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.