It's been a month since my last ride, except for a quick jaunt up to Palmy and back for a seminar and a few commutes. I was supposed to go on a Ulysses ride to Pongaroa and Dannevirke today but as it was my daughter's birthday, we rode up to Rotorua to see her instead.
I was supposed to go by myself in which case I planned to do the Waioeka gorge up and Paraparas back, but at the last minute, Ann decided to come and 800Kms is too much in one hit two-up, so we did the Forgotten Highway instead.
We got an early night with the alarm set for 0100 and we were on the road by 0145 for a fill at Caltex Kaiwhara', then straight up SH1 & 3 to Wanganui for our first stop. The temp was a pleasant 13° when we left, so I just had jeans & a T-shirt on under my corduras but the temp dropped to 10° which was a bit nippy, so we stopped at the Caltex for a pie & Milo and swapped gear so I could put an extra skivvy on, then put my wets on over Ann's gear to try an d take the edge off the wind chill. We headed on at 0440 and the temp kept dropping, bottoming at 6° in Eltham so we stopped for gas in Stratford and both put another layer on as well....it was bloody freezing, the roads were wet, and I was even having second thoughts about SH43, but we pushed on anyway, taking it real easy.
We left Stratford at about 0620, and the temp settled at 7-9° but we now hit fog as well as the wet roads. They've obviously had a lot of rain up that way as the road was littered with rocks, mud and a few trees all the way over to Taumaranui, and although most of it was minor or had already been cleaned-up, on three occasions the road was almost totally blocked. The first we just ducked under the branches blocking the way, the second we had nearly a metre of clearance and just managed to brush past them, but on the third I had to come to a stop. The mud, tree and roots went right to the edge of the road and you could see where a couple of 4WDrives had skirted it, but that required a 2-3ft drop onto soggy, muddy grass and if I kept the ST upright, there was no way I'd get it back up onto the road so I determined there was just enough room to get past. We did have to contend with branches in our faces and roots grabbing at my boots as I tried to maintain balance and motion through a couple of inches of sludgy mud, but like the mail, we managed to get through.
By now we were nearly through to Ohura, the road improved, there was only the odd patch of fog left so I was able to pick the pace up a little and after taking 2Hrs 20min for the 150Km, we had to make another stop in Taumaranui for a 'Natural Break' thanks to the cold squeeze, but from here on in I was able to up the pace again as the temp rose to between 9 & 11°. The roads were still wet but in good condition as we finished the ride over SH41, then up the Western Side of the Lake to Whakamaru, Atiamuri then onto Rotorua, arriving at 1030, in need of a thaw, 632Kms done.
After a pleasant few hours spent with the family, we hit the road at 0310 and came straight back on SH1. It was 11° when we left and quite pleasant, except for the odd shady patch where the road goes through forested areas, but we made good time as most of the traffic was sitting at 110'ish and it was easy filtering through. As we headed out of Taupo, by 5 Mile Bay, the gauge flicked to the last bar indicating 87Kms to go with 420Kms on the clock. The Kms-to-go reader isn’t very accurate so I went into semi-economy mode to get to Turangi, doing a bit of draughting and keeping it smooth on the throttle when passing and was still indicating 47 Kms left in the tank when we got to the big Shell. I should have filled at the Challenge back in Oruatua (or wherever) because the Shell had 3 pumps out of action, queues at every available pump and only two staff on, who couldn’t tell who had paid or not. The lady I got behind, filled her car then left it there while she went inside to pay so I pushed the bike round the front and managed to fill then entered the shop as she came back out. I managed to get into the shop in a lull, (probably because no one out on the forecourt could fill until the first lot had paid) I was next to pay but had to wait for ages while two of them were looking for the ratbag who had gone from pump 2, when all-the-while she was also at the counter waiting to pay. My turn and I stated “Super on 7” and just started to enter my PIN when I realized they were short charging me, (it was only $40 when I had put a new record, $57.83 in the tank), so that took a little longer.
Anyway, we got back on the road, wary of it’s condition as there was the odd little patch of snow on the verge, but the traffic was moving well and we had no problems filtering through, stopping for a pleasant feed and thaw in Bulls, finally arriving home at 2100, economy for the day at 17.4k/Ltr, 1104Kms for the day and 46,119 total Kms on the bike.
Bugger the fuel prices, it’s getting hard to find the perfect day but….!
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.