled aside to let us pass. (Go figure?) That was a waste of time on his part though as I was day-dreaming on the way into the town limits and nearly missed the turn, but Steve must have been up my date and all I heard was, “I’ll take the next one!”, but when I got to the rail crossing on main road there was no Steve and I had to wait, so Nathan slipped back on past.
We followed him out of town and he gradually pulled away (because we are good little law-abiding characters!?), but as happens, depending on traffic and corners, we would sometimes catch him, then passed him and led to our next fuel stop at BP Taumarunui.
Once again, we had a fairly relaxed stop here, taking 11 minutes, in which time Ken (from Masterton) and Nathan left and we were surprised to see Colin roll in a) because he was on a GSA and had fuelled in Turangi; and b) he’d bolted on Waipapa Rd and we expected him to be closer to National Park than Taumarunui at this point, but it transpired that he had missed a turn and enjoyed more of those Waikato / King Country backroads than he was supposed to.
Anyway, by the time we got back on the road, we were 660km into the ride and had a moving average of 96.7kph with a stopped time of 31 minutes …and now we had one more CP to get at Upok and were homeward bound on a favourite road ….so we gave it some juice!! ….but not too much ….and we did get slowed down following some dude in a red car with blue and yellow patches on it as we approached National Park.
So anyway (again) we scooted along and managed to average 108kph to Raetihi ….and then our last bit of fun began.
Nth to Sth on the Para’s is a downhill run and the ST is a bike that doesn’t have a lot of engine braking so it tends to carry speed into corners when you’re on a roll-on – roll-off run, which is how Steve and I tend to ride. By this time in the day (700+ km) and with the finish looming, I was feeling in the groove and felt like we were making really good progress. On top of that, there was a bit of traffic, but we seemed to be catching it all at the right time, whereby we just flowed past them, rarely getting held up. The GPS told a different story but!
I have found in the past that even when ‘pushing the pace’, one is lucky to pick-up just a few minutes over the Para’s, but on this occasion, we were well along and I happened to check the GPS and commented to Steve, “Bloody hell mate, I thought we’ve been going well through here, but we’ve lost three minutes on our ETA!!” Steve agreed that it felt like a nice pace and that we were in the groove …and sure enough, when I checked the Track Log on Sunday, we’d averaged 103kph! It was a bloody nice ride!
, Last checkpoint was another 30 second job at 1508 and we were now down to the last 200km to Sanson, then down SH1. The traffic was moving pretty well and we were riding ‘assertively’, maintaining an average just under 100kph to Levin, but between the lights and traffic we started to lose time from there on in. We were passing shitloads of traffic though and as we approached the new expressway, I spotted another bike in the traffic ahead …it had to be Nathan.
We were reeling him in through the traffic, but once he got to the expressway he took off and we dropped behind again, but once he got back into the traffic after Mackays Crossing, he sat where he was while we continued to pick up a car here and another there, closing to within a dozen cars of him before we got to the WRB along the coast, then half a doz cars as we came out of Pukerua Bay …and then the bastard hit the double lanes and took off again!
He was probably half a km ahead by the time he pulled up behind several cars at the roundabout …and he’d pulled up very close to a car in the centre of the right lane ….so he wasn’t going anywhere! But I on the other hand was in full ‘assertive’ mode (read that as aggressive or arsehole if you wish, 'cos I had a big grin), hitting the queue as the front cars started to move and I just cruised down the channel, powered out of the roundabout, then hit the lights as they turned orange …and caught all the lights through to the Paremata roundabout, as well as the Police College ones …so I was now out of range of Steve’s Sena (ie more than 2 km ahead) …so I slotted behind a car at 80-90kph for the next few km until the boys caught up.
We finished by taking the Murphy St exit, went down to Kate Sheppard Pl, then accidently turned up the one way to get to the Backbencher, to find that Ken had just pulled in too. I grabbed the camera, went inside and was a bit surprised to find that the four of us were first home, because we were expecting the other Masterton boys to be ahead of us and probably others, but apparently we had passed them at Te Kuiti. It was a pretty damn good ride with us completing the last leg in the Saturday traffic at 92kph and the 1,013km at a moving average of 96.5kph in 11:03 with 33mins of stopped time.
We had a coffee, a beer and a snack and I settled down with Graeme to see the rest of the riders in and listen to some of the stories and it was good to hear that all seemed to enjoy the day as much as Steve and I had.
I was a bit worse for wear when I had to work on Sunday, but it was bloody marvellous to have had such a fine time whilst raising over $1,000 for the kiddies with Muscular Dystrophy.
Below are the routes out of Wellington & Hamilton (Click for full view)
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 blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.