Yes well, another one gone and another one gone and another one bites the dust!
The plan for 2012 was to do the Awakino Gorge and around the mountain (ie Mt Egmont/Taranaki), so that's what we did with a few diversions via Mauriceville, Halcombe-Stanway and Aria thrown in for good measure and to provide the 'road-less-travelled' requirement into our mix.
The lead-up for me was to resurrect and check the route out of the archives, since it was an option drawn up 2-3 years ago....that was easy! Early August I just had to tweek the old Flyer for this year, print a few off for placement in the local bike shops, send out the usual 'heads-up' email to all previous Capital Cruise Riders, post it on a couple of forums, then sit back and wait for entries. About a month out, I had to tweek the briefing and work on the Ride Instructions for the various starts, and with a week to go, these were emailed out to the registered riders, certificates were printed and enveloped along with the badges &/or Year Bars, spot prizes prepared, tapes for the bikes cut, and the day before, the prizes were drawn and registration sheets printed, along with spare copies of the other documentation. Oh yes...and this year we added a disclaimer.
Saturday was an early start with the alarm going off at 0445, we arose, scrubbed, kitted, bike and car were packed on Friday night so we just leapt aboard and headed for Caltex Rimutaka. While I fuelled-up, Ann set-up the table and bits & pieces with all being ready to go, as well as riders arriving by 0615.
Things went very quickly and smoothly this year with most riders on the road by 0645. Unfortunately I didn't note when I left as I was relying on the Track-Log from my GPS for that sort of detail, but when I downloaded it, I only have the last 100Km from Foxton!!@#%&*!!
The weather was clear blue skies as Woody and I slipped over the hill but the sub10° temperature led to me trying out the heated grips.....very cosy I must say. I didn't think we were that far behind everyone else (although I did note it was 0750 as we went past Masterton, so we were nearly an hour behind those starters) but we saw no other riders until the first Pic-stop at Mauriceville, where two guys were enjoying a durry, so we snacked our snap and carried on to Woodville and the windfarm.
Whilst there, Shafty and his mate turned up, having come down from Turangi but we were on our mission so only had time to say gidday before moving on for Woodys first fuel stop at Feilding. We waved as we passed the other Turangi Starters by Ashhurst and Oh joy, we finally saw half a dozen riders still at the Feilding BP, so we were in the mix and once Woody had fueled, I decided to crib a few Km's by scooting up Makino Rd to Stanway, rather than go via Halcombe and there were still a couple there when we left, so we were no longer last on the road.
We caught up to four riders on Vinegar Hill and tucked in behind them, then got passed by the two behind and separated from three of the others in traffic, so we were back to trailing the pack by Taihape, where I noted there were no bikes at the pumps. It was OK though because we were clipping along at a reasonable pace...until we caught up to a huge great queue of traffic a few Km past Spooners Hill Rd....and the people were getting out of their cars! Not being one to sit in a queue, I started slipping up the verge, until I was blocked, then shifted to the centre of the road and continued to the front, spotting where there were a group of our riders (the yellow & black tape tied to the back of the bikes is good for that). ...Then we spotted the reason for the delay with traffic in both directions blocked due to a biker down on the road.....Bugger!!...just what a ride organiser wants to see!
As it turned out, Steve had been riding in the same group and was forced to take evasive action but things appeared under control, so I reported the event to base, checked out things for myself and asked the cops to order a truck for two bikes (to include the downed rider's partner). Once the ambulance was loaded, I sent the other riders on, waiting to ensure the bikes and his partner were OK, then I continued to Turangi at a rather good clip passing two stragglers on the way and finding heaps enjoying a lunch break at the Z checkpoint.
I fuelled up, snacked, hooked up with Woody again and we departed, dropping the certs, badges and prizes off on the way out of town before taking on SH41 for Taumaranui. I started to struggle through here as I found the road hard to read. It has been patched and sealed with a mottled chip and it was most difficult to judge whether the surface was in tact or had loose stuff spread about...so I erred on the side of caution and started 'riding the rut' (riding in the clean wheel tracks), but then there was another problem. The temp was starting to get up and there were plenty of tar slicks and many looked potentially soft, so I then found myself trying to ride on the couple of inches between the rut and the hump! Oh well, Woody probably thought many of my lines were rather odd, but I survived with no incidences, Woody topped up in Taumaranui to get him to New Plymouth, I texted in our position, then we continued up SH4 for the turnoff on Ramaroa Rd to Aria.
This is an interesting wee diversion that I have done many times and it is usually in very good condition for a back country road. The first part off SH4 is quite gnarly, single lane and poor surface, but it soon opens up and is quite a delightful ride through Aria, then on Totoro Rd back to SH3. As expected, it gave a few of the punters a headache on their navigation too.
Woody and I had a good ride through there though, then, as usual, the Awakino Gorge was in great condition and we were soon enjoying another half hour break over a drink and snack at the Awakino Pub.
Steve had joined us during this time, we left and the three of us scooted along the coast, over Mt Messenger and into New Plymouth for fuel (Woody’s 5th, my 2nd and last for the day), although Steve had pulled in by another mate at Urenui. We then pulled out of the servo as Steve was first away from the lights just along the road.
The wind was up by now and we started to pass the Turangi starters again as we headed around the Surf Highway to Pungarehu. Fortunately though, we were on a downwind course all the way to Sanson. I was surprised at the lack of traffic all the way through here...and the speed at which many of the cages were travelling. We were going at a few kph higher than I normally do, but never caught many of the other riders, or passed that many cars. We did join Hitcher and Bill out of Wanganui (another and last top-up for Woody), but they pulled in for fuel at Sanson, leaving us to battle up the last stretch to home.
By now, not only did we have the wind, but the weather had clagged in badly, to the point that I decided to don my wets in Levin. That was a good idea because then it didn't rain and we managed to include the Paekak' Hill to finish the day, arriving back in 13.5 hours...and it was still just light enough to say in daylight! We had been moving well, but the many and some prolonged stops pushed the time out for a 90kph moving average, but 74kph total average, which certainly highlights that this type of riding is not about speed, but efficiency and minimal stops.
It was another great day, apart from the accident putting a damper on things, but we should be back on again next year.
Some stats for the day.
I managed 1082.5 Km on the speedo but my GPS oddmeter says 1064Km (of which about 45 was getting to Caltex & home from PnJ) 1,020'something should be right.
50 riders registered with 4 pulling the pin in the last couple of days
3 more registered on the day, so we had 49 starters (including 2 pillions)
2 DNF'd due to accident and partner withdrawing
5 started Turangi; 4 Palmy; 8 Masterton; 2 Napier & 31 from Wellington
I had no problems with my new hip! (It was a bit uncomfortable today...but I must have slept on it funny)
My Rider seat and soft arse seemed rather compatible, resulting in little discomfort over the duration of the ride.
It appears we may go close to raising $600 for the MDA.
My thanks to all who participated and especially to those that helped out...Ann & Ron ensuring a smooth departure from Caltex, then Ann & Adrian greeting everyone on there return, scrutinising the pix and issuing the Certificates, badges & bars and spot prizes.
Thanks also to NAC and Tudor Distributors for a few bits and pieces.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.