I pretty much finished my TT2000 prep by printing our Route booklets on Friday, so yesterday was scheduled for a conditioning ride (ie 500-700km).
The first thought was to do the World Tour of the Whanganui River road (you know, Jurusalem, Corinth, Athens & London), but since my tyres are on their last legs (booked in for 60K service and new pair of Z8's on Thursday), I thought it might be more prudent top stay closer to home, so a loose plan evolved to just go over the Hill and see where I ended up.
I was unsure what to expect for the weather, so I put the wets into the bike, along with the camera a stray nut bar that I found in the pantry and a bottle of water, checked the tyres and left home at about 0900 and headed down to Z Crofton Downs for some air but I thought I'd put some 98 in, so then stopped at BP Melling on the way out of town and finally got on the road from there at 0925.
I'd closed the zips on the back of my jacket and down the sleeves but omitted to close the panels on the front and the weather looked really dirty on the Hill, but I figured I wasn't stopping until Ocean Beach so I managed to unfurl them but if it rained I would get wet...I hadn't brought spare gloves either. As it turned out, it was pretty clagged in over the hill and the visibility was very poor at the top but I only had to weather misty drizzle so faired OK. The road was wet but, and with my marginal tyres care was needed, plus there was a bit of traffic but I seemed to generally catch it just right so managing to average 71kph was OK.
Shortly after turning off onto the Western Lake Rd, Miss Sena advised that my battery was low, reminding me again within the minute, then she said goodbye, but I wasn't stopping until the beach so I rode on in silence. It's been a year or two (probably two) since I last came out this way and I recall thinking last time that the gravel was way shorter than the time before that. Well this time it is down to 1km and 300mtrs of that coming down the hill to the beach has always been sealed, albeit in poor condition. The gravel is bloody crappy though and really badly corrugated but I was soon stopped and enjoying a natural break, then took the helmet off to connect a wee battery pack to the Sena ....although I wasn't sure how effective that would be as a quick check revealed it was down to 1 bar (of 3), but I had music again, then I secured the front panels in the jacket, took a couple of pix then got back on the bike.
I'd arrived a 1030 and dithered for 10 minutes, then decided to head around to what looked like an exit track, only to fine it went nowhere but into thick, loose gravelly sand....Oh dear! Have you ever tried to handle a 300Kg beast in soft shit! There was no way I was going to back out so I had to pick a path of least resistance and go for it. The back imediately sunk, digging itself in, and I had a wee berm of soft stuff to get over but with a bit of careful application of clutch & throttle with whatever assistance I could manage with my own weight (a little difficult as the ST is quite a tall bike), I got the bike around and back on the hard.
Back on the road I was soon scooting back and over to Lake Ferry, pausing here for just a minute or two to take a couple of pix at 1117 and then it was on to Ngawi. That was a mixed bag of clear weather but some still wet roads, so more care and once again, some horrible corrugations on the gravelly bit, a brief sub-2 minute photo stop at 1145 and next stop was the Wind Farm on White Rock Rd. More mix of some wet but mostly dry and I arrived at 1237, 267km done.
I was only down to half a tank, but from here I had to go through Martinborough, then wasn't sure where I'd be when I'd need a fill so I headed for the BP in Martinborough (I think probably the first time I've ever filled there), then I hit the road through Tablelands and Gladstone, taking the Water Towers road to Wainuioru. More pleasant scooting through small pockets of rain and this time I paused for 5-6 minutes for a snack and drink, before turning right onto Stronvar Rd.
I've been through Wainuioru dozens of times over the past 10years, but I haven't been out towards Stronvar or Ngaumu since I was pruning trees during school holidays when I was at Highschool....let's say in the region of 45 years ago....so I figured it was time I checked it out. As per many of the Wairarapa roads, this was another nice clean, flowy road. Unfortunately I arrived at the end of the seal in 13.6km so turned back and checked out Ngaumu Rd, but that's even less at only 7.7km from Wainuioru, however, this time I took a few minutes to check out the old bridge over the Upokongaruru River (or Deep Gorge as it is known). It's quite interesting as it's a strange feeling to look down off the bridge and see the topps of fully grown trees well below. There is a big plaque there, no doubt outlining the history of the old disused bridge, but I couldn't be bothered reading it and got back on with the job....next stop Castlepoint.
By rights Riversdale should have been next, but I figured that since my sister lives there, I would make that an extended stop before heading for home, so it was on-on for Castlepoint.....and no, Te Parae Rd doesn't feature on my ST radar, so it was back to Te Ore Ore. At this point I'd done a relatively sedate 371km and I felt like a bit of a squirt so I lifted the pace a little to manage the 80km to the beach in 50 minutes (95kph), continuing around the back to get closer to the lighthouse (without walking).
Another brief pic stop and I got back on the road for my last stop at Riversdale. More semi-spirited riding to average 95kph, arriving at 1540. I took a pic by the Surf Club then called into my sister's and spent nearly two hours there, finally hitting the road for home at 1720....after swapping the now dead Battery Pack on the Sena with another very low one. For the 1st time of the day, I decided to use the GPS and asked Kate to set a course for home, which produce an ETA of 1919! Sheesh, 2 hours for 154km! I thought that was bit sedate and figured it would be nice to do get home by 1900, so I lit the fires and upped the anti to 'spirited'!
I didn't get silly as I did still need to take some care for my tired tyres, and on the way in I did notice the odd squirm as the rear transitioned accross the slightly squared edge, but generally just maintained a quick-steady with the usual roll-off; roll-on and by the time I got to Masterton the ETA was down to 1907 as I'd managed to average 101kph, but from there, a man with a few demerits needed to be a bit more conservative and I ended up pulling into the garage at 1908. The ride over the Hill being quite good but I did encounter a bit of traffic that held me up as I descended, so the return average of 80kph was better than the outgoing ride and it was nice to get home having done 675km for the day at a moving average of 85kph. It didn't seem too hard a ride on my butt and I'm not sure if I am in better condition than I thought or perhaps it was just all the stops (which is what it will be like on the TT2000 with about 43 CP's, plus fuel and feed stops).
I will charge the Sena and all 4 Battery packs this week and I'll go to Coneheads on Wednesday, then get the service and new tyres on Thursday and I might have to have another ride next weekend, which I think might have to be the World Tour of the Whanganui River? The bike has 59,795km on it now.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.