Fairly soon there were thirteen of us and it was time to get cracking. First up was a the drop down the track and then the turn-off towards Mangamire. After crossing the first one lane bridge we took in our first piece of gravel. Initially the gravel was quite deep and required a bit of care but after a while we popped out onto some really hard stuff which also had less metal on it so the pace became pretty quick - heaps of fun.
After this great little squirt we popped back out onto SH2 at Eketahuna where tanks were topped up and lunches were bought to take with us as we continued our ticky-tour. Almost straight away we were back onto good gravel which took us through to Alfredton Road.
From here we were led astray for a minute when Graeme took us left when he actually meant to take us right. Never mind, he soon got his bearings back and had us on a fantastic road (Pori Road) which took us on a great climb offering some fantastic views. The only problem here was that the damn GoPro was not recording - it is quite hard to know if you've turned it on properly and unfortunately I hadn't - curses!
After a quick regroup we started out on Puketoi road and some pretty serious adventure riding. The descent was very tricky with heavily rutted corners and a very slippery clay surface. Oh, and there was mud, puddles and rain to deal with too. This was very hard work with 1st gear being about the only one used and needing to be very careful on the brakes. I would certainly not attempt this road by myself and ideally in dry conditions rather than what we had. In the end I made it out ok but three other bikes had little lie downs, luckily with very little damage. Once again no video of this and definitely no time for photo taking either.
Once back out onto some decent gravel I came across a couple of the guys trying to get Rob's F650 fired up. It had died on him and was not co-operating with the starter button. Eventually it started again and we caught up to the others waiting for us. Unfortunately no sooner had we got going again and the poor old Beemer started playing up again. This time around we had some more expertise on hand and after removing a breather pipe the bike started getting more fuel and was soon back on song.
The next little hop took us up Route 52 to Pongaroa where we stopped for a well earned lunch (it was now 2pm). Following lunch a few of the riders kept Rob company as he rode home not wanting to carry on and possibly have bike issues in the middle of nowhere while the rest of us headed for Waihi Falls. A pity they couldn't join us for the next bit but I hope they were not needed to operate on the 650.
The trip to the Falls was brilliant with good gravel and plenty to see, the only issue being some cattle on the road again (we had already had to deal with three bulls earlier in the ride).
Back on the bikes it was time to head homeward - via some more great gravel roads of course. First up was Towai Road followed by Coonoor Road which eventually took us back onto the seal near Makuri. This was yet another great section with the road pretty condition in most places, just a bit more mud and the occasional bit of deeper gravel to keep you on your toes.
Back on the seal I had a great ride back to SH2 - sitting behind Graeme and enjoying a good pace on the wet roads (my new Pirelli seems to do the trick). At the main road we all said our goodbyes and headed in different directions towards our respective homes.
Another fabulous ride with the Back Road Riders and I even got to ride Al's DR! Can't wait for the next ride...
More pictures here.