Sunday, July 15, 2018

Chilly Mountain ride

Saturday was a fantastic day in Palmy and with Sunday supposed to be bringing a change in the weather then I needed to use Saturday for my important battery charging - the poor old Connie hadn't even been fired up in ages...

But, naturally, she fired up straight away and we were off.  This time around I had a bit of a plan - I wanted to ride the Paraparas but decided that I wanted to ride them North-South.  This meant that I had to find some other way up to Raetihi.

So, my route talk me across Vinegar Hill and then onto the dreaded SH1.  Vinegar Hill was fun and even the traffic lights on them played ball for me (but not the half a dozen cars waiting at the other end) as I enjoyed reasonably dry roads and plenty of nice corners.

For my SH1 leg I settled down a little and just enjoyed the cruise in the sunshine.  Naturally as I neared Taihape and Waiouru the temperature dropped but hey, I had the heated grips on.  Then, North of Waiouru, the temperature dropped even more and the skies started looking a little unfriendly.  I then had my first brain wave of the day - why not stop and put my warm/waterproof gloves on?  So I did.

Unfriendly skies

Big hill playing hide and seek
Immediately upon stopping and removing my summer gloves I couldn't help but notice that it was absolutely freezing cold.  My brain was ok though as I had another great idea - wet weather gear!

Wow, two good ideas in a row.  By the time I finally got my warm gloves on and got back on the bike my hands were blocks of ice.  The grips were turned onto 100% (probably for the first time in 147,000km) and I hunkered down as I headed off into some light rain.

That'll be the fuzz checking that nobody is having any fun


Damper, colder...

A great shot of NZ's #1 road...
So, the pictures do not do it justice.  It was freezing - it took 15 minutes before I could even feel any warmth from the grips and the tips of my fingers were frozen.  The inside of my visor was fogging at the edges even with the pinlock and breath guard fitted and the chin vent open.  I haven't ridden in weather this cold in a number of years (and that's including my snow rides on the Vee & Tenere) and I don't know why it wasn't snowing.

Anyway, once I stopped worrying about my hands I started enjoying the ride.  Bits of the desert road can be fun and the tyres were being their usual grippy selves so I just got down to business.  And then I met this person...

Slow vehicle lane #1

Slow vehicle lane #2
This person should not be allowed to have a car or perhaps even oxygen.  On slow vehicle lane #1 they simply pulled out as if to pass the slower traffic in front and forgot to pass it.  They did not appear to know what the thing under their right foot was and got nowhere fast.  They also had the pleasure of holding me up.

Then we hit the next slow vehicle lane.  Rinse and repeat...This time around though, they noticed that there was a big truck in front and that perhaps it was worth a crack having a go at passing it.  Unfortunately it had taken them so long to work this out that when they started their passing manoeuvre they had already passed the sign saying that the lane was about to end.  Yes, the truck pulled out into the main lane, yes there was oncoming traffic and yes, the idiot had to hit the brakes and find a piece of unoccupied road...

Having just managed not to have got caught up in someone else's accident I was glad that I made it to slow vehicle lane #3 where horsepower was applied.

The truckee was doing a great job of trying to let idiots past
Leaving a moron in their Honda behind it was nice to finally get into some waremr weather as I dropped down towards Turangi.  But rather than visit Turangi, I turned off at Rangipo and headed for the other side of the hill.

Sayonara SH1! 
For the first stretch across Sh46 I pretty much had the road to myself and the weather just kept on getting better.

The road's even trying to dry out!
Joining onto SH47 though I found the traffic - and most of it was going the same place as me.


What's that blue stuff?
Where everyone was going was "up the mountain".

There be the mountain
It being winter and all I'd decided to see how far up I could get before they made me put on chains.  But, unfortunately they'd shut the road, so chains or no chains I wasn't getting any further than the Chateau.

Surrounded by a crash of rental vehicles...

I 'spose I could have used the good camera and zoomed in but it was in my topbox...

That's where all the snow is
Quick snaps taken I remounted and dropped back down the mountain road and pointed towards Raetihi for a late lunch.

I see the light!
Lunch (and dinner) eaten I filled up the bike and made for the Paras.  And boy was it good.  Even though it was winter and I needed to tread carefully in some corners, the ride was just a ball.  Rumour has it that there is video of the ride but I don't think you'll find it on Youtube.  I did however, manage to get a few pictures along the way - perhaps they can tell the story?

35, yes, of course.



Ok, a couple of clouds is alright.

Who left that there?
By the time I got to Upo I'd managed to warm up quite a bit and the screen was even down a tad for some fresh air - grips were still on 75% though...

The trip home through Okoia, Fordell, Turakina etc was a chance to ease up a little and I ended up home in time for a cuppa before finally lighting the fire.  A superb day out even if it was very cold in that middle part...


  1. Your first few photos had me running for my woollies, glad it warmed up a bit for you. What is this ‘riding in winter’ all about anyway?

  2. Sigh..... oh dear Andrew. Grizzling about the cold whilst parked behind a big screen - whatever next? (He says from the relative warmth of up north!). Have you ever tried heated gloves? I'll never go back to heated grips!

    Nice that you could get out though - weather has been atrocious up this way over the weekend.

    1. Yeah, you fellas have had a bit of weather lately eh?

      Not tried heated gloves - I get through normal gloves so grippers are probably more economic for me...

  3. That looks bloody chilly mate, even by your standards. Lots more snow on Mt Doom than when we were there. Cripes if the heated grips were turned right up and not doing much thats too cold for me.

    We've been having some of the coldest weather in years here down under, cant wait for spring to roll around.

    1. Pretty cold alright - you would have loved it!

      Our winter has been more wet than cold - so glad it waited to be freezing until I went for that strop.