Saturday, August 09, 2014

A Frosty Forgotten Highway

The Connie seems to have been neglected a little lately and I've been dying to get her out for a decent bit of exercise.  Today was the day and after a decent overnight frost the day didn't look too bad as I geared up (plenty of warm layers) and made my way out of town.

It was still not even 7:30 when I left so as I rode over towards Wanganui it was nice to have the sun climbing higher in the sky out off to my right - it helped me think warm thoughts as I upped the temperature on my heated grips.  Yep, it was reasonably chilly.

Riding through Bulls the big road information sign informed me that the Desert Road was closed and while this wasn't a concern for me it did make me wonder about my planned route and the times I was going to hit other roads - I didn't want to find another road closed by snow if I hit it later in the day.  I carried on anyway and mulled over a few potential changes to my route.

Nearing Wanganui the roads were damper rather than frosty so my concerns about ice in the shaded spots decreased and I just got on with enjoying the ride.  Carrying on up SH3 it was pretty much more of the same and even though it was chilly, the day was starting to shape up quite nicely.  There was a bit of breeze coming off the sea which was giving me a left leg that felt colder than the right but I'm darned if I know why my right foot was colder than the left...

Just out of Kakakaramea I decided that I probably wasn't going to get a better photo of the mountain than what I could see before me so I pulled over to snap a pic or two.

My Fuji's stunt double
While I was standing around getting cold I decided to call Neil and see how things were over his side of the hill.  I was intending to cruise past there on my way home but wanted to make sure that the road was gonna be ok.  He informed me that it was a barmy 1 degree in National Park and that I'd have no problems with the road.  While chatting though I did decide to alter my route so that I would be riding through National Park/Ohakune/Waiouru ete a lot earlier just to be on the safe side.  This did mean that the Connie was not going to get quite as much exercise but I wasn't too worried about that and was already thinking of the warm fire...

In Stratford I stopped to fuel up before taking my detour across the Forgotten Highway - I only put in 12 litres so possibly would have made it across but better to be safe than pushing a 280kg bike...

Getting into the FH the roads were fairly wet and slippery in places and heading over the tight windy saddles I definitely took it easy - especially in the shady and frosty corners.  I did have a couple of little squiggles in the wet so slow and smooth stayed the order of the day.

I told ya it was frosty!
Engine and more importantly hot grips running
The Whangamomona Saddle was fairly wet and there were a number of small slips on it along with plenty of evidence of previous slips - more slippery stuff to steer clear of.

I didn't end up stopping in the Republic of Whangamomona, instead continuing onwards thinking of a hot meal further down the road.  The roads actually got a bit better with some decent dry stretches and not too much rubbish across the road.  Occasionally though there was stock on the road including two sheep who were waiting patiently outside a woolshed, perhaps waiting for a Saturday morning hair-cut...

It was nice on top of the Tahora Saddle too:

The gravel section of the road is normally in really good condition and easily ridden on a 1,400cc adventure bike and while this was mostly the case today, there was the odd corner were it was a bit wet and mushy causing the bike to slide into wheel tracks and give me something to concentrate on.  Other parts were great and I even hit the speed limit a few times...

Eventually I started to run out of Forgotten Highway and found myself in Taumarunui just before lunchtime.  Rather than stop there I rode through a brief scud of rain and onto Owhango where it was time for a late brekky.

Lunch eaten I carried on South to National Park where I hit all the traffic that wasn't able to take the Desert Road and also some weather.  It got a bit damp for a while and there may even (if I use my imagination a little) have been a bit of sleet for a couple of minutes.  Luckily it wasn't that cold and the grips were still working.

Carrying onto Ohakune and Waiouru there was snow on the ground on the side of the road and it was down fairly low on the nearby hills but the weather remained ok all the way down to Taihape where I stopped to give the Connie another drink.  From there it was just another 30km before I could turn-off for a play on a dry Vinegar Hill and the final cruise home.  I got in around 3pm and even had time to mow the lawns before lighting that fire and sitting down with a warm cup of coffee.  Not quite the ride I had planned but a thoroughly enjoyable 590km all the same.

More pics here.


  1. Sounds like a pretty good day out despite the cold. Those pics of the frost on the side of the road almost made me shiver. I'm glad I'm not a fencer in NZ, wooh what a job that would be putting up fences across those hills.

    590kms in the saddle and still time to mow the lawn, mate after that many km's on the R1 and I'm ready for beers not mowing.
    Again nice pics.

    1. 590kms on the Connie and you're just getting warmed up man. You oughta try something with a seat one day ;)

    2. Lol ahh that's what the problem is, I have a wooden plank.

    3. Just as I suspected...

  2. Spectacular scenery ... the snow capped mountain seemed to be hiding in the clouds, but it sounded too chilly for my liking.

    1. A little chilly but hot grips work wonders. You might have noticed I had my screen right up too.

  3. I didn't know that NZ had mountains like that (Fuji stand in). You've been hiding them in the clouds...

    1. The Land of the Long White Cloud Richard.

  4. Beautiful views with sunny skies. Sounds a little too chilly for me, but you have a windscreen and fairing - good thing.

    Thanks for sharing the pics.

    1. Yeah that screen & fairing make a huge difference...I think I need electric socks though...

      The guy that invented hot grips needs a nobel prize!