Today was scheduled as the Ulysses Long Ride for the month, which meant an 0930 start from Brown Owl which in turn meant getting up early, for a Sunday, to get ready, have a feed and aim to leave home around 0840 to give me plenty of time to fill-up on the way.
It wasn't far to our lunch destination at Mt Bruce Bird Park but after a short discussion, we decided to stretch it out by heading over the 'hill', regrouping in Featherston, riding out to Martinborough then taking Ponatahi Rd to Masterton, using the bypass and LoopLine to go via Mauriceville, Alfredton, Hamua and back to Mt Bruce.
Steve led 15 of us out with myself at TEC and we had our first withdrawl at the top of the hill with the rider not appearing comfortable on the wet road. After the regroup in Featherston, another rider & pillion decided to take the short route to Masterton as they had only planned to ride there anyway, so I headed off in pursuit of the rest and had quickish but uneventful ride through Martinborough to Masterton, with yet another rider heading back to Wgtn from the East Taratahi Rd turnoff.
When I pulled up for the next regroup at the Mobil on the Masterton Bypass, I was surprised to see Neil filling-up.....since when does an ST need gas after just over 100Kms…..he must be getting as forgetful as Red Fred…..or really really pushing it….eh Red Neil?? and the other thing was, there were now only 10 bikes, so we lost another 2?? Was it the weather, was it the pace or just no marker at the by-pass turn?
The weather was still clear but it looked a bit marginal to the North so I put my pvc pants on (just in case) and we headed on for Mauriceville, taking it easy on the wet roads which had a scattering of loose stuff as well. We paused in Alfredton and rode on towards Tane, but when it came time to head through Rongomai, we continued on to Pahiatua instead, to avoid the rain on the minor roads, then headed back to Mt Bruce on SH2.
After a bite to eat and chewing the fat for a bit, we split up and headed for home and I diverted back through Masterton to visit my Mum, finally getting home at 1630 after doing 372Km for the day at an average of 17.8K/Ltr. 47,358Kms now racked up on the ST.
Once again, it's been a month since my last ride! This is becoming a bad habit thanks to the crappiest winter weather we have experienced for years.
Anyway, it was decreed that this would be another of our ‘get-away-from-work-weekends’ so weather didn’t enter into the mix and we had been considering a jaunt across ‘The Ditch’ when an opportune thread on KB from Shafty ‘n Gogal inspired us to commit to a long weekend in Nelson. This was great because Nanny Ann has never……I repeat, NEVER been to the South Island so she would now be able to add the likes of Picton, Okaramio, Nelson and Motueka….not to mention Kohatu and coffee at Mapua to her list of ‘been-there’s’, which I might add, already includes names like Frankfurt, Lisbon, Barcelona, Athens, Orlando and Mexico City……Sad eh!!
I booked the ferry and watched the weather in anticipation, to see what the weekend would be like, and it didn’t look too bad until we had to fully kit up to get to get to the ferry, waiting in the weigh bridge hut for our turn to board while it pissed-down. We finally boarded though, tied down then grabbed a seat right at the back of the Aratere to minimize the effects of what promised to be a bumpy crossing, (but wasn’t) and we arrived in Picton at 1730, with overcast skies. The temp was only 7° though.
I had considered doing the Queen Charlotte Drive (QCD) but with dusk and rain threatening, sense prevailed and we took-off for Spring Creek on SH1, cut across Rapaura Rd, then back up to Havelock and over the Whangamoas. We were just sitting at around the usual 110’ish to keep under the ‘radar’ and I was surprised to get to Havelock in 35 minutes, which was exactly the same time that I had done on previous rides along QCD, on my own, on a nice day. That was lucky because so far on the ride we had enjoyed 5-7°C, dry roads, dry strips, damp roads and downpours….and it only got worse. It was now dark and the rain was pretty persistant. Oh well, after a month, any ride is a good ride.
We finally rode into the outskirts of Nelson at 1903, so had made good time for the conditions, doing the ride from Picton in 1hr35mins, found the motel, settled in then went off for dinner with Shafty and Gogal in the comfort of their SUV. It was bloody marvelous.
Saturday was visiting day which dawned with brilliant clear skies and a light dusting of snow on the surrounding foothills, so it was rather fresh as we started by having a coffee with the local Ulyssians along the waterfront at about 1030 before dropping in on a series of old friends, finally having dinner with a couple and getting back to the motel at 2230. It was only 2° but we’d had a great day and finished off with some Olympics and a movie in the comfort of a warm bed.
Sunday was a repeat but the frost had virtually cleared by the time we poked our noses out and I went down the road to fill-up and put a couple of psi in the tyres. Then it was off to Motueka to have lunch with a cousin, but we were a bit early so I had to kill time by riding down the Westcoast road to Kohatu, then cut back on the Mot’ Valley Highway. That was great as it extended the 50Km ride to just over 100Km but we did have to take care at times as parts of the road hadn’t seen any sun for awhile. It was pretty ‘fresh’ but still a nice ride and the Red Thai Curry helped the thaw process before heading back toward Nelson for dessert.
We finally got back to the motel just after 1600 and Ann had a nap while I made one last visit before we joined Shafty, Gogal and a couple of their mates for dinner and a most pleasant evening, before retiring relatively early to pack for the morning ride.
Monday dawned clear again and we were ready to go just before 0700 but the 2° didn’t impress too much and, as expected, we would have to take care on the road as it was down to 0° before we even got out of town and I finally found the ST does have a minus symbol on the temp gauge as much of the trip to Havelock was spent at -2° and even with the liners and Spidi gloves on, I might have been tempted to flick the heated grips on …… if I had any. It did improve as we got through to Renwick though and I showed Ann a couple of the old haunts from my days spent at Woodbourne and Blenheim, then we had a wee look around Picton and Waikawa before heading to the check-in at 0900.
Once again we were the only bike there and it was quite pleasant standing around in the sun, although it did hurt a bit as the blood finally started to flow through the fingertips again.
The boat was late, and it was nearly 1100 before we boarded and finally got underway, heading all the way out of Queen Charlotte Sound via the northern passage due to electrical problems, which added another hour to our already late start. The weather soon closed in and it was pretty miserable as we disembarked at 1500, I dropped Ann at her office and headed for mine.
We had a great time on our Weekend At Shafty’s and next time we might have to add another day or two and head for Christchurch, to further expand Ann’s list of ‘been-there’s’.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.