The day started off a bit unfriendly, there was a few spits of rain as I was getting the DL out of the shed and then it rained reasonably hard as I rode from Palmy to Ashhurst. The gorge is still shut so the Saddle had to be used and unfortunately I ended up stuck behind two cars who proved hard to pass on wet and greasy roads.
In Woodville I gassed up and parked to wait for the rest of the riders. By the time we left there were ten of us: three BMW's, two KTM's, two Honda's and three Suzy's. Leaving Woodville we stayed on the Western side of SH2 and quickly made our way up to Danniverke.
From Danniverke Graeme led us off on some small loops that took us away from the main highway before popping back on briefly until the next turn-off. A lot of these sections were tarseal but we also discovered some dusty gravel roads. These roads had plenty of gravel on them and took a bit concentration as the big DL tended to float around a bit with the rear wheel needing very little encouragement to break loose. I tended to take things a bit quieter and also kept the gap between me and the bike in front a lot bigger than normal to help visibility.
Our lunch stop was at the Tiko pub and it was good to be able to grab a cold drink to wash down some of the dust I'd been eating - the dusty snack didn't stop me from having a steak sandwich though.
After lunch we made our way across to Waipawa for a fuel stop although on our way across we did get take in a bit more gravel and Jas got to demonstrate how to get petrol from one KTM to another when Donna's bike ran out about 2km from town...
Tanks topped up we took in the short ride to Waipuk before heading Eastwards on Farm Road and then getting back onto the gravel on Te Awa Road and then Hiranui Road.
It was here on Hiranui Road that disaster struck. Four of us had ridden right through to Route 52 and had sat at the turn-off for some time before we decided that something must be up as we were missing 6 bikes. At first one of us volunteered to go back, then another and finally we all made our way back along Hiranui Road. We eventually arrived at the unpleasant sight of Donna sitting in the ditch on the side of the road in quite some pain.
She had had a little whoopsie and had the bad luck of having her bike land on her ankle. While her partner helped her out of her boot and held her ankle steady a couple of other riders took her bike back to farmhouse and called for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived after a surprisingly short twenty minutes and the experts were soon making Donna more comfortable for a very short ride down to where the rescue helicopter could land and take her off to hospital. Not a nice way for her ride to end.
Naturally Jason left us to it and hopped on his bike and chased after the helicopter to Hastings hospital. We also lost a couple more riders who had to get back to town so it was just six of us to continue on the ride.
After a quick tab back towards Waipuk we turned back off Route 52 and rode through to Flemmington on some great winding back roads - some sealed and others not.
Eventually we ended up on what looks like a dead end road on Google Maps - Rotohiwi Road. But here Graeme had a nice surprise for us - we had permission to follow a paper road through farmland to come back out on Te Uri Road South East of Ormonville. This road turned out to be the highlight of the ride with fantastic scenery all taken at a very sedate 2nd gear pace.
The road was obviously less maintained than the others we'd been on and offered up the additional hazards of dim-witted ewes and their young lambs and a number of gates to get through. I enjoyed it so much that I had to include the entire road in the video clip above!
From Te Uri Road we made our way back to Danniverke for a quick coffee before once again avoiding SH2 and then battling the traffic on the Saddle and making our way home. Another cracker of a ride with the Back Road Riders although I sense that summer is going to mean dust...
More pics here.