After getting back from Hamilton I had to drop the bike in for its 96,000 Km service ...even if it was a little late at 97,500 Km. That was an easy way to blow $600+ with a new air-cleaner, plugs etc, etc and although I'd bought a new front, expecting to fit it, that's still got a couple of thousand Km in it and the relatively new rear (5,000 Km) is looking worse ...but only on the sides thanks to some hard cornering on great roads.
With that done and a nice Saturday I figured I hadn't seen my mum, so a squirt over the hill was in order, but it turned out that I was on babysitting duties for the moko, if one still calls it that for a young lady that is a few weeks short of 13 and stands at about 5' 7"??
No worries. I did some chores then picked her up from the salon and took her to Thorndon to buy new school uniforms for her first year of high school, then took her home to see how she fitted some of the spare bike gear, ...just perfec'. With her outfitted, I transferred a Sena unit to the helmet she needed and we were on our way after a short brief on options and protocols.
I expected not to even notice she was on the back, but as I stated, she is about 5' 7" and I was aware of any shift of her weight, so a little more wariness was required as we took to the hill ...and made good progress.
Soon enough we were in Masterton, had our visit, then decided to carry on to see my sisters out at Riversdale and that was another nice wee pootle, followed by more chewing of the fat, dinner and eventually getting away a bit after 1900.
The return trip was even better with just the single gearing up and little traffic, so I was able to maintain a steady, semi-brisk pace within the tolerable limits, so once again, we made good progress, getting home before 2100, stripped off, traded the ST for the Merc and took moko and uniforms home to her place.
I guess one could say that, first ride for the New Year has been chalked up and Koroly duty has been done ...but wait, there's more!
Now this kid has been known to display some adrenalin-junky tendencies when at theme parks with the requirement that I end up having to go on rides I'm not that fussed about, so I wasn't too sure how the day would go and, on this occasion, I didn't get a lot of feedback apart from a casual comment to the effect that "we should do this more often." Considering it's been about 5 years since she's been on the back (back in the days of the red). More often could mean anything, but the next day I'm chatting to her mum and she advises that after I left, she was told by the kid that she reckoned she was going to get a motorbike!
The mother told her "Like Hell", ....I just smiled to myself.
It’s been an odd year. I don’t feel like I’ve done much riding due to weather and work, but the reality is that I’ve done few rides but a reasonable amount of Km.
The year started with a 1,000 miler (1600 Km with Gray - https://www.kiwibiker.co.nz/forums/entry.php/6394-1600-Km-With-Gray%E2%80%A6-The-Birth-of-a-Legend! )
Followed up with the biggest ride of my life in March, ( https://www.kiwibiker.co.nz/forums/entry.php/6593-There-and-Back-Again-Another-Hobbit-s-Tail ) where I rode from Wellington to Cape Reinga and return being 2300Km in 27½ hours. Probably pretty dumb, but quite cool to be able to say, ‘been there, done that’!!
The rest of the year was generally more of the same old routine which included Coneheads (carpark stuff), a couple of trips to Aus, The North Island 1600 event in October, which included the new NI800 ride (which I pre-rode here: https://www.kiwibiker.co.nz/forums/entry.php/6594-The-Half ). The event was a big success and if the feedback is anything to go by, it should get even bigger next year? I then finished off the year with the usual 1,000 Km Cruise, Muscular Dystrophy ride, and visit to the Tron. So some great rides this year.
Downer for the year was not being able to participate in the TT2000 due to an inconsiderate nephew getting married that weekend, but having said that, I’m not planning to do it next year either (but no real reason for that). Otherwise, just the general poor weather and subsequent lack of just getting out on the bike.
I continue to enjoy the ST1300, so no plans to change that, but we did buy a Jap Import E350 Merc this year and that’s a nice drive. Otherwise, same ol’, same ol’ and more of the same expected for 2017.
This year saw the 90th Anniversary of the Maori Tennis Tournament …which didn’t mean a lot to me, but it did mean that I had to ride to Hamilton, then go riding around the Waikato for a couple of days, then ride back …so, as usual, I was really excited that Ann had to go to the Maori tennis tournament!
Our adventure commenced on Boxing Day with a short hop to Hawera, Ann taking the car because she was hitching a ride from there, then bringing some Moko’s back after the tourney. That was fairly bland riding up SH’s 1 & 3 amidst hordes of traffic, encountering plenty of bikers returning from the Cemetery Circuit Races as I approached Whanganui, where we paused for visits before carrying on. I did extend the trip slightly by diverting at Sanson to cross to Halcombe then rejoin SH3 via Makirikiri Rd. (298Km done)
The 27th saw us on the road before 0920 and I had 3 bars on the gauge so didn’t bother filling until Urenui. I might have been able to get to Te Kuiti, but that would have severely restricted any potential fang through the Awakino Gorge …so that was that!
I was just puttering along, did pause to put the wets on at Inglewood, then stop for the fuel, so as I climbed the hill into Mokau, passing a few cars for the third time, the phone went with Ann advising that they were stopping for whitebait fritters …so I had to stop to be sociable and settled for a coffee. Forty minutes later, (1135) we pulled back into the traffic and I had a pretty good run through the gorge, averaging 95kph despite the traffic, and was up to 97 by the time I got to Te Kuiti, at which point I decided to have a play.
My diversion involved retracing some of the ride Topher took uson last year, making my way across to Putaruru via Rangitoto and Barber Rds, then taking Otewa Rd down to the Tauraroa Valley, onto Maimiihi and Mangatutu Rds up to Wharepuhunga Rd, but instead of turning left, I turned right to try Ngaroma Rd and finally Wairehi Rd to get back to one of our favoured routes along Waipapa Rd. I wasn’t finished yet but! Instead of heading over to Kihikihi, I carried on to Arapuni Rd (by Pukeatua), crossed the Arapuni Dam, then missed my turn onto Horahora Rd, so ended up in Putaruru.
That put me back in holiday traffic and I figured I’d had enough so just headed up SH1, made an appearance at the tennis, then retired to our hotel and finished the day with dinner at the casino. (425km for the day)
I was up at 0700 on Day 3 expecting to go for a ride with mates, but those plans changed due to forecast drizzle, so I opted to still go for a ride to revisit some roads I hadn’t done for a while.
I checked the tyres and filled, then got on the road at 0910 and headed out towards Raglan because that is a nice road that would take me to Te Uku and the southern end of Highway 22. I haven’t done 22 since mid-2011 and figured it was time to check it out again. The expected drizzle had pretty much cleared, but the roads were still wet so between that and the traffic, I was riding at a very relaxed pace with the average at about 80kph when I got to Te Uku and staying at that until about half way up when the Sena battery went flat and I had to stop to attach apower-pach. After that the road opens up bit and gets a bit quicker, although the slick patches are far worse on the northern half.
By 1100 I had transitioned from Tuakau to Pokeno and was joining the masses out of Auckland heading for Coromandel via SH2. That part of SH2 is just a 90kph limit with continuous double-yellows and the traffic was bumper-to-bumper doing 60. In recent years the traffic in Wellington and the lower North Island has become very ‘Biker-Friendly’ whereby in these conditions, the majority of vehicles move well left and if they spot you coming in their mirrors, they attempt to make even more room for bikes to pass. Not these pricks!!! They tended to sit nearer the centreline and if they spotted you, tended to ease right rather than make room. I couldn’t help wonder if the bikers in and around Auckland tend to be arrogant numpties who think they own the road, carve up the traffic and don’t wave to acknowledge those drivers that make room for them, …or if the Dorkland drivers are just a bunch of self-centred, ignorant pricks who don’t want to let anyone else make better progress than themselves? (Probably a bit of both)
Anyway, I didn’t have to endure for too long as I was soon pulling onto Miranda Rd and that was virtually empty …and that raised another question. Maybe half (or more) of the traffic was heading for Tauranga, but with only 1-2km difference between Mangatawhiri and Kopu on SH2, or the way I went, why wasn’t more traffic taking the empty alternative?? …and apart from saving me time, there was nothing special about Miranda Rd.
I was soon across the Kopu Bridge and onto SH25A. The only time I have ever ridden that road was on the 2009 Grand Challenge and I recall it as being ‘quite nice’. Well…all I can say is 25A and 25 are dream roads!! They are curly, have an excellent, clean surface and the lanes are quite wide (for a curly road), so one can focus their ride on good lines, with not having to scan and avoid crap on the road, or a crappy surface, that combined with the wide lanes give one plenty of latitude to hold a pace close to the speed limit. So even though I was encountering and passing clumps of traffic, I still managed to average 80kph across 25A. Another odd thing was that I passed a couple of sprotties. Now I might expect a cruiser, or perhaps a two-up cruiser to be sitting in the queue of traffic, …but a sports bike??!!
Heading south through Whangamata then on to Waihi was more of the same. Short bursts of delicious fang, interspersed with making progress through clumps of traffic, but all I can say is, “Sweeeeet!!” and “a big well done to the Ride Forever crowd that focused on making this road safe for bikers”. They do that with crappy signs about staying focused or taking breaks, but they concentrated on the surface.
*Sigh*….all too soon I was in Waihi and called in to ‘The Legend’ Murray’s place, but alas they were out so I continued back through the Karangahake Gorge to Paeroa, down 26 to Tirohia, across Tahuna Rd and back on 26 at Morrinsville and back to make an appearance at the tennis in Hamilton. There was a social on that night and that was that. (362Km for the day)
Thursday was an 0730 rise to get ready, pack, check the tyres, fill at BP to accumulate some discount, then get over to Mobil Hillcrest to meet up with Topher and whoever else would be there, which turned out to be two of his sons and Goose.
This ride was a reverse of some of what I’d done the day before, but with some new roads (for me) thrown in, so we started out to Morrinsville, but halfway up Tahuna Rd we diverted onto Quine Rd, then up 27 to Mangatarata, across 2 for a bit then down through Okaeria, Taniwha and Waiterimu, before heading back up Lake Waikare and through Te Kauwhata to Rangiriri for a coffee and a pie. I tried the pie, having been touted as Waikato’s best …well I’m sorry to say it looked very nice, but it was a bit dry for me and our local Khandallah Parson’s Café makes a PepperSteak pie to die for …so I won’t bother with another Rangiriri offering.
From here we crossed the river but took more ‘new-for-me’ roads by crossing to Highway 22 via Glen Murray Rd, down Rotongaro Rd, then across Hetherington Rd. These were all very nice and in good condition and the bottom half of H22 was easier riding in the dry than it was going up in the wet the day before. Heading back to Hamilton on the Raglan road had more traffic than the day before and would have been better solo, but just to top off the day, about halfway in and just after midday, we encountered a Police Checkpoint on the top of a hill, complete with booze bus. They didn’t actually test us, but it says a lot for the locals if there is a need for this at that time of day …or the local police don’t have enough to occupy themselves and must have filled their quotas for the traffic violations??
We finished the day with a snack at Topher’s, I made another appearance at the tennis, then we went out for dinner (262Km for the day)
It was now time to return home so I had another 0730 rise to scrub and pack before leaving Ann. I needed to get back to the office so a relatively direct route was required and in the end I decided to do the Waikato Expressway to Karapiro, down Horahora Rd to Puketutura and continue on Old Taupo Rd to Tokoroa, on to Whakamaru, down the Western Lake, over to the Para’s and on to Welly. It was generally a downhill run so I thought to make it interesting, and help to ride within the ‘Holiday constraints’, I’d try to do it on one tank (about 550’ish Km).
The tyres needed a bit of air and I only needed half a tank from the day before, so no AA Rewards this time, and I was on my way. I was generally just sitting in the traffic (with a little overtaking) down SH1, then sitting on the tolerance through the relatively deserted minor roads and it all went pretty smoothly. It’s quite intriguing when one is wanting to have a bit of a fang to enjoy a road, but having to avoid using the wrist out of the corners and just maintain the pace …and I wasn’t that good at it at times because every now and then the economy did drop off a little, but I managed to maintain a 95kph average down to Levin. Luckily Nth to Sth on the Para’s is easy on the throttle but I probably didn’t use quite enough constraint because I was already down to two bars when I turned at Sanson. That left a little doubt as to whether I would make Wellington on the tank and in the end, the fact that Levin has the cheapest fuel around, had me stopping there. As it turned out, I put 23 litres in and with generally only being able to put up to 25 litres in my so called 29 litre tank, I suppose it was a good call.
In the end, I got back to the office at just after 1500, did my jobs, got home around 1800, unpacked and waited for Ann. …and prepared myself for the onslaught of rugrats which would disturb my peaceful existence for the next couple of weeks.
I did a few Km (probably 1800+)
Top Speed: varied from day to day
Moving Average: varied from day to day
Overall Average: was slower than the moving average
Temp was between 13 & 26, so the vents in the jacket did get opened.
Rating for the ride: it was rather pleasant.
Things have been pretty busy lately, both at work and on the biking front, doing prep work for this year’s Nth Island 1600 in October. My big job in that area right now has been fine-tuning a route, then preparing the Rider’s Guide, which was all but done except for the sample checkpoint photos, (although it did have streetview photos in there for now)… So a plan evolved.
I decided to have a big weekend away, riding both the NI1600 and the NI800 back to back to get all the photos in one hit. The plan was to leave home at about 0800 on the Friday morning, get to Turangi by 1130, then continue straight into one ride (thinking that it might be best to do the 800 first), have a sleep overnight, then start the 1600 and continue straight home Sunday. That would be 1100+ Friday and 1900+ Saturday-Sunday ….but alas the best laid plans of mice and men!?
The weather for Friday was looking like crap, so the plan altered and I dropped the 800 and worked Friday, but would leave home at 0800 Saturday morning and go straight into the 1600. Then the plan evolved further as it occurred to me that, “Who (in their right mind) would have ever done a continuous return trip the full length of the North Island?” (that’s about 1100km each way). Steve and I did Cape Reinga to Wellington in 12 hours on the 2009 Southern Cross, so this would just be the next step!?
I’ve never been a Boy Scout, but I packed a bag with overnight gear anyway and hit the road just before 0800 with several options. a) to complete the NI1600 within 24 hours, which would get me all the CP pix and free me up to be a volunteer in October. b) ride from Wellington to Cape Reinga in back in one hit. …Oh yes, and did I mention that the route would include a scoot around the Kawhia Harbour! …just for good measure!
Sedate and easy was the plan ….but the best laid plans of mice and men!?
I hit the Plimmerton roundabout, transitioning from 50-60 kph to 100kph in a wonderful state of lean, then cruised up the two lanes within the allowable limits, passing a few cars and trucks as I passed Whenuatapu, where I noted a car and ute in front of me and some bogan in a big Holden or Ford, gaining on my rear. I figured I didn’t want him passing me and it would be quite good to get by the other two before Pukerua Bay and then the 80kph zone, so I tweaked it a bit.
I hauled in the ute as we hit the single lane but he left me plenty of room, so I slid past, then the same thing happened with the car ….and then the bogan turned his lovely array of lights on!!! FFS! Talk about shit Trev! …well, not really …I just had that big sinking feeling and considered what a dickhead I was. *Sigh*
…Apparently I hit 117kph and a quick bit of mental arithmetic figured that was worth about 35 points, on top of the 55 I was already sitting on. Hmmm…90 points and my licence was hanging by a thread. The man asked if the bike was mine, had my licence and was on the phone or radio or whatever, but I was still plugged up and helmeted so I couldn’t really hear what was going on, then he returned the licence, made some comment about obviously being experienced on the big truck and gave me a warning about being more considerate to the lesser mortals stuck in their cars!!!!!????? Well bugger me! I was gob-smacked! I can only assume that he had followed me for a bit, observing the generally sedate mode, then the unconventional but legal passing manoeuvers …and he was a senior man and not a young wannabe in search of a good quota?
So I got off …but I did lose about 50 places in the queue! And so my quest resumed.
I took the most sedate and easy riding route up SH1, arriving in Turangi at 1130 and because the bike was only down one bar when I left home, I still had three bars to go, so decided to continue to Taumarunui to fill on BP98 and get a discount. More easy riding and I activated the Glympse at Taumarunui, sending it to Hitcher, James and Ann (I didn’t have Mike’s number).
More easy riding and I was pulling into Te Kuiti BP Truckstop to take the first CP pic, and now my ride was going to be fun, once I turned off to go past Waitomo. And so it was. I had a great time as I made my way past Te Anga to my next stop, which was the Kinohaku Hall at the start of the Kawhia Harbour. Pic taken, relief sought, snack snacked and water gulped and I continued. …and it was marvelous, even if I did encounter more than my fair share of March Roadworks.
In no time at all I was around the harbour, heading in toward Otorohanga, then onto SH39, through Ngaruawahia and rejoining SH1 at Rangiriri for the trudge up the Auckland motorway to my next stop at BP Orewa.
This has been timed to be a manned CP and will pull the ride away from the toll road, and according to my research, it was time to don the wets. Because of grabbing the extra 70 km to Taumaranui on the last fuel stop, I also didn’t need to fill so cruised on to Wellsford and that would make it an easy haul to Kaitaia. So another stop at Wellsford and I tried to reset the Glympse for another 4 hour stint but it wouldn’t oblige, so that was that. …and it was still dry …and I was cooking a bit, but I didn’t take the skivvy off because it would be night soon and get cold …yeah right!
So on-on through Whangarei, Kawakawa, onto SH10 and up to the next CP at BP Kaeo. It was supposed to be dark by now, but I hadn’t accounted for the differential between Wellington and Northland, or the 1½ Hrs earlier than normal start, so it was dull, but still in dusk mode. …and although I’d encountered sporadic bursts of precipitation, it still wasn’t raining …suited me!
Photo taken and more snacking etc, and I was on my way again. I’d been this way at about midnight on the 2007 GC, albeit in the other direction, and it was delightful to note that at times I was riding along the coast, although it was getting a bit dark to see at this time and I was soon heading north from Awanui on SH1 again.
It was around this time that I straight-lined as I approached a massive wet slick section that encompassed the full width of the road and was about 10-15mtrs long. Holy Shit, I thought, as the front wheel, attired with brand new T30 did a shimmy on me! ..and I was just starting to like these tyres!
The rear has been on for a few thousand Km, but the front was just fitted a couple of weeks ago and I shit myself on the first corner when it felt like the rear was going to step out. That was most disconcerting and it took a bit before I realized that the contour on the front was more vee-shaped than the Z8’s I’ve been running and that was resulting in the bike being keener to drop into the corners. I’m used to that now, but to feel the front do a left-right slide as I’m dead-vertical and heading dead-straight was NOT a nice feeling! …especially when the roads I’m riding are littered with exceptionally wide sections of slick wet tar!
Oh well, get over it and focus on the job in hand. It was now dark, more wet than dry and I had a new problem as well. The glare from the road signs was so bad that I was often having to dip my lights …for bloody road signs!
The upside being, one generally couldn’t see the slicks!
A bit over an hour on SH1 and I was pulling onto the carpark at the ‘end of the road’. I half-pie (or should that be ½п) expected to see the odd freedom-camper parked up there, but it was totally deserted, and totally black with not a single light anywhere. That made it marginal to get a photo of the archway and there wasn’t even a light in the dunnys, but fortunately I carry a couple of LED torches, so I didn’t have any issues seeking relief …and I was over halfway (825 into the 1633km and 1150+ km total …and about 11hours into the 1600 and 14.5hrs all up on the bike)…and I was heading for Kaitaia.
It still wasn’t raining badly but the weather was getting worse so more care was required and the pace reduced.
I got to Kaitaia Mobil, filled, took the CP photo, fluffed around cleaning the visor etc and set out for the Mangamuka Gorge. It’s been a few years and it was just dry enough to enjoy a reasonably spirited pace and then I was into uncharted territory as I turned off from Kaikohe to take the road via Twin Bridges and the next CP. But the combination of weather, roads and marginal vision in the conditions had my average speed closer to 90 than 100 kph. Not a problem though as long as one keeps progressing at a steady pace.
When I departed from Wellington in the morning, the GPS ETA (for Turangi) was 0645 (plus stops), but I was shaving more time off the ETA than I was expending at the stops, so by the time I got to Orewa, the ETA was down to 0604, however, I was now back to about 0640 and gradually losing, or barely holding time on the road. This was compounded by the combination of requiring more time at the stops to stave off the effects of fatigue (thanks to the 3½ hrs tacked on to the start) and the weather requiring more time spent on visor etc.
This is just a fact of life that one lives with in the world of Distance Riding, and the key is not to get silly and try to make the time up. After all, I had 24 hours to do the 1600, so time wasn’t an issue …and I just plodded on.
Twin Bridges proved to be another lightless black, damp hole but I managed a pic and made my way back to SH1 just south of Whangarei, then back down to Wellsford, where I took the turn towards Hellensville, but turned onto Peak Rd to cut down to the next CP at Z Kumeu. After that it was more motorway riding to the last CP and fuelstop at BP Bombay before hitting the last 280km for the 1600.
By the time I left there, my ETA was out to 0748 and I determined that I was back to easy riding and would try to get to Turangi by 0730, for a 20 hour time on the 1000miler. This did two things because the fatigue was getting worse. It dragged me back into ‘the zone’ whereby one’s heightened focus helps stave off the effects of fatigue, and setting and monitoring the goal and progress also kept the brain occupied and more alert.
The weather was much drier through here as well so my motorway scoot back to Rangiriri was steady, the fang down Te Ohaki and Hakarimata Rds was rapid, then the trek back down SH39, over to Te Awamutu and onto Kihikihi was steady. More steady through Waipapa Rd to Whakamaru and it was getting lighter and quicker down the Western Lake road and voila, I was back at Z Turangi by 0730 to photograph the odo and the bike in front of the sign.
Decision Time: I had now done about 1967km in 23½ hours. I was buggered. Would I stop or continue?
Being a drongo from wayback, I had a goal and I knew I could do it …and I could be home before lunch. I wouldn’t need gas until Bulls, but my new plan was for longer and more frequent stops, so the ride would now become a series of short hops, with decisions made on the fly.
It was still only 13̊, so the first plan was to stop at Waiouru to remove the wets, then Taihape for fuel.
The skies were clear by Waiouru, but the temp was only up to 14°, the heated grips were still on, so I continued and the plan changed to remove the wets at Taihape.
By Taihape the temp was still down and I didn’t need gas, …and I felt OK so I shifted the stop to Hunterville.
Hunterville came and went and the plan was now a definite fuel etc stop at BP Bulls. …and I pulled in there pretty shattered.
I took plenty of time filling then peeling the wets off, snacking, drinking and finally, struggling to throw the leg back over because my rear inner thighs were feeling the effects of 26 hours on the seat …but otherwise I actually felt pretty good as I seemed to be bouncing into a second wind.
…so from here on in it was easy going and I felt quite alert. This was probably thanks to the traffic and having plenty to occupy one’s mind doing the normal stuff and by 1132 I was hauling my sorry arse up the drive!
I put the bike away in the garage, unpacked and dragged myself up the steps to collapse on the couch. …and that was my day pretty much done.
I had a snack to accompany the most delicious nespresso coffee, exhaled and felt pretty smug. I’d just ridden to Cape Reinga in back, with the Kawhia Harbour thrown in for good measure. I’d only done 2267km and it had taken me 27.5hrs …but I’d just ridden from one end of the island to the other…and back! …and I’d just completed my 2nd 1000 miler for the year! …and my 10th in total! I had a moving time of 25:15 for a moving average of 90kph and an overall average of 82kph. The top speed was a little higher than expected …but that must have been a blip, or an aberration because the GPS has been playing up lately!!??
Bugger me! I relaxed, dozed a little, watched TV and finally went to bed at 2130 to watch some more TV, then awoke out of a coma at 0300 to turn the TV off, then got wrenched out of a coma at 0600 to turn the alarm off, then drifted out of the slumber at 0735. …and I still felt pretty good but the worst part was …now I couldn’t tell anybody until after the NI1600 in October …except of course a few non-bikey type mates and family that wouldn’t have a clue and would just think I’m a dumb bastard anyway!
Whilst reveling in my smugness, I recalled that while riding in the middle of the night…??....Ok, at about 3 in the morning, as I was frolicking through the drizzle, carefully picking my lines through the abundance of slick, deadly macadam which was conspiring with the blinding road signs to try to put me on my arse, a question randomly popped into my mind. “What the hell are you doing this for?” As quick as a flash, certainly in no more than half a heartbeat and perhaps as quick as a quarter of a wrist pulse, the answer manifested, “Because no one else, or not many if any will have!” There was probably another retort that got lost in translation or buried under the myriad of activity being dealt with, that would have gone something like, “But why would they want to!!??”
A day or two later when talking to a mate, he asked, “Would you do it again?” and once again, the answer just slipped off the tongue, “Umm…Yeah….but in good weather as I’d like to do it in under 24hours!!”
Bugger Me! Us Distance Rider bikers are a sorry arsed lot!
This year was my 11th MDA run after missing the 2014 ride …and it still hasn’t lost its charm of being a great ride while serving a great cause to see some joy brought to the lives of some children afflicted with Muscular Dystrophy.
This year my involvement included sorting a budget and coming up with a ride plan, which was to be very different from all the other years I have been attending.
Last year would have been the worst (hardest) year because we had 5 schools to visit through the Wai’rapa on the Friday before provisioning and preparing a bbq for the Hawkes Bay children that evening, then we had 8 visits through Taranaki and Whanganui on the Sunday so didn’t get home until about 6pm.
This year we only had one school to visit on Friday and we didn’t have to work the Friday evening as it was catered for us, then on the Saturday we had lost out little man north of Taupo, but we had 10 visits to make on the Sunday. This really opened up the route options so Route 52 from Masterton to Waipuk’ instantly entered the mix and not having to travel the Western Access road was a relief because having moved the run forward a week, we would now conflict with the Round Taupo Bike Race, so two really easy days but we would be very loaded up on the Sunday.
Several options were considered and in the end we settled on a couple of weather-dependant choices that could be made on the day …and Friday was looking dismal! Sheesh, the end of November (a few days before summer), it was only 14° and looking decidedly gloomy over the Rimutakas, so I rolled out of Brown Owl with the thermal liner still in my jacket and my wets on. By Featherston it was looking clear, the temp was up a few degrees, so the wet jacket came off, then at Carterton with the temp still rising the liner came out.
At this point it was time for the ‘D’ on route and with it looking clagged-in to the west and clear to the east, Route 52 was the option of choice, so after pausing in Carterton to re-register the bike, then regrouping with the others at the fuel stop in Masterton, I led out through Te Ore Ore and Alfredton to Pongaroa, where we had a lunch stop. …and what a big burger that was!
From there we headed up to the Weber turnoff, then over to Porongahau and that bit of road is a bit marginal at the moment with a couple of sections where there are cracks in the road and damn, they have got weeds growing in them!! Once one is past Wimbledon the road does get wider and smoother for an easier pace and a couple refuelled in Waipuk’, but I wasn’t finished with them yet, we turned off at Waipawa to head for another break at the Patangata Tavern before finishing the ride with a jaunt across Middle Rd, then over to Bayview where we were staying the night. The temp leapt up to 24° through here so I even had to open the vents on my jacket.
We arrived at Bayview at 1630, settled in, showered up, chatted for a bit before kitting-up in Santa outfits, or in my case, my Pix-E cape and we were taken for a bus ride so that we could arrive back at the hall for Santa to make a grand entrance. That all went well and that was day 1.
I awoke pretty early and eventually arose at 0530 to what was shaping to be a cracker of a day in Hawkes Bay. I scrubbed up, put air in the tyres, fuelled, packed up and we had breakfast at 0700 for an 0800 start. We’d opted for the Gentle Annie route but a couple of the guys and the car took the Napier-Taupo option (which, according to MapSource, should have been about an hour quicker). Tiny from HB led us over to Omahu via Puketapu, then another couple of HB Ulys joined us there, but they were on cruisers and Trev led out at a reasonably brisk pace, so they peeled off once it started to get curly.
Once we started to climb, I had the GoPro set up and I captured the ride through the middle part where the temp dropped from 18° to 14° and I was really feeling the cold, but it wasn’t until we arrived in Waiouru for a fuel stop for Woody that I realised the vents were still open on my jacket from the day before …what a dickhead! At this point we were running 1¼hrs ahead of the predicted MapSource time so we continued on to Ohakune to have a refreshment stop.
About half an hour later we continued to Taumarunui where we filled, made our visit, relaxed for lunch, then continued up SH4. We got a bit of a fright through here when a cop going the other way turned his lights on after just passing us and we might have been 1 or 2 km over the limit. That pushed the heartrate up a bit, as we reviewed our options …19km to our turn-off – nah, …take the Ohura road – nah, take our medicine - *Sigh*!! But he never turned and then Trev advised that his detector device hadn’t activated!! That turned out to be pretty bad timing as he must have received an emergency call right as he passed us!
We soon took Ramaroa Rd for Aria and I had a blast through there, but Totoro Rd was as bad as it always seems to be, and then we were poised to enjoy the Awakino gorge…when it pissed down. Fortunately I had donned my wets at Taumarunui so I limped on at a nanny pace until about half-way through the rain eased so I was riding on a steamy, wet road, then at about three-quarters the road became more dry than wet. All in all it must have been one of the slowest transitions I’ve made through that gorge.
Awakino was time for another refreshment stop after which we continued to Urenui for more fuel for the tiny-tanks and to get supplies for the evening before finishing the day with visits to Waitara and Bell Block, after which we were then welcomed on to the marae before settling down for the night. …and that was day 2 done.
Well almost!! …I was awoken a few times by Mike who was snoring up a storm and I’d left my plugs in the bike.
By 0530 I’d had enough so I got up for a scrub, then go through the motions of tyres, pack etc before brekky at 0730 to get back on the road by 0800. The day was looking dismal and we even had a few dumpings before we left so everyone was fully kitted in wets as we went about our business of 8 visits for the day.
There’s nothing worse than getting on and off the bike in these conditions and sure enough, it transpired that after one of the visits I didn’t do my gear up properly and the moisture got in. Bugger!
We ended up making the visits in a real mix of conditions, but made quite good progress so we had time for a fuel and snack stop at BP Whanganui before our two visits there and the last one in Palmy, where we got dumped on big time before our work for the day was complete. We just had to make our way home and as one would expect, having left Palmy fully kitted, by the time I got to Opiki it was clear, by Levin it was nice and by Otaki I was starting to overheat …but I wasn’t stopping because I had an ETA of 1600 and I just wanted to get home.
The traffic from Shannon on got thicker and thicker with big queues at several places where I was glad I was on the bike and could just scoot along the line of cars. In the end I got home at 1603, satisfied that we had done a good job of bringing some joy to otherwise less than fortunate lives, satisfied that I’d enjoyed a bloody good ride and enjoyed a few jolly good fangs, and satisfied that that was pretty much me done for the year as far as organising rides etc was concerned.
I’m looking forward to a break.
Well that was another nice wee fang!
Apparently I have a problem when it comes to riding and creating routes for longer rides ….I like corners!
After all, let’s face it, I’m not one to throw my arse around or hang off the seat, but the subtle shifting of weight that occurs whilst negotiating a delicious string of lefts and rights does wonders to alleviate the aching-numb-bum that manifests when sitting for hour after hour in the saddle on a boring, straight state highway.
Anyway, I don’t know how it happened but after coming up with a route for this year’s 1KC (Sth) ages ago, I happened to revisit the route in MapSource a month or two back and, for some reason I can’t fathom, I happened to look at the anticipated duration of the ride and had one of those ‘Holy Shit’ moments! Mr MapSoruce was telling me that the ride was going to take 15 hours!
Of course, we all know that Mr MapSource is rather conservative when it comes to these things, but 15 hours!? “Hell”, I thought so grabbed the unit, dumped the route into it and doublechecked, a tad under 14 hours …bugger me, that wouldn’t do so I shared my discovery with the (NZDR) boys. I agreed to come up with a more subdued variant, but in the discussion, it also came to light that this was the 10th one thousand Km ride out of Wellington, so we figured, ‘what the hell, let’s keep the curly route and offer it to hard-arses as a treat …and call it the Super Thou. And so it was we came to offer an extension that didn’t add Km, just more corners.
…and yesterday we got to do it.
I set the alarm for 0500, but awoke at 0300, lay there, turned this way and that trying to doze and eventually turned the TV on to watch a programme I’d recorded and eventually got up at 0445 to scrub and get ready. The bike and car were already packed so we were gone by 0530 to get to Caltex Rimutaka at 0600 to set-up …and there were already riders waiting.
I gassed up, helped Ann sort the table and chair and lay out all the guff and after taking a few pix and everything looked under control, I advised that I’d get on the road, so I could get back as soon as possible to help with the check-ins on return, with a loose plan to do a sub-13 hour ride in ‘GC mode’.
And so it was that I embarked on my adventure at 0615 with the GPS registering an ETA back in Wellington of 1939. The weather was dry, but a coolish 11°, it was light but the sun was yet to rise and I could expect a good dose of sunstrike as I progressed over the Rimutakas and into the Wai’rapa. At last, I was into it and with the Rimutakas as our doorstep, I got to warm-up with a few corners …..sweet.
With little traffic and being on a mission, I had shaved a few minutes off the ETA by Featherston, a few more by Masterton, and then they began to tumble. I don’t think I’ve been out to Castlepoint for a couple of years but it is a nice road and I seemed to be in a good groove …that is, until I passed 30kph and roadwork sings as I approached a wee rise. I buttoned off to let the speed bleed off as I approached the crest, out of the shad and into the sunstrike, so I couldn’t see much apart from that the road was swinging to the right and before I could identify where the works and any grit was, both wheels were drifting left. It was one of those heart-stopping moments that is over before one has had time to make more than an insipient correction, and although one doesn’t tend to ease off at all, it was a good wake-up cool to be on guard and take more care.
I didn’t know if I was the first to leave the start at Caltex, or what time the Masterton crew were getting on the road, so I was constantly waiting and expecting to see bikes coming at me for the last 27 Km into Castlepoint, but when I pulled into the carpark for the first checkpoint pic, I knew I must be in the lead, but with turning onto Te Ore Ore Rd in Masterton at 0658, I figured there wouldn’t be much in it and half-pie expected riders to roll in as I took my pics, had a snack, relieved myself and generally wasted 4 minutes before turning for Riversdale.
Yay, I now had the sun behind me and within a Km or two I had bikes coming at me so the field were in hot pursuit, although maybe only a dozen or so passed by on the way to Langdale Rd. Much of this road is a narrow lane and once again I found myself drifting on grit I failed to see (and I found out after the ride that another ST rider managed to wash-out the front through here, doing a bit of cosmetic damage). All good though and I was soon pulling up at the Riversdale store, 180Km done in 1:55, it was 0910 and the gents enjoying a coffee and a chat at the store were probably wondering why the idiot that just turned up, hopped off his bike, grabbed his camera, took a photo and was gone again within a minute. They’d be more perplexed if they were still there in the next 20-30 minutes!
Heading out and it was hard to tell if Ken (the next rider behind me) had made up any time or not, but he had certainly made some time on his Masterton compatriots and all credit to him, I was riding briskly on an ST but he was on a cruiser!
More care, steady, curly riding and I was soon turning back onto the Masterton-Castlepoint Rd at Blairlogie and shortly after, I was surprised to see two riders heading out as that made them 120+Km and an hour and a quarter plus behind, already. From there, the road is a bit more open and flowy and as I turned onto Bideford Rd, I figured I would now have about a 10 minute buffer as most if the riders would need fuel before embarking on Route 52, but my first fuel stop wasn’t scheduled until Woodville. At this point, the weather to the north was looking dark and bleak.
The bottom end of Route 52 has a few sections where the trees prevent any sunlight from getting on the road and hence they are normally damp and green, so care is required, but it is one of those roads that one always needs to expect the unexpected, be it grit, slumping, damp green ooze on the centre hump, pine needles or other foliage littered in abundance, wandering sheep, rogue sheep, crazy sheep …or for me on this occasion, all of the above (except for the rogue and crazy sheep) plus a row of ducks who thought better of their intended crossing (must have mistaken the purr of the ST for a rampant cat)….and a bloody great, huge turkey which finally took to the air after I had diverted to the right lane! Oh yes, and then there was the wet paint! I hate it when an errant line encroaches on the centreline resulting in a twitch and I had a couple of those.
By the time I turned onto Bideford Rd, the ETA was down 40 minutes, to 1900 and after a careful but brisk transition to the next CP at Pongaroa, even though I had encountered squalls and wet roads and even considered stopping to don the wets, I had now shaved an hour off the ETA and the routine this time was, photo, nutbar, water, then put the wets on …and all this time, the whole two minutes of it, the three ladies gossiping outside the Pongaroa shop never missed a beat or even seemed to notice I was there.
Let the fun begin!
I was now heading in to Pahaitua then over the Track to Aokoutere and this part of the Wai’rapa is really wind-wracked. The westerlies seem to get funnelled by the track and they can be intense …and so it was on this occasion. I had turned head-on into a gale force westerly, but fortunately the ST has that big fairing and screen so apart from the bike getting buffeted around, I was relatively comfy. More care was required but!
I made more good progress though and realised it’s been quite some years since I’ve done this road, but it’s actually quite a nice ride. As I approached Pahiatua, I decided on a change to the plan. It’s only about 50km from Pahiatua to Aokoutere and up to Woodville, so I could do that on reserve (the last bar on the gauge) and I still had two bars, although I wasn’t sure how far into the 2nd-last bar I was ….and I needed a pee, so I opted to fuel in Pahiatua as I would still easily make my 2nd fuel stop at Z Waiouru. Shame on me thugh…refuelling an ST at only 358Km, but let’s face it, rolling on out of corners does suck a lot of gas on the 300+Kg machine …and there was that brutal headwind …ok, and the pace was fresh at times!!
So I enjoyed a leisurely 8 minute stop, pumping gas, paying for it, enjoying the relief of a natural break, woofing down a banana and a nut bar, before hitting the Track. At this point the rain was only occasional squalls, although the roads were generally wet and it was hard to say if the Track was taking me into the gloom, or if I was going to just miss it, so I left the wets on. Not that it mattered though because 19 minutes later I had done the 30Km at an average of 93kph, then wasted 2 minutes taking the pic and forcing another banana though the narrow gap in the helmet.
I was now in for a quick 10Km squirt up to SH3 before having to endure a 100Km grind up SH2 to Waipawa. I did get to wave to Palmy crew as they exited the Gorge though, and it was an easily achieved 96kph average, without exceeding the allowable tolerances. I did avoid the main road through Dannevirke though and encountered a huge wet-paint-induced rear wheel twitch as I tried to get around some twat dithering as he exited an intersection! Who needs the monitors to keep one on the straight and narrow!?
Waipawa reached and I was now able to lift the pace (just a little) for the 15 Km to Patangata, have a 1 minute photostop, then enjoy the delight that is Middle Rd. (another treasure that I haven’t done for a year or three), but I did cut it short, taking Mutiny Rd to get on 50A and across to Omahu to embark on the Gentle Annie. At this stage I should have taken off the wets because I did start to cook with the thermal liner still in the cordura jacket, and the wets on when the temp was hitting 20°, but I could be bothered as I expected I’d have to put them back on by Waiouru.
I thought the Gentle Annie was in much better condition than the last time I did it on the 2014 NI1600, but there were a few wet sections that required care to miss the slick patches and I was able to maintain a 94kph average through to the next CP at the double bridges over the Rangitikei River. This stretched into a 3 minute stop as I forced another banana through the slit and sought relief as I admired the view.
It only took 32 minutes for the 52Km to Waiouru for my fuel stop and there were a few 1KC (Nth) riders there as this was a CP for them and the 1KC (Sth) riders as they were all coming down from Turangi and we didn’t want to let them have the opportunity to slip down SH4 and miss the delight that is Fields Track (for some maybe). This point was around 630-660Km for both rides, so I suppose they were near the front of that Field (although no doubt well behind the northern lead rider)
I dithered for 7 minutes gassing, texting, then having a brief chat before moving on. This was a really strange section, because I texted home, advising 1745 as the expected ETA from Waiouru, however I expected to peel a chunk more time off that through Fields Track because the GPS tends to overstate the time through narrow winding roads, but I got a surprise to find myself losing time through Fields Track!!?? I’d forgotten how narrow it gets and how much nicer it is to ride with some other fool leading the way. I picked my way through though at a miserly 88kph avg, paused for 2 minutes at the bridge to get the statutory pic before hitting the final leg of the journey, just 254Km to go, …190Km of it trudging down SH’s 3&1.
It was more dry than wet now and as always, I really enjoyed the final curly gallop down the Para’s, before the steady-as-she-goes, stick-within-the-allowable-limits finish to the day.
At Levin I managed to make a call on the go (thanks to the Sena) to advise Ann I’d be in by 1730, so to wait for me at home and we could go to the Backbencher together ….in the car, as I’d had enough of the bike by this stage. Thanks to wearing the wets for most of the day, my inner thighs were feeling it a bit and I could feel myself getting a bit tight between the shoulders and around the neck, but what a bloody good fang! I contemplated how I’d ridden this ‘hard’ 1,000Km quicker than I normally ride a standard one and how nice it was to ride at a free pace on unmonitored roads, although, thanks to the corners, much of it was done going ‘hard-out’, but still well within the allowable limits!
We got to the BackBencher by 1800, but had to wait until 1845 before the next rider got in and I was surprised to find most of the Super Thou riders coming in before those on the standard offering, although these guys were all seasoned distance riders. It was nice to chat and listen to the tales and finally, the season is over for the NZDR year and I can get my life back. ….briefly before starting work on next year’s routes!
After much planning to produce ‘the half’, it was finally time to ride it. ‘The half’ being the ‘North Island 800’, an NZ Distance Riders offering to ride 800km in 12 hours, which is being run in conjunction with the North Island 1600 24 hour event, although for some reason, I’ve never heard that referred to as ‘the Full’.
The event isn’t scheduled until 08 October, but as one of the organisers, I had decided to ride it early to get the checkpoint photos for the Rider’s Guide, as well as free me up to be a volunteer during the event. As it happened, when discussing upcoming rides with mates Woody and Steve, they wanted to join me as a prep ride for the NI1600, because with the ride to get to Turangi we would be completing about 1150km …and the company was welcome.
I sent them the GPS file in the week leading up and we met up at BP Mana for a 0630 start on Saturday morning, as that meant we would start our 800 ride at about 1000hrs. The weather at the time was a little cool, but fine and at odds with what the forecast was predicting we would encounter.
After checking we had comms, Steve led out with me bringing up the rear and the ride to our first fuel stop at Waiouru was uneventful. We loitered there for 23 minutes, fuelling, putting on wets, snacking and generally fluffing around before hitting the desert road, where we didn’t encounter a lot of rain, but there was a lot of wet tarmac! ….slick, treacherous, tarmac! ….shrouded in a goodly layer of cloud throughout the higher levels.
Care was taken and we got to / departed Turangi just before 1015, pausing at the Oasis in Tokaanu to pick up the key for our night’s accommodation and from that point on, I just wanted to get back for a soak in a hot pool. That only took 8 minutes, so at 1023 we were on the ride proper with an ETA back at Turangi of 2042, which translated to 827 km in 10 hrs 20 minutes (plus stops for fuel and checkpoints)! Hmmm….and this was supposed to be a ride aimed at the uninitiated?!
I’d last used the GPS in a van on the Gold Coast and it wasn’t until I loaded it onto the ST and it asked if I wanted to change back to motorcycle mode, that I realised the settings were off. It hadn’t registered on the ride up to Turangi, but when we were soon shedding minutes from the ETA, I finally realised why the route appeared to be so slow, (and was most relieved that it wouldn’t be as bad as had been indicated).
I was leading now and after more uneventful main highway riding over to and through Taumaranui, at 1128 we were turning onto Ramaroa Rd and into the more funner stuff, or at least a narrower and more technical section. It’s been about three years since I’ve been through here and I thought that after the first few km which are always marginal, the surface seemed pretty good, so even though the 98kph average had dropped to 82kph, we were really peeling minutes from the ETA, so after a 2 minute CP stop at the Aria Cossy Club, by the time we had been out to Piopio and up to our next fuel stop at BP Te Kuiti, our ETA was now down to 2002hrs (8:02pm).
With that buffer and considering it was now 1210, I figured it was time for lunch in the new-beaut BP station, so we wasted a whole 34 minutes fuelling the bikes, then scoffing on pies …after all, it was only a half!
Let the games begin! In 15km we would be turning onto Waitomo Rd and the highlight of the ride ….100+km of corners!
And so it was!
We encountered a few critter through here by way of: very placid young cattle strolling along the road, very large and dozey turkeys strolling onto the road, as well as the odd pheasant and bunny, but generally the road seemed to be in better condition than when I last rode it (in April), with less grit, less slumping and less roadworks, so we were able to settle into a nice steady, semi-brisk pace, averaging 76kph over the 1st 55km to the 2nd CP at Kinohaku Hall at the southernmost end of the Kawhia Harbour. As we turned onto the harbour road and eased into the CP, I stated to the others, “Well chaps, I hate to say it but that had to verge on being pleasurable.” Steve just chortled.
After a 3 minute stop, Steve led out, but it was wetter now and more care was required with us all experiencing the odd twitch. I even had one where both wheels let go and that is always a bit disconcerting and I would often be straight lining across slick patches. On one occasion it was so bad that I found myself on a horid slick area encompassing the whole width of the road through a right hander, as I entered I had a dread feeling then I noted that there was an extremely wide verge that appeared to be in good condition, so I straightened to the verge then took that around the corner. To Woody (behind me) it must have looked like a total brain-fade and bale-out, so when he asked, “You OK?’ I just said, “Yeah, I don’t think I twitched but it felt awful, so I took the outside.”
We still managed to maintain a reasonable pace as we wound our way up the harbour, then inland on SH31 and up SH39 toward Ngaruawahia and beyond. At that point I had to override Kate as she tried to get me onto SH1, but I wanted to scoot up Hakarimata and Te Ohake Rds to Rangiriri and the next CP at Te Kauwhata. That has all changed in the last few months as well, because we didn’t get on to SH1 at all.
A quick pic taken and we were back on our way to the next CP and fuelstop at Mobil Paeroa. Well! It turns out when we gets there that Mobil Paeroa is now Gull Paeroa …and I don’t like putting ethanol in my machine, so after a quick chat, we swapped the CP back to Z Paeroa, then had another cruisy stop of 14 minutes. We were just over halfway through ‘the half’.
It was all pretty easy riding from here, down Old Te Aroha Rd, over the Kaimais to Tauranga, then across to the next CP at Z Awakeri. That wee stint of 181km was done at an average of 98kph as we generally stuck on or within the ‘allowable limits’. It did include the odd big gust coming off the Kaimais, a couple of which did manage to push me over the centre line, although I do tend to sit in the middle of those narrow country roads to give myself plenty of latitude from either side. Then going up the Kaimais and to the gloomy drizzle, the automated signs were set for 60kph, (which is always a disappointment) and out of Tauranga we splurged by taking the toll road past Te Puke, so that’s $2 I’ll never see again!
Saturday night was the change to daylight savings and with the gloomy weather, it was getting dark by 1800hrs, (as opposed when the official ride is done) so by the time we pulled into the Z at 1815 it was getting dark and by the time we rolled out after another lazy stop of 18minutes, it was pitch black.
I seemed to end up back in the lead (again) and two thoughts struck me (apart from only 200km to go)….”Hot pool, hot pool, here I come”, and “bloody hell, I can’t see! …Damn I need the night practice!” It was a drizzly, very black night but!
It didn’t take too long to get into a groove though and we were soon making good progress to the last CP at the junction of Kopuriki Rd and SH38, then out to SH5 and down that to the Taupo bypass and on SH1 to Turangi for a big feed at the pub, average 100kph to arrive at 2039, which was just over 10¼ hrs for the 827km. So I figured if newbs didn’t ride quite as quick but didn’t dither at the stops they’d be fine, because we did stop for lunch after our 0630 start where they wouldn’t need to when starting at 1000…..and in full GC-mode, we’d probably cut it out in a bit over 9 hours?? …and that was with a goodly chunk of wet, slick roads.
After a hearty steak, I finally got back to the unit and had my hot soak, the only problem was, it was so nice and hot that we couldn’t stay in too long, but I did get another one in the morning. For that one, Woody was having a shower and my togs were on the heated towel rail, so I had to find a pair of budgy-smugglers, which apparently are only undies when one can’t see the water, so all was good.
It was another dismal, drizzly day though and the change to daylight savings robbed us of an hour in the motel, so we made our way back to Turangi for breakfast at 1010, then over to the cabins to meet the new owners and introduce ourselves and discuss our needs at 1110, then finally departed for home down SH1 (since it wouldn’t be much fun on any roads) at 1214.
We stopped in Bulls for lunch at 1400, getting on the road again at 1449, stopped in Otaki for gas and I finally got home at 1651.
We had the annual mid-winter karting extravaganza last weekend and as usual, it was a blast.
As per usual, we raced at the Nth City Indoor Raceway in Elsdon, which isn’t the flashest venue with the latest karts, but it does provide a competitive drive with lots of slip-sliding, passing and is a real hoot.
We ended up with 10 combatants (5 teams) on an extremely slippery track thanks to a kart shitting itself within the last week and depositing the contents of its crankcase on the track.
That changed the whole game as it was a fine line between too fast and spinning out, or too slow with no braking or steerage (it seemed that a bit of power was required to get the arse out and the nose around). It also meant there were very few passing opportunities…unless the likes of Dave Kerr would pull aside and grin one through!!! He must have been sick because I assumed he was setting me up….but he wasn’t ….but the silly prick let Rick past as well!! (and they ended up winning).
Four of us had Senas so there was a little chatter ….although the only noticeable thing was ChrisD squealing like a stuck pig when somebody passed him under yellow or red (probably Dave) and it was probably handy if one had their partner on the line (like Chris and Trev) as one could then get updates and urges ….like I’m sure I passed Rick twice but they still beat us!! ….Not that I’m a sore loser or anything ….I’ll rest easy that our 22second deficiency was due to Warwick requesting a driver change and forgetting to put his helmet back on and costing us in the region of 35 secs!! …not that me spinning out (for no reason at all) on my 2nd lap cost us anything. In fact I must commend Rick as he (the prick) bounced back from me passing him late on the back straight to scoot through on the inside through the sweeper!!! …Bastard!
What really took the cake though, and proved what a true gentleman he is, was when Rick was being pushed hard, he clipped the tyres and spun out blocking the lane, he actually pulled into the layby he had created to let us pass!!?? I don’t know about me, but I’m absolutely certain that, under the same circumstances, Dave K would have behaved like a true arsehole and just sat there until the marshall flipped him!?
Come the end of 80 laps, Warwick & I ended up 2nd, behind Gerard & Rick, so we obviously lucked-in with the kart we ended up in as I ended up clocking the fastest lap in the last segment when I ended up with a clear run.
Talking to the staff afterwards, the place went into liquidation about a month ago so the young chap that briefed us, who was a worker there, bought it and changed the name. He started with only four karts, but has subsequently bought engines from the now defunct Revolution at Wingate and they seem to be getting it back together. They were both disappointed and impressed that there were no penalties issued under the circumstances ….which just proves how sick DaveK must have been?
All in all, another pleasant outing ….but it would have been betterer with a few more bods. 10 would be the minimum and we did ask if we should combat individually, but they didn’t have 10 working karts. Bring it on for next year.
This blog is in two parts. The first was written but not posted in December 2014.
Pt 1 - Virgin Sucks!
We went to the Gold Coast the other week and booked via Air New Zealand but ended up flying on Virgin Airlines....partners sharing and all that jazz.
The trip started out as a weekend in Brisbane to see the Lion King, but it seemed like a waste to go all that way for two days so we made it a week on the GC and were joined by one of Ann's cousies and a tennis mate.
We didn't know we were flying Virgin until we tried to check our bags and we were sent down the line but the trip over wasn't too bad, apart from being sent to belt 3 for our bags, while they were being loaded onto belt 6 or 8, or whatever, but it was coming back that was a pain in the arse!
After a pleasant week we escaped from Broadbeach just before the electrical storms hit, but they caught us up in Brissy as we we waiting at the gate to board the aircraft. We boarded on time and what do you know, as soon as everyone was onboard, the pricks announced that we would have a 20-30 minute delay because the separation between landings and take-offs had to be extended due to the storm......FFS, why couldn't the pricks have left us in the comfort of the departure lounge!!??.....and then the delay turned into 55 minutes!! (To be fair, that would probably have been the same on any airline)
The delay really pissed me off though, because we were crammed into the seats. Ann has a Koru Membership and one of the benefits enjoyed by that is priority seating at the front of the aircraft.....we were seated in row 23 of 30! Not really a biggy, but those memberships aren't cheap, so it was annoying. Ann and I aren't exactly the slim, trim and fit specimens we were a year or two back, but we still fit comfortably into an airline seat and at 180cm, I'm not exactly overly tall, but as I said, we felt like sardines because the seat in front of me appeared to be partially reclined and the aisle seat next to me was occupied by a 160Kg behemoth!!
The steward didn't seem to notice the sag in the lady's seat prior to take-off, but when he asked her to strighten up on the descent, it wouldn't budge and I couldn't hellp passing a remark to the effect that, "so the aircraft is f...d after all!" The annoyance for me was the lack of consistency. What was he looking at prior to take-off?
As for my matey in the aisle seat, he needed an extension belt to strap in and we couldn't swing the armrest down, consequently I was cocked over toward Ann with a kink in my back and I eventually got a sore arse. 'Luck of the draw' I guess, but what made me spew was that there was a young girl across the aisle and one row up who had a spare seat next to her!!! Once again, the friggin' steward was standing there with extension belts in his hand when we settled into our seats, but he had to be asked for one....and it obiously never occurred to him that the big fella next to me warranted a pair of seats!....useless prick.
So as it turned out, the flight was an endurance event .....and then there was the landing! Holy shit, I happened to be looking out the window on the approach as we swooped in on the runway and he didn't appear to flare out to wash off pace...or apply any power to ease the touchdown. Consequently, the pilot drove it into the deck with a big crunch and a wicked shimmy. I've been on a lot of flights in my time, both commercial and Air Force, in all sorts of conditions and that had to be the hardest slam that I've experienced!!
I was a bit peeved and thought about lodging a complaint, but the week has been rather busy and it all soon slipped from my mind, but I had to pick-up Ann's brother and his partner from the airport on Friday night. As it transpired, they happened to fly in from Cairns on Virgin and they were supposed to come via Sydney, thern it was Brisbane, then they arrived but their bags didn't....and they were slammed into the deck....and the service was crap......and Virgin Sucks so they won't be using them again!!!
I don't intend to use Virgin again but I'll never say never!!
Pt 2 - Virgin Sux ...Again!
I've always thought it was most unfortunate when the Air New Zealand flights to Aus became hosted on Virgin aircraft. After my first disappointing experience with them, I have continued to feel the flights were sub-standard ....but last night took the cake....again!!!!
We got diverted!
Now one could argue offer that a diversion due to weather is an Act of God, and me being a religious, albeit sceptical man, I should well agree, but unfortunately, 20 years working on and around planes, one tends to spend a few hours riding in them, plus I've ridden quite a few civil aircraft in and out of Wellington in my time and in my humble opinion....Virgin just plain sux!
It all started about 20-30 minutes out and the Captain announces how we are progressing and what the weather conditions are like on the ground ...17°, drizzle and gusty North Easterlies ...but then he added that no worries because if it was a bit rough to land, we could go around again??!! WTF! I thought? What pilot in his right mind suggests that the weather might be that bad or he might not be up to the task?
Well, naturally enough, it's pitch black at midnight so there wasn't a lot to see, but we did fly through the odd squall of rain and light turbulence, there was a bit of buffeting on approach, we crossed threshold and the right wing dipped but the pilot corrected, the power held and we seemed to be smooth and clean ...and then the bastard gunned it!
*Sigh*...10 minutes added to the flight! Second approach, still black as pitch until we see the runway lights as we cross the threshold and once again, without any provocation from my conscious self, my brain says, "WTF!! Shit he's high? ....and shit he's fast? ....the bastards got no intention of landing!!" and sure enough, we are 35 minutes out of Christchurch. At that point I commented to Ann, "I thought he would have tried harder because this will cost a fortune."
At about 0100 we were on approach into a calm Christchurch and when the plane didn't seem to flare, but just touched front then right wheel, I thought, "No wonder the c... didn't want to land in Welly!?" We taxied in, then paused on the tarmac for several minutes under the pretence that we were awaiting the controllers to allocate a gate? (more on this later)
We pull up at the gate ....and sit on the plane for an hour and a half!!??
And then the bullshit starts to flow. We have to wait for the ground-crew to get back .... hmmmm ... isn't that them milling about outside?? We speculate that we can't get off because the customs officers won't be there ....but when we finally get off the plane, we find they were there all along, as well as the Duty Free staff as there was a late flight arrived from Sydney after us and all was open.
Then all was revealed. The mention of accommodation was amended to, "there won't be enough for all." ...then, "Oh dear, it's 0400 and you have to get on the flight back to Wellington by 0700 so it's not worth going to a hotel, we'll get blankets and pillows"! And so it was we ended up on hard benches in a brightly lit hall with music blaring and every now and then a message, "This is a safety conscious airport, please keep your children from playing on the escalators." ...(at 0430 in the morning!!?? ...p-l-eeeease!)
Anyway, we figured that the miserable bastards kept us on the plane long enough to avoid the cost of accommodating us, then splashed out on giving out 'Refreshment Vouchers'. Yes well, they were worth $12 and one can certainly whet one's appetite in any airport in this country for $12 ....and even then, the bastards didn't manage to give them to everybody! (Ann & I weren't fussed though as we sloped off to the Koru Lounge once it opened at 0500. We had a good feed then went back to check our bags through, but it turned out that only some names had been transferred from the international to the domestic flight. The attendant tried to blame this on the fact that it was still about 0400 in Aus, but I reminded her that when all this transpired at midnight, it was only 2200 in Aus.
The Kiwi Air New Zealand staff soon figured a way to override the system and got us checked in, issued with boarding passes and on our way. The new pilot managed to get us onto the runway in Wellington in relatively calm conditions ...with only one bounce, Ann only had a little difficulty getting our pre-purchased duty free, whereas others had been misinformed and had to settle for a refund and we finally made it home.
So ...Virgin Sux! I don't understand why the pilot couldn't land? I've come into Wellington in a Friendship where the cockpit door flew open and we could see the horizon disappearing both out of the top and bottom of the screen and 'the man' got us down safely. I was once standing by the RNZAF Air Movements hangar on the Rongotai side of the airfield and witnessed a Safe Air Bristol Freighter hit a gust whilst taking off. He was suddenly thrust up about 300 ft, then was out of the gust and he bounced, ...heavily, but he droned on and out. This guy had baled 20 minutes out.
Then instead of dealing with the issues, there was a lack of staff and communication to stall, then a 'litany of lies' to fob us off and the apologies just served to rub salt in the wounds. So Virgin Sux.
Unfortunately our next visit to Aus is scheduled for September and the tickets have already been booked with Air New Zealand ...so I will have to suffer another crappy flight with Virgin ...but we will have to look seriously at our options in future.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.