I finally had an opportunity to clean the bike last weekend and was shocked to see that when I had the bags off, the left side of the rear tyre was smooth. The tyre only had 9,500 Kms on it and I had ordered a new one a couple of weeks earlier, but with a three week lead time and the expectation that I would get this weekend’s ride in, then change it on the 102,000Km service for the MDA ride next week…..Fat chance! But fortunately the shipment arrived and I was able to pre-empt the service, so come today, I had a brand spanking new Avon Storm ST 2 Ultra fitted.
Although the old tyre had some hard riding, with a GC and C1KC on it, I should still have got at least 12,000Kms out of it, so I got Boyles to check my pencil type pressure gauge and sure enough, I’ve been running on low pressures, as at 42psi, my gauge was reading 45??!! Oh well, them’s the breaks!
Fortunately though, I was ready and able to ride today and enjoy the first real summer ride of the season as I departed from home at 0900 on a gleamingly clean bike, under crystal clear skies and the temp gauge climbing from 19º and through 20º….should have put the shorts on but!
We were finally off to visit Thompson’s Motorbike Museum in Rongotea for the last organised ride of the year and everything was perfect for a good turnout, which translated into 36 riders pulling out of the Plimmerton Weigh Station with me at TEC.
The ride up to Shannon was pretty uneventful and after a short break there, I led out over Shannon-Foxton Rd and Himitangi Block Rd, through Bainess, Glen Orua and onto Rongotea. The temp had gone to 25º by this time, so on arrival at Thompson’s, I stripped off the corduras and we were soon gazing at a great collection of bikes and bits. I was surprised to hear that 90% of the bikes are still functioning.
That done, it was too nice a day to head straight home, so five of us went through Palmy and over the Track. It’s not one of my favoured roads as it tends to be unpredictable with regard to loose stuff and uneven surface so one must always ride conservatively and with that in mind I was approaching the summit at a crisp but moderate pace, when I came upon two vehicles and thought, “I should get in front of them before the top”.
Soon enough, the road opened out and one could see that nothing was coming the other way so I let the Falcon take the other vehicle as I embarked on taking them both, but low and behold, after I passed the van and pulled alongside the Falcon, I realised he was still accelerating and the big thingy sticking through the bonnet wasn’t just a hood ornament….but I’d already decided I was ‘taking’ him….what a dumb-arse!!
Only God knows why I didn’t back-off and slot in behind him, but I didn’t and was soon rocketing towards a really sharp right hander (which often has a liberal smattering of loose crap) with a bloody great Falcon up me date and then had to descend at a much quicker pace than planned, finally easing off the pace to let him by on the passing lane. Then I had to drop back to pootle mode to wait for the rest….what a dumb-arse!
We were supposed to lunch in Pahiatua, but didn’t really know what/where we looking for and ended up stopping in Eketahuna, where were treated to a reasonable earthquake with our coffees and toasted sandwiches.
From there we enjoyed a delightful pootle through Mauriceville, paused for a top-up in Masterton, sweltering in the corduras in 27º, then embarked on the hill….and for the second time in a row, I seemed to really piss some redneck off. I was enjoying a spirited pace and filtering past the traffic on the descent when I ended up behind a 4WD for a bit. As per usual, I was parked on his date, with my lights glaring in his side mirror when for no reason I could comprehend, his arm extended up from the cab and offered me a big finger. Now this wasn’t a Kit Kat, and therefore of little use to me, so as soon as the opportunity presented, I whisked past him and received an unintelligible tirade?? Go figure…I guess I’m just a bastard!
That over I was home before 1700 after enjoying the first of the summer rides, having done 370Kms for the day at an economy of 19.1Kms/Ltr and now have 101869Kms on the bike.
I had a bit of a concern this week when I noticed the ST had developed a slight oil seep on the front of the engine, but a few hours and dollars for the experts at Boyles revealed a minor leak from one of the rocker covers and had the problem cleared up so I could assist on today’s Poker Run.
The forecast hadn’t been great but turned out OK on the day, apart from potential gusty conditions on the hill…but then, what’s new?
Ken had organised the ride and was to ride sweep while five of us would go to the checkpoints to issued cards and advise the riders where to head for the next checkpoint. I was based at Gladstone, the last stop, so I had decided to go ahead of the field and take a few photos as they went. I arrived at Brown Owl around 0930 and by 0950 we still only had 1 punter, so it wasn’t looking good, but then a group arrived and I departed to set up on the hill.
I had to wait about 10 minutes and wasn’t too happy with the results, so as the riders headed for their first stop down the Western Side of Lake Wairarapa, I headed for Lake Ferry via Kahutara Rd, to get ahead of them. I set-up between the Ngawi turn off and the lake and as it had been 15º when I left home but the temp was now climbing toward 26 º, the first thing I did was remove my jacket and the liner from it, then snapped another set which were much better, before heading for the coast as the riders collected their second cards.
I wanted to get a shot of the bikes with the sea in the background, but there aren’t too many left handers that are suitable. I found one to setup on anyway and after another 10 minute wait, got my pix then headed back up to the gorge to catch them on the way out….more waiting.
I managed a couple more pix at this time, waited a couple more minutes, then decided I needed to get ahead of the riders again to get to my stop. I wasn’t too worried because I knew they had to stop in Martinborough, but I proceeded extremely briskly anyway, passed them, paused at the square to let Bill know they weren’t far off and proceeded via ‘Middle’ road to the Gladstone pub. I had no sooner stripped off, got a drink and shuffled my pack than they started to pull in.
That done, I let Ken know that I needed to visit mum in Masterton and wouldn’t be joining them at the Tin Hut and got on my way again and spent about an hour chatting, then headed back to Wellington just after 1400. The ride back was more into the stiff breeze and although there were a few good puffs on the hill, I enjoyed the fang back….but not without inciting a mild spot of road-rage.
I had gotten into a nice rhythm and pace on the brilliant new surface, passing a couple of vehicles on the first passing lane, then working about a third the way up an empty hill before encountering a line of ten or so vehicles. I settled behind them for the briefest of moments before taking the opportunities to pass as they arose, but about three vehicles into the line, the driver chappy seemed to take exception to my presence…in front of him. I perceived this by the way he closed up behind me as well as hearing the muted tones of a rattly horn that didn’t quite fit with the music I was listening to through my KiwiPlugs. He persisted driving one handed whilst trying to get my attention for about 40-50 seconds, when I made my next passing move, but I still can’t figure what he hoped to achieve. Surely he knew the café at the top is long gone and we couldn’t stop for a chat over a nice cup of tea…and besides….he was stuck in traffic! Unless of course, it might have been a mate and I just didn’t recognise the car….oh well!
I continued my fang, encountering a couple of good puffs and a few more vehicles….most of whom were very considerate and pulled off or out of my way. I paused for a chat at Hitcher’s to see how he was getting on and finally got home around 1700, doing 336Kms for the day at 17.4K/Ltr with 101111Kms now on the bike.
With this year being the fourth Capital 1,000Km Cruise, planning for the event was a bit easier as, after organising a new route, most of the stuff just needs to be regurgitated and tweeked, but that didn’t stop us making plenty of mistakes though….which we do try to learn from.
After deciding that a foray into the East was in order, the route fell into place, notices were placed on forums and emails sent to subscribed riders who had previously registered or completed the run and then it was back to the daily routine and wait while registrations came in…..and wait to see what the weather gods would produce!?
We had over 50 riders and even after a flurry of defections over the last week, we still had 50 on Friday, but on the day, thanks to marginal weather predictions, the numbers dropped to 36 riders (+ 1 pillion): 23 departing from Caltex Rimutaka (included 4 early risers from Manawatu), 8 Ulys departing from Masterton and 6 Ulys from Napier.
As usual, in the week leading up to the event, I paid particular interest to the web rain forecasts, which varied drastically from sublime to dreadfull….but not having had to cancel or postpone the event yet….I remained optimistic!....and anyway, I know my wets still keep me dry!
I awoke before the 5am alarm on Saturday morning, maybe due to the usual pre-ride anticipation, but more than likely it was the occasional rain and wind that were lashing the house. However by the time the alarm did sound, things had settled down so I departed home at about 0540 in mild and slightly drizzly conditions, but fully kitted out in ‘wets’ as the cloud over the Rimutakas looked pretty ominous.
I was at the Caltex at 0600, (to see Steve and the first keen rider already there), was gassed up and we had the table and stuff setup by 0615, then waited to see what happened. We usually have riders arriving by 0615 and departing by 0630, but 0635 came and there were only a few there and no one making any moves to get away, but as the clouds over the Rimutakas cleared, riders arrived and started departing around 0645 and I was last to leave as I followed Mangell6 out at 0709.
We warmed into the ride at a sedate pace in the drizzly conditions over the Hill, and stepped up to a crisp pace through to Masterton, where we passed some riders who were topping-up, then settled into the ride proper once we had passed through Te Ore Ore. Mike (a veteren Rusty Rider who completed the 10,000Kms in 10 days ride) always takes nice lines and was great to follow as he threaded our way through debris and even squeezed us around a fallen tree, then once we were through Alfredton, I opted to lift the pace a little more and moved ahead, getting to the first Pic-Stop at Pongoroa by 0900.
I snapped a few pix, then waited for Bazza57 as he fluffed about with his rain-off gloves and I dribbled out when it looked like he was ready to go, but took it slow, waiting for him to catch me and when he just seemed to be holding the same pace at a distance, I opened it up and got on with the business. I skimmed through the Weber junction and as I rose out of there, found both wheels drifting through a bad line on a right hand sweeper, not a problem but a handy reminder to remain vigilant to take care on Route 52, then just before Wimbledon, I came across a confused Hawkeye as he stood behind his bike studying a map. (He should get a GPS…but more on that later!) Any way, he joined me through to Waipuk’ where I paused to see if he needed gas, which he did, so I waited…and as per normal once I get off the bike, got the urge for a natural break. At this time XP@ rolled up and announced he was pulling due to a badly frayed clutch cable, Hawkeye left with Manawatu riders as I waited to see if TaPuna was OK, which he was, and finally, I ended up following Zahria and his mate to Patangata, arriving there before 1000.
More pix snapped and back on the road, Hawkeye followed me out and we were soon on the tails of the Bandit Riders, although I didn’t recognized them until I could see their plates as they were riding without the usual hairy helmets. That made the navigation through Middle Rd and onto 50A easy, but when they paused behind a car at one of the big round-abouts, I slipped through the outside lane and scooted to Bay View for my first fill.
The roads had dried before Waipuk’ and we had enjoyed a stiff southerly breeze all the way which had my economy at 18.8K/Ltr prior to overtaking Mangell6, but the brisk pace had this back to 17.3 by now and as I logged the fill, I noted the odo’ was right on 100,000Kms…what a way for the bike to enjoy that anniversary! I filled, snacked, chatted and finally followed the Bandits out at around 1150, but opted to lift the pace again and rode most of this leg alone, arriving in Wairoa around 1300.
Steve, Baz and Dennis were already there so after the statutory pix, I snacked and left with them and soon had Hawkeye tacked onto the back as well. Dennis led, and although I had been getting along OK throughout the day, I didn’t feel that comfortable with my form as I constantly found myself squeezing into corners a little early and often had difficulty reading if the road surface was grit free on the hump, and therefore if it was good to use all the lane or stick to the rut. Fortunately it was dry though, but now we had turned and had to push back into the southerly. It was still a good ride though and as we got back to BP Bay View, Dennis pulled in for gas as Steve & Baz continued, so Hawkeye and I pulled in to wait for him, but then Hawkeye decided to carryon so he could have a coffee in Dannevirke…..big mistake for him (but more on that later!)
Meanwhile Kennif pulled in, gassed and extolled the virtues of wearing HiVis jackets whilst pissing under bee swarms (but that’s his story) and soon he led us out to SH50. We caught and passed Neale & Linda, then were caught and passed by the Four Stooges…or Musketeers ...Ccapse, Leber, Crash99 and ??...BuellBoy….but to our surprise, they decided that there was some merit to revisit Waipuk’ and turned off. You’d think that when they saw the route planner not follow them, something wasn’t quite right…but I guess one of them must have forgotten to pay for his fuel earlier and they needed to sort it…or something!!??
Anyway, we continued through Dannevirke, waving to Steve and Bazza as they fueled and Dennis and I pulled in to fill at Caltex Woodville as Ken continued through the gorge. We filled, then Steve stopped by us as Baz continued through the gorge and after a few minutes, we slipped out the back of the servo to sample the Saddle. I led through Ashhurst and lifted the pace somewhat as we flitted past Colyton, Cheltenham and Kimbolton on our way to the next Pix Stop at Pemberton…which isn’t really a place…it’s just a sign in a gravel patch at a junction (but more on that later!)
Pic snapped and I led onto Ohingaiti with Steve and Dennis still in tow. The vista as one descends to the Raangitikei River on this road is truly awesome and every time I see it, I promise that next time I’ll stop and take a pic, but at this stage of a thousand Km ride I just wanted to finish and continued on. Within minutes we were pulling into the Ohingaiti Pub for the last pic and there was quite a gathering there, including the Hawkes Bay boys, so I was able to give them their certs, badges and prizes and pause for a quick chat before embarking on the last leg.
Kennif departed before us, but I knew he’d need gas before the finish so we would probably pass him, but then we decided a diversion was in order so I led out again, slipping off SH1 at Vinegar Hill and diverting again past Waituna West to go through Halcombe and emerge at Sanson. I did take one wrong turn though and bought us at Ohakea instead, but that was fortuitous because as we lined up for the turnoff in Sanson, Kennif pulled out of the servo and rejoined the group at lead. The main reason it was fortuitous was that it would have been hard for me to keep the pace at a sane level after the gallop we had just had! Anyway, we pootled away and Dennis and I followed Ken but Steve decided he required one last fang over the Paekak’ Hill and he kept to our original plan, which, once stuck in the cheese-cutter lined traffic, I regretted I hadn’t taken the turn as well.
We arrived at the Parrot & Jigger just before 2000 and enjoyed the usual post ride wind down as we waited for the last few to arrive, the last being Hawkeye and TaPuna…who had both got lost! Unfortunately for them, familiarity breeds contempt and when the route planner said ‘turn left on Colyton Rd, right on Kimbolton Rd and take that to Pemberton (Mangamako Rd)’ …he really meant turn left on Oxford St which leads to Colyton Rd…but everyone knows where Colyton Rd is don’t they…??? Well apparently not….but after much searching and asking, the road was found…but this Pemberton place??? Well, even though a photo or two were provided, the poor Geordie had difficulty here too and the bastard route planner should have been more specific….but why?...what self repecting rider hasn’t done the Pemberton Ohingaiti road?
Oh well…as I said earlier…we try to learn from our mistakes and Hawkeye will have a GPS next time. We had a good day though and most of the feedback was positive, even though the ride was a bit more demanding than last year. It was the strangest ride for me as I played musical bikes with all the buddy changes along the way. Usually on this type of ride, one hooks-up with their mates and encounter other riders along the way and I can’t say I ever experienced so much shuffling as this, but it did enhance the experience….except for Hawkeye who cut the deck once too often.
I certainly enjoyed the day, had a great night’s sleep and enjoyed chilling with Gremlin this morning. It will be back to the maps now, to find a good route for next year.
A big thanks to NAC for the prizes (that were pre-drawn and issued at departure/finish), Ann who managed the departure from Caltex and arrivals at the Parrot & Jigger solo, Affiliated Insurance Brokers for the Certs and pens and all the riders, …especially those who put up with the old fart shuffling about and disrupting there little groups.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.