But that's getting ahead of things. After a great ride in the 'naki checking out some tunnels courtesy of Phreaky Phil, I decided to return the favour and organise a wee outing down this neck of the woods. After a bit of a survey, I settled on a date that would suit most people and got down to planning the route.
Saturday was ride day and before leaving home I took the time to put on my wet weather gear only to take them off at the garage as I was getting too hot and was feeling optimistic about the weather - silly me...
When I arrived there were already a few others there checking out the coffee and pies and it was not long before we had a pretty decent sized group all raring to go. It was great that people had come from all over the show - some even staying in town over the weekend.
Once we were all there and had sorted out who was who and which was the coolest bike there (mine by unanimous decision), I gathered the troops and tried to let them know what the plan was. We then geared up and said goodbye to Palmy.
|Drivers, start your engines!|
|Oh great, a red light...|
Just before the Pahiatua Track I passed a tanker and got away a little on most of the guys but somehow or other Colin L slipped and slid his way to P2 before we dropped down the other side.
|Colin in very slippery conditions...|
We stopped briefly for a regroup as not everyone had managed to sneak past the tanker so we got fairly spread out.
Next up was the short stretch of gravel on Tararua Road to give the guys a little taste of gravel before rejoining the seal to Pahiatua.
But there was no stopping in Pahiatua as we hustled to get onto the Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road in search of more gravel.
|Glen following with just a couple of his lights running...|
|GoPro was having fun...|
|You shall |
The first joker we talked to told us that the road was closed due to a rally being run on the road and it looked like we were going to have to do an about turn and find another route. While I was working this out with Ross another important bloke turned up and allowed us through.
So we got to partake in a rally with a 3km sprint up the hill to where the cars were parked and a front-end loader was blocking off the other end of the road. Not a problem for us to get around though...
|Butt of a rally car, a WR and some mud...|
The rest of the ride up to the top of the hill was fun although it was very windy. There were also a few maniacs on the loose:
|Ross breathing down my neck|
|That'd be Colin again...|
|Glen on a fine piece of machinery|
|This is nothing compared to the amount of water that fell on us later...|
|Stephen on his 800 and Colin F stepping off his AT|
|Oops, forgot something...|
|Turn-off to the falls|
|Phil and Dawn|
And here's a quick slideshow made from about 280 GoPro pictures from Palmy to the Pongaroa. Hopefully it gives you a feel for the weather.
By now it was around 11am and I decided that we needed to shorten the route if we wanted to get to our lunch stop before dinner time. This meant abandoning the "Southern" loop through the Tiraumea Valley but still meant that we got to ride the fabulous Coast Road to Akitio. The sun even tried to poke its head out for us.
Still keen to keep us moving, there was no stopping at the beach as we turned West again on River Road until the next turn-off onto the gravel Glenora Road. The gravel was an interesting orangey colour, quite wet and even muddy in places as we made our way across towards Route 52.
On Route 52, I once again skipped out a little section of gravel to help gain us a bit more time. The lumpy, bumpy 52 is fun on a big motard though...especially when the rain stops and roads dry off a bit.
More tar North of Wimbledon took us through to
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu where I thought we could just manage one last stop before lunch.
|Colin doing a great job as TEC|
Lunch was just 5 minutes up the road in Porangahau and we got there right on schedule - but unfortunately missing out on some of the planned action.
After everyone was fed and watered we remounted for the shorter afternoon stint back first to Dannevirke, then Palmy.
The only section of gravel after lunch was Te Uri Road but it is a cracker. It started off with a sprint up a hill and then winding its way through the hills until we hit seal again. Life is tough.
Along the way there was time for one last photo stop.
Saying goodbye to the gravel there were still some neat back roads to get us back over onto the Weber Road. I particularly like the views going up Mangahei Road.
In Dannevirke we stopped for fuel and said goodbye to a few of the riders with just the stragglers pausing for a coffee before the final run home.
The trip back to Palmy was via my usual back roads and it was just a little exciting - the roads were slippery in places and the wind was pretty gusty from some angles. A trip over the Saddle got us into Ashhurst for the final run into town.
In town we went our separate ways, but just for a while as we met up again alter for dinner at a local pub - not a bad way to end the day.
Fabulous to be able to show some out of towners around the place a little and I think everyone had a blast even if they got a little wet. May have to do it again sometime...