As we won gold at the last NZ Masters Games in Wanganui (2007), we thought we better turn-up again this year to defend the title….not that one would have a realistic chance of defending a Poker Run result, but that’s not the point, there was a ride to be done!
We had registered just before the cut-off, booked ourselves in with Whanau, filled the bike and checked the tyre pressures the night before, and on Saturday 31/1 we cruised up to the Games HQ in Wanganui, arriving around lunch time. We went through the registration process, collecting our ID passes, bags with info and event details, then wandered out to watch some of the In-laws play Touch Rugby for the afternoon. It was quite hot and I enjoyed relaxing in the sun before heading up towards Waverley to spend the night with Ann’s parents….and watch Sarina cream Dinara in the Aussy Open final.
Sunday morning we were up early and away before 0830 to dump our stuff in Wanga’s, fill-up and check-in at the Racecourse by 0930 for the 1000 departure. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the 11 entries last time had swelled to 50 this time with a wide range of bikes and riders from all around the North Island, although a bit disappointing that we were about the only ones from Wellington and there were only 4 KB’ers involved.
We checked-in to find that the routes were similar to last time, which were nice rides and after the briefing, we were to split into 3 groups to ease any congestion at the fuel and café stops. I decided that I would enjoy pootling in the medium paced group, but after watching a dozen or so riders head out in the quicker group, it seemed that nobody wanted to ride in the slow group and we were soon departing at the rear of 35+ bikes and heading up the Paraparas for morning tea at National Park.
It was a most comfortable 21-22°, but I soon found that the large group, travelling at 90-100Kph was going to be a little frustrating and the slow pace meant that we were in staggered formation for most of the time so there would be few passing opportunities. I started to slowly work my way through the group from Upuk’ but we were well on the way to Kakatahi before a half dozen of us, including Mr & Mrs Nadrog, Monamie and Tallman, broke free and I eventually ended up leading the group through the windy section until just before Raetihi then followed on to National Park where we went straight to the Railway Station café for a coffee and to draw our first card. (I might note here that my hand was so bad I can barely remember what cards I drew)!
From here I decided to follow the quicker group out as we headed up SH4 to Manunui then across SH41 for lunch and our 2nd card at Turangi. We left a couple of minutes behind them and I was content to sit at my own comfy and economic pace, but had soon caught the group due to traffic and settled near the rear. The ride over 41, as always was bloody marvelous and as we went over one of the sections close to the lake, the temp suddenly jumped 5° and it was great to stop for a burger and cold drink.
The next leg was down to Taihape for a fuel and afternoon tea stop, on to Hunterville, then back to Wanganui via Fordell and draw the 3rd card at the games village. We were near the front through the Desert Road when the temp peeked for the day at 30°, enjoyed another drink and more chatting at the Taihape BP, followed a large group through to Hunterville then got away early for the last bit and the wind kept getting stronger as we got closer to Wanganui. We regrouped at the Racecourse, then rode to the Games site and parked up by the main tent for more socialising, staying on until 2130, when Ann had a date to keep with Roger and Rafa. (430 Kms done for the day at 17.4 K/Ltr).
The men's tennis final went on a bit long for me and I crashed to arise early to repeat it all again the next day. ie. Fill-up, check-in, view the route, chat, but then depart behind the first group as we headed for the Antique shop in Turakina, then up to morning tea and our 4th card in Hunterville via the Turakina Valley. I've been through here before, but there are several options/variations and it was a nice ride.
After the stop we headed up SH1 to Ohingaiti, then in to Rangiwahia, down toward Kimbolton, up to Apiti and back down the Pohangina Valley East Road for lunch in Ashhurst. I've often thought about the Otara Rd option from Ohingaiti, but never got round to it and found it to be a rather nice ride. We regrouped in Apiti, then continued on until one of the guys clipped some gravel and ended up off the road. The boys pulled him out, applied a bit of tape and he was OK to go again but the rest of the riders had caught-up and we left the scene at the back of a large group so the rest of the ride to Ashhurst was rather slow.
We drew our last card, had a feed and finally headed for home via Feilding, Halcombe, Makirikiri Rd and SH3, got cleaned up and arrived at the tent for Prizegiving at 1730. Dick Taylor was there to award the prizes and Michelle (Monamie) won the overall with 3 of a kind. Nadrog got 2nd with 2 pair but had a few anxious moments as the organisers hadn't spotted it. All was well in the end but, and we settled in to enjoy a few drinks and the entertainment.
(280 Kms done for the day at 17.5 K/Ltr).
Tuesday morning we headed back to Wellington, getting back before lunch having done 1199 Kms over the 4 days. We had great weather and it was a most pleasant weekend with the rides taking us over some great roads but with no urgency, so I found myself just enjoying the scenery and rides. With 50 bikes on Sunday and 35 on Monday, it will be interesting to see how well the event is supported in 2 years time when the games return to Wanganui. A big well done to Darryl and Roger for the organisation and smooth runnings.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.