Another TT done and dusted and it was a beauty!
After the frustrations of last year I took a slightly different approach this year, ….but then Mike Hyde has constantly evolved the concept of his ride so each year is different anyway and this time swung back to a ride where one could easily get their required points, then ride where they liked to stack up the km's.
I didn't do that though!
I looked at the layout of the checkpoints and my plan morphed through about 10 stages until I finally had a route that picked up almost all of the checkpoints apart from the gravelly ones and a couple that weren't convenient, it had early check-ins then further riding that meant there was no time pressure to get to the end (apart from trying to get plenty of sleep) and on the Sunday it had a 200km buffer of scooting over to Akaraoa just because we could.
I started out with Steve (& his V-Strom) as my riding buddy, then we got joined by Woody )on his Z1000) and then later in the piece, Chris (on his Multistrada) joined us for his first TT2000.
As per usual, I tried to plan the route to the nth degree, starting with the route in MapSource, then laying out the CP's and points on a spreadsheet with leg km's, total km's, working out potential fuel stops based on Woody's maxed out 300km range and finally assigning leg times from MapSource plus 2minutes per CP photo stop, 10minutes per fuelstop, 30minutes for lunch on Saturday and approx an hour to check-in to the cabins each evening and have dinner. I finally loaded the route into the GPS unit, noted the km's and route time from there, calculated the moving average and applied that to the spreadsheet to then have a fast time. (The unit comes up with a faster time than MapSource and it tends to be more accurate to my riding) (I also expected that the faster unit times would still be conservative.....yeah right!!)
By compiling all this info, the route would get tweeked until we finally had a plan....Oh yes, and as I went, I also discovered the exact locations of the two Mystery checkpoints. Mystery 2 was easy as that was Moa statue constructed of wire, so I googled the image which linked to an old Stuff article that revealed the name of the sculptor and the farmer that commissioned it (on his farm and it's general location) The white pages identified his address, then a scoot along streetview revealed the statue about 300 metres from his gate! Voila, it was in the plan.
I discarded Mystery 1 early in the piece because it was 3km from the end of the seal and there were no clues to start a search, but one tends to revisit these things and one evening it suddenly clicked that behind the two dunnies in a paddock was a bridge with a river running under it!! That prompted a scan of MapSource and Google Maps which identified that there were only two gravel CP's that went anywhere near a river at 3km from the end of the seal, Klondyke and Highview, but Klondyke passed by a loop in the river where Highview crossed it. Sure enough, zooming in at 3km along the Highview track on Google Maps did indicate there were two wee dots that had to be the dunnies!
Entries were registered, ferries booked, accommodation booked for two, and it was big enough for three, then expanded for four, the bike was serviced, re-shod with a new set of Z8's, Sena S20's were purchased all round, the route loaded to GPS's and we were ready to go....on the 0230 sailing of the Arahura on Thursday morning.
Thurs 19 – Day 1
After grabbing a couple of hours kip, I was up at midnight, scrubbed and geared up and as the bike was already packed, I was soon on the road to fill the bike, then check-in at the ferry terminal. Chris arrived shortly after so we paired up our Senas, then Woody turned up but Steve didn't arrive until almost time to board.
We chatted for awhile before grabbing another hour plus of nap and we were on the road out of Picton before 0540. The temp started out at about 12° but hit 9° before Spring Creek and didn't really rise much as we made our way north in the dark.
I had a wee moment as we hit the roadworks through the Dashwood pass and I suddenly found myself on gravel, so probably not a great time to be on intercom but I'm sure my choice of expletives would have alerted the boys to what lay ahead. Nothing untoward happened though and an hour or so later, as we made our way up the Kaikoura coast, we were treated to a lovely sunrise when the sun sneaked out of the sea with a pink glow all around it, then as we turned toward the Kaikouras through Clarence, the whole mountain range was covered with the same pink glow for a bit.
I recall thinking that at least the temp would start to rise with the sun but shortly after we turned inland on SH70, the temp bottomed out at 7° and hardly went above 9° all the way through to our first fuel stop in Culverden. At this point we had travelled 262km at an average of 90kph and we got there at 0832, filled, had a play to try and improve the intermittent connection we were experiencing with the Senas and we finally got back on the road at 0906.
We made our way out to Waipara, on to Amberley, then turn inland again to take SH72 via Oxford to Geraldine for lunch and the next fuel stop. This was an easy scoot, managing an average of 95kph, and we passed Dreds and his two mates through here, so they paused to say gidday before we went in for our feed.
A bit over an hour later we had filled and were back on the road, then realised what a good idea it had been to take the inland route because once we got to Timaru, the traffic was diabolical. We were being diverted for roadworks (or perhaps a big accident) and we were constantly leap-frogging through long lines of cars and trucks. The traffic did ease from around Waimate though and we got to the holiday park at 1555, having had a relaxing day in the saddle.
We checked in, scrubbed up, sorted our stuff, went a feed and settled in for the night.,..and that was day 1.
89 moving average; 765km;
Fri 20 – Day 2
We didn't start until midday so we enjoyed a sleep in with plans to check-out by 1000 (managing to leave by 0930), finding a cafe for brunch before filling and registering at McIver & Vietch. We met Topher outside the cafe and Bandit Rider in it, as well as a couple of Blenheim Ulys (who didn't manage to finish the ride after she had a close encounter with a sheep) and got to the start at about 1100 to mingle and chew the fat. At this point we discovered that Mike Hyde wasn't well and couldn't make it, but all went off to plan anyway.
We were briefed, collected our T-Shirts, which I quickly clipped into my shorts-hanger that I'd duct-taped into the lid of the top box for quick photo CP turnrounds, and after waiting for Woody to be already to go....then take his helmet off to put his earplugs in, we got underway for our first checkpoint at Aramoana at right on 1200.
This was always going to be a slow start but we did alright to make our way through the traffic as well as passing a few other bikes on the way over. I was surprised to find that we only passed two or three bikes on their way out and half a dozen at the CP. There were another 10 – 15 that followed us in and a few more that we passed on the way out, so it would seem that not that many riders opted to grab these points?
I'd never been there though and enjoyed the ride, then back to Port Chalmers and especially heading out to SH1 at Waitati....then from Palmerston where we turned onto the pig route and the pace lifted to a km-eating steady speed. We caught Dreds and his mates before Palmerston, slotted in behind them, then got caught by one or two others, so we had quite a wee train as we made our way to CP3, being the Macraes Gold Mine. Shucks....that's one big hole in the ground!....not to mention the huge pile of tailings sitting on top of it. It's amazing because I rode that road back in 2011, but between the fog, the sunstrike and the pace I don't recall seeing a thing of it....not to mention the other great scenery.
From Macraes, it was onto CP4 at Hyde then over to Ranfurly and CP5 at Idaburn, but we were treated to a smirk as we approached Ranfurly when Dreds and co took to Bypass Rd (a gravel jobby) and I commented to Woody, "Did you see that, those pricks hit that gravel and they didn't flinch, they didn't falter and they didn't miss a beat!" I had assumed they were off to some dark-side CP but then got another surprise when they popped out just ahead of us again 6.7km later (them having done 5.6km) and I thought, "Huh, Gary, (who was leading us at the time) you haven't been going fast enough!" (We'd only averaged 103kph).
They eased off a bit on the 16km to the Ida Valley turnoff, so I slipped past and the others followed because we did want to pick up 10 minutes on our schedule to add the Mystery 1 CP to our haul. We grabbed our photo of the dry dam, scooted past Chatto Creek and up to the Clyde Dam for CP5, then back to Clyde for gas. (what a quaint little town) Then we lit out for the Roxburgh Dam, CP6, and the ride along Conroys Rd was quite a treat with plenty of corners and views.
From Roxburgh we had quite a cluster of relatively close CP's starting with Mystery 2 on Moa Flat Rd, Wilden, Edievale, Switzers, Mystery 1, Heriot, Kelso and Waikaka, before heading to our check-in at the Gore Cabins, at which time (being 1745) we were a quarter hour behind schedule.
The ride plan had our departure on Part 2 at between 1850 – 1945, and after getting dithered around at the Kebab place, Woody & I scoffed down a couple of foot long Subs, while Steve & Chris went for a McCafe and whatever, with us getting back on schedule by heading out of town at 1853.
Our 226km outing started with a quick scoot east out to Kaiwera, then back to Gore to head north-west on SH94 for Manderville, where we had to photograph an old train next to a community hall, then a hall in the middle of nowhere at Wendonside. That road had a somewhat out of the way 6km long straight which inspired Chris to check his speed on....but that's all I have to say about that!
Our track from there briefly linked back onto SH94, then we took a link road across to SH6 to bypass Lumsden and down through Dipton to photograph a War Memorial, that like many in the Sth Island (and CP's on this trip) are tucked away on side roads out in the WopWops. We finished the day going down SH6 to Winton, across SH96, turning off before Mataura to collect the last CP for the day at Waimumu, where the route guides had a picture of the church, but noted the hall as the CP.....so we took both and were back in Gore and refueled by 2130 (8 minutes ahead of schedule)
We finished the day with a scrub, then chewed the fat over a few wines before hitting the sack at about 2300,
89 moving average; 452km + 226km = 679km
Sat 21 – Day 3
At this point we already had 38,000 of our required 50,000 points and Saturday's plan called for collecting another 36,500 points and 1,114km. I arose before the alarm went off at 0500, geared-up, re-packed, put a bit of air in the tyres and we were on the move by 0605 heading south for the first three CP's at Menzies Ferry, Mataura Island and Bluff. I had Chris behind me and his headlights were bloody bright so I turned my mirrors down and got on with the job, only to find that 4km down SH1, Chris was pulling alongside because his were the only lights there!! Turned out that Woody had pulled out of the motorcamp and followed the wrong bike in the wrong direction until the chap pulled into his residence.....then Woody decided to use his GPS! We had returned 2.7km when they came into view, so we turned and took off again.
By 0722 we had collected the first two CP's, then cut across to come back out on SH1 by Tiwai Point and cruised down to Bluff to take a pic of a big chain sculpture, pissed around a little and we were still a minute ahead of schedule when we headed for our first fuel stop at Riverton.
It amazes me how so many petrol stations have been shut in the Nth Island, but most little settlements in the deep south seem to have retained their pumps by going to card operated Allied, G.A.S. or McKeowns stations. The downside for four dumb Welly boys, was that the card pump wanted a $ limit entered, but we wanted to fill, so Woody dials up $25, but only draws off about $16, so we put the rest in Chris' machine and thought stuff it. I could get to the next planned stop and Kingston while Steve and Chris should have made Manapouri, so we hit the road with the plan for Steve and Chris to fill at the next available fuel. That turned out to be Tuatapere.
Before that we had to collect a pic of the surfer statue at Colac Bay, where I led us onto the grass to get close. When I put the stand down it was a bit soft, so I moved the bike forward onto the wooden curb around the statue, took my photo, plus the spare of the group, then saw Steve trying to hold his bike up while he took his photo so I stepped in to assist. I should have gone to Spec Savers though because right then, Woody's bike fell over!! Oh dear, it took both of us to pick the poor wee thing up but the upside was that the grass was so soft that nothing got broken....and then we went on to Tuatapere.
What a joke! We arrived at the servo (that didn't feature on the NZ Open Souce Maps) and it turned out to be open, manned by three people, but still on cards! Sheesh, dumbarse city boys still want fills so ask how to get around it and all we get is a tirade from the Arsehole Owner. What an absolute prat! Hardcase though because it turns out that you dial in your max amount, but it only charges you for what you take, so the boys filled and we moved on for Orawia, Clifden and Manapouri......but what a twat the prick that owns the Tuatapere servo is!!!
The faffing around over fuel had cost us time though and by the time we were moving on from Orawia, we were 12minutes behind, same at Clifden and down to 7 minutes down at Manapouri. Averaging 100kph across to Mossburn pulled in another 5 minutes and at that point I was down to 2 bars on the fuel but hadn't been taking note so I wasn't sure where I stood for the 60km up to Kingston...and I didn't want to put 91 in the ST, so I said to Steve, "You take the lead and I'll draught."
We made more good time averaging 104kph, while my economy picked up 0.2km/Ltr and didn't go on reserve until about 5km out of Kingston. It was interesting to see the new cycleway through here, complete with large swing-bridges. In fact, it wasn't until I saw the swing-bridges and wondered what they were for that I noticed the cycleway. It's hard enough to cycle on the highway, but why any one would want to do all that cycling on gravel behooves me?
We were a minute ahead of time out of the 'Flyer' CP, then a minute behind out of the fill....and it was time to....'Let the Games Begin!'
We were now at the bottom of Lake Wakatipu and were about to embark on the best riding of the weekend. It was only 12km up to the next CP, being the Devil's Staircase lookout and we did that in 7 minutes, departing on schedule, but Steve left while I waited for Woody and Chris to get back on the road, then when they were moving, I lit out like a scolded cat! ....and what a delightful wee fang that was!....didn't do much for my economy but!!
We were scheduled to have lunch in Frankton, but the road in was choked and we got split up as we filtered past the traffic. I had a moment here when a boy-racer pillock saw me coming and veered across to the centreline....so I just took the gap behind him to nip around the inside but the prick swung back across on top of me as I passed....and he threw in a few expletives for good measure. I Had plenty of room though and after tossing the ST out of his way, I was soon well up the queue, through the round-about and waiting for the others by the BP, but everything was busy and Steve missed the stop, so we continued on to see what we could find along the way.
The next CP was Coronet Peak and we saw nothing before that so that was the next stop...after some more magnificent fanging. I've been up Coronet Peak a couple of times but it's always had plenty of grit lying around.....but not this time. It was pretty clean so I had a blast as the ST is such a delight to throw around on roads like that.
After losing a bit of time fluffing around in Frankton then taking a couple of extra minutes taking in the views from the Peak, we were now 20minutes ahead of schedule with lunch still to be had, and we decided to get that late, at the Cromwell fuel stop. But first we had to go to Cardrona and that meant up and down the Devil's Staircase and Crown Range!
We shuffled around past Arrowtown and then I hit my straps again. Another huge blast was had all the way to Cardrona. The way back was a little more sedate and we stopped for a photo-op at one of the lookouts. I did manage to scrape a boot on one of the hairpins near the bottom and then we struck a huge queue. There was several km of cars just not moving so we shuffled up the centre-line and it soon became apparent that there had been a big accident. When we got near the front of the queue, a chap was out of his car and it transpired that he had been there for an hour, but traffic was moving as they had let them through from the other side and we didn't have to wait long before we were moving again, had passed a few cars ahead of us and were making our way to food, fuel and the next CP in Cromwell.
We arrived at 1411 and enjoyed an extended stop, heading over the bridge out of town 48 minutes later (20 minutes behind schedule). It wasn't a worry though as we only had two more CP's to collect at Lindis Pass and Elephant Hill, before checking into the Top 10 at Timaru. It was easy riding over this leg, up to Omarama, out to Kurow and on to Timaru and I was starting to feel the effects of all the fanging through here as the straighter roads required less focus and I slipped out of the zone. We maintained a good average though and by the time we were pulling out of Elephant Hill, we were back to 6minutes off schedule and it was the same when we arrived at the Holiday Park.
It was hard case because Woody and Chris were stoked to be in and finished so early....until I reminded them that we had another 200km to do! Watching Woody's mouth drop was joy to behold for an arsehole like myself and when he said, "You don't have a very good poker face!" I just replied with, "Read the book!" as my smirk transformed to a fill blown grin! I did sort of soften the blow though by adding, "We have got the Akaroa buffer tomorrow and you could stop now, but you'd have to go to Akaroa tomorrow." So they relented and after a little discussion, we opted to go straight out to get it over with, then enjoy a relaxed dinner when we got back.
And so it was that we had fueled and were on the scoot again at 1832, 31km out to Totara Valley by 1852, on to Burkes Pass by 1921, across to Sherwood Downs by 1953, then back into town and fueled up by 2048. Rain had threatened most of the way around but we were only subjected to a bit of drizzle and settling down for a feed at the Lone Star by 2100. By the time we came out at 2220 though, it was absolutly pissing down.
Once back at the cabin, I let the boys off the hook and said they could sleep in until 0600 and we'd have a more relaxed ride on Sunday...after all, we already had 74,500 points and 1802km
919km + 204km = 1123km
Sun 22 – Day 4
I arose before 0600 and after a liesurly prep, we were on the road just before 0700. It wasn't raining but it was glopomy and we were kitted up in wets. We only had 5 CP's to collect and took a relatively sedate pace getting to Woodbury (War Memorial), but the pace did creep up a bit along the straight Arundel-Rakaia Gorge Road, but we eased off a bit as we made our way in on the wet, narrow road to the Stone cottage at Hakatere Corner and then around to the Doc Sign at Sharplin Falls. That rotten Mike Hyde....he said the Doc Sign was in a carpark and the road was sealed!! It was stuck in the middle of extremely thick bush down a horrid gravel road! OK, the gravel was only 504 metres...but that's over 1km return and we were treated to more Southern Hospitality. Shortly after we had turned onto the darkside we met a massive 4WD coming out and he was followed by Biggo and his mate Ed. I shuffled across the greasy slick rut and into the thick slippery mud that was the verge and still the prick came at me without flinching. He held his line like he owned the road....which he did because he was the biggest son-of-a-bitch in the valley, and as he passed me, with his window down and I was in a frantic state, I exclaimed, "Ignorant Cunt!!!" I guess I was at a loss for words but it did seem to sum the situation up rather succinctly. Phil explained later the the poor wee pet had flagged them down and he was rather cross that all these rotten nasty bikers were invading his turf.
From here we had to get across SH1 and over to Pendarves and that meant negotiating Thompsons Track, which has a 21.6km straight between kinks. The trees and power poles disappeared into a point, so consequently the pace crept up a little along the way. We made it to the hall at Pendarves then into the mobil at Rakaia for fuel and extended 25minute coffee stop and now had our required km's with just the one CP to go at Brookside, but for good measure and to avoid all the awful traffic on SH1, we got our pic and continued out through Coes Ford to SH75 by Motukarara before turning for home via Taitap' and Halswell, arriving at Hampton Honda at 1141.
What a great ride! We checked in, had a sausage sizzle, mingled and chatted and there weren't too many left wen we headed for 219 On Johns at about 1300. We checked in, scrubbed up, had a coffee, fluffed around and went out for chinese at about 1730, resupplied with a couple of wines and retired to the cabins.
91 Moving average; 328km; Arrival at Finish – 1141hrs
= 2130km & 81,500 points (2156km on the odometer)
Mon 23 – Day 5
Time to head for home and I was up around 0700, repacked the bike and we were filling at Z Belfast by 0830. I'd done my share of lead so slotted in at the rear as Steve led us up SH1 at a sedate pace....that was until we were up the road from Parnassus and I felt an urge come on. Suddenly I found myself in the overtaking lane and there were some odd comments filtering through the Sena....like those other guys knew what I was up to!!?? Well I guess they did because I was rocking and grooving to squeeze a final fang out of the trip, although a sign mentioning new seal did put a slight restrainer on it, but I was soon on the coast road and had a big grin on my face....and slotted back into the rear again.
We stopped for a snack and fuel in Kaikoura (but the Pepper Steak pie at Rakaia was way better), went for another coffee stop in Picton before lining up for the ferry and finally got off the boat in Welly at 1740.
89 moving average; 326km
64617km on the bike....and it needs a jolly good clean.
It was a great trip and we had a good team. The Senas took the ride to a new level....when they worked....but that was more to do with ignorant finger trouble on our part rather than the equipment and we seemed to be getting better at it by the end of the trip. We'll have to work on that.
The route was a great offering by Mike and it was much easier to get the required km's this year, although it would seem not so much for the northern starters. I was expecting to ride at a more sedate pace and one of these days, I will have to visit the deep south to actually take in some of the scenes and towns.
As for real rides, that's pretty much it until the NI1600 October but there's plenty of planning and work to do to get that organised! Life can be really rough sometimes.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.