This year was my 11th MDA run after missing the 2014 ride …and it still hasn’t lost its charm of being a great ride while serving a great cause to see some joy brought to the lives of some children afflicted with Muscular Dystrophy.
This year my involvement included sorting a budget and coming up with a ride plan, which was to be very different from all the other years I have been attending.
Last year would have been the worst (hardest) year because we had 5 schools to visit through the Wai’rapa on the Friday before provisioning and preparing a bbq for the Hawkes Bay children that evening, then we had 8 visits through Taranaki and Whanganui on the Sunday so didn’t get home until about 6pm.
This year we only had one school to visit on Friday and we didn’t have to work the Friday evening as it was catered for us, then on the Saturday we had lost out little man north of Taupo, but we had 10 visits to make on the Sunday. This really opened up the route options so Route 52 from Masterton to Waipuk’ instantly entered the mix and not having to travel the Western Access road was a relief because having moved the run forward a week, we would now conflict with the Round Taupo Bike Race, so two really easy days but we would be very loaded up on the Sunday.
Several options were considered and in the end we settled on a couple of weather-dependant choices that could be made on the day …and Friday was looking dismal! Sheesh, the end of November (a few days before summer), it was only 14° and looking decidedly gloomy over the Rimutakas, so I rolled out of Brown Owl with the thermal liner still in my jacket and my wets on. By Featherston it was looking clear, the temp was up a few degrees, so the wet jacket came off, then at Carterton with the temp still rising the liner came out.
At this point it was time for the ‘D’ on route and with it looking clagged-in to the west and clear to the east, Route 52 was the option of choice, so after pausing in Carterton to re-register the bike, then regrouping with the others at the fuel stop in Masterton, I led out through Te Ore Ore and Alfredton to Pongaroa, where we had a lunch stop. …and what a big burger that was!
From there we headed up to the Weber turnoff, then over to Porongahau and that bit of road is a bit marginal at the moment with a couple of sections where there are cracks in the road and damn, they have got weeds growing in them!! Once one is past Wimbledon the road does get wider and smoother for an easier pace and a couple refuelled in Waipuk’, but I wasn’t finished with them yet, we turned off at Waipawa to head for another break at the Patangata Tavern before finishing the ride with a jaunt across Middle Rd, then over to Bayview where we were staying the night. The temp leapt up to 24° through here so I even had to open the vents on my jacket.
We arrived at Bayview at 1630, settled in, showered up, chatted for a bit before kitting-up in Santa outfits, or in my case, my Pix-E cape and we were taken for a bus ride so that we could arrive back at the hall for Santa to make a grand entrance. That all went well and that was day 1.
I awoke pretty early and eventually arose at 0530 to what was shaping to be a cracker of a day in Hawkes Bay. I scrubbed up, put air in the tyres, fuelled, packed up and we had breakfast at 0700 for an 0800 start. We’d opted for the Gentle Annie route but a couple of the guys and the car took the Napier-Taupo option (which, according to MapSource, should have been about an hour quicker). Tiny from HB led us over to Omahu via Puketapu, then another couple of HB Ulys joined us there, but they were on cruisers and Trev led out at a reasonably brisk pace, so they peeled off once it started to get curly.
Once we started to climb, I had the GoPro set up and I captured the ride through the middle part where the temp dropped from 18° to 14° and I was really feeling the cold, but it wasn’t until we arrived in Waiouru for a fuel stop for Woody that I realised the vents were still open on my jacket from the day before …what a dickhead! At this point we were running 1¼hrs ahead of the predicted MapSource time so we continued on to Ohakune to have a refreshment stop.
About half an hour later we continued to Taumarunui where we filled, made our visit, relaxed for lunch, then continued up SH4. We got a bit of a fright through here when a cop going the other way turned his lights on after just passing us and we might have been 1 or 2 km over the limit. That pushed the heartrate up a bit, as we reviewed our options …19km to our turn-off – nah, …take the Ohura road – nah, take our medicine - *Sigh*!! But he never turned and then Trev advised that his detector device hadn’t activated!! That turned out to be pretty bad timing as he must have received an emergency call right as he passed us!
We soon took Ramaroa Rd for Aria and I had a blast through there, but Totoro Rd was as bad as it always seems to be, and then we were poised to enjoy the Awakino gorge…when it pissed down. Fortunately I had donned my wets at Taumarunui so I limped on at a nanny pace until about half-way through the rain eased so I was riding on a steamy, wet road, then at about three-quarters the road became more dry than wet. All in all it must have been one of the slowest transitions I’ve made through that gorge.
Awakino was time for another refreshment stop after which we continued to Urenui for more fuel for the tiny-tanks and to get supplies for the evening before finishing the day with visits to Waitara and Bell Block, after which we were then welcomed on to the marae before settling down for the night. …and that was day 2 done.
Well almost!! …I was awoken a few times by Mike who was snoring up a storm and I’d left my plugs in the bike.
By 0530 I’d had enough so I got up for a scrub, then go through the motions of tyres, pack etc before brekky at 0730 to get back on the road by 0800. The day was looking dismal and we even had a few dumpings before we left so everyone was fully kitted in wets as we went about our business of 8 visits for the day.
There’s nothing worse than getting on and off the bike in these conditions and sure enough, it transpired that after one of the visits I didn’t do my gear up properly and the moisture got in. Bugger!
We ended up making the visits in a real mix of conditions, but made quite good progress so we had time for a fuel and snack stop at BP Whanganui before our two visits there and the last one in Palmy, where we got dumped on big time before our work for the day was complete. We just had to make our way home and as one would expect, having left Palmy fully kitted, by the time I got to Opiki it was clear, by Levin it was nice and by Otaki I was starting to overheat …but I wasn’t stopping because I had an ETA of 1600 and I just wanted to get home.
The traffic from Shannon on got thicker and thicker with big queues at several places where I was glad I was on the bike and could just scoot along the line of cars. In the end I got home at 1603, satisfied that we had done a good job of bringing some joy to otherwise less than fortunate lives, satisfied that I’d enjoyed a bloody good ride and enjoyed a few jolly good fangs, and satisfied that that was pretty much me done for the year as far as organising rides etc was concerned.
I’m looking forward to a break.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.