With no clearance to drive/ride (for medical reasons) in October, I missed the 2020 NZDR rides and my riding buddy Steve was therefore given a dispensation to ride the NI800, with other buddies on that weekend, as part of his double-badger entry, then ride the 1600 with me once I was cleared. That happened in December, but Steve hasn’t been available until now, which was sort of convenient as that gave me time to do a bit of conditioning and rearrange a few things.
The rides are all blogged, but they included, the 2017 (failed) and 2020 1KC’s, the 2017 (failed) NI1600 (modified to a 2,000km ride), then the 2020 NI800 (modified to a 1600 after deciding not to attempt coupling the NI800 & 1600 back-to-back as a Bun-Burner) …and now, finally, this.
The route was modified for a Wellington start-finish, which expanded it to 1700km, ride plan done, ride-day selected (Friday, since Steve works weekends), weather checked and plan to meet at Z mana for an 0200 start (as that would get us back in time for a proper night’s sleep).
I had had new tyres fitted a little early, (they probably had enough life for the ride, but the front had squared off somewhat, the rear was getting down and it wasn’t worth the risk) plus they had an air filter in stock, and since that was about 4,000km overdue and the economy was poor, I had that done too. After the usual packing and prep, I hit the sack at 2000 and was surprised that I got about 4½ hrs sleep in, awaking with the alarm at 0100, scrubbed etc, joined Steve at Z Mana, fueled, paired our Senas and departed just before 0200.
I led out and it was a relatively sedate and uneventful trip up SH1 to Sanson, then across SH3 via Whanganui, although the cold squeeze (it was 14º, but a cold 14º) required a brief pause there, then it was on to Hawera and round the Surf Hiway to the 1st CP at Challenge Rahotu. From there it was a short hop to Caltex Elliot St in New Plymouth for fuel.
By now it was 0605 and finally, sort of light, with the prospect of some better riding, or at least, some more interesting roads and I must say, both Mt Messenger and the Awakino Gorge were delightful. We paused at BP Te Kuiti for a CP pic, then carried on up SH3 to Te Kawa, then took more good stuff on the Waikato back-country roads past the next CP at Wharepapa School, then carried on over the Arapuni Dam to Putararu, to take SH5 across to the Rotomas.
We had encountered our first stop-go of the day in the Awakino Gorge, but we had barely arrived, then filtered to the front of the queue when we got the go, but as we were descending SH5 to Ngongotaha, we caught one that had us sitting there for 8mins ….and we were to later strike another two with lights and four on lollipops around the East Cape …that was bloody tedious, costing us about 20mins all up. But anyway, we had a jolly good fang over the Rotomas and were soon stopping at Z Awakeri for our next fuel stop and a light snack.
The temp was getting up into the 20’s now, so I removed the skivvy before heading to the next CP, being the Te Kaha RSA. Up until now we had been cruising along on the usual allowable limits and had an overall average of 85kph arriving at Awakeri, but that had dropped to 82kph after the 22min stop. We were now about to embark on the good riding for the day, but with our next fuel stop set at BP Kaiti in Gisborne, at 385Km, I figured that with the curvy, hilly roads ahead, we would be pushing the limits on Steve’s 400’ish Km range, so we dropped the pace a notch and adopted a more economic style. We could fuel at the CP in Tokomaru Bay if we’d needed, but we were riding to a plan.
It didn’t make too much difference though, because even with the the two CP photo-stops at Te Kaha and Tokomaru Bay, plus all the roadworks (some of it thick, slip-slidy, dusty, gravel) and the stop-goes, we still managed to maintain and 85kph overall average to Gisborne. We had been warned of the bad slumping as well …and there were the odd moments, but I must say, the KSS reworked suspension on the ST handled it a breeze and it was a nice ride. We were now 1,143Km into the ride and after another extended (25min) stop at the BP for a pie and coffee (not the norm for me on these rides) it was now 1544, when we moved on.
At this point, I crossed the road to wait for Steve, then got blocked by the traffic, as he came to the flush median then merged, so Steve took the lead from there to Napier and that was more sweet riding. I’ve been over these roads a couple of times in the last few months, but it was now getting later in the day and the temp had already peaked at 25º, so not too hot and on this occasion, there was no worries about tar melt. Steve was therefore able to take it up a notch again and we made good time, through to Napier, even with an abundance of traffic, but then we nearly had a wee incident at one of the roundabouts on the Expressway, whereby some stupid bitch cut across the oncoming traffic, causing them to emergency brake in the middle of the roundabout, causing Steve to have a few palpitations, while I was off to one side and slid back through to the lead. We got through unscathed then made our way to the narrow lanes out of Waipuk’ and eventually made it to the CP with a moving average of 93kph at the junction of Te Uri and Mangahei Rd, then onto the last fuelstop for the day at BP Dannevirke …because I wanted to be home by 2200hrs.
It was a lovely evening with dusk seeming to linger for ages and even once it got dark, the temp was still 17º so I hadn’t bothered to put the skivvy back on, then we were onto the last wee fang for the day, the Rimutaka Hill. I was still leading and tried to take it at a gallop …but by then it was quite dark and after a long day and very average night-riding skills at present, ….it was more of an uncomfortable trot!! What was amazing though was that we didn’t encounter/pass any vehicles until just after the summit!
Steve pulled off at Brown Owl and I carried on, finally getting home at 2156hrs, having done 1708Km for the day. That had taken 22hrs 22mins with 1hr 55mins stopped time, which translated to a Moving Average of 93kph and Overall Average of 84kph.
That’s 17 1,000 milers done now, so maybe I’ll get to 20?
The TT2000 was this weekend, which was a ride incepted in 2009 by Mike Hyde, who wrote the Twisting Throttle Books and hence TT. The 2000 is because it is 2000 Km in 48 hours …or at least, it is for most. The ride concept / details are usually released around July for the February ride and in the current format (it has morphed through a few variants over the years) riders are given a cluster of compulsory checkpoints which they can collect in any order, plus there are 4 ‘Mystery’ checkpoints (one is given a photo to work out what and where), then there are optional ‘Flyers’ in the general location of the checkpoints, plus ‘Adventure Flyers’ (ie gravel road access for those who like to lurk on the darkside!) I should mention that Mike died a few years ago and fortunately Wayne Poll and a few others have kept the ride going ….and I might add that the organization of this ride way exceeds what we have to do for the NZ Distance Riders rides.
When I saw this year’s options I was quite interested because the ride was in the North Island (in the past it has had optional sections in the North, or in 2018 one could opt for a North or South total route). I should also mention that just getting the compulsory CP’s doesn’t accumulate enough points, or enough km to qualify for the ‘badge’. Anyway, it struck me that this ride could probably be done in 24 hrs: a) because it was in the North Island and I was sort of familiar with most of the roads and b) because I knew where three of the Mysteries were and they were on the route, so all I would need to do was run up a few extra km on an unmonitored quick road.
From there I did nothing as I was a bit preoccupied with other things but the concept and a plan was lurking in the back of my mind, then after Christmas I had a good look, formulated a route, changed it, then invited one or two like-minded souls to join me. ….well I thought they were like-minded but all I got in response was, “You’re mad!!” So much for thinking people are friends! Although to be fair, the main reason the invites went out was because someone who has a bit of a say in what I do ‘demanded’ that I be accompanied! FFS, when I responded that I was and there were another 160 riders doing it, apparently that wasn’t good enough!! *Sigh* … It took some convincing, but in the end, I was granted leave!
I should mention here that on past TT2000 rides I have done, I could put in up to 40 hours of prep work, fine tuning the route and CP options, identifying CP’s that could be dropped if we were slipping behind schedule and trying to allow for all sorts of contingencies. This year there was very little of that …..because I’m just a dickhead!!!
The extent of provisioning and prep was: 1) to see if the organisers would allow my plan, (it certainly wasn’t encouraged, but you could sort of sense the sigh and the thoughts of “oh bloody hell, one of those” running though their minds, 2) get the bike serviced for it’s 132,000km check, 3) print a booklet of the CP’s, scale the route schedule to the requirements of a 24 hour tie frame and drop the route to the GPS …oh yes and liaise with Chris Wiltshire to work through some issues I was having with Spotwalla and this was important as it would mean I could apply for an IBA 2000 Km in 24 Hrs Saddlesore.
During the ride I recalled an old saying that went, “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail!” Yes well more on that as we go.
Thursday night rolled up and the forecast was generally good, the bike was prepped and clean, a bag was packed (on the pretense that I could then stop if I needed to). I had a supply of water, nut bars and bobby-bananas, wets, which I wouldn’t need, and all the other crap that one carries when they get into this type of riding.
Friday morning and I was on the road by 0800, headed up to Ashhurst, filled at the Mobil there at 0945, then went to the start/finish at the pub to register. I then remembered to reset the odo’s on the bike and GPS, take a photo of the bike mileage, then loiter about meeting riders I knew etc until the briefing at 1145, then grabbed my T-Shirt (CP photos need to have the T-Shirt in them as this means they can only be recorded after the start), then I was one of the first riders away, which was a good thing as I was opting for an anti-clockwise route which meant my start would take me over the Saddle and it’s bad enough passing cars over there but nothing worse than trying to pass bikes …that aren’t passing cars. So I was off to a cracking start!
I guess I forgot to mention that this ride involved 20 photo stops and 5 fuel stops, with my plan allowing for a generous 2 minutes per photo and 10 minutes for fuel, which equates to 1½ hours of stopped time. Now I have managed to get photo stops down to 45 seconds and fuel down to 4 minutes, so there is potential to save up to 45 minutes in the stops, ….however, it is easier to take longer than the provisioned times, or need extra unplanned-for stops that chew time on the road,. Another thing I did for this ride was tape the ride schedule to the tank so I could easily identify the CP’s as well as check my distance, fuel and compare my progress to the schedule So I needed the cracking start.
Anyway, I scooted over the Saddle (sometimes within the limit) bypassed Woodville, flicked off at Mangatainoka (the home of Tui Beer), skipped across to Kaitawa Rd …only to find it was closed (Roadworks) (FFS?). There are certain roads in this area that I know very well and quite a few that I’ve never, ever been on and Mangaramarama Rd was one of these, but I took a punt that it might link across to Hamua Rd, but alas, this is Tui country so that was a big “Yeah Right!, it was a dead-end and I just wasted 5Km! ….(double FFS!!!). There were bikes stopped at the closure when I got back and sprinted in to Pahiatua to head South to Hamua Rd and I found it odd that a couple of the Masterton boys were on SH2 (but they must have known about the closure, I passed them with several other bikes in tow and took Hamua-Rongomai Rd to get to the other end of Mangaone Rd, which would have me back on track to Alfredton, via Pa Valley Rd, then I was surprised to see the others continue straight ahead on Tawatai Rd! That’s Gravel! …but they were on adventure bikes ….bloody darksiders just saved themselves 6.5Km! Meanwhile I galloped through to Alfredton and on to the CP, pulling in from the North as the dirty dogs pulled in from the south ….must have been slow gravel?? Oh yes, and Pa Valley Rd had a section with a good sprinkling of dust and grit. I came onto it at pace, misread the dusty surface and experienced a massive slide on the front wheel as the whole bike started to drop to the right. I had corrected on the front as the back wheel started to slide, then it stopped sliding and turned into a high-side …but fortunately the correction to the front wheel had started to correct and it had just enough momentum to bring it back upright and back on track! Biker Hail Mary’s were uttered!
I pulled my T-Shirt and camera out, stuck the T on the tank stepped back, the T blew off the tank, I picked it up, positioned it again, took the pic, then had to pull the phone to force a point on the Spotwalla track as it only samples every five minutes and this was an out-&-return point, then finally got back on the road …using all of my 2 minutes!!
My plan originally had me collecting this pic, then going out the same way to SH2 to go to Dannevirke, then into Weber for the next CP. This was because I needed extra Km on the ride and knew that I could collect extra Km whilst making better average time (even within the limits), so whilst taking the diversion I had considered whether to now take Route 52 via Pongaroa instead and that is what I did. The other thing that happened at this time is that the GPS had fixated on some phantom, missed via point, so I had to stop the route and reset it, only to find that the Weber CP had fallen off the route!! Bugger Me! I added it and got on with the job …all on the fly.
I caught three other riders through here considered that we were hammering along at a good pace, but shit it was hard work and I didn’t really need that with another 23 hours to ride. Initially I was riding the rut to avoid the abundance of loose grit, then as the temp got up to 29º, I found myself riding the hump to avoid the glistening ruts. I passed the other riders before Pongaroa then lost them after that, thinking they must have stopped there, but then I encountered them again when they caught me at a stop-go for Road Works!
We scooted through to Weber to find the Renshaw boys already there, I fumbled around three times with the T this time, did the phone thing again, then was surprised to see all the other riders had opted to head back out to Dannevirke rather than opt for Route 52. Damn that would have been hard work to make good progress in this heat and I was operating to a strict time frame.
I caught the other three, we passed the Renshaw boys and mate, then I lost the others as we approached Dannevirke and I took Tipapakuku Rd to bypass Dannevirke. From there I was extremely happy with my choice to come back to SH2 because I was clipping along at a little over the allowable limits, but it was very relaxed and easy riding. …and then I discovered that the Waipawa CP wasn’t on the GPS route either!! …so I added it. (Fortunately I had downloaded the whole GBD file including every CP, so these CP’s were coming up at the top of the list, being the closest to my current position, in the ‘favourites’).
I pulled into the Waipawa CP to find Roger & Bee Allen taking a snack stop in the shade, so I took my pic (without issues) then had a short chat (using all of my allotted 2 minutes), then carried on. Next stop was the first Mystery CP, being allotted the nomenclature of Mystery #4. Obviously the producers of the route were ‘Clockwisers’ and I was going the wrong way. Interesting that I was asked before the start which way I was going, to which I replied, “Anti” and the response to that was, “That figures!” Now what the hell does that mean?
Anyways, Christ Church appeared to be hosting a wedding or the likes at the time so that was almost convenient and I didn’t even cross the road to get close, just hopped off, placed the T, snapped the pic and lit out for Bay View.
Once again (this is looking bad isn’t it) BP Bay View was scheduled as my first fuel stop (to get the 98 octane and AA fuel discount) while Mobil Bay View was the CP ….but it wasn’t coming up on the GPS!! No worries, I pretty much knew them off by heart…and I had the list on the tank …but it would get dark later and the list wouldn’t do me much good then, would it?
So, bike fueled, my third or forth wee banana snacked, with a gooey nut bar this time (do you realise it’s almost impossible to buy a decent nut bar without chocolate on these days?), a natural break taken and probably well and truly past the 10 minute allocation, then it was 200 metres down the road for the CP pic, then it was on-on to the next Mystery, being the Lighthouse by the river in Wairoa.
It’s always nice riding through there so I continued to make good time and arrived to see Topher & Goose enjoying a snack, they departed as I was doing my thing with the T and another banana, and then I was surprised to catch them on the road. I say surprised because Topher is not a rider I’d like to try to keep up with when he is ‘on a mission’. As it was, I was happy to slot in behind them as they were almost on the same pace as I had been, however, he was more relaxed with the passing and in the end I felt I needed to keep on track to stay ahead of the schedule, so I passed them. Well, I passed Goose and I’m sure at that point Topher lifted the pace ever so slightly?? …now I couldn’t attest to that in court, but to support my claim, a quick check in the mirrors indicated that Goose had dropped back a tad!? Of course, perhaps he just forgot to speed up again after letting me pass?!
Anyway I lifted again, failing to keep those beautiful lines that topher does, …but managing to make good progress in my own poor form!
As I entered Gisborne I happened to notice that I had just ridden past the turnoff to the Te Araroa (East Cape) road and thought, “Hmmm, I’m sure I should have taken that road?” and a quick check revealed that sure enough, the GPS was taking me into town, for no particular reason, then onto Opotiki??? Another sigh sighed, a quick addition to the route and I had to ride through the Main St of Gisborne to get to Wainu Beach! It wouldn’t have been much, but more time lost!
This time I had to have a quick check of the booklet to ensure I was photographing the right thing, then Topher & Goose turned up as I was ready to leave. At this point I was about 550Km into the ride and about an hour ahead of schedule as it was closer to 1730 than the calculated 1830, and I was about to embark on the Waioeka Gorge and the temp was dropping from the 32º peak experienced earlier.
Now heading for Opotiki, I wasn’t passing much traffic, but there was a bit coming the other way and it wasn’t until he was right on me that I noticed a big white ute had some natty squares painted on it. Whew, he either didn’t have a device, or it wasn’t on, (probably didn’t have), then another 5 or 10Km down the road I spotted a car with similar markings. Now I did have the sun in my eyes at this point, but I’m sure he was giving me the evil-eye and possibly a finger shake, but he didn’t turn and pursue so I was obviously operating within the allowable limits aye?
The ride through there was quite good (thankfully with a dry road as lots of potential slick spots) and I had soon fueled at Caltex Opotiki, then taken the CP pic as I left town. On this occasion I had to check the booklet again as I pulled up beside a sign, then discovered I needed to take the ‘50Km Opotiki’ sign, but I was able to do that from where I had stopped. Next stop Maketu and my plan had taken me via Taneatua as this adds 5Km to the distance for about 2 minutes extra on the time.
Now prior to the ride, I had had discussion with other riders about the merits of the Taupo Turangi road (which has major roadworks) versus the Western Lake road and at this point I realised that Wai-o-Tapu (Sth of Rotorua) isn’t that far from Awakeri, and that perhaps this would be a better option as I could then drop straight to Turangi from Tirau. Problem at this point is how that would affect my fuel plan and timings and since I’d known about the road conditions prior to the event …I’d failed to plan for contingencies, so stuck to the plan I had!
The 116km trip from Opotiki to Maketu saw it transition from dusk to dark and with just a sliver of moon, it was to be a very dark night. (this section was scheduled as approx 2100 to 2200, but I was still about an hour ahead).
The Maketu CP was new territory for me and it had dunnys, so was rather convenient. I did my thing, put on a skivvy as I was starting to feel cold, in the ever so balmy 17º, and got back on the road to find the GPS was trying to get me to decide whether or not to take the toll road, so I selected yes to take it, but turned out I had selected yes to not take it. I wasn’t too fussed either way, but it probably would have been better to get straight on the Expressway. Tauranga didn’t pose any problems and then I had the 60’ish Km of double-yellows to Waihi and a bit more traffic than I was expecting, but that was probably partly due to me being ahead of schedule.
I enjoyed a good fang up to the next CP at Whangamata, then down 25A to the Mystery #2, the Bugger Café Tractor (I thought it was Bugger-It Café) on SH25 at Pipiroa.
From there it was on to my next fuel stop at BP Bombay and that was really odd because I was thinking it was a manned 24Hr jobby? Well it is, but via a window slot for fuel only, which was a bloody nuisance and at this point I did put the wet jacket on as the temp had dipped further.
The next CP was just down the road at Pukekohe and once again, I got to the CP ok, but then had issues getting out. I was supposed to do a loop, coming out on a different road, but the turn didn’t come up and I found myself heading off to NeverNever Land. I thought I should have been heading towards SH1, But I had no idea, so I turned around and headed back into Pukekohe, then I missed the turn to take me back to Bombay so went around the block, chewed up a bit more of my bonus time and eventually got back to the motorway and onto my next CP at Whatawhata.
I thought the Huntly Bypass had opened a few weeks ago but not so, and I was stuck in traffic due to lots of lane closures, so when I got through Huntly, I stayed on the (familiar) road to Ngaruawahia, through to te Kowhai and on to SH39. I was soon at the Whatawhata Rugby Club, then off to Tirau …the next right royal pain in my arse!
Nice easy riding through Hamilton, onto SH1, around Cambridge, through Karapiro and got to Tirau …only to find the Main Rd (ie SH1) was closed!! FFS you Double-Die Kiwi Bastards!! I didn’t have time for this so I slipped onto SH27 and headed East, with half an idea of where I was going?! What really pisses me off though is now that I have had time to look, I’m not totally sure but I did about 10Km up to Okaroire and back, whereas now I see that there was a street 200mtrs up the road that would have taken me across to the CP at the Fire Station! I don’t know if that was just another problem with the GPS, or perhaps that it hadn’t re-calculated the route after turning off and I was passed the turn, however, it should still have suggested a back track?! …or perhaps it was and just got lost I the blur of my mind?
I now needed to get to SH5 to get across to Rotorua, then down to Wai-o-tapu. Before the ride I had had a discussion with Topher, about the Taupo-Turangi Rd and made the decision to take the Western Lake, as that would buffer up my total Km mid-ride, rather than at the end, but it occurred to me whilst on the road that this could upset my fuel programme as I wasn’t totally sure how many Km I was adding (even though I was on a very conservative programme). I made a decision to pause by the BP on Fairy Springs Rd, where I was on about half a tank and thought, “I should have heaps” then carried on, but after grabbing the CP pic at Wai-o-tapu and as I approached Wairakei, I noted I was down to three bars, but hadn’t been monitoring the level close enough to know how far into the third bar I was, so I gave in and headed straight to Turangi.
The road wasn’t bad at all, with a a few sections of gravel, but there were two sets of stop-go lights and the first set was several minutes. Not what you want when you’re on a mission. Another issue that manifested at the first stop was for me to notice fumes rising out of the front of the bike and a bit of an odour that I didn’t recognise …but I wasn’t in a position to check it out so I continued, took the CP pic at the rest area as I entered Turangi, then headed to the Z for fuel. This is another 24 hr fuel stop that in the past has been open all hours, but now isn’t even manned!
Next stop, Awakino, so I was off over SH41 to Taumarunui, SH4 to Eight Mile Junction, then down SH3 to the Waitomo Garage at Awakino. I had now been up for over 20 hrs, this leg was taking me between 1400 and 1600km into a ‘spirited’ ride (not to mention the 150Km to get to the start) and I was starting to feel the affects of fatigue. Not what one wants so as I came into Pio Pio, I made the sensible decision to have an extended unscheduled stop.
I pulled into the dunnys which had a nice disabled/mothers restroom in the middle. I was therefore able to take the helmet and jacket off in order to put a 2nd skivvy on, as the temp had come down to 11º. It was also raining, though not very bad, which the forecasters had predicted, but I thought it was just local so I left the wet pants off and just changed to the winter gloves. I took the time to have a daily constitutional, then took a multi-vitamin tablet with water and a nut bar, jumped around a bit, which the trucky sitting across the road must have thought a bit strange and eventually felt pretty refreshed and continued on my way, feeling much better and prepared to attack the Awakino Gorge.
Yes, well, I had been advised about roadworks at the start of the gorge, but once again there were two lots of lights and more wasted time. I did end up behind a big truck but took an assertive approach and he didn’t bother me for long and I soon had the Awakino pic in the camera. It was now lightening up and next stop was Okato!
I was surprised to find that Mt Messenger has finally been resealed and has a good surface, I made my way through New Plymouth and in no time all had the Okato pic, but where I had expected to be coming out of the rain now, it was just getting worse. This was a real problem for me as I was relying on opening up the taps as I made my way around the Surf Highway, but now I had to take real care …you could say I was torn?!
In the end I decided that I was too close to the goal and I needed to throw caution to the wind. This did too things. It meant I was able to stay on track and preserve my time buffer, but probably more importantly, it required heightened focus that really did get rid of any more symptoms of the fatigue that was starting to creep back.
I took huge care to ride the hump to maintain the best traction possible and let the speed roll off if I thought it needed to and ….well I guess I’m still here to tell the tale, so all was good …and I made it to Manaia to get Mystery #1.
When I got to Hawera for my last fuel stop, I used the pay-at-pump option and couldn’t get a receipt, but figured I didn’t really need it anyway. I also finally put on the wet pants and changed back to the Summer gloves with Rain-Offs then continued the battle with the conditions and a bit more traffic to the last CP at Kowhai Park in Whanganui.
That done I was still only on 1900Km so I needed to burn some Km and started to think about the best option as I headed for Ashhurst. In actual fact, considering I had added a few Km in a couple of spots, I was actually close to target, so I must have been cutting a few corners, although Route 52 via Pongaroa would have slashed a few K off the total. In the end I opted to take Whanganui rd into Marton (rather than Makirikiri Rd to bypass it), then headed up to SH1 North of Marton before heading down to take the halcombe – Feilding – Colyton roads to Ashhurst.
When I got to Ashhurst the odo was reading 1990Km and the GPS was showing 1984Km, so I decided to head up the Pohangina Valley for 10Km to give me enough buffer to cover both readings, plus I’d forgotten to send a forced point on the out-&-return to Wainui Beach, so I went about 1Km past Pohangina Valley East Rd and stopped to plant a message/point on the phone …only to find the phone was dead! FFS! It was pissing down so I just hopped on the bike and headed back to the pub.
I got back to the pub at 1122, took the gloves off and grabbed a towel to dry the dash and the GPS, pulled the camera and photographed the odo and GPS Tripmeter, then went inside for some relief, after which I realised I needed to contact Ann to let her know all was well (in case she had been trying to contact me) and Wayne to advise I had finished and hadn’t just gone Awol.
The phone had been plugged into the bike power, in the topbox, for the whole ride and as it transpired, it had decided it didn’t want to be charged any more and (fortunately) it was dead flat rather than cooked (it had felt a bit warm). I then grabbed a power pack and went back into the pub to make the text and call. I was going to have a feed, but as I was dripping I decided to just get back on the bike and putter home!
I was back home by 1330, having done 2306Km all up and feeling a little shattered! I figured I was OK for the TT, but had lost my track for the Iron Butt, so I downloaded the photos and dropped them in the TT dropbox, then went to download my GPS tracklog ….only to find there wasn’t one!! That pissed me off more than anything as I usually refer to that for the blog and check stuff and hence a blog with now ride stats at all. …and that really finished the thoughts of qualifying for the Iron Butt saddlesore.
This would have to be the worst ride I’ve ever been on for issues, especially with the GPS combined with the most inconvenient road closures, but along with the lack of options due to lack of planning was just dumb!
I nodded off on the couch a few times before finally going to bed and now my wife is telling me I should have listened, not gone on the ride alone and although I can say, “I knocked the bastard off!” there’s certainly some merit in enjoying doing it over two days, at a comfortable pace, with stops and meals, and drinks, and telling lies over a beer with like-minded mates at the end, but hey, although maybe I shouldn’t have got out of bed for this one, “I did knock the Bastard off!” That’s three 2,000+Km rides I’ve done now and takes my 1600km ride tally to 14. I’m still anti, an arsehole and certifiable!
Some fool came up with the idea of riding both the 800Km & 1600Km rides this year and calling it a Double-Badger! …and some other fools bought into it!! For myself, someone known to be a bit psychotic at the best times, someone who tends to enjoy operating on the fringe, someone blessed to have several ‘internal’ friends …..yes well …this idea sparked a bit of a discussion along the lines of …. Oooh mate, that’s great, you can turn up and flip one way or the other depending on the weather!…bloody great idea! ….ride most of the 1600 in daylight! …pick a nice day and start when you want!! Yeah, yeah, yeah! (Perhaps I should mention here that this idea played into my hands because although I had all these secret thoughts and discussions between me and my internal mates, in the end I had the perfect excuse, “I had to ride the 800 so I could do CP Marshal duty for the 1600). ….*Sigh* …..yes well, some people never learn.
I suppose I should also mention that, as it turned out, this year’s 1600 riders enjoyed a pleasant start to the ride, then rode though a God-Damned-Awful wet front as it slowly worked it’s way up the island through the night and all turned up at our Taihape checkpoint looking like drowned cats …. and did that put a smile on my face?? …you bet (‘cos as well as being marginally psychotic, I’m a fully fledged arsehole!)
As I mentioned, all these great ideas kept being passed around in my mind with the reassurances, longest day, warm summer weather, and yesterday I did the Double-Bloody-Badger 1600 component with my (real) mate and riding buddy Steve.
Since we live in Wellington, that meant our plan was to join the ride at Shannon, so that would add about 130-200km to the distance, depending on where we started and finished, so the start was set at BP Mana and finish would be Brown Owl, since it made more sense to return through the Wairarapa and over the Rimutakas, since that was more-funner riding than back down SH1 …and of course, Steve lives in that Brown Owl area (so I would have another 30’ish km on top of that.
There was no fixed plan as to when we would ride, but probably on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year, (or some nice day in that period), but as the fates would have it, Saturday the 21st was scheduled to fall at the end of a wet week, whereby a massive high would sit over the country and it would be just perfec’ …and it just so happened that Sunday the 22nd was schedule to be the Longest Day ….and a few other things happened that meant I needed to get it done and dusted before Christmas! …so 1am at BP Mana it was!
Friday I knocked off a little early, checked the tyres and packed, eventually getting to bed at 2030, with the alarm slamming me at 0001 (midnight would have been too early), then after dithering about I was away late at 0050, arrived at BP Mana at 0105 …it was shut and Steve was waiting at the curb!! (you’re not seeing a trend here already are you?) So we popped down the road to Z Mana (Steve had already filled), arrived there at 0106, took 7 minutes to fill at a pay-at-pump bowser, because on the 20Km from home I had realized that a T-Shirt and unlined jacket with summer gloves, just didn’t cut it, so the wet jacket and mid-weight gloves went on!
0113 we were on the road and on our adventure, with the first scheduled stop at Shannon, but we had to stop at Paekak’, 14.7km at 0124, because some dickhead couldn’t drive! (I think I already mentioned that I was an arsehole) but on this instance, a car was upside down on the other side of the road, in an 80kph zone and on a straight section of road!!?? …FFS …there may have been extenuating circumstances, but at face value, the cynic in me doesn’t have a lot of sympathy at this stage ….and because the dickhead cost us 10 minutes!
So at 0134 it was on-on and at 0218 we had travelled 83.5km to Shannon where we joined the prescribed NI1600 route by taking a photo of the old Post Office …and did I mention it was a bit cold at 8º? Well it was, because the heated grips were on, but I still had to change to my winter-weight gloves …so the photo-stop took 2 minutes!
Next stop was BP Taihape, so SH1 bland riding and at 0341 and we had 218km done at an overall avg of 89kph. This was just another photo stop, but as we approached I asked Steve if he wanted a coffee because at that point, the temperature had dropped to 4º and I was freezing ….and severely feeling the affects of the cold squeeze, so we pulled in for a 25 minute extended stop where I had to strip off the jackets and put on two skivvies and I woofed down a banana, bar and some water.
The next leg of our adventure took us up to Taumarunui for fuel, then we had a CP at the junction of River, Ohura and Mangaparo Roads, then another CP by the junction of Ohura Rd and SH4. The scoot to Taumarunui saw us transition from a very cold black night to a lightening sky as we transitioned up SH4 to the west of the mountains and it almost got properly light as we entered Taumarunui. We arrived there at 0527, 352km into the ride and we had another relaxed 11 minute stop, then it was time to visit the Ohura Loop, from the Forgotten Highway end.
I’ve been through this road several times over the years, with the last visit being on the 2015 NI1600, however it must be about 13 years since I’ve been through in this direction. I thought the road seemed rougher than my last visit, with more care required, then, a few km after passing through Matiere, I was a bit distracted, saw a road sign indicating the direction to Taumarunui and next minute the GPS was telling me to make a u-turn. Whaaat!! Being a dingbat from way back, I stopped, then thought, “stupid GPS, this is a great road (a vast improvement from what we had been riding on), so we continued, but my vague recollections were casting doubts ….but we still continued to continue ….and emerged on SH4 to find that the dillbrain leading had taken us over the Okahukura Saddle!! ….Bloody dickhead, 25km later we had nipped up SH4 to the CP on Ohura Rd and back!! ….and it was still a cold 8º!
From here it was on to a revised CP at Kurutau School, as I had had “one of those discussions” with the NZDR Routemeister and because of the extra km we were doing, he gave us a dispensation of not having to go all the way to Turangi and back to Kurutau (a saving of about 40km), so at 0747 we were pulling in, 520km done and 45 seconds later we were pulling out for the scoot up the western lake road, where we extended the pace from the holiday tolerance to the normal tolerance. That’s always a nice pootle and the ride up Waipapa Rd was even nicer and we had soon crossed to and were pulling into the next CP at Wharepuhunga School. Well it seemed soon as we were now 651km in and it was 0904. ….and we still had the wets on to keep warm.
A minute later we were doing the 22km across to Tihiroa Hall, changed the gloves back to the summer jobbies, then went up to the next fuel stop at GAS Whatawhata. (715km at 0947) The GAS servo didn’t have facilities for another cold squeeze induced natural break, plus the temp had finally elevated enough, so we went across the road to a café for another break, so the 10minute fuel stop morphed into a 45minute fuel and coffee stop …..ok, I tend to avoid caffeine on these rides so I settled for a hot chocolate and cheese scone, but I also removed the wets and one of the skivvies. Then as the next CP at the New Beginnings Church was only 1km down the road, within another 2 minutes we had that (and the photostop was somewhat quicker with the summer weight gloves back on), so at 1038 we were embarking on a gallop over the Raglan Rd, then up H22.
On the NI800, Highway 22 was wet, I was losing time on the ETA and it wasn’t that pleasant, but this time it was dry and we were able to maintain a better pace and start peeling back some time, so by 1156 we had travelled 830km, picking up the CP at Naike Hall and the CP at BP Bombay. I must say I rather enjoyed that leg of the trip. But next we had the tedious job of going across SH2 to Kopu.
I must say, the dorklander car drivers weren’t too bad on this occasion, because if they didn’t see me, at least they tended to move over for Steve after I had squeezed past between them and the yellow line …..(pfftt…how can someone not know they have an ST behind when it’s looming in their mirrors!!??), but we actually managed to maintain an average of 90kph across to Kopu, and then we were to embark on our treat for the day. Up SH25A to Opoutere, then down to Waihi, before encountering more tedious double-yellows to Z Bethlehem …but that was not to be!!
We were romping through traffic over 25A when we had barely made halfway and encountered a bloody great queue of stopped traffic, so as you do when you are on a bike, we started filtering to the front. We had averaged 81kph across the 20km to that point, and filtered for 1km, when we met a motorcyclist coming back the other way, who informed us that there had been a bad accident and there was no way the traffic would be moving anytime soon! We were nowhere near the front of the queue and there were busses and big boats being towed, so there was no way they would be turning back, but we flipped around, had a brief discussion of options and decided to return on 25A, go down to Paeroa, but because we had plenty of fat, by way of surplus kms and because we’d been robbed of the one of the peachiest parts of the ride, we wouldn’t go through to Waihi and endure the crappy ride through to Bethlehem, but instead we would cut across to Te Kuiti from there on the NI800 track. I suppose in hindsight, we should have gone along Old Te Aroha Rd to rejoin the route by Te Poi, but we didn’t think of that at the time because we were gutted that we’d been deprived of our fang over half of 25A, then down 25 from there to Waihi ….criminal it was, just criminal!
We encountered our first enforcer for the day shortly after Otorohanga. He was following a vehicle that was obviously aware of the cops presence and hence driving at the indicated speed of 100kph ….but his true speed was actually varying between 89 and 93 …so we passed them in a very restrained fashion and arrived at BP Te Kuiti with 1,102km done at 1515. This was a CP and our newly revised fuel stop (due to the change of route) so once again, we enjoyed another casual 40 minute fuel-up, snack and Hot Chocolate before embarking on SH30.
We now felt we were getting through the ride with only 600’ish km to go, and we made very progress across 30. In fact, one could almost say we were making up for earlier and had a jolly good fang that continued across Poihipi Rd to Taupo where we transitioned through town and embarked on the Napier-Taupo Rd within the tolerated holiday limits, but the temp had now plummeted back to 8º …and then it started to bloody rain, so we stopped to don the wets and got passed by all the cars again.
Much care was now required thanks to the marvelous condition of the NZ highways and as we descended close to Bayview, the rain was easing and we could see some blue sky ahead …but it was still friggin’ cold! Napier was dry as we made our way down the Expressway and across to the CP at the junction of School and Middle Rds, then enjoyed a nice pace over Middle Rd down to the next and last CP at the Patangata Tavern, then on to our last fuel stop at BP Waipuk’. Those occurred at 1398km / 1905; 1429km / 1927 and 1452km / 1942 …and now we really were on the scoot for home.
I should mention that there was a car upturned on it’s roof, on a straight, along the Western Access road and between Pahiatua and Eketahuna, we encountered another care in a ditch, on a straight, being attended to by Police, Fire and Ambulance personnel, so we encountered four quite bad accidents on our day out, when the lowered tolerances are in place and people should be taking more care! …and the dickhead powers-that-be are talking about lowered limits and more barriers!!...maybe I need to write a rant blog on that subject?
Anyway, longest day and it was daylight all the way down to Woodville, then various stages of twilight through to Pahiatua-Featherston …and then it got really, really dark, really, really quick, to the point that I found myself rather disoriented on the Rimutakas. Not in a way of being impaired, but more so like I didn’t recognize the road or where I was on it ….and then we were finished! 1682km done in 21hrs 05 minutes (which included a couple of hours of stopped time) and I ended up doing 1741km in 21hrs 53.
…. And it was a right royal pain in the arse!! Literally and figuratively! It was much bloody colder than when the ride was held in October and we encountered a goodly chunk of crappy rain! OK, it was mostly in daylight, which was alright, but Double-Badger idea be damned. Do it in the middle of Summer he said ….when it’s warm and the days are longer! Global Warming my arse! (I’ll accept the Climate Change argument, but warming be buggered!!) And then being much inconvenienced by dickheads that don’t appear to know how to drive. That might be a bit harsh as there are many factors that can cause strife, but upturned on a straight dry road in an 80kph zone?? …*Sigh*
It was a ride but! Quite a long ride at that, but nothing like it was supposed to be…and it was my 13th 1,000 miler. Lucky for some I guess!
Saturday saw the running of the 13th 1KC, formally the C1KC (Capital 1,000 Km Cruise), but that name was dropped after the NZ Distance Riders included the event on their calendar and commenced a separate route out of Hamilton.
The ride started in 2007 when my riding buddy Steve and I were discussing whether or not to travel to Christchurch to participate in the ‘Longest Day’ ride, which is a 1,000Km ride run by the Chch Ulysses, however, being a bit of a tight-arse, in the end it was decided that we could run a 1,000Km ride and save the cost of a ferry ride!!
And so it came to be. 2007 saw 19 riders embark out of Caltex Rimutaka, 2008 saw the numbers escalate to 50, an entry fee charged for badges which were introduced and the ride became a fundraiser for the Wgtn Ulysses Muscular Dystrophy Ride, whereby Christmas presents are purchased for children afflicted with the disorder in the Central and Lower Nth Island. That seemed like a good idea at the time because I had been going on MDA rides since 2005 and I found it disappointing that the presents up until that time were ‘very average’!
In 2007, I was awed that the Rusty Nuts had been running their Grand Challenge 1,000 miler for 21 years and never considered we would still be doing this, especially after Grub Collins died on the Forgotten Highway on the 2008 C1KC, when riding in a group with Steve and myself. That wasn’t very pleasant and could well have been seen the demise of the ride, but for encouragement from his partner Kari and the fact that we were raising funds for the MDA kids….and for some years now, the 1KC has been fronting with $1,000 per year for the 25-30 presents needed.
It’s been hard coming up with routes, but thusfar we have still managed to include new roads to the event each year and the punters seem to be enjoying it.
Fortunately I don’t have to worry about the 1KC (Nth) out of Hamilton as Topher attends to that and we just focus on the 1KC (Sth), which this year, the route included a bit of farting around in the Wairarapa before a scoot around Mt Taranaki (since the Northern route went around East Cape).
I’d packed the bike and checked the tyres the night before and my plan was to get there by 0600 to get the bike ribbons, disclosures, certs and badges to Brett, then get an early start in order to get back early to help him at the finish, but I didn’t get there until 0607 to find that there were already about a dozen eager-beavers ready to get on with the day’s event. After handing over the stuff, I had a quick chat with Steve and we decided to ride together, getting away just after 0615.
It was steady as she goes stuff over the hill and we caught a group, that didn’t seem to be interested in passing a car or two, near the bottom of the hill, so we scooted past them, then found they hooked on the back as we went up to Masterton, took the bypass, went out to Te Ore Ore, losing them temporarily on Route 52, but they arrived at the first CP just before we departed (84Km – 0712). It was surprisingly warm (20º) and I had left home with the thermal liner in my jacket and winter gloves on, so the gloves came off here and got swapped for the summer jobbies.
We continued on our steady pace to the 2nd CP at Alfredton (109Km – 0730) and more of the same over Pa Valley Rd, through Tane and across to CP2 at the junction of Mangaramarama Rd and Pahiatua-Pongaroa Rd (141Km – 0751). The Masterton starters were loitering there when we arrived and were still loitering when we embarked on leg 4 to Pongaroa.
That was quite nice with more steady-as-she-goes stuff, but by the time we got to Pongaroa, (190Km – 0825 overall average at 88kph) the thermal liner definitely had to come out and we actually took longer than a minute at that stop, which was enough time for Big Col to rock in and rock out, the Masterton Gp to turn up and the Napier starters to come in from the North.
On-on and on this leg we started discussing fuel options because, for the first time in a long time, I hadn’t planned anything as originally I was planning to ride solo and it wouldn’t be an issue on this route, but now we had to think about Steve’s range. In the end we got to CP5 just before the Dannevirke town limits (249Km – 0903 – Avg 89kph) and he had plenty so decided we would divert for a fill in Feilding.
We took Makirikiri Rd to SH2, turned left for Woodville taking Pinfolds and Oxford Rds to bypass the town and take the Saddle over to Ashhurst, then out via Colyton to Feilding. It was now 310Km into the ride at 89kph average, but the 7½ minute fuel stop had our overall average back to 85kph as we started the short scoot via Cheltenham and Kimbolton to the next CP at Pemberton Corner.
More steady as she goes and we re-caught ChrisA, MarkI and CliveB at Cheltenham, …or at least, nearly caught them because they had paused at Cheltenham to meet up with more mateys, but Chris passed us just out of there and they did a runner, then their mateys passed us with a hiss and a roar through the curly section north of Kimbolton. I was riding a bit cautiously through there as I found it difficult to read the road surface, which looked like it had grit on it, although it didn’t really feel like it did, so I was ‘riding the rut’ in the car tracks.
We soon pulled into the junction of Rangiwahia Rd and Mangamako Rd to find that group still there at 358Km – 1022 and avg back to 87kph, but our leisurely 1min 20 sec photo stop was too casual to get us out in front of them …and this last piece of nice curly road for the day saw them do a real runner as they had soon gapped-it out of sight.
Once we emerged at Ohingaiti, we took SH1 South and diverted though Marton and onto the tedious slog up SH3 from Whanganui to Hawera, where we diverted via Meremere to bypass the town and head on to Stratford. At that point it was looking really dirty ahead and Steve’s Sena had gone flat, so we stopped to puts the wets on and for him to hook up a power pack. Halfway for the ride was just before Patea and we were now at 577Km – 1243 and back to 89kph, but an 8minute stop saw that back to an 87 average. The worst thing was that less than 15 minutes down the road at Inglewood, the roads were dry again!! *Sigh*
The Sentry Hill CP7 was reached at 614Km – 1316 and back to 88 avg. Bandit rider turned up while we were there, then gapped-it, it was getting hotter but I kept the wets on as it was hard to tell what it was like on the coast and we set out for our next fuel stop in Oakura as that would see Steve get back to Wellington. That was at 640Km – 1340 and now we just had to get the last CP at Rahotu before the crappy State Highway slog back to Wellington (The route planner deserves a bullet!!) We were literally on a down wind run through here though and even though we upped the pace a little, the economy was up over 18 Km per Ltr. It was really smooth riding too …until every now and then the road would hook left and you would feel the full affects of the wind and how strong it was. The BanditRider caught us at Rahotu again and gapped-it again, but we on a bit of a bungy cord and every now and then we would reel him in …especially once he caught the Revenue Collector and followed him from Opunake to Manaia. If we had been dialed in on the comms, I would have been encouraging him to pass the prick when he slowed to 98, but Andrew obviously didn’t want to push his luck!
Consequently we followed Andrew off and on down to Sanson, where he continued straight on for home in Palmy and we turned for Wellington. This leg was tough with all the bum-numbing SH riding taking it’s toll and I seemed to be constantly dropping my right leg, or both, or standing on the pegs though the towns, or shuffling onto the back seat! Anything to relieve the stiffness that was afflicting the bum and legs and we finally pulled up outside the backbencher in Thorndon at 1,011Km – 1738 for 11 hours 22minutes and overall average of 89kph. Colin had been there for a bit and we went in to join him, Ann and Brett, for a coffee and a snack …and now I think about it, that must have been the first ride I’ve ever been on with Steve that didn’t involve caffeine and a sticky-bun somewhere along the route!!
So that’s another 100Km done, another $1,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy kids and another really lucky day (weather wise) for this ride …even if it did end up feeling more like a conditioning ride than a jolly good fang!!
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!
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!
Yeah …..well that was good!!
I had entered and gone through the motions of plotting a route, (that looked quite doable in one hit), then it was looking a bit marginal that I would be riding, however when my long-standing riding buddy, Steve, confirmed he had entered …. that was that …. I couldn’t let Steve down could I!
That resulted in some correspondence with Geoff, ( http://geoffjames.blogspot.co.nz/ ) to check out road options, potential fuel and the prospect of riding the Coromandel Peninsular, this turned out to be invaluable), then tweeking the route to split it over three days, working out fuel stops for Steve’s 300-350Km range, where to stop for the nights and book accommodation, then make sure I was up to date at work.
The bike was serviced between Christmas and New Year with a new rear fitted, but when I did my first fuel stop on the way to Ashhurst, I noted that the last fill was in December, so the service might just as well have been earlier in the week. I cleaned the bike on the weekend, ensured the usual bits and bobs were packed and hit the road at 0740 on Friday morning to meet up at Steve’s, where we had a coffee, chatted for a bit and commenced our adventure at 0929.
It was an uneventful ride with me having to fill at GAS Eketahuna, while Steve filled at Caltex Woodville, because that meant he was within range of the first fuelstop on route and we arrived at the Ashhurst Pub at 1142, with not much spare time before the briefing and midday start.
I thought we had fluffed around a bit, collecting our T-Shirts (which are required to be on the bike for the checkpoint photos), then preparing to leave, but the Tracklog shows we departed at 1202, so perhaps we were briefed early ….or maybe I was so hyped up that time was dragging ….or perhaps it’s an age thing and I’m losing it!
Anyway, we started the weekend with a scoot over the Saddle and via Dannevirke, where we bypassed the CBD and must have passed several riders, then completed 98.8Km up to the first CP at Waipuk’, which was the back of the Angkor Wat Café (since it was deemed unsafe for us to be parking and snapping on the main street). We managed an average of 89kph then only spent a minute taking our pix, got back on the job and Steve having advised that he was having issues with his jacket zip, (which wasn’t staying zipped), so on the next leg, which took us through Napier on the Expressway, we paused at the Honda shop in Bayview. Fortunately they had one jacket in his size.
It took Steve 11 minutes to walk in the shop, pick his new jacket, arrange to have his old one and the thermal liner from the new one couriered home, pay for it, transfer his wallet and bits from one to the other, put it on along with his helmet and gloves and start moving again! ….and that’s what I like about distance riding with Steve, he values minimising stops!
The next section took us through to Wairoa, then out to Frasertown and this would rate as one of the North Island’s premier motorcycling roads and our first peach for the weekend. We managed to average 95kph for the 114Km and we loved every minute and every Km of it, took two minutes on the photo this time, scooted back to Wairoa Mobil for fuel and took 14 minutes to also enjoy a snack and chat to a few other riders as well.
The next CP was the jetty at Tologa Bay and this meant another 151Km of sweet riding as the road through to Gisborne is just more of the Napier-Wairoa road and the 50Km each way to Tologa is a really nice stretch of rolling sweepers with a good surface ….so more enjoyment was enjoyed and at 1802 we were pulling into a BP back in Gisborne for the 2nd fill, 640Km done.
A casual 10 minute fuelstop, snack and swig this time, then we had to embark on the Waioeka Gorge. *Sigh* ….we are certainly endowed with splendid rides in this country and thus our adventure continued on more peachy-keen curvy riding, however, when we arrived at Matawai, it was drizzling and getting worse, so we had to pause to don our wets before the short skip out to the next CP at Motu.
That done, we were back on the Waioeka Gorge, but a now rather wet and slippery road, so the spirited pace we had been enjoying up until Matawai, was now more a tame and sedate limp. We had one more CP for the day and that was the Tauranga Bridge, but as well as the rain and wet roads, more problems stacked up by way of my Sena intercom batteries going flat! This in itself wasn’t a problem, but because the Sena had gone offline, my Garmin 595 GPS had a big warning banner covering 95% of the screen …..telling me what I already knew! That shouldn’t have been an issue either but I couldn’t get rid of it and therefore see when we would be approaching the CP, so I waved Steve though (thinking that he had the route in his 660 and it wouldn’t be a problem!!!)
Yeah right! We had passed a couple of trucks, then the rain ceased and we were back on dry roads, then I spotted a sign alerting of our approach to the CP, so I put on my indicator, realised Steve wasn’t stopping, started tooting my horn and pulled over as I watched Steve disappear! Feck! It wasn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened but I figured he would realise I wasn’t there in the next Km or so, then turn around, so I took my photo, plugged a power pack onto the Sena then tried to ring Steve …..hmmm, no mobile coverage! ….bloody typical! Oh well, I cleaned up my glasses and visor, changed to dry gloves and generally farted around getting my shit sorted until Steve finally did arrive. I was off the road in a carpark, so I had left the engine running and lights on to alert Steve when he did return ….and 15 minutes later we were pulling out to head for our overnight stop.
We arrived in Whakatane at 2113 and looked for a Chinese Takeaway or the likes, but alas, all that seemed to be open was the fast food outlets, but then we spotted a Subway, …but although the lights were on and staff were there it was locked, so we resorted to Pizza Hutt, ate on site and finally arrived at the motel at 2158, scrubbed and slipped into a coma!! Day one finished, 730Km done.
Day 2 commenced at 0500, we cleaned up, packed, I tried a piece of leftover pizza but that wasn’t great, when checking the bikes discovered it had pissed down during the night, then we departed at 0551 in cool dark conditions. The first leg was a sprint up the coast to Bethlehem for the first fuel stop 93 Km along at an average of 97kph and we even found ourselves riding within the allowable limits (along the Expressway).
We lingered at the stop for 8 minutes before embarking on that horrid 54Km stretch that is littered with double-yellows from Tauranga to Waihi …but then things changed again and we had to endure riding the Coromandel. *Sigh* …..life can be so rough sometimes …..with so many twists and turns …I guess you could say we were in biker-heaven!
We had arrived in Waihi at 0737 and it took us until 0853 to complete the next 105Km to the first CP for the day at Whitianga, but we were feeling a bit generous with our time as we were ahead of our schedule so before stopping for a photo, we treated ourselves to some goodies at a bakery, although I just settled for a breakfast-like bacon and egg sandwich before going around the corner to get the photo.
After 20 minutes all up, we continued up the coast to Kuaotunu, across to Coromandel and up to Colville and all was good until about 10-15Km North of Coromandel, when my GPS shit itself and decided I needed to do a U-turn. Fortunately we knew where we were going so after a bit of a fiddle on the fly, I just selected the CP from the favourites. We arrived at Colville at 1018, spent a couple of minutes farting around then headed back to Coromandel with thoughts that we might need to shift the programmed Thames fuel stop to Coromandel because we were both down on our usual economy for some reason. This wasn’t a problem though because we could still make the next fuel stop in Te Kuiti from either place, but we would assess the situation once we got close to Coromandel.
We did fuel in Coromandel, then had a very sedate ride down to Thames due to the roadworks and traffic. We had been exceptionally lucky with traffic to that point because most seemed to be going to the other way and we only had to pass a few cars. Through this section there still wasn’t that much traffic in our direction but it was difficult to get past due to oncoming traffic, or cones etc…but it was only 50Km.
Once we were across the Kopu Bridge we got back in the groove and had a quick scoot down through Matamata, out to SH1 at Tirau and off again at Putaruru. The plan was to go over the Arapuni Dam to Waipapa Rd and take that down to the next CP at Mangakino, however, that is not what transpired!
Once we were over the dam, I noticed that the GPS wanted me to turn right onto Mangere Rd rather than Waipapa Rd and I didn’t have a great feel about this but Steve and I both have the faintest of shadows of Mike Hyde in us, so since we hadn’t tried this road, we took it anyway. Well! It turned out to be a narrow, unmarked lane and at one stage we had to avoid a bloody great tractor barrelling along the other way …and that wasn’t the worst of it. It turns out that this option was about 1Km longer than going straight to Waipapa Rd, ie. It took us 22Km before we joined Waipapa Rd, but the last 6 Km was bloody gravel!! ….but that’s not the worst of it either! …this gravel road wasn’t any wider than a driveway! ….what the hell was I going to do on the ST if someone came at us??
Well, we would have taken twice, or maybe even three times longer on Mangere and Huirimu Rds, but now we’ve been there and done that ….and most unlikely that I’ll ever do it again …but then it’s most unlikely that I’ll ever go to Motu or Kiwi Rd (yet to get to that part of the story) again!!
Now we were finally on Waipapa Rd we got to enjoy the curvy lane through the bush beside Waipapa Dam and were soon stopping at the bustling metropolis that met us on the shores of the Mangakino Dam. We’re still not sure if it was speed boats or skiing as they were on a break while we were there, but the place was packed.
The next leg was across SH30 to Te Kuiti ,then out to the coast at Marokopa, via Waitomo. I haven’t been on 30 for some years and it’s quite a nice amble through rolling country. We then fuelled and stopped for a 30minute late lunch at BP Te Kuiti before attacking the last 339Km for the day.
The road out to the coast past Waitomo is another of the North Island’s dream biking roads, but on this occasion, some care was required because the temp was up and what would be a slippery road in the wet was now a potentially oozy road on a nice summery day. Damn shame that so much care had to be taken picking one’s lines, but a nice ride all the same, then after the CP at Marokopa, the 55Km road down to Awakino starts as a nice road, has about 10Km of nasty, corrugated gravelses along the way, then finishes with one of the best signs a bike rider could wish to see, a yellow diamond shaped sign with a squiggly black line down the centre of it and arrow at the top, and the best part ….wait for it, ….below that is a little rectangular yellow sign with black line around the perimeter and in the centre it says, “Next 27 Km”!!! Sweeeeeet!! And this road really is sweet. If one wasn’t buzzing with excitement, the motion would rock you to sleep! (Long Jahn says – Highly Recommended)
From here we continued down SH3, over Mt Messenger to Uruti, where we had to take Uruti Rd out to a tunnel labelled on the CP data sheet as “Kiwi Rd”. I hadn’t taken much notice of this prior to the ride because I just didn’t have time, but when we got to the tunnel, we decided to go through it and take a pic from the other side, but at that point the GPS was telling me to turn right on Kaka Rd and keep going, so I pulled out my trusty NZ Nth Is Road Atlas and thought, this isn’t really Kiwi Rd, but it looks like there’s another tunnel up the road and that might be on Kiwi Rd, so we continued for a bit to check it out ….but we were soon on a dirt track so returned to the tunnel. It was really interesting to ride through the tunnel because it was a dirt track and the sides were carved into the clay and you could still see the scouring from the digger bucket. The bloody thing was effectively just a hole scraped through the clay.
More pics taken at the front end and it was On-On for home. At this point we checked the schedule and even with all our stops and farting around, we were still operating on what had been scheduled as our optimum ‘fast’ time, which had us arriving in Hawera at 1900, so we decided to add a scoot around the mountain on the Surf Highway and that would chop 50 Km off Sunday’s ride. That meant Steve would need some fuel in New Plymouth and were now on the home run.
The last hundred Km for the day was done in slightly less than an hour and we finally arrived at a restaurant at 1946, enjoyed a leisurely meal and drink, got to the motel around 2100, scrubbed, sat on the bed to watch a little TV, but nodded of and was well and truly in a full-blown coma by 2200. Day 2 done and dusted, 1,013Km for the day & 1,743Km for the trip.
I awoke about 0415, then fell in and out of consciousness but we had earned a sleep-in for Day 3 and didn’t get up until after 0630 and got on the road at 0736, however, in those waking moments route options for the day kept swirling around in my little brain. In planning this ride I had strayed from my normal anal, pedantic, OCD tendancies and just connected the dots, accepted the results and did a little tidying up. Normally I would rename and load all the all the checkpoints, then load each day’s route, and now I was regretting my slack attitude. When the GPS started playing up on the way to Collville, the CP’s were all in the Favourites, but who was to know whether we were supposed to be heading for Chapter 11 or Chapter 4. Well, of course I would normally but not on this occasion. The other thing was that separate daily routes have several benefits, especially when it comes to tweeking the route if needs be.
Anyway, I had loaded the route with a ride up the Para’s on Sunday and after adding the Surf Highway on Saturday, now I had difficulty working out exactly how many Km we needed for Sunday because I couldn’t remember how many Km we were short if we went direct to the Vinegar Hill CP, then straight to the finish. The other problem was that I hadn’t reset the GPS trip meters at the start, so I didn’t know exactly how many Km we had done.
I had been mulling over all this and decided we should go around Santoft, out to Parewanui Beach, then up to the Vinegar Hill CP, out to Cheltenham, up to Rangiwahia then check how many more Km we needed after that and once we got up, I manually loaded that into the unit, then it dawned on me to enter the direct route in and at that point, realised we were only about 30Km short!! Bloody hell, that was easy so we decided to see how we were at the CP and just add what we needed.
We had finished Saturday at a relatively spirited pace and started Sunday on the edge of the allowable limits (or thereabouts) and it was pretty straightforward. We zipped into Whanganui to the BP on the bypass for me to have my first proper fill for the weekend, then carried on through Turakina and took Makirikiri Rd across to SH1. Once we had turned onto Makirikiri, I note that the GPS wanted us to turn right onto SH1 and I though ….”WTF!!” So I zoomed out and noticed that it wanted to take us via Halcombe and up to the CP from the bottom! So Cooool! I had noticed the day before that some roads in the unit had a green tinge to them and wondered if the unit had stolen old route data from the PC and this sort of confirmed it because it was even taking our usual bypasses. The old 660 never ever did that.
I advised Steve of the change and was pleased to be avoiding SH1….and our canter became more of a gallop to the finish. We got to the CP at the same time as another rider coming in from the North, checked our Km status and decided to take SH54 out to SH1 and enjoyed a jolly good fang there and back to Cheltenham, then turned up Kimbolton Road to burn a few more Km before turning for Ashhurst. Some more math was carried out on the way through Colyton and we ended also doing a few Km up the Pohangina Valley and finally arrived at the finish at 1023, having done 2,002 Km and collecting our 50,000 points. Wacko Blue you bloody beaut!
We parked up, chatted with the other riders that were there, checked in our photos, had a coffee and chatted some more before departing at 1150. We opted to head for Aokoutere and over the Track, where we struck some light drizzle, then down the Wai’rapa. It was pretty windy and care was needed on “the hill”, but fortunately, we had no cars in front of us when we encountered the usual areas that cause concern, so we were able to keep enough pace on to keep the bikes stable.
I finally got home just after 1400 and had to go to the office for a couple of hours, but shit we had a great weekend!!
Many thanks to the organisers and cheers to Mike Hyde. This ride was themed around Mike’s NZ book and we particularly enjoyed the reduced number of CP’s and at times were reminded of Mike’s knowledge of obscure roads and places.
After my failure to complete the NI1600, there was a comment made, "Never regret failing - just regret not starting", to which I made a facetious comment about kaftan wearers. Well I just failed again so now I'm thinking I better pop out and buy myself a kaftan!!
It's not that often that I really look forward to riding a route, especially if it's one I've come up with, but last year I was eager to ride the 1KC and this year it was the same for the NI1600 and the 1KC, so maybe I better come up with something dreary for next year.
I had the bike prepped and packed on Friday night, got to bed at 10pm to arise at 0500, scrub, kit up and get on the road by 0545 and having learned my lesson on the NI1600, the very gloomy looking weather over the Hutt and Rimutakas prompted me to fill at the Hutt Road BP and don my wets. I arrived at Caltex Rimutaka before 0615 and was surprised to find almost 20 bikes already there, so I checked in with Brett, took a few pix and slipped off the forecourt at 0617.
I had decided to ride by myself, maintaining a good pace with short stops and I wasn't too concerned about the wet roads on the Rimutaka Hill because it looked like we should get good weather for most of the ride and although there was no rain, I was surprised to find the wet roads persisted until almost up to Waipuk'.
I caught the Masterton starters before Eketahuna and Ken was maintaining a good pace so I just slotted in behind them, taking the bypass around Woodville and heading for Dannevirke. A bit north of there some flashing red & blue lights appeared up ahead as we came on to a passing lane and Nik eased off a bit, so I passed him, and a bit further on passed Tony & Michelle to slot in behind Ken. About 5-8 Km before Dannevirke, Ken opted not to pass a truck, so I took them both, thinking I would rather be in front of the big cruiser on the tight roads and I was soon taking Makirikiri Rd to get to the Weber road.
It was soon very apparent that a wet Mangahei Rd was not going to be a walk in the park and even with much care being taken, I found myself twitching once or twice, especially if I found myself on the paint. I still managed to maintain a reasonably good pace though and had taken my pic at about 0820 and was departing as Ken arrived at the CP.
From here the road widened and dried, so about 30 mins later I had enjoyed a jolly good fang to Waipuk' and travelled more sedately to the next CP in Waipawa and was departing for the anticipated fang up Argyll and Whakapirau Rds, because although I have known of this stretch for years, this was to be the first time I had ridden it.
With CP3 at Argyll East School taken at about 0900. and feeling in the groove, I was thumping up Argyll Rd when it all turned to shit as I entered a corner and realised it didn't quite shape out as expected so all of a sudden I found myself scrambling to get back on line, scrubbed off a shitload of speed, but drifted onto the gravel verge, kept it upright and about when I should of been back on the power, the rear wheel slipped off the bank!
Bugger! What a dickhead!
I was fine and the bike was unscathed but after a quick try, it was obvious that I wouldn't get it out by myself and at that time a young local arrived in his ute, confirmed it would take more than the two of us so he rang his dad to come down with a quad.
After 10 mins the Masterton team arrived, followed shortly by dad, No 2 son and the quad and within minutes the 300Kg ST Brute was back on the hard.
It was stuck in gear, but we got it moving, it came right and the pic at CP 4, only a few Km up from CP3 was taken at about 0940, but I was back on track, negotiated the rest of Whakapirau Rd and pulled out onto SH50.
There was ute approaching so I crossed onto SH50 and accelerated away, only to find I couldn't exceed 80kph! so I tried changing gears etc, pulled over to let the ute past, then puttered up toward turnoff to Fernhill as it got worse, finally giving up at the junction. Double Bugger!!
My day was done, so I sent a text to Brett and James.
The Masterton team and Steve arrived, I advised I was out and sent them on their way, called Ann then called the Roadside Assist to arrange a pick-up.
About two hours later we got the bike to Hastings Honda, (who were a bit confused as to the cause of my problems), I got it sorted, texted Steve to pick me up at Omahu Marae and started walking over there (as it didn't look that far on the map!! What a joke!
I hadn't realised how hot it had got... or how far it was, because I had probably walked about a Km, when a car pulled over and the two occupants offered me a lift and the driver advised, "aw shit, the marae is further from town than my place and it takes me about two hours to walk from there!" (I think I've already advised that I'm a dickhead)
Anyway, they dropped me at the marae and I settled down on the Our-Lady-of-the-Holy-Crossroads reserve to drink my water, eat my bananas and nut bars and have a snooze until Steve arrived at about 1530.
We scooted down to Dannevirke for a fill, where I put a skivvy and wet jacket on to stave off the cold, then made for the Backbencher, arriving just before 1900 after a rough ride over the Rimutakas. I'd been conscious that I'm a fat prick and I needed to try and be 'neutral' to make things easier for Steve and once we got to the hill, the wind was up so I tried to hunker down and get a bit closer in order to reduce the windage, but even then Steve got shunted right across the right hand lane as we turned a corner and the car in front had slowed down too much, so Steve passed him and the extra speed certainly helped.
I was a bit concerned that things would get worse once we had gone over the summit, but Steve's bike control and positioning were superb and we seemed to get through there without any further issues.
Steve was 5th back in and the rest of the night until a bit after 2200 was spent welcoming in the other riders and by that time we had heard that the hill was now treacherous and riders were turning back.
So it was another good event, but once again I find me being a bit grumpy with myself for my own stupidity. I had been cranking along, shedding minutes off my ETA, which at the time of my off, was down to 1645, but a moment's inattention could have proved fatal and I'm actually feeling a bit lucky to be just inconvenienced to not have the bike for a week or two.
I guess it's time to review what I'm up to and make some changes to attitude and application.
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.