A bit different this week: a Friday night ride with a mission - and not only that, a Friday night ride leaking into a Saturday ride too.
The idea for this ride came from Brian who had just bought a GPS unit and wanted to get set up with a waterproof housing and mounts for his Connie. I was also keen to get a different mount for my Zumo as well. After organising a visit to the Ram mounts man it was all on.
After wading through the last working day of the week I rushed home to sort out lodgings for the dog and loaded the bike up. Brian and I eventually got under way at about 5:40 and made our way out Palmy and on up through Vinegar Hill to Taihape for our first fuel stop. The night was so nice that after a brief conflab we decided to have a quick meal and then make the most of our full fuel tanks and ride baby, ride.
Heading through the Desert Road we had to put up with some pretty badly melted roads (lots of shiny tar and even pot holed and broken up surfaces) which had had sand spread on them and which was a little tricky to spot as the light began to fade.
Dropping down into Turangi I had to lower my screen and crack my visor as the temperature was getting warmer rather than cooler. The only issue here was the plagues of bugs committing suicide by head butting my helmet.
From Turangi we headed on towards Whakamaru enjoying a fantastic ride on a brilliant road - not the first time I've been through there in the dark and it's always a blast. One of the hazards on this stretch was magpies on the roads - they seemed to be out in force picking up bugs off the road or something. The next hazard was a bit more serious - about 10km from Whakamaru we somehow caught up to a cop and had to follow him all the way to Mangakino.
From here on we were well and truly in the dark and had to take it pretty carefully in the tight stuff around the dam. Additionally, the kamikaze bugs had turned my visor opaque so by the time we pulled up in Kihikihi we were ready for a break and decided to find some accommodation. This is where Captain Zumo came to the party and informed us that we were 300m from a motel! A quick potter down the road and we were soon booked into a nice wee motel where we could finally park up the horses and wind down after a great ride.
Saturday morning and we were up at 6 and on the road by 7:15. Leaving Te Awamutu the Zumo took us on a great little back road free from traffic before finally taking us into Ngaruawahia and out onto the dreaded highway 1 to Auckland. At the top of the Bombay's (and after 372km on 1 tank of gas) we decided that it was time to feed both the horses and ourselves.
Brekkie sorted and it was on to see the Ram solutions man. Once again Captain Zumo helped us out here and took us straight to the guys place. Here we oggled his bikes and sorted out the mounts etc before turning around and starting south.
Heading back we went through Pukekohe and I had hoped to take Brian through some roads that Mark and I had done previously but I hadn't quite got things right with the Zumo and it took us off in another direction which was nice but got us back onto Highway 1 well before I had planned. Never mind, we were soon back in Ngaruawahia heading for Te Kuiti and then Taumarunui. The road through from Te Kuiti to Taumarunui is a real gem and although in poor condition (heat damage again) it was a great run except for slow traffic holding us up in places.
In Taumarunui we stopped again for gas and a cold drink and got on the phone to Mark & Chris to see if they wanted to head up and meet us somewhere on the road. They were both keen although passed on some unwelcome warnings of rain.
South of National Park we stopped at the Makatote Viaduct (been meaning to do that for some time) for some quick snaps before heading on towards Ohakune. Further on up the road finally started getting some wet stuff so I pulled in at the Tangiwai memorial to take off my sunnies and see if wet weather gear was needed. In the end we decided to try our luck and push on without rain gear - and then it really rained - so much so that I had to stop and put more Rain-X on my visor so I could see.
Just North of Taihape we spotted a certain Blue Bandit heading north and slowed up so he could double back to catch up with us. In Taihape we paused long enough to here that Chris was also on the road - parked under an old service station canopy out of the rain. We soon found him and had a ball giving him stick about being a big Harley rider who's scared of the rain...
Luckily for Chris (and everyone else didn't object either) the rain stopped around Mangaweka and we had dry roads all the way home. Mark and I took in Vinegar Hill while Brian & Chris took the main route (Brian with a very worn out rear tyre). Mark and I had a blast and it was the perfect way to finish up a 700km day.
All in all a pretty busy 24 hours with 1,073km covered in 11 hours 25 minutes of riding, and economy of 18.3km/l once again showing what a fantastic bike the Connie is.
More pictures here.