On my way out to the meeting point I discovered that the vents on an adventure helmet work really well at letting the rain through so while the rest of me stayed dry, the beard got a good rinse out (should be right for a while now eh?) - all part of the "adventure" I guess. Arriving second I parked up with Rob to await Colin and Graeme. When Graeme arrived we heard that even Neil was keen and was splashing his way down from National Park for the ride - that's dedication for ya!
The plan for the ride was to take in as much gravel as possible on our way to lunch at Gravity Canyon, then a wee bit more gravel to meet up with the Napier-Taihape road followed by just a little more gravel to get us home. Sounds good eh?
The first bit was just a quick little loop to the West of Kimbolton followed by more gravel on Ridge Road into Apiti. After Apiti we rode through to Rangiwahia on Main South Road (previous visit) and then were led by Graeme off on a series of back roads (mostly gravel) that eventually led us to our lunch stop at Gravity Canyon. Here's some video from some of these great roads:
After lunch we had a date with Gentle Annie so we headed North for a bit before taking in a diversion to the River Valley Lodge to check out the lodge and the great scenery.
The ride in and out of the valley was really neat with the last bit before the lodge being quite steep, narrow and rough - no problem when taken quietly though. Video of the trip out below:
Out of the Valley we were on the home stretch to the Napier Taihape Road but on perhaps the longest stretch of gravel for the day. Matawhero and Mangaohane Roads were pretty much all gravel but it was in very good nick and a pretty easy and slightly faster ride than some of the roads we'd ridden earlier in the day.
Eventually we reached the end of the road and the intersection with the Napier-Taihape and stopped briefly before...
...deciding to turn around and head back the way we'd come - yes, it's a great road! Unfortunately for both Neil and myself the rain came back with a vengeance and we both had problems with bad visor fogging (time to get a fog city) which slowed us up a bit - and the slower we went the more fogging we got...
Never mind, it was still a good ride and once back out off Matawhero road Graeme was able to find some more gravel (a lot of it fabulously tight and twisty) to take us into Taihape for a drink and some fuel.
Our trip home took us down SH1 for a piece before turning off just North of Ohingaiti and tackling some familiar gravel (Mangamako, Waipuru, Mangapapa and Lower Pakihikura Roads). After popping out on Vinegar Hill the rest of the ride was on seal back through to Feilding and home.
Another brilliant ride and I'm really glad I decided to put on that rain suit and get out there!
More pics here.