Sunday, August 17, 2014

Orbiting Onga

Mark's Bandit has been giving him a little grief lately in that it's decided that it's not too keen on starting.  It also has cut out on him once while on a ride.  But with some decent rides coming up soon he wants obviously to get the issues sorted.  After fitting a new battery and fiddling with this and that he was keen to give it a bit of a run to see if it was going to behave.  I tagged along just to keep an eye on things.

Apparently the Bandit was a little difficult to start at first but it wasn't too cranky when the go button was pushed before we left Mark's place.  We headed out of town and then turned off at Ashhurst to take in the Saddle.

The Saddle was in pretty bad condition.  There are some road works at on the Ashhurst side and this combined with the winter weather etc made for plenty of slippery stuff on the road so we didn't set any speed records riding over towards Woodville.

Off the Saddle we took the back roads to Dannevirke and then had a chat on the side of the road about where to next.  I was keen for a decent ride but while Mark wanted to give the Bandit a good run he didn't want to get to far away from civilisation just in case the bike played up.  It was getting close to lunch time so I suggested Ongaonga and off we went.

There was a bit of a breeze on the plains and up SH50 but otherwise the weather wasn't too bad at all.  The ranges looked great with a pretty generous amount of snow on them.  No pics unfortunately as I didn't take a decent camera with me and had to make do with my phone.  In Onga we parked up and ordered lunch at the cafe/store/gas station.

The tables in the cafe had glass tops and underneath the glass there were clippings from newspapers with articles on Ongonga and the local area.  One article mentioned that the building in the below picture sold recently for the outrageous sum of $1 to the local historical society.  It looks like it's been done up a bit but had some use over the years:

pic pinched from local school's website

After lunch we crossed over to Takapau and then made our way back to Dannevirke via Ormonville and stopped for fuel before continuing onto Oringi where we turned off again to take in some more back roads.  We eventually popped out on SH2 again at Magatainoka but turned off again at Pahiatua to take the track back into Palmy.

All the way the Bandit behaved itself perfectly and even started ok after our few stops.  Mark has still got some searching to do but hopefully the bike is feeling better after a nice little run.

View Ongaonga loop in a larger map

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Classic Bike Show

This weekend there was a classic bike show on here in Palmy and after getting the important stuff done for the weekend (go for a ride) I decided to check it out.  I was even nice enough to invite the old man.

There were heaps of bikes on display and plenty of people were there to check them out.  I took about 80 pictures but won't post them all here so if you want to check them all out click here.  Here's a few of the special ones:

Apparently this Douglas is very similar to one that my grandfather owned and there is a bit of a story about it.  He broke an ankle riding it and consequently didn't want his sons riding bikes and as well as forbidding them from getting bikes he never mentioned it until my Dad was about 16 or so and already had sneakily bought his own bike.  My two uncles also had bikes at various times too.

There were obviously a lot of bikes there that Dad recognised and some that he and his brothers had owned.  Dad had a little Jawa like the one below - apparently he swapped a go-cart for it...

I think this was the oldest bike that I saw:

There were some fantastic restorations.  This Indian really stood out:

And Dad really like this Douglas which was really neat alright.  No pots sticking out in the breeze like those crazy Beemers eh?

I also liked a lot of the original looking machines that showed they'd had a life:

And look!  A Harley I could own!

And a fantastic Henderson inline four:

There was also some newer Japanese classics:

Ridden one of these
Several Kwaka 2-smokes - Dad had a 500 at one stage

One owner from new!

I test rode one of these horrible V3 2-stroke Hondas.  Didn't like it, bought an RG instead.

There were also some special bikes own show:

The 'Plastic fantastic
McIntosh Suzuki
And the R&R boys had some of their toys on display:

Their Norton Racer
Desmo Norton motors - apparently the only ones in world...
And their Westlake drag bike - it can move!
There was even some instant classics - magnificent MV's:

100,000 Euros worth apparently...

And here's probably my favourite - a beautiful little 50cc Honda:

Be nice to be able to afford a few more toys...

Saturday, August 09, 2014

A Frosty Forgotten Highway

The Connie seems to have been neglected a little lately and I've been dying to get her out for a decent bit of exercise.  Today was the day and after a decent overnight frost the day didn't look too bad as I geared up (plenty of warm layers) and made my way out of town.

It was still not even 7:30 when I left so as I rode over towards Wanganui it was nice to have the sun climbing higher in the sky out off to my right - it helped me think warm thoughts as I upped the temperature on my heated grips.  Yep, it was reasonably chilly.

Riding through Bulls the big road information sign informed me that the Desert Road was closed and while this wasn't a concern for me it did make me wonder about my planned route and the times I was going to hit other roads - I didn't want to find another road closed by snow if I hit it later in the day.  I carried on anyway and mulled over a few potential changes to my route.

Nearing Wanganui the roads were damper rather than frosty so my concerns about ice in the shaded spots decreased and I just got on with enjoying the ride.  Carrying on up SH3 it was pretty much more of the same and even though it was chilly, the day was starting to shape up quite nicely.  There was a bit of breeze coming off the sea which was giving me a left leg that felt colder than the right but I'm darned if I know why my right foot was colder than the left...

Just out of Kakakaramea I decided that I probably wasn't going to get a better photo of the mountain than what I could see before me so I pulled over to snap a pic or two.

My Fuji's stunt double
While I was standing around getting cold I decided to call Neil and see how things were over his side of the hill.  I was intending to cruise past there on my way home but wanted to make sure that the road was gonna be ok.  He informed me that it was a barmy 1 degree in National Park and that I'd have no problems with the road.  While chatting though I did decide to alter my route so that I would be riding through National Park/Ohakune/Waiouru ete a lot earlier just to be on the safe side.  This did mean that the Connie was not going to get quite as much exercise but I wasn't too worried about that and was already thinking of the warm fire...

In Stratford I stopped to fuel up before taking my detour across the Forgotten Highway - I only put in 12 litres so possibly would have made it across but better to be safe than pushing a 280kg bike...

Getting into the FH the roads were fairly wet and slippery in places and heading over the tight windy saddles I definitely took it easy - especially in the shady and frosty corners.  I did have a couple of little squiggles in the wet so slow and smooth stayed the order of the day.

I told ya it was frosty!
Engine and more importantly hot grips running
The Whangamomona Saddle was fairly wet and there were a number of small slips on it along with plenty of evidence of previous slips - more slippery stuff to steer clear of.

I didn't end up stopping in the Republic of Whangamomona, instead continuing onwards thinking of a hot meal further down the road.  The roads actually got a bit better with some decent dry stretches and not too much rubbish across the road.  Occasionally though there was stock on the road including two sheep who were waiting patiently outside a woolshed, perhaps waiting for a Saturday morning hair-cut...

It was nice on top of the Tahora Saddle too:

The gravel section of the road is normally in really good condition and easily ridden on a 1,400cc adventure bike and while this was mostly the case today, there was the odd corner were it was a bit wet and mushy causing the bike to slide into wheel tracks and give me something to concentrate on.  Other parts were great and I even hit the speed limit a few times...

Eventually I started to run out of Forgotten Highway and found myself in Taumarunui just before lunchtime.  Rather than stop there I rode through a brief scud of rain and onto Owhango where it was time for a late brekky.

Lunch eaten I carried on South to National Park where I hit all the traffic that wasn't able to take the Desert Road and also some weather.  It got a bit damp for a while and there may even (if I use my imagination a little) have been a bit of sleet for a couple of minutes.  Luckily it wasn't that cold and the grips were still working.

Carrying onto Ohakune and Waiouru there was snow on the ground on the side of the road and it was down fairly low on the nearby hills but the weather remained ok all the way down to Taihape where I stopped to give the Connie another drink.  From there it was just another 30km before I could turn-off for a play on a dry Vinegar Hill and the final cruise home.  I got in around 3pm and even had time to mow the lawns before lighting that fire and sitting down with a warm cup of coffee.  Not quite the ride I had planned but a thoroughly enjoyable 590km all the same.

More pics here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BRR Akitio Adventure - the videos

I didn't take any video on Sunday so we have to make do with Neil's efforts again.

Complete with interesting pronunciation of Porangahau...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BRR Akitio Adventure

Sunday was our monthly BRR ride (let's just forget that wee practice the weekend before) and Neil had managed to order in some fairly decent weather - it was quite cold but the rain pretty much stayed away the whole day.

The plan was to meet up with most of the group in Ashhurst before riding onto Dannevirke to fuel up and pick up some more Hawkes Bay based riders.  I was on the road just after 8 and with grips on I took a slightly different route to Ashhurst which offered up the first interesting event of the day.

Riding along Ashhurst road I was forced to stop at an accident site that the fire brigade were still cleaning up (hosing the road off).  No sign of an ambulance so I hope there weren't any nasty injuries - although I did see one very second hand looking Ford Lazer that definitely had driven it's last mile.

I wasn't the first into Ashhurst but pretty close to it and soon we were all assembled awaiting our leader - all 24 of us!

I have a sneaking feeling that the cafe owner may have wished he'd opened earlier as he was only opening up as we were getting ready to set off...

From Ashhurst Neil led us through the gorge before taking us on the scenic route through Jacksons to Oringi and finally up the main road to Dannevirke.  There we gassed up, met the other guys (taking our numbers to 28!) and had our ride briefing.

Our first bit of gravel was on Maunga Road and this spread the group out a bit as faster guys snuck away from the more sensible ones.

Onboard shot of the day
Along here I also witnessed my next bit of excitement when a DR pilot who shall remain nameless (hint: starts with R and rhymes with Boss) decided to run wide into a left hander.  He then ran a little bit wider and then a bit more until he finally ran out of wideness to use up and bailed off as his bike took a little trip over the bank, flipped over and landed with it's wheels facing uphill and the bars downhill.

Luckily it was a slow speed mishap and DR's are made fairly tough.  We soon had the bike up the right way and back up the bank - glad it was a lightweight 400 and not a thou...

We met up with rest of the crew at the end of Maunga Road for a bit of a regroup and it must be said - just a wee laugh...

An example of a DR parked in the more traditional manner
Next up was Te Uri Road which alternated between seal and gravel to Mangaorapa and finally onto Porangahau for our lunch stop.

We did get the odd little spit through here and some of the sealed roads were a bit slippery (I had a good step out on one turn-off).  Some of the gravel sections also had the odd slippery spot and quite a few guys mentioned that it was a little tricky to tell what was slippery and what wasn't - all adds to the fun though eh?

In Porangahau our horde totally swamped the pub and it probably took them twenty minutes just to take our orders!  I'm pretty sure they weren't really expecting a big bunch like us all turning up at once and expecting a feed!

After a lengthy lunch stop (but we all got fed!) we were off again and headed South on Route 52 to Wimbledon.

West of Wimbledon we turned off onto Esdaile Road.  I'd done this only once before (and in the opposite direction) but really like it as it's fairly open and quick.  This time around though there were roadworks and the road had recently had more metal put on it and been graded so there was little bit of surfing to be done in places.

Unfortunately we somehow lost our TEC and a few others somewhere on Route 52 and the first I knew of this was when I was waiting at the corner of Coast Road in Akitio.  I waited for a long time and was eventually joined by another of the corner-men who had also waited for a long time and even gone back to look for them to no avail.

We carried on up Coast Road and caught the rest of the guys waiting for us where Neil told us to carry on and doubled back to finally hook up with the lost sheep who had missed the Esdaile Road corner and gone the long way around to Akitio.

Apparently while the others were waiting on Coast Road they also had some excitement of their own when a car drove into the ditch near them (it was avoiding a ute coming the other way).  The crew soon had the car out of the ditch on it's way though.

Coast Road was fabulous as usual even if it too had possibly had a grader over it recently - more fast, fun gravel.  We then turned off onto Marainanga Road and then Spur Road.  On Spur Road we had some more excitement with two horses out on the Road.  One of them had a bit of sense and got well out of the way of us but the other one must have liked a race as it ran ahead of us for quite a while until we hit the next turn-off at Huia Road.

Huia Road and then Waihoki Valley Road's were more great gravel that eventually got us back out onto Route 52 again.  We then stopped at the Tiraumea Hall for a another regroup and to farewell some riders who needed to skedaddle for home.  The rest of us (probably still about 20) then made for the highlight of the day Puketoi Road.

Puketoi Road is a paper road and can sometimes be in decidedly dodgy condition.  The very first time I rode it, it was a slippery mud hole filled road that claimed several bikes and was a real adventure to get through.

This time around it wasn't too bad although there was still the odd greasy patch and yes, it caught out a few of us - luckily I pottered through ok and kept things upright.  None of the other incidents were serious at all but a couple of the bikes (and some riders' gear) looked like they'd got their adventure.

Puketoi Road dumped us onto Pori Road which we took to Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road and back onto the seal for the rest of the ride into Pahiatua.  In Pahiatua we refuelled and then everyone took off in various directions for the ride home.  Neil tucked in behind me and we had a little play on the Pahiatua Track before he then went one way and I the other at the bottom.  One more great BRR ride in the bag!

More pics here.