With TT bookings and plans well underway and the drama of last weeks puncture(s) done and dusted with a new Storm 2 Ultra fitted, Steve & I were off on another ‘Multi-purpose’ ride…..for him it was just a conditioning ride for the Southern Cross, but for me it was conditioning for the TT2000, testing/familiarization for the GPS and the wish to put 2000Km on the bike to do the 108,000Km service and change the front tyre prior to the TT.
The various requirements meant that perhaps something a little different would be required, so the route was planned in MapSource, a few bud’s were invited, but only Steve & I departed Caltex Rimutaka at about 0815. I might note here though, I left home at 0730, quite warm as I was fully kitted in ‘wets’, because the day looked dismal, but I was aware, having been over to Masterton on Saturday, that the weather would clear at the top of the hill. At Rimutaka, the weather was already clear and the wets were already off, the 18° had become 19° and I now had a full tank and pumped tyres.
Steve led out, enjoying a sedate pace through minimal traffic over the hill and as soon as we were in the Wairarapa, the skies were cloudless and the temperature soared to 29°. There was a bit of wind that struck us unawares at odd places and angles going over the hill, but generally being behind us, it wasn’t too bad and the pace lifted as we headed for Martinborough. It was unusual to have these temps so early in the day and by the time we had been through the Tablelands and around the Water Towers, we had to stop at Wainuioru for Steve to strip a layer. At this point my economy was on 19Km/Ltr thanks to the tailwind.
I led from here, taking us through Te Ore Ore, across Dreyers Rock Rd to Kaiparoro, then through Nireaha to come back to Eketahuna from the west. It was odd as the clear blue skies vanished suddenly as we approached the Mt Bruce area and became drizzly once we’d crossed SH2, so as we headed back to Alfredton, I decided it would be better to head straight up to Pahiatua via Tane, rather than the planned route via Rongomai-Mangamaire-Nikau and therefore avoid the wind and rain. The economy had dived to 17.5Km/Ltr with the combination of punching into the wind and tighter roads.
We needed to still go to Pahiatua, because Steve would need fuel….and I wanted the Kms. After a fuel and natural break, we continued with Steve back in the lead and went out through Makuri to Pongaroa…..shades of the GC (Grand Challenge) as we would got hit by the odd wicked gust, through here, but the weather cleared again by Pongaroa, with the temp rising back from 22° to 28°…then 29° …then 30° ….then 31° …..whew…lucky I was able to drop the screen down!
All the roads, so far had been in very good condition and this road was the same, with little of the loose stuff that had littered it on the GC and of course, once through Pongaroa, the road widens and improves further, so we were able to maintain an easy but kilometer eating pace and the tailwind was getting the economy back to 18Km/Ltr. It was interesting to note Steve’s off-roading skills as at one point, for no apparent reason, he threw himself out to the left and his bike to the right. At least, the reason wasn’t apparent until I came to the same point as I followed his track and a subsidence had the road falling away 6 inches (although it looked more like a foot). I was already well inside that line and needed little more than a gentle ease for more room, but contemplated how that little baby could cause a big problem for a rider’s momentary lapse of concentration. (Interesting to read in the paper that a rider died in this area later in the day as well).
We galloped by Porangahau, pausing briefly at Waipuk’ where I decided not to fuel and continued to Havelock via Patangata and the (world famous to Napier riders) Middle Rd. This, as usual, was delightful and we arrived in Havelock at 1320hours, having done 447Km for an average of 85kph (or rolling estimated around 94kph). It was so hot, I had to strip off the helmet & jacket to fuel, then we found an airconditioned café, which was a blissful environment in which I could enjoy my club sandwich and organic lemonade (…go figure, it tasted ok but). The ladies serving us didn’t seem to mind when I dropped my pants either….although as usual, I did have shorts on under my corduras.
The temp was still 31° when we left but soon jumped to 34° as we passed through Hastings, then settled at 33° for the trip down SH50. At this point, Betty let me down! Betty is the GPS, short for Betty Crocker, who I expect will prepare many a fine route. Anyway, I caused Betty to let me down because I attempted to put in a detour to the café, but got that horribly wrong, which ultimately resulted in losing my track log up to Havelock, had me finding my own (long) way across to SH50, then, when traveling back, not only had she forgotten to direct us from Oringi, around Woodville, but she was adamant I return via SH1. Perhaps I can blame the gloves.
Once we got back to SH2, the temp started sliding as we approached the clagged-in area over Pahiatua to Eketahuna, where it bottomed once again at a very pleasant 22°, but it jumped back to 30° as we came into Masterton where I needed to pause to drop a TV remote to mum, before embarking on the hill. That was something different!
There was moderate traffic going up the hill and a wicked Sou’Wester. The wind was that strong that it even seemed to affect some of the vehicles and I suspect it would have been one of my worst ever trips over the hill except there was enough traffic that I was able to hide behind the bigger vehicles when expecting a gust, (but I was using pretty low gears just in case) then skip along through the traffic. Just prior to the summit a queue had formed and the traffic even came to a standstill and as we crested, I couldn’t see the front and had to assume that it stretched all the way to the bottom. This was quite good as it made it easier to pass, either singly or in clumps.
I finally got home at 1820 having done 811Km for the day at 18.2Km/Ltr for the return and I now have 107,242Km on the bike.
It was a great day and very odd in so many ways. The weather went from crap at home to OK at Rimutaka to brilliant, back to crap, back to better than brilliant, up to expiring in bike gears, back to crap, back to brilliant….and OK at home. We have traveled all the roads, some more than others, sometimes as a ride and sometimes when going somewhere else….but never all together. All the way up was on some of the best riding the Wairarapa has to offer (particularly right now as all these roads had very little crap on them and are generally in a good state of repair. One could say that we sampled many of the Wairarapa’s Delights…..and we weren’t disappointed!
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.