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...