In drizzly conditions I rode into town to fill the Connie and meet up with Mark, Meanie & Monie. Also joining us was Matt, heading down to Christchurch on his little 250 - I didn't envy him riding that far with a huge pack on his back. Shortly after 5am we were on the road South, all hoping that the rain would do the decent thing and leave us alone.
In fact, not long out of town the rain did stop although we had wet roads all the way to Paraparam where the rain came back with a vengeance and brought along it's friend, the wind! It was actually very cold and nasty (heated grips definitely pressed into action) and I decided to flag Paecock Hill concerned that it might be really windy up on top of the hill - as it turned out nobody else was worried about that little decision.
We arrived at C1KC GHQ just before 7am and very quickly organised our entries etc and were back on the road again. The weather was still showery but the Rimutakas were in good condition and there were no nervous moments at all as we made our way over the hill and into Featherston.
Our next stop was in Masterton where the four bikes were fueled prior to disappearing into the wilds of Route 52. I love Route 52 - it is just a great ride with great scenery and
all sorts of riding conditions. In fact, the very first section was quite interesting, there were branches down all over the place and we had to take things very carefully as we picked our way around them.
The roads were still very wet, as was the odd shower but we made Pongaroa by about 9am and stopped along with a few others for our first "evidence" photo. From Pongaroa we made our way out to Wimbledon where we stopped again for a photo that wasn't required - I'm blaming Mark for this as I hadn't stuck it in the GPS as a stop but he convinced me it was...
North of Wimbledon the weather started to improve and by
Porangahau we pretty much had dry roads. In Waipuk we passed a number of riders who were gassing up and then in Waipawa we turned off the main road to make our way through to Patangata.
In Patangata we took our photo but as we were getting ready to leave again we struck trouble. Monie discovered that her key would not turn in the ignition of her Viffer. We all had a wee bash at it, even holding our tongues in different positions but to no avail. Damn, one dead bike! Meanie sent Mark & I on our way and got onto the phone to the bike shop.
Unfortunately, they were not able to help so the two of them rode back to Palmy to grab the spare key and the ute. The new key didn't do the job either so the poor wee Viffer had to be loaded onto the ute for an unceremonious lift back home - Meanie and Monie's ride all over.
Meanwhile Mark I had pressed on and had a great ride up Middle Road and then onto Napier. Somewhere between Hastings and Napier the Connie rolled over 60k but KoroJ stole my thunder at Bay View by commenting that his ST had just hit 100k on the forecourt! While filling the bikes and having a drink I had a quick look at the state of my rear tyre and discovered that it was getting pretty sad (more on this later) and I started getting doubts as to whether it would get me home - not good when you've still got 500km to ride and all the bike shops in vicinity
would be well shut by now...
We pressed on anyway and were soon enjoying the delights of the Napier-Wairoa road at a good pace - although perhaps not quite good enough for a certain centenarian ST1300 as it whipped past at White Pine Bush...
In Wairoa Mark and I stopped for some lunch and I had another check of my tyre - more curses to it's makers and more doubts entering my mind. In fact I started making plans to pinch my old man's SV in Napier or to swap to the VTR when back in Palmy depending on how long the tyre lasted me.
Turning back towards Napier I let Mark take the lead and I attempted to ride the Connie at a more sedate pace to conserve the tyre - a very hard thing to do on this road! In Hastings we stopped for fuel again and the tyre was still hanging in there so it was back out onto SH50 fro the trip South. Not far out of town I had a really good scare when the car coming towards me veered across the centreline in a big swerve but the driver managed to put down the
phone/CD/newspaper etc and get it back under control before they killed a motorcyclist. Unfortunately I was not packing a grenade launcher so I had to make do with a blast on the Stebel and a big head-shake at the idiot behind the wheel.
Mark and I had another quick stop in Woodville to check the tyre and decided that it was still hanging in there so continued onto Ashhurst and Colyton - home country. Passing through Colyton we picked up another four bikes and they dropped in behind us for the ride through to Pemberton for the next evidence photo.
Next up was a quick squirt through to Ohingaiti for the last photo and pretty much the end of the ride for us. While there we caught up with a few of the Wellington riders before climbing back onto the horses for the last leg back home to Palmy.
Another great ride although a reasonably long one - it took us about 13 and a half hours whereas we usually can cut out 1,000km in around an hour or so less than this. The extra time required this time around is more than likely down to the wet conditions (on a road that demands respect - Route 52) earlier on in the day. Never mind, all home safe and sound after a great Cruise!
Zumo stats: 1,038km; moving average 88.8km/h.
More pics here.