Another year almost over and we've just completed another Muscular Dystrophy Ride, whereby we take Christmas gifts to children in the central and lower North Island.
This year we had a bit of a change and the week before the main MDA Ride, we took presents to MD children in Wellington on the way to our Cancer Kids Ride (which involves turning up to the Cancer Kids Christmas Party and taking them for rides)...so the last two weekends have been a lot of fun and quite fulfilling. We have never included these kiddies in the past as we were under the impression that they had a Wgtn Christmas party and gifts but it would seem, not so.
After a bit of work to tweek the children's profiles, adding a couple of new ones to the list, then making a few minor amendments to the route plan, we were ready to go and this year, Ann was coming again. The only other items we had to attend to was getting a new Z8 fitted to the front of the bike and buying a couple of new slimline sleeping bags.
Friday morning finally rolled around and we made our way to Brown Owl to start our adventure. We were packed to the gunnels (including 2.5Kgs of lollies), GPS was programmed, GoPro charged up and fitted, Camera packed and my Pix-E cape ironed and at the ready.
We trailed out and puttered over the hill, then slipped to the front at the Featherston regroup to lead to the first stop at a new addition's place on the main road in Carterton. It was lovely to see the family support here with grandparents and parents in attendance along with older sisters home from school.
We trailed the pack to the next stop, which was Douglas Park School in Masterton and on the way here it became apparent that none of my mateys had read the ride instructions because as I pulled around the corner onto Ngamutawa Rd......hello.....there was nobody home where we should have been regrouping to dress-up and arrive as a unit!!.....*sigh*. Oh well, just to make things worse, we got to the school to find they weren't expecting us!!?? Hmmm...not a problem though, they whistled the kids out of class, we dipped deeply into our supplies of lollies and were soon in the giving groove.
Next stop Pahiatua and Ann & I led on again, then paused to mark the corner at the red pub...only to watch the riders continue down the road to the school instead of regrouping at the pub! ...*double sigh*...what did I expect?! I got Steve to take over at the corner so I could go fetch the others before the kids started coming out of class before we all got there. We eventually all assembled at the pub then made our way to what seemed like a deserted school, although a quick check revealed not so....we weren't expected and most of the school were down the road at a big sports day! *triple sigh*....Oh well, there were some kids there so we treated them to lashings of lollies, then scooted down to the park to see the girls and give them their presents
From here we made a decision to deviate from the programme which had us stopping for lunch in Woodville, but instead we decided to go to the Purple Haze Cafe in Mangatainoka. This sounded like a good idea but I'm not sure if 20 bikers turning up out of the blue, made their day or ruined it. They were certainly stressing somewhat as they started taking orders and saw the queue! By this time we had done our deliveries though so we weren't in any rush and all was good. This stop also meant that we didn't need to go via Woodville so a quick tweek of the GPS and I re-routed us around the back roads, across the river and out to Oringi via Jacksons Rd.
From there we paused for some to gas up in Dannevirke, then Steve led out, diverting us through Ormandville and Takapau....because we could....then on to the next refreshment and regroup at the Tikokino Pub, before finishing the day with the scoot over SH50 and to the marae in Taradale.
Well we didn't quite finish the day with that, just the riding part, because we still had to do the Powhiri thing, then go for a bbq and give presents to the local MD kids.
Saturday started with a good feed, pack-up, I gassed the bike and added some pressure to the tyres, we had a group photo, then left for Taupo. Ann & I settled at the rear through to Tarawera, then led away through to Z Tauhara at the bypass and on to our first delivery of the day at Oruanui. From there it was across to the Western Lake road and down to Kuratau through drizzle, but it got a bit heavy so a couple of us paused to put the wets on.
The word I passed around at Jac's place was, “Stop'nGo Regroup at BP Taumaranui, on to the delivery, then back for lunch and fuel!” Yes well, even this was just a repeat of the instructions in the booklet, but we arrived at the BP to find most of the bikes lined up at the pumps.... “FFS!!!! What part of stop 'n go don't those guys understand?!” *Quadruple sigh* …. after our stop-extended pause-go regroup we did the delivery which was the saddest of the weekend because one of the boys had progressed to being confined to a mobile bed. MD is just so Bloody sad!
As we were about to leave there, the last three riders turned up and seemed a bit miffed about something, but I just re-iterated the instructions given and that was that. They accepted that but did grumble that the instructions weren't fair on their geriatric bladders...ho-hum, I just rolled my eyes...then we returned to McDonalds for lunch.
Then it was time for the fun part! A scoot up '4 to Ramaroa Rd, across to '3 via Aria, and over the Awakino Gorge to the pub. I had the GoPro set up for this section and even though the ST rear suspension felt really soft and wallowy, we had a blast. I'll mention here that I thought it was odd the suspension was so soft on this bike and even though I had the preload fully wound up, it kept bottoming out. After getting back, I dropped into Boyles when I was passing during the week to discuss it and when we were having a look at the bike, I noticed that there were all these lines along the preload stalk?? “'That's odd' I thought so I grabbed the dial and gave it a good twist....and bugger me, it moved!! Shit, it was just stuck and I've been riding around for the past year with it set on soft. We haven't done much two-up so it hadn't been much of a problem until now...but please!! There's just no helping some people!!
After a 30 minute pause at the Awakino Pub, we finished the fang with a spirited burst over Mt Messenger and that was hard case because after a jolly good thump on the stops accompanied with a big scrape on the centre stand as we swept through a right hander near the top, I felt Ann edge back out rather than sticking with me as I threw the bike into the following left hander....'oh dear' I thought, 'I must have given her a scare and better ease back a tad.' We got through OK though and were soon regrouping and buying 'supplies' for the night in Urenui before going to the marae at Sentry Hill as a group.
After being greeted, settled and fed at the marae, I found I was feeling rather shattered so retired early (even too tired to read) and didn't even find the snorers were a problem. Next morning dawned a great day but that didn't last and by the time we were ready to depart at 0830, I slipped into my wets. This sort of ride is no fun when you have to get fully kitted for the weather, but we had a job to do and just got on with it, with a couple of deliveries in Bell Block, one in New Plymouth, a couple more in/around Inglewood, then down by Normanby.
That last stop was cool as the wee chap had a wee bike of his own so when we were ready to leave, his dad went down the road with the camera and filmed the boy leading us out. From here it was to a lunch stop in Hawera, but Ann & I took the opportunity to visit her parents gravesite in Patea, then rejoined the other at the regroup at Whanganui Gull, then on to the last stop of the weekend in Palmy. We had been pretty lucky to miss most of the rain all day but shortly after we arrived, the heavens opened and it pissed down. (I knew I shouldn't have taken the wets off).
The weekend finished with an easy scoot back to Wellington and collapse in a heap on the couch. We arrived home at 1653 having done 1247Km and the bike now has 39,424Km on it. This ride continues to be one of my favourites, but it was great to have it done and dusted and now I'm already prepping for the Christmas Slow Ride and luncheon.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.