Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Central Hawkes Bay Gravel

Sunday was the day for the Back Road Riders September run and this time around we were heading for the Hawkes Bay in our search for gravel.

The day started off a bit unfriendly, there was a few spits of rain as I was getting the DL out of the shed and then it rained reasonably hard as I rode from Palmy to Ashhurst.  The gorge is still shut so the Saddle had to be used and unfortunately I ended up stuck behind two cars who proved hard to pass on wet and greasy roads.

In Woodville I gassed up and parked to wait for the rest of the riders.  By the time we left there were ten of us: three BMW's, two KTM's, two Honda's and three Suzy's.  Leaving Woodville we stayed on the Western side of SH2 and quickly made our way up to Danniverke.

From Danniverke Graeme led us off on some small loops that took us away from the main highway before popping back on briefly until the next turn-off.  A lot of these sections were tarseal but we also discovered some dusty gravel roads.  These roads had plenty of gravel on them and took a bit concentration as the big DL tended to float around a bit with the rear wheel needing very little encouragement to break loose.  I tended to take things a bit quieter and also kept the gap between me and the bike in front a lot bigger than normal to help visibility.

Our lunch stop was at the Tiko pub and it was good to be able to grab a cold drink to wash down some of the dust I'd been eating - the dusty snack didn't stop me from having a steak sandwich though.

After lunch we made our way across to Waipawa for a fuel stop although on our way across we did get take in a bit more gravel and Jas got to demonstrate how to get petrol from one KTM to another when Donna's bike ran out about 2km from town...

Tanks topped up we took in the short ride to Waipuk before heading Eastwards on Farm Road and then getting back onto the gravel on Te Awa Road and then Hiranui Road.

It was here on Hiranui Road that disaster struck.  Four of us had ridden right through to Route 52 and had sat at the turn-off for some time before we decided that something must be up as we were missing 6 bikes.  At first one of us volunteered to go back, then another and finally we all made our way back along Hiranui Road.  We eventually arrived at the unpleasant sight of Donna sitting in the ditch on the side of the road in quite some pain.

She had had a little whoopsie and had the bad luck of having her bike land on her ankle.  While her partner helped her out of her boot and held her ankle steady a couple of other riders took her bike back to farmhouse and called for an ambulance.  The ambulance arrived after a surprisingly short twenty minutes and the experts were soon making Donna more comfortable for a very short ride down to where the rescue helicopter could land and take her off to hospital.  Not a nice way for her ride to end.

Naturally Jason left us to it and hopped on his bike and chased after the helicopter to Hastings hospital.  We also lost a couple more riders who had to get back to town so it was just six of us to continue on the ride.

After a quick tab back towards Waipuk we turned back off Route 52 and rode through to Flemmington on some great winding back roads - some sealed and others not.

Eventually we ended up on what looks like a dead end road on Google Maps - Rotohiwi Road.  But here Graeme had a nice surprise for us - we had permission to follow a paper road through farmland to come back out on Te Uri Road South East of Ormonville.  This road turned out to be the highlight of the ride with fantastic scenery all taken at a very sedate 2nd gear pace.

The road was obviously less maintained than the others we'd been on and offered up the additional hazards of dim-witted ewes and their young lambs and a number of gates to get through.  I enjoyed it so much that I had to include the entire road in the video clip above!

From Te Uri Road we made our way back to Danniverke for a quick coffee before once again avoiding SH2 and then battling the traffic on the Saddle and making our way home.  Another cracker of a ride with the Back Road Riders although I sense that summer is going to mean dust...

More pics here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lake Ferry

Yesterday I caught up with Brian and he was keen to go for a bit of a ride this weekend and suggested a trip down to Lake Ferry for lunch today.  We decided to wait and see what the day brought in terms of weather (didn't look great) and confirm the ride in the morning.

This morning I got up to a reasonable looking day and soon got the phone call from Brian - we were on.  While I was getting ready these little drops of cloud moisture started to fall and make the corners of my mouth droop somewhat...Never mind, the Connie was out now and what's that sound I here - another Connie making some nice noises through it's aftermarket muffler.  Yep, definitely going then!

As it turned out we only had to ride through light rain until we got out of town where things fined up for a great squirt over the track.  once in Pahiatua we quickly got off the main road and made our ways towards Route 52 and the usual great ride down to Masterton.  Unfortunately I wasn't feeling that flash (think I'm getting man-flu - yikes!) and I didn't enjoy it as much and spent most of this part of the ride bimbling along behind Brian with him getting away from me here and there - no matter, just try and enjoy the ride I thought.

View 18-09-11 Lake Ferry in a larger map

Instead of going right (and into Masterton) at the end of Route 52 we went left to take in some more great back roads through Gladstone and Longbush to Martinborough.  From Martinborough it is just a short ride out some fast straights and few corners to Lake Ferry where we parked up and ordered our lunch.

The Lake Ferry Pub
It turned out to be a pretty popular place and as we waited we heard the unmistakable and awful sound of a Ducati dry clutch drowning out the music of the engines of both it and the Aprilla following behind.  Just about no sooner had these guys arrived but a whole line of Porches turned up to swamp the cafe with latte orders.

A lot of boxers and a lonely four
Lunch put away we rode quietly back to Martinborough and then made our way up to Masterton for a top-up.  Just out of Martinborough (man I hate typing that name - always gotta worry about my spelling) we got some fairly decent rain which was enough to make the well worn road fairly greasy.  Luckily it didn't last long and after our top up we made for Mauriceville.

The roads through from SH2 to Mauriceville and then onto Eketahuna were simply brilliant.  Next to no traffic and lovely flowing corners - the Connies got really stuck in and I'm sure that they were smiling as much as the riders.  After this short blast we had a "transport" stage up SH2 before turning off to shoot through Mangamire and then back home over the track again.  The only downer here was all the traffic due to the gorge closure and slow vehicle not pulling over into the slow vehicle lanes.  Never mind, we had a great ride of just under 400km and I got to visit Lake Ferry on a fine day for a change (my previous two visits have been in very average weather).  Top ride!

More pics here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mark's Stag

Last weekend was Mark's stag do and he did things a little different.  Rather than getting plastered, having his eye brows shaved off and eventually ending up in jail he decided that a weekend away on the bikes and some "adventurous" activities was the way to go.

So on Friday he and I packed the bikes and headed for Napier to pick up his brother Clinton.  On the way up we were forced to take the Saddle (the gorge has been shut with a massive slip for about a fortnight now) and then up to Danniverke via Topgrass Road.  From Danniverke it was just a quick squirt up to Napier where we discovered that we were late - or that Clinton was dead keen to get stuck into the weekend's activities.
Route there & back
Mark loaded up Clinton's gear and I set the Connie up for two-up riding and then we were off again.  We had a great ride through to Taupo although the summit cafe appears to be dead and the roads were very wet in places.  The PR3's felt really good in the wet and I had absolutely no issues with them.  The Connie also went well weighed down by two big jokers although it was just a little thirstier than normal...

In Taupo we hit the local subway before taking a round-about route - Poihipi Road, Tirohanga Road (fantastic) and SH30 - to Rotorua.  Once in Rotorua we parked up at out motel and relaxed before walking into town in search of a meal.

Saturday was the day for our adventures and after visiting the local Suzuki shop (to kill some time) we made our way to adventure number one: quad biking.  We had booked a 2 hour ride with Quadzone ATV Tours and after gearing up our ride instructions included "give 'em death", so that it was we proceeded to do.  The quads were 350 Yamahas with auto transmissions which made the riding a lot simpler and we had a ball blasting up and down big hills, bouncing over rutted bush tracks and of course splashing through bog holes.

Resting before the next mud hole
The guide was great and after keeping an eye on us and assessing our riding he led us on some great trails that demanded a fair amount of skill in places.  We also got faster and faster as we got the hang of things and  had great fun getting stuck in (or across) ruts and bog holes - it just wouldn't have been the same without the odd mishap!  In fact Clinton managed to park his quad on it's side and I bettered him by ending up upside down.  The guides response was the same as ours - laughing his head off!

By the end of our 2 hours we were starting to get pretty tired in the arms and shoulders but it really was a lot of fun.  We're very glad we did the two hour ride as the shorter ones don't manage to get onto some of the places where we went and the trails through the bush were a blast.  Another thing we were glad about was the quads, they also run sports quads and we initially wanted these but they were booked out so we got the autos which are farm quads and offer better ground clearance than the sports models - once again we may not have been able to go where we did on the sports quads.

Finished in the mud we got changed and headed off to our next activity - the luge.  Once we had ridden up the cable car we grabbed a quick drink as we were all dry as an Arab's sandle after the quad biking before lining up for the luge.

Our plan from the start for the luge was to go hard and stay off the brakes.  This worked very well until the first corner where we had a massive pile up with me skinning my elbow and all of us nearly dying from laughter.  Pretty soon we were right back into going as hard as possible and in the end only using the brakes on 2 corners each run.  However I wasn't the only one to loose some skin - while trying to chase Clinton and I down Mark came a real good cropper and grazed up his arm really well - just a shame we never saw it.  After our 6 luge runs we rode back to the motel and sorted ourselves out with showers and plasters before walking up the road for tea.

On Sunday morning three cripples (damn those quads) struggled out of bed and rode back to Taupo (this time via Reporoa and Broadlands) for breakfast before tackling the Napier-Taupo road again.  This time around the weather was perfect and the riding was great.

After dropping Clinton off we returned home again via SH50 and another trip over the Saddle.  A nice quiet ride to top off a great weekend.

More pics here.