After a bit of a frosty Saturday night, Sunday dawned cool but clear and it was time for another dirty ride with the Back Road Riders. The plan for the day was to investigate some great back roads East of Danniverke.
The meeting point for the start of the ride was in Woodville and I left home far too early so was forced to avoid the gorge and take in the Saddle Road. It was a little damp in places but there was no sign of frosty bits as I headed up the Ashhurst side. Looking at the clock on the DL I saw that I was still far too early so I had plenty of time to stop for a few pics with the wind turbines in the background.
In Woodville I topped up the bike and parked up next to another early arrival, Neil and his orange Beemer F650. Shortly thereafter more riders began to pull in and by the time we left Woodville there was about 11 or 12 of us.
First up Graeme led us on a very zig-zaggy course to Danniverke. These were all sealed roads and reasonably familiar to me but just as a last little detour we were taken on a short gravel loop to the North-East of town before returning to Danniverke for a very quick petrol stop for the bikes that needed it.
Leaving Danniverke we took the Weber road but after a while turned off to complete another short gravel loop. The road surface on this loop was really good and this was to be the first of a number of superb gravel roads we would ride. Popping back out onto Weber Road, we carried on further until just past the Pongaroa turn-off where we turned onto Tahuokaretu Road and were immediately onto some more brilliant if dusty gravel.
Tahuokaretu Road soon became Birch Road East and then Birch Road before popping out onto Route 52 North of Wimbledon. The ride through here was simply magic, the gravel was in good nick and the scenery was fantastic. There was even a few muddy bits when riding through some more sheltered spots and the DL wore a bit of mud but seemed to lap it up and come back for more.
The ride up to Porangahau was fun with a number of dual-sport bikes being thrown around on the great winding roads. In Porangahau we stopped at the pub for a late lunch - quite late actually as they were very busy and the kitchen was slow but worth the wait.
After lunch we rode off towards Waipuk and after a slight navigational error finally ended up on some more gravel taking us back towards Danniverke. Once again the surface was fantastic with just the odd soft spot in some of the shady areas again. I had fantastic fun sitting in behind Graeme as he set a cracking pace on the big beemer.
Once off the gravel Graeme got away from me a bit and I started having the odd issue with sun-strike from the low sun and this where I got into some bother. As I was climbing up a small rise I entered a reasonably slow left-hander which unbeknownst (sp?) to me was strewn with reasonably large stones. Before I knew what was happening the DL and I were on the ground and lying in the dust.
Cursing myself (and road workers everywhere) I picked myself up pretty easily but had to wait for some willing helpers (thanks guys) to help heave the bike upright - 220kg of bike is pretty hard to lift back up when you're standing on marbles. The bike fired up straight away and I pottered up to the top of the hill so I could stop and have a look at the damage.
Well it seems that DL's crash pretty well (something I know now so do not need to repeat), the only breakage was the tip off the gear lever - the crash bars and handle-bar guards had done their job and protected the bike well. The only other superficial damage appears to be a bent bolt holding the bar weight on and a few small scratches on the fairing - very lucky, the Connie would have been a mess!
With the help of a couple of large spanners we managed to bend the gear lever enough so I had something to change gear with and we were off again. After a brief stop in Danniverke for petrol again we all parted company to make our way home. Despite the wee off I actually really enjoyed the ride and fully intend on taking in all of those roads again someday - it truly was a great ride!
More pics here.