Monday, October 31, 2011

A bit more...

More of the East Cape - getting darker now and the bugs are hell bent on killing themselves on the camera housing.  Oh, and the gravel detour is still in place...

All done!

Yes, I'm back home after completing my 10th Grand Challenge.  I will save most of the story for later but will say that this was a tough ride but in the end I did it very easily - I felt very good for the entire ride (no tired moments) and enjoyed the whole thing.  The route was very challenging (see map) but the Connie was more than up to it and brought me home in 18.5 hours (including stops) - a truly fantastic machine!

This year we were being filmed again so I had to have a little play myself.  Not wanting to have to get on and off and start the camera all the time I decided to go for broke on the East Coast and just let the camera run from Tokomaru Bay right around to Opotiki.  I'm not sure how much video I'll post as the video does get spoiled by the camera fogging, bog splatters and finally darkness but the below might just give you a little taste.

A few pics here and more later...

Monday, October 24, 2011

New camera mount

I had the folks here last night to see the AB's claim the cup (phew!) and this morning the old man made me up a  mount for the GoPro.  It's a sturdy bit of ally bolted to the bike via the muffler hanger and has an old ball mount on the end allowing me to mount the camera facing either forwards or backwards.  It has to stick out a fair way to see around the bike but looks ok when the pannier is on.

Seems to work fine and is a lot more sturdy than the suction mount.  I also tried a different back on the camera housing - this one is not waterproof as it has ports cut into it to allow for better audio capture.

No hassling my flash riding gear...

RIP Marco

Absolutely terrible news from the Malaysian GP

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Someone's idea of the top ten best sounding bike engines:

They can't of ever hear my old VTR bellowing through it's titanium Two Bros cans...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BRR Gravity Canyon to Gentle Annie

We've had a lot of rain lately and sitting at home on Saturday listening to it fall on my roof I was thinking that all the rain would be settling the dust nicely for the BRR ride on Sunday.  Unfortunately come Sunday it was still raining with a vengeance so the old rain suit had to be pulled out and pressed into action.

On my way out to the meeting point I discovered that the vents on an adventure helmet work really well at letting the rain through so while the rest of me stayed dry, the beard got a good rinse out (should be right for a while now eh?) - all part of the "adventure" I guess.  Arriving second I parked up with Rob to await Colin and Graeme.  When Graeme arrived we heard that even Neil was keen and was splashing his way down from National Park for the ride - that's dedication for ya!

The plan for the ride was to take in as much gravel as possible on our way to lunch at Gravity Canyon, then a wee bit more gravel to meet up with the Napier-Taihape road followed by just a little more gravel to get us home.  Sounds good eh?

The first bit was just a quick little loop to the West of Kimbolton followed by more gravel on Ridge Road into Apiti.  After Apiti we rode through to Rangiwahia on Main South Road (previous visit) and then were led by Graeme off on a series of back roads (mostly gravel) that eventually led us to our lunch stop at Gravity Canyon.  Here's some video from some of these great roads:

After lunch we had a date with Gentle Annie so we headed North for a bit before taking in a diversion to the River Valley Lodge to check out the lodge and the great scenery.

The ride in and out of the valley was really neat with the last bit before the lodge being quite steep, narrow and rough - no problem when taken quietly though.  Video of the trip out below:

Out of the Valley we were on the home stretch to the Napier Taihape Road but on perhaps the longest stretch of gravel for the day.  Matawhero and Mangaohane Roads were pretty much all gravel but it was in very good nick and a pretty easy and slightly faster ride than some of the roads we'd ridden earlier in the day.

Eventually we reached the end of the road and the intersection with the Napier-Taihape and stopped briefly before...

...deciding to turn around and head back the way we'd come - yes, it's a great road!  Unfortunately for both Neil and myself the rain came back with a vengeance and we both had problems with bad visor fogging (time to get a fog city) which slowed us up a bit - and the slower we went the more fogging we got...

Never mind, it was still a good ride and once back out off Matawhero road Graeme was able to find some more gravel (a lot of it fabulously tight and twisty) to take us into Taihape for a drink and some fuel.

Our trip home took us down SH1 for a piece before turning off just North of Ohingaiti and tackling some familiar gravel (Mangamako, Waipuru, Mangapapa and Lower Pakihikura Roads).  After popping out on Vinegar Hill the rest of the ride was on seal back through to Feilding and home.

Another brilliant ride and I'm really glad I decided to put on that rain suit and get out there!

More pics here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday night fail

Tonight I had planned to take the Connie on a bit of a decent run to get some miles under my belt before the GC but things didn't quite going as planned.  Mark had been intending on joining me but he let work get in the way and is suggesting next week as an alternative.

Anyway, I decided that I needed a ride and thought that I'd head out to Ashhurst to do the FNR.  I got out there just before six and settled down to wait for the rest of the mob to join me.  And so I waited...

With nobody showing my 6:15 I decided that I was it and that a quick jaunt would do and rode off through Ashhurst towards the valley.

Before I left I also decided to play with the GoPro and fiddled with it to set it to take pictures at timed intervals rather than video.  The idea was to see what sort of photos it was capable of and then maybe put them into a slideshow.  This is what I got:

It turns out that I should probably read the instructions for the camera - wrong setting!

Anyway, besides the camera fail I had a nice little cruise (although had to battle the low sun for a bit) and surprised the dog by getting home early from an FNR for a change.  Didn't even get to check the new bulbs properly...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Let there be light V2

For a while now I've been running uprated bulbs in the Connie.  First up I tried some Navra +50's which were ok but did not last.  Next up was some Phillips X-Treme vision +80's and these have proved very good.

The +80's are probably still more fragile than the original bulbs (I reckon I get about 20,000km out of them) and I've burned through 3 +80 bulbs so far.  They also offer very good illumination - I reckon on a straight piece of road they're picking up fluorescent signposts at out to 800m.  Until tonight the bike has been running one original bulb (due to bulb #3 blowing) and one +80 but I had a set of the new Phillips +100's sitting on the bench waiting for the GC.

 And so with the GC nearing I stuck the bulbs in tonight...

LHS easier to get at than the right.

So tomorrow night I may just have to give them a wee test...

BTW: all the bulbs I've tried are the same wattage as the originals and the manufacturers claim no extra heat so there should not be any concerns about melting headlight surrounds...

PS: I get my bulbs from Powerbulbs in the UK, far cheaper than sourcing locally and with free worldwide delivery.  Delivery is generally within 7 days.

PPS: Mark is running some Osram Night Breaker +90's in his Bandit and they seem to be doing the job nicely for him.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Xmas time

Well, not quite but I've been wasting investing money again:

First up, a cheap pair of riding pants so that I don't ruin my good Alpine stars while charging around in the dust/mud on the DL.  The brand is RST and they are maybe a little long in the leg but seemed to do the trick on my little squirt last Sunday.  Hopefully it'll be at least 9 months until I need to test their waterproofing...

RST Razor Textile pants
My next purchase was probably even more necessary - a new helmet.  My old Shoei RXR that I use to ride to work in or knocking about town (I have another Shoei XR-1000 as my number one helmet) is just about toast.  I've had it for ages and the lining is starting to break up on me but the fit and everything else is still good - it has done pretty well.

With the arrival of a dual-purpose bike into the stable I decided that maybe I need a helmet designed for that sort of riding.  I also didn't want to spend too much on a helmet that could potentially get knocked around so ended up with an Airoh S4 which seems to fit well although it is a little tricky putting my glasses on.  I haven't used it on the bike yet so have an excuse for a ride...

Airoh S4 - need to remove some stickers eh?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Gonna be famous again

Yep, looks like the Rusty's are making another video of the Grand Challenge.  Details here:

Here's the promo for the last video (look for a couple of Bandit Riders towards the end):

BTW: I'm in group 1 with lift-off at 1pm!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

A different Apiti Loop

The Apiti Loop as I generally ride it consists of taking Pohangina Valley East Road right around the Pohangina Valley to Apiti and then returning home via Kimbolton and Feilding.  Today I took a slightly different route that takes in the opposite side of the river and although a shorter route takes a wee bit longer to complete due to a reasonable amount of gravel.

My ride started out with a quick bite in town before filling the DL up at Ashhurst and then heading out the valley.  Instead of turning right to take Pohangina Valley East Road I carried on into Pohangina itself and then continued along the river following Pohangina Valley West Road (you never would have guessed it's name eh?).

This road quickly turns into dusty gravel which was in a similar condition to some of the gravel I rode last weekend - fairly recently graded with plenty of gravel and not much in the way of nice, well worn tyre tracks to ride in (dagnabbit).  This slows me down a bit but is all good practice for the next BRR ride eh?

Part of the way through Pohangina Valley West Road I came around a corner and spotted a fantastic view out across the valley.  No jamming on the brakes and stopping in a hurry on this sort of surface unless you want to end rolling in the dust so after pulling over quietly and parking the bike I had to walk back to take in the view and nab a few pics.

While there a farmer and his daughter pulled up on a quad and we chatted about the nice view, the farmer even asking if I was lost - they must have to point the odd biker in the right direction eh?

Pohangina Valley West Road eventually runs out at Makoura Road and taking a left here starts you on the final run to Apiti - a right would take you back out onto Pohangina Valley East Road.  The gravel through alternated with being a bit nasty (lots of gravel and no tracks) to being nice and smooth with great ruts to follow (nearly hit the speed limit).

From Apiti I was back on a great and familiar sealed road so I had a pretty quick ride through to Kimbolton before turning off at Kiwitea to tackle a few roads that the Back Road Riders had taken me on the very first time I went out with them.

This time around it wasn't raining as I took in Coulters Line, Ridge Road and Finnis Road so the riding was a bit easier although you do have to take a bit of care on the windy and narrow roads.  Finnis Road eventually becomes Taonui Road which had me home in about another twenty minutes - easily home in time to watch the All Blacks wop Canada.  Another great day out.

More pics here.  BTW: the "fog" in the video is condensation on inside of the GoPro's case and I've been getting a bit of it lately.  It's a known issue and there is a fix...

Friday night ride

Daylight savings has kicked in and that means that it's time for the Friday night rides to start back up.  The FNR's are a great way to help wind down after five days of work and let off a bit of steam.

This week's ride was just a quick blast over Vinegar Hill and then back via Halcombe.  Leaving Ashhurst were 7 black bikes (including far too many Trumpy's) and a sole red VTR250.  We covered the ground to Cheltenham pretty quickly and were soon out onto Vinegar which is in superb condition and which managed to put smiles onto everyone's faces.

At the regroup we were joined by another black bike (Bogan on his Honda) and yet another Triumph (Barry and Mel on the Daytona).  They'd come from different directions to hook up with the ride and after a bit of a chat on the side of road we turned towards Hunterville for the ride home.

From Hunterville Barry led us out on Rangatira Road to keep us off SH1 and on some more interesting roads.  It was starting to get a little darker by now and with the odd bit of loose metal on the road a bit of caution was called for.

Back on SH1 we waved off Barry & Mel as they headed back home to Wanganui and then turned off to take in Halcombe Road back to Feilding.  It was a really beautiful night out I enjoyed the fairly sensible ride back into Feilding where we all stopped to say our goodbyes and split up for the ride home.