I was up early and after walking the dog and doing some chores had the Tenere on the road just before 8:30. I had all the vents of my jacket and pants open, tinted visor down and 3L of water on my back...I was ready for a hot ride.
Riding out to Kimbolton the temperature was already 23 but it was quite nice with all the air coming through my vents. The road through to Pemberton was already showing signs of heat damage with the odd bit of slippery tar and loose metal to add to the fun.
From Pemberton I turned off towards Ohingaiti as I thought this would get me close to the piece of gravel I wanted to do on my way up to Taihape. I also planned in a stop for a few pics.
My route meant that a little bit of SH1 was in order but just short of Mangaweka I hung a left into Te Kapua Road. It turned out that this wasn't the road that I'd planned but it did turn into a nice little trip into the wop-wops.
The road was pretty tight and windy and the gravel reasonably yicky in places. It also took me up and down a few neat little climbs and the scenery was very nice.
Hitting Taihape it was only around 10:30 so I stopped quickly to buy some lunch to take with me and some super for the Tenere. While at the gas station a Fireblade turned up with a poor pillion somehow perched on the postage stamp sized rear "seat". Not really sure how much fun that would be...
Turning off Spooner's Hill Road there was a group of bikes parked up following their jaunt across the Napier-Taihape - it's very popular with riders now that all the gravel has been covered in tar.
I was still in cruise mode but was loving the nice tarmac and great curves but had already decided that today was the day that I'd take the time to try and get some decent pictures. My first stop on the Napier-Taihape was at the old suspension bridge.
One more climb and a quick stab across the tops got me to the turn-off to Mangaohane Road. It was here that I decided to have an early lunch before hitting the gravel once more.
While I was fluffing about I saw a few vehicles go past and then I started to hear some music...the music gradually got louder and finally its source appeared - a red Fireblade clipping along, two-up. Just after it went past a Triumph also came through from the other direction but I could still hear the 'blade...
Remounting the mighty Tenere I headed off into more magnificent country. I had plenty of time up my sleeve and this was just as well as the gravel was quite deep in places and keep the pace down. There was even time for a few pucker-moments as well...
Eventually I came across a grader parked on the side of the road and this time I had something to be thankful for as he'd actually been doing some good work and the road conditions improved enough to pick up a bit more pace. Still plenty of opportunities for pics though...
Getting nearer to Taoroa Junction the road got even better and even though it was a bit narrow in places I could still get along quite nicely. I also was getting used to making the odd stop.
Eventually the gravel ran out and I hit SH1 again just North of Utiku. Luckily I was able to get off the main road again and find more corners and then more gravel.
Auputa Road is a pretty windy little thing and I skated all over the road at times but then, after one last high-speed stretch of gravel, I was back out onto Rangawahia Road.
I planned a stop in Feilding but rather than the two easier black top routes from Cheltenham I turned off at Kiwitea for one last taste of gravel over Levett Line to Beaconsfield.
A cold drink in Feilding and a quick catch-up with my folks before the pootle home to Palmy and that was the end of most enjoyable 350 odd kms in hot conditions (29 degrees by the time I finished).