It’s odd really, I don’t feel like I’ve done much riding this summer, but the fact is, I’ve done one 1,000 km ride and three 1,000 milers since October and a bit of Conehead stuff since just before Christmas. On top of that there was the 1300km MDA ride before Christmas and the wee scoot up to and around Hamilton then back between Christmas and New Year… all in all, nearly 15,000 km.
I guess it’s because I haven’t done many club rides and the km have been compressed into a few weekend bursts, but I figure three 1600+ Km rides within a 6 month period must be quite rare… at least in NZ anyway.
The first was the annual pilgrimage to Turangi for the Nth Island 1600, in which 60 riders took part and I rode with James (XP@) Riley (also on an ST1300). That was blogged here: http://www.kiwibiker.co.nz/forums/entry.php/6069-Are-we-there-yet
The second came about because Murray Gray wanted to do a 1000 miler after he had turned 80 and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to be privileged to be a part of his attainment of ‘legendary’ status and that ride is blogged here: http://www.kiwibiker.co.nz/forums/entry.php/6394-1600-Km-With-Gray%E2%80%A6-The-Birth-of-a-Legend!
With a vid here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctXZ6BggIgY&feature=youtu.be
The last ride has been blogged, but unfortunately I can’t post it because it was an earlybird ride of October’s NI1600, because as one of the organisers, I wanted to get the checkpoint photos for the Rider’s Guide, as well as do it now to free me up to be a volunteer on the weekend, as things could potentially get quite hectic if we get a good subscription to the new Nth Island 800 event that is being included with the 1600.
When one includes the 320 Km each way to Turangi from Wellington, the last ride turned into nearly 2300 Km in 27 hours and although I harboured faint hopes that I could have done the whole thing in 24 hours, unfortunately the weather was against me and, at the end of the day, I wasn’t in that much of a hurry nor was there motivation to push the boundaries further than I did.
Distance riding is a strange beast. We often wonder why we continue to do it after overcoming the challenge of the ‘first time’, but Murray has done sixteen 1000 milers and Brian eighteen, while I’ve done ten with three of them extending to over 2,000 Km.
We’re absolute nutters!
On the other side of the coin, James and I are quite fond of riding in carparks. We are coneheads, but James is more of a conehead than me. He’s so into it, he built up a CBR125 especially and now he’s nearly finished tweeking a CBR600 as well. He seems to like coming off them because then he knows he is pushing the bike to its limits, but it’s paying dividends for him because he now edging into the top ten in the world on the WC-Gymkhana circuit, whereby a course is posted on the internet and participants have a certain time in which to submit videos of their attempts on the time.
So I’m just a nutter, but James is absolutely certifiable!
Murray Gray turned 80 last week and 1st up on his bucket list was to do another 1,000 miler (ie 1,608 km ride) and naturally enough, he approached the NZ Distance Riders for assistance to achieve his goal. We were more than happy to oblige and right from the first word, I was in.
I first met Murray about 10 years ago when I started doing Rusty Nut Grand Challenges (1,000 miles in 24 hrs). My first thought at the time was, “Wow, I hope I’m still riding at 70…but doing GC’s?..that’s amazing!” Murray did about 13 GC’s, so I met him a few times and I was there when he received his silver mug after completing his 10th and then when he was welcomed into the Rusty family along with Cam (another legend who did all 25 GC’s).
Damn!!...now he’s 80 and he’s still going at it!!
We met with Murray at the NI1600 to discuss the concept and come up with a plan to make it happen, then over the next few months it all fell into place and although we were initially expecting to have a party of 5 or 6, as it turned out, there was just Brian Rusty and myself and on Friday morning, I departed for Waihi on my next adventure.
Unlike my usual modus operandi, I didn’t have a plan for Friday’s ride to get to Waihi because sometimes I hate making choices and I had so many options? I could go straight up SH1 and over the Kaimais…nah, that wasn’t really an option, I could go through the Wai’rapa to Napier, then Napier-Taupo, Rotorua, Pyes Pa?....nah I had a 1600 to do the next day, maybe through the ‘Naki?...nah did that after Christmas!? That left my favourite for up the centre – Paras, Western Lake, Waipapa Rd, so I started out with that in mind when I left home at 0820 with an almost full tank.
The weather predicted that I would encounter rain along the Kapiti Coast, but that didn’t eventuate, so I enjoyed an easy ride through light traffic, bypassing Whanganui and cruising up the Para’s, but when I got to National Park, it looked decidedly gloomy over towards Turangi, so I stayed on SH4 since I hadn’t done that for awhile. That was nice and I also had to readjust the approach to Waihi, so I just adopted the end of the planned 1600km as that included a scoot up the western side of the river from Ngaruawahia to Rangiriri, which I had only done once in the dark, then across from Te Kauwhata, which I hadn’t done at all.
I was down to two bars when I arrived in Te Kuiti and I figured it was time for a break, so I stopped for fuel at the BP to pick-up some AA rewards…and what do you know, the bike would only take $38, so I missed out there, but the Pepper Steak pie and coffee went down a treat. The temp was finally getting up so I also took the opportunity to remove the wet liner from my jacket and open the zip panels.
The rest of the ride was uneventful, although I did note that the GPS tried to go onto SH1 at Ngaruawahia, so I just ignored Kate and did my own thing. I also noted that NZ Open Maps had the fuel at Te Kauwhata as Mobil whilst Google Maps had it as G.A.S….but it is actually Waitomo brand! (I only noted that as it was to be the last checkpoint on Sunday). 90km to go, which included the delightful Karangahake Gorge, but that was bumper to bumper traffic and at 1610, I was pulling into Murray & Val’s place….and we had a pleasant evening catching up.
The plan was for a 1300 start and it was a pretty relaxed morning. I awoke about 0530, dozed for a bit then went comatose again until about 0715, when I arose. We had breakfast (and I should note that dinner included ice cream and homemade stewed plums, then breakfast I opted for the homemade marmalade jam on toast…Murray was already a legend in my eyes) then I did the usual fluffing around: checking tyres, ensuring the supplies of nutbars, water and bananas are packed right, checking and mounting the GoPro & remote, GPS and Camera etc. etc. Brian arrived after 1100, he scrutineered my bike and we eventually decided that we might as well get on the road early, filling at the BP, then having our official departure from there, which was at 1240….we were finally on the road…but that road was SH2, which was littered with traffic and a proliferation of double yellows. *Sigh*…it was steady as she goes.
Murray led out, which gave me the opportunity to observe how he rode (what sort of pace etc) in case I had to lead later. I would describe our track as ‘fast and free-flowing’ for NZ roads, but that also meant ‘arse-numbing’, with the MapSource predicting 20:49, but once loaded to my GPS unit, it reckoned 18:30. That would be reasonably accurate for my normal approach to a 1600, but it didn’t allow for the stops of course and there were 5 photo CP’s and 6 fuels stops. It certainly meant we had plenty of buffer to enjoy a relaxed and casual pace and stops.
We turned off at Bethlehem to amble down to Tauriko, then take Pyes Pa Road down to Lake Rotorua, scoot around the top, then get on to the Rotomas with the first CP between Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoehu, being ‘The Tree’ (or Hinehopu’s Wishing Tree if you prefer). (137km done)
After a leisurely stop, which got filmed due to forgetting to turn the GoPro off, we were on our way again for fuel at Opotoki (238Km), then the next CP at Ormand Pre-School via the Waioeka Gorge. By the time we embarked on the gorge, it was 1600 and we arrived at Ormand at 1727, and being a cloudless day with little wind, it was a rather warm 27̊ through here so the prolific tar slicks were often glistening. Me being me, I was very careful picking my lines but Brian mentioned later that, “Nah, I tested it a few times and never got any movement.” I didn’t incur any twitches and prefer to think it was the careful lines on my part? …And we were now at 360km.
Murray continued to lead and I continued to closely monitor our overall average via the GPS, as one only requires to plod along at 67kph to achieve the distance in 24 hours and we were hovering around 71kph, lifting to up to around 74kph on the road then dropping back to 71 after the stops…so we had about an hour plus up our sleeves….but Gisborne to Wairoa to Bayview was going to be one of the slowest sections of the ride as it abounds with nice curly stuff, not to mention that our timing meant we were in for a good dollop of sunstrike!
It continued to be a pleasant wee pootle though and although Murray did struggle at times with the abundance of corners through hilly and wooded countryside, which meant a multitude of transitions from deep shade to bright sunlight hitting the eyeballs head-on, from just above the horizon, we made good time to arrive at the next fuel stop in Wairoa at 1853, having done 464km at an overall average of 75kph…only to leave 17mins later with the average back to 71kph. I didn’t find the sunstrike too bad with a very good set of transition lenses that go very dark and Brian has a Shoei Airtech that has the internal slide-down tinted visor…but our eyes aren’t 80 years on either. I also didn’t bother to fuel here as I figured that with the economy up around 19.7km/ltr, I could get to the next fuel at Caltex Woodville…and collect some AA rewards.
It was more of the same from Wairoa to Bayview, arriving there as it started to get dark at about 2030 and Murray slowed a little so I slipped past to navigate us through to SH50, and stay in the lead throughout the night to make it easier for the old eyes. Afterall, we were now in my backyard so it was all pretty familiar territory. I didn’t lift the pace but just tried to set a consistent tempo that would aid Murray’s night vision by extending extending his view and enhancing it with the ST’s good lights. I’d closed all the zips on my jacket at Wairoa but the plummet from 27̊ to 18̊ through here had me feeling it, so I paused in Dannevirke to check if the others wanted to stop for a layer or continue the 20 odd minutes to Woodville…and Woodville it was.
We arrived at 2215, 737km done, with the average back to 76kph, I got my rewards doing 497km on the tank for 23 ltrs at $43.72….(yes!!), adding a much needed skivvy and wet liner for warmth….and we left half an hour later with the average back to 72kph (hot diggity…we’d gained about a quarter of an hour!) At this point I also put the GoPro and remote into the topbox to recharge.
Nearly halfway! …We hit the halfpoint, which was between Masterton and Carterton at just after 2300, and that meant we were on track for a sub-22 hour ride and had a very good buffer, but the temp had continued to drop (to about 10̊ ) and I was bloody freezing, so I added my outer wet jacket and swapped to the winter Spidi gloves at the Pauatahanui checkpoint. Murray didn’t seem to like the Rimutakas (but you can’t please everyone with a nice curly bit of macadam) and his grumblings reminded me of my first encounter with a wet highway 22 on a dismal night in 2007. *Sigh*…Brian was responsible for that route too and he cackles away to himself whenever reminded of his past dastardly plottings.
We were on the downhill run now and let Murray off the hook by bypassing the Paekak’ Hill Rd, taking him back to SH1 via Grays Rd…which seemed kind of fitting really. Then it was more droll, easy riding to the next fuel at BP Bulls (1,033km done at 0235), before heading for the checkpoint at Challenge Rahotu on the Surf Highway (1225km) and an almost dawn fuel stop at Z Waiwhakaiho on the norther side of New Plymouth (1276km at 0600). The temp had bottomed out at 8̊ and I was now adding the heated grips to ensure my continued comfort.
I’d done my stint and Brian now took the lead as I slotted in behind Murray, but the last 400’ish km wasn’t going to be any picnic. The next hour or two treated us to a mix of dawn sunstrike, thick fog, damp roads and a proliferation of unmarked repairs scattered with lashings of loose shit, throughout the Awakino Gorge, not to mention that the surface on Mt Messenger is really crappy right now too. I must say that this is a far cry from the sweet ride we had through here before and again just after Christmas.
So the Awakino Gorge was harder going, but once through there, the temp did start to rise and things got easier. By this time, Murray wasn’t riding as freely as before but there were no complaints with the gnarly old bastard toughing it out.
As we entered Te Kuiti, we met Graham, another old Rusty who joined us for the rest of the ride and we took the opportunity for an unscheduled stop to have more refreshments and a chat before embarking on the last 200km. Then more easy going up to Otorohanga and through Pirongia to Ngaruawahia, then avoiding SH1 by taking Hakarimata Rd to Huntly, then Te Ohaki Rd to Rangiriri, and finally across SH1 to the last checkpoint at the Waitomo fuel in Te Kauwhata…and we were effectively onto the finishing straight.
Murray fueled up and we offered for him to lead in from here, but by this time, he was operating on ‘mean & ornery’, stubborn, ‘I can do this’, cantankerousness. He advised that he was operating in the margins and was happy to follow until Waikino (9km to go), so that was the plan and that was how we finished at 1120 for 22hrs 40mins. My odo recording 1649 km for the ride….so I must have taken some wide lines!
Murray was stoked….and shattered….and he looked a mess…but he had done it!!....and a local legend is born!!...and I did 1600 Km With Gray!
Epilogue: Tokaanu and Home.
Val had lunch all prepared for us so, no sooner were we off the bikes and starting to wind down, with certificates issued, then we were being handed a beer and ushered in for a feed…and bloody marvelous it was too. We chatted about things Endurance Riding, old Rusty Rides, upcoming NZDR rides and so on, and in no time it was time to make a move.
I could have stayed another night (which would have been the smart thing to do) but I didn’t relish the thought of a 6+ hour ride back to Wellington the next day and wanted to try to get as far as Tokaanu if I could, but would stop and settle earlier if I had too, so thanks were given and farewells said.
I didn’t want to think too much so I just poked Oasis camp ground into the GPS and went for the most direct ride, which was over to Tauranga, across the Kaimais, on to Putaruru, …but then I did have to intervene because Kate was trying to send me via Taupo. I had filled at Caltex Tauriko, (just missing out on my rewards with a $38 fill …again!!) and felt pretty good as I cruised along, then forced Kate to keep recalculating as I took to Arapuni Rd, to Pearsons Rd, to Old Taupo Rd (sweet little fang that that is), then down to Whakamaru and onto the Western Lake Rd.
I was good as gold until just before the dam, when the first yawn manifested, but no sooner had I made the turn at Whakamaru than I seemed to be making another at Kuratau Junction and I just had the short squirt over the saddles to a hot pool and a bed, arriving at 1600. Fortunately they had plenty of beds available, but it was still too hot for a soak so I just showered up, checked out the pools for later, then got a feed while they were still open. I napped between 1730 & 1830, feeling much better afterwards to dump my GPS plottings, then go for a short soak before checking in with Ann and it was around this time that I started to realise that I couldn’t remember much more than the odd snapshot of my ride down the Western Lake!!?? On reflection, I suppose it was a dumb move as 1900km and about 33 hours on the go is a bit of a stretch and I must have been operating in the margins…or something??!!
Needless to say, I slept very well that night, arising at about 0700 for a much better soak, before finishing off the remainder of my now somewhat scabby bananas and a couple of nutbars with half a bottle of water … and a coffee. I repacked the bike and finally got on the road at 0916.
It was ‘almost drizzly’ in Tokaanu but I still had all the zips down, however the weather deteriorated as I progressed toward the Central Plateau and I managed to even close the zips on the back, but it was soon persisting so after much deliberating, I stopped after the Sisters to put my outer wet jacket on. I should have known better though and did tell myself, “I knew it!” because as soon as I reached the plateau, one could see the weather was clear on the way down, so I had to stop again in Waiouru to take the jacket off. (Only three cars repassed me but!)
I’ll note here that the dizzy heights of 19.7 km/Ltr economy had inspired me and although I had slipped between Tauranga & Tokaanu, arriving at a slightly better than normal 17.5 km/Ltr, I decided to still try to get back on the single tank, so I was puttering along at much the same speed as most of the traffic…??...ok, some of the traffic….??...ok, some of the time I was going at the same speed as the other traffic and occasionally passing most of it!
Anyway, I pootled away down SH1, going on reserve after Paraparumu and easily made it to BP Johnsonville by 1250, where I managed to shove 25Ltrs in the bike for a $50.05 fill…so not only did I earn my points, I figured I would use them as well. I don’t know where Mr Honda gets off with telling us that ST1300s have a 29Ltr tank, as I could have gone another 15 or 20km probably, but I’ve never put much over 25Ltrs in because the rest is keeping the fuel pump submerged and is unavailable.
It’s been three years since Ann has played in the Maori Tennis tournament, which is held annually in Hamilton between Christmas and New Year, and this year we were available again so bookings were made and we were off….although I wasn’t intending to play tennis as I had other plans.
An email to STJim, Topher and Goose soon had a ride organized, plus I had to get there and back while Ann would travel with her tennis partner.
Someone recently told me that Manganui Rd (from Awakino to Te Anga) is now sealed so the prospect of a new road was all the incentive I needed when choosing a route to get there, the bike had it’s 78,000km service the week before, I’d ordered a new rear tyre for afterwards, the bike was clean, wets packed and come the 27th, I was ready to go….except the weather was unusually fantastic, so instead of wearing wets I ended up opening all the zipped panels.
Ann was gone by 0815, but I still had to check the tyres and setup the GoPro, so I didn’t get away until about 0945, but there was no hurry as the GPS was advising an ETA for the 620km of 1625 and the tank was ¾ full so I would only need one fuel stop around the New Plymouth area. Traffic was steady and moving well, as always I had my music playing and life was good…..
Yes well…it was good until the music stopped!! My GPS has been playing up lately whereby the sound turns off and then it locks up, or hibernates, or shuts down, or generally just craps out. I tried swapping units with a mate and mine went well on his cradle so I figured that there was a short or lack of ergs coming through my bike cradle, so I tried popping the unit on the car cradle whilst in the top-box. That worked….and it didn’t….then next thing it would go fine on the bike cradle and not on the car one. In this case, it was on the bike cradle so I tried resetting it on the go, but to no avail, but I didn’t need it anyway so I just continued in silence.
I cut around Hawera and was down to 2 bars when I got to Eltham and figured I should fill there or in Inglewood, otherwise it would have to be at GAS Urenui and as I passed the BP I figured I might as well get the AA rewards, so I pulled in. It was a BP ToGo so it only had the cheaper 95 octane and what do you know….I filled to the normal level, turned to see the result on the pump and hello….I had only put $39.16 in and I needed $40 to get the discount!! That pissed me off so I forced more in until I got to $40.01…and I didn’t even spill any.
After paying for the gas and relieving myself, I had a snack and transferred the GPS to the car cradle, turned on the WiFi on the GoPro, then contacted Ann to find that they had left Waverley and were in Hawera, so I was now in front but I had wasted 20mins fluffing around.
I made through to Waitara before the GPS crapped out again, then filmed the ascent up Mt Messenger but when I turned the GoPro remote on again as I turned off after Awakino, a few km later it was still searching for the camera!!?? Bloody technology! I sighed and continued on but shortly after, I passed a sign that had a snakey symbol and below said, “Next 27 Km”…more sighs! I’d need to record this so I stopped and turned the camera on manually.
As is usual when I ride this sort of road, I was assessing it for potential inclusion in a 1600 or 1000km ride and although this one was narrowish, it did have a good surface with no tar slicks and it nearly got the big tick of approval…when I hit the gravel! Life can really be a bitch sometimes. Here I was thinking about the potential of whether to come down Manganui Rd and back through the Gorge or vice versa and all of a sudden I was down to 60kph for about 12km. It was easy gravel but rules are rules (except maybe road rules…sometimes).
Oh well, them’s the breaks. I had a good ride, reached Marokopa Beach and carried on to Te Anga, then opted to continue around the Kawhia Harbour since I hadn’t been around there for some years….and damn that’s a nice road.
Even after my faffing around, I still made it to Hamilton by 1625 but took about 15 mins to find the motel thanks to having the GPS in the top-box, going but not talking to me. Ann and Kev turned up soon after I’d checked in, we settled in, then went to Lugton Park to check out what was happening at the tennis.
Ann and Kev were gone before 0800 the next day but I didn’t need to be at Mobil Hillcrest until 0930, so I just farted around getting the camera, Sena and GPS sorted, then went to fill…but this time I still had 3 bars on the gauge so I went to a BP Connect…and could only manage $33.41!!
I did find the meeting point OK and was soon enjoying new roads with six other bikes, although I had little idea of where I was as once again, I had the GPS in the Top-Box….and no music so I could only hope that I might have a tracklog at the end of the day. As far as I could tell we were randomly toing and froing across the countryside and although every now and then I would recognise a road name, we never seemed to be on part of the road that I had been on, or sometimes I would think I knew where we were, only to find out we weren’t. I really missed my GPS!
Topher led us over lots of narrow lanes, many with no road markings at all, so care was taken but it was refreshing to find I was riding with a group of very adept riders who were able to maintain a very good pace through the tight conditions. I was finding it difficult to read if there was grit on the road or not, so being generally untrusting (of what was a good surface), I found myself riding-the-rut and using a fair amount of comfort braking as well as required braking when finding myself coming into corners a bit hot. Fortunately the others weren’t braking much at all so I did manage to keep up though and eventually found that the town we had just entered was Te Kuiti, and we were stopping for lunch.
The temp was generally around 24° but it did rise some before lunch and I did find myself threading my way through some gooey patches of tar. After lunch it was worse and my aversion to the centre hump turned to an attraction as I was now trying to avoid slip-sliding about in the glistening wheel ruts. (such are the vagaries of motorcycling). We made it back to Hamilton about 1500, had a beer and I got to the tennis at about 1600 to see Ann’s last game for the day before heading back to the motel for a scrub and to download the day’s data. It turned out that the GPS had functioned the whole day and I saw that we had done a big loop, out to the east, around the south, then back in from the west for a 320km day.
We had been unsure if we would be at the motel for 2 or 3 nights, so had made a pencil booking for the third one and I was tossing up whether to visit the east coast, or west, or both, but it transpired that Kev needed to get back that day. Change of plans then and I decided to just come home and we packed up checked out and while Ann & Kev went to get there supplies of water and snacks for the day, I just went over to the tennis centre to say my goodbyes. I didn’t even stay to watch Ann’s first game, leaving just after 1100.
I didn’t feel like doing big kms for the day so my plan was to take my favoured route of Waipapa Rd – Western Lake Road – Paras and down SH1, which is about 520km and the bike fuel-load was on 3 bars, so I figured fueling in Te Awamutu would get me the discount, then I could try to find the best blend of pace and economy to make it non-stop on the one tank….in a reasonable time!?
After filling at Caltex Te Awamutu ($38.59…more no-discount fills), it was 1127 and I was soon at a relaxed (within the tolerance…most of the time) pace out of Kihikihi and on to Waipapa Road. This another delightful wee scoot I haven’t done for awhile and when I went to turn the GoPro remote on, it was bloody flat…*sigh*…too bad! As per usual, I’d lost the sound on the GPS, but I could see that it was still tracking so I just left it be to still get the tracklog. Soon enough I was through Whakamaru, down the lake was nothing special apart from having to watch for the softening and greasy tar patches, SH41 is always nice (but required more care thanks to the heat), same for the Ponanga Saddle and then I was on the boring bits across to and down SH4 to Raetihi. From there I was back on more interesting macadam, albeit warm, soft and potentially slip-slidey macadam, so my slightly conservative, careful and economic pace was maintained until closer to Whanganui and the temp reduced to a more comfortable 22°, but by then I was back into more populated and therefore patrolled roads…plus I was down to three bars and I’d be cutting fine to make the distance, so conservative is as conservative does!
Just out of Waikanae, the fuel gauge transitioned onto the last flashing bar, which changed the readout to 89Km to go, but I know from experience not to trust that and I try to avoid riding beyond ‘50Km to go’, but I assessed that I should possibly make BP Johnsonville and easily make BP Mana, so that was now the plan. By 1650 I had completed 506.4Km between fills and I was ready to complete the last 20’ish Km home. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a 5+ hour non-stop run and my inner thighs weren’t thanking me for it, but it’s annoying that the old red would have easily seen me home under the same conditions.
All in all I had a great few days riding plenty of new roads in brilliant weather.
I’ve been really slack as far as participating in the Capital Coast Coneheads Wednesday evening rides at the Dressmart Tawa carpark this season. The rides started with daylight saving but it wasn’t until December that I managed to get along…and I really enjoyed it.
The skills were a bit rusty, but way better than I expected and then on Sunday 13th, I had to organise the Christmas Slow Ride for Ulysses. I was lucky that we had cancelled an event in August so I didn’t have to plan a layout, just tweek the unused one I had a bit and it was a good course to setup as it was a blend of Police Rodeo (enclosed layouts) and Gymkhana (open layouts).
It was looking marginal right up until the day before, but we took a punt and it turned out very nice. In fact, by the time we had finished setting up I was dripping and ready for a shower, not to mention a bit knackered.
Several punters arrived as we were finishing up laying out the cones, but it was a little disappointing that we only ended up with about a dozen riders…although that meant that it was easy to have a good play as there was plenty of room and always two or three spare courses.
I had fun and was more focused on the two main rodeo courses which were ‘The Glock’ and ‘Offset Cloverleaf’, I took a few photos and Woody took a few of me, then we went for a subsidised lunch at the Petone Working Mens Club….before returning home and collapsing in a heap.
In 2005 I did my first Muscular Dystrophy Ride with the Wellington Ulysses and in 2007, a couple of us decided we needed a decent ride, so we orgainised a 1,000Km ride and called it the C1KC (Capital 1,000 Km Cruise). Within a couple of years the C1KC morfed into a fundraising ride for the MDA Ride and now the success of the C1KC (now the 1KC (Nth) & (Sth)) ensures a decent standard of gifts are purchased for the children, as well as making a reasonable donation straight to the MDA.
This is most fortunate as this year the number of children rose to 30...and this after several children from last year fell off the list as we stop seeing them once they have turned 14. I might also note that one unfortunate wee chap died died during the year and this is one of the things that makes this cause and ride special.
There was also another glitch along the way leading up to this year's ride, in that Ron, who has been organising the ride for the past 11 years, took ill (and subsequently died before Christmas). This turned things on their ear because the organisation was half-baked, but a committee pulled together and kept things on track so that on Friday 04 December, 9 riders, 1 pillion and 1 driver departed at 0900 from Brown Owl on a mission.
Friday is a ride up to Napier and this year we had gone from two school visits to five, so the pressure was on. Fortunately, two children were away for the day, so that resulted in stop-'n-goes as well as reducing our lolly requirements by about a kilo per rider! It also meant that we had time for lunch and a refreshment stop at Tikokino before finishing the day with a bar-b-que for the Napier children. Friday is always a bit of a highlight with the distribution of lashings of lollies, masses of hugs, high-fives, low-fives and group-hugs from Santa, songs from the children and Buzz's group song that stumps them everytime.
The programme for Saturday was as per usual with a ride from Napier to Bell Block, with just two children to visit along the way, so it could be deemed as more of a 'Ride Day', with the Napier-Taupo road, Western Lake Road, SH41, the Awakino Gorge and Mt Messenger for us to enjoy. We had a refuel and refreshment stop at Z Tauhara, arrived in Taumarunui just in time to join the Santa Parade, but sanity prevailed and we refrained from making their Santa look bad because ours was riding an ST. The town was really busy, so we made a change of plans and lunched in PioPio.
I was leading into the Awakino Gorge and I had the GoPro fitted, so as I came out of the tunnel I said to Trev (via the Sena) to come through and I would turn the camera on. Well!, he just heard heard “come through”, because that was all he wanted to hear and he just interpretted the rest of the garbled message as, “and go like hell”!?...and I had to try to keep up.
Saturday night was relaxing with us being catered for at the Te Arei Marae and we needed the rest because Sunday was another hectic day where we delivered to children in New Plymouth, Inglewood, along the coast and Whanganui and I finally got home at about 1745.
What a special weekend. Visiting children with Muscular Dystrophy makes one realise that we don't have much to complain about. Seeing the children, some standing, others in wheelchairs eagerly waiting for Santa and his altitudinous, attitudinous elves to turn up on their bikes, then watching them open a gift which Santa knew they really wanted, the bright eyes and beaming smile is heartwarming. Watching a dad hold up his son's arm so he can wave goodbye is enough to bring a tear to an eye and seeing a mum in tears because someone cares about them and has taken the time to bring a gift to their child leaves a lump in a throat, then watching school children mobbing Santa for a group hug is at the other end of the emotional spectrum and is hilarious...and after all that, there's a good ride on good roads with great mates.
A month or two back I decided it’s been a couple of years so it was about time I did another riding refresher course, with the bees-knees of courses being the Ride Forever Gold as it’s an 8 hour jobby and all for the miserable sum of $50, or comparatively, a tank of gas (if you’re riding an empty ST and filling with 98).
On the last occasion I did one of these, One chap was sent packing from the start because he didn’t have a current WoF, Rego and dare I say it….licence! (It takes all sorts) and the other guys covered a huge range of skillsets, so the instructors attentions were focused more on the others and I came away thinking I hadn’t got the most out of the day…my bang wasn’t quite up to the buck, as it were, so this time I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could arrange a Wgtn Ulysses course as that would even up the playing field.
That was all good and yesterday, 8 old Farts met up to get a tickle-up from Roadsafe.
We assembled at The Family Bakery in Porirua for an 0900 start, where we shared intros, backgrounds and expectations over a coffee, before heading back to the Linden Community Centre for some classroom stuff. Last time I did one of these, there was none of that and this time I was expecting more road-time, but the classroom did offer a great opportunity to see some vids along with other training aids and sharing from the participants. In fact, one of the concerns I have had and that has been niggling me about my riding was specifically mentioned…and all was made clear….and that is all I am going to say about that…on the grounds it might incriminate me!
With clear heads and renewed focus we adjourned for lunch back at the bakery, then headed for the Porirua Train Station Carpark for some handling and emergency braking practice.
The handling dealt with keeping one’s head up, eliminating distractions and having confidence to push the machine around using things like, clutch on friction point and rear brake combo at slow speed, body position and weighting the footpegs, counter-steering and so on. Braking dealt with the aspects and finer details of coming to a stop, then emergency braking at 50kph, up to 100kph and throwing in and emergency get-away to avoid the clown behind you.
That was all good and I was pushing the limits of the ABS as well as destroying my economy.
Next we were off for some cornering and road stuff, whereby we pootled down to Johnsonville, then around Ohariu Valley and up and down the Karori Hill…and I might have got myself into a little trouble here!?
Scenario was: After finding any and every opportunity to poke the borax at AndrewT throughout the day, the group had ridden over the Ohariu Valley and out past the Karori Golf Club with 5 riders following Andrew and 3 following Lynn. I had settled appropriately in the more sedate Lynn group, but as the ride was taking off for the return in on Sth Makara Rd, it looked like two riders were dropping from the Andrew group, so, to keep things even, I bolted for the Andrew Group, only to find that Geoff must have been dithering, so I ended up as TEC on that group. After a relaxed no-brakes climb up the Karori Hill, the group were fumbling around, turning around at the top with Andrew waiting at a lay-by, so Conehead that I am, I just threw a U’ee and pulled in behind Andrew to wait for the others. After re-assembling the group, it was now still no-brakes, but going down the hill, and Andrew cruised down the hill in his usual easy, smooth, relaxed fashion…somewhat akin to a cut-cat….with me in hot pursuit.
On arrival back at Makara School, Andrew hopped off his bike, licked his forefinger and proceeded to touch my front disc, then proceeded to do the same along the row of bikes as they pulled up.
A couple of riders were congratulated but Andrew had the audacity to ask me why I had used my front brake…to which I replied, “I didn’t! I used the rear, but it’s linked!…and I had to because you were going too slow!!” (ouch)
Rebuttals and further questions then elicited another response from me to the effect, “I had to use my brakes to keep up and ensure you didn’t use yours!” (… A step closer to the truth perhaps?)
After another run and further discussion, one could possibly make a case that Andrew, with me not even almost up his date, was riding absolutely on the edge, arse puckering and sucking onto the seat, sweat from his brow obscuring his vision and drenching the inside of his helmet and running down his spine along with the cold shiver associated with a near death experience…but he was determined not to wimp out and use his brakes….but truth be known he was just puttering along at the speed limit. It would make good reading if, at this point I finally admitted, “I had to use my brakes, you were trying to lure me to certain death!” …but truth be known, I’m lacking skills and overcooked a couple of tightening radius corners!! After all …..all this was in a 50kph zone!...albeit a very tight and twisty 50kph zone!
I will now await and see what the consequences of my folly are. No doubt there will be some sort of fine at the next meeting for being a wimp / using my brakes / being confused / being a liar / Gamesmanship / all of the above?
All in all it was a fun day and I must say I feel much better having done the refresher and having all those things I know brought back the fore, so I’m more aware of them when I’m riding. I certainly highly recommend these courses, especially at the price. I also note that the courses do vary and this one was catered to the old farts that were attending and the info supplied by them on the application.
For those that aren’t familiar with the Karori Hill, I am referring to the road that heads out of Karori to Makara and here’s a couple of vids recorded a couple of years ago.
After eight C1KC's (Capital 1,000 Km Cruise) the NZ Distance Riders have now picked it up, added another route option and 2015 sees the inception of the 1KC with north (out of Hamilton) and south (out of Wellington) options. The format is still pretty much the same but the change has doubled the number of punters wanting to participate, which in turn does wonders for the fundraising aspect.
Even though I organise the ride, I can't be there on the day this year as we have a wedding to go to in Sydney and although I tried all sorts of dirty tricks to get out of it, at the end of the day...I know what's good for me. Not a problem though, I just went for a scoot yesterday to ensure the southern track was safe for the riders.
Saturday night saw us in bed early to be up before the sparrows fart, ie a 0400 rugby game to watch. Fortunately it wasn't in vain with the AB's winning and after having a shower at half time, I just needed to kit-up and prep the bike afterwards, finally leaving home at 0630. I had half a tank on board so decided I wouldn't fill until Woodville or thereabouts.
It was a looking to be a great day but the 11° when leaving home was soon down to 5° and I was feeling the pinch as I'd removed the wet layer from the jacket and only had a T-shirt underneath and summer gloves on, so I flicked on the grips and figured I could put up with it as it should come up again soon enough. Besides, the mission had started and I didn't have time to get a scivvy from the top-box.
0650 saw me passing by Caltex Rimurtuka and effectively starting the 1,015km, and as I embarked on the hill I was treated to a bit of sunstrike, but I had a great cage-free ride up to the summit, only to catch up to a convoy right at the top. The last car was great and eased over within a few corners of catching them, but the next couple seemed to fancy themselves and hogged the centreline...*sigh*,
Riding through the Wai'rapa was a real treat with cloudless skies, although a few more degrees than 8-11 would have been nice and I was soon slipping off the Bideford road and onto Route 52, which is in pretty good condition at the moment, and I arrived at Alfredton at 0806, snapped my pic, sought relief from the cold squeeze and sent a 4 hour 'Glympse' to Ann, Brett and James. (found out later that the one to Ann failed???)
Within a few minutes I was back on the road and heading on Pa Valley Rd towards Pahiatua. That road is a bit rougher than I recall but it opens up as you make way and, as I was skirting Pahiatua to emerge at SH2 from the Pongaroa road, I assessed my fuel range and figured I could easily make Feilding, which would give me a bit more flexibility for my next stop and could be the difference between making Havelock Nth, or having to fill in Taupo, so decision made I went through the gorge to Ashhurst then diverted via Bunnythorpe to the BP Connect for some 98 and the few extra km it would give me.
I arrived at 0900, but my overall average at this point was only 86kph, so I managed to fill, snack and swig and be out again in 6 minutes to minimise the loss and now was just a short scoot up to Rangiwahia, enjoying the few curly km on the north side of Kimbolton for the fourth time in the last couple of months. My stop at the Rangiwahia Hall to get a pic of the memorial was just over a minute and I was now on my way through to SH1 at Mangaweka, on through Taihape to Turangi, then off SH41 to Kuratau and up the Western Access.
My first glimpse of Ruapehu was on the Rangiwahia Rd and I don't recall ever noticing that before, but it was spectacular with the stark white backdrop to the green hills. Then on the Desert Rd where there wasn't a cloud in the sky in any direction. The mountains completing the picture (if I'd stopped to take one), but on the northern side, especially of Ngauruhoe, there were big blobs on the summit and brown speckled staining all the way down that side.
I wasn't too interested to take a closer look though as I had a date at Tihoi and it was around this time that the music from my GPS choked. In trying to get it sorted the GPS locked up and I had to reboot it, the music came back briefly, then stopped again and eventually, I had to proceed without it, in my cone of silence.
The good flowy roads through this section finally saw my overall average push through to 91kph by the time I reached Tihoi and I was back on the road in a minute-forty, turning off to cut across past Kinloch to Poihipi Rd. As I rolled down the hill into Taupo, I decided to stay on the main road rather than cut around the back and I was amazed at the number of people everywhere....but then again, it was a long weekend. It was pretty slow through here with all the traffic but I was soon on the Napier-Taupo Rd and where there was little traffic and some more free riding.
By the time I got to my Hedgeley Rd turnoff at Eskdale, my overall average was up to 93kph and as I approached the turnoff, I realised that the GPS was still on track but Karen wasn't talking to me. A quick fiddle and it shit itself altogether so I continued to Seafield Rd, then paused at the intersection to reset it again, which worked well enough to get me through to the Puketapu Tavern. It's been some years since I lasted pootled over these roads and I was reminded how delightful they are.
I arrived at the Tavern at 1333 with the average down to 91 and I was surprised at how packed it was. There were plenty of bikes there and masses of cars but I just needed to use their conveniences, then with the temperature up at 22°, once back at the bike, I took the liner out of my jacket. As I was sorting myself out the phone rang, so I answered it but couldn't hear a thing, then realised I was still connected to the Sena so I had to whip my helmet on so I could chat to Ann. That done I sent another 4 hour Glympse, then got ready and back on my way. I'd been stopped for 11 minutes and that had the average down to 89, then as I hit the road, you guessed it, my GPS shit itself again!
Fortunately, I had designed the route so I was quite familiar with it, but apart from route instructions on the way, the GPS is very handy for recording the journey so I continued over to the G.A.S at Pakowhai and did more resetting, then filled the bike again. With just under 400km to go, I was going to get home easily from here, but between the fill and mucking around with the GPS, I had wasted 11 minutes and the overall average was now down to 87kph...damn. At least the GPS was going again, albeit without any sound, but I was familiar with these roads and that wasn't a problem. I had now flicked the GoPro on, was back into fang mode and enjoying the scoot to the next checkpoint on Kahuranki Rd and beyond. This time the photostop was down to 50sec and I just had two to go.
Kahuranaki Rd is reasonably narrow, but one can make good progress and after Elsthorpe it opens up a bit in width and with sweepier corners. Then the top part of Route 52 from Waipuk' is really easy riding with a nice wide road and big curves, however, being ¾ through the ride, although I was making good progress, picking up the average has become difficult and by the time I had arrived at Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapiki- maungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, the overall average was still languishing at 88kph, but a sub-minute stop didn't lose any time.
I was now getting onto the roads that of all the ride, these required the most respect as one can never be too sure of their condition through to the Weber turnoff. By that time the GPS packed up altogether so I had no music, no rolling or overall average to assess my progress and no ETA to gauge my predicted time on the road. I've been riding with the GPS for 4 years and I now found how much I tend to use it as I was now thrust back into the past. It also made me realise how I had embarked on this ride with no means of back-up whatsoever (ie Map Book) and thank God it was a ride I had no need of navigation aids...and I was down to the last 200km to go.
The ride now was easy going as I slipped out to SH2 at Dannevirke and down to the last checkpoint at Woodville (the Catholic Church on the main road in). From here my quickest option would be through the gorge, and down to SH1 via Shannon, but I opted to stay on SH2 for the better ride home, which was a bit dumb considering my butt was burning by this time and I was feeling somewhat uncomfortable.
It was easy riding though and what do you know, as I was passing by Claireville, my GPS decided to wake up and Karen joined me once more. The ride over the hill was dreary with a big queue of cars on the decent slowly making their way past a cyclist and I finally got home at 1838, just over 12 hours on the road for 1,065km and just under 11½ hours for the 1,000+km. I was reasonably satisfied with that since the thought of a +4km tolerance for the weekend was generally in the back of my mind...at least, on the main highways anyway.
Perhaps next time I'll take my time and enjoy the scenery!?
Are we there yet?...that's the motto of NZ Distance Riders (NZDR) and Yes Siree, we got there...we made it!...and had a shitload of fun on the way…..whew!
Last weekend was the culmination of another year's planning for the 2015 Nth Island 1600. The creation of a route and selection of checkpoints, selection of colours for rider and volunteer T-Shirts, design of badges, patches and certificates, production of Rider's Guides, organisation of volunteers for selected manned checkpoints, scrutineering, catering at HQ and managers for the event, establishing a budget, sorting and provisioning the catering...then waiting for the entries to trickle in.....tweeking the route, tweeking the budget,...then waiting for the entries to trickle in …collecting checkpoint photos for the Rider's Guide...then waiting for entries to trickle in....worrying about the budget and lack of requests for accommodation ...and worrying that there weren't enough entries and the budget was blowing out...and waiting for the entries to trickle in!!?? Asking each other... “Are we there yet?”
I don't know what the worry was because at the close of entries there were 50 nutters all wanting to crack out a thousand miler in 24 hours, a GC, or a Grandy, as some still refer to what is now the North Island 1,600 and there were about 24 volunteers eager to assist and monitor progress and the budget looked healthy. Of course, there were a few withdrawals, but come 1300 on Saturday 10 November 2015, the riders were rolling out of the Turangi cabins and embarking on their personal challenges, their epic adventures.....and a bloody good fang!!
For me, the departure from Wellington at about 0900 on Friday morning was almost an anticlimax and relief that we were finally at the start, and since I had planned to be at Turangi by lunch time, I just scooted straight up SH1, to arrive at 1220, while Ann took the loaded car via Palmy to pick-up the all important pre-prepared post-ride meals. (supplied from Barney who was one of the riders)
I checked in to the cabins and started to setup the hall as HQ, got the bike scrutinised by Brian, took a few photos, helped sort the supplies into the kitchen and HQ, then relaxed and enjoyed meeting and greeting new riders and old mates. We went for a feed at the tavern at 1700 to get back for the release of the route and issue of Rider's Guides and T-Shirts at 1900. It was hard case because once we were setup I had donned my volunteer's yellow T-Shirt when Theresa pointed out, “Should you have that on because it's got the route on the back?” ...and we all just looked at each other and started to laugh. What a bunch of dickheads! I put a jersey on and Brett turned his inside out, then we rearranged the issue of T-Shirts to coincide with posting up the route.
The rest of the night was spent planning, or for us, assisting the planners to plan.
Saturday was cruisy. I helped in the kitchen for breakfast, took photos, went down for fuel, water and bananas (I already had my supply of nut bars stowed), then hurried up and waited for the briefing at 1200 (but that was on Gremlin-Time which is a bit like Maori-Time...ie normal time plus a cup of tea, which was about 1215). Brett and Jane hit the road shortly after the briefing, then James led us out about 10-15 minutes later at 1241.
We were both equipped with Sena S20s, so we could chat away while making good progress over Te Ponanga Saddle, across SH47 to SH4, and down the Paraparas to the first checkpoint that we were manning at the Upokongaro Tavern, his brisk but relaxed pace chewing out the 160km in 1:33 for a rolling average of 102kph (well within the allowable limits).
Once the last riders were through, we kitted up and lit out for checkpoint (CP) 2, slotting straight into 'GC Mode', which is just a bit slower than that of a scolded cat, and by the time we had scooted through Fordell to the bridge over the Whangaehu River at the junction with Mangamahu Rd, we had passed a half dozen riders and found another 6 or 8 at the CP.
A quick stop, pic snapped and we were away ahead of most at the stop, but fortunately, we were behind three riders on adventure bikes. I say fortunately, because we passed one rider, then sat behind/with the other two as they cruised along. It was one of those situations whereby, they weren't travelling quite as quick as we would have, but the road was tight and it wasn't really worth gassing it to get past.
Next thing you know, the lead rider of our little group was two wheel drifting through a right hander on Mangahoe Rd, James alerted me as I entered the corner and he didn't seem to have too much bother, but the chap behind him was struggling for control as he tried to keep his bike upright and avoid the other two in front, while I was going, “ooooh, oooooh, ooooh” into the intercom as I straightened and headed for the fence while caressing the linked, ABS stoppers in an effort to pull myself up before tangling with the fence while avoiding the other three. My arse was puckering as I could feel the grit under the tyres trying to make them give way and initiate a slide, but the combination of 'soft' hands and ABS thwarted all efforts of the Turakina Valley Demons to ruin my day....and we continued on!
The wee glitch left our two buddies a bit shaken and they dropped from ¾ to ½ Impulse, then the man in front of me almost ran tooo wide on another corner, so I passed him, then shortly after, the front man waved us through, so it was back to Warp Factor 1 and we were soon rocking through Hunterville, passing another three riders who were at the pumps, then heading up to Ohingaiti before crossing to CP3 at Pemberton Corner.
Pemberton used to be a settlement along Rangiwahia Rd, but now all that remains is a sign on a fence, which we had soon photographed and pulled out behind Judge Dreds and his two Bailiffs. I don't recall why, but I ended up in the lead out of here so we soon passed the Africa Twins and GS and took to the lovely wee strip of road leading into Kimbolton, then negotiated the horrid straights to Cheltenham, turning there to make our way via Stanway (a hall on a corner) to CP4 at the roundabout in Halcombe. There were a few more riders here and I was so focused on the job in hand that I didn't notice the Hyde Bros repairing Grayson's FJR on the side of the road.
Off again and we now took Halcombe Rd to SH1, then Makirikiri Rd to SH3 so we could scoot around the mountain to CP5 at Oakura. Our first fuel stop was planned at 460km for Z Hawera, but as it transpired, James was running 91 in his ST and between the pace and the fact we were now punching into a stiff westerly, he was well into his second-to-last bar on the fuel gauge and although I would probably still make Hawera, it would have been touch and go, so after a quick discussion and rethink (bloody great advantage of the Senas) we altered our fuel plan to fill at Whanganui and Te Kuiti before slotting back into the plan at Bombay.
While we were filling a few riders passed us back, then we saw no one as we made our way to Hawera and around the Surf Highway. This stretch had us riding straight into the gales and setting sun, although from time to time we had the relief of a few clouds and we finally arrived at Oakura just before 1930 and we were 550km into the ride, enjoying some stick from Stretch (CP Marshall) as he cleaned my screen for me. Snacked, watered and relieved, I donned a couple of scivvies for the cooling night, before we were back on our way through New Plymouth and heading up SH3 for a date with Mt Messenger and the Awakino Gorge, albeit in the dark. It was a good but uneventful fang and I found it quite relaxing while James busted his guts to make good progress and I was able to just ride off his lights....Good on ya mate!
At 2120 we were filling at the Te Kuiti BP, about 730km into the ride, then off for Otorohanga, where we turned off to take SH39 up to Pirongia and shortly after that, we diverted over Te Pahu Rd to get to SH23 and take that out to CP6 at Raglan...another rather nice curly road. While we were there, the Hyde boys and Dave rocked in, then we followed them out. Once again, I don't recall why, but I was in front of James and while our plan was to take Ohautira Rd to Huntley, I was sure these guys were going back through Whatawhata, to Ngaruawahia, then up the western side of the river to Rangiriri,....and they were doing Warp Factor 3, so I asked James, “Turn off on Ohautira or follow these guys?” and the succinct response was, “Follow them”….. and so it was that we got taken for a ride.
At this point in the ride, our moving average was 97kph and ETA at about 0945 in the morning. I was really disappointed that when we rolled into BP Bombay a little before midnight that our moving average hadn't budged...but I was most pleased that Barney had shaved a half hour off our ETA. (??....say no more).
We didn't linger, filling, snacking, watering and relieving and didn't bother putting the wets on even though we departed in misty drizzle as we figured it was pretty localised and we were soon back on the road, heading across SH2 to SH25, through Thames, then up to Coromandel and across to CP8 at Te Rerenga School.
James was doing a sterling job, making his way through the dark at a respectable pace and I was doing a sterling job keeping just close enough to ride off his lights...enjoying an armchair ride if you will. We did pass the odd cop along here but James' spidey senses were active and we weren't bothered or interrupted...and then we were turning corners. It was marginal riding up the western side of the peninsular but, my word, what a ride it was across the top. I haven't been through these parts for over 20 years and back then I seem to recall that there was a fair bit of horrid, badly corrugated gravel roads, populated by arrogant SUVs, driven by spoilt-brat teenagers, but now this is the picture-postcard-pin-up motorcycling road (apparently) and I must say, I wouldn't mind attacking it in daylight but that would probably see the macadam populated with cages as well. We only met two cars, a truck and one motorcycle all the way from Thames to Waihi!
After capturing our pictures of the Te Rerenga School sign, James dragged us across to Kuaotunu and down through Whitianga and Tairua to CP9 at Z Whangamata and all I have to say about that is that there were a few more corners. At this stage, James had upped to 98 octane at Bombay, but he was still running about 1.1km/ltr less than my economy, but that wasn’t going to be a problem as we were only doing about 380km from Bombay to Rotorua and he continued to lead through to Tauranga before finally giving me the nod that he needed a rest from lead.
By this time the temp was plummeting and with fatigue taking its toll, we dropped down to a less than sedate pace over Pyes Pa Rd. I'm not sure if it was the cold, the drop in pace out of 'the zone', or because I'm slowly turning into an old fart that I was feeling the effects and getting a tad tired as well, but we crawled on and pulled into CP10 at Z Fairy Springs just after 0500. ...with only about 350km to go.
We filled and James had a coffee while I went for a stroll and jumped about a bit, then put my wet jacket and glove liners on to help stave off the cold. I'd already been using the heated grips, but I really needed them when we pulled out and cracked them up to full.
I was back in front and James wanted me to up the pace to get us back into 'the zone' but as well as the temp fluctuating between 3° & -1°, we were drifting in and out of thick fog on a night that was as black as the hobs of hell....and I was a still a tad tired too. I did my best as we crossed SH30 to Atiamuri, then Whakamaru and I decided I needed to stop for another wake-up at either Bennydale or the turnoff onto Waimiha Rd...but for some reason I didn't. Nor did I need to because Waimiha Rd is a lousy goat-track and we were hooning over it ….and that woke both of us up.
We had been riding smoothly throughout the trip with minimal braking and nice roll-off – roll-on, flowy, efficient riding, but this was all brakes and acceleration and my precious economy was plummeting, but hey, when you’re having fun….
We cracked along to SH4, turned right to scoot up to Ohura Rd, at which point I got confused as to whether to take the first slip-road corner, or the main corner and ended up stopped in between the two, letting James resume control at the front while Gary hooked on behind. More high energy riding and I was soon getting uncomfortable wrists from the constant heavy braking, so I eased up slightly to revert back to a slightly more flowy style. This was the first time I’ve been through here in the dry as the Rustys tended to arrange for wetter rides and we were very thankful for the grip as our ETA continued to tumble.
On arrival at the hall, we grabbed our photos and as per usual, dysentery-dog that I am, I felt compelled to mark my territory before continuing on. At this point Gary took the lead because he felt he needed to be back in Turangi by 0900 to complete inside 20 hours. James and I stayed with him to Taumaranui, then lost him as we resumed our ride on the much easier SH41, which I must say is in pretty good nick at the moment and we glided into the Turangi Cabins at 0901. On the basis that we effectively left as the last group, that put us more than 10 minutes under 20 hours, but apparently we looked like shit as we checked in, then eventually had a feed etc. etc.
As it turned out, it was a pretty slow track due to the high volume of technical riding and I would have said that we would have ridden closer to an 18 hour pace than a 20 hour. Normally half of the field are in within about 20 hours and 90% by 22 hours. On this occasion, half were in by 22 hours but all were home by 23….and the quick quickies were still quite quick but not as quick as usual. Of the 47 starters, 43 finished with 4 retiring due to fatigue or illness (although I did hear a comment that one of the two to off, retired…but I’m not sure)
I took photographs of several of the riders as they returned, we went for a soak in a hot pool around lunch time then eventually had a nap for a couple of hours at about 1500 before getting up to sort some dinner for those that were around. We then spent the night chatting and all was well.
Monday morning we were up by 0630, scrubbed and in the kitchen for an early breakfast. I resumed scromelette duties, we cleaned up and were on the road by about 0930, riding back to Palmy with James and Ally in order to drop off the oven dishes and I got back to the office at about 1600.
What a great way to spend a long weekend!
Are we there yet?...I’m not sure because there’s some financial and such to tidy up, a 1KC to do in November and then we’ll have to start preparing for the next ride?!
I've done a few rides this month in an effort to build up for the North Island 1600 on 10-11 October, but thanks to wrecking the rear tyre, I haven't done as much riding as I had hoped.
On Friday the 4th, Woody and I had an early departure from Wellington in order to scoot up to KSS in New Plymouth to get my rear shock replaced. I've had the OEM shock in for a few months as I haven't been able to get away from work, but it's all done now and the bike feels like it's back on rails.....I just need to get used to not squashing and wallowing through the corners.
It was quite a good 700km day where we only encounted a couple of light drizzles, we went around the mountain each way, had a nice big breakfast at the Landing Cafe and I was able to have a chat with Robert to get a better handle on making adjustments to the rear.
The following weekend we managed to do 877km in nice, but albeit cool weather....and my heated grips decided not to work!! A 7am start saw us through Masterton just after 0800, then off through Mauriceville and Dreyers Rock Rd to Alfredton, back to SH2 via Tane, up via Woodville and the Gorge for Ashhurst, then Colyton and Kimbolton to Mangaweka and SH1 to Turangi, before a short scoot up the Western Lake to the Tihoi Pub. It was 3° through the Hutt, jumped to 8° as we descended the Rimutakas, then back down to between 3 & 5 as we journied through the Wai'rapa, but rocketed up to 17° around the Lake.
We made our return down the Para's, then the dreary slog down SH's 3 & 1, getting home just after 1800.
With only two weeks to go, this weekend was the biggy for me as I needed a good night ride and some decent km's. It was a pretty loose plan and I ended up taking Friday afternoon off to prep the bike and try to get a couple of hours sleep. I managed a bit over 1hr, watched a bit of TV and got away from home at about 2030. The temp wasn't too bad as it hovered around 9&10° and I wasn't in a hurry but the speed did creep up ocassionally and whatta-ya-know, as I approached Sanson, I managed to creep to 113kph as a revenue collector was cruising the other way .....bitch!! My oh so dangerous behaviour on the straightest and lightly trafficed of roads attacting an $80 fine and 20 demerits!
I hadn't filled before I left so had decided to top-up at BP Bulls as that would get me to Waihi and another fill at Taihape would get me home. I had put two scivvies on before I left home and decided to put the wet jacket on to help keep the torso a bit more comfortable as I had the grips up at 75%. From Bulls I continued up SH3 an on to the Para's, where the temp did decline to 3°....until I got through Raetihi and it got downright uncomfortable at 1°.....then Horopito and it hit 0° for me to enjoy my favouriteistest piece of road, the Makatote Viaduct!! Fortunately it was dry though, so no black-ice to make my day....but it did hit -1° until I passed National Park.
On the upside, it was almost a full moon and the vista as I travelled up through here was magnificent. In fact, I was almost tempted to stop for a time-lapse pic.....yeah right!....me stop for anything but gas when I'm rolling! It was great though. One could clearly see the snow capped mountain and all the lights of the chalets and such, formed a line going up it. Sweet.
Anyway, I continued up SH4, then SH3 to Te Kuiti, on to Otorohanga and round through Pirongia, skirted the southern side of Hamilton, went across to Paeroa and through the Karangahake Gorge for my fuel stop at Waihi. That was a bit of a nuisance as they use the window thing there, but at least he let me fill (putting $53 in the tank), but I couldn't have a leak so I went looking in town afterwards. Having got that sorted, I had a snack and some water, and got to thinking that it was quite some time since I'd ridden in this neck of the woods (08 GC I think) but I seemed to recall that the road up to Whangamata was quite pleasant....so what-the-hey.....I went for a fang! Bloody marvelous it was and once I got to Whangamata I turned around and did it again as my business up these parts was south of Tauranga.
Once back through Waihi I got onto SH2 and slotted back into cruise mode, easing through Tauranga just before dawn and made my way through Te Puke to Kiwi 360. I'd included this as a checkpoint for the Northern 1KC and although I could have got someone else to get a sample CP pic, what better excuse for a ride? I'd left home a bit earlier than expected, so I got there and it was still marginally dim, but after wasting time snacking, drinking and looking for a bush, I got my pic and headed for home.
The route home was more sedate, generally boring, State Highway riding down through Rotorua, along 5 to Taupo and onto 1 for the duration. It got pretty cool over the Central Plateau so the grips were cranked up to full (again), and I enjoyed a longer stop at BP Taihape, fuelling the bike and getting a very nice pepper steak pie. I should have taken the wet jacket off at this point but I didn't as it was still about 7°, but once I got south of Sanson I regretted it....but just like taking a picture of the mountain in the middle of the night....there was no stopping.....not even to connect power to the Sena to get music flowing again, as that had exceeded its 13 hour life span.
I finally got home right on midday with 1370km racked up. I weathered the ride quite well really finding the cold to be more of a problem than the sore butt and I'd generally stuck to the main highways to provoke discomfort in that department (it was a conditioning ride after all). I had found myself rather rusty in the night-riding department though and I could certainly do with a bit more of that. I guess I'll be coming right there by the early hours of 11/10/15.
All in all, it was a good ride and considering my general lack of riding and the fact that I's done a longer ride than usual, I was pretty happy with the way the bod' held out. The bike now has 71,500 kmon it so I'll book it in for next Monday to get the new front tyre fitted, the 72K service and a pre-NI1600 super WoF check.
Bring it on!
Bloody marvellous! I went for my first conditioning ride this morning. I decided that about 500km would be good and worked out a route up by Wangas, then across and back through the Wai’rapa, which ended up at 530km, would be just what the doctor ordered. The straight and boring ride up ‘1’ & ‘3’ to Wangas would be arse numbing and on an early (0700) start I wouldn’t have to worry about cold, damp patches, then I could enjoy a few nice roads on the way home. And when it worked out at 530km, I thought, ‘all good, I’ll try to do it on one tank’. It would have been easy on the old Red, but this bike just isn’t as economical so it would require some ‘smooth’.
I went up to Fordell, then heading through Kauangaroa and hello, my bike felt funny!
I hop off, kick the rear tyre, very spongy….ahhhh FFS! Put bike on centre stand, give rear a spin and nothing…..ahhh FFS!
Get out compressor, start huffing and hello, there’s a largish hole and inch or so off centre and right in the side of one of the tread grooves.
Pull out kit from under the seat, dog turds old but nice and soft, two tubes of vulcanising goo, one had been opened and was shot, other is unused and good.
Put reamer through tyre, slightly difficult but goes through. Thread dog turd into other end, coat with goo, try to work through the tyre. Tyre just flexes so figure a bit of air might help, turn on compressor…..nothing……ahhhh FFS!!!
Check connection at lighter socket in top-box and the plug on the compressor is disintegrating …….you guessed it……ahhhh FFS!
Nice man in truck had just pulled up, “I’ve got some air”, he says, “but not sure how we’ll get it in there?” I show him elbow attachment, fit it and do the deeds on the doggy-doo-plug.
He blows some air in, I check, “5psi, have another go”, more air goes in, “15psi, I need 40” has another go and gets it to 33psi. “She’ll be right I say, that’ll get me into Wangas”
Thanks are given and we are both on our way back to Fordell. There’s quite a bit of crap through there from the flooding and obviously a sharp stone had done the deed on what I would have called ‘very good tyres’. 8,000km done of 12-15,000km usually, so between ½ & ⅔ worn but with very good looking deep tread and life.
Get to Wangas, “Hello, Honda shop has disappeared”, have a look around, need a piss and air in the tyre, so stop at Z Dublin, come out of shop and looking for someone to ask and hello, there’s a chap with two M/Cs on a trailer,
“Any bike shops around?”
“I’m a bike shop” says he, “Well a bike mechanic” he qualifies.
“Had a puncture and want to get it plugged.”
“Oh bugger” he says, “I’m just delivering these and can’t help you….and the bloody shops around here are rough on your rims”. He has a look, “That’s bloody good, it’s sealed well, they reckon ya shouldn’t ride far on ‘em, but they’ll last 6 months those things.
‘Yeah right’ I thinks, but says, “She’s right, I’ll go to Palmy.”
….so more air goes in …..but not until after I realise that my valve cap and elbow attachment are still on the ground at Kauangaroa!!!.......you got it……..ahhh FFS!! and off I go.
Gets to Sanson and just comes home. Oddly enough, the economy was better on the way home!
Now I needs to fix the compressor or get one of those natty little ones off Andrew at TSS, plus the Wof-able plug kit that comes with a small back-up bike type pump….and a new tyre at this point (start of my conditioning rides) will be most inconvenient.
What a bloody bummer!
My day turned to shit because I only got to do the boring, shit part of the ride….upside I guess is, that the 400+km I did would have to be rated highly for butt-hardening, but I was really looking forward to the scoot across to the Wai’rapa where I was going to venture over to Route 52 from Pahiatua and it’s nice flowy stuff through there….and call in to visit my mum.
My whole conditioning programme has been shot to shit because I was looking to do somewhere between 3-5,000km over the next month, then put a brand new set of Z8’s on for the NI1600. I wouldn’t normally do that much conditioning, but the state of the tyres meant I needed to use them up, plus I’ve been working 7-day weeks for all of the last 3 months,…..except for two Sundays I took off to have a ride….I deserve some nice Km’s!!! Also, this bike only has 68,000km on it. At the same age, the old Red had over 120,000km!
There’s not much change from $750 after fitting a set of tyres to the ST. A few more km would have been nice and I have to have it fixed by Friday because I’m booked to take the bike up to KSS to get the new rear shock fitted after a recall on them.
Upside….better it happened now rather than in the pissing rain, at 0200 in the morning in the back of beyond on the NI1600, because now I know I need to upgrade my tyre repair kit and I guess I better check the 1st aid kit at the same time.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.