Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting the bug

Before I start - I may have posted these pics before but a great post by Fuzzy gave me a little inspiration.

I'm fairly certain (like 100% certain) that my old man is the cause of my addiction to motorcycles as like Fuzzy, I started young.

First Kwaka?
The little bike above was obviously my first and the little plastic fantastic served both myself and my sisters well.  It was even on occasion ridden two-up down the sloping section we had growing up in Nelson (pic is probably in Masterton where I was born and we lived prior to the move South).  The little bike was entirely plastic except for the shafts the pedals fitted to.  It was (wait for it) Kawasaki green and I believe it had orange or red handle bars and perhaps seat (must see if I can find a colour pic one day).

As I got older I sometimes ended up like Fuzzy - sitting on the tank of one of Dad's bikes wearing a funny old white helmet with leather flaps that formed the fastening.  I was even on occasion dropped off at kindy on one of the bikes.

Yes, the cat survived this photo...
One of the more memorable trips was a ride on the tank of a trail bike up into the snow one winter.  There were at least two other bikes with us and I can remember a snow fight and wearing a chunk of ice/snow from my Uncle...

Later on I moved to the rear of the bike and can still remember being scared first time out.  Then Dad got out of bikes for a while (and into boats) and it wasn't until we moved to Napier that he got back into them and I ended up with bike number one.

The $120 TS185
And so began the addiction...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Playing with the stoppers

After first giving the DL a much needed bath (poor old water blaster had to work hard) I decided that it was time to change the front pads on her.  I'd had the new pads for a while but last time I had checked they still had plenty of wear left on them, so the pads had just sat around gathering dust.

The front brakes have always been a bit of a let down for me (kinda used to those awesome anchors on the Connie).  They are fine off road - not keen on grabbing a handful of brakes and ending up sliding down a hill on my face - but on road I'd like more stopping power.  I guess it's always going to be a compromise, particularly when there's no ABS to help stop those face-sliding moments.  (Conversely the rear brakes are fantastic and superior to those on the Connie).

Anyway, with the Stromtrooper forum open on the appropriate page I got stuck into it.  First up off came the caliper and then out with the old pads and then a little bit of a clean with an old toothbrush.

Those two itty-bitty pistons and two on the LHS caliper are what I'm relying on to halt progress
Then the little metal shim on the back of the old pad needs to be removed, given a clean-up and clipped onto the new pad.  Then the pad can be fitted back into the caliper.

Then repeat for the other pad and slip the caliper back over the disc and bolt it all back together.  Then it's over to the other caliper on the left disc.  Note: I've simplified things a bit, check out that link above if you're going to tackle the job.

Once everything was back together I went for a quick squirt up the street just to make sure things were working correctly.  All good!  No fantastic increase in stopping power but at least I hadn't really stuffed things up and then stuffed the bike into something solid...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November BRR Ride

Or the title could be: three Colins, a Myles and an Andrew splash there way over some great gravel to Danniverke to be met by a Wayne as the number of Colins slowly dwindles to one as the day wears on...

On Saturday night/Sunday morning I was woken a number of times by pouring rain, thunderstorms and a dog that is not too keen on thunder.  As I lay in bed early in the morning the temptation was certainly there to just roll over and have a bit of a sleep-in.  In the end though I got up and half-heartedly went about getting ready for the day still unsure whether or not I was game for the monthly Back Road Riders Ride.

In the end I decided (rather optimistically for one with so little sleep) that I could actually see patches of blue sky that possibly were trying to nudge their way Northwards to hang around over our planned route, and that perhaps I should take a concrete pill and hit the road...

At the gas station rendezvous I filled the mighty Vee and went to pay for the fuel.  Waiting there and fuelling up on coffee were three Colins (perhaps for a bit of clarity we should name them African Twin Colin, DR Colin and Wee-Strom Colin) and as we were getting ready to make tracks we were joined by Myles on his Wee.  Sweet, the V-Stroms were outnumbering the DR's today...

African Twin Colin was our ride leader and he led us out of town and over a wet Pahiatua Track to our first little taste of gravel for the day on Tararua Road.  This is just a short little stretch but as a grader had been through reasonably recently there was plenty of gravel on the road and it took me a little while to get used to the Vee floating around beneath me again.

From Pahiatua we made our way along Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road where some non-blue clouds started emptying themselves out on us with a respectable amount of vigour.  This made the first (thankfully seal) section of Pori Road a bit of a mission as both my visor and glasses decided that I didn't really need to see things like banks, fences, ditches, corners, or sheep and fogged up to the max despite  all the anti-fog stuff I'd applied to them...

Luckily just as we hit the gravel the rain decided to hold off for a bit and this meant that I could actually see where I was pointing the bike.  The gravel here was also a bit on the deep side in places but I managed to surf my way to our usual photo stop.

Can you see any blue?
Wee-Strom Colin
From this point the road drops down the hill and after chasing a stupid lamb for a while the GoPro managed to snap me my favourite photo of the day.
Not the brightest critter on the block
Good enough to post again
At Route 52 we turned left to take us North East.  The tarmac was a bit damp but we hustled along quite nicely until DR Colin suddenly pulled over.  No, the DR had not broken, Colin had somehow spotted a group of 4WD's clambering around down in the valley and had even recognised a Landrover that he used to own!

DR Colin's Landrover is down there somewhere (and that's a little piece of his DR too).  Not bad pointing of the GoPro either I reckon...
After this little pause we took off after ATC and Myles and caught them at the turn-off to Waihoki Valley Road.  This road, Huia Road, Spur Road and Marainanga Road after it are truly fantastic rides.  The scenery is great and the riding is a ball of fun.  It was especially good to be doing these roads on good rubber as last time around I was on a bald rear tyre and the muddy bits (not this time) were a bit of a battle.  Check out the videos for more of the action.

Huia Road turn-off
When you finally run out of Marainanga Road you hit Coast road.  Last time around we turned right to carry on to Akito but this time around we turned left where the road takes you into Pongaroa.  At Pongaroa we turned right onto Route 52 again for just a minute or two before taking a right onto Manuhara Road.

This was a first for me and it was more great gravel that eventually took us to the familiar Wahi Valley Road and the climb up Towai Road.  At the end of Towai Road we turned right onto Waitahora Road (remember that name) to start our cruise into Danniverke for lunch.

In Danniverke we caught up with Wayne (we'd call him KTM Wayne if the Wayne's were as heavy on the ground as the Colins) who had not been able to make our ride start-time but was obviously keen for a gravel fix.  But before he could get his fix there were 5 riders who were in need of their tucker - it can't have been a pretty sight to see...

After lunch was demolished it was time for the afternoon section.  Unfortunately it was also time to drop a Colin (DR) and a Myles, both who had some sort of excuse or perhaps had just had a bit too much fun and needed to head home for an afternoon nap?

Our afternoon's ride started with us retracing our steps out the Weber Road before turning Northerly on Ngapaeruru Road.  This road started out with some great twisty tar through some nice bush before finally turning into a mintastic gravel road that led onto Mangahei and Te Uri Roads.

Pausing for the rain to catch up with us
After a brief stop we continued on Eastwards in some drizzly rain eventually ending up back on the tar of Porangahau Road.  Rather than pop into Porangahau for a coffee we turned South on (you guessed it) Route 52 to slowly start our way back home.  Naturally we had to stop at Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu for a picture.

A mouthful

Just North of "the place with a relatively famous name" (well that's a shorter version)  we turned West on Birch Road.  This is one road that I've been wanting to ride again ever since I first did it with the BRR Team.  Last time around it was pretty dusty but whatever the conditions this is a superb gravel run.

Unfortunately the rain had returned and unhelpfully my fogging issue returned with it.  This combined with some pretty slippery conditions (love my K60's!) made for some pretty slow progress but I enjoyed it all the same.  Just before we turned onto Tahuokaretu Road (to take us onto Route 52 again - of course) we had a brief pause and it was hear we said goodbye to Wee-Strom Colin (down to one Colin now so we can drop the ATC) who decided to make a dash for home.  I also was in two minds about bailing too as I was getting a bit sick and tired of my fogging problems but I could not let Team V-Strom down - one of us had to ride the entire route!

Our Route home had us first turning back onto Waitahora Road (well actually Waitahora Valley Road which then led onto Waitahora Road - confusing?).  This road was just as good in the afternoon as it was in the morning and by the time we got onto Coonoor Road I was glad that I'd hung in there - the gravel was superb and the three of us were having a ball!

A Colin-less Africa Twin pauses by Suzuki's finest (KTM cowering in the background)
Eventually the gravel had to run out and we were back onto Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road.  So what did we do?  We carried on retracing our steps and even took in the gravel of Tararua Road for a second time.

In the end I got home at around 7pm, a bit damp after plenty of riding in watery conditions and about 460km added to the Vee's odo.  Another great day out but man that hot shower was good!

A few more pics here and plenty of video in the playlist below (no, you do not have to watch all of it).  The first video is a slideshow and then the rest are gravel bashing video.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

2012 C1KC

3:40am on Saturday morning and I'm rolling over to check the alarm clock - it's set for 4:20 so my internal (or should that be infernal) alarm clock is well off and has robbed me of 40 minutes of sleep.  Oh well 5-6 hours is just going to have to do it because I'm meeting Meanie and Monie at 5am to head off to the start of the Capital 1000K Cruise.

I meet them and Meanie's pillion Jordan in town and we waste no time getting on our way just before 5.  It's cool and calm conditions as we make our way South and by half five the skies are starting to get brighter.  I love riding early in the morning but the early starts are another story...

We had a nice quiet ride down to Paekakariki and over the hill to Upper Hutt, arriving at C1KC HQ at about 6:30 with a 150km head start on everyone else.

Monie, Meanie and Jordan (Moe?)
Tanks topped up and signed on for the ride we off again chasing after the Wellington starters and making for the Rimutakas.  I had a great run over the hill with little traffic although there was a little blue VFR nipping at my heels all the way.

From Featherston we had a quiet cruise up to Masterton where we took the bypass and then kept off SH2 by turning off and making for Mauriceville, our first compulsory photo stop.

Some serious machinery!
Soon we were back on SH2 which we followed all the way into Woodville before  taking the Saddle to our next photo stop.

Te Apiti Windfarm
Artistic shot?
From the wind-farm it was just a short squirt across to Feilding and Halcombe and then Stanway for photo number three.

A couple of little back roads and we on our way across Vinegar Hill to start to make our way Northwards.  Our next stop was in Taihape for a quick top up and then we were on our way again.

Our next stop was definitely unplanned when we came across an accident and to our shock it was one of the C1KC riders.  Meanie and I helped Steve get the bike off the road while Monie helped out with the rider.  He was certainly suffering from some shock and very sore but it was great to see that he was not seriously injured.  An ambulance eventually arrived from Taihape and loaded him up for a short drive to a helicopter.

An unpleasant pause
On the road again and it was no time before we were stopped again!  This time it was some roadworks where the bearded stop/go man held us up for about another 10 minutes!

It was great to finally get moving again and I had a great ride across the Desert Road following Meanie.  Things were definitely hotting up though, Meanie was leaving tracks through the hot tar and was looking forward to our next stop in Turangi.

Turangi - lunch break!
We didn't need fuel in Turangi but as we were about half way through our 1,000km we decided to have a break for lunch.

After lunch it was time to pop over the hill to Tamarunui for a trip through the King Country.  You see the strangest things on the road...

For the Ural fans
On the way over the hill I seemed to get away from the others.  Pausing to wait for them at Kuratau Junction I finally found out why when Steve pulled up.  The Viffer was apparently playing up but luckily it sorted itself out and the others were soon with us.

From Taumarunui we made our way North on SH4 following Steve before turning off on Ramaroa Road to take in some back roads to Aria.

Ramaroa Road 
Aria locals
From Aria it was a maze of back roads before we popped out on SH3 for the trip Southwards to Awakino.  It was great to be riding through here in the dry after my damp trip through here on the Four Points.

Tunnel in the Awakino Gorge
Another compulsory photo stop
Not long after Awakino the brilliant Mount Messenger was waiting for us and yes, it was dry and yes, it was fun!

Oh look!  Another tunnel!
Our next stop (after some more road works) was Urenui for gas and a cold drink, then we were off to New Plymouth where I somehow lost the others again.  After waiting a while I doubled back only to see them finally coming.  A lucky off-ramp let me do a quick U-turn and we were soon reunited.  Yes, the Honda had been playing up but this time Meanie had found the culprit - a loose wire shorting out somewhere under the seat.

Time for a slideshow: As you may have noticed there's a few on-board pictures above.  I had the GoPro in photo mode from Turangi until the battery ran out just South of New Plymouth.  So here's all 1,300 pictures nailed together for your amusement.

Our quiet pootle around the 'naki was only interrupted by one more compulsory stop in Pungarehu.

From Pungarehu we carried on cruising our way home although by now there were a few sore bikers as we all were using any slow bit to stand up or otherwise stretch legs and other things.

Our route followed the main road most of the way home until Turakina where we turned off and rode through to Halcombe and then Feilding.  In Feilding we stopped and I gave the gang their badges and certificates (having been given them in the Hutt in the morning) and we said our goodbyes after a fantastic day out on the bikes!

The Spoils

View 2012 C1KC in a larger map

A few more pics (no, not 1,300 I promise) here.