Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pootling Past Pongaroa

Brian is off to watch some V8's race around a certain Ozzy mountain but was quite keen to go for a quick squirt on the bike before packing his bags.  After some discussion yesterday (well, it beats working) we decided that a trip over to Pongaroa was in order.  We even managed to twist Lloyd's arm into tagging along on his VTR.

After an early rise and a quick walk for the dog I played around with a different GoPro mount (yeah, again) and got sorted for the ride.  By 9:30 the three of us were on our way out of town with the sun shining but some clouds further off in the distance - we decided to make for the clouds...

The track was a little damp in places but it's in great nick and we got to Pahiatua  in pretty reasonable time.  Just a quick stop for me to top up the Connie and turn the camera on and we were off.  Instead of riding towards Magatainoka and then turning for Pongaroa, I led the guys out the back of Pahiatua and onto Mangaramarama (what a mouthful) Road which then took us onto Pahiatua-Pongaroa road.

The road was quite damp in places and it wasn't very long until we eventually caught up with the rain.  From here on we were in and out of short drizzly showers which given the warm temperature were more of a nuisance than anything.  They did also help to make the road more than a little slippery in places though.

In Pongaroa we had a brief stop to check out our now filthy bikes and I swapped the camera around the other way for the trip into Danniverke.

We were still plagued with the troublesome showers and Route 52 has plenty of shiny tarmac to avoid so we just cruised our way to the turn-off onto Weber road.  From here it was just a quiet cruise on into Danniverke where a thirsty VTR had a drink and we did likewise.

The trip home was just a pootle down SH2, but I did ride a piece of road I haven't ridden for over a year!  Yes, the gorge is now open with the giant slip finally gone and the road repaired.  There is still a set of lights in one place and there were even guys still working on the slip face but it's open!  Yay, less cars on the Saddle from now on...

Crappy weather but still good to get out on my baby!

Go Holden!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BRR Wandering the Wairarapa

Or some possible alternative titles:
Rollin' on marbles,
Starting an all dust diet...
Yes, Sunday was our monthly Back Road Riders ride and as Neil was proud to say - he'd picked a good day for it.  The day was sunny and clear and yet not too hot for riding as about 15 of us set out for a day exploring.

First up was a quick squirt up over the track before we turned off and headed towards Mangamire.  But at the first one lane bridge we took a right on Kopikopiko Road.  This road soon turns to gravel and we got our first taste of the dusty conditions we'd be riding in the whole day.

All the dust obviously meant that we spread out a fair bit (it's nice to be able to have a reasonable idea on what's in front of you) but it looked pretty cool when you stared off into the distance and saw big clouds of dust drifting off across the paddocks.

Eventually Kopikopiko Road ran into Pukehoi Road and a series of other gravel back roads until we finally popped out on SH2 just North of Eketahuna (just wait until you see the twists and turns on the map) where we turned Northwards for a spell.

About a couple of k's up the road we took a right on Mangaone Road and got straight back into more gravel.  Another thing we were starting to notice was that most of the gravel roads we were on had been getting plenty of TLC from the council road workers - there was plenty of gravel on the roads and this made the riding a bit more exciting...

After Mangaone Road there were a few other tight, twisty, dusty, and gravelly roads to take us in on a loop back to Eketahuna for a quick break.

From Eketahuna we then stuck to the Eastern side of SH2 on Mangaoranga Road.  It was somewhere out here that the marbles got the better of Neil and unfortunately I arrived to find him and others picking up the Tiger and sorting out some running repairs.  It was very unfortunate to see the Tiger down but at least Neil was ok after exiting via the high side...

Oh, oh...
With the running repairs complete Neil was soon leading us off again on a big loop that would eventually lead us to our lunch stop in Masterton.  But before that there was still plenty of gravel and a bit more excitement.

This was just one of two occasions where a cow was startled by the bikes and broke through their electric fence to up that excitement factor...

Arriving in Masterton we refueled the bikes and took over a small cafe.  There was plenty to talk about and our lunch was pretty leisurely as we didn't hit the road again until after 2.

From Masterton we made our way out Castlepoint Road and after a short excursion up a dead-end (well maybe not dead-end but it was starting to look dicey) road we turned off onto Te Parae Road which started taking us South East.  All through here the roads continued to be dusty with plenty of gravel on them and riding the big DL was quite tricky in places - the rear end would kick out with just the slightest twist of the wrist.  Short shifting was the order of the day although sometimes you can't do this (when say climbing up a hill) so there was still plenty of sideways action to be had.

Coming off Westmere Road we went left (instead of right towards Martinborough) and made for the beach on a series of fantastic roads.  The first section took us through a big forestry block and the road wound it's way up and over a pretty big hill which gave us some great views out towards the coast.  It also offered up a lot of pretty tight harpins with big drop-offs offering a quicker trip to the bottom of the hill...

At the bottom of the hill we rode alongside the river for a while before ending out on some huge straights (see video) where the bikes got to stretch their legs a bit - nice to be out of second gear and into sixth!

Not actually making it to the coast we ended up out on Castlepoint road again and pulled up for a regroup at Tinui.  And then it got interesting...

Our route back towards home was via the Alfred-Tinui and Castle Hill roads.  From the outset we had to dodge all sorts of stock on the road and as the road got tighter the gravel got worse.  Second gear was almost too high in some corners but if I'd gone to first the bike just would have been even more twitchy.  So the poor bike was made to lug out of the corners with just a couple of revs on the dial as I tried to pick a decent line through the marbles.

It was through here that our brave leader had his second oops of the day and the Tiger had another brief lie down.

Unfortunately this time around it resulted in a broken front brake lever and (after session of serious head scratching) we were not able bodge up a quick fix.  Neil was forced to give up his ride lead job and to take it very quietly back into Alfredton.
Castle Hill Road
At Alfredton we said goodbye to the gravel and I led the gang back through to Pahiatua and then back home to Palmy.

Patterns on a Map
So not the best day out for Neil and a fairly dusty and demanding ride for everyone but still a great day out on a sensational spring day!  I'm picking it could be dusty again for October's ride...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sneaking a quick one in

We've had some fairly average weather lately and when it's been fine it seems that the DL has been getting all the love while the poor old Connie waits patiently in the shed.  Well, I'd been hoping to fix that for quite a while and today I just managed to get in a quick (well actually quite slow) ride around the Apiti Loop.

Leaving home it was warm and fine and it was fantastic to be out on Mr Smooth again - it takes very little time in the saddle to remind me why the Connie is such a great ride.  The roads remained dry until just the other side of Cheltenham where they became a bit damp but the rain stayed away.

Dropping down onto Apiti Road there were warning signs telling me to be careful of the grit that had been laid down on the road to help cars in icy weather so from here on I settled into a slow cruise taking it carefully in any of these sections or where the road looked slick.

Just the other side of Apiti I finally ran into some light rain.  This was more a pain than anything as I was very warm and the only issue was a dirty visor that wasn't letting the water off as well as I'd have liked - nobody to blame for that except me though.  I ended up being in and out of the rain for pretty much the rest of the loop until it finally fined up just out of Ashhurst.

Anyway it was really great to finally be able to give the Connie some exercise (although she is dirtier than the DL now) and I got home well before the rain caught up to me.  Perhaps I'll light the fire and lax out on the couch...ahhhhh...

Car graveyard

Yesterday I took a drive (yes drive, no bikes involved) with Brian up to Horopito to visit Smash Palace.  If you followed that link you might have discovered that Smash Palace is reasonably famous (at least in NZ) as far as car wreckers are.

Entering the treasure room
Brian was after some bits for his classic Ford and had spoken to the owner earlier in the week.  On arrival we were directed upstairs to start the search for bits.  The place was an absolute rabbit warren of shelving and hanging parts - I'd say they've probably got one of everything for every car model ever made...

Sat view gives an idea of the size of the place
After finding Brian's bits (amazingly the owner somehow seems to know where everything is) we went for a wander around the yards to check out all the wrecks.  It was pretty chilly out but it was really amazing to see all the different dinosaurs lying around slowly rusting away - sorry for the lack of pics, I didn't take my camera so the few pics come from my phone and everyone knows phones are not cameras!

More petrol heads
Eventually Brian was able to pull himself away from the place (he may have found  his personal version of heaven) and we headed back to Ohakune for lunch and then home.  A different sort of day out for me...

Oh, and just as well we didn't take the bikes - we brought back a spare grill for Brian's car, it may have been slightly awkward on the bikes...

Friday, September 07, 2012

Monday, September 03, 2012

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Crossed wires

Today started off pretty early as I was awake and up at 6am and reasonably ready for action.  I'd been in contact with Neil during the week and he'd invited me on a ride this weekend.  The plan was to meet up with Neil and others and hit some more gravel in the 'naki.

With my early start I was also on the road early and in Wanganui well before the meeting time so I gassed up the bike and parked up at a McDonalds so I could grab a cuppa.  Come time for the ride start I rocked up to the meeting point and waited.  And waited...Where were they?  Was I at the wrong place?  Did I get the time wrong?

Well, after waiting about 15 minutes I decided that something had gone wrong and started trying to work out which direction they might have gone if I had indeed missed them.  I figured they'd be wanting gravel and knew that they were heading for roads around the Forgotten Highway.  This left a number of options going in two different directions!  I figured maybe up the Wanganui River Road or up the other side on Kauarapaoa Road.  I also thought that whichever option I took would probably be wrong.

I decided to go for option two but to do it in reverse so that I might run into the others.  To do this I motored North West out of Wanganui and then turned of at Kai Iwi to take in Rangitatau East Road on my way to the turn-off for Kauarapaoa Road.

Rangitatau East Road is quite a neat ride but today there were a number of sections where new metal had been laid and the road graded.  This slowed me up a bit so I just took it easy and enjoyed the great scenery.

At the turn-off to Kauarapaoa Road I stopped for a second to start the GoPro and then quietly pootled off down the hill.  This was now the third time I've ridden this road and I'll never get sick of it.  It is just beautiful countryside with plenty of native bush, pretty farm land and lots to see.  It's also very narrow so you need to take things pretty quietly - especially if you think you might "run into" some mates coming the other way.  (BTW: really hard to condense the 52 minutes of video I took to what you see below).

Eventually (after approx 90km) I found myself back in Wanganui without having bumped into the lads.  Oh well, I've well and truly missed them then, I thought and began making decisions on my ride home.

It was still only 10:30am so I decided to take across to Fordell and make for the Turakina Valley.  This way meant that I kept off the main road and could get in another little piece of gravel on Turakina Valley Road.

The trip from here on took me on only sealed roads through Marton and Halcombe and into Feilding where I stopped for an early lunch (breakfast had been hours ago!) before heading home to some chores.

Magically the bike ended up looking like this
Oh, and how'd the guy's ride go?  Well, I guess I'll find out tomorrow night...

Morning Challenge

Discovered early this morning that there was another blog challenge going on: and as it was only just past 7am figured I'd better be in...

Looking out over the back fence
Stop messing around and give me my breakfast!