Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Home again

Well, actually we got back yesterday after a slow cruise up from Christchurch.

The TT was outstanding with perfect weather the whole time (you can't count the light drizzle on the West Coast - that ain't what coasters would call rain) and our route for TT was awesome.  We ended up doing about 2,110kms and hopefully banked 12,000 points (only 2,000km and 10,000 points required).

I'll be doing a proper right-up at some stage but until then you can see some of my pics here.

The magnificent Crown Range Road

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Heading South

Today was our first wee hop of 470 odd km down to Christchurch.

Leaving Palmy it was a little chilly and we had to feel our way through some sticky fog for a while until the sun finally burned it off.  We arrived in Wellington in plenty of time and parked up with a number of other riders heading South - at least one other TT entrant amongst them.

After helping a young guy tie down his bike (no, he hadn't bought his own tie downs), we grabbed an early lunch and found a place out on deck to park ourselves for the voyage.

Off the boat, we made our way through slow traffic to hot old Blenheim and then carried on down the coast to Kaikoura for fuel.  We then had a great run over the Hunderlies and into Cheviot where we stopped for a drink before the last run into Christchurch.

A nice little warm up for the TT and it looks like we are going to have great weather all weekend for the ride!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Not me

Righto, so today the Connie was dropped into the shop for some new shoes and of course I then had to beg a ride so I could get back to work.  Unluckily for me they had no trouble finding a bike for me so I did have to go back to work - but that's another story...

This time around I was given another cruiser in the form of a Honda VT750C Shadow.

Looks very nice from this angle
Now right from the start I'll have to admit that the little shadow was probably never going to light my fire (sorry Brenda) but if you take a look at the comparison between the Shadow and what I climbed off then you may notice the odd difference in spec and realise that it had a lot to live up to:

So in terms of performance it's not really a fair contest.  Riding the beastie I was a little surprised that it had to be revved a bit to get going (the clutch needs some adjustment as it only took up in the last few mm of travel) but once rolling she was very relaxed as I trundled through town in 3rd gear with the motor probably only pulling around 2,000rpm - perhaps less.  I didn't take the bike out of town but I'd guess that it would also be happier puttering along quietly in top gear for hours on end and that your license would  remain fairly safe.  Otherwise the motor was pretty much silent, although when you gave it a bit there was some muffled V-twin type noises (and vibes) a happening - different pipes would add a bit more character!

From the front it looks a bit like a...
Comfort-wise the shadow was a typical cruiser with a feet forward riding position and what felt like a very comfy seat.  The ergonomics that come with the riding position were actually quite good - I did not have to go searching to find anything like I did on the M109.  But the riding position kinda had me leaning back a bit (where I'm normally used to a more upright or slightly forward lean) and I think that after a while that might be a bit hard on my back.

From this angle it still looks like a...
The brakes were a little wooden feeling and you needed to give both a decent dab to brake rapidly - certainly no danger of being thrown over the handlebars.  Engine braking was pretty good though.  Handling was definitely in the lazy cruiser league and the ride was pretty soft overall.  Moderately spirited riding would probably have the bike leaving bits of shiny stuff on the road.

While I may be being a bit hard on the bike I would say that it is probably the ideal "beginners cruiser" as it does most things pretty well and is unlikely to get anyone into too much trouble.  It's a Honda too so it's bound to keep humming along happily for ever in a day without costing the owner too much in R&M.

Anyway, while the Shadow is not my cup of tea, I still enjoyed my little ride (I love getting to ride a variety of bikes) and wonder what I'll end up on next time...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Some prep

I'm counting down to the start of the TT2000 so on Saturday it was time to do a bit of basic maintenance on the Connie.

Unfortunately before I started I was in for a shock.  As I started to wheel the bike out of the shed I noticed that the Connie felt even heavier than usual- a sure sign of something amiss.  This time it was the front tyre - doh!  As it's the front I'm not going to muck around getting it repaired, the bike shop has a couple of PR2's put aside for me so they will be going on earlier than I had planned - the old one's would have lasted the trip.  A bit of a bummer but...

Next up was a quick bath and then I rode it into the shed to drop the oil out of her.  Once the engine and final drive oil was changed I gave her a quick polish and then it was time to farkle...

Nothing that interesting this time - I noticed some different leds in a shop a while ago and thought that I'd try them for size.  The pic below shows the previous leds and the one on the right the new ones.

It is hard to tell from the picture (the new one appears bluer than the old when it is actually whiter) but the new leds are a bit brighter.  Not really sure if they're going catch anyone's eye better (if you can't see a Connie with +100 bulbs coming then you shouldn't be driving) but I guess I just like farkling...

So now I've just got to get the rubber fitted, get through a few more days of work and then we're off!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lost in the 'naki

So I had decided that today it was the DL's turn for some action, the question was: where to?  I'd had a couple of ideas on a few places I wanted to explore in my search for new gravel but I decided that I didn't want to go too far today...

I ended up deciding on aiming towards Wanganui and then to check out Kai Iwi beach - somewhere I'd never been before.  Rather than plan my route and load it onto the GPS I decided to wing it...

Leaving home at about 10 I sort of fell into a slow but steady pace and found myself just enjoying the pootle and the views as I rode across towards Wanganui.  Dropping down into Turakina I spotted the sign indicating the turn-off to Turakina Beach and decided seeing that I was intending on checking out one beach, well why not two...Who knows, I may even find some more interesting roads to Wanganui...maybe I should have used the GPS software...

So I pootled out to Turakina Beach but rather than ride down onto the beach to get a photo (and perhaps to get stuck) I just turned around and made my way back to Turakina.

In Wanganui I stopped to buy a couple of sandwiches and some fuel and then finally made for Kai Iwi.  Turns out it's a pretty nice spot:

Not a bad spot for a sandwich

After a quick nibble and a drink I remounted and decided to try to head further North but to also try to stay as close to the coast as possible.  And finally I found an interesting road:

Beaudiful gravel!
Unfortunately the gravel only lasted for about 5km and I ended up being spat out on the main road again.  So now where?  Well, I decided to keep heading North and made for Waitotara.  As I was dropping down the hill into Waitotara I noticed a road sign pointing to the left (and towards the coast) with a number of interesting looking place names on it.  But once I had turned off and gone around the corner this is what I saw:

Yes, the road doubled back under SH3 and was going to take me inland instead of towards the coast.  Oh well, it was a new road anyway...Maybe I should have used the GPS software...

Waitotara Valley Road turned out to be a bit of a cracker.  It was good seal that just went on for ages, even as the road slowly got narrower.  I was expecting gravel at any stage...
Still no gravel

And then finally, after my wee photo stop I was on gravel.  The gravel continued on for about another 10km until I came across this:

The End!
It turns out that Waitotara Valley Road is a dead end!  And so after approximately 60km I got to turn around and ride it all again.

Funnily enough the ride out was just as good as the ride in and it didn't seem to take as long so I was soon back out at the main road again.  By now it was after 1 and I was feeling pretty hot under all my gear so ripping along the main road to cool off a bit was pretty nice.

Trundling home I took in a bit of the Turakina Valley, had a quick stop in Marton for sandwich number 2 and to drain my water bottle before the final wee leg back home.

So for a pretty poorly planned ride I ended up having a blast, found some new roads, got a few pics and put another 360km under the Vee's wheels.  Good stuff!

More pics here.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Emptying a tank

Late last week Brian mentioned that Lloyd and he were keen for a pootle this weekend and I only had to mention Fields Track and the keeness level came up a notch.

We've been having some damn hot days lately so rather than pick a dry day we had to try and pick the coolest day for the ride.  On Friday the forecast for Saturday was 31 (ugh) and Sunday looked like around 29 - Sunday it is then...

So this morning I geared up, gassed up and went to meet the other two at Brian's place.  It was already pretty warm so rather than waste too much time yapping we suited up and hit the road with our first stretch taking us across to Wanganui via some nice back roads.

I usually divert around Wanganui but I missed my turn just out of Fordell so we ended up dropping down into town.  This ended up being a good thing as Lloyd's VTR was feeling thirsty.  Both the "wee" bikes topped up while I sat baking in the sun.

Soon we were on our way again and it was great to be getting a bit of air over me, but things were still pretty hot as we hit the Paraparas - watch that hot tar guys...

After a good run up the Paras we slowed up as we started up over Fields Track.  This great back road really demands plenty of attention (although the views are spectacular) as there is often loose metal, hot tar and various four legged hazards.

Dropping down into one sharp right hander I had to use the stebel to give some young goats a bit of a hurry up but luckily they were pretty keen to keep out of our way.

Once out of the tight stuff the speeds came up a bit more and a few more gears where pressed into service as we made our way towards Waiouru.  Along the way the guy below gave me a bit of a pucker moment - although it was funny to see it trip up on it's own feet and skid off the road on it's butt...

Once out on the main road we made our way to Waiouru and then turned South on SH1 to start the ride home.  In Taihape it was time for a lunch break and a nice cold drink.  Brian and Lloyd also needed fuel for some reason...

During lunch Lloyd had raved about the Paras and Fields Track (something about corners I think) so he was keen for more diversions on the way home.  Funnily enough I was easily persuaded to turn-off at Mangaweka to take in the road through to Rangiwahia and Kimbolton.

We had a good run through here with only one sheep out on the road and a short section of new seal to slow us up a bit.  Just out of Kimbolton I managed to get into a small bird's flight path and the poor bugger exploded on contact with a Concours headlight.

The rest of the ride was just a quiet pootle home where it was good to get out of hot riding gear and find another cold drink.  The Connie did the approx 340km on it's tank but is going to need fuel for the next ride - where to next?

View 03-02-13 Fields Track in a larger map

More pics here.