Wednesday, August 09, 2017

10th Birthday Ride - Part 2

As is pretty usual for me when I'm "on tour" I awoke far too early (5am) but rather than hit the road early I lazed around waiting for the sun to come up and show me what sort of day was in the offing.  Of course, I also was wondering about frosty roads too.

In the end I hit the road just before 8am and crossed up over the hill to Ohope Beach.  The roads were a little suspiciously damp so some care was exercised and then when I accidentally caught up to a cop even more care was exercised...

I ended up stuck behind him for over 30km until he finally leaped into action, all flashing lights and aggressive U-turn to go after a car going in the other direction.  I have no idea what they'd done as to me they didn't appear to have been speeding - maybe they were doing a dangerous 105 or something while the Connie was idling at 98...

Arriving in Opotiki it was time for brekkie at the cafe before topping up the tank for the trip around East Cape.

The ride around East Cape is a favourite of mine with corners aplenty and some great scenery.  Leaving Opotiki you stick close to the coast for most of the way and there are some really nice spots to stop at for photos.

Damn winter!


Sunday morning, a bike, a road...

When I stopped for the piccys above I also started fiddling with the GoPro to get it going.  Unbeknownst to me (oblivious with music blaring inside my helmet) a local had noticed me stopped and fiddling with the bike (camera actually) and was seeing if I was ok.  When I finally noticed him and worked out what was going on I gave him a big thumbs up and he carried on along on his way.  I have to say that this is not the first time the locals have shown to be a great bunch - I have been helped out twice with punctures.  Fantastic stuff.

The rest of the ride around the cape was uneventful except for the bouncing off all the usual massive pot holes and bumps that the road is known for - you really need to keep your wits about ya.  There were also some damp roads to deal with but all in all, a great ride.  The video below is really just a series of snippets from the 2 hours or so that the GoPro captured.

Leaving Te Puia Springs I checked out the sign showing the distances to Tokomaru Bay, Tolaga Bay and Gisborne while also checking my fuel status.  It's 330km from Opotiki to Gisborne and this is generally easy within the range of the Connie but with all those corners, lack of traffic and the amount of ummmm, exuberance expended then economy can suffer.  Anyway, maths was deployed and this along with close monitoring of the fuel gauge saw me ignoring all the gas stations and rolling into Gisborne for my fuel.

Nice place for a drinks break

Looking out towards South America...

Bike gassed up and a cold drink down my gullet it was time to make for Wairoa.  This part of SH2 is a gem with the best bit being the climb up and over the hills South of Gisborne.  I had a great run with very little traffic and no goats all over the road until just before Wairoa...

On the road South of Wairoa there are some other great hills to climb and corners to ummm, corner and I even had some excitement when I got in behind a group of about 10 Porches.  They were getting along in places and I think enjoyed playing with a bike for a bit - I wonder how many of them had 142,000km on the clock?

The roads continued to stay dry into Napier and across to Hastings where for a change I took SH2 and sat in some quite heavy traffic all the way South.  As I crossed the Takapau Plains the view of the ranges changed from nice snow capped hills to no view at all as they disappeared under some dark looking clouds...

By Dannevirke it was time for one last gas stop and while there the first few spits of rain started to fall.  I really didn't like the look of the big black clouds so even changed into my waterproof gloves for the last leg.

Arriving in Woodville, the rain was falling and it was looking like a wet ride over the Saddle to finish the trip.  Across the top of the Saddle it was raining fairly heavily and the road surface was like oil in places.  A few little slides woke me up a bit so I just idled along down the hill and into Ashhurst.  Twenty minutes or so later I was pulling into my drive after a 766km day.

So, with another 1,400km on the odo the birthday ride was over and the old girl definitely still has plenty of life left in her!  There is some TLC planned in the near future but still no plans to move the old girl on - what will the next 10 years bring?

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

10th Birthday Ride - Part 1

So the Connie's big birthday kind of snuck up on me.  The first reminder I got was the bill for its registration - yay!  But I had to do more than just affix an expensive piece of paper to it.  There were some E-bay purchases (still to be blogged about), but the important thing to do was to get out there and prove that she still has it - not that I doubted her for a second.

Brand spanker's with zero farkles...
With the anniversary occurring during winter it was always going to be a bit of a lottery on just how carried away I could get with the celebratory ride.  I ended up booking Monday (the actual big day) off as annual leave as I figured even if it rained all weekend and on Monday I would still have to do something.  Then I just kept an eye on the weather with a small poorly formed plan rattling around in my skull...

On Thursday I needed to make my decision as I had to book the hairy one into some luxury accommodation or not.  The weather forecast that night suggested fine on the West Coast on Saturday and then again on the East Coast on Sunday.  Well, that looked ok and also firmed up my plan by giving me a clockwise direction for a quick blat around the island.  Friday night saw me dropping the pooch off and packing my bags.

As predicted (accurately for a change), Saturday turned out to be a bit of a cracker and after filling the bike up I was pointing North West just before 9am (not a sleep in, just giving the frost some time to thaw).

Time to put a few more on there...
The ride up through the 'naki was not terribly exciting but from very early on the perfect day was giving me a sensational view of Mount Taranaki, I just hoped it stayed that way so I could find a good spot for a photo.  As I rode along I rejected several possible locations for various reasons but finally just North of Opunake I seized my opportunity and ducked up a side road.

Busy road with no parking spaces...

Yep, dangerously busy...

"Go straight until you hit the volcano..."

Count the farkles now...
Piccys taken and Facebook updated it was time to carry on North.  By now I was getting hungry so kinda kept my eye out for a reasonable looking cafe.  I managed to pootle all the way across New Plymouth without spotting one (I ignored one I'd been to before just 'cos) and ended up out on the open road again.  I also passed Waitara without stopping but by Urenui I had to stop because I wasn't the only one feeling hungry...

Who's hungriest?  I win...

After a nice and reasonably priced lunch I filled up with some not so nicely priced gas and carried on along my way.  I had meant to start the GoPro for the ride over Mount Messenger but forgot how soon you hit it so no pics or video of that smashing wee ride.

A little annoyed with myself I pulled into a rest area just before Mokau to kick it into life and grab a few more snaps.

That's right, park in the shade - doh!

Land of the Long White ????

That mountain is still there...
The next sweet bit of tar on my route was the Awakino Gorge - more lovely curves, a tunnel and not much traffic.

Where are all the corners?

Oh, that's better!

Hole in the rock.

By now I was wondering "where to next?"  I had Rotorua in the back of my mind as some sort of destination for the night, but the big question "was which was to go?"  Nearing 8 mile junction I decided that I didn't want to go into Te Kuiti and decided to head across to SH30 and the neat ride through to Bennydale, Whakamaru, Atiamuri and eventually Rotorua.

Once again it was a lovely ride in great conditions with only the odd section where the road was damp (it'll be dry by summer).  Very little traffic too.


Follow that straight ole line...

Go East young man

I eventually hit Rotorua at just after 3pm and decided that it was far too early to call it a day and that I'd carry on through to at least Whakatane and take it from there.  Before then however I need some...

Cheap fuel is the best kind!
 Clambering up over the hill towards Rotoma the road was "winter damp" again but still a lovely ride offering nice corners and then some good views of the lake.  Once again I somehow managed to find a suitable spot for a few pics.

Sun, water, The Bike

Winter sucks!

Yeah, Lake would look better with a Connie parked in front of it...
The rest of the day's ride was just a very quiet pootle into Whakatane where things were cooling off and I decided to park the bike for the day after a most enjoyable 643km.  Some greasies and Sky movies finished off a pretty decent sort of a day...

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Up above the world so high

Well, slightly high...

Sunday was another pretty nice winter's day - blue skies, sunny and fairly calm - so I needed to get out and try the new levers on the Tenere (well, that's one excuse).

At about lunchtime I was driving (in car, navigator on the back seat) back from Feilding and had a good view of the ranges so my thoughts turned to the options available to me.  I decided against North Range Road as I would imagine that the puddles were lakes after all the rain we've had and I didn't want to dunk the Tenere like I did the Vee...

So, instead I decided to clamber up Whariti again and see if there was any snow left up there - Ian from work had been up there a couple of weeks ago after a pretty good dumping.

Photo ripped off borrowed from Ian's Facebook...
With the gorge shut (and possibly for good!) the Saddle Road is pretty much the main route across to the Hawkes Bay while the Pahiatua Track is the choice for those heading down towards the Wairarapa.  This means a lot more traffic on two of my favourite roads.  I decided to do do both of them starting with the Track.

Going over the track also meant that I could have a little gravel warm-up on Tararua Road (I somehow seem to always take this road on the S10) before scooting through Ballance to Woodville.  Tararua Road was a blast and I think that maybe I like this direction better than the return from the Pahiatua side which I seem to have done more often.

And then it was time to clamber up the hill.  I found the road to be in pretty good condition - last time I went up there I reckon there was more ruts and definitely a bit more slippery exposed clay.  Just the one vehicle to pass too:

And hey, presto I was up on top of the world again.

Crappy winter's day

Mountain climber



Manawatu River
The trip down was a lot slower.  I was worried about two things: that car I'd passed earlier and the ABS playing up on the rutted stuff (so far it's only done this once and that was coming down off Whariti).  As it happened I never saw the car - they must have given up - and the ABS behaved itself.

Next up was the ride over the Saddle to Ashhurst.  There was some traffic in places and also plenty of road works and crap on the road to avoid.

In Ashhurst I stopped to hassle visit one of the locals before finally puttering my way home.  Just a short ride of around 100km but a nice way to kill a couple of hours on a lovely winter's day!