Saturday, April 27, 2013

A play in the gravel

With all the rain we have had lately I've been keen to get out on the DL as the rain obviously sorts out the dust and also kind of settles the gravel down a bit making gravel riding easier.  Today I decided to check things out and after a morning of pottering around the house I saddled up and made my way out to Ashhurst.

In Ashhurst I had a brief stop to buy something to take with me for lunch before heading out the Pohangina Valley.  The gravel on Pohangina Valley West Road was just what I expected - in perfect condition for letting rip on the DL!  When I hit Makoura Road I turned right on some more awesome gravel and made my way to Umutoi via Pohangina Valley East Road.

At Umutoi I turned off onto more gravel on Umutoi North Road which then took me to Tunipo Road.  This was only my second time on these roads (the first occasion was on a BRR ride) and it's really neat.  Things start off quite tight but on Tunipo Road there a few nice fast sections before you drop down steeply to meet up with Pohangina Valley East Road again.  This was where I chose to stop for my forgettable lunch (filled roll must have been made last month).

Amazing what you find when using the facilities...
Rather than riding through into Apiti I turned right onto Main South Road and made my way through Rangiwahia via some more good back roads.  Unfortunately since I first went through here a few years ago they have slowly been replacing the nice gravel roads with tarmac...

In Rangiwahia I had to make a quick U-turn as I spotted a scene worth capturing for a photo competition on the V-Strom Forum.  This week's challenge was to get a pic of your bike with derelict machinery/buildings.  I had been past a few old farm buildings but they were generally off the road a bit so hard to get a decent pic of them and the bike.  This scene had it all - a run down old building and all sorts of old junk including the neat little 'dozer.

Snap taken I was off again, this time making my way homewards - except I had one more diversion to take.  After doing Peep O'Day Road with the BRR guys once before I just had to do it again - I wanted to check out again the great views you get as you snake around the sides of the hills.  It is a really neat ride.  Here's a little video of the start of the road.  The video stops just as I run into a farmer moving some stock on the road - I had a bit of a wait...

After taking Peep O'Day Road and a few other gravel roads I eventually made my way back to Beaconsfield and then onto SH54 into Cheltenham.  I had been pretty lucky with the weather with only the odd spit of rain and some blustery conditions on Peep O'Day Road but when I popped out onto SH54 I really hit the wind - and it would last all the way home.  When it was at my side the poor old DL got blown around a bit and the peak on my helmet helped the wind give my neck a good old workout too.

But I made it back safe and sound after a good little pootle of about 187km and happy to have been able to get out and revisit some great roads.

More pics here.

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