Another day in the saddle started just after 0500, a quick scrub, kit-up, the bike and car were already packed and we were on the road to Caltex Rimutaka by 0545 for the start of the 8th Capital 1.000km Cruise. We pulled in to the forecourt a little earlier than usual, at 0610, and there were already more than half a dozen punters eagerly awaiting to check-in and depart, so I gassed up then assisted Ann to get her table and chair set-up, the rider list and strips of yellow and black (Resene) tape ready. The tape is to tie to the rear of the bikes to make it easy for riders to identify each other as Capital Cruisers whilst on the road, and by 0620 the first riders had been checked in and were departing.
We had 64 entries this year, but two had to withdraw, then two late entries had us with a starting line up of 64, although 66 donations toward the cause (buying Christmas presents for children with Muscular Dystrophy in the lower North Island), not to mention another couple of donations from non-riders, plus sponsorship from Protecta Insurance, so we are on track to go near $1,000 this year. Of the 64, 6 were starting from Taumaranui, 10 from Masterton and the rest from Wellington (including 2 from Wanganui and 4 from Palmy) and they all trickled in and scooted off until 0650, when there were just 3 to come. One was James, who I knew would be a definite because he wanted to have a good test of his new ST1300, so Ann tried ringing the others to see what was up. James turned up about then, one had had a late night and the other we just had a name as she had paid online but hadn't contacted me so I didn't have any info....so add 2 DNS's to the mix.
I had no set plan for the ride, apart from the usual start last and after the frenetic pace we enjoyed on the NI1600, I was figuring I would enjoy a relatively sedate pace, maybe catch up with a few of the Ulybods and ride with them......Yeah right! James arriving late put paid to that idea!!
We departed from Caltex Rimutaka at 0708 and straight away the scene was set for the day as James had obviously warmed up, getting down from Ohau, and he set out like a scolded cat.....or perhaps he was the Great Dane chasing the scolded cat and I was the poor sap that happened to be holding the other end of the leash. Some might say I could have just let him go....but fat chance! Why on earth would I let the chance of a jolly good spirited fang go to waste?!
I had the GoPro mounted, the GPS programmed and music rocking, I was snug with the liner in my jacket, the heated grips were on (it was only about 4°), the blue skies were crystal clear with sun rising and the promise of a good dose of sun-strike.....and we attacked the hill like the charge of the Light Brigade (but without the guns bit). I'd thought, "New bike, he'll be taking it easy to just get used to it", but not James.
At departure, the GPS had predicted our finishing ETA at 1938, but by the time we got to Mauriceville at 0801, the ETA was down to 1920, we had passed two riders on the road and two more were still at the CP, pics were snacked and we lit out like our tails were on fire...?......still on fire! I love the Mauriceville-Kaiparoro road and we had a ball, but then we got back to SH2 and had to behave ourselves!!....well sort of behave?...and we settled back to a sort of spirited pace.
We caught our next rider out of Pahiatua and followed him via the Gorge to Ashhurst, but he took the low road via Bunnythorpe, whereas my preference is to avoid 50kph zones wherever possible, and as I had just assumed the lead for the next section to Stratford, we took Colyton Rd across to Fielding to get on the Halcombe road. There's nothing special about the Halcombe road but it is another one that I find delightful as the sweeping curves take one over the rolling countryside. A non-C1KC rider pulled onto the road at Halcombe and he dragged us to the back of what appeared to be a train of 10 or 12 C1KC bikes and we caught them on SH1....but their leader had missed the turn onto Makirikiri Rd and they were just getting sorted as we slipped through unimpeded.....that was bloody gentlemenly of them!
We were still following our 'new friend' at this stage and he seemed to have a bee-in-his-bonnet that he didn't want us in front of him and since he was setting such a cracking pace, we were quite happy to follow, so it wasn't surprising that we caught another group of 5 or 6 bikes before SH3. That led to a cluster at the junction, so I just kept left and scooted to the front, arriving right on queue to take a wide arc with the first couple of bikes out of the blocks. Another easy pass.
We settled back to sort-of-spirited, passed the next couple and caught Dave on his VTR and followed him to Wangas, but when he stayed on '3 passed the Springvale Park, I nipped to the other side of the park, shot up Parsons and Parkes Rds....and pulled out right behind Dave on SH3. It's not a shortcut as such, but it does avoid a set of lights and traffic and can usually get a jump, but on this occasion, he obviously got the lights and we copped a few interruptions.
We passed Dave going up the passing lane out of Kai Iwi, hoofed it along the recommended bypass around Hawera and arrived at Z Stratford at 1055...the ETA was now down to 1857. Z Stratford was both a CP and the first of our two fuel stops and there was no way that the pace we were on would get us to Taumaranui as, with only 360km done, I was already down to 2 bars. We enjoyed a leisurely 15 minute break fueling, snacking and so on, then hit the road with James back in front so I could get some more video footage.
The skies were now overcast (although no threat of rain), the temp was hovering between 10-14° and the Forgotten Highway was quite a treat, but perish the thought of doing it in the wet as a lot of the road is very slick. James maintained a relatively brisk pace and we enjoyed the hell out of the 3 saddles leading into Whangamomona, where we arrived at 1155, then paused for a couple of minutes for James to remove a layer as the temp was starting to climb. We then galloped over the Tahora Saddle and I took the lead shortly after that, having to wait for a flock of sheep, then campervans to clear the Hobbit Hole before we hit the gravel. The first half of the Tangarakau Gorge was pretty thick with sharp looking gravel, so the pace was sedate through there, then the second half was much better, but we got stuck behind a campervan who didn't want to pull over so we (and the bikes) were sucking up dust for a bit and it eventually took a bit of tooting before the prat moved across enough for us to slip past.
Back on the seal and the temp shot up to 18°, so I was pulling the vent zips on my jacket but with the liners still in, I was starting to stew, but rather than stop, I just kept the pace on to try to get to Taumaranui by 1300 and in the end, we pulled into the BP at 1305, to meet up with Jim and give him the certs, badges and prizes for the northern starters. First thing I did was whip the liner out, then we grazed on bananas and nut bars, went down the road to the JDZ Carriages to photo the CP, then finally got back on the road at 1322....with Chris in tow. At this point we'd got the ETA back to 1900, only to push it back out with the stops, so no more gain there. That was surprising as I thought we would have made good gains through the Forgotten Hiway.
We were now on SH4 with James back in front and the boring stint down to Raetihi before taking on the Para's. I wasn't sure on the Km's and whether or not we'd make Hunterville, so planned to fuel in Raetihi, but as we approached, I realised we had plenty for the 150'ish km to Hunterville, so we carried on. The scoot down the Para's was the usual delight (averaging 103kph) I took the lead at Upokongaro and we had negotiated Kaimatira Rd and through Fordell to the Whangaehu River Bridge CP by 1508. About 300km to go, some narrow roads and I was expecting to meet oncoming northern starters anytime.
We had a cruisy 7 minute stop here then got onto the Fordell-Hunterville road proper and it is in very good condition at the present time. All the same, between the potential for loose stuff, wayward critters and oncoming nutty bikers on the narrow passage, we proceded with due care. This road is quite beautiful at this time of year with a mix of flat and hilly farmland, scrubby Whangaehu Valley backcountry, then some areas where the road passes by trees or through wooded areas. ....all very nice if you're not on a mission!
We rolled into the BP in Hunterville at 1539, gassed up and rolled out at 1548, made our way up to the Vinegar Hill turnoff and over to the next CP in Kimbolton before hitting the Apiti Loop. We passed the first of the Northerners (Topher) just before turning off and took even more care on the unmarked road around through Umutoi before getting to the last CP of the day, being the Piripiri Bridge over the Pohangina River. We got there at 1648, dithered for a bit while Chris contemplated an issue with his rear brake and he decided to let it cool off a bit rather than continue immediately so James and I hit the home leg....a quick scoot to Ashhurst, then sedate riding back to the Parrot 'n Jigger in Lower Hutt.
James pulled off at Ohau to collect his daughter for the evenings fireworks display in Wellington but I kept going, enjoyed one last fang over the Parkak' hill and got to the PnJ at 1655, doing 1,010km in just over 11¾hrs on the road for an overall average of 86kph and 10:44 moving time for a moving average of 94kph.
There were already 6 or 8 riders in, enjoying a drink and a snack and I settled in to assist Ann process the rest as they arrived...we were there until 2300!
It was a good route, albeit a bit slower than the last couple of years with the technical bits through the Forgotten Hiway, Fordell and Apiti. Fortunately the great weather made the riding easier and the majority had a great day. It did transpire however that there were 3 offs, 3 breakdowns and about 4 DNF's for various reasons....so it was a tough day. Bloody typical bikers though....Monie who offed and broke a collar bone within 20km of home was only worried she wouldn't get her badge!!!??
Many thanks to James for making the day a bit more exciting, all the other riders for your contributions...and for assisting those in need. (A couple not getting home until 0230....'cos they really wanted their badges). Protecta for coming to the party with a generous sponsorship and Ann for running the start and finish so efficiently.
The bike now has 55,025 km on it and I'm off a 0500 tomorrow to visit Robert Taylor in New Plymouth for a customised suspension....another 700km day.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.