Well the North Island leg is all but done: all three checkpoints and just over 3,000km. Now for the really good part - the South Island! We'll be leaving Palmy at around 9:30 to catch the ferry down and a quiet pootle down to Kaikoura for the night. So what's happened so far? Well briefly:
Day One was just a quiet ride up to Gisborne. We left at just after 10 in the morning with a number of the local Kbers joining us as far as Hastings. The ride itself was a lot of fun but what Meanie, Mark and I really wanted was to just get going. So after lunch just South of Hastings that's what we did. A really great ride and only some slight misty rain and wet roads on the hills dropping into Gisborne. In Gisborne we met up with my old man and his mate for tea and generally just took it easy.
The first day of the Southern Cross proper. We hit the road at about 9am and headed out of Gisborne in some light drizzle which pretty much stayed with us all the way to the Cape. Arriving at Te Araroa we said gidday to Dad & Goldie before hitting the gravel to the Cape itself. Once there we were just 3 bikes among 130 but eventually signed the book and were on the road again.
By now the weather had come right and the roads were drying quickly so we were having a great ride until our first incident of the trip. At some stage Mark passed an older guy on a GS BMW but no sooner had he passed and the guy sped up to keep up with us so Meanie & I just sat behind him. About 20km up the road the Beemer rider panicked going into a slow right hander and must have grabbed some front brake. Before he new what was happening he was low-siding it off the road and into the fence. Meanie and I got on the brakes, parked up and rushed to help. Initially the rider was motionless which was a bit scary and I turned the bike around and headed back up the road to find a cop who had been taxing one of the riders. By the time I got back the guy was on his feet and Meanie and the guy's 2 sons were trying to sort out the bike. The sent us on their way and when we caught up with them yesterday told us that their old man was fine and had managed to ride the very battered Beemer to Taupo - pretty lucky.
The rest of the ride over was uneventful except for a lot of roadworks - some of which were very nasty. We took a detour from Bennydale and ended up doing Ramaroa Road which is a great bit of road although it was a bit tricky with the low sun doing it's best to hide all the corners. We ended up in Inglewood at somewhere around 8:30 where my sister had tea waiting for us - awesome!
In the morning we met up with Meanie in Stratford and headed for the Cape. Enjoyed some great back roads on our way and ended up at the checkpoint about 1 and a half hours early. Book signed and we were on the road again and had a great run through Mt Messenger and the Awakino Gorge. More fuel at Otorohanga before heading North and eventually being caught up in Auckland traffic - doh!
North of Auckland and the traffic got better so we just kept on going making use of all the daylight - in the end only stopping quickly at Wellsford for gas before heading all the way to Kaitaia before having any tea. We got to our motor camp to find the office shut and no note telling us where to find our key etc - bummer! Luckily John & Steve were staying at the same place and were good enough to let us take the bunks in their room.
This was the big one but started off slowly with a quiet ride to Hohoura to meet up with Meanie and grab a nice cooked brekkie. Stomachs full it was off to the Cape and man what a difference a year makes - a lot more tarseal and some nice toilets etc at the Cape.
Book signed again we were off in a mad tush to try and get to Auckland before rush hour - not a chance! We hit crawling traffic while still North of Auckland and had to battle it all the way through to Takanini where things finally started moving again - what a hell hole!
The next pit-stop was Ngarawahia where we fuelled up, grabbed a drink & a bite and hit the road again. A really nice ride through to Te Kuiti and then on towards Tamaraunui in the dark.
500m short of Tamarunui we were involved in the second accident of the trip and this one potentially more serious. We were following a large Mainfreight truck when around the bend came a Toyota Previa camper on the wrong side of the road. Right before my eyes he hit the left hand side of the truck and ricocheted off into the roadside grass.
I dunno how the truck stopped so quickly & safely or how we did too but when I pulled up I was right beside the Previa and could see the horrific damage to the car - I was expecting the worst for sure. Off the bike and phone out I went for the Previa while Meanie went to the truckie. I was dialling 111 when the driver in the Previa started talking to me and telling me he was ok. I tried to get him to stay where he was but he got out and only really had a few scratches on his hand. I made him sit in the grass until the ambulance arrived but he was quite with it and was fine telling me about his injuries etc. Luckily the truckie was unharmed too. Twenty minutes or so later we had handed over to the Police etc and were on our way again glad that we had not decided to pass that truck...
The rest of the ride home was quite enjoyable as there was no traffic and the roads were good. The only fly in the ointment was some quite bad fog in places - I hate fog! I eventually got in at about 11:50 and was quite happy to see my bed.
Right, now I've got to pack again for the South - bring it on!