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.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.