Sunday, October 28, 2012

BRR October ride

Today was the monthly Back Road Riders gravel seeking expedition and as per usual I was dead keen to go.  The weather forecast was not the best but when I left home to meet the other guys there was only the odd spit of rain and nothing to be worried about at all.

About eight of us met up at the Hiwinui school - nice and close to some local gravel roads.

We started out with a quick squirt through to Pohangina via Watershed, Zigzag and Finnis Roads.  As you can see a bit of rain might have been welcome...

From Pohangina we carried on up the valley some more and the roads while in good nick continued to be a little on the dusty side.  Check out the big fella at about 4 mins...

Pohangina Road eventually peters out and you arrive at Makoura Road which if you turn left takes you along some pretty good gravel to Apiti.  By now there was the odd bit of rain around which was turning the dust on my visor to mud.  The camera was getting a pasting too...

Next up was Main South road which starts off as a nice scenic ride on tarseal before once again turning to gravel.

At the end of Main South Road I followed Graeme along Te Parapara Road until it hit Rangawahia Road.  Here I was tasked with the corner man job to make sure that everyone took the correct turn so I parked up and waited...and waited.

With nobody showing up after a few minutes I decided (just a little sooner than Graeme) that something must be amiss so I turned around and back tracked to Main South Road.  On the corner Colin told me that someone had had a puncture and that they were fixing it up a bit further back up the road.  Seeing as I had my compressor with me I took off back to see if I could help.

By the time I found the others they had the wheel off, a new tube in the tyre and were already borrowing a farmer's compressor so mine wasn't needed.  A few minutes later I witnessed the fitting of a rear wheel to a R100GS and we were off again.

By now a damp sort of a drizzle was falling and I was starting to get a lot of visor fogging.  I had cleaned my visor prior to the ride and put anti-fog stuff on the inside but I guess the inside may have got dust on it and then some moisture making things less than the required see-thru.  I carried on for a bit but at the next gravel turn-off I decided to bail and let Colin know that I was heading home as I was having trouble seeing much of anything.

I took it pretty quietly riding through to Mangaweka as I did not want to rely on riding by braille and then turned South on SH1 to start on my way home.  Naturally now that I had bailed on the guys the weather started getting better and by the time I stopped in Hunterville it was almost sunny.

After a quick lunch I was back on the bike with clean glasses for the ride home via Halcombe and Feilding.  It was a real bummer to have to pull out of the ride - something I've never had to do before but at least I kept the bike on the road and got to have a reasonable 240km ride.  Looking forward to next month's ride...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Four Points Wrap-up

Well I'm just back home after the Four Points prize giving function and I've also finished my write-up, you can see it here.

Two years until the next one...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A weekend's riding

I got home from my assault on the Four Points on Sunday afternoon having ridden about 2,400kms since leaving home on Friday morning.  The event still isn't over as I have to get my last card at the after-match function this coming weekend - then we'll know if my poker hand is any good (so far, so bad).

I'm working on a write-up for my website and will hopefully finish that off in the weekend or early next week but thought that I'd just do a very quick summary here:

Day One
- Wet until SH50 then a pretty good day as I toured around East Cape finally stopping in Katikati for the night.

View 2012 Four Points Map 3 in a larger map
Day Two
- A big day in near perfect conditions.
- Another trip on the Rawene ferry and some fuel problems in Kaitaia.
- Did a big day to make day three shorter due to bad weather forecast.

View 2012 Four Points Map 4 in a larger map

Someone else with good taste on the Ferry
Day Three
- Left Ngaruawahia in the rain - heavy at times.
- Met Brian in New Plymouth for the last leg.
- Rain stopped at Rahotu but was replaced by plenty of wind.

View 2012 Four Points Map 5 in a larger map

Well, that's enough for now, except to say that I had a blast and enjoyed the time away and I'll keep working on the final write-up...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Green

Today I had to spend some green on the Connie so it seemed only fair that they provide me with some green to get to work and back.

Kawasaki Z1000SX
I have to say that this little bike is a lot nicer than the Volty 250 I sometimes have been forced to ride...

The motor is a version of the ZX-10 superbike and in the Z1000 puts out 138 horses and in my quick ride I'd have to say that it is not underpowered!  The engine  was very user friendly in that I found it would pull pretty cleanly from low revs and at the open road speed limit (just over 4,000rpm from memory) you did not need to change down to get respectable acceleration for passing.  But if you did give it to it in the lower gears the bike really took off on a mission to lose your licence.

The motor also sounded very sweet and the standard mufflers while a tad on the ugly side sounded nice - in fact I reckon I would not consider aftermarket muffles as there was plenty of the right sort of noise when giving the bike a few revs.  One thing I didn't like was the cable actuated clutch but I think this was just that it felt "different" to the hydraulic clutches I'm used to - the clutch was actually easy to use and didn't require the grip of a rock climber.  Overall I really liked the engine and it's performance.

Comfort-wise the bike also felt fine.  Obviously I only had a couple of short rides on it but the riding position was quite nice, although I was a little surprised with the reach to the bars.  I thought that the handle-bar position might have been a little higher - instead it was somewhere between say a Bandit and a sports bike.  Not uncomfortable by any means.

Those mufflers!
The narrow seat and sculptured tank also made it easy to sit on (or is that in?) the bike and get your feet on the ground.  The screen is very low and probably doesn't do a lot for the rider in terms of protection but in saying that on by very short squirt at open road speeds I didn't notice any nasty buffeting.  However on my ride back to the shop the wind had really picked up (we're expecting gale force winds tonight and tomorrow) and the bike was blown silly when ridden at 50km/h - not sure what it would have been like at higher speeds (possibly better).  The Connie on the other hand did not get blown around as much when I got back on her - there is something to be said for a bit of weight in a bike (50kg difference in weights).

The brakes were not as fierce as I was expecting but worked very well and felt nice and progressively - I'll take progressive over fierce any day.  I didn't really get to really sample the bike's handling and to be honest it was wearing a really worn Bridgestone (yuck!) which was certainly affecting the handling (making the bike tip into turns very quickly).  The service manager at the bike shop says that they do handle very well with good rubber but do indeed turn pretty quickly.  An owner would soon come to grips with this.

Digital speed with analogue tach
One last thing - the looks.  The consensus at work was that it is a very good looking machine - sure those mufflers are a bit much but the styling is definitely modern and the paint very nice.  I particularly liked how the frame was a sort of bronze colour which worked well with both the black and the stunning green - very nice!

So who would buy one?  Well, I'm not sure how good they would be touring (I doubt that they're very pillion friendly) but Monie (a VFR800 pilot) did the Capital 1000K Cruise on one last year and raved about it so they can't be too bad. I think that they'd probably suit a more "sensible" sport bike rider (if there is such a thing?).  The bike has more than enough power for most people and is undoubtedly more comfortable than a "proper" sports bike.  Dunno if it'd be much chop as an adv bike though...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lake Ferry

Well after a very wild Saturday and Saturday night, Sunday tried to start off the same way but the sting was out of the storm - the sting maybe, but not the rain and wind...Never mind, there were three others that were also keen to get started on the Four Points and make for the Southern point at Lake Ferry.

I met up with Meanie, Monie and Yod at a local gas station and we left town in light rain to first tackle the Pahiatua Track and Mangamire.  The road was pretty wet in places and the rain heavyish at times but by the time we got to SH2 we were out of the worst of it and there was even the odd dry bit of road.

The next section of the ride was just a quiet ride down to Masterton, Carterton and Greytown before we turned off towards Lake Ferry.  The ride from here on had us punching into a reasonably gusty head wind and there was the odd shower to help keep the slippery bits slippery.

Arriving in Lake Ferry the rain had stopped but the wind was well and truly still with us and we parked our bikes pretty carefully so that they'd still be right side up when we got back to them.  Then it was into the warm of the pub for a hot lunch and to get our first card.

Such a lovely day
Parking out of the wind...
After lunch it was time to make our way home and we decided to make for Martinborough and then depending on the weather either to the short route to Masterton and home or go the more scenic route via Longbush, Gladstone and Wainuioru.  The ride up to Martinborough was pretty quick with a good tail-wind and not too much rain.

In Martinborough I had a bit of a look at the skies and reckoned it looked ok (if not better) to take the scenic route and so off we went.  We did get a few very light showers and the roads were quite wet in places but it was a great ride and the weather appeared to be getting better the further up the road we went.

Once out onto the Castle Point road we carried on into Masterton to top up the tanks and to decide on the route home.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying the better weather so we decided that Route 52 to Alfredton and then back into the Pahiatua was the go.

The first bit of Route 52 was pretty damp and there was even the odd branch on the road but once we got out of the slower twisty stuff the roads dried off and we had a great run up to Alfredton.  Mangaone Valley Road was more of the same although we did come across some cows being moved for their afternoon milking and they'd made an absolute mess of the road - a bit of caution was needed to navigate the mess and all the bikes ended up bringing some samples home...

A bath is imminent!
After a brief pause at Pahiatua we hit the track, got briefly sprinkled on and that was pretty much it for the first (well first successful) leg of the Four Points.  The other guys are heading off a day before me so I'll be constantly nipping at their heels - perhaps I'll bump into them somewhere but otherwise it'll just be me and the Connie and the open road!  Oh yeah!

What's it going to look like after another 2,500km?

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Yeah, I don't think it was quite this bad out there...

Abort, abort...

Well the weather has taken a wee turn for the worse.  Today I was planning on riding up to the 'naki to get the West Point at Rahotu and even with the bad forecast I was pretty keen to go.

I got up early and even though there was the odd sprinkle of rain I suited up and was on the road just after 7.  It didn't take long until I hit the first of the rain (less than 20km) and the further I went the more it settled in.

North of Bulls SH3 you get into some more exposed bits and it was here that I first started to get hit by the building wind.  It was getting quite blustery and I knew that this would mean it would be worse further on North of Wanganui.  So at Turakina I decided that rather than spend another 5-6 hours battling the elements I'd head home.

I turned off and took Wanganui Road back to Marton and Halcombe.  By taking this route I was a little less exposed to the wind but the first bit of Wanganui Road involved a bit of battling with the wind and I had to speed up a bit to help punch a hole in the wind.  The PR2's were fantastic though and I got home pretty quickly, parked the horse up and set about sorting my gear so it'll dry for tomorrow when I hope the weather will be better so I can get the Southern Point at Lake Ferry.

Crappy phone pic of jacket dripping onto the floor...
The Rahotu point will have to be picked up on my way back from the far North...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The new Vee

The net is a-buzz - it looks like we have a new Vee coming!

More pics and information here on Motorcycle.com

So far I like the look - it's still "interesting" like my Vee but it needs a second muffler!  It appears to be slightly more road-oriented as seems to be the trend these days - I wonder if there will be a more off-road biased version too?

Good to see that they've fitted better brakes but will the radials be too much off-road?  I'd love my Vee to have better brakes on the tar but stay as they are for when I'm off road.  One slight touch off-road with radials and you might end up going down in a screaming heap.  Perhaps the ABS system has been designed so that it is usable (or has different modes) off road.

Panniers look small and the RHS one is smaller than the LHS (thanks for that idea BMW) but hug the bike a lot better than mine.  I guess the serious guys will still opt for the flash aluminium jobbies.

I do not need a new Vee, I do not need a new Vee...