Well that was another nice wee fang!
Apparently I have a problem when it comes to riding and creating routes for longer rides ….I like corners!
After all, let’s face it, I’m not one to throw my arse around or hang off the seat, but the subtle shifting of weight that occurs whilst negotiating a delicious string of lefts and rights does wonders to alleviate the aching-numb-bum that manifests when sitting for hour after hour in the saddle on a boring, straight state highway.
Anyway, I don’t know how it happened but after coming up with a route for this year’s 1KC (Sth) ages ago, I happened to revisit the route in MapSource a month or two back and, for some reason I can’t fathom, I happened to look at the anticipated duration of the ride and had one of those ‘Holy Shit’ moments! Mr MapSoruce was telling me that the ride was going to take 15 hours!
Of course, we all know that Mr MapSource is rather conservative when it comes to these things, but 15 hours!? “Hell”, I thought so grabbed the unit, dumped the route into it and doublechecked, a tad under 14 hours …bugger me, that wouldn’t do so I shared my discovery with the (NZDR) boys. I agreed to come up with a more subdued variant, but in the discussion, it also came to light that this was the 10th one thousand Km ride out of Wellington, so we figured, ‘what the hell, let’s keep the curly route and offer it to hard-arses as a treat …and call it the Super Thou. And so it was we came to offer an extension that didn’t add Km, just more corners.
…and yesterday we got to do it.
I set the alarm for 0500, but awoke at 0300, lay there, turned this way and that trying to doze and eventually turned the TV on to watch a programme I’d recorded and eventually got up at 0445 to scrub and get ready. The bike and car were already packed so we were gone by 0530 to get to Caltex Rimutaka at 0600 to set-up …and there were already riders waiting.
I gassed up, helped Ann sort the table and chair and lay out all the guff and after taking a few pix and everything looked under control, I advised that I’d get on the road, so I could get back as soon as possible to help with the check-ins on return, with a loose plan to do a sub-13 hour ride in ‘GC mode’.
And so it was that I embarked on my adventure at 0615 with the GPS registering an ETA back in Wellington of 1939. The weather was dry, but a coolish 11°, it was light but the sun was yet to rise and I could expect a good dose of sunstrike as I progressed over the Rimutakas and into the Wai’rapa. At last, I was into it and with the Rimutakas as our doorstep, I got to warm-up with a few corners …..sweet.
With little traffic and being on a mission, I had shaved a few minutes off the ETA by Featherston, a few more by Masterton, and then they began to tumble. I don’t think I’ve been out to Castlepoint for a couple of years but it is a nice road and I seemed to be in a good groove …that is, until I passed 30kph and roadwork sings as I approached a wee rise. I buttoned off to let the speed bleed off as I approached the crest, out of the shad and into the sunstrike, so I couldn’t see much apart from that the road was swinging to the right and before I could identify where the works and any grit was, both wheels were drifting left. It was one of those heart-stopping moments that is over before one has had time to make more than an insipient correction, and although one doesn’t tend to ease off at all, it was a good wake-up cool to be on guard and take more care.
I didn’t know if I was the first to leave the start at Caltex, or what time the Masterton crew were getting on the road, so I was constantly waiting and expecting to see bikes coming at me for the last 27 Km into Castlepoint, but when I pulled into the carpark for the first checkpoint pic, I knew I must be in the lead, but with turning onto Te Ore Ore Rd in Masterton at 0658, I figured there wouldn’t be much in it and half-pie expected riders to roll in as I took my pics, had a snack, relieved myself and generally wasted 4 minutes before turning for Riversdale.
Yay, I now had the sun behind me and within a Km or two I had bikes coming at me so the field were in hot pursuit, although maybe only a dozen or so passed by on the way to Langdale Rd. Much of this road is a narrow lane and once again I found myself drifting on grit I failed to see (and I found out after the ride that another ST rider managed to wash-out the front through here, doing a bit of cosmetic damage). All good though and I was soon pulling up at the Riversdale store, 180Km done in 1:55, it was 0910 and the gents enjoying a coffee and a chat at the store were probably wondering why the idiot that just turned up, hopped off his bike, grabbed his camera, took a photo and was gone again within a minute. They’d be more perplexed if they were still there in the next 20-30 minutes!
Heading out and it was hard to tell if Ken (the next rider behind me) had made up any time or not, but he had certainly made some time on his Masterton compatriots and all credit to him, I was riding briskly on an ST but he was on a cruiser!
More care, steady, curly riding and I was soon turning back onto the Masterton-Castlepoint Rd at Blairlogie and shortly after, I was surprised to see two riders heading out as that made them 120+Km and an hour and a quarter plus behind, already. From there, the road is a bit more open and flowy and as I turned onto Bideford Rd, I figured I would now have about a 10 minute buffer as most if the riders would need fuel before embarking on Route 52, but my first fuel stop wasn’t scheduled until Woodville. At this point, the weather to the north was looking dark and bleak.
The bottom end of Route 52 has a few sections where the trees prevent any sunlight from getting on the road and hence they are normally damp and green, so care is required, but it is one of those roads that one always needs to expect the unexpected, be it grit, slumping, damp green ooze on the centre hump, pine needles or other foliage littered in abundance, wandering sheep, rogue sheep, crazy sheep …or for me on this occasion, all of the above (except for the rogue and crazy sheep) plus a row of ducks who thought better of their intended crossing (must have mistaken the purr of the ST for a rampant cat)….and a bloody great, huge turkey which finally took to the air after I had diverted to the right lane! Oh yes, and then there was the wet paint! I hate it when an errant line encroaches on the centreline resulting in a twitch and I had a couple of those.
By the time I turned onto Bideford Rd, the ETA was down 40 minutes, to 1900 and after a careful but brisk transition to the next CP at Pongaroa, even though I had encountered squalls and wet roads and even considered stopping to don the wets, I had now shaved an hour off the ETA and the routine this time was, photo, nutbar, water, then put the wets on …and all this time, the whole two minutes of it, the three ladies gossiping outside the Pongaroa shop never missed a beat or even seemed to notice I was there.
Let the fun begin!
I was now heading in to Pahaitua then over the Track to Aokoutere and this part of the Wai’rapa is really wind-wracked. The westerlies seem to get funnelled by the track and they can be intense …and so it was on this occasion. I had turned head-on into a gale force westerly, but fortunately the ST has that big fairing and screen so apart from the bike getting buffeted around, I was relatively comfy. More care was required but!
I made more good progress though and realised it’s been quite some years since I’ve done this road, but it’s actually quite a nice ride. As I approached Pahiatua, I decided on a change to the plan. It’s only about 50km from Pahiatua to Aokoutere and up to Woodville, so I could do that on reserve (the last bar on the gauge) and I still had two bars, although I wasn’t sure how far into the 2nd-last bar I was ….and I needed a pee, so I opted to fuel in Pahiatua as I would still easily make my 2nd fuel stop at Z Waiouru. Shame on me thugh…refuelling an ST at only 358Km, but let’s face it, rolling on out of corners does suck a lot of gas on the 300+Kg machine …and there was that brutal headwind …ok, and the pace was fresh at times!!
So I enjoyed a leisurely 8 minute stop, pumping gas, paying for it, enjoying the relief of a natural break, woofing down a banana and a nut bar, before hitting the Track. At this point the rain was only occasional squalls, although the roads were generally wet and it was hard to say if the Track was taking me into the gloom, or if I was going to just miss it, so I left the wets on. Not that it mattered though because 19 minutes later I had done the 30Km at an average of 93kph, then wasted 2 minutes taking the pic and forcing another banana though the narrow gap in the helmet.
I was now in for a quick 10Km squirt up to SH3 before having to endure a 100Km grind up SH2 to Waipawa. I did get to wave to Palmy crew as they exited the Gorge though, and it was an easily achieved 96kph average, without exceeding the allowable tolerances. I did avoid the main road through Dannevirke though and encountered a huge wet-paint-induced rear wheel twitch as I tried to get around some twat dithering as he exited an intersection! Who needs the monitors to keep one on the straight and narrow!?
Waipawa reached and I was now able to lift the pace (just a little) for the 15 Km to Patangata, have a 1 minute photostop, then enjoy the delight that is Middle Rd. (another treasure that I haven’t done for a year or three), but I did cut it short, taking Mutiny Rd to get on 50A and across to Omahu to embark on the Gentle Annie. At this stage I should have taken off the wets because I did start to cook with the thermal liner still in the cordura jacket, and the wets on when the temp was hitting 20°, but I could be bothered as I expected I’d have to put them back on by Waiouru.
I thought the Gentle Annie was in much better condition than the last time I did it on the 2014 NI1600, but there were a few wet sections that required care to miss the slick patches and I was able to maintain a 94kph average through to the next CP at the double bridges over the Rangitikei River. This stretched into a 3 minute stop as I forced another banana through the slit and sought relief as I admired the view.
It only took 32 minutes for the 52Km to Waiouru for my fuel stop and there were a few 1KC (Nth) riders there as this was a CP for them and the 1KC (Sth) riders as they were all coming down from Turangi and we didn’t want to let them have the opportunity to slip down SH4 and miss the delight that is Fields Track (for some maybe). This point was around 630-660Km for both rides, so I suppose they were near the front of that Field (although no doubt well behind the northern lead rider)
I dithered for 7 minutes gassing, texting, then having a brief chat before moving on. This was a really strange section, because I texted home, advising 1745 as the expected ETA from Waiouru, however I expected to peel a chunk more time off that through Fields Track because the GPS tends to overstate the time through narrow winding roads, but I got a surprise to find myself losing time through Fields Track!!?? I’d forgotten how narrow it gets and how much nicer it is to ride with some other fool leading the way. I picked my way through though at a miserly 88kph avg, paused for 2 minutes at the bridge to get the statutory pic before hitting the final leg of the journey, just 254Km to go, …190Km of it trudging down SH’s 3&1.
It was more dry than wet now and as always, I really enjoyed the final curly gallop down the Para’s, before the steady-as-she-goes, stick-within-the-allowable-limits finish to the day.
At Levin I managed to make a call on the go (thanks to the Sena) to advise Ann I’d be in by 1730, so to wait for me at home and we could go to the Backbencher together ….in the car, as I’d had enough of the bike by this stage. Thanks to wearing the wets for most of the day, my inner thighs were feeling it a bit and I could feel myself getting a bit tight between the shoulders and around the neck, but what a bloody good fang! I contemplated how I’d ridden this ‘hard’ 1,000Km quicker than I normally ride a standard one and how nice it was to ride at a free pace on unmonitored roads, although, thanks to the corners, much of it was done going ‘hard-out’, but still well within the allowable limits!
We got to the BackBencher by 1800, but had to wait until 1845 before the next rider got in and I was surprised to find most of the Super Thou riders coming in before those on the standard offering, although these guys were all seasoned distance riders. It was nice to chat and listen to the tales and finally, the season is over for the NZDR year and I can get my life back. ….briefly before starting work on next year’s routes!
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.