Sunday, July 15, 2018

Chilly Mountain ride

Saturday was a fantastic day in Palmy and with Sunday supposed to be bringing a change in the weather then I needed to use Saturday for my important battery charging - the poor old Connie hadn't even been fired up in ages...

But, naturally, she fired up straight away and we were off.  This time around I had a bit of a plan - I wanted to ride the Paraparas but decided that I wanted to ride them North-South.  This meant that I had to find some other way up to Raetihi.

So, my route talk me across Vinegar Hill and then onto the dreaded SH1.  Vinegar Hill was fun and even the traffic lights on them played ball for me (but not the half a dozen cars waiting at the other end) as I enjoyed reasonably dry roads and plenty of nice corners.

For my SH1 leg I settled down a little and just enjoyed the cruise in the sunshine.  Naturally as I neared Taihape and Waiouru the temperature dropped but hey, I had the heated grips on.  Then, North of Waiouru, the temperature dropped even more and the skies started looking a little unfriendly.  I then had my first brain wave of the day - why not stop and put my warm/waterproof gloves on?  So I did.

Unfriendly skies

Big hill playing hide and seek
Immediately upon stopping and removing my summer gloves I couldn't help but notice that it was absolutely freezing cold.  My brain was ok though as I had another great idea - wet weather gear!

Wow, two good ideas in a row.  By the time I finally got my warm gloves on and got back on the bike my hands were blocks of ice.  The grips were turned onto 100% (probably for the first time in 147,000km) and I hunkered down as I headed off into some light rain.

That'll be the fuzz checking that nobody is having any fun


Damper, colder...

A great shot of NZ's #1 road...
So, the pictures do not do it justice.  It was freezing - it took 15 minutes before I could even feel any warmth from the grips and the tips of my fingers were frozen.  The inside of my visor was fogging at the edges even with the pinlock and breath guard fitted and the chin vent open.  I haven't ridden in weather this cold in a number of years (and that's including my snow rides on the Vee & Tenere) and I don't know why it wasn't snowing.

Anyway, once I stopped worrying about my hands I started enjoying the ride.  Bits of the desert road can be fun and the tyres were being their usual grippy selves so I just got down to business.  And then I met this person...

Slow vehicle lane #1

Slow vehicle lane #2
This person should not be allowed to have a car or perhaps even oxygen.  On slow vehicle lane #1 they simply pulled out as if to pass the slower traffic in front and forgot to pass it.  They did not appear to know what the thing under their right foot was and got nowhere fast.  They also had the pleasure of holding me up.

Then we hit the next slow vehicle lane.  Rinse and repeat...This time around though, they noticed that there was a big truck in front and that perhaps it was worth a crack having a go at passing it.  Unfortunately it had taken them so long to work this out that when they started their passing manoeuvre they had already passed the sign saying that the lane was about to end.  Yes, the truck pulled out into the main lane, yes there was oncoming traffic and yes, the idiot had to hit the brakes and find a piece of unoccupied road...

Having just managed not to have got caught up in someone else's accident I was glad that I made it to slow vehicle lane #3 where horsepower was applied.

The truckee was doing a great job of trying to let idiots past
Leaving a moron in their Honda behind it was nice to finally get into some waremr weather as I dropped down towards Turangi.  But rather than visit Turangi, I turned off at Rangipo and headed for the other side of the hill.

Sayonara SH1! 
For the first stretch across Sh46 I pretty much had the road to myself and the weather just kept on getting better.

The road's even trying to dry out!
Joining onto SH47 though I found the traffic - and most of it was going the same place as me.


What's that blue stuff?
Where everyone was going was "up the mountain".

There be the mountain
It being winter and all I'd decided to see how far up I could get before they made me put on chains.  But, unfortunately they'd shut the road, so chains or no chains I wasn't getting any further than the Chateau.

Surrounded by a crash of rental vehicles...

I 'spose I could have used the good camera and zoomed in but it was in my topbox...

That's where all the snow is
Quick snaps taken I remounted and dropped back down the mountain road and pointed towards Raetihi for a late lunch.

I see the light!
Lunch (and dinner) eaten I filled up the bike and made for the Paras.  And boy was it good.  Even though it was winter and I needed to tread carefully in some corners, the ride was just a ball.  Rumour has it that there is video of the ride but I don't think you'll find it on Youtube.  I did however, manage to get a few pictures along the way - perhaps they can tell the story?

35, yes, of course.



Ok, a couple of clouds is alright.

Who left that there?
By the time I got to Upo I'd managed to warm up quite a bit and the screen was even down a tad for some fresh air - grips were still on 75% though...

The trip home through Okoia, Fordell, Turakina etc was a chance to ease up a little and I ended up home in time for a cuppa before finally lighting the fire.  A superb day out even if it was very cold in that middle part...

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Once again there has been a bit of rain falling around the place and though we weren't hit as bad as the East Coast and some other places we did have a few local roads closed and the rivers came up a lot requiring flood gates to be opened and that sort of thing.  But with Saturday morning not looking too bad I decided to make my own recce of the Pohangina Valley and in the process check out a road I hadn't ridden in a while - my version of public service eh...

After pumping up a fairly flat rear tyre (I'd better keep an eye on that), I puttered out to Ashhurst and then up to Pohangina on wet roads.  All around me the sky was fairly dark and I was pretty sure that at some stage I might trip over some wet weather.  My first bit of gravel was on Pohangina Road and the first section through to the Totara Reserve turn-off was just as fun as usual, even if there were a few muddy bits.

The Road (Churchill Road) to the reserve was closed but I discovered that a Tenere could sneak through the gap in the cones and puttered down to check out what the damage was.  I don't know if it was just what you see in the pictures of the bridge below as I decided not to cross the bridge just in case.

A lot of wreckage pushing on the bridge

Water level a lot lower than it would have been just days ago

Perhaps some new slip damage?

The old bridge has definitely been leaned on - the gap is easily big enough to stick your hand in
Back on Pohangina Road I made my way towards Utuwai.  But not far from the corner there was sign saying that the road was going to be closed for a period of time for maintenance.  The dates were right for it to be closed but I decided to carry on and check it out - I had all day...

My next stop was at at a spot where I often take photos.  This time around I was able to stay on my bike for the pictures as my camera can fit in my new tank bag.  Unfortunately if you do drop a glove in the dirt, you have to get off to pick it up...

The next bit of road to Utuwai was a bit interesting in places as it was muddy and a bit sloppy so I tended to tip-toe through there a bit.  Turning left, the road through to Apiti was fine but I was still disappointed by the (good) progress the roading guys had made in sealing the road.

From Apiti it was wet tar up the hill towards Kimbolton, the front end letting me know that an E-07 with nearly 17,000km on it is perhaps not the ideal tyre for the conditions.

Rather than take the boring seal ride back towards Cheltenham I turned right and carried on towards Rangiwahia before turning off onto McBeth Road.

A little Tenere waits...

I hadn't been through here in a long time and when I got to the first intersection I turned again onto Junction Road to see where it would take me - perhaps to a Junction?  As it turned out Junction Road became more like a farm track and after the second gate (both open) I decided that I'd better turn around in case I ended up annoying a farmer - the road looked like it was going to get rougher too so not a crazy idea...

Note: some idiot made an error at the start of the video.  It is actually McBeth Road at the start, later on I turn-off onto Junction and then back onto McBeth to finish.  Must get a better video editor...

Back on McBeth Road and there was more gravel goodness before the road finally turned to seal and then ended at Perry Line.

Grass, clouds...

Kiwitea thataway!
Perry Lane took me through to Kiwitea where I turned for home and lunch.  A nice little morning's ride of around 150km.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

No, I hadn't forgotten...

...that this was in my shed...

It's a long weekend here and yesterday was supposed to be the best day of the weekend weather-wise (forecast is holding true so far) so I took the opportunity to give the poor old Connie a quick run.

I decided that perhaps lunch in Hunterville sounded ok but that I should probably make sure that I got in a decent ride.  So rather than a direct route over Vinegar Hill, I made my way to over to Marton first.

From Marton I checked out Makuhou Road which is always nice but this time around showing wintry signs of fallen leaves and twigs along with metal dragged out onto the road near driveways and farm gates.

A little sealed taste of Turakina Valley Road got me back out onto the main road where I followed a monkey with a death wish for a while - double yellows on corners not seeming to phase him too much.  Unfortunately the cop at the top of the hill by the turn-off to Ratana didn't seem to catch any of the action...

I let him go and then turned off to Fordell to make my way through the back roads to Hunterville.  The roads through here were also pretty dodgy with plenty of wet roads (the kind of wet where they won't be dry until spring), patches of road works and new seal.  There was also more stock on the road than I've seen in ages - 2 steers on different corners and a mob of about 8-10 sheep.

Just above the intersection at Ongo Road I thought I'd better stop for a few phone pics:

Google even liked one of them enough to do this to it:

At the bottom of this hill is the intersection and I timed it just right - I managed to turn towards Hunterville just before a huge mob of sheep arrived on the scene.  It looked like they'd just be shorn or something and were being driven back towards their paddocks.

By now the old girl was getting lowish on gas but as I rode into Hunterville I didn't feel like stopping for either fuel or food so did some quick sums and decided that I could easily make Feilding on the gas I had.

My trip over Vinegar Hill was fairly sedate and I had to wait at the lights again before the charge up the hill to the lookout.  I didn't bother stopping as there were quite a few cars parked up taking in blocking the view.

Not far from the summit my fuel light came on but there was only around 20km to go until I hit Feilding and I'd even be able to make Palmy if I wanted.  In the end I made the quick stop in Feilding and then cruised home.  Google reckons around 200km and 3 hours, 9 minutes for the trip - I guess they don't own in Kwakas...

Monday, May 21, 2018

LNI Winter Adv Ride

Perhaps putting "Winter" in the title of this ride wasn't the best idea - it perhaps encouraged Mother Nature to get involved and supply some dampness...

But that's getting ahead of things.  After a great ride in the 'naki checking out some tunnels courtesy of Phreaky Phil, I decided to return the favour and organise a wee outing down this neck of the woods.  After a bit of a survey, I settled on a date that would suit most people and got down to planning the route.

Saturday was ride day and before leaving home I took the time to put on my wet weather gear only to take them off at the garage as I was getting too hot and was feeling optimistic about the weather - silly me...

When I arrived there were already a few others there checking out the coffee and pies and it was not long before we had a pretty decent sized group all raring to go.  It was great that people had come from all over the show - some even staying in town over the weekend.

Once we were all there and had sorted out who was who and which was the coolest bike there (mine by unanimous decision), I gathered the troops and tried to let them know what the plan was.  We then geared up and said goodbye to Palmy.

Drivers, start your engines!

Oh great, a red light...

Just before the Pahiatua Track I passed a tanker and got away a little on most of the guys but somehow or other Colin L slipped and slid his way to P2 before we dropped down the other side.

Colin in very slippery conditions...

We stopped briefly for a regroup as not everyone had managed to sneak past the tanker so we got fairly spread out.

Next up was the short stretch of gravel on Tararua Road to give the guys a little taste of gravel before rejoining the seal to Pahiatua.

But there was no stopping in Pahiatua as we hustled to get onto the Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road in search of more gravel.

Glen following with just a couple of his lights running...
The further East we got, the damper the conditions got and by the time we hit the next bit of gravel on Coonoor Road I was kinda missing my wet weather gear...

GoPro was having fun...
Arriving at the bottom of Towai Road we were forced to grind to a bit of a halt as there was tape across the road and some blokes standing around looking important.

You shall not pass!

The first joker we talked to told us that the road was closed due to a rally being run on the road and it looked like we were going to have to do an about turn and find another route.  While I was working this out with Ross another important bloke turned up and allowed us through.

So we got to partake in a rally with a 3km sprint up the hill to where the cars were parked and a front-end loader was blocking off the other end of the road.  Not a problem for us to get around though...

Butt of a rally car, a WR and some mud...
Later on Glen told me that he had been invited on the Rally but turned it down in favour of the ride - unfortunately he didn't know that they were going to be on our road.  He did however find some video of one of the cars tackling the hill...

The rest of the ride up to the top of the hill was fun although it was very windy.  There were also a few maniacs on the loose:

Ross breathing down my neck

That'd be Colin again...
More gravel and more than enough rain got us through to the next planned stop at the Waihi Falls where we caught up for a bit and ducked out of the rain for a while.

Glen on a fine piece of machinery




This is nothing compared to the amount of water that fell on us later...

Stephen on his 800 and Colin F stepping off his AT
After the short break it was time to brave the weather to Pongaroa - I even cleaned the GoPro for the trip....

Oops, forgot something...

Turn-off to the falls
The closer we got to Pongaroa the worse the weather got and the poor old camera got a good coating again.

Phil and Dawn

Still there...
Arriving in Pongaroa we parked up while those nervous about fuel took some onboard.  It was very wet at this stage and I didn't even pull the camera out...

And here's a quick slideshow made from about 280 GoPro pictures from Palmy to the Pongaroa.  Hopefully it gives you a feel for the weather.

By now it was around 11am and I decided that we needed to shorten the route if we wanted to get to our lunch stop before dinner time.  This meant abandoning the "Southern" loop through the Tiraumea Valley but still meant that we got to ride the fabulous Coast Road to Akitio.  The sun even tried to poke its head out for us.

Still keen to keep us moving, there was no stopping at the beach as we turned West again on River Road until the next turn-off onto the gravel Glenora Road.  The gravel was an interesting orangey colour, quite wet and even muddy in places as we made our way across towards Route 52.

On Route 52, I once again skipped out a little section of gravel to help gain us a bit more time.  The lumpy, bumpy 52 is fun on a big motard though...especially when the rain stops and roads dry off a bit.

More tar North of Wimbledon took us through to
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu where I thought we could just manage one last stop before lunch.

Pretty girls

Colin doing a great job as TEC

Lunch was just 5 minutes up the road in Porangahau and we got there right on schedule - but unfortunately missing out on some of the planned action.

After everyone was fed and watered we remounted for the shorter afternoon stint back first to Dannevirke, then Palmy.

The only section of gravel after lunch was Te Uri Road but it is a cracker.  It started off with a sprint up a hill and then winding its way through the hills until we hit seal again.  Life is tough.

Along the way there was time for one last photo stop.

Saying goodbye to the gravel there were still some neat back roads to get us back over onto the Weber Road.  I particularly like the views going up Mangahei Road.

In Dannevirke we stopped for fuel and said goodbye to a few of the riders with just the stragglers pausing for a coffee before the final run home.

The trip back to Palmy was via my usual back roads and it was just a little exciting - the roads were slippery in places and the wind was pretty gusty from some angles.  A trip over the Saddle got us into Ashhurst for the final run into town.

In town we went our separate ways, but just for a while as we met up again alter for dinner at a local pub - not a bad way to end the day.

Fabulous to be able to show some out of towners around the place a little and I think everyone had a blast even if they got a little wet.  May have to do it again sometime...