Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blood Moon

Way off my normal topics but...

Had to go out and have a little play with the camera tonight and try to capture the Blood Moon.  I'm no photographer but I hope Bob approves...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

BRR Fisher's Track and the 42nd Traverse Part 2

So, our warm-up and lunch break taken care of, it was now for the main event - the 42nd Traverse.

The 42nd has a bit of a name for itself and from what I'd heard I knew that it was going to be "interesting".  If you check out this link on the Adventure Riding NZ website there is a fairly good description of it and it also mentions that the best way to tackle it is:
 "in a South to North direction mainly due to a rock slope/wall approximately halfway through the track which is easier to go down than up"
Well, that'd just be too easy...we were going in the opposite direction...

The track started out pretty easily with a nice ride through some bush before the track started to climb higher and the track get a bit rougher and more overgrown.

The odd bit of brush hitting you is not too much of an issue but in a few places the "brush" was blackberry that had been sprayed but not chopped back off the track - a wide berth was needed.

The terrain was mostly dry but as you can see from the videos quite rocky and bumpy - third gear was definitely not going to be needed for sometime.  There were also a few sections where the surface was was wet clay with the odd decent puddle so I trod pretty carefully through these.

It was fairly hot work manoeuvring the bike over and around some of the obstacles so it was nice to stop in the shade for a quick spell and a drink.

So far the Vee seemed to be enjoying things:

After this brief pause it was on up the hill and into terrain that was gradually getting a bit tougher.  As you can see from the end of the next video the first water crossing got the better of me and the poor bike decided to take a nap after trying to take on the undergrowth.  What actually happened was the rear tyre slipped off a rock (just as I was coming out of the creek) and pointed me into the bush and in the end I just couldn't hold up 200+kg of V-Strom.

Luckily there was help quick to hand and we soon had her upright again and pointing in the right direction.

The next big obstacle in our way was the rock slope/wall mentioned on Eddie's website.  By now we had kind of split into two groups with the smaller bikes way out in front and the big boys bringing up the rear.  As I approached the slope I heard a bit of noise up ahead and stopped the bike.

Walking up around the corner I came across a GS on it's side and the rider rolling down the hill to meet me.  Luckily there was no damage to rider or bike and we soon had the bike upright and rolled back down the hill.  This was hot work I tell you.  We also soon had a bike park at the bottom of the slope.

Th GoPro recorded about 10 minutes of this before the battery ran out just prior to my attempt (doh!)
We all walked up the slope and started checking out lines and kicking the odd big rock out of the way and generally waiting to see who would be the bravest and tackle it first.

We all strung out across and up the slope to be ready to assist each other and I think one of the first to try the hill was one of the Africa Twins.  This bike powered up no problems making all sorts of impressive noises and bouncing this way and that as it hit some of the larger rock outcrops.  The Twin was followed by a few other bikes including the GS which also nailed it second time so I wandered back to the DL, took a deep breath and fired her up.

To approach the wall you first had to come around a sharpish left hander (with plenty of gravel on it), straighten the bike up and then nail it - buttoning off would be the end of your climb.  Well, that was how I did it anyway.  When I straightened the bike up for the climb I gave the old girl a real handful and she leaped at the wall.  I just hung on for the ride and tried to keep the bike pointing in the right direction.  According to a few of the guys the bike even launched itself into the air over one particularly large outcrop of rock.

In the end I got up the steep bit fairly easily but then had a few issues trying to slow the bike down and park it out of the way - I nearly dropped it again but managed to muscle it back upright and get the stand down on some reasonably level ground.  Now it was time to breath again and to have a wee rest while waiting for the last couple of bikes - everyone else made it up without any major issues.

Heart-rate back down to below 300 it was time to move off again and try to catch up with the others.  Pretty soon we came to the second creek crossing.  This one was a lot easier but there was another rocky slope upon exiting it.

Unfortunately Colin had had a wee moment on the slope so I had to stop in the creek and climb up to help him get going.  We got him up the slope and then he came down to help me launch up the slope from my parking spot in the creek.  I can't really remember what went wrong but on my climb up this much less serious slope I must have bounced off a rock or something and ended up dropping the bike again - this time on it's left hand side.  It wasn't a major but I broke the tip off the clutch lever (still plenty of lever left luckily) and bent the gear lever slightly.

With a little help from the guys I was soon upright again and we had another rest to let the sweat pool on the ground around us.  One more short section and we came across the rest of the guys waiting for us...

From this point on (as promised) the track got a lot better, being a bit wider, fairly flat and not as rocky.  I think I even found 3rd again.  We had one last little pause at the top before saying goodbyes and riders took off in their own little groups for the ride home.

I hung around a bit to wait while Steve got his gear sorted and had great fun chasing down the others once the road got better (really nice, fast gravel again) and ended up following most back into National Park again.

A victorious V-Strom
In National Park I refuelled and Colin F and I put on a few more layers for the quiet and uneventful ride home via Waiouru, Taihape and Vinegar Hill.

What a demanding but fantastic day's riding we had but I'm pretty sure that the V-Strom doesn't need to prove she can do the 42nd again...

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

BRR Fisher's Track and the 42nd Traverse Part 1

Well, where to start?  If you caught the little trailer the other day you'll probably know that I went on a little adventure on Sunday.  "Little" - yeah, right!

This wee map may give a bit more of an idea on just what sort of an adventure it was:

The straight crooked line from Palmy to National Park is the route up to the ride and back.  It's roughly 200km each way and Colin and I (with Steve on the way up) did it in about 2 hours.  So times two gives 400km and about 4 hours riding.

The little loop at the top is the adventure bit of the ride.  It was around 120km all up and including our lunch break took us about 5 and half hours...

So there's probably a fair bit of excitement built into that 5 and half hours eh?  Best start at the start then.

I met up with Colin F and Steve in town just after 7am.  We waited around a little while to see if there were any other Palmy riders coming to join us but then bugged out at about 7:20 after nobody else showed up.

The ride up to National Park was quite nice.  It was a bit chilly going over Vinegar Hill but it was neat looking out over the valley at the fog that was settled in the valley below us - I probably should have stopped for some pics but hey, we were on a mission.  On SH1 we got to ride in some of that fog too...

We had a couple of little scares with the HP (Colin was looking forward to his coffee in National Park I 'spose) but managed to all get to National Park in one piece - even picking up another KTM along the way.

In National Park we gassed up and picked up a few more of the gang before finding the cafe where we meeting.  Neil and a few others were there already enjoying a late brekkie (I was surprised to see that Neil hadn't requested extra lashings of whipped cream on his eggs benedict - he must be on a diet) in the sunshine.  We had no option but to park up and join them...

On the right we have Colin L unloading his secret weapon...

Coffees sunk, we all headed for the bikes and Neil gave us a quick ride briefing.  Word was it was going to be a warm one so most of us removed a few layers of gear (I was stuck with my liners in both my jacket and trou) and then fired up our horses.

Neil led us on up the road and within a minute we were onto the start of Fisher's track.  The "track" started off as a reasonably narrow little gravel road climbing up a hill - mainly 2nd gear stuff with the occasionally foray into third.

As you can see from the video things started getting a little tighter as the track took us across farmland and in and out of the odd bit of scrub.  Third gear ended up being forgotten about - along with the other remaining 3 gears...

Along the way there were a few gates that slowed things down and gave us a chance to regroup a bit to see how things were going for everyone.  It was definitely a nice day for it!

Missing from some of my videos (usual GoPro issues) are the odd little mud hole and soft patch.  The Vee seemed to take these on ok - a combination of good rubber and a light throttle hand seemed to see me through.  But a few others had the odd issue.  A couple on a Wee-Strom had an off in one soft bit and unfortunately broke their clutch lever.  Luckily a little kiwi ingenuity (a piece of webbing from a pack I think and some cable ties) managed to sort it out and we got them going again.  You can see them in action on the video below.

Towards the end of that video you can see me approaching a wee junction with a puzzled Wayne waiting:

What had happened was our famous "corner-man"system had broken down and there wasn't a rider waiting there to show us which way to go.  In the end we looked around and spotted some likely looking skid marks in the gravel and took the right turn onto Upper Retaruke Road.  I had great fun chasing after Colin F.

At the end of this section we were finally reunited with the rest of the gang and one newbie and would-be corner-man got a little bit of stick from us stragglers.

Colin L on that secret weapon
A very blurry shot of Steve our friendly tail-end Charlie

From here we had a short section of sealed road before we could take in one last great bit of gravel before lunch.  This next section was Kawautahi Road and I thought that it seemed a little familiar and was right.  We had done this a while ago on our King Country tour - only in the other direction.  It was a fantastic and fast bit of gravel that the DL seemed to enjoy very muchly - I thought it was pretty damn fantastic too...

This great bit of gravel eventually had to end and it spat us out on the road practically right on top of a cafe which was quickly swarmed with a bunch of hot, dusty and sweaty riders.

Lunch and cold drinks were quickly ordered and there was plenty of chat about a great morning's ride with everyone really looking forward to the main event after it turned out those few gnarly sections of Fisher's Track were just a warm-up...

Monday, April 07, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Manfield Nationals

Yesterday Dad and I went to take in some great racing at Manfield and watch the final round of the National Championships.  Some of the classes had already been decided on the Saturday (including the big boys on the Superbikes) so I wondered how good the racing was going to be - in a word it was fantastic!

Both the 600's and the Superbikes offered incredibly close racing with heaps of action up front and some fairly keen dicing for position.

Even the slower guys on the 250 and 650 twins were fun to watch with the bikes being very evenly matched it came down to talent and courage.  Top stuff.

There were even some weird looking machines with an extra wheel out laying rubber through the corners.

All in all it was a great day's entertainment and really enjoyed watching the racing and trying to get some decent pics.  As you can see Google+ added some magic here and there too...

A lot more pics here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday Night Ride

Last night was the final Friday Night Ride until next spring so I decided that I'd go along and even managed to talk the old man into coming.  There was also another reason to go in that our ride leader was going to be mounted on a new V-Strom - best I check it out then...

I got to the ride starting point at Courtesy Suzuki pretty early but the old man was already there and the BBQ was up and running nicely.  Plenty of time to have a munch, a chat and a gawk at the new DL...apologies for crappy phone pics...

Just before kick-off there was a bit of excitement with caps being offered to those that could answer a few V-Strom related questions.  I was able to nab one as I somehow managed to know that the new Vee has a digital speedo whereas the old one apparently has an analog one...

The old man was even more flukey when he guessed that the front brake piston diameters on the new DL are 2mm bigger than the old ones...

A hats now with new owners it was time for the pootle and Pauly and the new Vee led us across town for a quiet cruise up and over the track, through Mangamire, back through Pahiatua and Woodville to the Ashhurst Inn and a drinkee if the riders wanted it.

Just a quick little 80km to finish this season's FNR's and a nice way to end the working week.