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Monday, March 02, 2015

March BRRBT - Say Hi to Annie

Sunday was our monthly tarmac ride and this month's route was to take us up into the Hawkes Bay and then over the Gentle Annie to Taihape - a great ride.

Ten of us (including 4 riders new to the group) met up at Ashhurst and after waiting around for any possible stragglers we got underway by taking on the Saddle.

Taking on the Saddle is an apt description - the road is in a mess with all the road works on it at the moment.  Half-way up there is quite a messy section of gravel with plenty of big chunky rocks in the mix - this wasn't supposed to be an adventure ride!  Looking forward to when the roadworks are completed...

Dropping down the other side we made our way through to Dannevirke and then up to SH50 where we stopped for a quick regroup.



Next up was a good ride over 50 before stopping at Maraekakaho for lunch.  By now things were getting pretty hot and when we rode into Omahu for fuel some of the guys with temperature gauges were claiming high twenties.

Leaving Hastings we puttered over to Fernhill and then turned off onto the Napier-Taihape to go check out Annie.  The road starts off with great, fast and flowing curves before deteriorating a bit into a bumpy, winding road with plenty of road works and new seal.  At Kurapapango it was time for another stop and check to see if everybody was still having fun.





You know who doing you know what...
We left Kurapapango riding on some very recently laid seal with plenty of loose metal all over it - fun.  This was continued in a number of places before we finally got to the last lot of windies where the surface changed to hot, slippery melted tar - lovely...

I was leading the ride at this stage and on our way into Taihape we noticed an ambulance heading out.  Both Terry and I had that oh-oh feeling but felt pretty sure that it can't be one of our guys.  We got to the gas station and ordered coffee and sat to wait for the rest of the crew.

We were joined by a couple of others (and one rode past, missing us) but we were still missing 5 others.  When they still hadn't arrived after our drinks were finished we knew something untoward was up and mounted up to go and investigate.

On the way out of town we had a bit of fun playing with two beautifully sounding Ferrari's who let us past and then tried to keep up.  A snarling 430 Scudera (sp) sounds quite nice when the driver is using the box...

About 20km out of Taihape we finally came across the accident and it was sad to see one of the newer guys sitting in the ambulance with a banged up elbow.  He had gone straight ahead on a pretty easy right hander, got into the gravel and lost it.  Luckily he picked a corner with a lot of run off and had nothing to hit except the ground as he came to a stop.  The poor Viffer took a bit of damage on it's side though.  Even luckier, the first car to stop was being driven by a nurse who was fantastic and we were even able to use her ute to get the bike into a shed on her farm.




Nice spot for a stop though...
After sending the ambo on it's way we followed the lovely nurse back to her farm and off-loaded the bike where it awaits its fate.

A very disappointing event on what was otherwise a great ride but great to get the help from the nurse and again hats off to the great service from the ambulance - they were there (middle of nowhere) very quickly.

Following this incident the rest of us split up to go our separate ways and Colin and I carried on home via SH1 and then Vinegar Hill.  We did get a bit more excitement on Vinegar Hill in the form of a cow in the drain and then an idiot in a 4WD (towing a trailer) who insisted on crossing the centre line by a good margin on every blind right-hander - I was well pleased to finally get past him before we had another accident happy right in front of us!

So, not the perfect ride it could have been but at least no serious injury to the rider.  I'm looking forward to not having anything like this being repeated on any other BRRBT rides...


More pics here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

TT Goodies

My pics and odo readings must have satisfied the officialdom at TT HQ...


When do entries open for 2016 Mike?

Friday, February 27, 2015

ScooterBob's Gravel Adventure

With my two weeks off rapidly coming to an end I had to make sure that ScooterBob got to see a bit more of the country.  This time around a short circuit involving some delicious gravel was called for and ScooterBob was carefully packed in the Vee's topbox for this new adventure.

We left Palmy at around 9 and after being held up by the world's longest train in Bunnythorpe (4 engines and probably at least a kilometre long) we made our way out across Vinegar Hill to Hunterville where we gave the Vee a wee drinky before hitting the gravel.  After taking in the sealed section of Ongo Road we hit the gravel when we turned onto Turakina Valley Road.

The GoPro even played ball for a while...
It'd been a while since I'd had a decent squirt on gravel so I took things fairly quietly and made sure that we had time for a few photo stops.





Turakina Valley Road has to rate as one of my favourite gravel roads - it's pretty easy riding and offers some great views.  Up at the Northern end the gravel was in superb condition and speeds were high.  The only delay I had was when I came across a farmer moving some cattle along the road.



A bit of cloud hiding Ruapehu

Eventually Turakina Valley Road petered out at Tangiwai and we carried on towards Ohakune where we stopped so ScooterBob could check out the big carrot.



From Ohakune we rode up to National Park where we caught up with Neil for lunch and discussed the route we were going to take home.  I decided we'd have to checkout another nice valley...

Leaving National Park we cruised down to Raetihi where the Vee was refueled (just in case) for the trip back.  South of Raetihi we turned East onto Oruakukuru Road which was to take us over to our next valley.






Oruakukuru Road eventually led us onto Whangaehu Valley Road and after riding the sealed section (and some road works) to Kakatahi, we turned left to continue down the Whangaehu Valley.




Nice shady spot

The ride down the valley was pretty special but somehow I forced myself to stop for more pictures for ScooterBob's scrapbook.




Hanging on for dear life...

Eventually the gravel ran out and we settled in for a quiet cruise home via Fordell and then boring old SH3 all the way back to Palmy.  The Vee was parked up just after four and 400 odd fun kms showing ScooterBob some of our local gravel.  I hope he enjoyed the adventure.


More pics here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ScooterBob's TT2000

A quick TT2000 write-up for ScooterBob's records...

This year's TT2000 once again had a few changes made to it:
  • It started at 12pm on the Friday and therefore riders had to be finished by 12pm on Sunday.
  • Riders needed 50,000 points along with the compulsory 2,000kms.  As before there were many different valued photo checkpoints and riders could make up their own route to pick up as many points as they wanted.
Friday

Friday morning kicked off with a lazy start, I didn't leave my motel until 9am and went for a bit of a pootle to get some fuel before finding a cafe for a decent breakfast to get me through the day.  While getting my brekkie I was joined John, Steve and the rest of their crew.

By half ten I was at the TT ride start along with plenty of other keen riders all itching to get stuck into it.  ScooterBob checked out a few of the bikes and even met up with fellow blogger Phil.





After a quick riders' briefing there was a mad dash to pick up our ride T-shirts and then it was time to gear-up and hit the road.  As expected quite a few riders headed off in the direction of the two closest checkpoints at Port Chalmers and Aramoana.

Only 2 of us stopped here on the way out

From Aramoana, we had to turn around and head back the way we'd came on the slow, winding coastal road.  The GPS then through up a bit of a surprise and took me up over the hill to exit Dunedin, rather than back through town.  It was quite a fun little jaunt though.

After a little of SH1 it was time to turn inland to pick off two more checkpoints before heading South.


Very warm day in Hyde
Now it was time to just clock up some k's as my Route took me South to Balclutha for fuel and then around the Catlins (just for ScooterBob's benefit).  The next two checkpoints were just South of Edendale with a third on my way back to Balclutha for fuel again.




Turning back inland again I picked up Greenfield and Edievale before hopefully picking up the 4,000 bonus points on Moa Flat Road.



Shhhh, don't disturb the Moa...
I was now within about 100km of my motel for the night but still managed to pick up a few more points along the way.




I rolled into my motel at 9pm on the dot with 818km for the day.  A quick shower and warm drink and I hit the hay with the alarm set for 5am.

Friday Map

Saturday

Who needs alarms?  I woke just after 4am and rather than trying to get a bit more sleep I decided to get on the road a bit earlier.  By 5 I was tooling along down towards my first fuel stop in Invercargill.  The roads were wet and there was the odd spit of rain and oh yeah, just a little dark at Bluff...


Returning to Invercargill I then turned Westwards onto the Southern Scenic Route picking up Colac Bay and Clifden on my way to Manapouri and 5,000 points.




On the way out of Manapouri Phil and Steve went past going the other way, obviously doing bits of my route but in reverse.  My next stop was in Mossburn for 1,000 points and some fuel.


Now I was heading for Queenstown and Wanaka where the traffic was going to be a fair bit busier (very touristy and also a multi-sport event on).  I picked up a couple of 500 point piccys at Kingston and the Devil's Staircase before clambering up the hill to Coronet Peak.




I dropped back down the hill and made my way through Arrowtown and then headed over the fantastic Crown Range Road (NZ's highest sealed road) on my way to Cardrona and Treble Cone.



From Treble Cone I dodged the cyclists on my way back into Wanaka and then made my way to the airport.  Here there was a bit of confusion around the location of the checkpoint as apparently the sign we were supposed to get a picture of had been moved, everyone used the Alpine helicopters sign instead.


Seeing as there was a cafe right opposite this sign I decided to take five and have my second breakfast (at lunchtime) of the day.  It was then on to Cromwell for fuel and 1,000 points there and at the Clyde Dam.



Heading East I missed Alexandria and made my way through Chatto Creek on my way to Drybread and the Idaburn Dam.  I had a bit of an issue finding the dam as there was no water in it and I rode past without noticing the little shed in the picture - this cost me about 10 minutes.



From the dam I carried on East and got back onto SH1 at Palmerston.  After a quick top up (not needed, poorly planned) I turned North before finally turning back West at Glenavy.  My last checkpoint was at Elephant Hill and on my way out I saw a lot of guys heading in, including Phil and John's groups.


The next section was a short 45km or so into Kurow which was to be my stop for the night.  I actually had a few spits of rain but I still got in at about 5:15 after 1,016km (thanks to that early start) and got settled in my motel for an early night.

Saturday Map

Sunday

I had a bit of sleep in on Sunday as I only had around 350km to go until the finish and was on the road just before 6am.  My first stop was in Tekapo for fuel and then my final checkpoint stop at Burke's Pass.

Horrible, blurry pic!
It was fairly chilly through here but I had a bit of fun between Fairly and Geraldine before settling into the cruise home up SH1.  About 100km out I hit wet roads and actually had rain off and on all the way into Christchurch.  I arrived at TT HQ at 9:30 having been beaten by Glen on his Triumph and a couple on a ZX-14.  Mission accomplished!


ScooterBob finally comes up for some air...

Sunday Map

I spent the next few hours drinking coffee, eating sausages and chatting with riders while I waited for the rest of the riders to come in and hopefully a break in the weather.

I departed the scene just before 12 and went in search of a shower and a quiet afternoon at my motel feeling satisfied after TT number 5.  SccoterBob seemed to have taken it all in his stride - maybe he's just getting started on his long-distance adventures...