Sunday, October 26, 2014

North Range Road

Ok, so there was a bit of a spoiler in yesterday's post but now for the story...

With a new rear fitted to the Vee and a nice day it seemed only right to get out and give it a whirl.  I didn't really have any fixed plans but wanted to go and search for some gravel.  Originally I was going to have a play around Eketahuna and Pahiatua but didn't want to be gone all afternoon.  As I was riding up the track another brilliant idea leapt into my mind - North Range Road!

North Range Road is a great wee ride offering some fantastic views but it is fairly rough in places and when wet there is plenty of water to wade through - and it appears that we must have had quite a bit of rain while I was away on the Four Points...

The first gravel climb was nice, I took it easy, getting familiar with riding on gravel after 5,000kms of sealed riding and a long time between BRR Adv rides.  Off the gravel and onto the dirt everything was going well until the first big puddle.

My approach to these (if I can't avoid them) is to try to ride in the wheel tracks of other vehicles - the water may be deeper but the bottom is usually smoother and not as soft as it might be either side of the wheel track.  I reckon I must have either not quite be in the track and slipped into it or was in it but hit a rock of the side of the track when I had my involuntary dismount.

Luckily I didn't land in the puddle or under the bike but I did have to somehow get the bike upright and check her out.  220 odd kg of bike take some lifting when you're standing in a slippery puddle with water over the top of your boots...

Anyway, I got her right side up and pushed it out of the puddle a bit before firing her back up.  She started up straight away and everything appeared ok so I carried on.  In the other videos you'll notice that this puddle was just the first of quite a few and that some of them were real doseys!  I reckon the deepest one was nearly up to the top of the bike's crash bars...I was fairly careful when I attacked each puddle small lake...

Still, even after my dunking, I was enjoying the ride and as I said earlier there are some great views looking back down towards Palmy.

Perhaps not quite half-way through the track changes to a very good gravel road - it used to be a muddy bog for a lot longer but was upgraded as the wind farm expanded - and progress gets a lot easier.  More great views out over both sides of the ranges:

After dropping down the hill into Ballance I headed home via the Gorge and Mark's place so that he could get a few pics of me and the bike after the splash.

Now to dry out my boots...

Here's a video playlist with most of the video from the ride, some great views if you want to wade through it all...

And a few more pics here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Amateur hour(s) in the shed

Yesterday I showed the Connie some love by giving her a bath and then changing the oil & filter and the oil in the final drive.  That stuff is easy and as usual I had no issues.  Today I took on something new...

The rear E-07 on the V-Strom has been stuffed for a while and as I'd picked up a replacement the other week I decided to see if I could fit the new one myself instead of paying someone to do it.  I knew it wasn't going to be that easy doing a tubeless tyre with my zero skill and limited tools (I had to borrow a couple of extra levers and a rubber hammer from the old man) but hey, I had the whole afternoon...

After whipping the wheel off and pulling the valve (well, that bit was easy) it was time for the hard bit - breaking the bead.  I had a short and feeble mess around with levers and soapy water and got nowhere so it was time to consult the interweb.

This video showed how to do it with a bit of extra leverage, while this one reckoned you could just use ya spoons and a bit of patience to get the job done.  I started with just trying to use the spoons but found I was getting nowhere so went in search of some "stuff" I could use to copy the procedure in the first video.

Unfortunately I don't have four arms (although I could have used them) so there's no pictures or video of the operation but yes it involved the Subaru and a couple of bits of wood...

I sweated and struggled and got rained on but in the end I finally broke the bead on one side and then the other.  Then it was time for the spoons and I actually had the tyre off pretty quickly.

Then it was time to fit the new one.

Getting the first side of the tyre on over the rim wasn't too hard with the use of soapy water and a big heavy dude standing on the tyre.  Getting half of the other side on was ok too but getting the last of it on was a bit of a wrestle with the spoons and rubber hammer having to come into play.  But we got there in the end!


Five minutes later the wheel was back on and the Vee ready to roll again.

Oh, and if I'd paid myself at the same rate I paid the shop last time to so this then I would have made nearly $10 an hour...

Tyre fitted it was time for another job on the Connie - change the air filter.  This is the second time I've done it myself so it wasn't too much of a big deal and I just tore into it.  She has to shed some clothes and some other spag needs to get moved aside but it's a pretty straight forward job - it just takes a bit of time.

Anyway, regardless of the time it took and the frustration with the tyre it was a neat way to spend some time in the shed and give the bikes a little bit of TLC.

Must be time to hit the road again...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Four Points Slideshow

Back home after a great 5 days on the Connie.  A proper write-up is to come but in the meantime here are the pics:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Four Points Day Three

Day three started with waking up to the sound of rain on the roof which wasn’t exactly what we were after but there was nothing for it but to get out of bed and onto the road again.

Leaving Pahia we came across a fallen tree that the firies were trying to get off the road and three cows who must have floated out of their paddock and onto the road.  Luckily we avoided these obstacles and even finally rode out of the rain just South of Kawakawa.
Our first stop was just out of Whangarei where we fuelled up and discussed breakfast.  The plan was to ride onto Auckland and hunt down a café.  In the end though, we carried on down the motorway before turning off and taking some back roads through to Clevedon where we ended up having brunch instead of breakfast.
Next up was the nice ride to Miranda and instead of riding the Coromandel Loop we made for Paeroa and Waihi where it was time for more fuel.  Leaving Waihi the roads got a lot busier so we just cruised into Tauranga and around Welcome Bay.
Just North of Matata we were most excited to catch up with the rain again but unfortunately we didn’t carry on in it too much as we were soon at Whakatane where we are parked up again for the night.

Next up tomorrow is the mighty East Cape...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Four Points update

From the wet North...

Today is our second day on the road as we take on the Manawatu Ulysses Four Points again.  Yesterday we picked up our first card in Rahoutu after being blown around on our way up the Naki.  From there we made our slow (traffic) up to Te Kuiti and weather stayed pretty good apart from a few little spits here and there.
North of Pirongia we had some excitement when the same map in 2 different GPS units sent me one way and Mark another.  We eventually hooked up again before heading through to Glen Murray and it was through here that we started getting the odd shower and stopped to change our visors.
The worst bit of the ride was when we hit Auckland during rush hour.  The GPS units again split us up and we both spent a lot of time getting lost, hot and angry.  We did eventually reach our final destination of Helensville around 6:30 and went in search of a motel and food.
This morning we had a great ride on mostly dry roads to Wellsford where we stopped for a nice cooked breakfast.  While we were inhaling bacon the rain caught up with us and as I write this in Pahia it is parked up with us at our motel.

Regardless of the weather we still had a good ride through to Dargaville and up through the Waipoua Forest to Rawene where we road straight onto the ferry for the short crossing.  Then it was more wet twisties through to Ahipara and Kaitaia where we got fuel and decided to skip going right out to the Cape.  Instead we just rode to Houhora and picked up our second card, turned around and made a dash for the Bay of Islands.

Checking the weather forecast for tomorrow and hoping for better in the morning...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Coming home

After a short but solid night's sleep following my long day (and night) of riding I had to find my way back home.  Luckily I had two mates (Neil and Colin) to help prevent me from getting lost - they did however lead me astray and persuade me that I had to ride the Paraparas again.

Neil was bringing his Speedy down to Palmy for a service anyway and had skived off work so he could get it down.  For some reason though he didn't want to ride it, the Concours seeming to be far more attractive to him - so I ended up having to ride the Trumpy.

It was terrible, really terrible...and if you believe that, you'll believe anything!  I had a blast riding the Triple through the Paras and I think Neil was enjoying the Connie too - the LHS hero blob is slightly smaller now...

In Wanganui we had lunch at one of the cafes that the BRR team regularly invade before pootling our way over to Palmy to drop off the Speedy.

It's a tough life...
Somehow Neil managed to wangle another day off work (blimmin public servants and their cruisy jobs) so he could wait for the service to be completed but needed some wheels to get around on so he naturally went for the best thing available.

I had to fight to get it back off him...
Anyway, the Speedy is sorted and Neil has headed home so I guess he'll be back at work tomorrow while I start getting ready for the next wee adventure...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

North Island 1600 - quick update

It is Sunday afternoon and I've been up since yesterday morning.  This must mean that I've been out on a serious ride eh?

Yep, this weekend was the first running of the North Island 1600 organised by Distance Riders NZ.  This event has taken over from the Rusty Nuts Grand Challenge and involves riding 1,600km in 24 hours or less.

There will be time for a better write-up when I get home but until then here's just a quick update from a tired but happy rider.

To start with the weather was planned particularly well as I probably only had to put up with about 15 minutes of rain out of my 18 odd hours on the road.  It did get chilly during the night but the grips still work so I managed to tough it out.

Our route was one that took in some nice windy back roads along with some main highways that we had to do to get us to those back roads.  Here is the route, freshly stolen from the Distance Riders website:

Some of the obvious highlights were the Napier-Taihape road, the Paraparas, Old Taupo Road and the Western Access.  But one of my favourites was the run out to Ngawi.  I've been out to Lake Ferry many times but never to Ngawi so this was a new bit of road and in the perfect conditions we had Ngawi certainly looked lovely.

2014 NI1600

After the run up SH1 to Bulls I was feeling a bit off.  Not crook, not tired, just off.  I even had thoughts of heading home but maybe this was just because I was so close to my nice warm bed at home?  Instead of making a beeline for home, I stopped in Bulls for a quick top-off of the tank and after this very short break I felt one heck of a lot better.  I never felt this way again at all and really enjoyed the second half of the ride.

2014 NI1600

The last stop checkpoint for the ride was in Waihi and I even allowed myself a coffee before rocking the last 250km back to Turangi.  I arrived back in camp at 14 minutes past 7 giving me a time of around 18 hours, 11 minutes which would make it my best effort yet - pretty happy with that.

2014 NI1600
The perfect mile-muncher
After a nice hot meal I bugged out and made for Neil's in National Park where I'm checking out his couch and the motor racing on TV while he thrashes his Speedy around Hampton Downs...

More later...

Monday, October 06, 2014

A little Korean

Today was a lovely stormy day so I thought it was a great idea to take the Connie to replace these:

Second hand PR2's...

Second hand PR2's...

And today's loaner was not the lovely little MT-09 from yesterday but this little white beastie:

Sym Wolf 250

Apparently its a 2013 Sym 250 Wolf - hard to tell with absolutely no identifying markings...

Sym Wolf 250

Its quite a pretty little V-twin and managed to get me to and from work in pouring rain and a howling gale (some people are missing roofs tonight).  Glad I didn't have to take the 250 out on the main roads...

Sym Wolf 250

As you can see from the above picture it is fitted with an aftermarket pipe and this made it sound pretty sweet for a 250.  The bar-end mirrors don't really do it for me.

Sym Wolf 250

Apparently its somewhere around 25hp and it was absolutely fine around town as long as the revs were kept around the 5,000 mark.  Everything else seemed to work ok although I didn't really like the front brake (there was a bit of shuddering) and the clutch could do with some adjusting.

Anyway, like I said before, quite a nice looking, fun little bike which would probably be great for a learner of for commuting on.  The Connie did feel slightly bigger when I got back on her...

BRRBT - the video!

Ven's video from yesterday:

The Connie looks particularly good I think...

Sunday, October 05, 2014

BRRBT Inaugural Ride

And now for something completely different...

A wee while ago Neil had the cunning thought that the BRR should run some road rides as quite a few of the gravel nuts also have road bikes and its another good excuse for a pootle.  And so Back Road Riders Black Top rides were born -with today being our first outing.

After another very crap Saturday (Neil rode down from National Park in the snow) Sunday started off fairly promising with no rain and the sun at least trying to burn off the cloud.  I was up early again and soon on my way over to the meeting point in Feilding.  Here's a great pic of the Connie with all the other guys there waiting for the action to start:


Anyway, after I'd had a coffee the others started turning up and soon there was a reasonable smattering of bikes and riders.  Because this was a Black Top ride there were also a few new faces (who obviously haven't discovered the joys of gravel riding) and we were even lucky enough to have a couple of new Yamahas from the local shop along for the ride.

Eventually we'd spent enough time making fun of the Triumph riders so geared up and hit the road.  Feilding was looking pretty good in the sun:

05-10-14 BRRBT

Leaving Feilding we rode across to Colyton before using Valley Road to get us across to the Pohangina Valley.

05-10-14 BRRBT

Next up was Pohangina Valley East Road to Apiti where it was time for a quick stop and a chance to check out all the other bikes.

05-10-14 BRRBT
Bug-eyed monsters
05-10-14 BRRBT
A gixxer with nearly as many kms on it as the Connie
05-10-14 BRRBT
Wee parked by a magnificent Kwaka
05-10-14 BRRBT
Colin's Wee
05-10-14 BRRBT
Russell's nice little Guzzi
05-10-14 BRRBT
Yamaha MT-07
05-10-14 BRRBT
Star of the show - MT-09
We had to leave Apiti twice as not far out of the village Neville's Triumph decided to pick up a puncture.  This was fixed fairly quickly and we were off again dodging cattle and pigeon's (Neil).

At the turn-off to Rangiwahia we lost both Yamahas as one had places to be and the other needed to go off and search for fuel before rejoining us further up the road.

05-10-14 BRRBT
Anything in there?
While the Yamahas went left, we went right and enjoyed a great ride through to Pemberton where we turned off and made for Ohingaiti.  More great roads.

05-10-14 BRRBT

05-10-14 BRRBT

05-10-14 BRRBT

05-10-14 BRRBT

From Ohingaiti we took another couple of short back roads through to out lunch stop in Hunterville.

05-10-14 BRRBT


Our after lunch we lost a few of the Wellington riders and made for Fordell via some nifty back roads before taking in a few more loops that would eventually have us back in Feilding.  It was during these loops that most of the guys had the opportunity to try out the lovely little MT-09 - myself included.

05-10-14 BRRBT
Kauangaroa Road
05-10-14 BRRBT

My little spin on it was from Turakina, up Turakina Valley Road and then onto Makuhou Road.  The first bit was on fairly straight roads but Makuhou Road is made of corners and even though there was plenty of metal spread across the road I had a ball on the lightweight ball of fun - cheers Barry!

After a blat around Mt Curl we even took in a short stretch of gravel (well I guess we did have a couple of Wee-Stroms with us, had to keep them happy) before swapping over to the other side of SH1 for another little loop.  Our ride pretty much ended in Halcombe where everyone went their separate ways and I popped in to see the folks in Feilding.  A great start to the BRRBT rides!


More pics here.