Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BRR Wandering the Wairarapa

Or some possible alternative titles:
Rollin' on marbles,
Starting an all dust diet...
Yes, Sunday was our monthly Back Road Riders ride and as Neil was proud to say - he'd picked a good day for it.  The day was sunny and clear and yet not too hot for riding as about 15 of us set out for a day exploring.

First up was a quick squirt up over the track before we turned off and headed towards Mangamire.  But at the first one lane bridge we took a right on Kopikopiko Road.  This road soon turns to gravel and we got our first taste of the dusty conditions we'd be riding in the whole day.

All the dust obviously meant that we spread out a fair bit (it's nice to be able to have a reasonable idea on what's in front of you) but it looked pretty cool when you stared off into the distance and saw big clouds of dust drifting off across the paddocks.

Eventually Kopikopiko Road ran into Pukehoi Road and a series of other gravel back roads until we finally popped out on SH2 just North of Eketahuna (just wait until you see the twists and turns on the map) where we turned Northwards for a spell.

About a couple of k's up the road we took a right on Mangaone Road and got straight back into more gravel.  Another thing we were starting to notice was that most of the gravel roads we were on had been getting plenty of TLC from the council road workers - there was plenty of gravel on the roads and this made the riding a bit more exciting...

After Mangaone Road there were a few other tight, twisty, dusty, and gravelly roads to take us in on a loop back to Eketahuna for a quick break.

From Eketahuna we then stuck to the Eastern side of SH2 on Mangaoranga Road.  It was somewhere out here that the marbles got the better of Neil and unfortunately I arrived to find him and others picking up the Tiger and sorting out some running repairs.  It was very unfortunate to see the Tiger down but at least Neil was ok after exiting via the high side...

Oh, oh...
With the running repairs complete Neil was soon leading us off again on a big loop that would eventually lead us to our lunch stop in Masterton.  But before that there was still plenty of gravel and a bit more excitement.

This was just one of two occasions where a cow was startled by the bikes and broke through their electric fence to up that excitement factor...

Arriving in Masterton we refueled the bikes and took over a small cafe.  There was plenty to talk about and our lunch was pretty leisurely as we didn't hit the road again until after 2.

From Masterton we made our way out Castlepoint Road and after a short excursion up a dead-end (well maybe not dead-end but it was starting to look dicey) road we turned off onto Te Parae Road which started taking us South East.  All through here the roads continued to be dusty with plenty of gravel on them and riding the big DL was quite tricky in places - the rear end would kick out with just the slightest twist of the wrist.  Short shifting was the order of the day although sometimes you can't do this (when say climbing up a hill) so there was still plenty of sideways action to be had.

Coming off Westmere Road we went left (instead of right towards Martinborough) and made for the beach on a series of fantastic roads.  The first section took us through a big forestry block and the road wound it's way up and over a pretty big hill which gave us some great views out towards the coast.  It also offered up a lot of pretty tight harpins with big drop-offs offering a quicker trip to the bottom of the hill...

At the bottom of the hill we rode alongside the river for a while before ending out on some huge straights (see video) where the bikes got to stretch their legs a bit - nice to be out of second gear and into sixth!

Not actually making it to the coast we ended up out on Castlepoint road again and pulled up for a regroup at Tinui.  And then it got interesting...

Our route back towards home was via the Alfred-Tinui and Castle Hill roads.  From the outset we had to dodge all sorts of stock on the road and as the road got tighter the gravel got worse.  Second gear was almost too high in some corners but if I'd gone to first the bike just would have been even more twitchy.  So the poor bike was made to lug out of the corners with just a couple of revs on the dial as I tried to pick a decent line through the marbles.

It was through here that our brave leader had his second oops of the day and the Tiger had another brief lie down.

Unfortunately this time around it resulted in a broken front brake lever and (after session of serious head scratching) we were not able bodge up a quick fix.  Neil was forced to give up his ride lead job and to take it very quietly back into Alfredton.
Castle Hill Road
At Alfredton we said goodbye to the gravel and I led the gang back through to Pahiatua and then back home to Palmy.

Patterns on a Map
So not the best day out for Neil and a fairly dusty and demanding ride for everyone but still a great day out on a sensational spring day!  I'm picking it could be dusty again for October's ride...


  1. That looks like a fun day. Bummer about Neil's bike but I hear Tigers like to nap when they get tired.

    it was odd to see the yellow warning signs on the gravel roads in your videos. Around here if you are on a back country gravel road you are on your own, no warning signs. It is good they are warning you about the hairpins, etc.

    The gravel sure looked like fun but when it comes to downhill and corners combined with loose gravel that always ups the pucker factor for me.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. One of things that Neil mentioned was the sign warning of a hair-pin turn - it was after about 50 other hair-pins and was no worse than all those before it...