Another one down, but that was a strange day.
I revised the 2020 NI800 route out to 1611Km and I cut it out OK, but I can’t say it felt comfortable.
After spending a bit of time on the routing and ride plan, doing the usual stuff to sort the bike and gear, updating the music in the GPS, making a tweek to the phone to keep it awake (as recommended by Chris, (our NZDR resident IT expert), (although I must add that I didn’t do exactly what he said as that was just a general instruction), I was all set for an 0400 start on Monday, as that was Wellington Anniversary …and forecast as a nice day.
With these ‘casual’ rides, I tend to be a bit casual with the start so I don’t set the alarm and just get ready once I wake up. In this case, I was in bed a little after 2100, and although it felt like I didn’t get to sleep, as I seemed to be checking the clock every hour, I was obviously napping, but in the end, I awoke around 0100 and by 0115 I figured I wasn’t going to go back to sleep and an earlier start would mean an earlier finish, so I got up and scrubbed, snacked and prepped to leave.
That involved, activating Bubbler on the phone, sticking the ride plan to the tank, mounting the GPS, putting Vaseline on the earplugs before inserting them, putting the phone on charge to the 10AH power Pack and activating ‘No Screen Off’ then putting that in a bum-bag thingy, then that in the camera bag (to keep it secure to prevent it coming off charge). Then I took a photo of the bike dash (mileage) before starting, then pulled the phone again to force a start spot and check Bubbler was all good. ….only to have a WTF moment because Bubbler had tossed it’s toys out the cot and didn’t want to play. I spent about 10 mins farting around and in the end, thought, “I have no idea what I’m doing and I just want to ride!” So I hopped on the bike and left …at 0201.
I’m half way down the Ngaio Gorge when I decide that I need some music and when I look at the GPS, I notice the friggin’ thing is still searching for satellites! “She’ll be right, I’m sure it’ll find them”. Music now playing.
It was a rather cool 12º and I had decided to put 98 in for the first fuel up, because that leg would include the Gentle Annie, so I was heading for the 24-7 BP Upper Hutt, but when I got there, there was nobody home. Bastards! I’d even googled it to make sure, so I just cruised on to Caltex Rimutaka and left my card with the window-man while I filled and since I was intending to apply for IBA status on this ride, I photographed the dash, with the cash receipt before leaving. 7 minutes wasted!
The ride plan for the first leg was via the Wai’rapa, over Vinegar Hill, up to Taihape, then across the Gentle Annie to the next fill at Bay View. By the time I got to Masterton, the temp had dipped to 8º, then hovered between there and 10º up to Taihape. I did pause to photograph the Kiwi in Eketahuna as a CP and the ride to Taihape was over very familiar roads and pretty uneventful, but I’ve been noticing that I’m not very comfortable with the night riding. This will be partly due to not having done much, but I’m also thinking that the indicator that I’d had a stroke was visual and although that’s all been dealt with, I have the feeling that maybe the night vision isn’t quite what it used to be …or perhaps the old brain is still working on rewiring new pathways for the visual stuff and hasn’t quite got it sorted yet ….and maybe that’s because I haven’t been using it??? Oh the joys of being a silly old prick!!
Oh yes…and the new music playlist had already completed, then when I opened the Media Player, I noticed that there were only 36 songs on board!!?? (Having now checked the unit the other 100+ songs turned out to be MP4 files, but at the time I thought they were MP3) ….alas and alack ….and the silly old prick used to be a techy!!!??
Anyways, I was travelling on 95 and figured I had enough to get me to Napier (considering it was mostly a downhill run from there), but as I was about to leave Taihape, I thought I should respond to ‘natures call’ and put on the wets jacket and winter gloves for a bit of warmth. At this stage it was 0514 and I was 290Km into the ride …..and had just wasted another 4 minutes ….but let the fun begin!
Yes well, oddly enough, it was still dark with no real hint of dawn when Katie tells me to turn right and I thought, “Shit that was quick”, then “Doesn’t feel right ….but it is a bit dark, oh well, Katie Katie knows best!” Yeah right! 10.2 Km down the road, that still seemed a bit narrow and not quite right ….but it was still rather dark and Katie says, “When possible, make a u-turn!” and then the chorus chipped in … “Ahhh FFS!” “I knew it!” …and so on and so forth, so I turn around but when the tart says to turn right, I ignored the bitch and went all the way back to Spooners Hill Rd because I knew she was trying to lure me into some gravel. So I get back onto the route, make the ‘right’ turn and start to make much better progress.
By the time I got to the Suspension Bridge over the Rangitikei River (37Km) it was fully light and I had flipped into Eco-mode to ride as efficiently as possible, however this was causing me similar problems to my last ride, whereby I found myself entering corners a little hot and off the gas, which then led to a bit of braking and losing my line ….and of course, less efficiency!! It’s amazing how that little bit of power on just sucks you through the corners, but I was at odds with myself and just couldn’t get into the groove, even though I knew what I was doing wrong …..yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, …..silly old prick!!
I made it to Bay View in reasonable time though, with 84kph average to Omahu, then up to 85 to Fernhill, but then it dropped a bit in the traffic to Bay View. I had been warned on the NZDR fb page that the BP had had the tanks ripped out, so I would need to use the Mobil, so I considered filling on 98 prior, but in the end I carried on with the plan. But the temp by now (0745) was climbing into the 20’s, so I took the opportunity to get out of the jacket and heavy gloves, as well as having a snack and drink, so that was 8 minutes wasted on filling and paying, then another 9 on the undressing and snacking, plus another minute taking a pic of the BP site beforehand (This had the canopy removed as well as tanks out, so I thought that perhaps it was permanent, but apparently they’d had a fire on the site). So a very casual pause was had.
Departure was at 0755 and I was very happy to be getting on this road at the early hour, before the temps started to melt the tar, but even so, I was riding with caution as the sun was out and the temp was soon at 24º. I made reasonable time through to the next CP at Z Wairoa though (94kph), considering the amount of traffic, with lots of trucks, many of which were log-haulers, fully laden against my flow and returning empty for the next load going North. That made riding a little more difficult because the curly road through to Wairoa reduced the passing opportunities, but I probably found it more difficult with the big, blunt-nose Kentworths coming the other way, as I would invariably catch them at a right hander. The big trucks took up all their lane, so with the tall ST, I would have to take an extra wide line to keep my head well inside my lane and quite often it felt like I was riding off-cambered corners, plus get a big buffet from the truck for good measure.
The photo stop in this case was only 45sec, then it was onto the next CP at Caltex Opotiki (The Bridge, Z Wairoa & Caltex Opotiki were the three CP’s for the NI800). I was scheduled to fill at the Caltex, but decided to extend to Z Awakeri, as that would ensure making it to Turangi easily and the 94kph average was maintained all the way to Awakeri. The temp had risen over 25º by now and I still had my skivvy on, so another relaxed 13min stop was taken to strip off, snack and hydrate, eventually getting back on the road at 1217, which was just over halfway on distance, at 858Km (which included the extra, unplanned 20Km out of Taihape), so 10¼ hrs was a quite a slow time to this point, considering I had been travelling a reasonable clip, but the stopped time was adding up.
From Awakeri, I was heading across to Te Kuiti via SH30 …..and being a silly old prick, as soon as I left the Z, Katie was telling me to turn left (onto SH30 I might add), but I was thinking, “Dumb bitch, I don’t want to go via Galatea” and “Yeah right, and look what happened when I listened to you earlier!!”, so I stayed on SH2 ….and watched the ETA bang out by 10mins, but of course, I didn’t turn around ….or take the next turn at Westeren Drain Rd! No, I carried on through Edgecumbe, before it dawned on me that going via Awakeri Springs was the desired route and I’d just added another 8-10Km onto my track. What a bloody pillock!
I pressed on though and made good time around the lakes (Rotoma, Rotoehu and Rotoiti), which is a delightful ride (when they’re not resealing) and once past Rotorua, enjoyed the ride (fang) through Atiamuri, Whakamaru, then that very nice section through Bennydale before emerging at Te Kuiti and doing the 225Km at an average of 97kph. Even though the temp through here did peak at 28º, it is such a good surface, with minimal tar bleed, that less caution was required.
After a tardy 2min photo stop, the fang continued down SH3 to Eight Mile Junction, across SH4 to Manunui, then SH41 to the next fuel stop at Turangi and after the burn through Bennydale, I was riding in a much better rhythm and managed the 147Km at an avg of 101kph …I did have a sore butt now though and that was mainly due to the heat and wearing jeans under the corduras, but I guess it has to be expected when doing these sort of distances. Once again, I took plenty of time (13mins) with the fill with more snacking and plenty of hydration. I now had just over 400Km to go and the ETA was still hoovering around 2030-2045 with two CP’s (Upok Pub and Ashhurst) and the final fill in J’ville to go.
I departed from there at 1620 and was now riding in the groove, albeit getting more uncomfortable in the nether regions ….and I had long since turned the music off, as once I’d been through the playlist three times, I’d had enough, so I didn’t have any distraction there to take my mind of the growing discomfort. So …I guess the only answer was to tweek the pace to get it all over and done with and now I had convinced myself to keep the power on, I made really good time across to National Park and down the Para’s. (103kph to Whanganui in fact). I should note here that when I took my photo at Upukongaro, I went to send a text to Ann ….but the phone was flat!! I couldn’t believe that the ‘Stay Awake’ App had caused the phone to flatten a 10AH power pack, plus flatten itself, so I plugged it into the bike power and carried on.
From here I certainly didn’t need to do the extra Km across to Ashhurst, but it was on the plan and ….it took me off the main roads …so the gallop continued …then I ruined it by taking 3mins to take a photo and now I was down to the home stretch with 151 Km to go.
That was tedious but 146km and 1hr33 later I was filling at BP J’ville at 2026, then I was pulling into the driveway at 2039, so just over 18.6Hrs to do 1652 Km (according to the GPS) or 1665Km from the speedo. So rides stats from the GPS were MA of 96kph and OA of 88kph with 1:23 of stopped time.
Once again, I wasn’t exactly sleepy tired, but I had had enough and was glad to be off the bike, enjoying a nice hot cup of tea and a hot feed. The early start did mean that extra couple of hours of night riding, but the benefits were getting onto the BayView – Wairoa road before it got too hot, then getting home early enough to wind down before getting another early night before work in the morning.
It was a nuisance that the Spotwalla failed (again!) as that’s put paid to putting the ride toward LongHaulPaul’s 1M Mile quest for MS, but I look forward to a quiet week now, then I better check how the tyres are wearing before the next one, around the two Capes with Steve.
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.