Saturday, June 28, 2014

A short warm-up

Tomorrow is this month's BRR ride but Neil has already arrived in Palmy for the night so today I met up with him and Colin for a bit of pre-BRR ride.

First up we went and checked out some new Suzy's, Triumph's and Yamaha's - some of them were even adv bikes.  We managed to leave the bike shops on the bikes we arrived on and only left fingerprints and drool...

Next we met up with Graeme for an early lunch and a catch up before heading off on a quiet pootle.

Our first stop was for some fuel in Ashhurst before we tackled the Saddle.  The road was a bit wet and slippery in places and there's some roadworks where they're taking out a few corners (sods!) but it's always a nice little ride.  I decided that we needed to stop at the windmill lookout so as I could get some photos for the blog...only had the phone with me though...

A Wee & a Vee and not a Triumph in sight...
Oh, there it is...
Another nice winter's day
ergs a generating
From the lookout we dropped on down towards Woodville but turned right instead of left and made for Ballance.  Through here I pulled a swiftee on Colin by turning onto Tararua Road - Colin says he's given up gravel but I just wanted to see if it was true.

It was a nice little squirt on the gravel and Colin must still secretly like gravel (apparently he is keen on a set of E-09's for the Wee) as Neil and I didn't have to wait long for him at the other end of Tararua Road.  Next up was a quick squirt over the track followed by a catch up at the bottom of the hill.

Here the other two turned off to make for Feilding while I pootled home to a waiting lawn mower.  Hopefully tomorrow's weather will be as nice as today's...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

King Country Loop

Earlier in the week Neil emailed me asking if I was a keen for a wee gravel ride up his way.  With the weather looking really good for Saturday I spent a lot of time wondering whether I was keen or not...

So on Saturday I got up early and put on plenty of warm gear for the ride up to Taumarunui to meet Neil.  First up I fueled the DL and was on the road just after 7am with the skies just beginning to lighten.

Apparently it was breakfast time for hawks as I disturbed a couple of them scrapping over a fresh possum in Cheltenham (yes, in the middle of the road) and another one just up the hill a bit.  Besides the hawks I pretty much had Vinegar Hill to myself and made good time through to the SH1 turn-off.

Riding up SH1 to Mangaweka the temperatures dropped off a bit but the day was shaping up nicely with clear skies as far as I could see.  Arriving in Waiouru I stopped to pick up some lunch to take with me and received a text from Neil informing me that it was pretty chilly.  I replied that it wasn't to bad in Waiouru:

Waiouru at 8:30am on a perfect winter's day
Now I had a decision to make on which way to go to meet Neil in Taumarunui.  I had plenty of time so I decided to take the longer route up through the Desert Road as I was pretty sure coming home I'd want to get home as quickly as possible but wanted a little variety in my journey up and down the island.  Going through the Desert Road also gave me the opportunity to stop for a few pics too:

No snow or ice on the Desert Road yet but it was still fairly crisp and cool.  But, as I said to Neil later, it was such a magic day that it's impossible for a picture to capture it.  The normally quite boring (nowhere near enough corners) ride up was anything but - I was really just enjoying soaking in the day.  Truly magic riding conditions!

Instead of riding into Turangi I turned North to ride up over the hill to Taumarunui.  This bit of road is fantastic but it was damp in places and frosty too so I took a bit of care.  Dropping down into Taumarunui I had to descend into fog and the temperature dropped markedly.  It was foggy (although visibility was not too bad) all the way into town and Neil reckoned the temperature was about 1.7C.  Not warm in other words.

I refuelled the DL and then parked up at the local Maccas for a hot drink and a bite and then Neil and I tried to work out how many layers we were going to need for our gravel ride.  Adventure riding can be hot work so in winter it's always a bit of gamble on what is the right amount of clothes.  In the end I removed a layer and swapped to my thinner gloves.  The hot grips were left on!

Our first bit of gravel was a little squirt up a hill only just out of Taumarunui and it was a good warm-up for the rest of the day.  About 5 or 10 minutes of it got us to a great posy for some pics.

Taumarunui is somewhere down in that

Back on the bikes it was time to ride down the other side of the hill:

After this we squirt Neil pulled over and decided that he wanted a ride on his favourite V-twin so we ended up swapping bikes for pretty much the rest of the ride.

Our next bit of gravel took us into some slightly tighter country surrounded by some great native bush.  We overshot a spot where Neil was going to stop for more pictures but ended up finding another nice spot in the bush by someone's driveway.

Pretty soon we broke out onto SH4 and after a few km of tar turned off to cross over the other side of the highway and take in Ongarue Road.  This was one I'd done before but it is a neat bit of gravel that eventually spat us back out onto SH4 again.

But we didn't stay on the tar for long as we turned off onto Mangapapa Road.  Somewhere in here I came close to dying of laughter.  As we rounded a corner Neil encountered a large mob (mob, gaggle, gobble, herd, flock, school) of turkeys - as in he arrived suddenly in the midst of them.  I saw brake lights, swerving, ducking, feathers and turkeys hurriedly trying to take flight and get out of the way of a bellowing and slightly sideways V-Strom.  Then I arrived amongst the stragglers...

Somehow neither of us collected any poultry and casually carried on our merry way.  I'm sure the turkeys were a bit more rattled and are probably now nesting in the trees...

After this bit of excitement the road straightened out a bit and as it was in perfect condition we were able to clip along quite nicely.  We did however catch up with a grader who was working on the road and had to ride on some of the road that he had already worked on.  Luckily, even though the grader had been through there was not a lot of gravel on the road, just the odd bit of soft earth and such.  It just added a little something more to the ride.

One last little squirt up a hill brought us to a little reserve where we parked up to attack our picnic lunches.  Quite a nice spot it was too.

The sun was still shining and everything...

Are you alright my precious...
While we were taking a break Neil readied his latest GoPro farkle for our afternoon run.  Then he took off on the Vee again.

Pretty soon were had left the graded roads again and got onto some fantastically smooth gravel.  It was great riding through pretty open country surrounded by pretty farmland.  After another turn-off the gravel changed again and while it was pretty grippy it was very easy to dial up pretty smooth power slides so was a hoot to ride on.  Neil's new farkle was also pressed into service.

Interesting view eh?

After more great gravel we arrived in the bustling metropolis of Ohura but rather than getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of Ohura on a Saturday afternoon we turned off immediately and clambered up another sweet section of gravel to this viewpoint.

We eventually ended up on the Forgotten Highway but only sampled a small taste of it before veering off onto the gravel again.  After a bit of a fright with a cattle beast on the road we hit another tighter climb.

On the descent and just before the gravel ran out we had one last bit of excitement with the local animals when I dog ran out and had a go at both bikes.  I think we both got locked up and out of shape as we tried to avoid the suicidal mutt!  One lucky hound escaped without losing any fur.

Up the road a bit (and coincidentally at the end of the gravel) Neil pulled over and we swapped bikes again.  He reckoned that the Vee was an animal magnet and he'd had enough of dodging the wildlife...

Back in Taumarunui we stopped for gas, a drink and a bit of a debrief before the trip home.  I ended up following Neil to National Park before turning for Ohakune and Waiouru.  By Waiouru the light was fading and it was a fair way away from being warm so I just kept on heading South.

Vinegar Hill was ridden in the dark and I finally made it home by 6pm after about 11 hours and 704 magic km on the road.  The fire was one of my first priorities once the horse was put away - closely followed by a warm meal.

It might have been chilly in the morning and on the way home but really had been one fantastic day on the bike.  As I said earlier the photos can never tell the whole story or capture how the rider feels and Neil commented that "car drivers just wouldn't understand" - he is not wrong!

The mostly gravel bits
704km of fun packed riding
Where to next?

More pics here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

BRR Waikaremoana & Moto Assault - the Videos

Neil had his GoPro going too and and actually got some video of the action.

This first one looks like North of Raupunga on Putere Road - Day One.

Part Two appears to be our first bit of gravel on Saturday morning.

This one looks like it was from our trip home on Monday (the rain tipped me off):

You might be able to work out that Neil likes his E-07's - I'm pretty keen on mine too!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Just 'cause...

There I was sitting at home on Sunday morning thinking that I should be out walking the dog when the phone rings...

It turns out that Neil and Colin were riding down the Wanganui River Road and Neil was unsure how to get back up the Paraparas by himself so wanted an escort home.  Oh well, you can't leave mates in the lurch eh?

With them taking a longer, slower route down to Wanganui I didn't have to rush to get ready but I very nearly didn't make it at all.  The Connie had been sitting for a few weeks so of course I wanted to check the tyre pressures.  As I was spinning the front tyre around to find the valve I made a rookie mistake which resulted in my hand getting smacked between a wheel spoke and something hard.  The hand was not very impressed and didn't want to work for a few minutes but I eventually got things under control and got the tyres sorted.

I took my usual circuitous route over to Wanganui and was really enjoying the stunning day and lovely country so I was forced to pull over for some pics - sorry, only had my phone with me but they came out not too bad.

I carried onto Wanganui and when I arrived at the cafe I didn't see the others so decided to head out to top the bike up but naturally nearly ran into them as they rolled into the carpark.  Lunchtime!

Lunch dealt to we said goodbye to Colin as he made his way off to wherever Colin's go when they're not riding and I went to gas up with Neil not far behind me.

The ride up the Paras was as fantastic as usual, the only issue being a set of traffic lights where one side of the road has fallen off the hill.  Dunno how they're going fix that - they may have to carve into the hill on the other side of the road.  The only wildlife I saw on the road were three little pigs feeding their faces in the drain (no wolves over here so no need for house building activities).

In Raetihi I said goodbye to Neil and started off towards Ohakune.  The mountain was looking pretty cool so I stopped to whip out the camera phone again.

Damn, I love this bike

Heading across to Ohakune and Waiouru it was a little cooler but I was actually only wearing a T-shirt under my jacket so it can't have been that bad.  I stuck the man-grips on low to compensate and settled into cruise mode down to Mangaweka.

Here I decided to get off SH1 (frequent readers should know how I feel about SH1 by now) to find some more twisties on my way to Rangiwahia and Kimbolton.  It was a fantastic ride and I pretty much had the road to myself.  From Kimbolton it was just another quiet cruise home where a disappointed pup waited.

Great wee pootle though!

View Larger Map

A few more phone pics here.

BRR Waikaremoana & Moto Assault Day Three

Day Three started a bit earlier, waking to the sound of rain on the roof and then been very pleasantly surprised by the epic breakfast our moteliers had prepared for us - fantastic!  But the rain didn't even look like stopping so we had to load up and head out in it.  Today we were down to 6 of us as 4 of the others decided to gap it for home - other things on and the unfriendly weather putting some off.

First up we fuelled the horses and then made our way out of Gisborne and onto the Tiniroto Road.  Somewhere in the murk Neil missed our first turn but he soon had us off the main road in search our first bit of gravel.

Our first stop of the day was at a nice little camping area beside a river.  No photo's of the river as I couldn't find anywhere to park the Vee without it sinking into the ground and falling over...

220kg dirt bike

We hit gravel immediately after the stop and it took us on an interesting and winding ride through farmland and bush.  The weather alternated between drizzle, rain and dryish.

The Gopro also started having fogging issues by the looks of it.

We then got back onto the Tiniroto Road again for a short while before we once again found more gravel just like the first lot...

After more splashing about we rode the last section of Tiniroto Road on into Wairoa where it was time to grab some lunch.

After we'd stuffed our faces we refuelled the bikes and took off into the rain for the ride back through to Napier.  Even in the rain it was a great ride and as always I was pretty impressed with how the adventure rubber sticks to the road even in crappy conditions - we were easily keeping up with and passing all the other traffic on the road.  I only had a couple of wee moments and these were in situations where a little sliding was always going to happen.

The weather cleared up just South of Tutira and I enjoyed the dry roads through to Bayview where we all said goodbye and went our separate ways.  For the trip back to Palmy I had Russell for company and he sat behind me all the way as we had a bit more fun on SH50 before settling down and behaving for the rest of the cruise home.

The GPS says 1,199.9km for the weekend and it was one fun packed 1,199.9km for sure!  Neil's already planning our next Queens Birthday getaway so I'm chaffing at the bit already...

Good horse!
More pics here.