Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ridge Road Ramble

Last night we got some fairly heavy rain but after a couple of early showers in the morning, things fined up pretty nicely.  As I lay in bed last night listening to the rain I imagined the nice things it was doing to the local gravel roads - the dust would be disappearing and the gravel settling down nicely.  I thought a wee gravel fix would definitely be worth investigating...

So, just after 10 this morning, I had the DL ready and after a quick top off of the tank I headed out of town for the nearest bit of gravel I could find.  This turned out to be Watershed Road and it was a great taste of what was to come.

More gravel on Midland Road took me across to the seal on Valley Road.  But not for long,  I turned off Valley Road and onto Zig Zag Road for more of the fun stuff.

At the end of Zig Zag Road I went left instead of the right (zigged when I should have zagged I guess) I should have taken and ended up running out of gravel on Finnis Road.  I was forced to turn around and scoot back up Finnis Road to carry on with the route that was sort of planned...

On the right track again I finally turned onto Ridge Road which was the main event for the day.  This is a great ride and takes you along either side of a "ridge" all the way through to Apiti.  The road surface was in great nick for most of the length of the road although there was a small section where there was a bit of deeper gravel.  The great views hadn't gone anywhere since last time either...

Towards the end of the road it opens up a bit more and is great fun on the Vee:

In Apiti I was starting to feel a bit peckish so turned back towards home thinking that a bite in Kimbolton might be a bit of plan.

Kimbolton locals

But when I dropped into Kimbolton I could spy some big black clouds heading Northwards towards Palmy.  I decided that I'd rather be hungry than soaking wet so got on the gas and headed for home.

The rain caught up to me along the Colyton-Fielding straight and it got quite wet for a 5 or 10 minutes.  Luckily my worn-out front tyre behaved itself and we safely splashed our way home where I managed to rustle up that lunch I'd been looking forward to.

This was probably my first decent gravel squirt since taking ScooterBob up to National Park and it was a real cracker - the gravel conditions were nigh on perfect and the big Vee really enjoyed the exercise (although it was quite thirsty for some reason).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday Night Ride

I haven't done any of the Friday Night rides lately but seeing as last night was the last one for this end of the year I decided that I'd show up for a quiet wind down after work.  As the DL had carried me to work she got to come along too.

When I got down to the bike shop where the ride leaves from there wasn't that many bikes there but pretty soon they started rocking in and by the time we were ready to go there was probably 30 bikes including 5 of those funny things with the incorrect number of wheels.

Light glinting off the magnificent beast that is the Vee
As the ride is just a short social outing Pauly had arranged a pretty basic route for us and at the briefing he let us know the route and things like using cornermen etc.

Just after 6pm we got underway and started to make our way across town.

From here I'll let the video snippets tell the story.  It was a pretty quiet ride up over the track, through to Mangamire and onto Pahiatua via Mangaone Valley Road before heading to Ashhurst via the Gorge.

In Ashhurst most stopped at the Inn for a drink and a natter before heading out into the cool night and the ride home.  A nice little after work peddle!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Flash as Michael Jackson...

Righto, so my poor old GoPro has been playing up a bit lately and there has been the odd suggestion that perhaps I should look at replacing it.  Well, I persevered with it for a fair while just so I could ignore those suggestions but finally gave in last weekend and ordered a new Hero 3 white - the cheapest GoPro with wi-fi.

I chose this model, not just because it was the cheapest but because it really does everything I need from a video camera.  I simply don't need the 4K video if all I'm doing is some basic videos for YouTube.  The neat thing about it is that I can use my current remote (or phone) to drive it.  Anyway, four days after ordering it the camera arrived from Singapore - impressive.

There are some subtle differences between it and my old one:

Of course, when you get a new toy then you simply must play with it, so today I went for a wee pootle around the Apiti Loop.  A nice little ride on a pretty damn nice autumn day.  The video below has a few snippets from some of the best bits of the Loop:

There doesn't appear to be too much wrong with the video although it seems to pick up some "noise"from the bike at around 5k rpm - I've had that with other devices as well.  As for the sound quality, well I think it's better than the previous GoPro and you can hear the bike pretty nicely.  Oh, and it also takes pictures of course.

So it works - and hopefully it'll last me a fair while...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Just looking

So, the plan this year is to replace the Vee at some stage.  At the moment I don't really know what I want other than another adventure bike.  What I'm not sure about is whether to go mid-size or large.  I've decided that I don't want to tackle the gnarly stuff - just good gravel roads.

On Monday I got to do what is probably the first of a few test rides while I decide what I really want.  Currently Yamaha are running out the old 2013 Super Teneres (no '14 model and the '15's are on their way) and they can be had for a reasonably good price.

And so I found myself in at the local Yamaha dealer swiping the keys to the S10 on their floor.  One good thing about this test was that I had just stepped off the Vee so it was going to be pretty easy to compare the two bikes...

My first surprise is that they're actually not that big in person and when I swung a leg over the bike I found that I was just about flat-footed - nice start.  I also discovered that they hide their considerable (263kg wet) weight very well - the bike was very easy to get off the stand, move around and even put on it's centre stand.

I fired her up while putting on my helmet and pulled out into the rush hour traffic.  Initially I thought the throttle was a bit jerky (not used to it) so I changed the engine mode to "T".  This settled things down a bit but when I got out on the open road I was left wondering if I really was on a 1200.  Stopping and switching to "S" mode soon stopped the wondering...That jerkiness disappeared too once I got my head around the bike a bit more.

To be honest, the bike pulled in a pretty similar fashion to the V-Strom.  Plenty of torque which got things happening pretty quickly but delivered a fair bit more smoothly.  At one stage I tooled along at 80km/h in top gear and the bike didn't mind at all, pulling pretty cleanly (and this a brand new motor) away once the throttle was opened up.  With just over 3,000rpm on the dials at 100km/h there should be plenty of range in the 23l tank too.  At higher rpms there was also some nice noises coming from behind me too.  The gearbox and clutch was sweet as a nut too.

Cruising along on the open road I found myself very comfortable with the wide, flat seat and handlebars that were in exactly the right position - high and wide.  I got a fair amount of wind noise but like an idiot I had left my ear plugs behind and was wearing my noisy adv helmet.  I wish I'd had my plugs so I could have compared the noise to the Vee (which is pretty good wind noise-wise).

Getting back to that weight, the bike felt planted to the road in a similar fashion to the Connie and very stable in what was fairly windy conditions.  The weight sure is carried low and the bike could be flicked around at low speeds very easily.  At higher speeds that planted feeling felt great when I punted it hard through a couple of sweepers.  While it was wearing more road oriented tyres than the Vee, there is no question that the S10 out-handles the Vee.

One thing I had expected more from the bike was the brakes.  Don't get me wrong, they are fine and better than the Vees but I kinda thought that they'd be a bit more special as Yamaha usually puts very good brakes on it's bikes.  That being said, at least they weren't grabby - you don't want that sort of behaviour on the gravel...

A former Yamaha owner in full-on drool mode
Anyway once I'd showed the old man the bike I had to return it and carry on mulling over exactly what it is that I want...decisions, decisions...

One thing I do know is that the S10 is a very nice bike (if someone gave me one, I would not complain) and would be pretty fantastic to tour NZ on.  The thing is, there's a lot of choice out there...

Monday, March 09, 2015

ScooterBob has left the building

Yes, he has finally packed his bags (or shoe-box) and is on his way to meet up with Geoff.

It's has been nice being able to take part in his around the world adventure and he also gave me an excuse to take in a few more sights when down South for the TT2000.  He gave me an excuse to revisit Jackson Bay and also to go for a lap around the Catlins on the TT.  And closer to home a trip on some great gravel was an opportunity to show him some pretty North Island country.

The below map is my GPS log of the travels I had with ScooterBob - just under 5,000km in all.

So, goodbye Bob and safe travels!

All my ScooterBob blogs here.

Monday, March 02, 2015

March BRRBT - Say Hi to Annie

Sunday was our monthly tarmac ride and this month's route was to take us up into the Hawkes Bay and then over the Gentle Annie to Taihape - a great ride.

Ten of us (including 4 riders new to the group) met up at Ashhurst and after waiting around for any possible stragglers we got underway by taking on the Saddle.

Taking on the Saddle is an apt description - the road is in a mess with all the road works on it at the moment.  Half-way up there is quite a messy section of gravel with plenty of big chunky rocks in the mix - this wasn't supposed to be an adventure ride!  Looking forward to when the roadworks are completed...

Dropping down the other side we made our way through to Dannevirke and then up to SH50 where we stopped for a quick regroup.

Next up was a good ride over 50 before stopping at Maraekakaho for lunch.  By now things were getting pretty hot and when we rode into Omahu for fuel some of the guys with temperature gauges were claiming high twenties.

Leaving Hastings we puttered over to Fernhill and then turned off onto the Napier-Taihape to go check out Annie.  The road starts off with great, fast and flowing curves before deteriorating a bit into a bumpy, winding road with plenty of road works and new seal.  At Kurapapango it was time for another stop and check to see if everybody was still having fun.

You know who doing you know what...
We left Kurapapango riding on some very recently laid seal with plenty of loose metal all over it - fun.  This was continued in a number of places before we finally got to the last lot of windies where the surface changed to hot, slippery melted tar - lovely...

I was leading the ride at this stage and on our way into Taihape we noticed an ambulance heading out.  Both Terry and I had that oh-oh feeling but felt pretty sure that it can't be one of our guys.  We got to the gas station and ordered coffee and sat to wait for the rest of the crew.

We were joined by a couple of others (and one rode past, missing us) but we were still missing 5 others.  When they still hadn't arrived after our drinks were finished we knew something untoward was up and mounted up to go and investigate.

On the way out of town we had a bit of fun playing with two beautifully sounding Ferrari's who let us past and then tried to keep up.  A snarling 430 Scudera (sp) sounds quite nice when the driver is using the box...

About 20km out of Taihape we finally came across the accident and it was sad to see one of the newer guys sitting in the ambulance with a banged up elbow.  He had gone straight ahead on a pretty easy right hander, got into the gravel and lost it.  Luckily he picked a corner with a lot of run off and had nothing to hit except the ground as he came to a stop.  The poor Viffer took a bit of damage on it's side though.  Even luckier, the first car to stop was being driven by a nurse who was fantastic and we were even able to use her ute to get the bike into a shed on her farm.

Nice spot for a stop though...
After sending the ambo on it's way we followed the lovely nurse back to her farm and off-loaded the bike where it awaits its fate.

A very disappointing event on what was otherwise a great ride but great to get the help from the nurse and again hats off to the great service from the ambulance - they were there (middle of nowhere) very quickly.

Following this incident the rest of us split up to go our separate ways and Colin and I carried on home via SH1 and then Vinegar Hill.  We did get a bit more excitement on Vinegar Hill in the form of a cow in the drain and then an idiot in a 4WD (towing a trailer) who insisted on crossing the centre line by a good margin on every blind right-hander - I was well pleased to finally get past him before we had another accident happy right in front of us!

So, not the perfect ride it could have been but at least no serious injury to the rider.  I'm looking forward to not having anything like this being repeated on any other BRRBT rides...

More pics here.