Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BRR Wandering Wanganui Part One

Sunday was the latest outing for the Back Road Rides and after a few days of pretty wicked weather all over the country it was always going to be interesting.

On Saturday our fearless leader (who had been snowed in during the week) called the ride on and as I knew he was going to have an interesting ride down to meet us in Wanganui then I thought that I'd better not chicken out and got all my gear sorted ready for an earlish start in the morning.

As it happened Neil left National park at about 6:40am and made his way through snow and ice and then pouring rain to meet us - not sure if he is fearless or slightly mad..but then I guess there's a few people around who behave similarly at times...

After gassing the Vee I made my way over to Wanganui for the meet-up.  On the way over the weather was not too bad although there was some sticky fog just out of town and the temperature dropped a little the closer I got to Wanganui.  Heated grips were turned on and left on all day...

At our kick-off point there was already quite a few bikes there already when I pulled up and quite a few riders were taking the opportunity to grab a hot drink while we waited for the stragglers.

Our first leg was a short trip that would take me on 2 of my favourite bits of Wanganui gravel: Rangitatau East Road and Kauarapaoa Roads.  I've done both of these roads a few times now but this would be the first time after the region had seen some weather.

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When we hit the gravel of Rangitatau East Road the road was in great nick and the road fast.  I was having a great time on it until it started to rain.  I started having my familiar visor/glasses fogging issues (even though I'd put "anti-fog" stuff all over them) and I had no choice but to crack open my visor a bit.

Enter issue #2.  For some weird aerodynamic reason (my fairing, my helmet shape etc) the airflow seems to draw water up the inside of the visor.  The rain on the outside of the visor blows off nicely with a layer of Rain-x but the stuff on the inside soon makes the visor difficult to see out.  So what do I do?  Open the visor and eventually end up not being able to see a thing with the rain on the glasses.

So this is sucking pretty badly and after one stop to clean glasses and visor I ended up stopping and taking my glasses off.  Well, I thought, this could be interesting...

I think I may have been able to speed up a little but I was definitely a lot more cautious as I did not really want to investigate a fence/bank/ditch/truck.  Third gear was about the best I could do - the old eyeballs didn't really appreciate rain drops at 60km/h.  Don our poor TEC had to put up with a slow Vee holding him up a fair bit...

At the turn-off to Kauarapaoa Road the rest of the team were waiting but very keen to get amongst it and took off down the hill.  Meanwhile it was time for someone else to have a small issue.

Barry hit the go button on his DR only to have it ignore his command.  It turned out that his kill switch had stuck in.  Things were not looking good - towing the DR back out would be interesting to say the least.  So we started fiddling.  In the end with Barry prying one side of the switch with his key me the other with a screw driver we got the button to pop out.  And you know what?  When Barry pushed it again it still stuck in...at least we had a system for sorting it out...

DR fired up, Barry did a disappearing act on the two DL TEC's and we scrambled to mount up and make our way down the hill.  I had been expecting it to be pretty greasy on the way down the hill and it was in places but overall not too bad - gently does it was the way.

Kauarapaoa Road drops down into a beautiful valley (and I got some great pics from other rides through here) but I have to say it's not quite the same when you're struggling to see where you're going...

When things leveled off a bit we managed to speed up a bit but still had the odd slip to work our way through or around.  At one point I thought, heck I've got away on my TEC buddy!  I'd been trying to keep an eye in the mirrors for Don's headlight but it wasn't that easy what with my blindness and the twisty nature of the track.  When he didn't catch up quickly when I slowed for him I started getting worried and stopped to wait.

I was just getting to the point of looking for somewhere to turn around so I could go back when I saw a headlight come around the corner.  The bike looked fine (like I could tell without glasses) so I took off again.  Shortly we came across the other guys waiting for us and I heard a wee story - apparently I wasn't the only one having issues with their glasses and a little diversion into a drain had been taken.  Luckily Don was able to ride out of it easily, remove his glasses and carry on.

By now, I'm please to report, the rain had stopped so I took the opportunity to clean my glasses and visor again and hope for the best.  This turned out to be a great idea and we were now into a faster section of Kauarapaoa Road and I was able to enjoy this last bit of gravel before we ended up out on the tarseal to follow the river into Wanganui.

Back at a familiar cafe we parked up for a well deserved lunch to give us some energy for the afternoon ride...

Hmmm, I should be charging for advertising...


  1. Nothing like riding in the pouring rain. Glad you came through that unscathed with the poor visibility.

    Did your DR rider just use his ignition switch to turn his bike off for the rest of the day or continue to use his kill switch?

    1. I'd say so, no more issues for the rest of the day.