In the end I decided that a trip over the Napier-Taihape road was in order before they finish sealing the road completely. This is not the first time I've ridden this road (I did it years ago on my K2 Bandit) but this time around I was actually looking forward to the gravel...
I started out by making my way over to Fielding and then heading out to Kimbolton to take the Rangiwahia road to Mangaweka. Once you get out past Kimbolton the big long straights change to twisting country roads which are a lot of fun, although you do need to watch out for loose metal and wandering stock.
With the first section of loose metal not far out of Kimbolton and a rider getting used to a new bike, I took it pretty carefully and just enjoyed the road and the ride.
Just before Rangiwahia I was held up briefly by a farmer moving some sheep but it wasn't for long and I was soon riding over the rickety old one lane bridge and out onto SH1 at Mangaweka. Next came a short stint of SH1 to Taihape where I stopped to fill up the bike before taking on the Napier-Taihape (or in this case the Taihape-Napier road).
Because I hadn't ridden this road in years it was like riding it for the first time and I have to say that it is a very good ride indeed - I would rate it up there with the Forgotten Highway. The road has tight winding sections and a lot of more open and flowing sections but one thing it always has is some pretty nice scenery.
The day was an absolute cracker and there was very little traffic at all on the road - just a few 4WD's and a group of guys on adventure bikes also out enjoying a great ride.
Recently there has been a lot of work on the road and the race is on to fully seal the route. This meant that in quite a few places there was new seal and loose metal on the road - this wasn't that much of a problem as I just took it easy and enjoyed the ride. The short (approx 10km) section of gravel was in good condition and I enjoyed getting know what it felt like underneath the V-Strom's adventure tyres.
After the gravel the road just gets better with lots of fast flowing corners eventually taking you into Omahu and out onto SH50. From here I just rode onto Napier and broke into the old's house to make a sandwich and grab a drink - they arrived shortly afterwards and I caught up with them for a while before gearing up for the return trip.
For my return trip I decided that it would be rude not to take in Middle Road so I made my way over to Havelock North and then onto this delicious little piece of road. In Waipuk I spotted a couple of familiar bikes and pulled up to say gidday to Sarge and Yod and then led them back through Takapau and Ormondville to Danniverke.
In Danniverke I topped up the tank and Yod and I waved off Sarge and headed off home to Palmy. A fantastic first outing on the V-Strom with about 470km added to it's mileage.
More pics here.