Yesterday the Toko Lions ran their annual Chateau to Plateau charity ride which raises money for the Taranaki rescue helicopter. I hadn't planned on going but Brian talked me into joining him and a few others into an early start and 700km of hot and thirsty riding.
We met up in town and hit the road at around 6:30am. The riding was fantastic with it being very still and clear and above all a cool morning (not to last long). As we made our way out to Cheltenham we picked up Chris and Dave and there was now a decent little group as we made our way over Vinegar Hill and then up SH1 to Waiouru where we stopped for fuel and a quick drink.
By the time we got to the Chateau (9:30ish) the day was definitely warming up and standing around waiting for the kick-off ensured that we got plenty vitamin D.
After a riders' briefing we got underway just before 10:30 and dropped back down into National Park before turning Northwards towards Taumarunui. We stopped again in Manunui so that some of our group with small tanks and thirsty bikes could refuel for the trip across the Forgotten Highway.
Leaving Taumarunui instead of turning left to take the Forgotten Highway we carried on up SH4 for a few km before turning off up Okahukura Saddle Road. This was a new road for me and as the name suggests it takes you up over a tight, narrow and winding road over the saddle and then back down the other side. The road then dumps you out on Ohura Road. I've ridden this road a few times and it took us through Matiere and then onto Ohura.
About another 10km of riding got us onto the Forgotten Highway for the ride through to Whangamomona. By now the temperatures had long since pasted warm and the day was well and truly in the hot and toasty category. This made for plenty of nice slippery melted tar and some hot bikers as we rode the 14km of gravel (nice and dusty), through the tunnel and finally into Whanga for our lunch stop.
In the ride through to Whanga our group had got a bit split up and we got a little concerned when while us in the first group had arrived and had lunch, there was still no sign of Brian and Chris. We didn't worry too much as we were still noticing people we had passed arriving so tried to find a shady spot to wait.
Eventually the two of them turned up safe and sound. They had stopped to help another Triumph rider with a puncture. Brian fixed his puncture and inflated the tyre as much as he could with his CO2 canisters and I then loaned the guy my compressor to finish the job off. The guy asked me why I carry a compressor...
Once Brian and Chris had inhaled their lunch we geared up reluctantly (did I mention it was hot) and carried on towards Stratford. The Whanga Saddle and the hot little valley after it were particularly bad for hot tar and the Connie showed her disgust by slithering around a bit in it but with a bit more restraint by the rider we made it through ok.
In Stratford some of us reckoned they needed fuel again so we all filled up before tackling the short little ride up to the "Plateau". The plateau in this case being a car park at the end of the road up Mount Taranaki. It was quite nice to climb up into some milder temperatures but unfortunately the day was a bit too hazy for decent photos. The top of the mountain was also obscured in cloud.
Dropping back into Stratford we skipped the prize-giving, instead finding a cafe where we could get a cold drink.
After the cold drinks it was finally time to point the bikes home. We took my normal Hawera bypass and carried on through to Wanganui where the nervous VTR riders decided they needed some more fuel...
Leaving Wanganui we actually had a bit of a breeze which got temperatures down from sweltering to merely hot but nearing home the wind dropped again and Palmy was baking again! By the time I got home my 2L camel-bak was all but empty and I was looking for another cold drink...
Other than the heat though, it was another great day out on the Connie who is now getting some new shoes this week.
More pics here.