Sunday, August 10, 2008

There's snow in them thar hills

The weather forecast was right - it was a cold night and the ground was definitely crunchy when I got up in the morning. But there was a ride on so thermals and extra layers were the order of the day.

The plan was a clockwise loop from Palmy to Taupo and back through Napier with the normal pitstops for gas, food and coffee. I picked Mark up on the way out to Ashhurst where we met up with the rest of the local gang.

From Ashhurst we headed through to Colyton before tackling Vinegar Hill. As it was a bit chilly and the roads were wet in places the pace was kept down so there was plenty of time to check out the scenery - everything nice and green in the bright sunshine.

Taihape was the first stop for the caffeine fix and once on the road again we were soon amongst the snow. The hills and paddocks looked great with their white covering and with the sun out it wasn't even that cold - although the hot grips were pressed into service...

Another quick stop in Waiouru to top up the tank on the littlest Ninja and were off onto the desert road proper. With clear skies the scenery was just fantastic so we had to take advantage and stop for some piccys and to throw some snow around.

After the piccy stop we made our way carefully through the Desert Road (plenty of wet roads, ice & grit) to the next stop in Turangi. Here Mark & I said goodbye to the group (as he had to be back home reasonably early) and grabbed a quick bite before heading to Taupo for some fuel. One scare along here when a cop coming the other way hit the brakes and pulled over as if to do a u-turn and then pursue us - we weren't going fast and I think he changed his mind when he saw that there was two of us...

Leaving Taupo we took it pretty quietly across the plains and eventually caught up with a group of BMW riders - one rider we recognised as "Folker" who we had met on the Southern Cross & Grand Challenge (he did his first GC at 70). We eventually past them to enjoy the more spectacular parts of the road. Superb riding conditions and a superb road - who could ask for more.

At Napier we carried on without stopping and headed south on highway 50. Another great ride through here although we had to avoid another cop who was hiding in a particularly devious place - luckily oncoming cars gave us plenty of warning. Back out onto highway 2 we settled into a gentle cruise home - the only other bit of excitement was a car nose into a ditch just north of Woodville. No idea how it managed to end up there but there must have been some injuries as we caught up to the ambulance in Woodville - hope nothing to serious.

I rolled up my drive just after 4:30 after a great day's ride. Really good to have finally done the Desert Road in winter but on a nice day...

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