Friday, August 29, 2014

BRR Taranaki Tunnel Tour Part Two

Sunday morning and I was up early (not - alarm issues) and racing around getting ready for the day.  It was a shame not to be able to see the kids playing soccer but hey, there was riding to be done.

On my way into Stratford I couldn't help but notice that a certain big hill was a bit more visible:

I wasn't the first to arrive in Stratford (actually I was nearly as late as Neil) so after gassing up I joined the gang and met some new BRR riders - including one keen Aucklander on his Duck (the first one of those we've had along).

A while later Neil turned up and we started getting ourselves sorted for the ride.  After the usual briefing we rode past the normal turn-off to the FH and instead took a trip around some of Stratford's back streets before finally getting onto the FH and heading out of town - it's all in the planning...

As you may have guessed from the title of the ride the idea of this ride was to visit as many of the tunnels in the Taranaki region as we could.  To this end Neil had a route loaded into his GPS which was going to take us all over the place on all sorts of roads in the search of these tunnels - what could possibly go wrong?

Well, first up we rode past a road sign that was giving directions to a tunnel...this meant that we had to turn around and go find tunnel number one.  As this was an out and back we even got to go through the tunnel twice.

After this tunnel we backtracked to the FH again and carried on towards Whangamomona.  Turning off to the South we hit our first bit of gravel on Mangaehu Road and while there were some rougher patches it was a nice little gravel intro for the day.  Neil liked it so much he had to stop so we could chat about it.

Author's note: from here on in I'm probably going to forget road names and where the various tunnels were etc so I'll just stick to the stuff I remember and try not to make stuff up...

Having taken a Southerly diversion we made our way back onto the FH near Strathmore before turning off for a Northerly diversion.  After turning off Mohakau Road onto Mangaoapapa Road we then ended up on Matau Road which pretty quickly turned into a very tight, narrow road that even included a tunnel!

At the Matau school we turned right onto Junction Road to again take us back to the FH.  This was a really neat bit of gravel which took us up a nice hill to a fairly decent sort of a view.

Next up was the great ride up over the Whangamomona Saddle and into Whanga for our early lunch stop.  Here we were also joined by Graeme (on his new baby), Colin W & Brian S who'd ridden up for Palmy to meet up with us for the afternoon leg.

After lunch we got stuck into more of the same riding with more loops off the FH, more new gravel and of course more tunnels.

We also ended up taking a fairly rough and narrow road (Kiwi Road) up through another tunnel and then out towards the coast.

It was on Kiwi Road that I think we had our two mishaps for the day.  One not too seriously resulting in a busted gear lever, the second Ted coming off his Tiger and complaining of a sore leg - more on that later...

The roads we were now riding were mostly gravel and generally in great nick and of the fast and flowing variety - just what the doctor ordered!  We also picked up another tunnel on our way out to SH3 and then headed South into Urenui for fuel.

I had thought that this was probably the end of the ride but it turned out that Neil had more back roads planned that would eventually take us back to Stratford.  The roads eventually became more and more windy and we even managed to pick up tunnel number nine to complete the set for the day.

Not long after the tunnel I ended up on corner-man duty and had to sprint after the guys.  As I was trying to catch them I started recognising roads and eventually I went past my sister's old house and then finally the farm again!  Right back where I'd started!

Not long after buzzing the farm we turned off onto a dodgy looking road which eventually turned to a farm track.  After going through one gate we stopped and turned around just in case we were heading for trouble with the farmer.  Interestingly, when I got home and looked at my GPS tracks look what I discovered:

The yellow line is my ride up on Saturday and shows where I stopped at the gate and turned around.  The red line is from Sunday...we were pretty close to finding the way right way out but chickened out!

Back on the tarmac again we found our way back into Stratford where we all split up to head of our own separate ways.  I rode home alone at a good cruise and although it was a bit chilly I enjoyed the ride and was home by 6:30pm.

Searching out the tunnels
On arriving home I got a text from Neil informing me that poor old Ted had actually broken his leg and was going to need surgery.  Tough guy that he was, he never realised until he got home - he credits his boots for helping hold him together...Not a great result for Ted but apparently he still enjoyed the ride...Hope he's up and at it again soon!

Oh, and here's all the tunnels bar one:

Where to next month?

More pics here

Thursday, August 28, 2014

BRR Taranaki Tunnel Tour Part One

Last weekend was our monthly BRR gravel ride but with it starting pretty early on Sunday morning in Stratford, I like a few others made the trip up to the 'naki on Saturday.  In my case I got to cadge a bed and a feed off my sister and catch up with my nephews and niece which was a bit of a bonus.

After depositing the dog at my folks place (where I'm sure he was helpful to Dad when they working on the bus) I raced home and swapped from the car to the mighty Vee and hit the road.  It wasn't too bad a day but from about Bulls there was a nasty little breeze to prevent the motorcyclist from getting too hot in their riding gear.  Also missing from the ride was the nice view of the mountain that I'd enjoyed a fortnight earlier.

On Friday night I'd decided that it would be cool to see if I could find a few back roads (preferably gravel) to take in on my way up and after a bit of poking around in Mapsource and on GoogleMaps I ended up with a route that I thought would offer up a change from the main roads.

Firstly I turned off to take my usual diversion around Hawera but then instead of popping out at Normanby I zig-zagged my way East of the main road and found a lot of new roads.  Most were all sealed but a lot of them were deliciously windy and there was one that even had "saddle" in it's name which of course means "fun".

In my route planning I discovered a lot of other roads tearing off into the wop-wops but didn't take any of them as they all seemed to peter out somewhere.  A couple will definitely be worth looking at in the future as there are lakes and rivers tucked away up there.

Unfortunately the only decent bit of gravel was on Wingrove Road and it wasn't a very long stretch.  It was quite fun though as it started off pretty open and fast before a small climb up over a hill surrounded by a forestry block.  Add in stock on the road and it felt like a mini-adventure...

Further on up the road I took in a small section of the start of the Forgotten Highway before turning off at Toko onto some more new roads taking me closer to the farm.  The roads got a fair bit skinner and a lot more windier - I was really hating it...

At Stanley Road I turned right as that's where my GPS said to go but couldn't help but notice the no exit sign.  I decided that as I was pretty close to my destination a little diversion was ok even if I did have to turn around and backtrack - besides, the GPS said I could get through...

The road eventually became gravel and a short time later I came to a gate.  More on this later, but I decided to be good and turned around.  I then (because I am the trusting type) decided to let the GPS find a new route up to the farm.  This involved more tight and windy roads (dagnabbit) but I eventually ended up in the right place right on time for lunch - mint!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Orbiting Onga

Mark's Bandit has been giving him a little grief lately in that it's decided that it's not too keen on starting.  It also has cut out on him once while on a ride.  But with some decent rides coming up soon he wants obviously to get the issues sorted.  After fitting a new battery and fiddling with this and that he was keen to give it a bit of a run to see if it was going to behave.  I tagged along just to keep an eye on things.

Apparently the Bandit was a little difficult to start at first but it wasn't too cranky when the go button was pushed before we left Mark's place.  We headed out of town and then turned off at Ashhurst to take in the Saddle.

The Saddle was in pretty bad condition.  There are some road works at on the Ashhurst side and this combined with the winter weather etc made for plenty of slippery stuff on the road so we didn't set any speed records riding over towards Woodville.

Off the Saddle we took the back roads to Dannevirke and then had a chat on the side of the road about where to next.  I was keen for a decent ride but while Mark wanted to give the Bandit a good run he didn't want to get to far away from civilisation just in case the bike played up.  It was getting close to lunch time so I suggested Ongaonga and off we went.

There was a bit of a breeze on the plains and up SH50 but otherwise the weather wasn't too bad at all.  The ranges looked great with a pretty generous amount of snow on them.  No pics unfortunately as I didn't take a decent camera with me and had to make do with my phone.  In Onga we parked up and ordered lunch at the cafe/store/gas station.

The tables in the cafe had glass tops and underneath the glass there were clippings from newspapers with articles on Ongonga and the local area.  One article mentioned that the building in the below picture sold recently for the outrageous sum of $1 to the local historical society.  It looks like it's been done up a bit but had some use over the years:

pic pinched from local school's website

After lunch we crossed over to Takapau and then made our way back to Dannevirke via Ormonville and stopped for fuel before continuing onto Oringi where we turned off again to take in some more back roads.  We eventually popped out on SH2 again at Magatainoka but turned off again at Pahiatua to take the track back into Palmy.

All the way the Bandit behaved itself perfectly and even started ok after our few stops.  Mark has still got some searching to do but hopefully the bike is feeling better after a nice little run.

View Ongaonga loop in a larger map

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Classic Bike Show

This weekend there was a classic bike show on here in Palmy and after getting the important stuff done for the weekend (go for a ride) I decided to check it out.  I was even nice enough to invite the old man.

There were heaps of bikes on display and plenty of people were there to check them out.  I took about 80 pictures but won't post them all here so if you want to check them all out click here.  Here's a few of the special ones:

Apparently this Douglas is very similar to one that my grandfather owned and there is a bit of a story about it.  He broke an ankle riding it and consequently didn't want his sons riding bikes and as well as forbidding them from getting bikes he never mentioned it until my Dad was about 16 or so and already had sneakily bought his own bike.  My two uncles also had bikes at various times too.

There were obviously a lot of bikes there that Dad recognised and some that he and his brothers had owned.  Dad had a little Jawa like the one below - apparently he swapped a go-cart for it...

I think this was the oldest bike that I saw:

There were some fantastic restorations.  This Indian really stood out:

And Dad really like this Douglas which was really neat alright.  No pots sticking out in the breeze like those crazy Beemers eh?

I also liked a lot of the original looking machines that showed they'd had a life:

And look!  A Harley I could own!

And a fantastic Henderson inline four:

There was also some newer Japanese classics:

Ridden one of these
Several Kwaka 2-smokes - Dad had a 500 at one stage

One owner from new!

I test rode one of these horrible V3 2-stroke Hondas.  Didn't like it, bought an RG instead.

There were also some special bikes own show:

The 'Plastic fantastic
McIntosh Suzuki
And the R&R boys had some of their toys on display:

Their Norton Racer
Desmo Norton motors - apparently the only ones in world...
And their Westlake drag bike - it can move!
There was even some instant classics - magnificent MV's:

100,000 Euros worth apparently...

And here's probably my favourite - a beautiful little 50cc Honda:

Be nice to be able to afford a few more toys...