Today was scheduled with a short ride to Lake Ferry for lunch, but with a marginal forecast predicting rain by midday and gusty winds up to 130kph, it was unlikely anyone would turn up.
In preparation, yesterday I purchased a 12V Compressor to allow me to do the tyres at home from now on and once I’ve fitted an outlet to the bike, I will be able to retire the foot pump as the emergency source of air on rides. That done I was up early and topped up the tyres before heading out on a mild overcast morning with a fresh 11º temperature.
I topped up the gas at Caltex Kaiwhara’ and scooted out to Brown Owl, getting there around 0945 to find it was just me for five minutes and just as I was getting my hopes up that I would be home early to some much needed chores, JohnM turned up on the Battlestar Galactica, followed by another, and another, and another…and of course, Steve, damn we actually had a ride with five bikes. A short chat until 1000, a minimal brief putting Steve at lead (as his speedo doesn’t work..very acurately) and me at TEC and we were on our way.
I had put my wets overpants on before I left home and thought it might be prudent to don the jacket as well so I was a little slow getting away but had soon caught up and we were pootling over the hill when we got our first taste of the day’s potential weather. It was odd to be riding over the hill in what seemed like a Nor’Easter as we were getting puffs in all the wrong places and from the wrong direction with the wind bouncing around the gullies. It wasn’t too bad but one unexpected puff had one of the riders particularly close to the armco.
We were soon in Featherston where one rider pulled out, leaving four of us to continue around the western side of Lake Wairarapa as the weather appeared to be closing in, but we made it to Lake Ferry in little more than a bit of drizzle.
After doing my best impression of having a flip-top head to eat the big cheese burger, I was heading home by 1215, but by this time one couldn’t see the Tararuas through the gloom and the wind was getting somewhat stronger as I had to carefully pick my course through the slick strips that are becoming more prevalent on our roads. (one of my pet gripes). It was pretty routine through to Featherston and fortunately there wasn’t much traffic as I embarked on the hill.
The wind and rain were getting up by now so I was finding the balance between pace on a wet road and momentum through the wind, trying to identify the gusts before they hit and avoid getting held up in traffic on a road with a liberal coating of double yellow. A couple of times I found myself slowed by cars and that was when the bike would get shunted across the road by the gusts, but the worst incidents were copping a wicked head-on burwt in ‘the usual place’ going up the Northern side, then descending the southern side when I got struck from behind by a huge blast and only just avoided getting pushed across the lines into the path of an SUV.
It wasn’t my worst ride over the hill but I think I copped a couple of the worst gusts I’ve ever experienced (probably up around the predicted strength) and was thankful to be riding alone at an optimal pace for the conditions which I think minimised the effects. I was home by 1330 to light the fire and relax rather than do any chores. I’d done 235Kms for the day and now have 94,353Kms on the bike.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.