Neil recently got his speedy registered again and yesterday fitted a new front tyre to it and was using this as an excuse to persuade me to go on a mission to check out Ted and his banged up leg (or perhaps that was just the excuse for a ride?). I ummed and arrded for a bit yesterday but eventually put a bit of air in the tyres and got ready just in case I decided to tag along.
I set my alarm for 6am so naturally was up having brekkie by 5:30 and on the road at about 6:30. Heading out of town under overcast skies the roads were wet but the rain stayed away as I made my way over Vinegar Hill. I had one little scare when a truck came around the corner with a small shed hanging off it. Definitely a wide-load and I was glad I was on a bike not in the car - he seriously should have had a pilot vehicle in front.
Just North of Mangaweka I rode into a light rain and it also got a bit chillier. I only had my thin gloves on and by the time I was in Taihape the rain had got a little bit more serious and my hands were getting a tad damp. The weather in Waiouru was no better and as I made my way across to Ohakune the visibility also became a lot worse - the clouds were sticking pretty close to the ground for some reason.
I rolled up at Neil's bang on 8:30 and after a bit of fluffing around he was geared up and ready to lead the way to Taumarunui for a quick fuel stop. The ride through 8 mile was fairly wet but still a lot of fun. It's a great bit of road but obviously had got the better of someone - as we dropped down a hill we couldn't help but noticing that a corolla had gone through a fence and was perched on top of a grassy hill. They were quite lucky and must have scrubbed off a bit of speed prior to their off - any faster and they would have disappeared over the side of the hill and ended up down in a gully. A cop was on the scene but must not have had much in the way of emergency signs etc as he had put out his "breathalyzer check point" sign. We ignored it and carried on our merry (if damp) way.
A few more miles up the road got us into Piopio where it was time to stop to feed Neil's worms and grab a hot drink. I even managed to force down a piece of bacon and egg pie.
From Piopio Neil led us off out the western side of the main road on some great back roads. I'd done a number of these on a Grand Challenge years ago but he still managed to find some that I hadn't done. By now it had stopped raining but the roads were still wet and the surface a little dodgy in places but otherwise the roads were magic - plenty of nice curves to get the sides of the tyres working.
I've got no real idea how we got from Pirongia to Hamilton - Neil had us turning left and right all over the place and I wouldn't really have been surprised to end up in Invercargill, but no, we actually did find Hamilton and soon were checking out the cast on Ted's hoof.
Ted seemed in pretty good spirits and even showed us the fancy farkle on his Tiger which enables him to carry his crutches...don't tell his missus!
Having sufficiently wound-up Ted we split at about 2ish for the return trip. Rather than take the same route back we made our way down SH1 (yuck) to Karipiro where we fuelled up again for the next leg. One highlight was seeing 4 gorgeous Lamborghini's go past heading North - unfortunately they were being well behaved so we didn't get to see or hear them being driven as intended.
At Lichfield we turned off and hooked up with Old Taupo Road for a nice squirt on mostly dry roads to Whakamaru and then onto Turangi. Here I tooted to Neil as he went in search of worm tucker and I carried on towards the Desert Road.
On the ride down through the Desert Road (and the rest of the way home) the roads were wet but the rain behaved itself and fell somewhere else which was nice. In Taihape I stopped for some juice before the last little squirt down SH1 and back over Vinegar Hill. A nice Ferrari went past the other way and this time I actually did hear it's lovely little V8 growl - reminder: check lotto ticket...
By the time I hit Vinegar Hill it was starting to get a little dark and it was a bit difficult to tell which corners were wet and slippery so I took it fairly quietly. I rolled up the drive at about 6:40 after a fun little jaunt of about 850km. One of the better ways to spend a Sunday!