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!
Todays ride was a Clayton’s Ride up SH2 to Mangatainoka …that’s the ride you have up SH2 when you’re not riding up SH2, or in other words, taking as many side roads along the way, to minimize the actual time spent on SH2.
We had eight bikes leave Brown Owl, I had a pretty clean ride over the hill, catching cars at opportune times to make good progress and we were joined by John Medlin in Featherston.
From there we stayed on SH2 to Tauherenikau, taking Moroa Rd (Gravel …although hard-pack with distinct, clean wheel tracks …so even the ST maintained 80kph across it) & Bidwells Cutting Rd, coming back to SH2 at the Southern end of Greytown. We puttered through Greytown and once across the Waiohine River, we took Matarawa Rd to Watersons Line; Thomas Rd; Brookly Rd; Mannings Rd; Belvedere Rd, Cobden Rd; Haringa Rd; Magatarere Valley Rd; Chester Rd and Norfolk Rd to run along the Western Side of Carterton and emerge back on SH2 just before the Waingawa River and Masterton.
Having crossed the river, we were straight back off SH2 on Ngamutawa Rd to get to the Loopline, another Km on SH2 and then onto the delightful Mauriceville Rd to Kaiparoro and rather than taking Falkners Rd, we kept left on Opaki-Kaiparoro Rd in order to get back to SH2 and cross straight over to South Rd No2.
South Rd is quite pleasant riding but it tends to be a ‘road less travelled’ and it’s been some years since I’ve been along these roads so it was quite nice to get back on them. Mangaroa Rd turns to gravel though, which continues for 5-6km along Mangaraupiu Rd and I have known this to be relatively clean and quick, or freshly laid thick stuff and today was somewhere in between.
I found the road to be a bit like riding along a hump, with no clean wheel ruts, but the gravel appeared to be thinner along the centre, where the inside wheels from cars going both ways had tended to sit. The problem was that as soon as the big radials on the ST drifted of that apex, they felt like they wanted to drift down through the thicker stuff and who knows where to. I hate that feeling!! I ended up shuffling as far forward and onto the tank as I could to get more weight on the front and just hammered it!! ….averaging 55kph through here. ….Bloody pussy! ….did I say how I don’t enjoy gravel on the ST …and guess who planned this ride!
It was all over in a few minutes though and we were soon scooting along Kakariki, Doughertys, Pukewai & Mangamaire Rds to Bridge St, the Scarborough Rd took us to the Track road and into Pahiatua, where we crossed SH2 to finish the ride on the Eastern side of SH2, getting to the Tui Brewery before 1230.
We went in, only to find there was a 45 minute wait for food! I don’t know what’s wrong with that place because it wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams and this is the second time I’ve experienced big waits here. I suppose 45 minutes isn’t that long but when one has been in Ulysses for a few years, they get a sense of entitlement and a somewhat curmudgeonly demeanor …and as old farts we haven’t got 45 minutes to waste ….so we continued on to Woodville for lunch.
In keeping with the ride, we took Troup Rd once we’d crossed the Manawatu River and slipped into Woodville from the Hawkes Bay side, then had problems finding a decent place to eat because I hadn’t stopped there for so long.
We got away from Woodville at around 1400, most of the group still together and I was home just after 1600 (177Km) and 397Km for the day. I had the thermal liner back in the jacket so it was a cosy ride and quite pleasant.
We had a Uly meeting this week and it was mentioned that Charlie, our Rides man, was in hospital, so I figured I needed to come up with a ride and stand-in as Ride Lead. Steve and myself have done quite a lot of this so I figured it wouldn’t be hard, I pulled my list of local rides and ended up coming up with a short ride (that wasn’t on the list), sent it to Jim to fire out on the branch kumara vine, and that was my Sunday sorted. I guess I wouldn’t be working for a change.
Tyres checked, various battery driven devices and power packs charged, kitted up with the old ride-crew hi-vis with large big-nose patch on the back, I left work a bit after 0900, scooted to Caltex Rimutaka for a fill and got to Brown Owl at about 0940. By the time I did the briefing at 1000, there were twelve bikes, although two were pulling at Masterton to carry on through to Palmy and we hit the road.
I was surprised at the volume of traffic on the hill, although it turned out it was compounded by a group of 5 or 6 camper vans. Most traffic these days are really good at sliding across and making room …that is ….until they’re in a convoy and then they can’t dare to spend time on a glance in their mirrors, or use a slow bay in case other cars pass them as well …..*sigh*!!
The worst for this today was when a camper pulled into the slow lane near the top of the hill for the Maxima in front of me to pass, which she did so …but screw the bikes queued behind her! That elicited a burst from the Nautilus Air Horn as I ventured …..almost ventured onto the yellow!
We regrouped in Featherston then scooted across to Martinborough, took Ponatahi Rd and Carters Line to emerge just before Masterton, flicked onto South Belt and Manaia Rd past the airport, slipped off on Lees Pakaraka rd to get to Stronvar Rd and took that to the Deep Gorge Bridges at Ngaumu.
This has an ancient old disused wooden bridge next to a 1984 vintage new bridge over a 100 ft plus gorge with some slow moving water at the bottom. It’s not too special but several of the riders hadn’t been there before, we loitered about for a bit and had a photo-op on the old bridge then continued via the Water Towers road to the Gladstone Pub for Lunch, arriving at 1223.
That was quite good, there weren’t too many people, we were fed, chatted and left at 1352.
Nobody seemed to want to take the lead, so I did, and came directly home, bypassing Carterton, then once again, making quite good progress over the hill and got home at 1503 having done 277Km for the day.
I think I’ll be doing a few more of these this year.
Bring on 2019, the man said …yeah right! What a sad Sack, 2½ months in, some pretty damn good riding weather and I’ve only had two short rides ….and I haven’t even made time to blog about it.
In late January our friend Fliss dropped by. She had stayed with us for a couple of weeks when she moved to Wellington and advised she was heading back to Auckland (go figure!!) so I made an offer to take her for a ride to see a bit of the local area and on the 27th, that happened.
She wanted to go to Castlepoint, but the weather in Wellington wasn’t that great so we started off by going through Karori and over to Makara, had a brief stop at the beach, continued on to Johnsonville then out to Whitby, around the Pauatahanui Inlet and up the Paekak’ Hill for a Photo Op’. It’s a great view from the lookout, along the coastline and with Kapiti Island in the background ….*sigh* …at least it would have been if we weren’t in the clouds!
“Oh well”, I said, “lets go to the Wairarapa.” So we went back down the hill and over to Haywards, where the skies were crystal clear.
When we embarked on the Rimutaka Hill it was 18°, by the time we got to the summit, it was 24°, as we entered Featherston at the bottom it was 29° and another 13km down the road, before Greytown the temp peaked at 33°!
I always consider 20 - 25° to be optimal riding conditions and at 33 I was opening all my jacket vents and picking lines that ensured I wouldn’t be slip-sliding about on the melting tar slicks and when we arrived in Masterton we decided to pause for a cool drink. 20 minutes later we were back on the road, 40 minutes after that we were at Castlepoint, after another 30 minutes paused we were back on our way and 2 hours later (including a fuel stop) we were home, having done 400km for the day.
It was just a pity we didn’t go straight to the Wairarapa and do a bit more exploring, but Fliss seemed to enjoy the outing.
The other ride was a Ulysses Club ride on the 03 March. It was a short ride to Lake Ferry, which was convenient, the weather was OK and the day before I had worn myself out mowing lawns and trimming trees, so a wee outing was welcome.
After doing the usual tyre checks etc, I had to swing by the office and got away from there at 0920, refueled at the BP on the Self-Serve Hutt Rd, as I was a bit behind time and that would be quicker. I got to Brown Owl at 0950, then we departed at 1005 and I had an uninhibited ride getting away first, so I had quite a good fang over the hill, considering there was a bit of traffic on the way down to Featherston.
After regrouping, I took a position in the middle of the group of 9 bikes as we scooted down the western lake and down through Pirinoa for a pause at the Lake Ferry Pub. We were supposed to go back to Pirinoa for lunch, but because there seemed to be quite a lot of people there, we decided to lunch at the Pub, after which some planned to take an extended ride home, while others just headed straight back.
I was one of those as I needed to go to Harvey Normans to shop for a new washer and dryer because the washing machine had shit itself the day before and the dryer was still functioning OK, but has been on the blink for a while.
Once again I made very good progress through the traffic on the hill and didn’t see any sign of the couple of other riders I was with once we were out of Featherston.
It was another good blowout and now that I have been joined by two new partners at the office, hopefully I’ll see more road time this year.
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.
*Sigh* ….another big gap in my wee blogosphere! …so I will try to fill in the gaps.
I’ll start with my mum. She was the third of four sisters plus a half-brother and sister, all orphaned when mum was three and that landed them into an orphanage in Upper Hutt. The reason I mention that is to explain that a lack of good nutrition, in particular milk, led to osteoporosis in later life. That in itself also isn’t of much consequence because the old girl just accepted it, took any shitty outcomes without complaint and still got on with life and that probably pretty much describes much of that generation, born in the 1920’s & 1930’s.
A great example of this was that in November, they were having a bit of a fling in the retirement home where mum was staying, which of course involved a bit of dancing and twirling, which I might add, the old girl was into, however on this occasion, the twirling resulted in a very painful string of minor fractures opening up in her spine …..Bugger! She ended up in Masterton Hospital for a few weeks. She healed up pretty well and was probably within a week or two of being released when a dose of Noro Virus went through the hospital and resulted in a lock-down.
At 91¾ Mum survived that but didn’t recover and passed away on 11th December. She was amazing, just taking it all in her stride, no complaints, no regrets and no doubt, now that she doesn’t need sleep, she will be doing double time on the prayers that all her kids need.
That buggered up December a bit, but did result in a few rides over the hill when I was visiting her ….and riding the Rimutaka Hill never gets tiresome. I must say though, the multiple trips did reveal a full compliment of Kiwi Drivers!
I encountered people who were very spatially aware, would see the bike coming well before I was there and couldn’t wait to slide across as soon as possible, with one chap even slowing significantly on a passing lane to let me catch and get by.
Then there were the ones that would realise they had a bike up their date after a corner or two and would pull over when they could…..
And then there was a smattering of idiots, incompetents and absolute-and-utter-arseholes!! Let me elaborate. I encountered twats that thought their suped-up cars could go toe-to-toe with a 1300cc motorbike in both power-to-weight and handling!! ….pfft!! (In some ways it was sort of amusing) Then there were the spaced-out junkies or whatever that had no idea of what was on the road except for anything up to 25mtrs ahead of them. The ST is a relatively big bike with a bit of presence and twin headlights, which positioning the bike can place them in the car’s mirrors and passes on the message to make room, but these saps are oblivious to anything behind them. …and they have no idea about the existence or purpose of a slow-bay, although why pull over if you aren’t aware there’s anything behind …and then there’s the arseholes!
After a hundred thousand Km or two on a bike, one gets quite good at reading the body language of vehicles, so it’s generally quite easy to identify who’s on their phone, who is going to turnoff or change lanes and although it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the incompetents and the arseholes with things like slow-bays, there are generally a few indicators. …Like easing to the right when most drivers would slide across to the left, staying in the right lane on passing areas, but not overtaking anything, sitting up the date of the car in front in order to make an overtaking manouvre just that bit harder ….and I came across a couple of these guys!! Fortunately though, those sort of drivers are very much the minority.
And so it was that Christmas came and I was totally unprepared and up to my eyeballs in work!
It's been another hectic couple of weeks because my laptop died last week and I couldn't do much except the filing that I've been putting off for over a year, then our 2nd migrant hair stylist is flying in from Jordan today, so I've been busy with Steve getting another room sorted for her.
That was a joke! I did a bit of painting (in the wardrobe) in case the weather was optimal and Steve and I needed to ride on Saturday. (which we did last night). Anyway, I painted the ceiling white, as you do, then painted the shelving structure in a nice white gloss and came to the part where one applies a couple of coats of half-tea to the walls. I carefully cut around the shelving, skirting and door frame, then came the need to cut to the scotia. Well, the shelving is at different heights and on the right hand end, one can insert head and shoulders, in the middle one could almost think about swinging a cat …or at least the smallest of mice, but at the left hand end, one is restricted to a head and an arm, but only at certain angles, none of which lead to a long smooth stroke! And the easiest bit, where one doesn’t need a triple-jointed elbow, being the back wall I found I couldn’t focus because I was too close ….so I removed my glasses and found I couldn’t focus because I was too far away!!!??? What a bloody marvellous mess I made! ….but it’s OK because it’s in the wardrobe …and when I looked at the room Steve did, I realised probably why he hadn’t bothered to paint the ceiling bit white!?
Steve turned up yesterday to finish the job so we decided a night ride was in order and I ended up meeting him at Caltex Rimutaka at 1830 ....and that was another joke! I'd been trying to sort bits and pieces for the room so I was a bit behind time, then when I got to the bike, I realised I hadn't been out this week so needed to check the tyre pressures, then Ann had parked too close, so I had to get the Volvo keys and shift it in order to get the bike out, then I got on the road and got stuck behind a couple of crawlers, then I discovered I was getting cold because I had washed my gear and forgot to put the liner back in ....and then when I was at the servo, I discovered I had forgotten to bring my wallet!! *Sigh* ...just hope it's not the first signs of dementure!!
I put on a couple of skivvies and the wets to keep warm, we paired the Sena's and we had no real plan except we were riding in the Wai'rapa so Steve led out over the Rimutakas.
It had looked extremely gloomy and clagged in to the north as I approached the Hutt and we were a bit trepidatious as we departed, but once on the road, it transpired that the rain had cleared leaving us with wet and dry roads ...so care was taken as we pootled along.
At Featherston we turned off and headed for Martinborough, went through town and around the tablelands with more care, and headed for my scariest moment since doing my epic Wellington - Cape Reinga and Return ride ( http://longjohnbiker.weebly.com/old-blog/a-really-big-ride-for-a-change )
As we approached Masterton on River Rd, just before the cemetery, I was puttering along in a straight line when all of a sudden, the back stepped out to the right and I found myself in a two-wheel drift, but before I had time for the first BHM (Biker Hail Mary), the bike had flicked and I was now drifting left with the distinct sensation that the rear was sliding faster than the front and going down!! I knew I was toast as there was no saving this ...when the bike just righted, straightened and continued along its original track. ...and here I sit blogging but for the grace of God!!
We paused at the junction of Colombo & Te Ore Ore Rds to discuss the merits of slippery roads, how neither of us were really enjoying this adventure, then decided to head for the beach with me in the lead.
I had a few more twitches along the way and could hear odd noises coming from Steve as he hit the same spots, we paused at Riversdale, then headed back to Tinui and crossed toward Castlepoint, but by the time we got back to the main road, we had had enough and turned back for Masterton.
I was a bit apprehensive about riding through the atrocious slick road by Clareville, but by the time we got there it was dry and OK and same as we crossed the Rimutakas, so the end to the night was much more pleasant.
The temp had started out at 10° and dipped to 7° along the way so I had been doing a bit of squirming in my jacket to keep warm and the heated grips had made it up to 50% and in the end, I arrived home at 1050 having done 350Km for the night.
Starting out behind Steve was a bit of a culture shock and I found my lights drifting in an out of range of the rear of his bike, but after a bit I settled into the routine of being positioned to ride off his lights, then when I took the lead, I found my speed varying a bit as my confidence in the wet roads waxed and waned, so although a certainly didn't enjoy the night, I certainly needed it!!
Damn, I just hope it's dry for the grandy!
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.