Monday, March 31, 2014

Manfield Nationals

Yesterday Dad and I went to take in some great racing at Manfield and watch the final round of the National Championships.  Some of the classes had already been decided on the Saturday (including the big boys on the Superbikes) so I wondered how good the racing was going to be - in a word it was fantastic!

Both the 600's and the Superbikes offered incredibly close racing with heaps of action up front and some fairly keen dicing for position.

Even the slower guys on the 250 and 650 twins were fun to watch with the bikes being very evenly matched it came down to talent and courage.  Top stuff.

There were even some weird looking machines with an extra wheel out laying rubber through the corners.

All in all it was a great day's entertainment and really enjoyed watching the racing and trying to get some decent pics.  As you can see Google+ added some magic here and there too...

A lot more pics here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday Night Ride

Last night was the final Friday Night Ride until next spring so I decided that I'd go along and even managed to talk the old man into coming.  There was also another reason to go in that our ride leader was going to be mounted on a new V-Strom - best I check it out then...

I got to the ride starting point at Courtesy Suzuki pretty early but the old man was already there and the BBQ was up and running nicely.  Plenty of time to have a munch, a chat and a gawk at the new DL...apologies for crappy phone pics...

Just before kick-off there was a bit of excitement with caps being offered to those that could answer a few V-Strom related questions.  I was able to nab one as I somehow managed to know that the new Vee has a digital speedo whereas the old one apparently has an analog one...

The old man was even more flukey when he guessed that the front brake piston diameters on the new DL are 2mm bigger than the old ones...

A hats now with new owners it was time for the pootle and Pauly and the new Vee led us across town for a quiet cruise up and over the track, through Mangamire, back through Pahiatua and Woodville to the Ashhurst Inn and a drinkee if the riders wanted it.

Just a quick little 80km to finish this season's FNR's and a nice way to end the working week.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Taupo Loop

During the week Mark actually suggested that he was keen for a ride and even came up with the route as well.  The plan was to head off reasonably early on Saturday morning and ride up the Paraparas before shooting over to Turangi and then around the back of the lake to Taupo for lunch.  The ride home could then take in the Napier-Taupo road and finally SH50 & SH2 back to Palmy.

I got myself sorted pretty early and was ready to ride off to Mark's when I noticed that my right hand headlight bulb had gone.  With the bike parked out on the road I doubled back to the shed to grab some spare bulbs with the plan being to fit them at Mark's place.

Unfortunately when I got there I noticed I'd grabbed some old H7's that probably were in a Bandit at some stage - not very helpful.  So I ended up popping the blown bulb back in and fixing both bikes' tyre pressures before we hit the road.

From Palmy we made our way over to Feilding to gas up and then across to Fordell and the turn-off to Okoia which helps cut out a lot of 50km/h riding through Wanganui.  The Paras were once again in good nick - winter is coming so this may change at some stage - and we had a good run through to Raetihi with only one sheep and two cattle on the road to give us something to think about.

From Raetihi we cruised quietly up to National Park (may have seen a dodgy Triumph rider there) before turning off to take SH47 to Turangi.  The roads were fairly devoid of traffic and we had a nice run up and over the saddle before stopping for a few pics at the lookout.  Did I mention that it was a cracker of a day too!

Here we had a decision to make.  Mark was low on fuel and wasn't sure if he'd make it around the back of the lake and while taking this route would be a lot of fun it would also not put us back in Palmy until after 5pm.  So rather than ride into Turangi for fuel and then back out again to go around the lake we decided to head directly for Taupo for fuel and food.

In Taupo we gassed up and then had an enormous lunch at the Truck Stop prior to our assault on the Napier-Taupo road.

Leaving the diner it was noticeably cooler and  the weather was looking a little less friendly.  Sure enough, by the time we had crossed the boring plains and got into the more interesting bits we started getting the odd spit of rain and some wet roads.  Later on this turned to rain but luckily the road was still magnificent and we had a great run through to Te Pohue.

A bit further South we turned off onto Glengarry Road to take us directly (well, sort of) over to Fernhill rather than riding into Napier and then out through to Taradale.  This probably saved us quite a few kms but possibly not a lot of time as it is quite windy and we had to deal with plenty of loose metal on the road and rain at times.

From Fernhill we got onto SH50 for the run home and enjoyed more good riding along with the odd damp spell.  On the Takapau Plains we saw our first cops of the trip - there were two of them pulled over on a passing lane (nice) and I'm not really sure what they were getting up to...

With plenty of fuel still we simply carried on home via Dannevirke, Woodville and the gorge and got into Palmy at around 4pm after a nice enjoyable 600 odd km ride.  I love autumn riding...

Saturday, March 08, 2014

My TT Video

Ok, so I got a little inspired by some of the other TT videos that guys had made but wasn't really sure if I could make something neat with maps etc like Shannon's one.  I couldn't get Google Earth or maps to do what I wanted so I opened up Garmin Basecamp and discovered "Garmin Adventures".

Adventures let you import GPS tracks, pictures and videos and make them into a slideshow.  I was able to combine each days track and then the checkpoint pictures  with position data (I had to edit the location data on the pics as my camera was never on long enough for it to locate any satellites).

It's not quite perfect as some pictures are out of actual sequence due to me often riding past the one checkpoint without stopping on the way to another and then getting the first CP on the way back.  Also, if there were a number of CP's fairly close together you can see it display all the pics before going back to following the track.

To get the slideshow into a video format that I could then edit together I had to play it in Basecamp and then use a screen grabber to record it.  This worked not to bad except the transitions when pictures load are a bit jerky - maybe if my notebook had a bit more grunt they would be smoother...

Still, reasonably happy with attempt #1.

Friday, March 07, 2014

TT2000 Salute to Riders

Here's a little video that TT Boss Mike put together from rider (and his) photos and videos from the ride.  Great to see some of the other checkpoints - I now know what the Hamner checkpoint looks like...

Also, the last half is one rider's video heading out of Penzance.  What a great ride it is - BTW, it was getting dark as I rode out of Penzance.

Thanks Mike - when is the next one???

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

TT Movie Makers

Stumbled across a couple of YouTube videos made by a couple of the TT riders showing their photos and routes.  Both are quire neat and have given me some inspiration...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

TT2000 Write-up

Alrighty then, my (epic) TT write-up is done and apparently there badge on it's way so I'm a happy chappy.

If you are following Chiller Tek's Blog of his South Island adventure then you'll notice I rode a few of the same roads and there is also some video of some of the best of the roads like Arthurs Pass and Queen Charlotte Drive.

Anyway, try not to fall asleep!  Here it is:

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Getting in a gravel fix

Holiday nearly over and a new tyre on the V-Strom meant that I had to try to get in a gravel ride to finish the my time-off nicely.

Last night I poked around in Mapsource checking out a road that I had ridden past a few times and done the old "wonder where that goes" thing and low and behold it looked like it went somewhere rather than dead-ending.  Well, at least that's what Mapsource reckoned - for all I knew it could still be a paper road or an error in the mapping software - I am starting to have a few doubts about GPS maps...

Anyway, it was worth a crack so I created a route that also took in some other favourite roads and loaded it onto the Zumo.  This morning I got up early (6:30 on a Saturday!), walked the dog and was on the road by about 8:40.

As I was heading out of town towards the Pahiatua Track I decided to take in Tararua Road and then wondered if I could hit my first bit of gravel before 9am...Well, close enough, I was on the gravel at about nine and starting to get the feel of the new front tyre.

In Pahiatua I stopped to fill up the bike as I was disappearing into the wops for quite a while and knew I was going to need that fuel if I wanted to get back to civilisation without a walk.  I then looped over onto Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road and made for the Makuri Gorge.  I'd nearly forgotten that this road had been damaged enough to be closed after the earthquake but signs of road slumping and repairs were still evident as I made my way to the Pori Road turn-off.

Pori Road is always fun, it starts off sealed and climbs it's way up a hill before finally turning to gravel.  The gravel was actually in great nick and I had a great little ride to the usual picture taking spot.

Pori Road eventually peters out and deposits you on Route 52.  Here I turned towards Pongaroa but after about 20km made a turn towards the coast onto Waihoki Valley Road.  This bit was nice and fast gravel and ends at the intersection with Huia Road.

Huia Road is pretty much just more of the same - good gravel through nice farming country.  At the intersection where Huia Road becomes Waiowaka Road I took a sharp left up a hill onto Spur Road.  This bit of road is a bit tighter in places and can be a bit slippery in the winter but today it was in good nick and offered some great views for photo ops.

At another intersection Spur Road ends and you can go right on Sugar Loaf Road (a dead-end) or left onto Marainanga Road.  Naturally I took Marainanga Road which slowly opens out onto good fast gravel which was good practice for when I turned onto the magnificent Coast Road to Akitio.  Coast Road is just awesome!  It is a great bit of gravel and the big DL loves to stretch it's legs on it's way to the beach.

At the bottom of Coast Road is the small holiday spot of Akitio and here it was time for me to take a break and check out the beach.  Not a bad day for it...

Leaving Akitio on River Road I had a bit of tarmac riding to do before finally getting to try out that road I had spotted long ago.  Glenora and Esdaile Roads turned out to be well worth it - more nice fast gravel.  The DL loved it - can you tell?

Esdaile Road eventually took me to Route 52 where I turned right back towards the Coast again.  After quite a bit of tarmac and some roadworks the GPS let me down by taking me to a turn-off heading up a dead-end road.  I decided against going for a looksee and instead reversed my course and headed back towards Dannevirke.

But I still had another little gravel loop to make things interesting.  I turned off to take in another new road for me - Franklin Road.  This was a nice gravel road that took me through a pine plantation and onto the familiar Birch Road East and then Tahuokaretu Road on back onto 52 again.

After some more seal through to Weber I turned again to head through the Waitahora Valley.  Waitahora and Coonoor Roads took me on more good, fast gravel through to Makuri again where I had another stop for a munch and a drink.

By now I had done nearly 300km and been on the road for just over four hours so was feeling it a little (my backside still remembers the time it's spent on the Connie lately) and decided to just take the easy way home - tarmac all the way and the most direct route.

I got home a bit after 2:30 having had a blast and discovered a couple more new great gravel roads - I think tomorrow the bikes may get a rest...

More pics here.