The MDA Runs (Muscular Dystrophy Assoc) were started by the Wellington BRONZ Club around 1990. The ride is done (normally on the first weekend of December) to deliver presents to between 20 – 30 children in the lower North Island, suffering from this debilitating disease and it leaves one filled with mixed emotions as you are touched, in some cases by the condition of these children but mostly by their spirit. This was my third year on this ride, which I enjoy doing as the Pix-E, and it can be quite sad to hear that one we visited last year may have since died, or we turn up to find a little chap who was jumping around last year is now in a wheel chair. The other strange aspect of the disease is the lack of consistency, in that some appear to be quite frail by the time they start school whereas others are affected much later. One thing is for sure though, very few make it into their 20’s.
The BRONZ Club ran the ride for about 10 years after which time, it was kept going by a chap, Pete Cox, who after a few years, passed it on to Les Prescott, a Ulyssian, who finally arranged with the Wellington Branch Co-Ordinator, Ron Meiklen, to adopt the ride into the Branch Calendar in 2004, and after all those years, there are now many riders who proudly retain their badges of status as Muscular Dystrophy Riders.
Up until this year, the ride was carried out in two parts, a Short Ride (300 – 400Km) through Paraparaumu, Palmertston North, Feilding and Marton, and the Long 3 day Ride (1300’ish Km) from Wellington to Napier on a Friday, across to Waitara on the Saturday and return to Wellington on the Sunday, but this year the MDA took the teenagers off the list, reducing the number of recipients in the area to 16 and therefore, only a single ride was required.
As usual, leading up to a longer ride, the long range weather forecasts were watched attentively, bikes checked out, and in my case a new back tyre fitted, our World Famous in Wellington/Kapiti, Santa, ‘Red Fred’ Bonnette & his V-Max were deemed healthy and available for the ride and costumes organized. (I was supposed to sort out an ‘Attitudinous Elf’ outfit like Ken’s, but was too slack, so most of us settled for hi-vis vests and Red Fred supplied Santa Hats).
We met at the Brown Owl shops for a 1000 departure, paid for our badge, accommodation and breakfasts, gave a donation towards next years run, then had a chat and photo from the community newspaper before 15 of us, on 12 bikes, departed. It was overcast and about 16˚ when we left for our first stop to see Stanly at Douglas Park School in Masterton. We stopped there last year and caused mayhem and this year the mayhem was just slightly more orderly but we came prepared with extra lollies. It was now a magnificent day and the temp was up to 20˚ as Buzz headed back and we moved on to our next stop for Taylor at St Anthony’s School in Pahiatua. She’s a wee cutie at only 5, but already wheelchair ridden and the atmosphere at this school was more orderly but very warm with several children requesting hugs from Santa, which were generously doled out with lashings of lollies and un-PC Ho-Ho-Ho’s.
Our next delivery wasn’t ‘til Napier so from here we nipped up to the Woodville for lunch, after which John headed back leaving 10 bikes for the rest of the trip which, at this point took us to the Tikokino Pub on SH50 for a refreshment stop, but it was closed for renovations so we continued straight on to Napier. The road north of Tikokino was atrocious whereby it had been resealed but not rolled and the chip which was thick and loose, was just flicking up all over the place. It was particularly bad following Warwick on his Hyosung 650GT with its’ high rear mudguard and at 15kph he had a rooster tail of stones as high as his helmet. The tar smeered stones got everywhere and Steve had a minor moment when he went to change down for a hill and couldn’t, but he managed to continue on to a level area where it was safe to stop and remove the chips that had gathered under the mechanism on his Beemer.
With no other incidents we soon made it to Westshore, settled in then headed off to Peter and Ann Hammond’s in Taradale. Peter is a Ulyssian who can no longer ride but has opened his home to the MDA children and riders for the last 10 years, whereby we all gather there for Santa to do his thing, then enjoy mingling with each other over refreshments and a meal. In the past this was done on the Saturday morning but getting these children organized and away early in the morning can be a major effort for the parents, so for the last 2 years we have arrived earlier to do it on the Friday. With that done, we rode back to the motor camp and had a quiet beer at the pub across the road before calling it a night by 2200, about 370Km for the day.
Saturday morning dawned another beautiful day and I arose shortly after 0600 to find that Ron & Sue already had a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausages and eggs cooking. We enjoyed the meal, packed-up and were on the road to fill-up at Bay View before 0900 and I pulled out of the BP at 0910, with the temp at a very comfortable 17˚. As always, the Napier – Taupo road provided a great ride and we regrouped at the turn-off before briefly stopping at Trikeworks, where Steve had decided to change his rear tyre. We headed around to the BP to fill-up and enjoy a cool drink while we waited for Steve & Fred. (Of course the ST wouldn’t need gas ‘til Waitara, but the others weren’t so lucky).
The Round Lake Taupo Cycle Race was on so the town was very busy but fortunately we were able to bypass most of it and were soon on the road to see Jac at Oruanui. He was very tentative at first but a few lollies had him out from behind dad and I was able to get a photo of a happy-chappy getting a special visit from ‘the man himself’. From there we continued across Poihipi Rd and over SH’s 30 & 32 to Bennydale then on to Piopio for another gas stop for the Sprotty-Riders.
Now, our man ‘Red Fred’ is not only famous in our parts as the real McCoy Santa, but also as a man in serious need of a compass swing, and generally requiring guidance on a trip of this magnitude as, in the past, he has been known to end up in Te Kuiti or even Te Awamutu. To alleviate this problem I nipped ahead to the Kopaki turnoff to block Fred’s path should he attempt to stay on the main road. Problem was, Barry, the last rider but Fred to come past, informed me that Fred had decided to stop for a cup-of-tea in Bennydale so I thought, “Stuff it!’ he’d been given plenty of coaching…”Don’t go to Te Kuiti!!” so I joined Barry and headed on to Piopio where I stopped briefly before tackling one of the best rides in the North Island, the Awakino Gorge and a late lunch at the Awakino Pub.
After a real blast, I arrived first and was set-up to photograph the others as they pulled-in. We ordered lunch, relaxed and chewed the fat over a cool drink but by the time we were ready to leave, Red Fred still hadn’t turned-up…..Bugger!! Les went back to Piopio to find him while the rest of us pressed on, with a warning from other patrons at the pub that a couple of ‘Mufties’ were patrolling around Mt Messenger. With that in mind we took it easy, sort of, with the added insurance of a ‘Whistler’ at the front of our group. Another great ride over the ‘Mount’ and we had no sooner come down off it when who should we pass but….Yep…Santa-in-a-VMax-Side-Car…..Most odd because he certainly hadn’t passed us whilst we napped and chatted in the beer garden???
We arrived at the Marae in Waitara at 1620 with the day still at a very pleasant ride temperature of 17˚ after it briefly dipped to 15˚ around Taupo. Fred pulled in shortly after and entertained us with his mini-epic-adventure.
Now, as mentioned earlier, it had been drummed into Santa. “Don’t go to Te Kuiti, we’re gassing in Piopio” and fortunately he saw the Piopio sign at the Kopaki turn-off…Good-oh!! ….But what we should have said was, “Turn-off at Kopaki!” because when Fred got to SH4 and he saw a sign pointing to “Te Kuiti / Hamilton”, he went the other way and turned left, toward Taumaranui…..??? (It didn’t help that there was no mention of Piopio) Unfortunately he didn’t realise the error of his ways until after the Aria turn-off, so when he saw ‘40’, he took it, and wound his way through to Matiere where he stopped to enquire why Piopio was now 50Km north?? After being advised that 40 was the best way to continue he meandered on to Ohura then enjoyed 13Km of loose gravel over the top and a further 17Km of packed gravel before emerging on SH3 at Ahititi, just north of Mt Messenger. The funniest part though was when he informed us that he came across five pig hunters, who offered him help when they found him stopped, but he explained that he had run out of gas and was just going to fill-up from his jerry can. (The short range of the V-Max and prior experiences ensure that Fred is always prepared). When he offered them a sweetie from the bag of ‘Magic Flying Dust’ attached to the rear of his side-car, they declined, but stated that they could really go a cool beer. Well…it just so happened that Santa was carrying the remains of Herman & Mike’s beer from the night before, so much to the surprise and delight of the five, Santa reached into his sack and produced a can of Tui each, which the pighunters promptly downed in unison whilst blocking the road, much to the consternation of the car that Fred had passed 10 minutes earlier. Remembering the appropriate protocols from their childhood days, the pighunters didn’t have any Christmas cake for Santa so duly offered him a sandwich before he departed. At this point we all visualized these fellas in the pub, relating the tale of how, while minding there own business in the back blocks of rural NZ, parched as an old chamois that hasn’t been used for a year, on the hottest November day in recorded history, when, all of a sudden Santa turned-up with a couple of Tuis……..”Yeah right!! …and Santa lives in Whangamomona!!” would be the reply ……and even Les didn’t mind because he got to do the Awakino gorge three times on the Hornet.
A great day was had and we were soon settled in and walking down to the T&C Club for drinks and a feed before retiring, knackered after our 420Kms. All except Mike who had a fair bit of chainsawing to do until Ken, who was wearing gel-plugs, had had enough and suggested he turn onto his stomach so he didn’t do himself an injury……and we could all get some sleep.
We were all up by 0615, once again Ron & Sue had breakfast ready and we were gassed-up and ready to depart at 0820 for our first stop at Aimee’s in Bell Block. From there it was off to 3 families just south of Inglewood, the last of which, Jacob, who had been for ride on the back of Santas Side-car last year, was now in a wheelchair, but he is still a happy chappy and delighted in demonstrating that his ‘wheels’ had a horn. It was 18˚ so very warm in our riding gear at the stops but there was a slight nip in the air as we rode and very pleasant. We headed down with fuel stops in Hawera, except for Fred who had his in Patea and Ron who loves his Wanganui Gull, by which time the temp was getting up to 25˚ when we stopped for Amelia, then lunch at the Club in Wanganui East. From there it was on to Olivia in Marton, and finally, Palmerston North via Halcombe and our last stop at Jedd’s, where mum had baked cakes and had cool drinks for us.
We separated at this point to head back via different routes with 4 of us opting to take the Track and Rimutaka’s. It was now up to 28˚ as we blasted over the ‘Track’ and I was most surprised to see the gauge hit 30˚ as we bypassed Masterton at around 1700, dip back to 28˚ then rise back up to 30˚ again before we stopped at the White Swann in Greytown for another Ginger beer. The bike read 50˚ before start-up and the final drag over the ‘Hill’ and it was still 22˚ when I finally arrived home at 1835, 480Kms for the day, 1270Kms for the weekend, still 2 bars on the fuel gauge after averaging 19k/Lt for the day (it had been hovering on 20 prior to the ‘Hill’) ….. I was totally shattered, but damn I love these MDA runs.
I ordered an Avon Storm for the rear this week, to be fitted on Wednesday for the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy) Ride on Friday.
I had to go to Palmy on Thursday for a brokers meeting / 2 day seminar. I left about 1130 and cruised up SH1, sitting on around 110kph. No dramas, weather was OK so just a pleasant ride. We finished early on Friday so I opted to come back over the Pahiatua Track and Rimutakas. I took easy, enjoying the ride which was only about half an hour longer but way better than having to sit on SH1. It also gave me the opportunity for a brief visit to Mum.
Saturday was a magnificent day for a ride but I had planned to do some more work around the house so that was that, then we had our staff Christmas outing which was at one of the best venues in Wellington, The Skyline.....just a pity it is poorly run. We arrived and had a good start with drinks and Antipasto but when we went for the meal, we were informed that there was no Rib Eye Steak and only 4 Fish-of-the-Day meals available. That was fine but when I was served my Lamb Rump, it was rather rare and the vegetables were cold. I don't mind a rare steak but like my lamb well cooked and tender, so sent it back. Next they ran out of one of the wines we were drinking and then one of the desserts.......but the view was great!!
Sunday dawned another fantastic day for the scheduled ride to Ngawi, so I was up at 0800 and hit the road for the Brown Owl shops just after 0900, stopping at Rimutaka to check the tyres. It was about 14º and I had already taken the liner out of my jacket before leaving, but also needed to swap my jeans for shorts as we were in for great weather. I had decided that today I would try and get a decent photo of the riders taking a bend on the hill for the Ulysses Branch Calendar. We ended up with 18 riders and I arranged for Ken to lead the ride with me as TEC, but after a quick briefing just before 1000, I left a few minutes early to get a position on the 'Hill' for the photos. There was a bit of traffic due to the Martinborough Wine & Food Fest' but it wasn't too bad and I was soon following the last man into our regrouping point in Featherston before tackling the Western Side of Lake Wairarapa.
This was my first time to Ngawi and shortly after turning off the Lake Ferry road we were feasting on grand views across Cook Strait to the South Island, before dropping down a gully to ride along the beach. I imagine it gets pretty bleak along this remote piece of Coast, but today it was magic and we were soon passing the tractor park and stopping at the local pie-cart for a feed where I got a real McCoy, yummy, juicy, Hawaian Burger, complete with a big slab of beetroot....Awesome!!
I took a few pix and the riders were soon starting to head back to Wellington via various routes and since I had pootled out at the back of the group, I decided to head back by myself so I could lift the pace a bit and travel at my own rate. On the way home, the temp peaked at 23º and I had a pleasant run over the hill, getting back at about 1500 hrs, with 295Km done for the day and ready to enjoy a bar-b-que with friends.
Uncle Jim was crook this week. He had an op' on his stomach and is still in the Wellington ICU over a week later, so because it was looking a bit grim, my cousies came back from Auckland and the Gold Coast. It was awesome to see them although the circumstances weren't that great, but it was a boost to Uncle Jim and he is now making good progress.
Not much else was on this week, so I did a bit cleaning up around the house, (The yard was a bit of a mess thanks to all the rides that have been on lately), briefly visited Grub and Nasty's bar-b-que on Saturday and met a few new faces along with the usuals, then attended the WRB (Cheesecutter) Protest Ride on Sunday.
It was well attended with 165 plus bikes coming into town from both Lower Hutt and Plimmerton. I rode out to TSS arriving just after 1000. We assembled round the back on Victoria Street, chatting and taking a few pix, had a briefing, observed a minute's silence to commemorate Armistice Day and got away about 1100. It was quite funny when Ron, from the Ulysses, who was conducting the briefing, mentioned we would have a minute's silence to pay our respects to those who fought in the 1st WW and some hard case up the back said, “What was it like?” A chappy was there from the Hutt News getting comments before heading off down the Hutt Road to get some photos as we passed.
Ron, led off on his Goldwing Trike and I went with him as a marshall to hold-up traffic as we came on to Cuba Street. The stream of bikes seemed to go on forever, then I followed at the tail down the Hutt Road, off the motorway at Murphy Street and parked up just past the Railway Station on Featherston St, to wait for the Plimmerton Contingent. They soon arrived and we nipped around the corner to Parliament for the formalities, where Col spoke, followed by Marion Hobbs who explained the petition process, then signed it before Janet gave a well prepared speech on the WRB's and we dispersed....home for some more cleaning-up.
All in all, it was a great day which went smoothly (and I hope effectively) and Col did very well organising this event. I did make a negative post on the Wgtn Cheescutter Ride thread, but I must admit that what eventuated from Col's efforts was the right thing at this stage of the process to try and get change.
Wow!! What a great day....Great People, Great Roads and Great Weather.....especially considering that after monitoring the forecasts last week, we were tempted to pull-the-plug at one stage as this wasn't a ride one would want to do on wet roads.
We had 19 confirmed and registered riders who represented most sectors of the local biking fraternity....that's 3 ST riders and others.... I guess to be fair though, apart from the 3 Grumpy Old Men (Ulyssians) on their comfortable trucks, there was James (XP@) on his Transalp representing the Adventure riders, Ken on his Road King for the Harley Rebels, Trevor on a Volusia for the Cruiser's, Glen for the Beemer Tourers, a raft of nimble Sprotsbikers & KB'ers, the Bandit Riders and Mangell6 for the Iron Butted Rusty Riders and finally a package called SweetP, that represented: Women; Learners; Commuters & Small Bike Riders on her FXR150. Well done to all, especially to Juliette who took this on after only riding for about 5 months and came in with a big smile and none the worse for wear.
From my perspective, the day started with the alarm going off at 0500 and the realisation that Bandit Rider and Blue Bandito would be just getting on the road from Palmy. A quick shower and feed and I was away from home at 0539 in 10° and clear skies, dappled with the odd cloud but definitely no rain in sight. As usual, by the time I went through Silverstream the temp bottomed out at 7° but was back up to a pleasant 9° by the time I pulled into Rimutex at 0602 to see Steve was already there with the maps pinned up on the van and a wee table to deal with the registrations.
I gassed-up and went in to pay announcing “pump 11”, to which the attendant looked at his screen, looked at my attire, then looked out the window to check the forecourt before turning back to me and saying, “But you're on a motor bike!!??” with a dumbfounded expression on his face. I had just put over $41 of gas in the ST and stated, “I'll need at least one more of those by the end of the day” paid the man then went out to check the tyres and help set-up the table before the first rider arrived at about 0630.
As the riders arrived, we met, noted odometer readings and ensured they had a set of ride instructions and pointed them to the maps if they weren't sure of anything. We were all there by 0700, had a quick briefing and I was last off the forecourt with XP@, who I might add, 'looked like he was in-the-zone', at 0709. We soon caught up to Grub who I tacked on behind and followed him over the 'Hill' then took the lead before Masterton and led him through the east side to avoid any town traffic, lights and round-a-bouts and we were soon on the road to Alfredton and Pongaroa and our first sampling of 'Pick-your-line-carefully or-else' riding. Grub soon stopped to check that his back tyre was OK, at which point the first of the riders who had topped-up in Masterton caught up and we pointed it was just a bit of movement due to the scattered p-gravel, so on we went to Pongaroa to find Glen (Beemer) and Greg (ST) enjoying their first rest so Glen could get rid of his 'wets' as by now the skies were crystal clear and the temp was up to 15-17°. While we waited for them, the rest of the 'Top-ups' arrived and we headed onto Weber at the back of a group of 7 or 8.
The others paused at the Weber junction while Greg and I carried onwards enjoying the tight but smooth roads through this part of Godzone and were soon upon the worlds longest place name, where I didn't have a Fox Hat to wear but stopped for the photo opportunity anyway and by the time we had done that, we tacked back on to the group until the Porongahau Junction, where 5 went right and I just stopped to photograph them once they came back. We enjoyed a brisk pace through here and I was impressed to see SweetP hanging-in near the front of the group until we got to Waipuk' where they all stopped to gas-up except Greg and myself who continued on to Taupo where we would make our first fuel stop.
The Napier-Taupo road, as usual, provided a great ride and it was quite funny because where I had been endeavouring to ride in the wheel ruts on the Pongaroa road to avoid p-gravel, I now found myself riding the hump in between, to avoid any soft tar as the temp was now peaking at 20° and there was no wind at all to cool the road. We were only travelling at 110-120 but were soon gassing-up in Taupo ($43+ this time) and stopped for lunch with Glen (Beemer), Ken (Harley) and Grub (CBR), after which Ken headed off first and Grub went to fill-up and find the others of the group he was with, so three of headed out on Poihipi Rd for the Western Arm, Taumaranui and Raetahi. By this time the weather had clouded over and the temp was back down to 15 – 17° and we encountered some very occasional and very light spitting, just enough to have to drop my visor sometimes. More great quick roads, but we kept the speed down and enjoyed the cruise, not encountering any other riders until we passed Madmals bike (Aprilia) parked at National Park, then saw Ken filling at Raetihi. It turns out he took a wrong turn ending up in Tokaanu and had to backtrack, but still managed to stay in front of us.
It was great riding down the Parapara's, which are in pretty good condition, and we made our next stop at the Upukongaro Pub where I spotted Nasty (Trailer Rider) enjoying the time with her mum, bike-spotting for C1KC riders. She informed us that Wannabiker (Ducati) had done a tyre and that group had been delayed about 40 minutes in Taupo so after another little bout of social intercourse we took to the Fordell-Hunterville road. There were now 6 in our group as we had been joined by Rob (Ducati) and Mal and this section is very tight in places and only to be ridden with care, on full alert, thanks to the potential for loose-bits and wildlife. On this occasion we only encountered 2 Turkeys, 2 Pukekos, 1 lamb and 4 sheep and got through to Hunterville with only a minor oopsie moment for Ken. We topped up the tanks and as time was getting on (about 1800) we hit the road for the final run back via Vinegar Hill, Colyton, Ashhurst, Pahiatua Track/Mangamaire and the 'Hill'. I was intending to do the ride in 12 – 13 hours but we eventually got to the Rimutakas on dusk, with the weather finally delivering some of what had been promised earlier in the week. It was drizzly rain, enough to be a nuisance combined with high winds, which on rounding one corner, virtually brought me to a standstill thanks to a poor gear selection. No worries I powered on through it to arrive at the Rimutaka Tavern at 2039 with Rob, and shortly after the rest of our group, where we received our certificates from Steve and chatted about the days events, while we waited for the next lot of riders.
We found there were only 3 others already in (+ the Bandit Riders who completed there ride on return to Palmy) then Ken and Greg had to take off back over the hill for home (poor Buggers) but good on you fellas for making the effort. Grub had also done a tyre at Wanganui so was coming back with Nasty and the last two groups came in around 2130 and 2230.
I finally got home about 2330, 1119Kms for the day at 18.4 K/Ltr economy and 24550Kms on the bike. (Big service booked for Tues). Everyone appeared to have enjoyed the day which took in many of the best roads/rides in the Lower North Island and was quite demanding. It took longer than I expected but I enjoyed taking it easy after the pace and intensity that was required for the GC + Extension. A big thanks to Steve (Twosup) who helped organise the event, Nasty for giving her time to look after us and Nudematalz for the trailer and all the riders who took part. I met some great new people that enjoy the cameraderie of being bikers and I look forward to the next ride. After all, it's only 3,500 Kms 'til Christmas
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.