Sunday, November 29, 2009

An important meeting

Yes, very important indeed: my sister Christine had her second child last Thursday so I thought I'd better pop up to the 'naki and meet little Alexander.

Saturday was a bit of a wash out so I was lucky that today the weather came right and all I had to contend with was the wind and mufti cops (a bit lucky there, just a flash of the headlights). The ride up was pretty boring but on the way back I had Dad with me on his SV so we decided to go around the mountain and come back via the Surf Highway.

Along the way we swapped bikes for a bit, fueled in Wanganui and then I showed Dad a back road through to Marton then Halcombe and Fielding. In Colyton I sent him on his way home to Napier while I turned off for Palmy and home.

A pretty good day out on the bikes and nice to see the rest of the family including it's newest member!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taming the Beast

Pffffft! As if I even got close to taming her but as mentioned in my Friday night ride post below, I was lucky enough to sample a very nice 'busa last night.

The bike in question was Martin's and he is a big Suzy fan also having an old GSX-R1100 in his shed too. I'm not sure what other mods Martin has done on the 'busa but it definitely has a very nice Hindle pipe and a TRE fitted to make the most of the big suzy's ompf.

Climbing into the bike (yep, feels like you're sitting in it rather than on top) everything feels good and all the controls are where you'd expect them. The bike also does not feel big and heavy but once under way you get that great planted feeling that comes with what is a pretty heavy bike. Personally I really like that planted feeling - something you don't get on the little VTR which can be quite flighty over bumpy roads with the back end bouncing around a little.

Arcing up the powerhouse rewards you with a lovely growl from the exhaust and you know that this bike is alive and ready to rock. Pulling away I immediately noticed how responsive the throttle was - very little throttle movement is rewarded with gobs of smooth 4 cylinder grunt. It actually took me a while to come to grips with this - I guess I was still in VTR mode and had to get used to the throttle action but whenever I changed up the bike would just leap forward. Whether this is a feature off all 'busa's or a result of the TRE I'm not sure but I am definitely sure that this bike wants to go - no matter what gear you're in or how few revs are on the dial. Very addictive.

As mentioned in the ride write-up, we were riding in a bunch and taking it pretty quietly which was fine by me as i was learning a new bike. The bike pottered along quietly and had absolutely no problems with any of the corners it was asked to tackle. Martin says that the bike isn't a great handler in the very tight stuff but personally I really liked the way it behaved on Nikau Road - very easy to pilot with that lovely planted feeling I mentioned above.

Later on, on the main road where the road is more suited to opening a bike up I got to give the 'busa a couple of little squirts (still treated the throttle with a lot of respect) and was rewarded with that instant take-off - there is no way that I'd ever be able to use all this bike's performance but it sure is fun having a quick sample!

Summing things up, the 'busa is a very comfortable and relaxing and easy bike to ride (no need to be up and down the box all day) with more go than I need. I now know why Steve loves his so much and is able to dispatch the Grand Challenge with ease. Thanks for the ride Martin - sorry the only picture I have has been cropped from an old one - no camera last night.

Big Four's rock!

Friday night ride

Another week's gone by and we've certainly had our share of wacky weather - fine one day and wet and windy the next. Friday was no exception, it was a pretty grey day and there was more than enough wind to turn umbrellas inside out. Flynn had posted up a ride involving riding through to Pahiatua and all day it was hard to see the hills between Palmerston North and Pahiatua - not a good omen for a fine ride.

The good news is that it didn't put off many people from attending the Friday night ride - 14 bikes all up and 16 keen riders/pillions - and we stuck to the original route too.

Flynn was obviously pretty keen to get going and was clearly enjoying his new Buell as we left Ashhurst as he shot away at a good rate and thundered into the gorge. I had a bit of a play following him through here until we reached the turn-off to Ballance. We stopped there to wait for the others who had got caught behind a truck before I led the group off.

Another nice ride through the valley and onto the Pahiatua track for a wee pootle to the Mangamire turn-off. I pulled over there to wait for eveyone and got a nice surprise when Martin offered me the keys to his 'busa - very mint slice!

Once we'd regrouped we waved some of the group through before I pootled quietly on after Martin and started to learn how to ride the beast. I love the road through to Mangamire and although we all took it easy it was a lot of fun getting to know a different bike.

After the obligatory refreshments at the Black Stump in Pahiatua we made our way home in dribs and drabs - all heading in different directions. I stuck with Al, Monaime, Flynn and Leonie (who was still getting to know her nice little ER-6) and we took the track back home to Palmy.

Another nice Friday night ride and good to see plenty of bikes and absolutely no incidents.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friday night ride

It's Sunday so I'm a bit overdue in writing up the Friday night ride, so here it is.

While we were waiting for the kick-off we got the unpleasant news that one of our regulars had had a mishap on the way to the ride. Luckily, Flynn was on the scene straight away as the accident happened outside his house (!) and had the emergency services on the way ASAP. Even luckier is that Sparkles spent just the one night in hospital and is now at home recuperating. Hopefully this is the last incident of this type for him and preferably all who attend our great weekly wind-down rides...

Back to the ride, after a bit of a delay while Flynn attended to Sparkles, about ten of us headed out the Pohangina Valley to take in one of my favourite little rides - the Apiti Loop.

This ride takes in some great scenery as you work your way around the valley but also demands a bit of respect as the road does tend to be littered with dirt and metal etc from slips and other damage. Stock can also be a concern.

After a nice ride around as far as Apiti we stopped and popped into the Apiti pub for refreshments and conversation. By the time we left the light was starting to fade and on my little blast through to Kimbolton I had to avoid mowing down a couple of bunnies - no ducks out though.

From Kimbolton it was just a quiet cruise home with the Friday night wind-down complete for another week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ACC Protest Ride video

Some of the video I shot yesterday of the protest ride. Still sorting through & uploading more.

Leaving Levin for the ride down State Highway 1 to Papakowhai:

Arriving at Papakowhai. Gives some idea of the number of bikes involved. There was another group like coming in from the Hutt.

On way into Wellington.

Arriving at the Stadium to park.

More to come...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ACC Protest Ride

Had a pretty much perfect day for the ACC ride although a bit windy in places. Rode with perhaps 300 others from Palmy to Levin and then with even greater numbers to Papakowhai. Here we met up with thousands for the ride to Parliament where we listened to a lot of good speakers and booed the ACC minister.

While there we heard reports of up to 12,000 people there although the TV has been saying 5,000 bikes. Very hard to say but the place was swimming in bikes and the Parliament grounds were packed out. A great effort by a lot of people to make it all happen.

I'm currently uploading some video but in the meantime here are the pics:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bad night for ducks

Well the weather was ok for ducks last night but they really shouldn't try and cross a busy main road at night - more on that later.

Leaving Palmy and heading out to Ashhurst for the Friday night ride Brian & I really copped some wet stuff and so we when pulled up at Ashhurst we weren't too surprised that there was only one other hardy soul out and about - Road King on his VFR.
After waiting around for a while to see who else might show we finally decided to take off and ride Vinegar Hill to Hunterville for some tea. The roads were quite wet as we left Ashhurst but the closer we got to Fielding the better the weather became. Before long we were riding in dry conditions and Vinegar Hill was starting to look like a good choice for the ride.

It turned out to be a great idea as the road was in really good condition and there was very little traffic on it. The three Hondas gave their riders a fantastic ride and soon we were parked up at the Hunterville cafe ordering some tea and keeping a close eye on the weather outside.

The return trip was a pootle down SH1 before turning off to go through Halcombe and Fielding. It was just getting dark but was a really nice ride with the rain managing to stay away until just before home where we copped a few spits.

And the poor old ducks? Well, over the past few weeks I have come across duck families crossing the road three times and until last night I had managed to avoid hitting one but last night their luck ran out. A very large family (with mostly grown up kids) decided to cross the road (all in line astern) in front of me in the dark and only just saw them as I came across them. Unfortunately I had no time at all (and no options) and I ploughed right over one. All Brian saw was feathers and then he was through as well, although he reckoned he got through the gap I'd made without hitting one. Poor little duck - if only they'd learn to use the pedestrian crossings...

GSX-R self-assembly

Sunday, November 08, 2009

ACC after us again

Ok, so it's not breaking news but the ACC are putting forward a proposal that will increase the cost of motorcycle registration dramatically - the rates for both my bikes will be more than trebled and cost more than my insurance.

There have already been a few protest rides and there is plenty of discussion going on about errors in the ACC figures and the injustice of the proposed changes so I'm not going to go into all that here but I think Mowgli's "Tui ad" below is not bad at all...

November the 17th is scheduled for a National protest ride where bikers from all over the country are going to converge on Parliment buildings to demonstrate their opposition to these proposed changes. I'll be there!

2009 Capital 1000K Cruise

Yesterday was the third running of the Capital 1000km Cruise and as I've done the previous two then I thought I'd better not break the habit so I dragged myself out of bed just before 4am, had a quick brekkie and trundled off to meet the rest of the Palmy riders.

We met up at a local gas station and on the dot of 5 mounted up to ride down to meet up with the rest of the riders who were starting from Upper Hutt. The morning was cool but calm and this made for an enjoyable ride down to Shannon where we picked up a couple more riders (barely had to slow down - good organising there). The highlight of this first stretch was a great run over Paikok Hill chasing a certain Tiger. The road was dry this time around (damp and slippery last year) and at 6am there was no traffic on it. A lot of fun.

At Caltex Rimutex we met up with most of the other riders although some were already leaving to make the most of a nice day. Brian, Mark and I quickly signed in and hit the road heading for the Rimataka's and some more corners.

By 7am we had already done around 170km for the day and Mark was looking for gas for his bike. We stopped quickly at Carterton and topped up all three bikes before heading off again.

From Carterton we took
the Masterton bypass and then trundled up State Highway 2 until the Mangamire turn-off. Riding through Mangamire and
over the track we started to get blown around a bit as the wind came up but it was all good on familiar roads.

More familiar roads took us across from Ashhurst to Colyton, Fielding and Halcombe before crossing over to Wanganui and then turning Northwards towards National Park. The Parapara's were in fantastic condition and what a difference riding them in fine, daylight conditions rather than pitch black and pouring with rain as they were on the Grand Challenge a few weeks ago. Only two sheep to avoid too! I love the Paraparas...

Our next stop was for fuel in National Park and this took us a bit longer than it needed to as some of the pumps were out. But soon enough we were on the road again and looking forward to lunch in Te Kuiti. The ride from National Park to Taumarunui was it's usual boring self but once onto Highway 4 we were back onto great riding roads. The only thing that marred this fine bit of road was a section of very rough road works which some riders likened to riding along a river bed...

Dropping down into Te Kuiti we had already completed 600 odd km of our target 1,000 so it was time for a spot of lunch at the Gas & Gobble. While we were there we caught up with Yod, Meanie, Monie and Koroj before hopping on the bikes again.

Our route then took us on through Otorahanga to the Te Kawa crossroads where we had to stop for a photo to show that we'd been there and therefore covered our required distance to get our certificates. Here we turned off to take some fantastic back roads through to Mangakino and Whakamaru. At one turn-off it was interesting to note that the road sign was down - I wonder how many riders missed this turn-off? It didn't affect us too much as Captain Zumo doesn't need no stinkin' signs and we were quite happy to trust him to lead us on.

From Whakamaru we had a pretty quiet ride through to Tokaanu - I couldn't see Mark behind Brian (and thought he may have stopped for gas) so took it pretty easy. In Tokaanu we had our last stop for fuel - and yes, Mark had made it without topping up (something like 320km or so).

The last leg home was just a gentle cruise down SH1 until the Vinegar Hill turn-off. Here we waved off the ZX-10 pilot who had been with us since Te Kawa and attacked the Hill.

In the end I would have been home by 5pm but for running into Cowboyz on the road and him breaking down (fuse) while chasing us down. A great day out riding the bike in good conditions for a change!

Zumo stats:
  • total distance: 1,024km
  • riding time: 10hrs, 40mins
  • moving average: quite good
  • Paikok Hill
  • Parapara's
  • 8 mile
  • riding some of the GC route in perfect conditions.