Monday, May 23, 2011

Reconoitring the Rangitikei

A visit into Freedom Suzuki the other day ended with an invite to join the Back Road Riders on Sunday for a ride around the Rangitikei district. The promise was a good ride on some back country roads with a good bunch of guys and a fair dabbling of gravel. Sounded interesting...

On Saturday I still hadn't decided what I was doing so hit up Al to see if he was keen. I think that the magic word "gravel" hooked him big time and he started making keen noises right away. The next morning another "keen" text from Al had him telling me he'd see me in Feilding for a coffee before the ride - now I had to go! Ah well, I wanted to meet his new DR anyway...
Tanks filled and coffee downed it was time to head off and meet the BRR's. Pretty quickly it became apparent that the DR goes alright as it disappeared towards Halcombe with the DL frantically giving chase. In Marton Al wisely decided to put 1.6L of gas in his bike not knowing exactly how far it was until the next fuel stop and then we went off to meet the rest of the group.

Parking up we quickly got introduced to some of the guys (and determined that yes, they would not mind if we joined them for a pootle) and then it was time for a quick check over of some of the bikes before mounting up for the ride.

And now for the ride...well you're not going to get a blow by blow of all the twists and turns we took because while a knew a few of the sealed roads we rode, I soon got fairly lost when we took to the gravel - you'll just have to zoom in on the GPS track.
The first bit of gravel was somewhere out the back of Marton and soon confirmed what I suspected about my 14,500km old front tyre - it needs replacing! Yep, in anything that looked like clay or slippery mud things got a bit exciting! Never mind, I managed to keep everything upright and still had a big smile on my dial when we paused for a quick regroup once out of the gravel.

From here we managed to find another gravel section and a few windy sealed roads to take us to our lunch stop at the Flat Hills Cafe. As luck would have it we arrived between bus loads and were soon into a bit of tucker to keep us going in the afternoon.

After lunch we rode up the main drag to Mangaweka before turning off (Te Kapua Road) and heading into the wops again. The road quickly turned to gravel again and this section was quite long and was a bit tricky in places - at times the noob in the group (me) held things up a bit but all the guys were great and didn't give me any grief. I have some video of this so hopefully will get that uploaded at some stage.

Once again we popped back out onto SH1 and this time we turned off on Toetoe Road which took us in a round about way to Rangiwahia. I really enjoyed this section - the gravel was in great nick and it was a lot easier riding for me. I even hooked into top gear on the last big gravel straight - awesome!

After a quick stop in Rangi we carried on to Kimbolton where we stopped again for refreshments. It was here that we could either decide to head home or take up the offer of some more gravel. Somehow or other I had my arm twisted and I tagged on behind the gravel gurus...

Not long after turning off the main road we were not only into the gravel but also the rain. This made progress for me a bit difficult. I was having a lot of trouble seeing through my visor - if it was down it fogged up (even with a Pin-lock) and if it was up I risked getting my glasses wet. In the end I had to make the decision to have the visor up while on the gravel. So now I was getting quite wet and battling my way through some quite tight gravel roads. Somehow it was all still a heap of fun but I do need to say a big thank you to the TEC who was forced to pootle along quietly behind the now blind noob on a DL...

In Hiwinui we had one last stop to say goodbye before everyone split up and aimed their bikes for home. What a fantastic day out - this adventure riding rocks! Now for a new tyre...

More pics here. Video to come...


  1. Great way to learn though, going out with other riders. Sounds like you are getting into the "dirt" thing. A new adventure around every corner....

  2. I'm still buzzing, what a day!

  3. Gravel rocks big time :) .. Excuse the pun.

  4. Gravel rocks big time :) .. Excuse the pun.

  5. Bandit Rider,

    Great colloquialisms!

    pootle, bit of a tucker, into the wops, great nick, cool stuff....all understandable within context...

    your offroads skills sound better than mine...don't think I've ever been in a spot where I could hit sixth gear while on gravel...


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