Well after months of careful planning - oops, hang on, I mean a couple of weeks waffling on about it on Kiwi Biker the great day dawned and it was finally time to hit the Forgotten Highway.
After getting stuff all sleep I finally got up at just before 6am and after arcing up the 'puter discovered that a few others were up early and chaffing at the bit too. Looking out the window the days was perfect - not a breath of wind and blue skies - yeeha!
After brekkie and a fair bit of fluffing around at home, Mark finally turned up and it was time to head off and meet up with the rest of the Palmy (and Ashhurst) crew. We got down to the garage at about 07:30 and were not the only ones early tanking up bikes and bellies (bunch of pie eaters!) By the time we were ready to go there were eleven of us (only two Concours's/Concourses/Concoursi) and we got away a little after 8.
I ended up leading us off as Cowboyz bike has become a bit of a cop magnet lately and he was not keen to have to talk to another cop so early in the ride - I did notice however that he was quite happy to hide from the radar by tucking in behind me. Anyway, we had a quiet little early morning ride over to Wanganui (only one cop in the end) where we pulled up to meet Hornet250Boy on his new bike (not a Hornet). From there it was about another hour's ride to Stratford and our first fuel/drink stop.
In Stratford we meet up with another 9 bikes all rearing to go and hit the highway. Being locals they led the way and we were soon into some fantastic fast but windy roads. Our first stop on the Highway was at the top of the first saddle (forgotten it's name) where everyone quickly had their cameras out taking pictures of the great scenery and all the fine machinery out enjoying the day.
After the photo op we all re-mounted and headed off on roads that were just fun with a capital F! It was about now that the temperature was really getting hot and by the time we stopped at Whangamomona for our lunch break there were a few tongues hanging out. The only unfortunate incident was Bonez having a wee off on his mighty GB. Luckily he didn't knock himself around too much and he soon had his steed knocked into shape for the rest of the ride.
At Whangamomona a couple of 'naki riders had been good enough to come through in their car (poor them) and set up a barbecue lunch for us. They more than looked after us and everyone really appreciated the effort they put in to feed the tribe. While we had our lengthy lunch break quite a few other bikes went through so we weren't the only ones out enjoying the road and great conditions.
Eventually we had to don our hot riding gear and mount up for the next bit of the highway. Not far from Whanga we came to the Moki Tunnel and were plunged into darkness briefly before exiting into bright sunlight again. Time for another quick photo op:
It was here also that we discovered a another nasty - Sarah's old Honda had lost it's rear brake. Something pretty disastrous had happened and there was brake fluid leaking out all over the place. No bike shops on the FH so she was going to have to battle on without the rear brake.
On the road again and we finally hit the unsealed section of the road. Luckily it was in very good if dusty condition and wasn't really an issue at all. Soon we were off this and back onto good old tar seal - or did I speak too soon?
By now it was around 1:30 or so and the sun was really working overtime - the roads were getting really hot and the tar really slippery. After a couple of slithers I backed off a bit and settled into a cruise keeping by eyes (and nose) peeled for the shiny stuff.
When we eventually came to the end of the FH and into Tamarunui we pulled up outside a bike shop and I discovered that Mark wasn't with us. He had been at the front when we left the tunnel so I figured he had gone onto Turangi which was our next pitstop. I took off after him and had a real blast heading over the hill on Highway 41 to Turangi. Just had to watch the hot tar in places again.
By the time I got into Turangi Mark was filling up his bike and wondering where everyone had got to. I gassed up, grabbed a drink and we parked up and waited for the rest of the crew.
They had taken there time and headed up to a look-out which gives good views of Turangi and the lake (been there, done that). They'd also said their goodbyes to the 'naki boys who had headed home from Tamarunui.
After everyone had gassed and watered we headed off down Highway 1 and onto the desert road. There was quite a bit of traffic on the road (Sunday arvo - everyone heading home after a weekend away) and we were unfortuante enough to get stuck behind a HP car just north of Waiouru.
Another quick stop in Taihape before the final leg home over the Vinegar Hill. A bit of steam let off there before saying seeya to the guys and running for home.
A great day's ride in near perfect conditions and another pin in the map - great to find a road you haven't ridden before and then cross it off as done! Will not be the last time I visit Whangamomona and the Forgotten Highway!
More piccys here.