Ok, so we'd had a breather at Tiraumea and were starting to make our way closer to home. But first we had to deal with Puketoi Road. The last time we had ridden this road it was from the other direction and the road was in shocking condition with most of the corners a chewed up mess and all the hollows filled with mud and water. About three bikes went down and I reckon I got through by the skin of my teeth (and perhaps a brand new front tyre helping).
This time around was a lot better. While there was still a few puddles, they could easily be avoided and the only major issues were stock and a short section where half the road had disappeared.
So Puketoi Road turned out to just be a fun ride on some good gravel and the short section of rougher farm track type road. Puketoi Road dumped us back out onto the pretty familiar Pori Road which in turn led us to the tarmac of Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road (for the second time today).
Now it was tar all the way to SH2 and Pahiatua. We then turned to take the Pahiatua-Mangahao Road as far as the Ballance Road which we took for just a minute before turning off to take Tararua Road which is a neat little gravel road that ends up at the Eastern Side of the Pahiatua Track.
After a good wee squirt up the track we turned yet again onto North Range Road to take us back over to the private access road we had used in the morning to get us up onto the top of the ranges. This now meant that we'd actually ridden the entire length of North Range Road/Hall Block Road - and got to see plenty of windmills.
To say I was a little worried about this end of North Range Road is an understatement. I used ride dirt bikes and mountain bikes along here years ago and all I could remember was the big bog holes and one reasonably steep little climb on a badly rutted clay surface - scary stuff on a 230+kg V-Strom. Colin assured me that the road was in much better condition...
As you can see from the video the first bit of the road is all good gravel but (at about 1:30 on the video) the track deteriorates into a very rough and bumpy goat track. Unfortunately the battery (number 2 of the day) ran flat just after the first rough section so you don't get to see a group of adv bikes having to swim through puddle after puddle. In some of the big puddles I had water coming splashing up right over the top of the bike and me! I'm happy to say that the K60's and the mighty Vee did me proud and I got through without issue.
But I am happy to say that the old climb up the rutted clay hill is gone - the road has been improved a lot to allow better access to the windmills - and once we were out of the bogs we had good gravel all the way to the access road. This was a good thing as by now it was pretty dark so we were pretty glad to be riding on better roads!
Our ride ended up back where we started and I think everyone was still pumped from what was an outstanding day out on the bikes. After a few quick yarns we all said our goodbyes and headed home - the shower was calling...
Righto, so Part 2 had us catching a breather after some great gravel on Maunga Road. After the pause in proceedings we saddled back up and left the gravel behind for a while as we made our way along Ormonville-Te Uri Road and then turned onto Te Uri Road for another short stretch of tar.
After a few km of Te Uri Road we turned off onto a fantastic paper road that we have ridden previously, although this time we were riding in the opposite direction. This is a neat little track that takes you across some nice farm country. Once again Colin had given the farmer a courtesy call prior to the ride to let him know that there were a heap of bikes passing through. We also took it pretty quietly as there's plenty of stock to contend with and it is lambing season.
Popping out on Rotohiwi Road we now rode a big loop with lots of fast gravel and a few stretches of tar to take us nearly to Porangahau before cutting back West back to Te Uri.
From Te Uri Road we turned off again to head slightly South West on Mangahei Road. This was the start of another loop that took in yet more good gravel and eventually had us back onto Weber Road for the run back into Danniverke and our lunch stop.
After a great steak sammie and some fuel in Danniverke we were off again retracing our steps out Weber Road before turning South East on Waitahora Road and heading in the general direction of Pongaroa. More good gravel took us onto Towai Road which winds it's way up onto the top of the ranges and past the fertiliser (I think) works you can see in the video. We also had to stop for a wee while to admire the great scenery.
Following our short break we dropped back down the hill and after some more good gravel ended up on the Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road but instead of going left into Pongaroa, we went right to take us towards some more interesting gravel.
The interesting gravel was on Rimu Road and it wasn't really the gravel that was interesting but some obstacles we had to overcome - see video.
I'm not sure if these obstacles were caused by the forestry operations in the area or by the howling gales that blow through the area. When we looked back up the hill which the tree had fallen off we could see a lot of trees blown/chopped down and decided that we should make tracks before anything fell on us from above...
Rimu Road eventually ended at Route 52 having passed South of Pongaroa and after a quick sprint down 52 we stopped briefly at Tiruamea before tackling the piece of road that had had me worried before the ride...
Ok, so there's a lot of video to process so I'm going to stick with writing up this fantastic ride in instalments as I work my way through the video - way to keep the readers on the edge of their seats or what?
But, I'm a bit more with it tonight so perhaps a few more words...
Arriving at our kick-off point just before 9 am I was amazed at the number of bikes parked up with their dead keen riders all busily getting to know each other. There was even a couple of other DL1000's - yeah baby!
Muchus Adv bikus!
It was also cool to see Neil's new Tigger and neat to see that he'd loaned his old Beemer (for sale BTW) to a mate to also help increase our numbers.
Clean & shiny!
By the time Colin gave us the ride briefing there was about 21 of us with one more still on the way - good stuff!
As mentioned in last night's quick post, Colin had organised the ride and had got us access to a private road up to the Tararua Windfarm. This was an outstanding ride and it was great to pop out on North Range Road and be riding amongst the turbines.
Somewhere along the top of the ranges North Range Road becomes Hall Block Road which eventually drops you down onto the Tararua side of the ranges. So we got to enjoy some fantastic views of both sides of the ranges on this ride.
Spat out onto the tar again we made our way up SH2 to Danniverke were the bikes with smaller fuel tanks were able to have a quick top off before we continued.
From Danniverke we headed out towards the coast on Weber Road but quickly peeled off to take a variety of back roads, some gravel and some tar. One of these roads, Maunga Road opened out onto some really quick gravel which was a real blast.
At the intersection of Maunga and Ormonville-Te Uri Roads we stopped for a re-group and a bit of a breather with approximately 100% of riders showing signs of enjoying Maunga Road just as much as me.
Yes, there could be multiple parts - 9-10 hours of riding and 14 gig of video (no I'm not gonna upload all of it) and a heap of fun have left me fairly knackered. So there's just time for me to post one quick video of our first bit of gravel.
Today we were lucky in that Colin had got us access to a private road that takes you up through the Tararua Windfarm and then onto North Range/Hall Block Road. An easy ride and you get to see a lot of windmills...
And that will have to do for tonight - although there are pics here.
After about of week of research, talking to bike shops and umming and arring I finally picked up some new boots specifically for adventure riding. Until now I've just been wearing my old Sidi road boots which are somewhere near 12 years old.
The faithful Sidi's
The Sidi's have been just fantastic boots but have had a hard last 12 months, splashing through mud puddles and getting covered in all sorts of things you might find on an adventure ride. They have never, ever let water in except when it has ran down my legs via soaked riding gear or otherwise got splashed down the inside. I would not hesitate to buy another pair and was a bit bummed when I couldn't get them when I did buy some new road boots.
The boots I've settled on are made by Forma and have come my way by comments from others who use them and like 'em. They're mostly leather with good ankle and shin protection along with a pretty serious looking sole. Closure is via velcro and three snap-lock dohickey-me-whatsits (apologies for the technical terminology). I haven't ridden wearing them yet but when I tried them on they felt a lot more comfortable than I thought they'd looked and fit well.
Since picking them up I've given them some love in the form of a polish with Snow-seal and tomorrow is their first chance to get dirty...
Well, I've finally finished playing around with the video from last weekend and have uploaded a few short bits (I had over 4 hours recorded). Unfortunately there is no video from the Saturday as Graeme took us up the fantastic Turakina Valley and the riding and the country was fantastic. The reason there's no video? Well I thought that the camera was playing up all day and then when playing around with it on Saturday night I wiped the card...
BTW: I don't expect you to wade through all the video but I hope you get a feel for how much fun we were having.
Anyway here's the first video taking us out of Taumarunui on Ongarue Back Road which was pretty good gravel. Just a few spits of rain for a little while and one little disruption to the riding...
The next video is on Mangokewa Road which was just in fantastic condition which put the Vee right in her element. Superb!
The next video takes us to our lunch stop in Piopio via some more excellent gravel (Tikitiki Road) and nice scenery.
This last video shrinks down the last 140km to just 15 minutes but does show some quite different country in places. We started off on some marbles (see discussion at 3 min) but ended on some tight windy roads that eventually dropped us down into Taumarunui again. (Damn typo on the map too!)
I've just got back from having my pocket picked by the government (WOF & Rego) and it seems that Connie riders are early risers - when I got to the testing station there was only one car and an '87 Concours 1000.
It turns out the rider is the same guy I see quite regularly as he rides past my place on his way to work. Funnily enough we had a few things in common so had a bit of a chat. He loves his bike but doesn't do as much touring now but rides it to work everyday - I often see it parked up with a cover over it.
His bike has 104,000km on it so I told he better work on that as at 83,000km I was catching him up! I'm hoping to hit the 100,000km mark next year...