At last! ...Last week we were into the final countdown for the NI1600/800 event and there had been much printing (Rider Guides, Certificates, Rider Cards, Map Sections, etc, etc) receipt of T-Shirts, Badges and Patches, preparing other bits and pieces to take for HQ …and Friday morning we were off, Ann in a fully packed up car and me on the bike.
I left home around 0700, spent a bit of time at the office and got away from there at 0750, topped up on the cheap fuel in Levin and arrived at camp, after an unexciting scoot up SH1, at 1118 (overall average of 91kph) and Ann pulled in a few minutes later with all the gear.
After catching up with Riza, we went to the hall and started setting it up to suit our needs, I got the bike scrutineered, we pottered around meeting and greeting old mates and new initiates, met a rep from the local constabulary who was somewhat concerned about the hordes of filthy bikers descending on his patch, went for takeaways and finally got to release the routes at 1900, then spent the rest of the evening helping various bods work out their routes, fuel and answering questions.
Saturday morning was quite nice as the weather tried to lull us into a false sense of security (But I knew better and my wets were parked with my other gear, ready to don before the ride started). The camp was pretty ‘buzzy’ with about 110 bikes this year (two on the 800 carrying pillions) and the atmosphere was much like that of the old Rusty Rides …bloody marvelous …and we even had an international entry in the 1600 this year with PeteH from Aussy, who had done a lot of IBA stuff.
For myself, I was riding the 800 this year because we couldn’t get volunteers to act as checkpoint marshals at two of the manned CP’s, so a couple of us would head out late that night to attend to that. Originally we were to go to Te Kuiti for a few hours, but in the end thought it would be more important to man the CP at Z Dublin Street in Whanganui (from 0100 to 0800), but three days before the event, a massive slip closed our planned route up the Paras, so some quick changes were made to move the route to SH1 and the CP to BP Taihape.
I had no fixed plan in mind this year, except that I would start at the back of the field, ride by myself, at my own pace and see what panned out.
After breakfast, 0930 comes around pretty quick (for the briefing), once one has fueled, checked the tyres, packed the camera and sorted the GPS and it was quite refreshing after years of awful waiting for the 1500 GC and 1300 NI1600 starts. The briefing took about quarter of an hour, I put the wets on and it was soon 1000 ….damn, I still had 18 minutes before Group 7 would leave so I grabbed the camera and took a few photos, then fluffed around putting the ear plugs in, starting up the GPS, cooking on the bike for a bit, then noticing that our start group had closer to 20 riders rather than 11 (because some had held back to ride with mates) ….FFS….and that meant delays so I didn’t get to depart until 1023.
Did I mention that I was planning on a daylight ride? Well yes, I was planning to get in before 1930! …or cut the ride out in about 9 hrs, which would require a brisk pace and minimal stops for good progress. …So with me instantly into GC-mode, by the time I’d got onto the road, then along to SH41 and sneaked out while others were faffing around waiting for traffic, I had already passed about 6-8 riders ….and I suppose that set the tone for the day.
It wasn’t raining at all but the roads were wet in places so care was required, and the riders ahead of me seemed to be maintaining quite a good pace, but I passed a few more of them on the way to Kuratau Junction, then a few more along the Western Access road, where we did encounter short bursts of heavy rain as we approached Whakamaru and it was really nice to wave as I passed riders who had stopped to put their wets on! …*Sigh*…some people really are aresholes!
I was soon off the sweepy, quick SH32 and onto the sweepy, quick Wapapa Rd, which turns into a nice tight section as one approaches the Waipapa Dam. The road was wet but I was still making good progress until pulling up to about 8-10 bikes following an SUV. There’s not many passing opportunities in there but I did pass one chap, then couldn’t believe it as we came to a clear section ….and nobody was moving …..so I did! Passing all the bikes and the SUV and I was back in the clear to continue making my very good progress to the first CP at Korakonui School in the Wharepuhunga area.
As I pulled into the CP there must have been at east a dozen bikes and many of them were still there as I departed, GPS indicating that I almost took 45 seconds to park up, grab the camera, take the pick, pack the camera away and start moving again. (175Km done and it was now 1158)
Back on the bike, I slotted in behind MarkI, who was riding with ChrisA (Both Double Badger entries) the roads were still wet and 7.3 Km later we pulled up alongside BanditRider, ColinL and JohnG (more Dbl Badgers) at the SH3 intersection opposite the Te Kawa servo. What amazed me was how these very experienced Distance Riders turned left on SH3 after watching us cross onto Te Kawa Rd, but I suppose we all have the odd brain-fade on these rides …and it suited me immensely as these are three very experienced and efficient riders who effectively just waved me on through!!
Shortly after that, Mark had a moment (joys of a wet road), causing him to slow slightly, so I slipped past him and next thing same happened to Chris, so I found myself leading and since it was only 22km between checkpoints, within 12½ minutes of leaving Korakonui School, I was pulling into the Tihiroa Hall amidst what must have been 15-20 bikes …So another 45 second stop and I found myself pulling out behind Steve, Woody and Dave with what looked like about half of the other bikes still there, so I figured I must have been about half-way through the field at this stage.
I should mention, that up to this point, my friend Kate (the GPS lady) wasn’t talking to me. She hadn’t said a peep since I left and I figured that I knew the route, had the picture on the screen if I needed it and therefore, I should let the sleeping dog lie ….rather than try to wake it up and have it spit the dummy!
So I was now puttering along behind the boys, with Dave leading at a comfortable pace, listening to my music, the roads dried and as we entered Pirongia on SH39, the Wiltshire group pulled off (obviously for fuel for the teeny-tanker Stella was riding) so 3 more bikes were passed. Then North of Pirongia, the boys passed a couple of trucks, so I followed and as I’m about midway along, I notice the street sign for Te Pahu Rd …..Doh!! I was going to take that road!!
Oh well. I stayed in behind the guys and continued puttering to Whatawhata and around the corner to the next CP, New beginnings Church at the top of Te Pahu Rd. This leg was only 42 Km long, taking us 25 minutes, followed this time by a 55 second photostop, so the others were still getting off their bikes as I waved goodbye to take on the delightful Raglan Rd (SH23).
I attacked this road with a hiss and a roar because it’s one of the few roads in the country with a clean hotmix surface, fantastic curves and short straights with enough room and vision to pass when required …in other words, a bikers delight and I was being absolutely delighted!! …at least, I was for a little bit because about half-way along, the road got wet (it wasn’t raining though). Now on this road, that shouldn’t be much cause for concern, but what the hell, there was a proliferation of squiggly tar-snakes about an inch wide.
I didn’t think much of this at first, but then I clipped one and was most surprised at the amount of movement as a result, so from there on there was a slight reduction in pace and much care on the lines and avoidances of said snakey bits!
I still made good time out to Te Uku and turned onto H22, which I haven’t done for some years. Once again, the road was wet, but this one is narrow, prone to having loose grit on it and also has it’s share of slick patches, so now the pace really did slump. It would have been nicer in the dry, but I did still enjoy the ride and I managed to push hard enough through here that I didn’t seem to lose much time off the ETA.
I got to the next CP at Naike Hall, 63Km from the Church and that took 43 mins (a humble 87kph for the leg) and after another 50 second photo-stop, I was on my way to the next CP and fuel at BP Bombay.
This 53 Km leg was done in 36 mins, so more of the same pace, but the surprise was to come at Bombay.
I’ve done 550Km out of a tank of gas on the ST, but that was generally on State Highways, under the speed limits and with a locked wrist. One can get 500Km with a little care, but I’ve also had just over 400Km out of a tank, so the bike economy is very much related to pace and curves (ie when one is on and off the throttle). In this case, I was 334Km into the ride and the bloody thing took 22 Ltrs on board into a 29Ltr tank (that one can only get around 25Ltrs in). I suppose in short, one could say that I’d had a bloody good fang!!
After a relaxed 7 minute fuel stop, I got on my way again, made it onto the SH1 slipway ….then realized I hadn’t taken a photo!! …what a bloody dickhead!! Fortunately I wasn’t onto the single lane yet so I flipped around and went back, took a photo and worst of all, wasted a whole two minutes!! *Sigh*
On-On again and I was soon onto SH2 and those lovely 90kph zones with solid double-yellows! I really hate this road as it’s always chocker with horrid, arrogant, Dorklandeers, however, on this occasion, I have to eat my words because using the ST’s ‘presence’ (as you do), 9 out of 10 cars were moving over for me …and well ….the tenth ….I just seemed to get past somehow.
It was still slow going but 63 Km later I was embarking on a couple of the sweetest roads in the country, SH25A & SH25!
And what an absolute blast that was! The roads were dry, there was a bit of traffic, but nothing that really hindered my progress and the ST was in its element. ie. a 300Kg truck that handles like a Lotus. (Sorry if the analogy shows my age).
Anyway, the scoot down to Waihi was interrupted by two checkpoints, the first (CP6) at Opoutere School (437Km into the ride, so about halfway) and the 2nd (CP7) was 12Km later at Whangamata School. The ‘blast’ continued to Waihi, then got tempered by the Karangahake gorge (which is littered with double-yellows) then I was into the boring crap to Paeroa, across through Morrinsville, Mystery Creek, Te Awamutu and down SH3 to Te Kuiti (CP8).
This was the home stretch and SH30 was dry, clean and another of those sweet roads around the Island that is just a series of high speed sweepers, where one just dials in a pace, locks the wrist and sits there …or perhaps that should be ‘flies along’. Considering that the pace wasn’t far off that of the first stint up the Western Lake, the economy was a full 2 points better …I’m not saying the economy was good, but 2kph is 2kph and another 50’ish Km out of the tank! …But the smile ….that was from ear to ear! ….and the ETA was tumbling! So I was pulling up at Whakamaru at 18:02:33 and pulling out by 18:03:15, picture snapped, Cheshire-cat-grin still in place, a dry western lake road beckoning and me thinking, “Hmmm, I could probably do this in 8½?”
The last scoot down the lake and across SH41 wasn’t anything special, apart from being a bit quicker than my usual pace but I pulled into HQ at the Turangi Cabins at 1847 absolutely fizzing …and ready to do that again. What a buzz ….but there were no other bikes there!!??? Damn, I’d been wondering where the rest of the bikes were since New Beginnings Church, as I hadn’t seen anyone since then??
I took my last photo of the odo and checked in, faffed around a bit, had beer and eventually had a feed, sneeked off for a scrub and bed about 2200 and caught a couple of hours kip prior to the next phase of my night, ie CP duty at Taihape.
I was up before midnight and we got away shortly after (Brett, Ann and myself), arriving at Taihape a little before 0100. The weather was crap and man, was I glad I did the 800! Hehe, I did advise the 1600 riders at the briefing the night before, that, “although I appeared to be grinning, I was weeping for them on the inside” and sure enough, when the first guys started coming through around 0200, on faired bikes with top of the line gear …they were wet through!
We were trying to monitor their progress via Spotwalla, but that was very erratic and the job was a real bore so it was really fortuitous that our selection of CP’s was made on the basis of coffee & pies. It also made me feel really, really guilty about the poor bastards running the CP at Gull Paengaroa in 2018, because that 24 hour Servo turned out to be an unmanned card pump, and they were hunkered down on picnic tables, outside, with no refreshments whatsoever!
Last guys through at 0830, we finally left at 0900 to head back to Turangi and fart around for the rest of the day, then headed home on Monday.
It was a great weekend! We did have a few glitches and problems, but it generally went smoothly and I suppose the event continues to improve and evolve. I just need to do the 1600 now for my Double Badger!
Another last minute decision was made to ride yesterday, after finding that perhaps I wasn’t as far behind at work as I thought. Next decision …where to?
That wasn’t too hard because this year I have registered as a Double-Badger with the intent that I need to ride the NI800 on the weekend in order to take off afterwards to do Checkpoint duty for the NI1600, as we couldn’t get volunteers for two of the three manned CP’s this year. Therefore, I figured that I don’t need to focus on the butt, but I do need some technical riding to get the eye in, the lines good, the pace into corners right …and all that with some semblance of good economy!
I sat down with the laptop and within a few minutes I had a plan.
I needed to get Spotwalla sorted to test that for the NI800 …but being more focused on other things, as it turned out, that didn’t work, so enough said about that.
I sorted the GPS, phone and checked the tyres then got away just before 0900, filled at the Caltex on Hutt Road and the mission had started. The route was 576Km and had me scooting over the hill, nipping out to Martinborough to take middle road back to Masterton, onto the bypass and head for Mauriceville, cut across Dreyer Rock Rd to Alfredton, back out to Pahiatua so I could go via Makuri to get to Pongaroa, then to finish off, I’d cut back out to Dannevirke, via Weber, but divert further north to exit on SH2 in the Ormandville area, just to get that extra top-up of technical, then have a nice return on SH2.
Leaving Caltex had the ETA at 1512, which seemed a bit quick for that ride but hey, the thought of trying to get back by 1500 seemed like a ‘plan’ and I had a good start over the hill, with little traffic (for a Sunday), then more empty roads over to Martinborough and through Ponatahi, had a few minutes off the ETA …and then I was into the good stuff.
The Mauriceville road is always a treat, Dreyers Rock Road always needs care, I continued to make good progress through Alfredton and out towards Pahiatua, but I was only just maintaining the ETA at 1508 …which just isn’t fair because I thought I was pushing along at a rather good clip. I haven’t ridden the Pahiatua-Pongaroa for a few years and that was east to west so this was a good test for the riding. Once again, I thought I was making good progress …but I lost 3 minutes!! …and as I swung onto Route 52, I needed to pause for a ‘natural break’! …and I spotted Steve, Woody and Dave so I refreshed then stopped for a chat. (These guys were out doing the same thing, prep-riding).
After a few minutes (8:17 to be precise), I carried on with my mission and maintained good pace along the Weber Road, but after turning off to head up toward Ormondville, that road is really narrow (single lane stuff) and a really good test of how one is riding. ….umm, yeah, I guess I’m riding sort of OK. It was certainly a great way to finish of before enjoying the easy trip back down SH2.
Maintaining a good pace on these sort of roads comes at a price, and by the time I got down to Dannevirke I thought I might as well fill-up, which at 366Km is a bit light for an ST …although I would have made 400Km so only 100-150km short of a normal, placid State Highway riding! …oh and while I was prepping to pull into the BP, who should I see filling their faces at the Black Stump café, but Steve, Woody & Dave.
The rest of the trip was pretty same ol’, same ol’ and at the end of the day, I manage a moving average of 90 kph (after losing heaps in the usual Sunday traffic over the hill).
That was a good day and only two weeks now to the event.
I missed the opportunity for a ride in the mint weather last Sunday as I had to mow the lawns at the flats (…kinda lucky I did because after about 4 months, it was a bit of an effort). So anyway, with another primo weekend on the forecast, I decided that Saturday had to be ride-day.
I figured about 600Km would be nice and as the clock is ticking down to the Ooctober event, a mix of technical and bum-numbing State Highway would be good, so that was easy, a scoot up Route 52 to Dannevirke, then over to Whanganui and back would be a blend of techy, sweepy and bland roads.
After putting some air in the rear tyre, I was ready to go at 0817 and as the fuel was on three bars, and Caltex is now off the AA card, I thought I might as well wait until Masterton to fill to see if it’s any cheaper than the Wellington prices (turns out not much).
It was a bit cool over the hill, dipping to 5º but the traffic wasn’t too bad and I was heading out of the BP on Chapel St at 0938 after a casual 7 minute stop …well …the heated grips had been on full and the cold-squeeze had been nipping at the bladder!!
Route 52 needed a bit of care due to the temperature and the bright sunlight as it is one of those roads where sections never see the sun through the winter and with the bright sunlight, the transitions into the shade make the road hard to see/read ….so I tried to make good progress …with care!? I thought I was doing OK too, but it was frustrating to watch the ETA slipping …so I upped the pace ….and I upped the pace ….and at times I was flying ….and occasionally I might pickup a minute!!
It’s been awhile since I’ve been up Route 52 and at times it was great, then others I was surprised at the amount of repairs, slumps and crap. It was good for the riding though and getting back into tune and once I’d got past Weber, the road widened, was cleaner and the pace got fresher.
I bypassed Dannevirke and as I was heading South, it occurred to me that I hadn’t done the backroad form Oringi to Bluff Rd (by the Bridge south of Woodville) for some years so I thought, “Bugger it, lets go mate!” and I swung off at Oringi. Trouble was, most of the time I did that road, it was south to north and so it transpired that, I sort of knew that I was taking a wrong turn, but I did it anyway and ended up taking the lane along the south side of the river to Mangatainoka!! *Sigh* …oh well, I’ve only done that one once or twice and that was refreshing.
I made my way back to SH2 and although the GPS was suggesting to swing west to bypass Woodville, but I thought nah, and took Troup road to make my way to Pinfold and Oxford Roads to go over the top, then onto the Saddle. That’s certainly improved with a big section of wide hotmix, but the 80kph is a bit tedious.
From there I was onto the Colyton road, through Feilding and onto Halcombe Road …and I do enjoy the Halcombe road with it’s nice rolling sweepy corners …and before you know it, I was in Whanganui. I was actually supposed to visit whanau, but by the time I got there, I just wanted to get home and thanks to the fresh pace I’d been maintaining much of the time, I was already down to three bars on the fuel so I headed back to Bulls for a fill.
I was now onto the home stretch, but a few more km would be nice, so I took a few backroads to get across to Shannon, avoiding SH1 traffic, as well as Foxton and Levin. A lot of good that did though because it turned out there had been a big accident on the Expressway and I had to endure shitloads of traffic to get through Waikanae and Paraparumu. Bloody frustrating.
In the end I managed 613Km for the day in a bit over 7 hours, which was sort of slow considering the pace at times, but I suppose I lost a bit of time through sections of Route 52 and at least I’m still here to tell the tale.
Just over a month to go to the big event so I might get another ride or two in before then.
The other day I was looking at stuff for this year’s NI1600/800 and realized it’s only a month before cutoff for entries, and that lead on to realising we are only two months out and I still haven’t done any prep, whereas normally I’d start doing a couple of rides in July, so I thought I better get off my arse and do something.
Apart from being a bit preoccupied with other things, I suppose I’ve been a bit slack as I’m just thinking of doing the 800 on the weekend this year and that shouldn’t need much butt hardening, but then again, it’s also about getting in the groove so one feels comfortable and the ride goes smoothly.
So after being put off by the weather forecast and dithering around a bit, in the end, I decided yesterday that I would be riding today!! …albeit in a pretty relaxed manner. As usual, I normally start the programme with a simple SH ride in order to start with acclimatising, or hardening the butt and SH2 looked like it would be drier with the weather coming in from the west. So a scoot to Woodville and back was all I was looking at.
I needed to have a gym session first, so got there by 0725 and did an hour of cardio before going home to prep the bike. ie check fuel and pump the tyres, make sure I had charged power packs, Sena and phone, and get the gear on.
By the time I was ready, it was 1000 and I thought I should but the wet pants on, …in the hope I wouldn’t need them …and told myself I was a bloody dreamer!! I put them on anyway, but not the jacket and hit the road ….which was generally wet even though it wasn’t raining.
The hill was pretty clagged in, but I still didn’t put the wet jacket on and when I got to Featherston I need to stop to put that and the Rain-Offs on. That wasted three minutes and I had to pass all the same cars again.
The weather through the Wai’rapa was reasonable through to Masterton, but worsened as I approached Mt Bruce …and then it pissed down, so I considered diverting via Mauriceville to head east, but I continued through Eketahuna and a bit before Pahiatua, the roads were dry ….and then it started to rain again!!
It ended up taking two hours to get to Woodville and I just headed straight back with plans to fuel up in Pahiatua or Eketahuna (since I’d started with only half a tank), but I was still on two bars at both places so continued to Masterton. I was also figuring I would like to do 400km and I was going to be a bit short, so I decided to throw in Wainuioru and the Water Towers ….and that road was dry, but from Middle Road to home was wet again, so I enjoyed a bit of a burst before settling back to a sedate and careful finish.
It was quite a good day as I haven’t been out for a couple of months now and the butt seemed to cope OK, but I don’t enjoy the wet roads and experienced quite a few very minor twitches, even though I considered I was riding carefully. Riding the Hill was rather tedious as very few vehicles made room and only one used a slow-bay, so that combined with the wet roads made for a very casual pace. I did 409Km for the day and I suppose I need to figure out a plan for conditioning and prepping for the event …and if I am to do the 1600 or 800 on the day.
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.
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.