05:25 and the alarm is telling me I need to get up if I want to go riding. I stumble out of bed, manage to eat half a piece of toast and gulp down a cup of coffee and then I'm off out the door to meet up with the rest of the guys. After gassing up I park up and am soon joined by Brian, Chris, Horse and finally Mark.
We head off in nice cool temperatures and clear skies and by 7 o'clock we're into Vinegar Hill. Absolutely magic conditions are the pay back for the early start - I love riding early in the morning. We have a pretty quiet ride up to Turangi where we stop for brekkie before heading over the Hill to the Chateau and the starting point for the ride proper. After signing in we are given the riders' briefing and mount up in raising temperatures. It's going to be a hot one...
Leaving the Chateau we potter down to National Park where we all top up our tanks before heading for Tamarunui. We have a good ride into Tamarunui as there is little traffic but once we turn off onto the Forgotten Highway we start catching up the slower cruisers etc and make our way through them. On the metal and the pace slows as people try to stay out of each other's dust and we come across one guy who had somehow gotten his GSX1400 into a ditch on a straight piece of road - no idea how he managed that trick.
One of the more unpleasant side effects of the hot weather (besides sweating your butt off in riding gear) is melted tar and the Forgotten Highway always has this issue so a fair bit of care was needed but even so the Connie had the odd squiggle in some of the worse stuff.
Arriving in Whangamomona we were pleased to stuff and take our gear off for a while while we had a lunch and went over the ride so far. Lunch polished off and we decided to hit the road ahead of the rest of the bunch. Battling more hot tar and slow traffic we were soon in Stratford where Brian & Chris headed South while Mark & I headed North to visit my sister for a cold drink & an ice-block.
The rest of the trip back from the 'naki was more of the same - sweltering heat and a careful cruise with just one more stop in Waverly for gas and another drink (it was hot dammit). All in all, an enjoyable ride but quite a mission in the heat.
Zumo stats: 686km in 8 hours, 6 minutes for a moving average of 84.7km/h.
More pics here.