Anyway, enough complaining eh? Today was the best day of the weekend weather wise, so it was the day to get out on the Tenere and go exploring.
Leaving home around 10:30, I took a quick cruise over to Feilding to drop something off before going in search of gravel. The idea percolating in me was to ride Ridge Road - and that was about it. I hadn't even really given much thought on which direction and on the where to afterwards. So, I just rode.
Leaving Feilding I made my way towards Vinegar Hill but then turned off to Beaconsfield to cross over towards the Pohangina Valley. I got a little taste of gravel on Levette Line and then hit the tar again to Kimbolton and Apiti.
There were plenty of wet bits of tar to test out the rubber and the odd kamikaze on a push bike but then after turning onto Ridge Road I saw just one car all the way through to Pohangina.
The gravel was a little tricky underfoot as it was reasonably deep in places but soft underneath. The bike would often surf around a bit (particularly when braking) and I didn't break too many speed records that's for sure. The Valley was just as stunning as on my last trip though.
|Note the track the bike is leaving on the road even at slow speed|
|I wonder why it's so green?|
Just around the corner from where I took the above pictures I came across a lamb and a turkey cohabitating on the same grass verge. Not sure what sort of monkey business they were getting up to (and hey, it's their business) but at least they stayed put while I pootled past.
I also chased a rabbit up the road at one stage but he cheated and took a hard right without indicating just when I was gaining on him. I didn't get the next two either...
Towards the end of Ridge Road the surface got a little better (or I got used to it) so the speed came up a little but I was always wary of entering a corner and discovering a muddy exit or some other unexpected excitement.
Dropping down Finnis Road was a lot of fun. I had thought that it might be quite boggy (a lot of pines shading the road in places) but the surface was pretty hard with little gravel or mud to deal with so it was a nice way to say goodbye to the gravel.
After a few spits of rain around Pohangina it fined up again as I rode into Ashhurst where I stopped for a quick bite before tackling the Saddle - somewhere along the way I'd remembered where the tag was so I had to get over the other side of the hill somehow...
The Saddle was in pretty good nick - some of the improvements they've been making are nearly all done and the road is a lot wider in places and even has a few slow vehicle lanes. An unexpected section of gravel through a section of roadworks was an added bonus and once again I had no traffic to contend with.
When I hit the bottom I also ran into the weather and it got quite damp for a while as I made my way along Pinfold and Topgrass roads to keep me well away from SH2. Eventually I had to cross SH2 to pick up the tag at Oringi.
From here I made my way via a top secret route (you're not getting it easy this time Al) which had me sticking to back roads all the way back to Palmy. No gravel this time though, although there could have been if I'd tried a little harder.
Eventually my top secret route of oh, about 240km saw me back home where the coffee is and I was a happy chappie.
Partial (minus the top secret bit) map below: