Another great weekend with another Muscular Dystrophy Ride done and dusted. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it last week because Ann came back from Melbourne on Sunday night with a rather nasty Gastro Bug, but fortunately, apart from a slightly queezy stomach (from the thought of catching it) I made it through the week and managed to escape on Friday morning (with nothing more than the odd fart...or two).
Once again this year, the trip started for me at the beginning of November with a bit of study over potential variations and diversions to the standard route, a quick tweek to the list of children and their profiles to update their pictures etc from last year and make any changes to the ride info, then send it out to the crew along with GPS routes on 19/11/12.
I prepped for the ride by replacing the Pilot Road 2 on the rear with a Metzler Z8, buying 1.6Kg of lollies (and the other 19 did the same so we were carrying a fair old sugar rush), I downloaded the route options to the GPS, ironed my Pix-E cape, bought a new pair of Cordura pants, packed my wets and everything and was all set to get away from home by 0800….with just a quick stop to do a couple of things at work.
I filled and topped-up the tyres at Shell Crofton and once I got onto the Hutt Motorway, the weather looked really gloomy ahead, so I stopped at BP Hutt Rd and put my wets on, getting to Brown Owl at 0854 for the 0900 departure. (We left at 0908 because I wasn’t the last to arrive…and we couldn’t leave without Santa…or Woody!) The road was wet and we encountered a couple of quite heavy showers so the pace was rather sedate with a pause in Featherston to regroup, then one along the bypass in Masterton to kit up in the elf gear for the first stop at Douglas Park School.
It wasn’t raining but the ground was still very wet so the children couldn’t sit on the ground, consequently between them being free tomove and Herman fizzing them up with some lolly-scrambles, we were treated to almost as much chaos as the first time we visited. We only have one child with MD here, but there are two others in wheelchairs that we also share Santa with, and I must say that our new Santa turned out with an untrimmed beard, lots of hugs and high-fives and did a bloody good job…..he rides an ST but!!
We were back on the road in 20 minutes, still with wets donned, and had a crisp ride to Pahiatua, where once again St Anne’s School have one MD kiddy, but three children for Santa to visit. We were treated with a couple of songs and the Irish Blessing, Buzz got them to follow him for some Welsh song and after 25 minutes we were kitting up to leave….when Woody turned up???….go figure!! (I never asked)?
Our next stop was lunch at the Lindauer Cafe in Woodville, before scooting up to a regroup at the Tikokino pub. Some headed straight there, but about nine of us pootled up Top Grass Rd to avoid the roadworks north of Woodville, then cut across to a dry Weber Rd to avoid Dannevirke by meandering up through Ormandville and Takapau. I’ve never done this road but found it to be quite delightful, with only the odd smattering of loose stuff and a critters.
We arrived at Tikokino at 1415, spent half an hour there, then I led up to Taradale, where we were staying at the Te Maara a Tawhao Marae. This was a first for us as we usually stay at Westshore, but this alternative allowed us to have a bigger group as accommodation can be a bit tight at the motorcamp. It was great and we were made most welcome, we settled in then went to Hammond’s to finish the day's formalities….ie enjoy a huge feed and have Santa deliver to our last three children (although only two turned up).
I ended up calling it a night fairly early…only to find myself being sandwiched and serenaded between Mike and Dave. Sometimes they did the duet statement then response….and other times they harmonised….ahh the joys of sleeping in a wharenui!!
Day1 358Km; 77kph Moving Average
I arose at 0530, scrubbed up, packed-up, dumped the tracklog into the notebook, then cleared the data from the GPS for Day2, partook in Ron’s Best Breakfast of Bacon, Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes on Toast (I passed on the fungus), went down to the local BP to top-up the air and fuel and after we had a group photo, as we were all ready, we brought the departure forward from 0900 to 0800.
Peter H led us out, stopping at Bay View for those that still needed gas, then we hit the Napier Taupo road. It was a brilliant morning, although it took awhile for the temp to recover from the southerly that went through on Friday, so it was only around 9°. I decided to scoot ahead to setup for a ride-through photo op’, and found I didn’t like riding from the brilliant daylight into the shade as the conditions were too similar to the day I had my wee write-off moment. It was hard to find a good spot that; was a good corner, had good sun, and somewhere to get the bike off the road so I didn’t get taken out, but I found one that was OK and got a few good shots. After a pause at Tarawera, I went ahead again and setup on the tight hairpin for some more pix, before carrying on to our regroup point at BP Wairakei…only to find it closed for improvements!!
Oh well, we waited while those that needed gas went into Taupo for it, then headed to Jac’s for his Santa visit. We got there by 1113, loaded him & his sister up with sweets, gave him his pressy, chatted to mum & dad and were away again in 20 minutes. A few of us waited for Santa to disrobe at the bottom of the driveway (the day was warming and he was starting to expire) then I led out over taking Tuingamata Rd to Poihipi Rd and thought I'd take Marotiri Rd as well because that would pick-up about 3-4Km on the rest of the fleet, but was really surprised that as we turned onto SH32 (Western Access Rd) I had ther whole convoy behind me!!?? (It's really great to find that they had all read the ride plan, knew where they were going and how to get there!!)
The ride down the Western Access was quite good but there were a few spots that were getting plenty of sun and not much wind so I was taking care to avoid the potentially oozy ruts, we paused to regroup at Kuratau Junction then embarked on SH41. Ron had left a little ahead of us on the Spyder and we were slowly catching him until we got to the section with a string of 35kph corners, when I found myself suddenly up his date. There was no hurry though so I settled in behind him and at one corner, noted to myself, “Gosh, he seems a bit wide there....Odd style Ron....He looks a bit frantic there and that outside wheel looks bloody close to the edge?....Holy shit....!!” Ron had had one of those momentary lapses where one finds themselves a little off line and reaching deep into the bucket of experience to salvage the situation, which he did by throwing his line of sight deep into the corner....meanwhile, back in my world, my conversation with me continued. As I said, “Holly shit!!, you're a bit wide there Johnny!.....What the f@%# are you looking at him for??!!” as I hit the picks to scrub some speed before swinging the ST through the bend. “You bloody fool...Wake Up!”
We settled back into our ride only to find a fews more Km down the road that JohnM (not me...another JohnM) was coming back towards us and waving us down! Shit, that could only mean one thing and sure enough, there was Woody standing beside his bike looking somewhat bedraggled and worse for wear.
We pulled up, parked up and reviewed the situation. It seemed that he must have gone into a corner a little hot....no biggy, except it was a S-bend so that left him on the wrong line and a little hot to take the 2nd bend....so his Kermit looking Kwaka frog decided to find a pool of water. The damage to the bike looked superficial, but it was unridable as the foot brake mount had broken, the handle bars were bent, and Woody couldn't take weight on his right knee.
Fortunately, this year Herman had brought his car, so he took Woody to the Taumaranui hospital, Dave and Steve waited with the Bike, while Brownie went to organise a tow and the rest of us continued to the BP to get the others, do our visit to Max & Sam, then relax over lunch until things sorted themselves out. It worked out that Woody had wrenched the ligaments in his knee, the biked got transported to town and stored, we only lost 15minutes at the accident site and enjoyed a 50 minutee minute lunch in the air-conditioned McD's. (First time in years that I've bought a feed at the Golden Arches, I had the Moroccan Lamb Burger and it was OK).
At 1433, I led out up SH4, then I waited to ensure everyone took the turn at Ramaroa Rd for Aria. We caught up the others again by Totoro Rd so I ensured they were all on the right road and waited again to make sure the stragglers took the turn as well....and then we enjoyed the Awakino Gorge, had a 40minute rest at the Awakino Pub, then finished the day with a blast over Mt Messenger before regrouping at Shifty's in Bell Block.....only to find the last fews had gone straight to the marae!! Good to see they'd taken note and followed the Ride Plan!!
We got to the marae at 1814, and I was surprised to find that we were to have a Powhiri as they (the tangata whenua) were aware that we had no one to Karanga or Whaikorero. When asked about what was to happen, I speculated, we winged it and I was glad to see there were no men on the paipai (no one to korero).....but once we were seated, sure enough,we were formally welcomed. After their waiata, I gulped, looked at Ron who was giving me the 'eye', so I reluctantly got up, stumbled through a very brief whakatau, anounced who I was and that Ulysses was my iwi and that motopaika was our maunga (mountain), awa (river) and waka (canoe)....except that one of our members had lost his 'all' earlier that day....etc, etc. We then manage to mumble our way though a waiata that the locals helped us with and were soon enjoying there hospitality.
Day2 496Km, 87kph Moving Average
After a pleasant evening of chatting and giving Woody plenty of stick, I had a better nights sleep, but was up at around 0530 again, scrubbed, packed and fed by Ron again. It was very gloomy so we all kitted up in our wets and were on the road by 0830. What a miserable day to be out doing the Santa thing...on the bike, off the bike, crawling around at slow speed where the visor wouldn't clear, would fog up when closed and spray would get over ones glasses if opened. By the 4th stop I found that most of my problem was that something was wrong with the pinlock insert and most of the fogging was between the pinlock & visor...bugger! I whipped it out at the next stop and the problem diminished significantly.
By this time we were in Okaiawa (by Hawera), we left there, filled at the Z in Hawera then stopped at McD's, down the road (I refrained though as I'd eaten too much for brekky). We were now down to the last leg as I led out for our last stop for the weekend in Palmy. Riding at a moderate pace and downwind led to an economy of 19.7Km/Ltr by the time we got to Jed's at 1410.
20 minutes later we had finished our weekend's business, were heading for home and it wasn't until now that we were heading across the wind that we realised how strong it was. I was tempted to up the pace to make it an easier ride, but decided to preserve the economy instead, so I generally sat in the traffic at around 90-100kh until coming out of Shannon, when I let it drift up between 100-110. That was pretty brief though as once I was back on SH1, the traffic was quite heavy and the abundance of double yellows ensured that my passing opportunities were limited, so I did quite well to maintain an average of 85kph to get home at 1611...rather weary, but pleased at having spent a weekend on the bike and with a great bunch of folks!
Day3 409Km, 69kph Moving Average
That now has 23,426Km on the bike and I guess I'll need a service after the next ride.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.