Sunday, September 08, 2013

BRR Gravel Tips Ride

Yesterday was a bit of a different style of BRR ride.  Neil had advertised it as a low key ride with the emphasis on sharing tips for gravel riding - or a bull session with a bit of riding thrown in...As mentioned in my sneak preview the day was going to end up being a bit more action packed than Neil had planned...

There was a fair bit of drizzle and light rain hanging around when I left home to go and meet the guys in Hunterville.  This meant that I quickly noticed that my worn out K60 rear was starting to behave fairly averagely in these sorts of conditions - any slippery tar was producing wheelspin so I dialed things back again and took it pretty easy on my way over Vinegar Hill.

In Hunterville we took over a small cafe and while coffees were slurped had a bit of yak about tyre pressures, counter-steering and all sorts of riveting riding stuff that I won't go into detail here (a shame, I know) before heading out to give it all a bit of a go.

Our first bit of gravel was to be the delightful Watershed Road and as planned when we hit the first of the gravel we stopped so some of the guys could have a play with their tyre pressures.

Tyres sorted and we were off.  The recent rain had left the road in pretty nice condition but in some areas things were a bit slippery and I had to be a bit careful with the throttle on the Vee in this stuff.  Poor Don even surprised us by having a little incident - luckily no damage to man or machine.

Here he is up in front of me just after the incident and getting quickly back into the flow of things.

At the end of that video you may have noticed us pulling off the road and parking up.  This was due to our first "little" mechanical issue.

The poor wee Triumph had decided to blow the main fuse - and in a particularly impressive way.  Luckily Neil knew where to find it - buried way down underneath the battery.  When he extracted it we discovered that not only had the fuse blown but the fuse holder was fairly melted and damaged too.

We ended up with all sorts of equipment in there digging out the melted plastic and even eventually cutting the corner off the fuse holder so that we could get a new fuse in.  After a couple of attempts we finally got there and the Trumpy was ready to roll again - phew!

After finishing off Watershed Road and taking in some quick but damp tarmac we turned off to take Ridge Road and Pukenaua Roads (in the opposite direction to last time) into Taihape for a well deserved lunch.

After lunch we back-tracked a little but were soon back onto one of our favourite roads again - Turakina Valley Road.

Rather than continue on down the valley Neil's route took us up a new to me road that proved to be a fantastic bit of gravel - the V-Strom approved also...

At the top Wayne, Neil and I waited for the other two guys and when they didn't appear to be coming we all turned around and headed back down the hill...only to run into them a little way down.  Oh well, another chance at Okaka Road...

When we regrouped at the top we discovered the cause for the delay.

The mudguard/Rego plate carrier had broken off Steve's 3,000km old Husky!  It had cracked through, fallen off and gone into the wheel.  As you can see they had made some fast but good repairs to get going again but what a bummer!

Next up it was my turn.  While a couple more cable ties were being used to shore up the Husky I looked down at the Vee and noticed oil on the ground!  Oh crap!  What had I done?

We were kind of in the middle of nowhere so didn't have easy access to a mechanic so we checked the oil in the bike and as it wasn't pouring out I decided to ride on and stop and check the oil level regularly.

Luckily the next bit of road was a really smooth one (Pohonui Road - gotta go back there!) with very little gravel on it.  I took the lead and nursed the DL along, short-shifting and puttering along in higher gears than I might normally have used.  All the while worrying whether I was ruining the mighty V-twin.

Somewhere along the way we got a bit split up.  One minute Brian was behind me in my mirrors and the next he had gone.  I thought that he had just stopped at an intersection to make sure that everyone else took the correct road (assuming I was on the correct one) but as I found out later that was probably not the case.

I ended up stopping on the next reasonably flat bit of ground so I could check the oil level and wait for the guys.  By this time it was after 4pm but the sun was still shining across the valley from me.

After about ten minutes of waiting I decided that I needed to keep going - I was worried that the garages may not be open after 5 in Hunterville and I was pretty certain that I was going to be needing some oil.  I took off quietly again and kept a sharp eye out in my mirrors - still wondering what was going on with the other guys and if I was just heading off in completely the wrong direction...

As it turned out I was going the right way and I ended up in Hunterville just before 5pm and the garage was still open.  I parked the Vee on a flat spot and checked the oil.  There was still plenty in her!  The oil was just below the full mark and there didn't seem to have been any leaking going on in the last hour or so.  What a relief.

Next up I had to know what was going on with the others.  I got on the phone and was surprised (given where we'd been riding) when Neil picked up.  This did mean that he wasn't riding though...Unluckily for him, the fuse had gone again and even though he had another spare, they just couldn't get the bike sorted.  Neil had sent the others on ahead of him and called for the AA to come and get him.  Apparently they found a not very happy camper at about 8:15pm.  What a crap day for Neil!

The rest of my ride was a quiet one straight down SH1 (I was still worried that I might need a garage and some oil) and I was home just before 6pm.  Now to sort out that oil leak ready for the next ride...

More pics here.


  1. You certainly had an incident packed day. I was thinking when the fuse blew the first time and you got it going there was going to be more trouble. Electrical problems rarely go away by just replacing the fuse.

    On a side note what idiot at triumph decided to put the fuses under the battery? Duh.

    Looks like you guys had a fun day all the same.

  2. Wow, just one thing after another for you guys. Glad everyone made it home in one piece.

    Oh and Steve - there seems to be a lot of idiots working in the design area of Triumph - just sayin'

    I had a riding friend (on a Triumph) say that it wasn't an adventure until something went wrong - and then when something goes wrong on an adventure - it turns epic. We long for adventure - just not epic adventure.

    1. Bike issues suck - definitely not the type of adventure we're after!