Tuesday, September 11, 2018


A wee while ago Colin F and I went on a little trip taking in the Napier-Taihape road and on Saturday another Colin got in touch suggesting another ride over to Taihape but this time going in the opposite direction and taking in Middle Road as well.  How could I refuse?

Sunday morning dawned fine but it was bit crisp with a light frost and while Colin made his way (battling all sorts of ice warnings on his GSA's Heads-up display) up to my place, my ferocious guard dog and I braved the chilly start to the day.

Presently, Colin arrived for a quick coffee and defrost and then we hit the road.  A short trip through to Ashhurst got us onto the Saddle where we crossed over into the lower Hawkes Bay.  It was a little breezier over that side of the ranges and quite cool as I led Colin through some back roads to Dannevirke and then through Ormondville and Takapau to Waipuk.

In Waipawa we turned off to ride through to Patangata and onto Middle Road.  Along the way there was plenty of evidence of the massive amount of rain the Bay received last week - plenty of flooded paddocks, debris on the road and even some mud as we turned onto Middle Road.  The ride up was still fun, you just had to be ready to change lines pretty quickly when you came across a surprise halfway around a corner.

Rather than riding right through to Havelock North we turned off and tiki-toured through Bridge Pa and on up Highway 50 to Taradale.

In Taradale we stopped and had a very late breakfast/early lunch before fuelling up for the trip over to Taihape.

Hitting the start of the Gentle Annie I sat behind Colin for a while before sitting quite a bit further behind him...

The road was its normal brilliant self but even here there was the odd patch where slips had come down (mostly cleaned up) and the odd bit of metal or mud on the road.  Great for practising ya obstacle avoidance techniques...

So that's what a GS looks like up close...
As you can see from the photos, the day was turning out quite nicely and I was very surprised that we didn't see many other bikes on the ride (just a couple near Fernhill).  They were missing out!

Nearing the Spooners Hill turn-off we came across another road block that took a Concours to show the way through...

Five minutes or so later we were in Taihape and turning Southwards for the ride home.  Here's all the Garmin's pics stitched together to show 142km on just under 4 mins (we took just slightly longer in reality).

For the ride back, I got us off SH1 as soon as possible and we had a second run-in with some woolly obstacles on Kawhatau Valley Road - I had to hit the picks and take avoiding action to miss the ewe and her lamb while Colin had to do the same to avoid me.  Sounds a bit scary but I did have time to look in my mirror and checkout Colin's moves.

Another trip through the recently travelled Ruahine Road to Rangiwahia and onto Kimbolton for a quick stop and roadside chat.

Another 40 odd km of mostly straight roads had us back at my place for a coffee before Colin headed home and I put a Concours with 149,000km on the odo away in the shed...she's still got it!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Wandering around Whanganui

This weekend was another Adv ride planned by Phreaky Phil and it was nice to see that after a week of rain (nice for a change) he had included a fine day in his plans.  The ride was planned out of Whanganui and guys and girls rocked in from all over the North Island to take in some mint back roads.

After an early rise and walk of the dog I hit the road at about 7:15 to ride over to Whanganui for the meet.  For a while it was just me and a couple of Tiggers but eventually the rest of the team turned up and I forgot to take a photo...

Once Phil had given us the run down on the ride we saddled up and headed out along the river before turning up Brunswick Road to make our way out of Whanganui.  I got the job as first cornerman which meant that I got to follow the team through to the start of the fantastic Rangitatau East Road.  As you can see we had a fair selection of bikes and some good keen pillions too.

After our first taste of Rangitatau East Road, we stopped at what was our planned turn-off down Kauarapaoa Road for a regroup.

A Stephen

The Tigger twins

Phil decided that we had made good time so we decided to explore more of Rangitatau East Road and ended up riding in as far as the Private Road sign - legend has it that it pays not to ignore the sign...

I'm guessing that somewhere along this bit Dawn got this great shot of a critter trying to race a boxer.

Officially trespassing...
You can see from the video below that the road changes from a nice wide road for the logging trucks to a narrow track where you can just about hear the banjos...

Alan checking his shoelaces are tied...

Stephen #1 again

Stephen #2 (TEC)
After a quick catch-up we retraced our steps and made our way back to the turn-off to Kauarapaoa Road and plunged down the hill back towards Whanganui.  This is a fantastic ride and was in better nick than I'd expected - we've had a lot of rain!  As it it turned out the really muddy bits were closer to Whanganui but I believe that apart from one little bit of excitement, everyone got through upright and ok.

Back in Whanganui we stopped briefly for fuel before making our way to the Cafe at Upokongaro for lunch and to pick up a couple more bikes for the afternoon's ride.

After lunch we had a quick squirt up the Paras before turning off onto Te Rimu Road which I had not done in a few years and which everyone's GPS maps said does not go right through to Mangamahu Road - there's even a no exit sign at the start of the road.  But guess what?

At the end of the road Colin and I did the cornerman job and had quite a wait for the last 2 bikes.  Not sure what the delay was but naturally when I finally decided to go look see I ran into them within less than one kilometre.

Next up was a lengthy section of tar which let us catch up to some of the others before being forced to stop by a misbehaving Yamaha (never heard of one of those before).  It turned out that the battery terminal on the WR had come a bit loose and the bike was soon up and running and leaving marks in the gravel to show us the way.

As you can see from the end of the video we managed to find a bit of rain as we waited for all the gang at the Fields Track turn-off.

Just rain...
A bit of tar got us to the next gravel section on Owhakura Road which spat us out on the last (but one of my favourites) bit of gravel on Turakina Valley Road.  In places the gravel was deeper than we'd had elsewhere on the day so the Ten floated around a bit and I got cleaned up by that pesky KLR again...

The last stop for Colin and myself was at Papanui Junction where we said goodbye to the rest of the gang as we were going to head home rather than back to Whanganui for dinner with the troops (anti-social cretins that we are).  A few highlights from Turakina Valley Road:

After waving to the last cornerman, Colin and I had a nice squirt into Hunterville before rocking Vinegar Hill into Feilding where a coffee at the olds place was in order.

Another great ride!  Thanks Phil!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Finishing it off

On Saturday a chap posted on Facebook asking if there was anyone keen for a gravel ride on Sunday.  Pretty short notice but I decided that I could rearrange my busy schedule (can one ride in favour of another) and put my hand up.

A route was proposed but on closer inspection it would have taken us down roads overgrown with grass rather than seal or gravel so by Saturday night there still wasn't a plan but Colin L and myself were keen and sorted out a meeting place in Pahiatua.

Come Sunday, the original organiser had to bail (as did Colin F who's arm had been twisted by me), so it was looking like just the one Colin and me for the ride.

With a chilly but fine morning to start the day, I gassed up and started my trip over to Pahiatua.  As per the LNI Adv ride, the track was wet and slippery with the last sharp left-hander being especially so.  It gave me a bit of a wake-up when the rear end made a sneaky attempt to pass the front - again...

A few minutes later on I was enjoying the usual gravel "shortcut" of Tararua road when I told myself "there's usually sheep on the road near the woolshed".  Enter wake-up call number two when an errant ewe made a suicidal dash in front of me - good practice emergency braking on gravel eh?

Ten further but uneventful minutes later I was parked up in Pahiatua where I felt I needed a pick-me-up.

Not pictured: a garlic sausage roll...
I'd barely got started on my coffee when a strange bike approached and pulled in to gas up.  Yes, it was Colin, and yes he was on a brand spanking 800GS.  Well, I 'spose we needed something to talk about...

A shiny Adv bike!

Lazy eye or just winking?

I hope they play nice...
As it turned out, Colin needed some caffeine too and while he was putting it away another bike approached and pulled in.  And it was another damn Beemer - Rodney had arrived.  And now there was three...

Rodney only got a small coffee so while he downed it we set about working out where we were going on our pootle.  We decided to take in some of the roads we had missed on the LNI ride, pick up a few extra ones and then see if the fish and chips were still good in Porangahau...and off we went.

A quick skid up Pahiatua-Pongaroa road got us to our first bit of gravel on Pori Road.  This was a hoot but I did manage to force myself to pull in at the usual spot for a quick photo or three.

Team Beemaha?

Crap day...

See the clouds?  Way over there...
Next up was the drop down the hill to Route 52.

After riding North towards Pongaroa for a while we made a right turn onto Waihoki Valley Road.  Initially the road was really good but the further we got in, the more often we got into some soft and slippery bits.  Huia and Spur Roads were even more dodgy and I couldn't help thinking that we'd made the right decision to skip it during the the LNI ride - it wouldn't have been a lot of fun in the pouring rain.

Did you spot the ice on the bridge?

Popping out onto the fantastic Coast Road, the pace came up and we made for Akitio where we had a brief stop for some reason or other...

Not a cafe...


or South?
From Akitio I decided to let Colin lead and tucked in behind Rodney as we took the seal up to the Glenora Road turn-off.  This was repeating a section of the LNI ride but well worth it as I think the road was in better condition (less sloppy) and I got the chance to get both of the other lads on video.

Back on 52, we carried on up to Porangahau where we hooked into the promised fish and chips.  As per usual on a nice weekend there were a few other bikes there and another chap rolled up as we were leaving too.

Unfortunately Rodney was not feeling too flash and didn't think he was up for more adventuring so opted to straight line it home on the seal while Colin and I planned to carry on investigating the gravel.  Probably a good idea - couldn't have that dreaded man-flu taking out a tough army boy.

So while Rodney went one way, we went the other and took on Old Hill Road which involves a steep climb (on seal) out of Porangahau until the road turns to gravel.  We missed most of the great views due to the direction we were riding in but the riding was great!

Back on the seal again we carried on towards Waipuk until I spotted a likely looking road off to the left.  I recognised the tree on the corner as somewhere we'd stopped on a BRR ride but my memory was struggling as to where Wallingford Road went.  We found out that it would finally hook us up with Ugly Hill Road - definitely worth checking out...

When we came across Flemington School I finally knew sort of where we were and got the last bit video on Ngahape Road before the battery ran out.

Shortly after that we finally ran out of gravel and we worked on our chicken strips as we took in some great windy sealed roads back to Weber road and then into Dannevirke for fuel.

Wandering into pay for our fuel we ran into a familiar looking BMW rider just getting his coffee...

The ride back to Palmy had me sitting behind Colin for a while until he lost me in Ballance somehow (read: he did a disappearing act) and then one last squirt over the track to home.  Yet another great day out on the big Ten.