The Muscular Dystrophy Ride is one of the ‘not-to-be-missed’ annual rides and I’ve just completed my 5th.
This year, to assist Ron to organise the event, I prepared profiles on the kids as well as a ride plan with maps, noting the visit and regroup points. Also the funds raised on the Capital 1000K Ride helped to buy better presents, so come Friday, we were ready to embark on our adventure.
At one stage we were looking at having 20 riders but as things transpired, there were only 11 bikes (3 with pillions) that met at Brown Owl for a 1000 hrs departure on Friday and after sorting badges etc, we were away promptly. The weather forecasts during the week had been a bit grim but the day was quite pleasant at 15° with clear skies and 300+Kms ahead of us.
I had a new Storm fitted to the rear on Wednesday, scrubbed it on the way home and the bike was good to go although the ride over the Hill was rather pedestrian, thanks to the traffic. I did manage a wee moment though as I scrapped the right peg at a time when I wasn’t pushing the pace and didn’t seem to have that much lean on, so I made a mental note that we were very well loaded and to take care. We regrouped in Featherston and from there Ann and I rode TEC to Douglas Park School in Masterton for Stanly. The first time we visited here was utter chaos but the teachers certainly have the place under control now with all the kids being marched into the quadrangle after we arrived and seated in rows.
Gift given, pictures taken, and lashings of lollies lavished on the lovely wee children by Santa and his elves and we were away again, heading for St Anthony’s in Pahiatua. Once again I was bringing up the rear behind Santa, Ken and Mike & Sandy on the ZZR, pleasantly pootling along the Wairarapa countryside heading into Eketahuna when the singing, dancing Little Ted escaped from Mikes tank bag. Fortunately I was staggered out to the left when Little Ted made his move and sailed from the right, to float past me, and I was able to watch a stunning series of cartwheels and flips in my mirror before he came to rest in the middle of the road. I hit the picks and swung around to fetch him and could see that he appeared to be in tact, but I feared there would be no song or dance left in the poor we plastic chap after that spectacular display. A cursory inspection revealed little damage and a functional test was carried out once we arrived in Pahiatua,….Little Ted was fine!!!
Our arrival at St Anthony’s didn’t seem to be as keenly greeted as usual and it soon became apparent that we were competing with a ‘Pet Day’ and other festivities. There were sheep and what looked like sheep-eating-dogs, even a calf to prove that the country kids still really know how to keep a pet and not just the tamagotchi versions that the towny kids are into….and of course, our wee pet Taylor was waiting for us in her wheelchair. She seemed delighted to get her gift, then we waited for the return of Roisin, as she had had a fall and had gone home for some attention, but was soon back and once again, gift given, pix taken, lollies doled out and we were off to Woodville for lunch …. Ann & I still bringing up the rear.
I was pleasantly surprised to find us sailing past the Boots ‘n Braces to dine at the café on the corner, lunch came and went and we were off again. Some refueled in Woodville and some stopped in Dannevirke as we headed for the Tikokino Pub for another refreshment stop, not because we needed it but just because!...and the temp was now most pleasant as it rose into the 20’s.
We were soon back on the road for the final leg to the Westshore Holiday Park and had no sooner had we settled in and we were off for the Bar-B-Que at Hammond's, where we would meet and deliver to the few Hawkes Bay children. As usual the hospitality was wonderful, the food great and day one was all but over……it just remained to quaff a couple of quieties back at the pub…..and then a couple more in our unit.
Saturday was predicted to be rough, but only dawned overcast and about 15°. As usual, Ron & Sue rustled up a pretty good breakfast of bacon & poached eggs on toast with an optional serving of fungus and we were all packed and ready to go by 0830. We were to be joined by Peter to the Summit of the Napier Taupo, Cliff & Beryl to Taupo and Goldie to Taumaranui and by the time we got away, the temp was up to a very pleasant 19°.
Ann & I started out at the back but by the Esk Valley, I decided to get in front of the group trailing Fred on his sidecar, so I could sit a constant pace and any traffic wouldn’t hold me up. It was most pleasant as we sat at about 110kph, not really having to worry about revenue collectors and seemingly catching any other vehicles at opportune passing spots, so barely being held up as we made our way to the regroup at the Summit. We stopped only briefly (just long enough to put a skivvy on as the temp was dropping) and the rest of the way to Taupo, we tucked in behind Ken to shelter from the Westerly and improve our economy. We paused for another regroup on the outskirts of town so Goldie could get us around the road works without having to enter town and get caught by the traffic and mayhem associated with the round Taupo cycle race, then stopped again at the BP on Tauhara Rd for those that needed gas.
We stuck together as a group as we crossed Poihipi Road, went up Oruanui and onto Wridgetop to see Jac, then we did our thing and got underway for the next regroup at Kuratau Junction on our way to Taumaranui. Once again, Ann & I started at the rear of the group as we crossed Poihipi Rd, but I decided to up our pace on SH32 so we could enjoy a more constant tempo. That turned out to be a good move as we were only expecting to encounter the odd cyclist doing the 2 or 3 lap versions of the cycle race, but from half way down the Western Access, the cyclists got thicker and thicker and we had to pass ‘millions’ of them. By this time, the weather ahead was looking much gloomier so whilst waiting at Kurutau Junction for the rest of the group, I removed my skivvy and donned my wets….and that turned out to be a very good choice.
It was wet all the way across SH41 as we sat at around 100-110kph, making our way through Taumaranui and out to see Sam & Max. When we arrived, the family were awaiting us in the garage, so I led the dozen big bikes up the driveway, almost entering the garage before flicking around to park heading back onto the street. The look on the boys faces was most amusing, firstly that of excitement to see all these fine machines and Santa, then shock-horror as they must have thought I was riding straight into the garage, then relief. As it turned out, they had lost their dad in a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago when a tree fell across a country back-road in front of him, leaving him no room to stop and nowhere to go. Sam was pretty quiet but the younger boy, Max, was full of beans and look on his face when Ken sat him on the ST, …then started the bike …then revved it up ….then tooted the horn and let him do it…... Well, anyone would have thought it was Christmas!
That done it was back into Taumaranui for more refuels and lunch before continuing up SH4. The instructions were to take the turnoff to travel along Mokauiti Rd for Aria, then continue on Totoro Rd to SH3, coming out just before Mahoenui. Sounds easy enough to me!
Ann & I ended up leading Brownie, in between two groups and sat around 110’ish. We passed the first group as they were checking their ride sheet, probably around Tapuiwahine, then they slotted in behind us as well. We hit some quite wicked roadworks and I was looking to the right side of the road for the cluster of signs that would indicate Aria, when we whistled past Ramaroa Rd. They must have removed the signs whilst doing the roadworks, so we swung around and I sent the others on as I marked the road for the last four riders (including Santa), who were only a couple of minutes behind.
We followed them for a bit, then shuffled ahead to mark the next corner for them, then slotted in behind once again as Fred led us onto the gravel and the sidecar soon disappeared out of site while I reflected, “Hmmmmmm…..there shouldn’t be any gravel on this road?? ….Oh well!! …..at least it was wet but not greasy and not dusty!!”
We pressed on for a few Km’s until we came across Fred, waiting for us at a Junction and I took the opportunity to check the map….Drat!, we were on the wrong road so it was back to Aria and try again. This time I led away and got a little ahead so as we entered Aria I paused until I saw three of the four headlights come into view before continuing a Km or so up the road to mark the Totoro Rd junction. We waited a couple of minutes and when there was no show we turned back until we could see the road was empty back to Aria…..Double Drat!! They could be anywhere so I decided to press on for Awakino, turned and scarpered!!
With no one in our sights to worry about, I slipped into ‘GC mode’ (Grand Challenge – where a smooth, but quick pace is maintained to eat the Kms without causing undue pressure or fatigue) and enjoyed a wee fang across, the previously untravelled-by-me, Totoro Rd and continued at a very brisk pace through a wet Awakino Gorge. With the bike really loaded up, it still sat like a brick on the wet roads and we made good time, getting to Awakino at 1702hrs to join the other half of the group. I felt really guilty about losing Santa and the others but enjoyed a ginger beer anyway and settled down to wait as Ron & Sue went on to ensure we weren’t locked out of the marae in Waitara. Sometime later, Mike & Sandy turned up with their own adventurous tale and finally Santa, his Ingratitudinous Elf and couple of other helpers turned up, wet and a little worse for wear. I knew they were wet by the pool of water forming around Santa’s boots…and the way his suit seemed to be hanging off his body.
A drink was had after which there was just Mt Messenger to be negotiated through the gloom to finish off the ride, getting to Waitara at 1830hrs. We got settled in then headed straight to the T&C club to catch-up with the others for a drink and dinner. We had a most pleasant evening sharing lies and noting candidates for potential fines, finally getting back to the marae after 2300hrs. I put my MP3 on and had a great night’s sleep, to arise for the new day at 0600.
The drizzle had cleared for a bright but slightly crisp morning and thanks to Ron & Sue’s efforts, everyone was fed, packed and ready by around 0800 for a start at 0830. We had a few new kids, to deliver to, in the area and this was compounded by some having to attend church, hence resulting in a slightly earlier start than usual and we scooted straight out to Lydia & Bethany’s in Inglewood, then back to Callum’s, then Jacob’s before returning to Bell Block for Aimee, Matthew & Ethan. The trip out to Inglewood put us into the fog, which soon burned off and by the time we got to Simon at the Salvation Army Citadel, the day was starting to warm towards the 20’s.
From New Plymouth we embarked around the Mountain for lunch in Wanganui. Knowing that Fred would need a fill by Hawera, Ann & I pushed ahead at a brisk pace in order to visit her folks, just out of Waverly, figuring we would have about 10 -15 minutes there. It was quite breezy, but the Nor’Wester was on our shoulder so didn’t present any problems riding and even aided the economy slightly, so we made good time but did manage a couple of near misses. The first just South of Hawera where I slowed after spotting a vehicle parked on the opposite side of the road ahead and no sooner had I decided it wasn’t a mufti and started to accelerate, than I caught a red flicker and sure enough, the mufti car was behind him and the poor sod was getting booked….oh well, saved my bacon! The next was entering Kakaramea and I was just easing up after passing a truck as I approached the restricted zone, when a cop came the other way but barely gave us a 2nd look…..must have been my lucky day because the overtake took us up to 140’ish.
We regrouped at the Gull station in Wanganui then headed to the Wanganui East Club for lunch where Santa continued to impress the local kids with sweeties and a ride on the V-Max & sidecar….3 at a time around the carpark. By now everyone was starting to get a little weary and we just had the last two visits to make as I led out on No 3 Line for Fordell, Turakina and almost Marton. One to go and the planned route via Halcombe – Mt Stewart went out the door as we just nipped back to SH3 then straight to Palmy for Jedd.
Done for another year! We just had to get home and opted for the most direct route via Opiki and SH1. Once again Ken & I led out to ensure Ron & Fred got onto the right road and they stuck with us until South of Levin when we struck one of the longest traffic queues I can recall, so the trike and the sidecar had to sit while the ST’s scooted up the shoulder and passing lanes to eventually find that it was just due to the Otaki Round-about. It astounds me how useless some people are at negotiating these simple Traffic Islands and also that along the 4-5km queue, we would pass 4 or 5 bikes sitting in the midst of the cars. We made good time but!
We finally got to J’ville for a fill-up at 1805 (I wasn’t sure I’d make it home after 498 brisk Km’s but I only took on 25.7Ltrs so I guess I would have) and we had a spa to wind down. We’d managed over 1380kms for the long weekend, taking 190 photos as we delivered to the 20 wee souls with MD. Ron excelled in organising the event, whereby we just had to turn up, ride, dole out lollies, hit the sack, eat and ride some more. Fred, as usual, performed his part going above and beyond the call of duty and we are actually worried that perhaps he is Santa! And Ken also shone in his satin elf suit, ensuring Santa didn’t get lost without him, heightening the children’s anxiety and expectations as he searched for their gifts in Santa’s sack and generally ensuring a good interaction which would provide the children with a memorable event to look forward to next year…..as we, the MD Riders do
With the 1000 Km Ride done, our attention was switched to the ACC Protest Ride to Parliament as StoneY (the organiser) had requested that Ulysses conduct the Ride Briefings at the Papakowhai & Avalon start points. This was supposedly because Ulysses are perceived to be ‘mature and responsible’ riders, (they obviously didn’t have me in mind) as well as commonly being involved in and conducting group rides.
After initial contact I passed this off to Ken (Wgtn Rides Committee) & Jim (Wgtn Co-Ordinator and National Committee) so I could help out at parliament, but as Jim was involved with the contingent meeting the ACC Minister (Nyks Myth), I had to take over the Avalon job and subsequent to attending the Volunteer Meeting at the Parrot ‘n Jigger, it became apparent to Ken & I that a little more was required.
With the primary objective being no accidents or incidents we felt the best option was to break the ride down to groups of 200 or so with leaders to control the pace and, as briefing the multitude would most likely be out of the question, a written leaflet was prepared to handout as riders arrived. Marshals were organised to manage the parking in order to get as many bikes into the available space …… and it all turned to shit 30 minutes from departure time on Tuesday when the police said, “get them on the road in one group and get them to the stadium.”….so luckily Ken had obtained a couple of megaphones, just in case, and we had to wing-it!
It was thought that if we got 3,000 bikes, the protest would be considered a success and as the riders starting rolling in on Tuesday it was looking pretty good. By the time we got the bikes moving, we had 3,500+ at Papakowhai and 1,500 – 2,000 at Avalon. On top of that it is estimated about 600 bikes went straight to parliament and up to 1,000 hadn’t stopped at Papakowhai, opting to continue straight to the stadium. Bikes were still departing from Papakowhai when the first ones were arriving at the stadium and, depending on what report is listened to, we ended up with 9,000 to 12,000 people at parliament which included pillions and suits who were already in town and had walked.
I was last to roll out of Avalon with an ambulance behind me in the left lane and a cop beside him in the right, blocking all traffic from coming through on us. Police were stationed and holding traffic at all the lights and on-ramps and when the lights went red as the last riders approached, we were waved on through.
It wasn’t until we got onto the motorway that we encountered other vehicles and at this point the volume of bikes was so great that we couldn’t merge and the two left lanes were chock full of bikes. There were also many bikes which had stopped along the way to take photos (although a few American branded aircooled ones had overheated), and as we rolled into the stadium, the concourse was packed with bikes and the fences were lined with riders.
We made our way to Parliament for the official proceedings and probably came away from the day with more questions than answers and conspiracy theories run rife. With no accidents and no arrests, the day was considered a success. The number of bikes ensured it was a spectacle that will take a long time to be bettered as riders came from all over the country and I had the pleasure to host Jantar, up from Alexandra, but time will tell as to the real outcome of this week.
The most impressive thing about the day is how everyone worked together. The police were awesome, the traffic patient and courteous and the riders were generally well behaved.
Oh happy day…(Oh happy day)
Oh happy day…(Oh happy day)
When Johnny Rode…….
What an awsome day! Great weather, great route, great bike and great mates!
After Grub’s tragedy on this ride last year and the problems encountered with nearly half the field not completing, we had to go back to the drawing board to address our route setting along with other improvements to make the day easier to run. Fortunately there are a few groups out there organising events like this and they had some pretty good ideas for us to steal (borrow).
With a prescription for the ride to be a ‘free flowing’ event we soon had a couple of nice options to choose from, then made a decision for riders to collect fuel receipts and photos rather than for us to check odo’s out and in, and in an effort to get more participation, we established alternative start points in Masterton and Napier (with the Manawatu riders continuing to do their 0500 start to join the Wellington riders). We also created a half hour start window between 0630 & 0700 from Rimutaka to alleviate the congestion over the hill. With this all sorted some months ago, it was then just a matter of wait for the time and everything just seemed to fall into place. Sponsors NAC Insurance and BucketsnBits.co.nz provided prizes, we ordered year bars, prepared the Ride Instructions and Briefing and waited for the registrations to come in…..oh yes, and Steve and I had to check some of the roads to ensure they were OK….I did that hard!
With a week to go we had over 60 riders interested, sent ribbons to Masterton and Napier for the bikes so riders could easily identify each other on the road, sent the instructions out, kept an eye on the weather and started to print certificates. Everything was looking sweet.
Come Friday, Nasty and Elle were on their way to do 70% of the route, texting their progress which was pretty depressing to be stuck in the office finalising preparations while they were out there having a ball…it was all making me pretty excited to get underway and enjoy the ride myself.
Finally it was Saturday and Ann & I were up before 0500 and at Caltex Rimutaka by just after 0600 where I filled the bike while Ann set up the table and gear. One rider was so keen to get away, he was already there when we arrived, more had arrived before I finished filling and the forecourt was soon a hive of activity as riders checked in, tied a ribbon to there bikes, bought badges and collected prizes that had been pre-drawn. They were free to depart as soon as they were ready and some got away promptly, but the atmosphere was pretty casual with coffees being consumed and plenty of chatting.
By 0700 we were still short of 5 or 6 riders (I got their emails when I got to work on Monday) but Ken, Barry & I decided to get away and Ann would wait a bit longer before packing up, but as it turned out, no more arrived so Barry & I were the last away at 0706. We were just in time to hit the hill amidst about 20 horse floats so caught Mike as we descended and were content to sit behind him until Eketahuna where Ken was waiting. I took the opportunity to put a skivvy on as I was finding the 8° a little cool and next thing we were scooting over the Track, through Ashhurst and onto Feilding.
With Barry on an FJR and Ken & I on ST’s, I figured it wouldn’t be long before we were amongst the field as we would be good for 400+ Kms before we needed our first fill, but that wasn’t to be the case. We did pass a group of Palmy riders at the BP in Feilding, then after riding through Halcombe and onto Turakina, Mike was topping up there but otherwise….no one!
We continued to Wanganui and embarked on a fun ride up the Para’s at a brisk pace, as the road was great, but we still only encountered 3 Duc’ riders having a pause, then another group of Palmy riders who appeared to be filling their faces as we passed them at the Caltex in Raetihi, so it was ‘On On’ up SH4 to our first fill in Taumaranui. It was along here that I had my only ‘moment’ for the day, just north of Owhango, when we entered some roadworks that consisted of rather large, loosely packed rocks. It was OK until the bike strayed out of the wheel rut and headed for the edge which dropped away to more even larger rocks. I puckered for a moment, too scared to try and steer the bike and fortunately, between clenched knees, subtle weight shift, willpower and BHM’s, (Biker Hail Mary’s), it drifted back onto the rut….whew!
We were soon in Taumaranui and pulled into the BP to fill as some Masterton riders were ready to leave and shortly after, several of the riders we had passed earlier went through. As it was only 1130, we decided to head onto Te Kuiti for lunch and got there as the Palmy crew were about ready to leave…and that was to be the pattern for the ride.
With lunch done our next stop was to get a photo of the bikes in front of the TeKawa Mobil, so we headed up SH3, maintaining our steady pace. A brief pause for the pix and we now had another nice section of the route to enjoy as we nipped across to Waipapa Road and down to Whakamaru. I’ve done this road a few times now, it’s rather pleasant and one could almost describe it as ‘understated’ when it comes to NZs better biking roads. It is in great condition and has a bit of everything, with rolling hills and sweepers through farmland and into pine forest, where it tightens up a bit as it drops through native bush to run along the Mangakino dam, then pops back to a straight run through more farms to Whakamaru (where I finally removed the skivvy as the temp was edging towards 20°) and down the western side of lake Taupo……and best of all…..I don’t recall ever spotting any revenue collectors along there!! ….So we were able to maintain our brisk pace at ease.
That done, dusted and enjoyed we were soon on the run over the Desert Rd and down SH1 to a coffee and fuel stop in Taihape. I must say, I don’t mind riding the Desert Rd, or at least, it would be OK if one were able to ride it at a respectable pace which is higher than my usual 110kph limit??!! Well, for once I had a pleasant ride over the Central Plateau because Barry decided I was too pedestrian and took the lead, dragging myself and Ken in his wake. What little traffic there was, was moving quite well also and with almost no traffic heading North we were doubly blessed to encounter a van as it crested a rise and indicated to us that the road ahead might not be in great condition so we slowed accordingly. We popped over the rise to find a long straight with nothing but a pretty white car with blue and yellow trim parked on the left …..??so maybe the van driver was trying to clean his windows and pulled on the wrong stem?? Oh well, …these cars often hunt in packs so just in case, we puttered down and through Waiouru very sedately and were soon enjoying a coffee at the Exchange in Taihape, then filling at the BP where several other riders were relaxing and telling of their own adventures.
We were now on the boring 2½ hour run for the finish with the temp dropping and a reasonable Westerly providing somewhat of a barrier. I was back in the lead with the economy varying between 15-17K/Ltr, depending on the intensity and angle of the gusts, as we leap frogged from cage to cage catching a small respite in their wake if they were on the pace and moving right along if they slowed. I had noticed a van that we didn’t appear to be catching though, so upped the pace slightly and did slot in behind him just south of Hunterville, the home/hunting ground of the constable affectionately known as Cash Register. With no detector, it’s always good to have a shield and this guy was great as he sat on the centreline, so I was able to park myself with a clear view through his left, right in the draft and my economy shot to 19-21K/Ltr at a quicker pace than before. Bloody marvelous, so I hitched a ride through to Bulls, then moved on through the thicker traffic flow.
The rest of the ride was a non-event, until our final fang over the Paekak’ Hill then onto the Petone Workingmans Club, arriving at about 1920 which was 12¼ hours for the ride. About half to two thirds of the riders had already completed, which was good because it meant that the route didn’t provide any problems this year and the feedback from the riders was that they enjoyed it. I felt pretty good except for the dodgy hip playing up a little and we enjoyed a beer, a meal and meeting and chatting with the other riders. Nasty was there with her guests, who had come for the scattering of Grub’s ashes the following day, which was the anniversary of his death.
All in all I had an awesome day which didn’t finish until I got to bed, totally shattered after midnight, with another busy day booked in for Sunday.
We arose late, dined on leftovers, tidied-up the money and stats for the ride, attended to the spa, then gave the bike a quick clean before heading off to pick-up a few things on the way to Caltex Rimutaka for the ride to Paekak’ Hill. I only arrived about 5 minutes prior to departure to find about 40 bikes there and we were soon off for Haywards.
The traffic was quite heavy so I took the opportunity to nip across a small gap in the traffic which put me behind SparkyBills (carrying Grub’s ashes) and Sels1 (ride leader) so I sat there and enjoyed a nice wee fang through Pauatahanui to the summit, down to Paekak’, then back to the summit for the speeches and service. It was a lovely day and as usual, Kari had everything planned and on time and I finished a great weekend at a bar-b-que at her place, chatting with mates and meeting some KiwiBikers I hadn’t met before.
I finally got home, too knackered to do anything so just blobbed out on the couch….Perfec’, just perfec’!!
Some stats for the C1KC.
There were no incidents (that I’m aware of) apart from a flat tyre that was dealt to promptly by Wanganui Honda.
53 bikes started (5 with pillions)
2 bikes retired (but it was on the cards prior as the pillion is due for a knee op)
26 were first timers
2 did it over 2 days (Nasty escorted by Elle, ensuring Grub finally completed one)
10 started from Wairarapa
4 started from Napier
10 started from Manawatu
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.