This year hailed the inclusion of a road riding event (Poker Run), for the first time, at the Masters Games in Wanganui. Upon hearing of this I decided it had been 12 years since I participated in Touch Rugby at the Masters and this was all the excuse for a ride I needed, so online I went to register.
The Road Ride was scheduled for Sunday & Monday, 11 & 12 Feb, so we travelled up from Wellington on Saturday afternoon, checked-in at the Games Village to get our bags & bits, checked in at Ann’s cousies for our accommodation and returned to the village for the night’s entertainment.
Sunday morning, we filled-up and reported to the Wanganui Race Course at 0930 for a 1000 departure. It turned out there were only 11 entries thanks to the event being excluded from the games book then, falling-off the website for about a month along the way. We were the only out-of-town entry and most of the others were Wanganui Ulyssians, but there were a few extra social riders who turned up for a day out, giving us 18 bikes on a lovely Sunday for a ride.
Introductions made, briefing and route map given, cards drawn (4 of Diamonds…pits), photos taken and we were off. Down SH2 to the Fordell turnoff where we passed some keen cyclists of the leg-it variety, through Fordell to Hunterville, then onto a café further up SH1 for Morning tea. I was pleased we went on this road as I have been keen to see what it looked like in daylight ever since crawling along it at night on the last RNGC 1000 miler. We maintained a brisk pace and it wasn’t that bad after-all.
From there we gassed-up in Mangaweka (at least the others did but I figured the ST was good for another 400+ kms), then carried onto Utiku where we turned off to return to Kimbolton via Upper Kawhatau and rejoined the Mangaweka Rd at Karewarewa. Lunch at Kimbolton was very nice, we drew our 2nd cards…10 of Spades…dbl pits) then back on the road, up to Apiti , back down to Pohangia (where a puncture got pando’d) and the return made via Colyton, Fielding (where we found a couple of lost souls), Halcombe and a wee detour round the Turakina Valley (where we experienced a slight delay for an off) before coming out on SH3 by the Antique shop and back to the games village for a drink and draw (4 of Hearts….Yippee…I’m winning). 344 kms done, the day had a couple of teething problems for the organisers, Darryl & Roger, but everyone seemed happy with a good days ride.
The day finally finished at about 0200 and we were up for the repeat performance a few hours later. Fill-up, briefing & route map, 12 riders and 2 pillions were off up the Paraparas, a brief regroup at Raukawa Falls, gas-up at Raetahi, then morning tea at National Park. From there the plan was to head to Taumaranui, up SH41 to lunch at Turangi, then Whakapapa via Rangipo – Turoa – Ohakune and return via Fields Track…but the best laid plans….
About 10 km up SH41 our leader & No 3 Rider-&-Pillion were taken out in a close encounter with a car. This appeared to be far more serious than it was as we waited for about 3 hours for the rider to be ‘Choppered’ to Waikato hospital. Fortunately, as it turned out, he only suffered a dislocated shoulder and some bruising but the CX-650 is a bit worse for wear. The other rider got off with a grazed elbow, his pillion a bruised shin and his bike a broken side cover.
We went back to Taumaranui for lunch and regrouped at 1600, before making our return to Wanganui the way we had come. At lunch I drew my 4th card…3 of hearts and the only good news was I still had the only pair, but 4’s were an easy-beat.
We returned straight to the Games Village for a drink and last card while waited for the organisers to tidy-up any loose ends. I was preying for a 3, 4 or 10 and what-do-you-know…10 of hearts…You Beauty) Roger returned and pulled a 2nd 6, confirmed my pair was 4’s before getting excited, only to be deflated to hear it was now 2 pair. We arranged a rent-a-crowd for the medal ceremony (presented by Dick Taylor), enjoyed a drink to finish off the weekend and headed back to Wellington the next morning.
I thoroughly enjoyed the rides, experiencing a few more new roads and re-visiting some old ones. The roads were all in pretty good condition (even the Parapara’s weren’t too bad) and we were able to maintain a good pace most of the time. After a couple of glitches on day one, day 2 was running very smoothly until the misfortune struck and I for one will be keen to return for this event in two years. Well done Wanganui.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.