It's been several months since I saw my Moko', not to mention my daughter and son living in Rotorua. Nanny Ann and I had planned to go up for the weekend recently but it didn't happen, so with a free weekend, no ride for the past few weeks, the Rusty Nut Grand Challenge (GC) coming up in a couple of months and a lack of night riding in recent times, I thought it would be a good ride to leave early in the morning (about 2:00am), ride up, spend the day with them and ride back about 4'ish.
As usual, what started out as a simple ride had to be modified as it wouldn't be much fun going up and down SH1 so I looked at the alternatives and in the end, thought, I hadn't been through the Waioeka Gorge for many years so up through Gisborne – Opotiki it was and back down the Parapara's.
During the week I kept an eye on the weather forecast around the regions and it didn't look good so I was having second thoughts, but in the end, I decided I may as well check-out my gear as well so it was in bed by 2130 on Friday night with the alarm set for 0100. I eventually awoke to the dulcet tones of Willy Nelson singing something about loving lots of girls and it was 0118 so I must have been pretty tired, but I leapt out of bed, had a quick shower, a multivitamin and dose of electrolyte for breakfast and got on the road by 0145.
I had filled the bike on Thursday and it only had about 50kms on the tank so I figured I would be good for my first fill at Bayview. It was 8° when I left, the night was overcast, the roads were dry and I felt good travelling at between 110 & 120 with occasional lapses when the speed crept a little higher. By the time I got to the Rimutaka's, it was down to 3° and I was glad I had put a skivvy on as well as the T-shirt. I took the hill at a comfortable pace and as soon as I passed the summit the temp rose to 5° and from there on it varied between 2 & 10°, but was mostly around 5 -7°. The rest of the leg up SH2 through Woodville, Dannevirke and SH50 through Tikikino to Napier was uneventful with me arriving at the BP in Bayview with my economy at 17.1km/ltr at about 0500 for a fill-up, natural-break, nutbar, banana, slug of water and put on another T-shirt before heading on at 0520.
I had forgotten what a nice ride it was from Napier through to Opotiki and I started off OK at a relaxed pace until dawn, when I was coming into Gisborne, the economy was down to 16.9 km/l and I thought I better get the economy up if I wanted to get all the way to Rotorua so I endeavoured to keep the pace under 110. By the time I got to Whakatane I was down to 2bars on fuel gauge, the economy was up to 17.2 and it had started raining so I further reduced the pace to 100 and was content to sit in the first traffic I had encountered on the trip, finally pulling into the Caltex in Rotorua at 1000, 17.4 economy and 50km left on the last bar of fuel. (experience has taught me that it would be more likely about 20km). I filled-up, had another natural break and headed off to my daughter's, spending the rest of the day with them until getting ready to leave at 1530.
I had hung my gear up to dry off after the last 80kms and it was still a bit damp when I headed off into more fowl weather. I considered taking SH1 back but had told Ann my intended route so stuck to it, taking SH30 to Atiamuri, cutting across to Whakamaru and down the western arm to Tokaanu, National Park, Raetahi, Wanganui then SH1 to Wellington. (just over 500km). I decided I would need to keep the speed under 110kph to make it in non-stop and switched the economy reader over to 'instant' where it samples and updates every 15 secs to encourage me to keep the pace down. There was hardly any traffic on the road so I made good time and even thought the conditions were poor, I averaged over 100kph for the first two hours to National Park. There had been a bit of a respite in the weather from Tokaanu to National Park, but then it really pissed down. In fact it was so bad I experienced a new sensation on the ST, whereby I hit something that nearly swept my feet off the pegs. I had cut through a puddle of water that was deep enough to feel it forcibly hit my boots and that happened several times, fortunately the ST still felt very stable and I wouldn't have known it had happened otherwise. I also noticed that water was beginning to roll down the back of my sleeves and into the gloves and I could feel a bit of damp on my inner thighs, stomach and left side. At this point though I was down to around ½tank with 300km to go and decided to drop the speed further to 100kph. I was coming on to the Parapara's by this time, it was black as pitch and there were a couple of cars that had been travelling a bit quicker than me, one in front and one that caught me as I entered the windy road. This turned out to be a problem as I was happy to follow but the slower car wasn't interested in overtaking so I was the meat in the sandwich and the lead car obviously knew the road but drove erratically, speeding and slowing. With the weather so bad, the condition of the Parapara's always questionable and my need to get good economy, I refrained from overtaking the car because he would be likely to pressure me into an error. This highlighted a deficiency in the ST's low beam. It has great lights with the twin beams but low beam sucks and when the car would gain a bit of a gap, I would find myself going round corners almost blind and I had to resort to lots of flipping between hi & lo beam.
The rest of the trip was OK. The rain eased off and became erratic pockets from Sanson onwards and apart from trying to keep still, to limit feeling wet, I was determined to get home in one hit if I could. I finally got onto the last bar south of Paraparaumu and the display flipped from economy to 99kms to go. I was obviously riding very economically as it normally reads at between 68 – 75 kms at this point. I resisted the urge to push the speed up a bit and finally got home at 2120, 5.58 hrs in the saddle, reading 68 km to go on fuel (or 3.2 ltrs remaining), 514.8km for the leg, 1323.9km for the trip and 16317 toal kms since getting the bike in mid January. The economy for the trip was now up to 17.8 km/ltr.
It was a good preGC ride from the perspective of of identifying that I can't have waterproofed my gear properly after washing it and I hadn't thought about the fact that my arms were no longer in a raised position, as on the cruiser. Also it gave me food for thought as to my speed. The difference between travelling at 100 kph and exceeding 120kph can be as much as 4 km/ltr, which is the difference between getting 400kms or 500kms out of a tank, so thought must be given to trading off between speed and fewer fuel stops. I had managed to do the 808 kms to Rotorua in 8¼ hours. Add 20 minutes to that for the fuel & food stop and that's an average speed of 94.17 kph. Good news for my GC hopes as I have applied for the extension, whereby I need to achieve 1600 kms in 18 hours in order to carry on for the extra 500 kms, or average 88.89 kph. The return from Rotorua was also done in good time except for losing ½ hour through the Para's. If I add a 20 minute fuel and food break I still averaged 87.14kph....bugger....just a tad slow, and that's the sort of conditions we encountered last year. Oh well, I was scrooging it on the speed so I didn't have to get off...she'll be right...but I did forget to have that coffee in Rotorua.....anyone keen for a ride?
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.