This weekend was programmed for my last conditioning ride for the GC (with only 3 more weekends to go and a club ride next weekend) and since missing out on the big Honda sale, although I was resigned to keeping my bike, I’ve kept a weather eye out for a replacement ST.
There have been several nice looking ST’s on TradeMe and I turned down a good offer in Masterton, as I thought, “Nah, keep the $’s and keep the Big Red, it’s got 122,000Km on it, but it’s going great.” ...But, then there was a mint 2011 model listed from up north, with many extras at what I thought was a reasonable price. I wouldn’t have bothered with many of the extras myself, and didn’t particularly want them, but ‘what the hey’, they all contribute to enhance the ride for visibility, safety and convenience, so I contacted the vendor and although conditioning rides are usually only 700-1100Km, I had the opportunity to kill two birds with one ride. (I might note here that I’d probably decided to buy the new bike before I left home though).
I had identified that I needed some night riding a couple of weeks back and couldn’t think of any decent rides I wanted to do, so this was bloody handy, I compared a couple of potential routes on MapSource and set the alarm for 2300 on Saturday night, when retiring at 1900 (or should I say, ‘half-time’).
I awoke briefly a couple of times, but when the alarm went, I felt pretty good, scrubbed up, said goodbye to Ann, who was still up, and ended up getting on the road early at 2340 (instead of the planned midnight). The tank and tyres were full, it was 10º (in the garage), so I put a skivvy on and the liners in my pants and got on my way. (the real temperature immediately being revealed at 8º)
I was early so had plenty of time and rode up SH1 at a very sedate and economic pace, turning onto SH3 at Sanson and going through to Wanganui, as I figured, where better for a decent night ride than through the Paraparas. (I did pause in Whanganui though, to put the rainoff gloves and rain jacket on to provide some more resistance to the cold. That was a good move as cutting across National Park on SH47 saw the temp generally at 3º, but it did dip to 1º!
The trip up SH1 was quite pleasant with no traffic and a full moon, although it certainly didn’t rate as prep’ for night riding, but the Para’s were simply delightful. It was pretty cold, especially for this time of year, but it was dry and I couldn’t help but consider the improvements in the road over the past few years. In 2008, I went up here on the Mini’s Return and really caning it, I managed the ride to Raetihi in 45minutes. Here I was now, riding in a brisk but relaxed manner with minimal braking and clocking around 50minutes. I’m always quick to complain about the powers that be ruining our roads, but even on a bike, this ride is much better in terms of the surface (safety), ease of riding and easy passing opportunities when needed. Bloody marvellous ride.
With the Para’s out of the way, I had to endure a few boring straights and reasonable chill factor through National Park, then when I got to the Ponangana Saddle, I clipped the pace back slightly as the road was wet and I was getting the odd spot of precipitation and after filling at Turangi, I took SH41 to Kuratau Junction and up the Western Access. This was a mixed bag of occasional rain, wet and dry road, but I upped the pace a little, knowing I was ahead of schedule, but I was getting into the groove and what the hey, who am I to ‘rain on my parade’...and SH32 isn’t a road that should be taken slowly!
With time to think along SH32 a plan started to develop on how to kill the extra time I had, so by the time I was getting into the juicy bits along the Dam on Waipapa Road, I had decided that my best option was to enjoy the crap out of this through to Kihikihi, Te Awamutu and Pirongia, then instead of emerging on SH1 at Ngaruawahia, I was finally (since the 2007 disgusting GC) going to resample Highway 22...in the dry. Bloody Sweet is all I can say! Once again I wasn’t pushing it, but enjoying a brisk pace, at what I would describe as the relaxed end of ‘GC Mode’, starting at dawn and finishing in the full light of day.
From here it was motorway riding, but there wasn’t a lot of traffic at this time of a Sunday morn’, (which is good for protection and economy) and instead of following Emily’s ‘Fastest Route’ option, I decided to go up the Western Route past Henderson, as I hadn’t been up that way for years and got to Hellensville for a snack at 0830....just right!
Egg Sandwich and water consumed and it was a short hop and skip to view the bike (impressive). So far I had done 788Km at an average of 86kph and economy of 18.3Km/Ltr, with the temp swinging from 8º down to 1º, up to 14º then settling back at a cool 12º. We agreed to proceed with the transaction and I prepared to depart for home, which involved a quick phone call home, swapping the winter Sidi gloves for the lighter Darbis (but with liners still on) and I opted to remove the wets jacket.
The trip home was to be quick and direct, starting with a cut across to Dairy Flat, down through Albany Village, where I fuelled, then on to SH1, which was now loaded with a good volume of briskly moving traffic. This got me quickly back to Ngaruawahia, where once again I was able to up the pace a notch to enjoy the ride back through Kihikihi, Waipapa Rd and the Western Access. Once back on SH1 at Turangi I settled back to the standard ‘couple of klicks faster than the cages’ being quite happy to settle in behind the odd one until he got to the next queue, then move on and I pulled over in Taihape for my last fill for the day.
After a short stop, I was back on the road and making good time to be back in Ngaio by 1715-1730, getting just past Hunterville, when my glorious Km filled day turned to custard...with the big blowout. (My previous blog refers). After a 4 hr wait, Ann got to me on dusk with a trailer and another 2 hrs to get the bike loaded, but in this time we met a primo bearded beemer rider, a very nice member of the constabulary, and our new friend, Helmi (pronounced correctly sounds like L-me).
Having delayed his trip to Wellington for the rugby, we felt it only reasonable to offer to shout dinner in Bulls, where we managed to catch and enjoy the 2nd half of the All Black – Argentina game, and we found out he hadn’t booked any accommodation (probably because his van was a camper), so we invited him to stay. That decided, Ann leapt in with him to act as guide in case we got separated and I had to drive the ute and trailer home.
I felt surprisingly alert after only having a 4 hour nap the night before, and 23 hours straight....but that soon changed and I was having to employ all my best GC fatigue coping strategies. What a fool to keep going, but I made it home OK at 0020, totally shattered, although I had enough left in me to enjoy a chat about the day over a nice hot milo.
My return trip, or at least as far as I got on the bike I managed an average of 101kph for the 437Km between fills at Albany Village and Taihape, with a moving average of 98kph to Taihape and 95kph to “that point”. I managed 1332Km for the day and the bike has 122354Km on the it....but only 7,100Km on the last ever Avon Storm 2 Ultra that that bike will see.
....I did have a good ride! As far as conditioning goes, it only took a few rides to get the butt in shape and the mind in the groove....and hey....I'll soon have a magnificent, New-Beaut-Black-Beauty ST!!!
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.