Before I left I had already decided to head over towards Marton and ride the gravel section of Turakina Valley Road and then ride through to Hunterville. At Hunterville I was then going to have to work out my route home...
After a quick stop for lunch (left it pretty late in the day to head off eh) in Feilding I took a few back roads over towards Marton but then skirted the town itself and made my way to Turakina Valley Road.
I knew that there wasn't a lot of gravel on this road (having ridden it a few times - the last time on the Connie) but then the front tyre on the DL is still awaiting replacement and I was just after a nice potter in the countryside.
This section of Turakina Valley Road is pretty short and after the gravel and another small section of tarseal you arrive at a crossroads. Left will take you through to Wanganui and right will get you to Hunterville. This road is another cracker and I've ridden it quite a few times including twice on the Grand Challenge - once in the darkness where navigation did prove a slight issue...
Well, on this occasion there was no excuses for poor navigation but I have to say that the road is a bit worse for wear in places with a lot of road works, including a small section of gravel.
As you'll see from the video the DL was thriving in the conditions and I had a great wee fang to Hunterville.
From Hunterville I decided to ride through to SH54 (Vinegar Hill) and then investigate a road that I thought I'd ridden years before (and accidentally got into some gravel). As it turns out I think I got my roads wrong but boy did I find a goodee!
The road in question was Lower Pakihikura Road and after a few amazing hairpins the road then started to wind itself around the side of hill and offered some fantastic views across the valley. After a while the road did eventually turn to gravel and in places it was a little too "marble-like" for me with a fair bit of caution being required. I'm hoping a new front tyre is going to improve this sort of riding but I'd rather be slow and stay upright than quick and over a bank...
Along the way the road surface alternated between nice gravel, more marbles and even some gravel-less dirt (nice). I also had to make a couple of turns based on instinct rather than stopping to look at the Zumo and decided on following the sign posts to Ohingaiti.
Eventually I popped out onto a familiar road (and one with tar mixed in with the gravel) which took me through to Pemberton. From here I was forced once again to finish off my ride with a glorious squirt through to Kimbolton and then home.
All up I was away from home for about 3 hours and rode something like 220km. I have to say that this really rates as one of the best rides the DL and I have been on so far (Ok, so the Napier-Taihape loop was fantastic too), it was a truly magnificent day and the scenery and the ride were just magic! I hope for many more like this one!
More pics here and a video playlist below.