Oh happy day…(Oh happy day)
Oh happy day…(Oh happy day)
When Johnny Rode…….
What an awsome day! Great weather, great route, great bike and great mates!
After Grub’s tragedy on this ride last year and the problems encountered with nearly half the field not completing, we had to go back to the drawing board to address our route setting along with other improvements to make the day easier to run. Fortunately there are a few groups out there organising events like this and they had some pretty good ideas for us to steal (borrow).
With a prescription for the ride to be a ‘free flowing’ event we soon had a couple of nice options to choose from, then made a decision for riders to collect fuel receipts and photos rather than for us to check odo’s out and in, and in an effort to get more participation, we established alternative start points in Masterton and Napier (with the Manawatu riders continuing to do their 0500 start to join the Wellington riders). We also created a half hour start window between 0630 & 0700 from Rimutaka to alleviate the congestion over the hill. With this all sorted some months ago, it was then just a matter of wait for the time and everything just seemed to fall into place. Sponsors NAC Insurance and BucketsnBits.co.nz provided prizes, we ordered year bars, prepared the Ride Instructions and Briefing and waited for the registrations to come in…..oh yes, and Steve and I had to check some of the roads to ensure they were OK….I did that hard!
With a week to go we had over 60 riders interested, sent ribbons to Masterton and Napier for the bikes so riders could easily identify each other on the road, sent the instructions out, kept an eye on the weather and started to print certificates. Everything was looking sweet.
Come Friday, Nasty and Elle were on their way to do 70% of the route, texting their progress which was pretty depressing to be stuck in the office finalising preparations while they were out there having a ball…it was all making me pretty excited to get underway and enjoy the ride myself.
Finally it was Saturday and Ann & I were up before 0500 and at Caltex Rimutaka by just after 0600 where I filled the bike while Ann set up the table and gear. One rider was so keen to get away, he was already there when we arrived, more had arrived before I finished filling and the forecourt was soon a hive of activity as riders checked in, tied a ribbon to there bikes, bought badges and collected prizes that had been pre-drawn. They were free to depart as soon as they were ready and some got away promptly, but the atmosphere was pretty casual with coffees being consumed and plenty of chatting.
By 0700 we were still short of 5 or 6 riders (I got their emails when I got to work on Monday) but Ken, Barry & I decided to get away and Ann would wait a bit longer before packing up, but as it turned out, no more arrived so Barry & I were the last away at 0706. We were just in time to hit the hill amidst about 20 horse floats so caught Mike as we descended and were content to sit behind him until Eketahuna where Ken was waiting. I took the opportunity to put a skivvy on as I was finding the 8° a little cool and next thing we were scooting over the Track, through Ashhurst and onto Feilding.
With Barry on an FJR and Ken & I on ST’s, I figured it wouldn’t be long before we were amongst the field as we would be good for 400+ Kms before we needed our first fill, but that wasn’t to be the case. We did pass a group of Palmy riders at the BP in Feilding, then after riding through Halcombe and onto Turakina, Mike was topping up there but otherwise….no one!
We continued to Wanganui and embarked on a fun ride up the Para’s at a brisk pace, as the road was great, but we still only encountered 3 Duc’ riders having a pause, then another group of Palmy riders who appeared to be filling their faces as we passed them at the Caltex in Raetihi, so it was ‘On On’ up SH4 to our first fill in Taumaranui. It was along here that I had my only ‘moment’ for the day, just north of Owhango, when we entered some roadworks that consisted of rather large, loosely packed rocks. It was OK until the bike strayed out of the wheel rut and headed for the edge which dropped away to more even larger rocks. I puckered for a moment, too scared to try and steer the bike and fortunately, between clenched knees, subtle weight shift, willpower and BHM’s, (Biker Hail Mary’s), it drifted back onto the rut….whew!
We were soon in Taumaranui and pulled into the BP to fill as some Masterton riders were ready to leave and shortly after, several of the riders we had passed earlier went through. As it was only 1130, we decided to head onto Te Kuiti for lunch and got there as the Palmy crew were about ready to leave…and that was to be the pattern for the ride.
With lunch done our next stop was to get a photo of the bikes in front of the TeKawa Mobil, so we headed up SH3, maintaining our steady pace. A brief pause for the pix and we now had another nice section of the route to enjoy as we nipped across to Waipapa Road and down to Whakamaru. I’ve done this road a few times now, it’s rather pleasant and one could almost describe it as ‘understated’ when it comes to NZs better biking roads. It is in great condition and has a bit of everything, with rolling hills and sweepers through farmland and into pine forest, where it tightens up a bit as it drops through native bush to run along the Mangakino dam, then pops back to a straight run through more farms to Whakamaru (where I finally removed the skivvy as the temp was edging towards 20°) and down the western side of lake Taupo……and best of all…..I don’t recall ever spotting any revenue collectors along there!! ….So we were able to maintain our brisk pace at ease.
That done, dusted and enjoyed we were soon on the run over the Desert Rd and down SH1 to a coffee and fuel stop in Taihape. I must say, I don’t mind riding the Desert Rd, or at least, it would be OK if one were able to ride it at a respectable pace which is higher than my usual 110kph limit??!! Well, for once I had a pleasant ride over the Central Plateau because Barry decided I was too pedestrian and took the lead, dragging myself and Ken in his wake. What little traffic there was, was moving quite well also and with almost no traffic heading North we were doubly blessed to encounter a van as it crested a rise and indicated to us that the road ahead might not be in great condition so we slowed accordingly. We popped over the rise to find a long straight with nothing but a pretty white car with blue and yellow trim parked on the left …..??so maybe the van driver was trying to clean his windows and pulled on the wrong stem?? Oh well, …these cars often hunt in packs so just in case, we puttered down and through Waiouru very sedately and were soon enjoying a coffee at the Exchange in Taihape, then filling at the BP where several other riders were relaxing and telling of their own adventures.
We were now on the boring 2½ hour run for the finish with the temp dropping and a reasonable Westerly providing somewhat of a barrier. I was back in the lead with the economy varying between 15-17K/Ltr, depending on the intensity and angle of the gusts, as we leap frogged from cage to cage catching a small respite in their wake if they were on the pace and moving right along if they slowed. I had noticed a van that we didn’t appear to be catching though, so upped the pace slightly and did slot in behind him just south of Hunterville, the home/hunting ground of the constable affectionately known as Cash Register. With no detector, it’s always good to have a shield and this guy was great as he sat on the centreline, so I was able to park myself with a clear view through his left, right in the draft and my economy shot to 19-21K/Ltr at a quicker pace than before. Bloody marvelous, so I hitched a ride through to Bulls, then moved on through the thicker traffic flow.
The rest of the ride was a non-event, until our final fang over the Paekak’ Hill then onto the Petone Workingmans Club, arriving at about 1920 which was 12¼ hours for the ride. About half to two thirds of the riders had already completed, which was good because it meant that the route didn’t provide any problems this year and the feedback from the riders was that they enjoyed it. I felt pretty good except for the dodgy hip playing up a little and we enjoyed a beer, a meal and meeting and chatting with the other riders. Nasty was there with her guests, who had come for the scattering of Grub’s ashes the following day, which was the anniversary of his death.
All in all I had an awesome day which didn’t finish until I got to bed, totally shattered after midnight, with another busy day booked in for Sunday.
We arose late, dined on leftovers, tidied-up the money and stats for the ride, attended to the spa, then gave the bike a quick clean before heading off to pick-up a few things on the way to Caltex Rimutaka for the ride to Paekak’ Hill. I only arrived about 5 minutes prior to departure to find about 40 bikes there and we were soon off for Haywards.
The traffic was quite heavy so I took the opportunity to nip across a small gap in the traffic which put me behind SparkyBills (carrying Grub’s ashes) and Sels1 (ride leader) so I sat there and enjoyed a nice wee fang through Pauatahanui to the summit, down to Paekak’, then back to the summit for the speeches and service. It was a lovely day and as usual, Kari had everything planned and on time and I finished a great weekend at a bar-b-que at her place, chatting with mates and meeting some KiwiBikers I hadn’t met before.
I finally got home, too knackered to do anything so just blobbed out on the couch….Perfec’, just perfec’!!
Some stats for the C1KC.
There were no incidents (that I’m aware of) apart from a flat tyre that was dealt to promptly by Wanganui Honda.
53 bikes started (5 with pillions)
2 bikes retired (but it was on the cards prior as the pillion is due for a knee op)
26 were first timers
2 did it over 2 days (Nasty escorted by Elle, ensuring Grub finally completed one)
10 started from Wairarapa
4 started from Napier
10 started from Manawatu
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.