The weekend turned into a two ride week with a Uly ride to Castlepoint on Sunday.
Ken had made an executive decision to split the ride into 2 groups; a quicker group managed by Steve and myself to take a slighter longer, more devious route and a slower group managed by himself and Bill on their DRs. I wasn’t too fussed about a quick ride, as the tyres are getting down, but figured I’d turn up and see what eventuated.
Following my usual Sunday ride protocols, I was up before 0800, cleaned, dressed and packed, tyres checked and on the road a bit after 0900 (probably about 0915), quiet pootle to Caltex Rimutaka for a fill, dropping off a couple of vids in Johnsonville on the way, then on to the meeting point at Brown Owl by 0945.
It was a nice day and the ‘split decision’ turned out to be a good call on Ken’s part as we ended up with about 26 bikes, including several new riders and a few we hadn’t seen for awhile. A quick general welcome and brief and we had the usual ‘free ride’ over the hill before splitting up. I was away early to avoid getting stuck behind other bikes …but did anyway as there were plenty of cars and other bike groups on the road making the most of the weather. Once we split, the ‘spirited’ group ended up with 10 bikes, Steve leading and myself at TEC as we headed for Martinborough.
Steve set the pace at 120’ish which was fine, but obviously not spirited enough for James as he had trouble staying on two wheels, and pissed a couple of the other riders off with his mono/wheelie antics. (mental note:- have a chat to James) We were soon turning onto Princess St to head to Gladstone via Ponatahi Rd, then round the Water Towers to Stronvar and out to Te Ore Ore Rd. This section identified who the smoother quicker riders were from the slower ones who would stretch out in the curly bits, then close up again on the straights. I just kept my pace under 125 letting the gap open on the straights, then catching again in the next windy section. The only iffy patch was heading across Westmere Rd, which had fine loose grit that was hard to notice, except when it was coming off the rear tyre of the bike ahead…and surpise, surprise, …no warning signs had been posted.
When we got to the turnoff, Steve and some of the riders had turned to the right to continue out to the coast, but Adrian, on his Trophy appeared confused and obviously wanted to go the other way so I pulled up beside him. He reckoned he needed gas so I said fine and off he went, then three others did the same so we parked up and waited, and gossiped about the dicks that didn’t start with a full tank and empty bladder….and speaking of natural breaks, we’d stopped so I took one. In the end, two returned, reporting the slow group were at the servo, the other two were staying with them, so the ‘spirited’ group was down to eight and continued….and now it got frustrating.
The plan from here was to take the Riversdale road to Whareama, then cut across to Tinui and out to the beach. This road isn’t what I would call windy as such, (or maybe it is windy but not tight) because one can maintain quite a good pace, although the straights are short and one must be ready to take their passing opportunities, on a decent bike this is not a problem….or at least it shouldn’t have been and we should have been able to maintain a pace between 110 & 120kph comfortably. The trouble was we had a rider on a sprotty rocket ship and he wouldn’t / couldn’t pass a car towing a boat….what a dip-stick.
Steve passed a car then waited for the group to assemble before moving ahead but No.2 wasn’t interested and I was stuck at the back, doing 90kph and watching passing opportunity after passing opportunity slip by. They eventually did make some passes but then paused at Blairlogie and ended up behind the same cars, although fortunately a couple went on the Castlepoint Rd. This wouldn’t normally be a problem but it was like being psyched for a roast then getting dry bread.
We did finally get to Castlepoint though, enjoyed a pie and chat and took a couple of pix before kitting up for my return, riding by myself for a blow-out.
The tyres on the ST are still good but getting down and past their best and there were a few places on the road that hadn’t been dry for awhile, so care was required as I rode at a high pace with minimal braking, rolling off early for corners and not pushing the limits. Consequently I was back in Masterton in just on 35 minutes, then into thick traffic to, and over the hill and home.
It was certainly a different sort of ride but a great day all the same. I was quite knackered when I got back and keen for the next ride.
Between Ann’s Tennis & Studies and my Riding, we haven’t had too many weekends together lately, so we decided we should go somewhere and as we hadn’t visited her folks in Moumahaki for some time….that was it.
It was fairly short notice (Friday morning decision) so we went home just before 1600 to pack and get ready and were away from home by 1620, just needing a fuel stop at BP Mana on the way out. It was sunny, warm and a nice day for a pootle, ….until we hit the traffic at Whenua Tapu.
I rarely travel out of Wellington on a Friday and had forgotten how bad it can get. It was just lucky we were on the bike and even then, with fairly aggressive filtering, I estimated that we still lost ¼ of an hour through to Waikanae so if we had been in the car, that could translate to between 1 & 1½ hours!!?? After that the traffic was steady but flowing well and I focused on getting the economy up to minimise the likelihood of getting any tickets and by the time we got to Foxton it was getting on to dusk.
Dusk is a very nice time to ride (as long as you’re not heading into the sun), there was an orange glow around the horizon and with the clear skies we could see Ruapehu from the Himitangi Straights. The only trouble was, the sun going down at this time of year means the temperature will follow, so all of a sudden, the most pleasant 19° became 13° …and sliding, so as we arrived at Sanson I asked how Ann was feeling and we needed to stop for another layer.
That was better but having both left our liners at home, the temp went down to 10° then settled between 7 & 9° so by the time we got to her folks we were a little uncomfortable. The stupid thing was, the bags were pretty empty and we had plenty of room for warmer gear.
We had a pleasant evening, in front of the heater, chatted the next morning and were back on the road to Wanganui at midday to visit a cousie who had suffered a stroke and was in hospital. From there we stopped for a Donor Kebab in Bulls and had a pretty uneventful trip back, getting to Bulls by 1530, having done 440Kms and still on the same tank with a couple of bars to go on the gauge.
This week's ride was an overnighter to Raetihi. The main push for this destination came from the Dirt Trackers who wanted to sample the Whanganui River road, but of course a road option was also required, so that meant I had to come up with some circuitous route to get us there and with Raetihi not really being on the radar as far as destinations go, I felt we needed to get there via ‘The Road Less Travelled’.
I had the 90K service done on the bike during the week, did a bit of planning and the weather forecast was mint, so come Saturday morning I was packed and ready to leave by 0815, for a fill at BP Mana before meeting at the Weigh Station.
It was quite cool so I had put the liner in my jacket and I opted for the heavier Spidi gloves, but no sooner had we got on the road than the temp rose quite quickly and I knew I would need to change when we stopped in Foxton to meet Royce & Jude. I was forth on the road when we left, but a station wagon passed as I merged onto SH1 so I slipped in behind him and had soon been dragged to the front and as I was a bit warm, I didn’t wait around for the others but commenced slipping through the steady stream of traffic and was soon in Foxton. We couldn’t find the Royce and Jude so after 10minutes, the dirt trackers continued on to Wanganui while we were to wait until 1030 before moving on ourselves. Come that time I went back through Foxton first, found them and we were soon on our way to our first coffee stop in Kimbolton.
To get there we went up SH1 to Sanson, then crossed SH3 on to Cemetery Rd and made our way through to Halcombe, crossing the main road there to make our way to the Cheltenham Rd and up to Hansons Café. By now the temp was rising nicely, the skies were cloudless and one could see Ruapehu from the Sanson area. It was great.
Caffeine fix taken care of, we continued past Peep-o-Day to Pemberton and rather than stay on the Rangiwahia Road, we rode across to Ohingaiti. Both the Rangiwahia & Mangamako Roads had parts that had been resealed so care was required and as is sometimes the case, the absence of signage was a concern. Never the less, we had a pleasant ride and the vista as we came out above the Rangitikei River was spectacular.
It was only about another 30Km and we were in Taihape, stopping at the BP for fuel and another break. I was only down to half a tank so didn’t bother with gas but did enjoy a pepper steak pie and a relaxing chat before embarking on the last leg for the day. Royce and Jude were happy to head straight for Raetihi, but Steve, Warwick and I had some more roads to enjoy and took off on Spooners Hill Rd, where a truck had dumped gallons and gallons of crap extending right across the left side of the road for over a Kilometer or two. We were able to skirt round it, passed the arsehole truck a bit further up the road and skip through Waiouru, taking the Whangaehu Valley Road and Fields Track through to Kakatahi on the Parapara Rd. That was a pleasant ride through a golden Autumn landscape and we finished the days ride with a nice pootle up to Raetihi, getting there just before 1600.
We settled into the cabins then sat in the sun chatting while we waited for the gravel grubs to arrived, then chatted some more before heading to the Cossy Club for a beer and a feed, finishing off with a wine back at the Holiday Camp. It was a crisp, clear night and bloody marvelous.
I was asleep by about 1030 and awake a bit after 0300 but relaxed and dozed until arising at 0615. It was freezing with a coating of frost on all the bikes and by 0800 the temp was barely rising above 0°C, but we were soon back on the road to Ohakune for breakfast. After that, Norm headed back to Cambridge, while Warwick was off for a couple of days touring around Coromandel and the rest of us headed for Waiouru.
The three remaining Adventure Riders peeled off at Tangiwai to enjoy sliding their way to Hunterville leaving five of us to make our way for fuel in Taihape. After that the other three were going to stick to SH1, but Steve and I decided to stick with ‘The Road Less Travelled’ theme, diverting at Vinegar Hill, going through Waituna West then taking Williamson Road West to thread our way across to Ohakea. From there we took Tangimoana Rd to bypass Sanson, then stayed off SH1 again from Himitangi to Foxton, crossing it to make our way to Shannon, for another snack whilst relaxing in the sun.
To finish the ride we took SH57 and Arapaepae Rd to re-emerge on SH1 at Ohau and that was our last diversion until the usual final fang over the Paekak’ Hill. I waved goodbye to Steve at Pauatahunui and got home before 1400, having done 748Kms for the weekend and hitting 90,424 on the bike.
It was a rather pleasant weekend with mint conditions and good company. I might need to do some more overnighters and Ann will need to come next time.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.