Sunday, June 30, 2013


This week I treated myself to probably what is the most expensive on/off switch you can buy - a GoPro wireless back-pack and remote.  Why is it expensive?  Well, because my Hero HD is an old model I miss out on some of the nifty features that the back-pack offers - like live preview on mobile phones etc.

The wireless back-pack
Remote and "key"
But I do get to be able to remotely turn the camera on, select the shooting mode and start and stop recording.  And because the remote has a screen (tiny) I will actually know if the camera is working - perhaps the system is worth it just for this amazing feature!

I had read of people having issues getting their back-packs and remotes to work with their cameras but I followed the instructions and updated the firmware on my camera and both the back-pack and remote and as soon as I snapped the back-pack on I was able to turn the camera on and take some pics by using the remote.

Two new "doors" came with the back-pack
To use the system all you do is turn the back-pack on (with the button on the new door - the other buttons are now redundant).  This puts the back-pack in standby and the only battery being used is the one built-in to the back-pack - the back-pack will suck from the camera's battery once it's battery is flat.  The small LCD on the back-pack shows battery status etc, so you know it's going.  The camera itself is still off.

Then when you need to film you turn on the remote and a few seconds later it connects to the back-pack and turns the camera on.  You can then change the shooting mode if you want or just starts recording/snapping.  I have noticed that there is a bit of a delay between pressing the buttons on the remote and stuff happening on the camera so you probably won't be able to quickly snap off a shot of something in a hurry.

One little annoying thing is that now I have three items that need charging by usb.  The back-pack and camera use a standard mini-usb cable but the remote has a weird setup (so that it remains waterproof).  I guess we'll see how much of a pain this turns out to be...

Anyway, the next item on the agenda was to work out where to put the remote on the bikes (so far only the Connie is sorted).  The remote comes with the attachment key (top pic) and a wrist strap.  The key allows you to hook it onto a keyring or use it for attaching a tether etc.  The wrist strap can also be used for wrapping around "things" like ya wrist or the handlebars etc.

But I had a Projekt D Handy Stick lying around and decided to give that a go.

First up I had to take the bolt out that holds the left-hand side handle-bar on.  Man, what a mission - Kawasaki must own shares in lock-tite!

I just managed to remove this without breaking anything...
Then I simply bolted the Handy Stick on - I used a bit of thread-lock on the bolt but didn't go overboard...

Handy Stick looking handy
To attach the remote I decided just to trial some velcro and see how that goes (I will make up a wee tether as well).

Cockpit getting a bit busier...
Sitting on the bike I was easily able to reach the button and I could just make out the display on the screen.  I'll have to be careful operating it while riding but it will definitely be easier than stopping to play with the camera.  Hopefully I'll get to try everything out next weekend and will be able to report back on how things went.  Then of course I need to work out how to mount it on the DL...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BRR Wandering Wanganui Part Two

Now where were we?  Oh, lunch, yes, one of the three most important meals of the day...

After the hordes were fed those that were continuing on the afternoon ride went to gas up for the ride up the Wanganui River Road.  The collection of various adventure bikes were even joined by a couple of road bikes (a Suzy Gladius and a Husky Nuda) keen for the ride up the river (including the wee bit of gravel).

Leaving Wangavegas
Turning off SH4 we were onto the lovely winding but narrow river road which as the name suggests follows the Wanganui River North to Raetihi.

The first wee climb up the hill was pretty slippery as it probably doesn't see the sun too much during winter but once we popped out on the other side there was only the odd damp corner to look out for.

That'll be the river over to the left a bit...
We took things pretty leisurely and took time out to stop a few times to check out the views and wait for everyone to catch up.

A new breed of Adventure biker...
The gravel was in pretty good nick so our two road bike riders didn't have any trouble but apparently a GS had a few issues and they went back to assist - I hope everyone got home alright and that the bike is ok.

Arriving in Raetihi I had my own wee mechanical issue.  While parking I discovered that I could not get full left lock outta the Vee.  After much hunting around I discovered the culprit - one of the bolts holding the little subframe that carries the front fairing, headlights etc had worked it's way loose and got wedged between the frame and the steering stop on the lower triple tree.  The other bolt above it was also loose...I've no idea how the bolt fell out and didn't just disappear never to be seen again...But after a bit of spannering I was good to go again.

From Raetihi Neil led us off in the direction of the Paraparas but we turned off onto Oruakukuru Road which quickly went to gravel but offered some great riding and scenery.

Winter - would ya believe it?

Good gravel!
Barry cruising by

When we hit Fields Track Neil departed for home and I led the rest of our group down Fields Track before turning off to take in Whangaehu Valley and Mangamahu Roads South back towards Wanganui.

There's a fair bit of good gravel through here but after all the rough weather we've been having there were quite a few slips down on the road and we had to watch out for the odd rock in our paths.

It was a great ride down along the river but by the time we got through to Fordell and waved off the two bikes heading into Wanganui it was about 5pm and definitely starting to cool off.  Barry and I didn't muck around too much and it was quite nice to get home just before 6 and arc up the fire after a superb day's riding.

Apparently July's ride is in the planning stages already - good stuff!

More pics here.

BRR Wandering Wanganui Part One

Sunday was the latest outing for the Back Road Rides and after a few days of pretty wicked weather all over the country it was always going to be interesting.

On Saturday our fearless leader (who had been snowed in during the week) called the ride on and as I knew he was going to have an interesting ride down to meet us in Wanganui then I thought that I'd better not chicken out and got all my gear sorted ready for an earlish start in the morning.

As it happened Neil left National park at about 6:40am and made his way through snow and ice and then pouring rain to meet us - not sure if he is fearless or slightly mad..but then I guess there's a few people around who behave similarly at times...

After gassing the Vee I made my way over to Wanganui for the meet-up.  On the way over the weather was not too bad although there was some sticky fog just out of town and the temperature dropped a little the closer I got to Wanganui.  Heated grips were turned on and left on all day...

At our kick-off point there was already quite a few bikes there already when I pulled up and quite a few riders were taking the opportunity to grab a hot drink while we waited for the stragglers.

Our first leg was a short trip that would take me on 2 of my favourite bits of Wanganui gravel: Rangitatau East Road and Kauarapaoa Roads.  I've done both of these roads a few times now but this would be the first time after the region had seen some weather.

View Larger Map

When we hit the gravel of Rangitatau East Road the road was in great nick and the road fast.  I was having a great time on it until it started to rain.  I started having my familiar visor/glasses fogging issues (even though I'd put "anti-fog" stuff all over them) and I had no choice but to crack open my visor a bit.

Enter issue #2.  For some weird aerodynamic reason (my fairing, my helmet shape etc) the airflow seems to draw water up the inside of the visor.  The rain on the outside of the visor blows off nicely with a layer of Rain-x but the stuff on the inside soon makes the visor difficult to see out.  So what do I do?  Open the visor and eventually end up not being able to see a thing with the rain on the glasses.

So this is sucking pretty badly and after one stop to clean glasses and visor I ended up stopping and taking my glasses off.  Well, I thought, this could be interesting...

I think I may have been able to speed up a little but I was definitely a lot more cautious as I did not really want to investigate a fence/bank/ditch/truck.  Third gear was about the best I could do - the old eyeballs didn't really appreciate rain drops at 60km/h.  Don our poor TEC had to put up with a slow Vee holding him up a fair bit...

At the turn-off to Kauarapaoa Road the rest of the team were waiting but very keen to get amongst it and took off down the hill.  Meanwhile it was time for someone else to have a small issue.

Barry hit the go button on his DR only to have it ignore his command.  It turned out that his kill switch had stuck in.  Things were not looking good - towing the DR back out would be interesting to say the least.  So we started fiddling.  In the end with Barry prying one side of the switch with his key me the other with a screw driver we got the button to pop out.  And you know what?  When Barry pushed it again it still stuck least we had a system for sorting it out...

DR fired up, Barry did a disappearing act on the two DL TEC's and we scrambled to mount up and make our way down the hill.  I had been expecting it to be pretty greasy on the way down the hill and it was in places but overall not too bad - gently does it was the way.

Kauarapaoa Road drops down into a beautiful valley (and I got some great pics from other rides through here) but I have to say it's not quite the same when you're struggling to see where you're going...

When things leveled off a bit we managed to speed up a bit but still had the odd slip to work our way through or around.  At one point I thought, heck I've got away on my TEC buddy!  I'd been trying to keep an eye in the mirrors for Don's headlight but it wasn't that easy what with my blindness and the twisty nature of the track.  When he didn't catch up quickly when I slowed for him I started getting worried and stopped to wait.

I was just getting to the point of looking for somewhere to turn around so I could go back when I saw a headlight come around the corner.  The bike looked fine (like I could tell without glasses) so I took off again.  Shortly we came across the other guys waiting for us and I heard a wee story - apparently I wasn't the only one having issues with their glasses and a little diversion into a drain had been taken.  Luckily Don was able to ride out of it easily, remove his glasses and carry on.

By now, I'm please to report, the rain had stopped so I took the opportunity to clean my glasses and visor again and hope for the best.  This turned out to be a great idea and we were now into a faster section of Kauarapaoa Road and I was able to enjoy this last bit of gravel before we ended up out on the tarseal to follow the river into Wanganui.

Back at a familiar cafe we parked up for a well deserved lunch to give us some energy for the afternoon ride...

Hmmm, I should be charging for advertising...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


So today I had to finally had to splash out on some new tyres for my car.  It was painful enough but when you compare it to what I've spent on tyres for bikes in the time I've owned the car (7 years or so) and mileage covered it perhaps wasn't too bad.

  • K6 Bandit - probably 1 pair (can't quite remember when I got the car in relation to owning my Bandits).
  • VTR1000F - 1 pair.
  • V-Strom - 3 tyres
  • Concours - 9 pairs
  • So 25 tyres and around 150,000km travelled on two wheels
  • Subaru - about 40,000km and this is the first set of tyres I've bought for it.  (Notice how few kms I do in the car).
Oh, and I put the tyres on, had them balanced and got a wheel alignment for less than a set of tyres (and fitting) for either the Connie or the V-Strom...

Best not add the cost of those 25 tyres...

Sunday, June 16, 2013


So the old man learned how to use his scanner...

PS: turned off that stupid Google+ comment option.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Around a few mountains

The Connie has been languishing in the shed for far too long so yesterday I decided that by hook or by crook she was going to get some exercise today!  Even waking up to a bit of an overcast and chilly morning was not going to stop me.

And so, after a few chores I was on the road at 9:30 and making my way towards Wanganui.  As per normal I turned off at Mount Stewart to take my normal avoid SH3 diversion across to Marton.  I was pootling along Ngaio Road when I had my first little run in with stock.  A small mob of sheep came running out of a gateway (yes the gate was left open) and onto the road - luckily they didn't run right across the road and I got around them no problem.

My next detour through Fordell gave me my next run in with stock, this time with some young steers being driven up the road.  They gave me the willies a bit as they were a tad stroppy but in the end they chose not to take on the Connie and I snuck past and into Wanganui for fuel.

After gassing up it was time to hit one of my favourite North Island roads - the Paraparas.  Over the last few years there has been a lot of work done on the road through to Raetihi and all this work has only improved a great ride.  I had a blast although got a bit annoyed when a twanger in a 6L Holden wouldn't pull over into the "slow vehicle lane" for me - I was force to give him an education in power to weight and he was soon left behind.

Turning off onto SH47 at National Park I noticed a wee temperature drop (it was not like it was that warm anyway) as I got closer to the mountains.  I ended up turning off again to pop up to the chateau for a few pics.

The Connie makes any background look great eh?

By now the morning was getting close to being shot so I was getting keen on finding some lunch and a warm drink.  As I carried on along SH47 I had a decision to make: carry on on 47 to Turangi or turn off onto 46 and make for Waiouru.  Turangi would offer a food break sooner but making for Waiouru would get me home sooner.  In the end I decided to make for Waiouru and it was quite neat that I did.  Cruising along I noticed a bit of volcanic activity so it gave me the chance to stop for some more interesting pics.

Out on SH1 I settled into a careful cruise and enjoyed the views along the Desert Road so much that I even stopped for more pics of the mountains - this time from the opposite side.

Arriving in Waiouru I couldn't help but notice that the cafe I was intending to stop at was closed (maybe permanently) and after surveying the other options I decided that I could manage another 30km to check out the offerings at Taihape.   This turned out to be a good plan as I ended up having a nice lunch at the Soul Food Cafe before the Connie got her top up and we turned for home.

In Mangaweka I still hadn't had enough riding so instead of the boring SH1 option I went for the Rangiwahia-Kimbolton option.  This was a great choice as the road was in good nick and I had a blast (had to deal with more cattle on the road again though).

Before I knew it I was home after 455 glorious kilometers and about 5 hours 20 (including stops) on the road.  Great to get out and sort out those cobwebs...

More pics here.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Thanks Queenie

Yes, this weekend was Queen's birthday weekend so we got Monday as our bonus day off - and it seemed a shame to waste it.  Especially after two phone calls in five minutes from peeps wanting to go for a ride - Brian and Dad.

So, in order to satisfy both of them a plan was hatched for Brian and I to cruise up to Waipuk to meet Dad (and his new to him Beemer) taking back roads wherever possible.

But things didn't start off too well.  I'd plan to give the Connie a run as she's been parked up in the shed for too long but when I went to move the car out of the shed it wouldn't start.  Some idiot had left an interior light on and drained the battery - guess who...

So after hooking up the battery charger to the car I wheeled out the the V-Strom pretty much at the same time as Brian rolled up the drive.  Geared up I followed Brian out through Aokautere and through the gorge behind some slow traffic.

Riding to Danniverke for our gas stop it was a bit blustery and the wind had a little nip to it but the day was otherwise fine.  Fuelled up it was time to turn off the main road and make our way up to Waipuk via Ormonville and Takapau.  There were some great Autumn/Winter colours on display and I possibly should have taken a camera with me...

Dropping down into Waipuk I spotted this silvery looking thing coming our way and noticed it had cylinders poking out either side so had a pretty good idea who was coming our way.  We pulled up on the side of the road to oh and ah at the new bike.
Dad's new R1100S

"That's the wheelhouse up front"
Next item on the agenda was for me to go for a short squirt on the Beemer.  I shot back out the way we'd come and went looking for a few corners.  The silver bike behaved itself and felt pretty nice on the fast flowing corners that I managed to find.  Not as torquey as the V-Strom but fairly smooth and it felt nice and planted on the road.

One short test ride later and it was time to find a cafe in Waipuk for a drink and a nibble.  We parked up outside a bakery/cafe next to a couple of other bikes and chatted to the riders while enjoying our pastry wrapped goodness.

As it was only just after 12 we had plenty of daylight left so had to make the big decision on how to get home and stay out of the way of the boys in blue (4 km/h tolerance this weekend).

In the end we decided to rock the top section of Route 52 to Wimbledon and pop back out at Danniverke again.  This is a great ride but it does demand attention with plenty of hazards for the unwary - stock, metal on the road, storm damage etc.

From Danniverke we once again stuck to back roads which follow the ranges closely and then took the Saddle (still in poor condition - littered with roadworks and gravel) into Ashhurst and home in Palmy by 2:30.  A nice little ride to end the long weekend - the Connie is going to have to wait until next weekend for some exercise...