Another week of marginal forecasts and sod-all riding, so it was a little disappointing to awake to a brilliant day today because we had programmed a Go-Karting Challenge to beat the winter blues.
With the start scheduled for 1100 at Elsdon Indoor Raceway, I had a pretty cruisy start to the day...until I went down to prep and load the bike, only to discover I'd left the key in it and the battery was flat! At this point I would have just taken the car but after today’s event, I was planning to do some prep for the next slow handling ride and since it was only 1010, so I threw the battery charger on then proceeded to load my camera, gear, tapes and tennis-cones before going upstairs to kit up.
At 1030 I tried to start up, but to no avail so I pulled the jumper leads from the car, but the small battery and space meant I needed to connect via a lead which has smaller clips and only 18-20 gauge wire and with the big ergs sucked by the headlights, along with the really flat battery, the volts drop was too great and the bike wouldn't start.....bugger!! She'll be right though, I just repositioned the bike and shoved the big clips straight onto the smaller ones and voila, I was in business.
I quickly put the seat, sidecover and right bag on, put on my helmet and gloves and was away by 1045 for a hasty trip to Elsdon, where fortunately they were running behind...so I had plenty of time to team up with my last year's partner Warwick, change, sign-up and pay, then chat with the other 19 drivers and couple of spectators, take a few photos, get briefed, then get under way.
The format was an 80lap (40 per driver) race with a Le Mans start and Warwick took the first stint, but encountered problems getting the kart out of the blocks so we started out in 6th. With Dave getting a brilliant start, by the time we had the first change, we were up to 3rd or 4th but a lap down on the leaders. By 40laps we were still in 3rd but 2 laps down on Dave&Les and a lap down on Trev&Herman, but then the worm turned and by staying out of trouble we managed to claw back the deficit to get back on the lead lap, then around 60 or 70 laps we found ourselves in front with a narrow lead........Yes!!! ...and we held on to take the chequered flag.
With the fun over by 1300, we were off to a cafe but the Black wouldn't start....@$%&**!
I thought the 20 odd minutes would be sufficient but not so, so I opted out and headed for the Riverbank carpark, but even then I wasn't prepared to stop the bike, so I just checked the measurements on an area I planned to use then headed home to put the bike back on charge.
It was a great day with much power-sliding and hairpin slip-sliding involved as well as tactical nip and tuck. I now have a fully charged battery and the Tip-Over Bars refitted so I'll give it a few days before testing the bike to see if I need to invest in a new battery or not!
Leading up to today's marathon, the weather was going to clear and be good, then it was wasn't, then we had the worst storm in over twenty years, reputedly worse than the Wahine Disaster storm of 1968 no less, and it was unlikely to be very nice at all, but as we headed home from a party at 2230 last, it seemed that the rain had ceased, the temp had dipped to 3°, but it had definitely stopped raining. That actually raised more concerns for me though, because the water on the ground was more likely to freeze if it stopped coming down!?....Oh well, care would be required.
The bike was pristine and still had half a tank after last week's ride so I just needed to check the tyres, pack the wets, spare gloves, flouro vests and camera, which I did on Saturday, then this morning I arose at 0545, scrubbed, had a snack and left home at 0645. At this stage my fears of ice were allayed as the temp was sitting between 7° & 4°, but more importantly, there had been enough breeze throughout the night to dry much of the road.
We attended a briefing at Armstrong Motors on Friday night, at which time I met my photog, Mark, sorted a helmet that fitted him, then on the way home, I checked a couple of potential vantage points by St Gerard's Monastery and a potential start point for us at the bottom of the ramp by the stadium. With all that done, I just needed to roll up this morning, check-out the dunnies, where I met up with and chatted with Barry (who was doing the half) for a bit, then found Mark, loaded his gear on the bike and headed down the ramp to setup for the marathon start.
With those pix taken, we had an hour and a half before the start of the ½ & 10Km runs so we headed down the quays, then up to the monastery, over to Balena Bay, then back around Oriental Parade and the Quays to the Stadium, arriving at 0805, where Mark could catch the multitudes prepping for their start at 0900. At this point I was most surprised to see heaps still arriving within the last half hour...but then I guess it is a pretty casual affair for many.
At 0845 we headed back to our start position at the ramp, then once again headed around the Quays and up to the Monastery. By now the day was starting to warm and we even got treated to a bit of sun, so Mark got some good pix, then we headed over to Balena Bay, but this time we turned right and headed to the Evans Bay drink station.
After Mark had spent a few minutes at the drink stop, we continued toward Cobham Drive and spotted Ken (Lead bike for Marathon) so we paused again, then backed-up to get pix of the lead runners. Moving on, no sooner were we on Cobham Drive and looking for the lead ladies, but there was Jim (Lead bike for ½) so another pause and more pix were taken.
That done we headed for Shelly Bay, but once we got to the turnoff, we decided with runners going each way, it wasn't worth the effort, so we turned and went back to Evans Bay Parade, pausing a few times to get more pix of the lead ladies and general hoi palloi, slowly making our way back around Oriental Parade, along the waterfront and back into the stadium by 1035.
Job done, I grabbed a coffee and headed back to the bike, where I was enjoying my drink by the finish line when I spotted Kari & Cathy. Hugs and congratulations given, a short chat chatted and they continued on their way to cool down while I headed for home.
With today being something different, it was quite a pleasant outing, even though I only managed 49.6Km for the day and took my economy from 17.7Km/Ltr down to 16.5. The temp didn't get over 10° but I was rugged-up with liners and layers so that wasn't a problem. I was also very thankful for the hours spent on 'Slow Handling', because it made riding with the pillion and having to do U-turns and squeezing between cones and bollards a breeze.
All in all it was bloody marvelous....and the bike now has 32,552 Km on it.
When I went to fill today, I noted that it's been a month since my last visit to the pumps....and it still had a quarter of a tank....sheesh...no wonder I've been feeling a bit twitchy due to withdrawal symptoms!! Apart from a photo shoot a few weeks ago, I've only managed a bit of round-town riding, so with my next scheduled ride being for tomorrow, I had a quick look at the weather forecast, spotted that it appears to include 'Red Rain' (potentially 50+mm in a 12 hour period), then decided to flick a text to Ken and Woody to see if they wanted to ride today.
A positive response from the others, an email was sent inviting more and we were jacked up to meet at Caltex Rimutaka at 1000, so I went down to check the tyres and pack-up the bike.
The morning dawned calm but cold with a high cloud cover, dry roads and it was 3° as I made my way down the Hutt Road! One doesn't need heated grips on an ST....but my, my, they're comfy and it's so nice to have toasty warm hands! I was a bit early so I called into a supermarket to get some water and vapodrops, then followed up my fuelling with a pie and coffee. Ken & Woody turned up and we hit the road at 1010.
Ken led out for the pootle over the hill, which was quite pleasant, we paused for Woody in Featherston as he got separated and stuck in the traffic, then Ken waved me through to lead to Martinborough, on to middle (Ponatahi) road, over to Gladstone, round the Water Towers and I stopped at Wainuioru. The stop was required because I'd lost my sounds and found that the lead had become unplugged, then I took a photo of the bikes in front of the hall (just in case it might be needed as a checkpoint in some future 1,000Km ride!)
I was surprised to see it was nearly 1130 by the time we moved on and once again, I led out as we headed back through Masterton, onto SH2 taking the Mauriceville turnoff and flitting through to Kaiparoro. It was nice going and even though the roads were often wet, there were few tar slicks and although we did encounter a couple of patches of very bright emerald green humps, we were able to maintain a good pace. The relaxed pace meant I had plenty of opportunity to take in the old haunts like Double Bridges and it was going through here that I was surprised to notice that there was no snow in the Tararuas.
By the time we got to Kaiparoro it was 1206 and knowing that Ken and Woody needed to be back in Wellington by 1500, I paused to see if they wanted to carry on to Woodville or just head down to Mt Bruce for lunch. We ended up at Mt Bruce, spent nearly an hour there then headed for home with Ken leading. More easy riding in light traffic (until the hill) and I got home at 1441.
It was a great day and quite pleasant riding for mid-winter, except for the fact that the temp did climb to 11° but spent most of the time under 9°....and a cold 9 at that. I managed to do 315Km at a moving average of 80kph, ending up with an economy of 17.8K/Ltr and the bike now has 32,503Km on it.
The bike is all cleaned and polished again in readiness for an outing next week to carry a photog’ for the Wellington Marathon.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.