The Muscular Dystrophy Ride is one of the ‘not-to-be-missed’ annual rides and I’ve just completed my 5th.
This year, to assist Ron to organise the event, I prepared profiles on the kids as well as a ride plan with maps, noting the visit and regroup points. Also the funds raised on the Capital 1000K Ride helped to buy better presents, so come Friday, we were ready to embark on our adventure.
At one stage we were looking at having 20 riders but as things transpired, there were only 11 bikes (3 with pillions) that met at Brown Owl for a 1000 hrs departure on Friday and after sorting badges etc, we were away promptly. The weather forecasts during the week had been a bit grim but the day was quite pleasant at 15° with clear skies and 300+Kms ahead of us.
I had a new Storm fitted to the rear on Wednesday, scrubbed it on the way home and the bike was good to go although the ride over the Hill was rather pedestrian, thanks to the traffic. I did manage a wee moment though as I scrapped the right peg at a time when I wasn’t pushing the pace and didn’t seem to have that much lean on, so I made a mental note that we were very well loaded and to take care. We regrouped in Featherston and from there Ann and I rode TEC to Douglas Park School in Masterton for Stanly. The first time we visited here was utter chaos but the teachers certainly have the place under control now with all the kids being marched into the quadrangle after we arrived and seated in rows.
Gift given, pictures taken, and lashings of lollies lavished on the lovely wee children by Santa and his elves and we were away again, heading for St Anthony’s in Pahiatua. Once again I was bringing up the rear behind Santa, Ken and Mike & Sandy on the ZZR, pleasantly pootling along the Wairarapa countryside heading into Eketahuna when the singing, dancing Little Ted escaped from Mikes tank bag. Fortunately I was staggered out to the left when Little Ted made his move and sailed from the right, to float past me, and I was able to watch a stunning series of cartwheels and flips in my mirror before he came to rest in the middle of the road. I hit the picks and swung around to fetch him and could see that he appeared to be in tact, but I feared there would be no song or dance left in the poor we plastic chap after that spectacular display. A cursory inspection revealed little damage and a functional test was carried out once we arrived in Pahiatua,….Little Ted was fine!!!
Our arrival at St Anthony’s didn’t seem to be as keenly greeted as usual and it soon became apparent that we were competing with a ‘Pet Day’ and other festivities. There were sheep and what looked like sheep-eating-dogs, even a calf to prove that the country kids still really know how to keep a pet and not just the tamagotchi versions that the towny kids are into….and of course, our wee pet Taylor was waiting for us in her wheelchair. She seemed delighted to get her gift, then we waited for the return of Roisin, as she had had a fall and had gone home for some attention, but was soon back and once again, gift given, pix taken, lollies doled out and we were off to Woodville for lunch …. Ann & I still bringing up the rear.
I was pleasantly surprised to find us sailing past the Boots ‘n Braces to dine at the café on the corner, lunch came and went and we were off again. Some refueled in Woodville and some stopped in Dannevirke as we headed for the Tikokino Pub for another refreshment stop, not because we needed it but just because!...and the temp was now most pleasant as it rose into the 20’s.
We were soon back on the road for the final leg to the Westshore Holiday Park and had no sooner had we settled in and we were off for the Bar-B-Que at Hammond's, where we would meet and deliver to the few Hawkes Bay children. As usual the hospitality was wonderful, the food great and day one was all but over……it just remained to quaff a couple of quieties back at the pub…..and then a couple more in our unit.
Saturday was predicted to be rough, but only dawned overcast and about 15°. As usual, Ron & Sue rustled up a pretty good breakfast of bacon & poached eggs on toast with an optional serving of fungus and we were all packed and ready to go by 0830. We were to be joined by Peter to the Summit of the Napier Taupo, Cliff & Beryl to Taupo and Goldie to Taumaranui and by the time we got away, the temp was up to a very pleasant 19°.
Ann & I started out at the back but by the Esk Valley, I decided to get in front of the group trailing Fred on his sidecar, so I could sit a constant pace and any traffic wouldn’t hold me up. It was most pleasant as we sat at about 110kph, not really having to worry about revenue collectors and seemingly catching any other vehicles at opportune passing spots, so barely being held up as we made our way to the regroup at the Summit. We stopped only briefly (just long enough to put a skivvy on as the temp was dropping) and the rest of the way to Taupo, we tucked in behind Ken to shelter from the Westerly and improve our economy. We paused for another regroup on the outskirts of town so Goldie could get us around the road works without having to enter town and get caught by the traffic and mayhem associated with the round Taupo cycle race, then stopped again at the BP on Tauhara Rd for those that needed gas.
We stuck together as a group as we crossed Poihipi Road, went up Oruanui and onto Wridgetop to see Jac, then we did our thing and got underway for the next regroup at Kuratau Junction on our way to Taumaranui. Once again, Ann & I started at the rear of the group as we crossed Poihipi Rd, but I decided to up our pace on SH32 so we could enjoy a more constant tempo. That turned out to be a good move as we were only expecting to encounter the odd cyclist doing the 2 or 3 lap versions of the cycle race, but from half way down the Western Access, the cyclists got thicker and thicker and we had to pass ‘millions’ of them. By this time, the weather ahead was looking much gloomier so whilst waiting at Kurutau Junction for the rest of the group, I removed my skivvy and donned my wets….and that turned out to be a very good choice.
It was wet all the way across SH41 as we sat at around 100-110kph, making our way through Taumaranui and out to see Sam & Max. When we arrived, the family were awaiting us in the garage, so I led the dozen big bikes up the driveway, almost entering the garage before flicking around to park heading back onto the street. The look on the boys faces was most amusing, firstly that of excitement to see all these fine machines and Santa, then shock-horror as they must have thought I was riding straight into the garage, then relief. As it turned out, they had lost their dad in a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago when a tree fell across a country back-road in front of him, leaving him no room to stop and nowhere to go. Sam was pretty quiet but the younger boy, Max, was full of beans and look on his face when Ken sat him on the ST, …then started the bike …then revved it up ….then tooted the horn and let him do it…... Well, anyone would have thought it was Christmas!
That done it was back into Taumaranui for more refuels and lunch before continuing up SH4. The instructions were to take the turnoff to travel along Mokauiti Rd for Aria, then continue on Totoro Rd to SH3, coming out just before Mahoenui. Sounds easy enough to me!
Ann & I ended up leading Brownie, in between two groups and sat around 110’ish. We passed the first group as they were checking their ride sheet, probably around Tapuiwahine, then they slotted in behind us as well. We hit some quite wicked roadworks and I was looking to the right side of the road for the cluster of signs that would indicate Aria, when we whistled past Ramaroa Rd. They must have removed the signs whilst doing the roadworks, so we swung around and I sent the others on as I marked the road for the last four riders (including Santa), who were only a couple of minutes behind.
We followed them for a bit, then shuffled ahead to mark the next corner for them, then slotted in behind once again as Fred led us onto the gravel and the sidecar soon disappeared out of site while I reflected, “Hmmmmmm…..there shouldn’t be any gravel on this road?? ….Oh well!! …..at least it was wet but not greasy and not dusty!!”
We pressed on for a few Km’s until we came across Fred, waiting for us at a Junction and I took the opportunity to check the map….Drat!, we were on the wrong road so it was back to Aria and try again. This time I led away and got a little ahead so as we entered Aria I paused until I saw three of the four headlights come into view before continuing a Km or so up the road to mark the Totoro Rd junction. We waited a couple of minutes and when there was no show we turned back until we could see the road was empty back to Aria…..Double Drat!! They could be anywhere so I decided to press on for Awakino, turned and scarpered!!
With no one in our sights to worry about, I slipped into ‘GC mode’ (Grand Challenge – where a smooth, but quick pace is maintained to eat the Kms without causing undue pressure or fatigue) and enjoyed a wee fang across, the previously untravelled-by-me, Totoro Rd and continued at a very brisk pace through a wet Awakino Gorge. With the bike really loaded up, it still sat like a brick on the wet roads and we made good time, getting to Awakino at 1702hrs to join the other half of the group. I felt really guilty about losing Santa and the others but enjoyed a ginger beer anyway and settled down to wait as Ron & Sue went on to ensure we weren’t locked out of the marae in Waitara. Sometime later, Mike & Sandy turned up with their own adventurous tale and finally Santa, his Ingratitudinous Elf and couple of other helpers turned up, wet and a little worse for wear. I knew they were wet by the pool of water forming around Santa’s boots…and the way his suit seemed to be hanging off his body.
A drink was had after which there was just Mt Messenger to be negotiated through the gloom to finish off the ride, getting to Waitara at 1830hrs. We got settled in then headed straight to the T&C club to catch-up with the others for a drink and dinner. We had a most pleasant evening sharing lies and noting candidates for potential fines, finally getting back to the marae after 2300hrs. I put my MP3 on and had a great night’s sleep, to arise for the new day at 0600.
The drizzle had cleared for a bright but slightly crisp morning and thanks to Ron & Sue’s efforts, everyone was fed, packed and ready by around 0800 for a start at 0830. We had a few new kids, to deliver to, in the area and this was compounded by some having to attend church, hence resulting in a slightly earlier start than usual and we scooted straight out to Lydia & Bethany’s in Inglewood, then back to Callum’s, then Jacob’s before returning to Bell Block for Aimee, Matthew & Ethan. The trip out to Inglewood put us into the fog, which soon burned off and by the time we got to Simon at the Salvation Army Citadel, the day was starting to warm towards the 20’s.
From New Plymouth we embarked around the Mountain for lunch in Wanganui. Knowing that Fred would need a fill by Hawera, Ann & I pushed ahead at a brisk pace in order to visit her folks, just out of Waverly, figuring we would have about 10 -15 minutes there. It was quite breezy, but the Nor’Wester was on our shoulder so didn’t present any problems riding and even aided the economy slightly, so we made good time but did manage a couple of near misses. The first just South of Hawera where I slowed after spotting a vehicle parked on the opposite side of the road ahead and no sooner had I decided it wasn’t a mufti and started to accelerate, than I caught a red flicker and sure enough, the mufti car was behind him and the poor sod was getting booked….oh well, saved my bacon! The next was entering Kakaramea and I was just easing up after passing a truck as I approached the restricted zone, when a cop came the other way but barely gave us a 2nd look…..must have been my lucky day because the overtake took us up to 140’ish.
We regrouped at the Gull station in Wanganui then headed to the Wanganui East Club for lunch where Santa continued to impress the local kids with sweeties and a ride on the V-Max & sidecar….3 at a time around the carpark. By now everyone was starting to get a little weary and we just had the last two visits to make as I led out on No 3 Line for Fordell, Turakina and almost Marton. One to go and the planned route via Halcombe – Mt Stewart went out the door as we just nipped back to SH3 then straight to Palmy for Jedd.
Done for another year! We just had to get home and opted for the most direct route via Opiki and SH1. Once again Ken & I led out to ensure Ron & Fred got onto the right road and they stuck with us until South of Levin when we struck one of the longest traffic queues I can recall, so the trike and the sidecar had to sit while the ST’s scooted up the shoulder and passing lanes to eventually find that it was just due to the Otaki Round-about. It astounds me how useless some people are at negotiating these simple Traffic Islands and also that along the 4-5km queue, we would pass 4 or 5 bikes sitting in the midst of the cars. We made good time but!
We finally got to J’ville for a fill-up at 1805 (I wasn’t sure I’d make it home after 498 brisk Km’s but I only took on 25.7Ltrs so I guess I would have) and we had a spa to wind down. We’d managed over 1380kms for the long weekend, taking 190 photos as we delivered to the 20 wee souls with MD. Ron excelled in organising the event, whereby we just had to turn up, ride, dole out lollies, hit the sack, eat and ride some more. Fred, as usual, performed his part going above and beyond the call of duty and we are actually worried that perhaps he is Santa! And Ken also shone in his satin elf suit, ensuring Santa didn’t get lost without him, heightening the children’s anxiety and expectations as he searched for their gifts in Santa’s sack and generally ensuring a good interaction which would provide the children with a memorable event to look forward to next year…..as we, the MD Riders do
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.