Saturday, June 07, 2014

BRR Waikaremoana & Moto Assault Day One

OK, I've been home a while so I'd better expand on my short blog from the road...

For the long Queens birthday weekend had planned a particularly tasty three day expedition to take in a couple of iconic North Island gravel roads - Waikaremoana and the Motu.  But first we had to meet up in Napier.

Our meet-up time was set for 9am so I was up just before 6am (never can sleep when there's riding to be done) and on the road before 7.  It had been a pretty chilly night (and possibly a wee frost too) so I was wrapped up pretty warmly and had the grips on as I made my way up to the Bay.  Apart from the chilliness it was a nice ride up and I didn't muck around so was in Bayview ahead of time.  A warm drink and hot pie while waiting for the rest of the team was the order of the day.

Adv bike invasion
It wasn't too long before the rest of the guys turned up so after a wee ride briefing Neil was soon leading us out the back of Bayview and over the hill into the Esk valley.  We weren't on SH5 for long before we turned off onto Waipunga road which was to take us up into the hills to cross over to Tutira.  The initial climb was on tarmac and offered absolutely fantastic views back across the Esk Valley.  Unfortunately my GoPro had fogged up and all of my pics from this bit of the ride are pretty hopeless...

After we had clambered up the hill the road turned to gravel - well, sort of.  The road was fairly hard packed but there had obviously been a fair bit of rain recently and there was a good layer of slippery mud to contend with.  This made things fairly exciting for us - especially Philip on his new to him Tiger which was wearing Anakee 3's, not that ideal for the conditions.  At least the GoPro was starting to play ball...

After a wee bit of this sort of stuff it was time for a wee break to make sure everyone was having fun and we managed to find a likely looking spot.

Break over, we hit the road again and I was disappointed when we suddenly ran out of gravel as we dropped down into Tutira.  I probably wasn't the only one though and when it started raining I'd say it probably dampened everyone's mood a little.  Still, it was quite a nice little sprint through to Mohaka where we stopped below the viaduct for another catch-up.

Leaving the rest area we rode up the hill to Raupunga where Neil got us back off the main road again and onto some winding tarmac that eventually ran to gravel.  It was this road (Putere Road) and a couple of others that would take us through to SH38 and into Waikaremoana.

Philip and his Anakees in action
The road started off a bit similar to our last stretch of gravel - slippery in places - but then we got into some faster stuff with plenty of grip and some great open stretches where the bikes could stretch their legs a bit.

It was that good and the views so nice that we had to stop to yak about it for a bit...

Brian and his 990 throwing rocks
Russell and his Husky
Wayne on his 690
Philip followed by our great TEC, Dave

A bit further on we finally hit SH38 so stopped for another important regroup and discussion.

Neil losing his head
Mud is fun
We still had a wee way to go until we hit Lake Waikaremoana and it was getting pretty close to lunch o'clock so we carried on along more great gravel roads and into the nice native bush that surrounds the lake.

And then, after a few sneaky peaks through the bush, we finally arrived at the lake.

At the lake we had a bit of a break and dug into our lunch supplies while checking out the views of the lake.  Eventually we had to get going again and got back out onto the gravel for another short squirt to a wee lay-by where we could view a fairly nice waterfall.

And then just around the corner we had to stop again to take in some more great views of the lake.

Next was a nice surprise.  Neil obviously had been lusting after the DL again so we swapped bikes and he tore off in a shower of shingle and V-twin music.  Russell and I were next off the mark trying to keep him in sight.  The Gopro was still going too...

Both Neil and Russell had got away on me a bit so I was a little surprised when I caught Russell again and saw him pulling over shaking his head.  Unluckily he'd punctured his front tyre when hitting a pothole so we now had some roadside maintenance to do.  No sign of Neil...

Between the rest of us we managed to get the wheel off, pinch Russell's spare tube, fix both tubes and then get everything back together in about an hour (doh!).

Look at that guy doing all the hard work - and I don't mean Brian...
Back on track again I had a ball on the Tiger as the roads were now in really good nick.  I really had to go in attack mode as I had 2 KTM's breathing down my neck - it was a lot of fun!  Eventually we caught up with Neil again - actually he had started making his way back to us on Philip's Tiger (must have been missing his) - and we had a quick regroup before the last leg into Murapara.

This leg alternated between good gravel and winding tar and had us all wondering if the garage would be open in Murapawa when we got there.  Luckily it was still open and ten thirsty bikes were topped off as the sun went down.

Neil experiencing corner-man duty for a change - he looks cold
A welcome stop
As we'd been delayed with the puncture we had to pass on one last gravel section and rode on to Whakatane in the dark.  In Whakatane we swamped the small motel we were staying at with dirty bikes and riders but they were expecting us and after unloading it was off into town to find some tea.

Day one was a fantastic 525km and Day two promised the famous Motu Road - I couldn't wait...

It looked kinda like this from the rider's seat:


  1. Grouse action shots....pity there are none of the ride leader....

  2. That mud sure looks slick. Slippery bit of fun though I bet.