Another year has rolled by and another Muscular Dystrophy ride (my 4th) has been done, but this year Ann joined me. Of the 14 bikes, 5 carrying pillions, only 3 hadn't been before so most knew what a great weekend we were in for when we met at the Brown Owl shops for a departure at 0900 hours on Friday.
This year Ann and I decided to dress for the occasion as Santa's Mr & Mrs Pix-E (the official photographer for the trip) and we had my mum whisk up a couple of capes. I'd checked the tyres the day before, packed Thursday night and we were away from home by 0800 to give us time to fuel at Caltex Rimutaka, check-in, then depart a few minutes early to photograph the other riders as they came over the hill. That done, we joined the rear of the group as we headed for our first stop at Douglas Street School in Masterton.
In the past this has been the most chaotic of the visits but this year the teachers managed to ensure some order and before long Stanley had received his present, lashings of Magic Fairy Dust (lollies) had been distributed and we were back on the road for St Anthony's School in Pahiatua. This year we had two young girls here as we had added Roisin (pronounced Ro-sheen) to our list. She doesn't have MD but is wheelchair bound so it only seemed fair that she and Taylor should receive special attention from Fred Claus. That done and more Fairy Dust distributed, we were treated to an action song, after which we got back on the road for lunch at the Boots 'n Braces in Woodville, where we were joined by Goldie from Napier.
On the sections of the ride where there are no children to see we tend to split up and travel to the next point in small groups at a pace or with stops as required, so from here it was just a straight run through to Kennedy Park in Napier. We ended up in a group of four but about half way from Woodville to Dannevirke a bee slipped just over the top of my screen and splatted against my glasses. I was extremely lucky not to get stung but it made a huge mess and some goo must have also made it into my eye, impairing my vision somewhat, between the gooed-up lens and irritated eye. We therefore pulled into the BP in Dannevirke to clean up, then continuing on behind Buzz on his trike, with just a short pause at Tikokino to find the pub was closed again, so we went straight on to Napier, arriving at 1430, 338Kms done for the day. As the others started to pull in, we found out that Fred had sheared the axle on his sidecar when hitting a pothole in Dannevirke and, taking his job as Santa very seriously, he had hired a car and was coming through with the presents, but would be a little late. Also, for the third year in a row, Steve had punctured his rear tyre just out of Dannevirke and had to get that repaired.
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, over a few wines, as we waited for Fred before going to the Hammond's to do the Santa thing for the Hawkes Bay children, finally getting there at about 1800. We enjoyed a great feed, had a few drinks and one of the best things was to hear that Peter, whose health had prevented him from riding for some years, was finally well enough to be back on a bike, had bought himself a 400 Bergman and would join us to escort us out of town in the morning.
Saturday morning dawned a great day and we were up early for breakfast, pack-up, wait for Peter and head off at 0900. We only had two drops for the day, one at Oruanui and the other at the T&C Club where we would dine that night in Waitara, so we were free to enjoy the Napier-Taupo road at our own pace. After filling at Bayview, Ann and I found ourselves behind Steve and Debby (who just happen to have a whistler) and got along at a nice pace. Unfortunately I didn't get much warning as we passed a reasonably well obscured, parked blue van, hit the picks and now we'll wait to see if we were quick enough (or more correctly, slow enough) to avoid contributing to the consolidated fund. Once we got to the straights, we eased back to 110kph until we got to Trikeworks, the prescribed regroup point. As it was closed, we continued onto the BP where most were able to refuel, grab a coffee and snack as we waited for the rest to arrive.
Once everyone was ready, we headed off to see Jac at Oruanui, a few Kms up and off Poihipi Rd and though the temp had dropped to 14° on the Napier-Taupo, it was now clear skies and heading into the 20's. Jac was a very timid wee fellow last year but warmed to the invasion of bikers a bit more readily this year and thought it was odd that Santa would turn up inside 4 wheels. After observing the rental that Fred was driving he disappeared briefly then returned, thumbing through a magazine and when Ann asked what he had, he replied “Santa's Car!” revealing a picture of the vehicle...........pretty cool!
We were soon off again and enjoying the ride through to Bennydale, where we stopped for a drink before continuing on, cutting across to SH4 from Kopaki, then heading to Piopio via Aria. Some of the guys had to refuel there before we could enjoy one of the treats of the weekend, the Awakino Gorge, however, much of it had liberal sprinklings of loose stuff and with the temp climbing into the mid-20's, patches of slick goo, so what should have been a good fang, was somewhat tamed by having to pick safe lines. It was still a good ride though and we were soon having another stop at the Awakino Pub, which had a cop car outside when we arrived. When I saw that, I grabbed a handful of Angel Dust and offered the uniform at the bar a sweetie, stating they were a reward for being inside and not out nabbing us.
We now just had the last stretch for the day, along the coast, over Mount Messenger and to the Marae in Waitara, arriving at 1700 having done 436Kms for the day. It was still a warm 21° and after settling in and cleaning up, we strolled down to the T&C Club for a few drinks and a great feed that was shared with Grace’s family. Then it was back to the Marae to prepare for the evening chorus by ensuring I had the MP3 with noise reduction earphones handy.
Sunday dawned another crystal clear day and we were on the road again by 0830 after breakfast, tidying up and refueling. I managed to snap a couple of magnificent shots of Mt Taranaki as we got around our four stops in Bell Block and the Inglewood area and as usual, Jacob turned out to be a hard case. To get his first lolly, he had to assure Santa that he had been a good boy, but after a grunt from his mother his response altered slightly to, “yeah I've been good........except for yesterday”. The pleasantries over, he finally got to open his pressy to which a “Holy Shit!” blurted out when he realised it was something he wanted. He's a spunky little fella who nearly died of pneumonia earlier in the year.....and that would have been a real tragedy.
With only four more visits to make, we made our way to Wanganui, regrouping at the Gull service station before heading over to the Wanganui East Club for lunch. It was getting really hot by now and the break was pleasant before finishing the weekend but unfortunately neither of the two girls in Wanganui were home so we continued on to Marton for Olivia, then the final stop in Palmy for Jedd.
That done, we were all pretty knackered so we split up and headed for home. Ann & I followed Steve & Debby and Ken & Shirley out of Palmy for Shannon and SH1. Steve pulled off at Levin and Ken almost got taken out, by a young lady driving a red car with L-plates, as we were coming on to SH1, south of Levin. We were about to merge as she flew across SH1 from the other side to get into our merge lane. Ken managed to avoid her and the verge as he shot to the left and I had to hasten my line onto the main road to avoid plowing into her……stupid bitch!! Anyway, that little burst of adrenalin absorbed and we cruised on until the traffic got thick at Parkak’ at which time my aqueuephobia kicked in and I had to resort to slipping up the inside, thanks to the proliferation of cheescutters on Centennial Highway, getting home just after 1800, having done 435Kms for the day, 1,22Kms for the weekend at an average of 17.4k/ltr. 56,450kms now on the ST.
It was another great weekend! Once again we were blessed with magnificent weather with which to enjoy good biking roads and a worthy cause to make it all worthwhile. It was Les’s 12th time on this trip and several others had done 8 or more, so the combination of roads, mates and MDA kids keep us coming back year after year. Once again, Red Fred showed what a trooper he is by getting a rental car to continue on, after his Sidecar (in the words of Jac), ‘shit itself’, then persisted in wearing his suit even though the temps were soaring and he was almost expiring. The Hammonds, once again, were marvelous and generous hosts who contribute to make the event what it is and I had goosebumps as we followed Peter out of Napier. Ron & Sue Meiklen who organise the trip getting the list and addresses for the recipients, buying the gifts, organizing the accommodation and breakfasts, and cooking breakfast for us all, make it very easy for the rest of us to just turn-up-and-ride.
Apart from the odd time when a rider got split from the group, it all went pretty smoothly and….
………to sum it up…it was bloody marvelous!
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.