Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BRR Akitio Adventure - the videos

I didn't take any video on Sunday so we have to make do with Neil's efforts again.

Complete with interesting pronunciation of Porangahau...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BRR Akitio Adventure

Sunday was our monthly BRR ride (let's just forget that wee practice the weekend before) and Neil had managed to order in some fairly decent weather - it was quite cold but the rain pretty much stayed away the whole day.

The plan was to meet up with most of the group in Ashhurst before riding onto Dannevirke to fuel up and pick up some more Hawkes Bay based riders.  I was on the road just after 8 and with grips on I took a slightly different route to Ashhurst which offered up the first interesting event of the day.

Riding along Ashhurst road I was forced to stop at an accident site that the fire brigade were still cleaning up (hosing the road off).  No sign of an ambulance so I hope there weren't any nasty injuries - although I did see one very second hand looking Ford Lazer that definitely had driven it's last mile.

I wasn't the first into Ashhurst but pretty close to it and soon we were all assembled awaiting our leader - all 24 of us!

I have a sneaking feeling that the cafe owner may have wished he'd opened earlier as he was only opening up as we were getting ready to set off...

From Ashhurst Neil led us through the gorge before taking us on the scenic route through Jacksons to Oringi and finally up the main road to Dannevirke.  There we gassed up, met the other guys (taking our numbers to 28!) and had our ride briefing.

Our first bit of gravel was on Maunga Road and this spread the group out a bit as faster guys snuck away from the more sensible ones.

Onboard shot of the day
Along here I also witnessed my next bit of excitement when a DR pilot who shall remain nameless (hint: starts with R and rhymes with Boss) decided to run wide into a left hander.  He then ran a little bit wider and then a bit more until he finally ran out of wideness to use up and bailed off as his bike took a little trip over the bank, flipped over and landed with it's wheels facing uphill and the bars downhill.

Luckily it was a slow speed mishap and DR's are made fairly tough.  We soon had the bike up the right way and back up the bank - glad it was a lightweight 400 and not a thou...

We met up with rest of the crew at the end of Maunga Road for a bit of a regroup and it must be said - just a wee laugh...

An example of a DR parked in the more traditional manner
Next up was Te Uri Road which alternated between seal and gravel to Mangaorapa and finally onto Porangahau for our lunch stop.

We did get the odd little spit through here and some of the sealed roads were a bit slippery (I had a good step out on one turn-off).  Some of the gravel sections also had the odd slippery spot and quite a few guys mentioned that it was a little tricky to tell what was slippery and what wasn't - all adds to the fun though eh?

In Porangahau our horde totally swamped the pub and it probably took them twenty minutes just to take our orders!  I'm pretty sure they weren't really expecting a big bunch like us all turning up at once and expecting a feed!

After a lengthy lunch stop (but we all got fed!) we were off again and headed South on Route 52 to Wimbledon.

West of Wimbledon we turned off onto Esdaile Road.  I'd done this only once before (and in the opposite direction) but really like it as it's fairly open and quick.  This time around though there were roadworks and the road had recently had more metal put on it and been graded so there was little bit of surfing to be done in places.

Unfortunately we somehow lost our TEC and a few others somewhere on Route 52 and the first I knew of this was when I was waiting at the corner of Coast Road in Akitio.  I waited for a long time and was eventually joined by another of the corner-men who had also waited for a long time and even gone back to look for them to no avail.

We carried on up Coast Road and caught the rest of the guys waiting for us where Neil told us to carry on and doubled back to finally hook up with the lost sheep who had missed the Esdaile Road corner and gone the long way around to Akitio.

Apparently while the others were waiting on Coast Road they also had some excitement of their own when a car drove into the ditch near them (it was avoiding a ute coming the other way).  The crew soon had the car out of the ditch on it's way though.

Coast Road was fabulous as usual even if it too had possibly had a grader over it recently - more fast, fun gravel.  We then turned off onto Marainanga Road and then Spur Road.  On Spur Road we had some more excitement with two horses out on the Road.  One of them had a bit of sense and got well out of the way of us but the other one must have liked a race as it ran ahead of us for quite a while until we hit the next turn-off at Huia Road.

Huia Road and then Waihoki Valley Road's were more great gravel that eventually got us back out onto Route 52 again.  We then stopped at the Tiraumea Hall for a another regroup and to farewell some riders who needed to skedaddle for home.  The rest of us (probably still about 20) then made for the highlight of the day Puketoi Road.

Puketoi Road is a paper road and can sometimes be in decidedly dodgy condition.  The very first time I rode it, it was a slippery mud hole filled road that claimed several bikes and was a real adventure to get through.

This time around it wasn't too bad although there was still the odd greasy patch and yes, it caught out a few of us - luckily I pottered through ok and kept things upright.  None of the other incidents were serious at all but a couple of the bikes (and some riders' gear) looked like they'd got their adventure.

Puketoi Road dumped us onto Pori Road which we took to Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road and back onto the seal for the rest of the ride into Pahiatua.  In Pahiatua we refuelled and then everyone took off in various directions for the ride home.  Neil tucked in behind me and we had a little play on the Pahiatua Track before he then went one way and I the other at the bottom.  One more great BRR ride in the bag!

More pics here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday afternoon pootle

This afternoon it was the Connie's turn for a bit of an outing - all be it, not much of a leg stretch for her.

The weather was pretty good with little wind and a fairly mild temperature and I geared up and rode over to Feilding to see if I could encourage a BMW rider to join me.  No dice, so I carried on without him and started off out of Feilding.

Naturally I had the GoPro with me and naturally it decided to play up on me - I had intended to snap pics throughout the ride but only ended up with four shots from the very start of the ride.  So here you go, a little piece of Fielding:

I hope you liked it, that's it for the rest of the post...

My little jaunt took me on out to Kimbolton where I then turned off to make for Apiti.  The road was in pretty good condition considering that we are in the middle of winter.  Usually there is crap all over the road in places and sometimes there is even grit laid on the road where ice can be a problem.  I only had to avoid the odd patch where farmers' tractors had flung mud off their tyres onto the road and some minor road works where slips had occurred.

The weather also stayed pretty nice and I got some nice views (but no pics) of the snow on the ranges.  As I was getting closer to Ashhurst I did end up in a small, light shower but it was pretty much over before it came to anything significant.  The road however was fairly wet all the way into Ashhurst so I must have just missed quite a dumping.

I arrived back in Palmy right on school finishing time so there was traffic all over the place and some really bad driving too.  I had one one pull out of a park and have a good go at me.  Luckily I was awake and managed to avoid her while giving her plenty of abuse via my Stebel...

After this little bit of excitement I managed to get home without getting in anymore scrapes and put my baby to bed.  Not the most exciting ride but it killed an hour and a half or so and brought up 106,000km on the odo.  And yep, I'm still looking forward to the next 100,000km!

Dang, having to resort to stealing pics off the net...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Searching for snow

It really sucks having the week off.  So far I've spent far too much money - some on stuff I need and some on stuff I could have done without.  Today's purchase was new Adventure jacket and pants.  For a while I've made do with old road riding gear but it's getting a bit past it and definitely not keeping me as warm and dry as I'd like.

With the gear bought it seemed only right that I give it a decent test.  The weather was pretty average so I thought what better way to find out if it's any good?  I also had in the back of my mind that I'd like to go get some pictures of the V-strom in the snow and with the Napier-Taihape road closed due to snow then I figured that might be a good place to start looking for the white stuff.

I didn't get away from home until about 12:30 so I knew before I left that I couldn't muck around and was probably going to get home pretty late.  Leaving home I made my way over to Fielding where I fuelled the bike and then made for Vinegar Hill.  The road over the hill was a bit damp but there was little traffic and I had a nice little ride through to SH1.

When I hit Mangaweka the gear testing began in earnest as I caught up with the weather and was soon sloshing around in fairly wet conditions.  The old heated grips went up another notch too.  I turned off the main road and rode through towards Gravity Canyon but at Taoroa Junction I turned left to start to make my way North again.

At the next intersection I was pretty sure that I wanted to go right and did so but almost immediately wondered if I had got it right.  This was only the second time I'd ridden Pukeokahu Road in this direction (the first being quite some time ago) and I thought I recognised some areas but not others...

The gravel wasn't too bad going although the rain made visibility a bit of an issue so I didn't push it.  As I climbed higher up into the valley I started seeing my first signs of snow and ice on the side of the road and in paddocks so at least one part of mission was looking good.

Eventually I popped out exactly where I wanted to be on Pukeokahu so I had managed to navigate myself to where I wanted to be after all.  Riding up past the school I saw my first sign saying that the Napier-Taihape road was closed.  Naturally I carried on and was soon onto the gravel again.

By now I was on Matawhero Road and heading into the Rangitikei Valley.  This is the area where Neil and I had so much fun on the "Taming the Tiger" ride.  Today was a little different as visibility wasn't the best with rain on both sides of the visor and some foggy patches too.  It was still a lot of fun and soon I was in areas where there was quite a bit of snow which made for a nice view.

The rest of the ride up to the Taihape road was just as good and when the rain stopped it was even better.  The closer I got to the top of the hill the more snow there was but the roads were still fine and I was still nice and warm so all was good in the world.

Google+ auto awesome at work...
Photos taken it was time to turn around and retrace my steps - I decided to stick to the gravel rather than riding back on the sealed Napier-Taihape just in case the road was icy.  I also had a lot of fun coming back and it didn't seem to take me too long to get back to Pukeokahu.

By now it was getting on a bit and my gloves were pretty wet so I decided to take the sealed route back into Taihape - no issues with ice on this bit as it was raining again...

Rather than stop in Taihape for a hot drink like a normal person would, I decided to put the peddle to the metal and hot foot it for home.  It was fairly wet all the way through to Ohingaiti where it finally cleared up.  Once again Vinegar Hill was damp but fun and a flashing fuel warning had me duck into the same Feilding petrol station again before the final 20km home.

I got in just after 5pm which wasn't too bad considering a decent ride of about 300km including a lot if gravel - in fact the GPS reckons I averaged 70km/h so I'm very happy with that!  It was nice to get out of my gear and get the fire going though...

Monday, July 21, 2014

BRR Training Ride

Sunday's BRR excursion was intended to be a bit of training day for riders newer to the fun of adventure riding but in the end we really only had one noob join us - Natasha was on her partner's DR650 and this was to be her second ride on it...

After a couple of showers earlier in the morning I made my way on damp roads towards Wanganui.  By the time I got to Bulls the roads were pretty much dry and I ended up arriving at the meeting place at Parnell's cafe just a minute or two behind Neil and Ted who had ridden down from National Park and been unlucky enough to ride through a few showers.  Colin W even made a brief appearance to collect a set of trousers off Neil - I didn't ask any questions...

Heading inside we found that most of the others were already there sampling some of the Cafe's wares.  We quickly got ourselves a coffee and sat down to spend a bit of time yabbering about our usual favorite topic - you know, porcelain of the Ming Dynasty...

As our ride was intended as a training ride Neil had planned a small loop of about 90km so that we could take our time and help out the so called noobs.

View 20-07-14 BRR Training Ride in a larger map

With only one rider really needing some tutelage from Neil he got me to lead the others around the loop so he could take things a bit more quietly with Natasha while we had some fun.  Colin L volunteered to the TEC for our group and with that we hit the road.

Pootling quietly across town we got onto Papaiti Road which starts off sealed before narrowing up and turning into gravel.  Cruising along here we came across a small herd (are they are herd when they're out on the road unsupervised?) of cows heading into town for lunch but aside from escaping from their pasture they were pretty well behaved and kept to their side of the road as we rode past.

Papaiti Road eventually turns into Kauarapaoa Road and this is where it becomes a lot of fun.  The surface was really good and the corners not too tight so a reasonable pace could be kept up.  But rather than getting too carried away I thought we'd better have a wee stop for a catch-up to make sure that everyone was still with us.

Colin L enjoying his role as TEC.
From this point the road starts narrowing up somewhat and even has grass growing in the centre of the road as you start to climb up the hill.  The surface was pretty good - it was hard and dry with just enough gravel to catch you out occasionally or to get the rear end slithering.  Absolutely no fun at all I tell ya...

While having a breather (above) a local family turned up on a quad - Dad, Mum and two little kids - with one of the four legged locals (a goat) draped across the front of the bike.  They were obviously having there own wee adventure on a nice Sunday morning and we had a bit of a chat before they carried on up the road.

The last little bit of Kauarapaoa Road up to the top of the hill was just as good as the rest of it and it spat us out onto Rangitatau East Road where we stopped to wait for Neil and Natasha.

Hmmm, that doesn't look that nice...
We sort of stood around for a while (talking porcelain again I think) and kicked around the idea of exploring deeper up Rangitatau East Road or just plain deserting the others and finding some lunch but then someone showed up...

The teacher but where's the pupil...
Apparently someone couldn't resist having a wee squirt up a certain hill...

And of course just because Neil had deserted her, Natasha had a wee drop when turning onto Rangitatau East Road.  No harm done though and when she pulled up she was smiling so she mustn't have been having too bad a day.

Now we just had to cruise back to the main road and make our way back into Wanganui for a late lunch.  Some of the first bits of Rangitatau East Road had quite a bit of coarse gravel on them so there was some surfing around to be done until we got onto the smoother sections.

By the time we got onto the smoother stuff it had started to rain and while the road looked slippery it was actually pretty good and I had quite a bit of fun on the faster, more open sections.  Another quick regroup (when the rain stopped for a minute) and then I led the guys back into town via a sealed back road (Brunswick Road).

Back in town we finally got that late lunch and then everyone drifted off to make there own way home in rain.  For me I enjoyed the (especially after donning my rainsuit) the ride in the rain but still was not that disappointed when it fined up for the rest of my ride home just out of Bulls.

A nice little warm-up for next weekend's monthly BRR ride!

More pics here.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Out for lunch

Today Neil got in touch and said that he and a Harley riding mate were coming down to Wanganui for lunch and wondered if I would like to pop over and meet them at a cafe.  I had planned on taking the Connie out for a pootle but got delayed by washing machine issues (it wouldn't go until I started pulling it to pieces and scared it back into action) so my other plans kinda just weren't going to work.  However, a short squirt over to Wanganui would probably fit into my day quite nicely...

Washing machine subdued, I geared up and started on my way over to Wanganui.  As soon as I got going a bit I noticed that I possibly didn't have quite enough fuel to make Wanganui so I rode on into Marton and fueled up.  I then decided that I had plenty of time up my sleeve so I rode North out of Marton and then turned off to take Makuhou Road over to Turakina Valley Road (there's that familiar road again).

Makuhou Road was fairly damp and slippery (and had the odd bit of metal on it) at the Marton end but I was surprised to see that they have been widening the road and resealing it at the other end.  The short bit of Turakina Valley road was also damp in places but is all seal out to the main road at Turakina.  From there I just cruised on into Wanganui and pulled into the cafe to find Colin already there about to tuck into his lunch.  I wandered off to order mine and then parked up to await a Triumph and a Harley.

Neil soon rocked up with Malcolm and his wife Judy with him and they joined us for lunch before they headed North again via the Paraparas.  I managed to convince Colin that a ride through to Hunterville and then over Vinegar Hill was the sensible way to get home so off we went.

Another crappy winter's day...

I'm gonna get me one of them when I grow up!

Mangatipona and Mangahoe roads were a lot of fun with the odd slippery bit and even quite a long section of gravel where they are doing some road works.  I half expected Colin to come a power-sliding past me on his Wee but then I remembered that he hasn't put E-07's on it yet...and of course, he was on a Wee, not a 280kg, 155hp adventure Concours...

After dodging a couple of hawks and the little bit of rabbit that one of them dropped we found ourselves in Hunterville where we turned North for a few km before turning off onto Vinegar Hill.

I got stuck behind a couple of cars for a while but once I nipped past them I had a good run up the hill to the lookout where I pulled in to see what sort of a view the day had to offer.

There's a mountain out there somewhere...
There it be!
Shocking weather!

From the lookout we cruised on into Feilding where I turned off to go and cadge a cup of coffee off the old's and Colin carried on to continue his adventure.

A few more pics here.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Another BRR video

This one is from Neville (another dodgy Triumph rider) and it's got some interesting editing in it - it even features a snippet from our ride briefing...

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

BRR Traversing the Turakina Valley

Sunday was our monthly Back Road Riders outing and man was it worth waiting for the last weekend of the month!

The weather was perhaps not quite as good as Saturday's (which was near perfect) but definitely not something worth complaining about considering we are supposed to be in the middle of winter.  I was up early for some stupid reason and so left home pretty early and ended up stopping by the old's place and persuading Dad to pop over to Marton (where we were meeting) for a quick pootle to check out some Adv hardware and the mad bunch that ride it.

When we arrived in Marton there was already a bunch of guys there gassing up and by the time Neil was ready to give us his serious ride briefing there were a staggering 24 riders (lots of new faces) and bikes!

Spot the odd one out

the law being laid down
By 9:30 the lecture had been given and we mounted up for the first leg up to Taihape.

A Remus advertisement - where's my royalties?
As you can see from the above I had mounted the GoPro in a nice position to snap shots of people tagging along behind the mighty Vee.  Unfortunately, GoPro weirdness meant I got a fraction of the pics I had planned...

Nice day though!
After five minutes or so of tarmac we hit our first bit of gravel which took us over to Turakina Valley Road.

To say that Turakina Valley Road was in good nick is an understatement.  It was superb riding and at our first stop we found out that even our less experienced riders were coping really well and having a ball.

After a short break we were soon back into it and discovered that there was nothing wrong with the next section of gravel either.  Another short stop allowed us discuss this and other important adventure riding related topics (there is another name for this) - no need for details here.

After this important delay we carried on up Turakina Valley Road eventually hitting tarmac and then turning towards SH1 on Ruanui Road.  This was sealed as well although in places there was plenty slippery stuff that had been left behind by farmers moving stock on the road.  Some of this stuff proved too inviting to a DR and it decided to lie down and roll around in it (I've seen dogs do this too).  Luckily both the DR and rider got over this little problem and were soon on their way again.

We then turned North on SH1 for a couple of minutes and the GoPro managed to catch a pic of this very important sign:

Our next piece of fast gravel was Paengaroa Road which got us onto a section of the Napier-Taihape road for a while before we turned off yet again to find some more gravel on Moawhango Valley Road.  These diversions took us on a little loop which eventually led us into Taihape for our lunch stop where 24 hungry bikers made the cafe's day...

After lunch and fuel for some of the bikes we rode North out of Taihape for a couple of km before turning onto a fairly familiar Pukenaua Road.  We've done this a number of times and it takes you up a really next climb (see video) and after a turn onto Ridge Road down to a little settlement at Mataroa.  Ridge Road was in better nick than last time (less deep gravel) but it still caught out a sleepy Triumph...

A few windy sealed roads found us on Pohonui Road and some more lovely gravel.  It was that much fun we had to stop to chat about it.

Unluckily Pohonui Road eventually comes to end, but luckily the end is Turakina Valley Road so we were forced to retrace our steps a little on what is becoming one of our favourite roads.  A short section of Turakina Valley road got us to our next turn-off onto Ongo Road.  The video below shows snippets from all three of these great bits of gravel.

Ongo Road eventually turns into tarmac and we had a reasonably spirited ride (watch out for the bull on the road) ride into Hunterville where it was time for coffee and to end a great day's gravel exploration.

Anti-social KTM riders

A rose between two thorns...
After our coffees and the usual low-key debrief riders started disappearing off in different directions to find their way home.  I opted to take in Vinegar Hill and had it pretty much to myself.  After a quick stop for fuel (not sure why but I seemed to use a bit of fuel on this ride) in Feilding I got home just before 4:30 after another superb BRR ride!  A month is a long time to wait...

More pics here.