Last week I had the bike serviced and a new set of Z8's fitted and yesterday we did our World Tour of the Whanganui River. This was a conditioning ride in preparation for the TT2000 and it was quite good to be able to do it with Steve and Woody (Chris didn't turn up) as we were also able to test our new Sena S20's.
The original plan had us heading out through the Wai'rapa, but with the weather forecast having that side as the last to clear, we opted to meet at BP Mana at 0800 and go from there. By the time we had paired up the units (none of us seem to very technocratic) it was 0830, but that also meant that Chris definitely wasn't turning up and Steve led out for Shannon, with Woody between us.
Because we didn't really know what we were doing with the intercoms, we just left them on 'Group Intercom' and we each had our own music playing, Steve with his i-pod, Woody with his Garry Glitter (via the GPS) and me with the GPS as per usual. We didn't chatter a lot but just made the odd comments here and there.....like at Shannon,
"Left here Steve!"
"What!"...."Are we going to Foxton?"
"Nah, up the middle to Mt Stewart." ....and so the last became 1st and we carried on.
Our route took us up to Shannon, across toward Foxton then up through Bainesse, Glen Orua, & Rongatea to Mt Stewart, then on to Halcombe, Kakariki & Makirikiri Rd back to SH3, then off again at Fordell and into BP Dublin St for fuel (well, those guys got fuel). We got there (202km) at 1048 and I just had one of those 'natural breaks', thanks to the temp only hovering around 13°, most of the way up and I didn't have a scivvy on.
We were back on the road just before 1100 with me back in front and we were soon taking the turnoff to head up the Whanganui River. I've only been up the river once and that was about 16-18 years ago, in a car, and only up to Koriniti. I didn't recall how narrow the road was!
We weren't in any desperate hurry but I still didn't manage a photo stop when we had made the 1st climb that comes out on a right hander to one of the most spectacular vistas one could wish for, with the river meandering up the narrow valley of farmland with stands of poplars and other trees scattered across the landscape. We were puttering along at between 40 – 70 kph and the Senas came into their own as I was able to warn the others, "car coming", "Sheep...two to the left", "Grit", "Car coming....Bugger me! He's moving and that prick was cutting the corner on my side!"....and so on.
Then at about 12km from the SH4 turnoff I caught a car, and at 13km, the road followed the river around through a right hand sweep where I could see it was clear for a few hundred metres so I started to ease past him with the speed actually reaching 83kph......and then the Whanganui River turned to Shit Creek!
As I pulled level with his rear door, the prick eased right on me and my 2-3 mtrs of space was suddenly down to 1mtr so I buttoned off with the speed dropping back to 70kph as I drifted to the right hand verge as far as possible. The memory is pretty vague but I was in a squeeze, I must have hit the picks at some point and it was touch and go if I would be able to stay on the seal or not. I lost!
The GPS shows the speed at 70, 26,16, 0.8kph and at some stage through that I left the seal, nearly lost it, nearly saved it, nearly lost it.....did lose it! The verge was grey papas clay that dropped away into a shallow culvert, I was down to walking pace by this time when the bike fell over to the right with me doing something between stepping off and being thrown off, but I bounced back to my feet and surveyed the carnage as Woody pulled up and Steve found a place to park.
Because the verge was a slope into about a 1 metre deep drain, the handle bars and seat were below the wheels and picking up the 350'ish Kgs took all three of us, it then wouldn't start so we pushed it back onto the road, where I refitted the the right mirror cover over the broken mirror...the only damage that was incurred. By this time the driver of the car had walked back to see if I was OK and I asked, "How come you came across at me?" to which he replied. "I didn't have a choice." but offered no other explanation. Having since looked at the spot in Streetview, it does look like there is a kink in the left verge, but I couldn't see that as the car was blocking my view. *Sigh*....I didn't argue with him but just accepted it, got the bike started and we got under way before he could get back to his car so we didn't have to try to overtake him on the road.
Hindsight says it was dumb to try to pass there, but at the time I figured I had plenty of clear space and if I passed sooner, then one or both of the others would also be able to pass on the straight section!!??
We continued on, me in the lead and averaged 60kph through Athens, Corinth, London and on to Jerusalem, where we stopped to have a look at the church (while Steve changed from his boom mic to the wired one. It was quite another special moment to arrive at Jerusalem and see the church on the rise nestled into the bush. We went around the back, then strolled up to have a look at the grounds and take a few pix.
We were ready to leave about 15 minutes later and had a queue of six cars (including my 'mate') waiting for us to vacate the parks.
We only averaged 50kph on the road to Pipirki and I was surprised that a road only sealed 1-2 years ago was littered with patches and new ruts...but at least it was reasonbly clean of grit. The pace never lifted much from there until about half way across to Raetihi and even then we were luck to hit 80kph so the average from Jerusalem to Raetihi was only 57kph. We arrived at 1256 and spent about 50 minutes have a snack and chatting.
Although the River Road is 'very' narrow, it was reasonably clean and well worth the visit. If it were a wider road with centre lines it would be a spectacular ride, but then, one does have to negotiate frisky sheep, scaredy sheep and dopey sheep, not to mention semi-interested cattle (standing on the road), so more pace could be a nightmare....and then there's the scenery. A wider road might give one more opportunity to take in the sights rather than focus on potential assassins.....but we could have always stopped and taken photos I guess??!!
After lunch I found myself back in front to lead a moderate roll off – roll on pace back down the Para's (averaging 95kph), taking the turn at Kaimatira Rd to go via Fordell to Hunterville, where we stopped for gas.
From there we scooted up to Mangaweka, then down through Kimbolton and Cheltnham to Ashhurst, down to Aokoutere, across the Track and down via Mauriceville to Masterton to get gas for the other two, while I took the opportunity to fit a battery pack to the Sena as I hadn't charged it before the ride. (It died as we turned off on Faukners Rd).
Steve then led back over the hill and I arrived home at 1921, having done 784km for the day at a total moving average of 84kph. It was a good day, albeit a bit cool to start with at 12-13°, but finished nicely at 20-21°. We did some good roads, with the River Road being new for me, plus a couple we haven't done for awhile and the butt is just that little bit harder and more accuxtomed for the TT2000 in less than two weeks.
I'll get a new mirror this week and the bike now has 60,705km on it.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.