Where to start - what an awesome weekend! With an extra day tacked on a plan had been hatched the Ashhurst mob involving the Coromandel Loop and East Cape and after umming and arring for a bit I got my act together and decided to tag along for the ride.
Friday - Heading North
On Thursday night I got the bike loaded and pointing head first out the garage so that in the morning all I had to do was get my gear on and take off. I headed out to Ashhurst just before 7:30 and rolled up just in time for my 2nd breakfast of the day (limited myself to a bacon sammie) and to get the necessary pre-ride snaps.
By 8:30 everyone had been feed and watered and were raring to go so we mounted up and headed out. We had a nice run over Vinegar Hill and set a good pace all the way through to Waiouru. We had a quick stop there so I could gas up and others could have a stretch etc before heading off through to Ohakune and National Park before another quick stop so everyone else could top off their tanks at Tamarunui.
Leaving Tamarunui we had a great run through 8 mile although had to avoid the usual rough spots and road works. We also failed to find a road that Cowboyz had programmed into our GPS routes - it turned out to have gone missing and so we just followed the road into Te Kuiti. Te Kuiti was our scheduled lunch stop so we parked up with a lot of other bikes and had a bite while recapping the ride so far - mint was the general opinion coming from everyone.
From Te Kuiti we headed up through Otorohanga to Ngarawahia for another gas stop before Cowboyz took us over some of his old stomping ground to Ngatea. Along the way we came across a heap of cruisers stopped on a corner, a badly damaged M109 and a huge hole in the fence. Looks like someone went straight ahead where they should have gone left. Luckily it appeared that the rider was not to badly hurt as we were waved on.
In Ngatea we stopped for night with friends of Meanie and they sure made us feel at home by pitching tents and feeding us up with a great BBQ. We had a great night gas bagging with them and finally hit the hay sometime around 11. Day one gone and the trip looking like a goodee already.
Saturday - The Coro Loop
5am and the first noises started coming from various tents so I dragged my butt out to say morning and share a coffee with the early risers. After waking just about everyone else up with our coffee preparations the rest of the crew were up not long after and we had a great cooked brekkie before loading the bikes for the day. Our host Chris also dragged his 250 out to join us on the Loop and his daughter Kate stuck out her thumb and got a lift from a friendly Tiger so it was 8 bikes that headed off for the Coromandel.
In Thames we gassed up and met up with 2 other Kiwi bikers (Barbender & Puddy - nice guys and also GC veterans) who joined us for the Loop ride. Leaving Thames we battled damp and winding roads to Coromandel where we stopped for a coffee and a natter before hitting the really fun bit of the ride. Leaving Coromandel we wound our way up a great bit of road and pulled over at the top for some pictures before continuing.
From our photo stop the roads only got better although slow traffic in places did take some of the gloss off of the ride. The next stop was in Whitianga where we said goodbye to Barbender & Puddy before a quick tiki tour around the township. By now the temperature was going from merely hot to stiffling and when we stopped again in Hikuai to say goodbye to Chris & Kate everyone was ripping into the cold drinks & iceblocks - and we still had a long way to go to get to our accomadation in Hicks Bay.
More great riding brought us into Waihi where the bikes were topped up again and we had a decent break to take on more fluids and escape the 37 degree heat. Eventually we had to leave the air conditioning and we departed for Tauranga in quite busy traffic and yes, plenty of sunshine! We kept at it and made our next stop Opotiki where we gassed up and had a great meal at a pub before hitting the East Coast road proper.
To say that this was a great ride is an understatement. The roads where deserted and the it was simply magic hugging the coastline, checking out the views and soaking up the great roads and riding. Just before sunset we pulled up for another breather and it turned out to be a fantastic spot for some photos with the sun setting and a great location. It was however the spot for the first of a couple of little tyre "issues".
Looking down at his bike Cowboys noticed a big screw sticking out of it. Seconds later there were about 4 puncture repair kits out and operation plug the hole was under way. Fixing the puncture turned out to be child's play and as the tyre had not completely deflated in the process we only need one air bottle and were soon on the road again with Mrs Cowboyz riding pillion on Meanie's bike just to be on the safe side.
The rest of the ride to Hicks Bays was in the dark but was still very enjoyable and soon we were at our little batch kicking the owner out (forgot we were coming - doh!) and reliving the day's riding prior to sack hitting.
Sunday - Going home
After a fantastic breakfast of bacon, eggs and fresh fish we loaded up, snapped a few last pics and hit the road. And I got about 500m before the Connie started warning me of...yes, you guessed it a puncture! The rear was pretty tired by now and it appears that a sharp little stone on the gravel road had poked itself through the carcass. Puncture repair veterans that we are we soon had the hole plugged and a friendly local loaned me a compressor to pump the tyre back up - the 2nd time for me to have a puncture on the Cape and be helped by a Hicks Bay local (not all Hicks eh?)
Finally on the road at 9:20 we started South and took to the fantastic roads with gusto. The road is currently in pretty good condition (it is prone to a lot of damage and crappy repairs) and is motorcycling heaven - short windy sections followed by more open straights and sweeping corners and then repeating...magic! At Te Puia Springs some stopped for gas while Meanie, Monie and I continued on before stopping at Tolaga Bay for our gas and a coffee break where we caught up with the other guys again.
Leaving Tolaga Bay the pace was respectable but after a while I let the others go ahead and settled into cruise mode. Arriving at Gisborne Monie and I didn't stop and Meanie followed us out the bypass and through to Wairoa. Here we stopped here again for a drink and to check in with the others. It turns out that they had stopped for lunch in Gisborne and were quite a ways behind us so we decided to continue onto Napier and wait for them there.
Cruise mode was still the order of the day and it was a very nice though awfully hot ride through to Bay View where we gassed up and howed into more cold drinks. We waited around for quite a while and checked in with the others again before finally deciding to head off on our own again. We got about 200m before I noticed the olds' bus on the side of the road so I hauled up and had a quick chat before we kept going.
The temperature down highway 50 was still very hot and the wind did not help much but we stuck to it and battled our way down to Danniverke. Here we had another stop for coffee and to check in with the crew again. They were still a ways behind us so we decided to finish off the last 50 odd km on our lonesome again. At Ashhurst I waved the others off and headed for home and a cold shower.
Home after 1,642km and one heck of a good time it was good to take off the sweaty bike gear and have a breather while contemplating a magnificent weekend chock full of great times with great people and one awesome silver bike! Magnificent!
More pics here.