Sunday, March 26, 2017

TT2000 Write-up - Day 15

Fifteen days on the road and I 'spose it was time I should think about heading home...

With a 2pm sailing I had plenty of time to get to Picton so I decided to take my time and get in one last dose of gravel around Port Underwood.

After my last fill of South Island Super I cruised across Nelson and found myself at the bottom of the Whangamoa's.  This and the Rai Saddle are always a favourite and although there were a few sections of roadworks to get through it was just as good as I'd remembered.

In Havelock I ignored my normal turn-off (to go through Queen Charlotte Sound) and stuck to the more boring ride on SH6 until the turn-off to Spring Creek.  At Spring Creek I went straight ahead and started making for the Coast.

After pootling through Rarangi the road quickly becomes narrow and windy, eventually the seal ends and you're riding on narrow, windy gravel.  In places the road was a little corrugated and there was even the odd soft bit from the previous day's rain.

Along the way the road rises and falls and takes you past a number of little bays, the first of those that I stopped at was Robin Hood Bay.

Merry Men mowing the lawn...
As I'd left Rarangi there was the odd car on the road but after about ten minutes it seemed like I was the only one about.  One little surprise I had was when a couple of wild pigs (mmmm, bacon) clambered out of the drain and ran across the road in front of me - I don't see that very often...

Nice place to stop for...errr, ummm...
The last little bay I stopped at was Oyster Bay which is just around the corner from Hakahaka Bay - a checkpoint on the 2016 TT.

Looking a little windy...

From Hakahaka Bay the road was seal again and eventually had me Picton with plenty of time on my hands.  I parked up at a cafe for a while but quickly got bored so rode up to the lookout to kill a bit more time.

Not the boat I was waiting for...

Still not the right boat


Tenere not blowing over in the wind
Sight-seeing over I dropped back down the hill and queued up for the ferry parking behind a GSX250 "Tourer" that had been exploring over in Golden Bay.

While waiting, all the passengers received texts/emails informing us that the ferry was going to be about an hour late due to the high winds - great.  I spent the time yakking to the girl on the 250 and an English visitor touring the South Island on a Wee-strom (he was having a ball and already planning to come back next year).  Bike riders always seem to find something in common to talk about whereas the cage drivers just sit in their cars looking impatient and unhappy...

The crossing wasn't too bad although there was the odd bump out in the middle.  Arriving in Wellington over an hour late meant that the traffic out of town was a lot better than normal and I also got to ride on the new bypass a Parapram - it hadn't been open when I came South.

Apart from one nasty incident when I thought I was going to see some boy-racers die in a head-on (not quite sure how they got away with it), it was a quiet ride home and I think I was parked up around 8:30pm after nearly 6,500 fantastic kms.  What a trip!

Mile muncher!

Friday, March 24, 2017

TT2000 Write-up - Day 14

Day Fourteen was intended to be a very relaxed day spent in Richmond with perhaps a little pootle somewhere to see if there was any gravel to be found.  It still was, although there was some slight excitement towards the end of the day...

Overnight it had actually rained and I was disappointed that the rain had got in on the bike for a wee while and washed some of the dirt off the bike - the rego plate was readable again...

In the morning I did take it easy.  I spent some time uploading some photos from the ride through the Rainbow and generally wasting time in front of the laptop.  I did go for a drive with Dan to the house he is currently building and checked out the progress the brickees were making.

While we were having lunch, I started kicking around some ideas with Dan (he is a keen mountain biker) on where I could go exploring.  I fired up Mapsource and managed to work out a route from some of his suggestions and then linking the various roads up - it all looked good on the computer...

When I set off the weather was pretty good and even over the entire ride I only ever really got the odd bit of drizzle, roads were occasionally wet though.

I started off retracing my steps from the previous day to Wakefield and then turned to head up into the forestry on Pigeon Valley Road.

Just after the road went to gravel I had my first bit of excitement.  As I came off the gravel onto a damp wooden bridge (with a little gas on as there was a hill in my way) the rear end attempted to overtake the front.  It was a fairly good slide and I'm picking that a combination of traction control and hitting the gravel again fairly quickly got me out of what would have been even more excitement...

The climb up the hill was a lot of fun and the wee slide hadn't put me off so I soon hit the summit where there were a few possible options for getting lost...

I bravely trusted my GPS and continued down the hill to Stanley Brook.  Then there was a short section of tar on the Motueka Valley Highway before I turned off onto Upper Stanley Brook Road.

Initially this took me through some farmland before finally starting to climb up through a Forestry Block where the road was much skinnier and rougher.

After a few ups and downs and probably (fuzzy memory) turns I came across a skidder site where they were loading up a logging truck.

Just pass the site I turned off again - still following that GPS route - but quickly ran into a locked gate.  This is where things started getting even more "interesting".  What I should have done was spin around and go back the way I came - while I still remembered the way.

But no, I had to try a different road and trust that the GPS would work it all out...great move...

What this kicked off was a world of pain.  With the GPS confidently telling me where to go, I got to explore increasingly more tricky and neglected logging tracks.  I could deal with the "bushes" growing in the middle of the road, the rocky bits, the dry fords/drains and even the odd fallen branch but eventually I came across a larger log across the road...

I managed to get the front wheel across the log ok but no amount of herbs and rocking of the bike would get the rear to climb up over the log - I was stuck.  And looking further up the track there was another roughly the same sized log across the track...

So now I had to somehow get 260+kg of Yamaha off the log, preferably without damaging it or me in the process.  It was slightly concerning.

As you are now reading this, you probably worked out that I did mange the trick.  It was not easy, but I got the front wheel back on the same side of the log as the rear and turned around without dropping it.

But I was still lost.  Spinning around and riding back the way I'd came got me to another decision.  Retrace my steps back up into the exciting stuff or try my luck following the road I was on?

I decided that I'd had enough of the excitement and carried on past the road I'd dropped down.  After a little while the road opened out a little with forestry on my right and farmland on my left.  Then things got exciting again...

I ran into a decent sized herd of cows (probably 20-30) and they all thought that I was there to kill them or something so headed off at a great rate of knots in the same direction as me.  So now I was stuck behind a herd of excited cows who could make around 18km/h but were too scared to pull off into the scrub.

Eventually one of them with a few clues pulled off when we came to a wide patch in the road and a few of her friends took the hint.  This split the herd into two...I tried my best to encourage them off the road, slowing down even more when there was a bit of room for them, trying to sneak past (scary) and of course yelling at them...

About 800m up the road one of the others finally had their own little brainwave and also convinced most of the rest of the others too - most.  I was now stuck behind a solitary, stubborn, moronic, scared but very fit cow.  She took off and maintained a cracking pace for probably another kilometer before I finally was able to delicately pull up beside her and sneak past all the while worrying that she might decide to cut across my bows.

I reckon she ran probably 3km at that 18km/h pace - I would have struggled to do 0.3km!  I felt sorry for the poor thing but still wonder what they were doing in that forestry block...

If you check out the map you'll probably noticed that eventually my surroundings got a bit more familiar with the track finally spitting me out on the road I had come in on.  With my fuel tank getting nearer to the bottom of the gauge (last top up was in Hamner) I was quite relieved.

But, I still had one little navigational error to go.  This time the GPS was right and I was wrong.  Instead of turning back towards Tapawera and then Wakefield, I turned the opposite way on the Motueka Valley highway and started heading towards Mot.  I soon realised I was going the wrong way when I noticed that the river was on the wrong side of the road...

Oh well, I was just happy to be out of the forest and on some delicious tar so carried on the way I was going before turning towards Upper Moutere - where my fuel gauge did start blinking at me.  I stubbornly kept going on wet and slightly busier roads back to Richmond.  And so after 160km of a planned 100km ride I was back safe and sound on an undamaged horse - this is why they call it Adventure riding...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

TT2000 Write-up - Day 13

Day thirteen (a Monday, so not unlucky) was set to be a bit of an adventure.  I was riding through to Richmond to stay with my sister but the route involved taking the Rainbow Road from Hamner Springs to St Arnaud.

I was a little nervous of the Rainbow, having heard that there were "river" crossings and the odd other dodgy patch.  Prior to heading South I was able to talk to a couple of guys (one having ridden the road just a few days before I left home) about the road and they both were certain that I'd be fine.  However, I was still a little concerned - I did not want to drop what probably was around 300kg of Tenere and luggage in a creek or something and get into trouble on my lonesome.

Enter Al and his trusty DR.  With Al now based in Picton, I floated the idea of meeting up and riding the Rainbow together.  We did this all over facebook chat so there was no arm-twisting and he was pretty quick to jump at the chance.  He ended up riding down to Hamner on the Sunday (via the Molesworth of course) and camping the night there.

Al hating the Molesworth
I actually got away earlier than planned from Rangiora and had hoped that this meant that Al and I would hit the Rainbow around 10ish.  Unfortunately, at Waikari there was a police roadblock due to a car accident on the Hurunui bridge.  This meant a huge detour back to SH1 and then some very busy (due to the accident), narrow back roads before finally getting back on the Lewis Pass road.  It cost me around at least an extra 60km and over an hour - see map at the bottom of the post.  It also meant a top up in Hamner before tackling the Rainbow.

Arriving in Hamner, I soon spotted Al's DR and the man himself sitting outside a local purveyor of lattes and we caught up to rave about the Molesworth, the weather and the ride to come.

To get to the Rainbow Road (which also takes in some of the Molesworth Station) we had to first climb up over Jollies Pass which of course I had done nearly two weeks before.  Then, at the bottom of the hill we had to turn left instead of right.

Working out our lefts and rights


The initial part of the ride involved nice fast riding (just like the end of the Molesworth) with all the same great scenery that the Molesworth offered.  There was the odd bit of traffic on the road - people in 4WD's and the odd bike or two as well.  We did manage to find a few places to stop and nab the odd pic.

It's not a small farm

Al's camera did survive this photo

Close to half way through we came to a sign pointing to Tennyson Lake and Al suggested that it was worth a visit.  As I'd been religiously checking out the Southern lakes I agreed.

Next up we had a bit of climb up a fairly good sized hill where we thought it was a good idea to see what sort of views we could find.

Back down the other side we started crossing the valley again and slowly started getting into more interesting with slower, rocky bits and the first of the fords.  Here's a few pics of Al showing how it's done.

And you can see below that I made it across too!

Further up the road we came to a crossing that had me worried for a bit.  It is actually concreted but there is the odd hole to watch out for and I wasn't sure how slippery the concrete was.  I took it very slowly but in the end it was a doddle.

Al made it look easy again - lucky I had shown him the way eh...

From here on to the Ranger's hut, the road was more of the same except for a couple of quite slow and rough sections.  All these were dry and there was plenty of grip so they weren't too hard to pick your way through.  Along the way the views also started to change from the wide open, dry country to more bush and narrower valleys.

After the hut we disappeared into the bush and crossed another ford (you can see some snippets of this on the video later) before one final stop not far from the main road.  We stopped here for a bit of a chin wag and were also joined by another DR rider heading into the Rainbow.

For the final stretch out to the main road we swapped bikes and it was quite cool to watch Al on the Tenere - there were about 4 easy fords to cross and she makes a bit of a splash when gunned through them!  The DR was a hoot too, coming off the Tenere it felt like a 250 (size wise) but I managed to keep the Tenere in sight...

At the main road I managed to wrestle the Tenere off Al and we said our goodbyes as he rode off into St Arnaud to pump up his tyres a bit (and a latte?) while I pointed my nose towards Richmond.

To get to Richmond I got to take in two new to me road (Ok, the Rainbow was new to me too).  Korere-Tophouse Road and Kerr Hill Roads saved me a lot of time and they were damn fine bits of tarmac to ride on a big bike if you get my drift...

I finally rocked into Richmond just before 4pm just in time for afternoon tea with my nieces - a nice way to end a fantastic day.  Cheers again Al!

Oh, and here's just a few bits and pieces of the Rainbow - very disappointed that my Session 4 decided not to work at all yet again, lucky the Hero 3 behaved itself.

More pics here.