We met up in town and once all had arrived made for the Pahiatua track. We had a nice run up over the hill but definitely had to take it a bit easier in the shady spots where the road was pretty wet and greasy.
At the bottom of the hill was a little surprise - a bit of gravel in the shape of Tararua Road. I kinda new the road was there as I'd been past many times before but had always thought it was a no exit road to some farm or other. It turned out to be a great little gravel warm up and took us back onto Gorge Road and eventually on into Pahiatua where we met up with one more of the merry men.
From Pahiatua we headed out on the familiar Kaitawa Road but quickly turned off to make our way onto the Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road. Just before the turn-off onto Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road we had a wee pause after Neil's GPS tried to send us up someone's driveway but soon got it sorted and were on our way.
After a short squirt on the tar we turned off onto Pori Road which after a while starts to turn into a nice gravel track. This was the first time I'd ridden Pori Road in this direction and as you drop back down the hill the views are fantastic.
Turning left out of Pori Road we had another blast up Route 52 until once again turning Eastwards on Waihoki Valley Road. The first bit of this was outstanding and I had a blast chasing after Neil.
Now things started getting a bit more interesting, in the shady sections we started encountering a bit of mushy stuff. This made things a bit more exciting for me as my rear tyre is really past it's best by date so I had to pussy-foot it around quite a bit.
Huia Road and Spur Road offered more of the same but I managed to slither my way through without needing to change my underwear.
Eventually as we took in Marainanga Road the road got a lot better and I could use a few more gears. At the end of Marainanga Road we turned right onto Coast Road (which I rode last year on the Coast to Coast). This is a fabulous gravel road in great condition so there was plenty more opportunity to let a couple of ponies loose.
Coast road eventually comes to an end at Akitio where we stopped for a quick bite and a drink (and also to say hi to a dog the size of a horse) before turning for Danniverke. Neil had one more great bit of gravel lined up for us and it was on Glenora and Esdaile Roads. Once again the gravel was in good nick and everyone got stuck in and enjoyed the higher pace that we were able to manage - a real blast!
Eventually we were spat out onto tar seal again which was actually the fantastic Weber Road so we weren't too disappointed to have finished our gravel riding for the day. In Danniverke we met up with Graeme for a late lunch before he led us on a round-about route back to Palmy via plenty of sealed back roads and the Saddle. Another awesome day out with the guys! Now to find some tyres...