Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Graveliciousness!

On Monday the Queen was much more useful than usual, as she is still with us we were able to take the day off work to celebrate her birthday which just happens to be on a completely different day.  But a day off is not to be sneezed at and after some really atrocious weather on Saturday things improved on Sunday and then again overnight for a very chilly start to a superb winters Monday.

Our first decent frost
On Sunday Colin and I had hatched a bit of a plan.  I was really keen to get the Connie (poor old girl) out and charge her battery up a bit but two things changed our minds on a road ride: it was the last day of a long weekend (traffic & cops likely to be a pain) and I figured that after all the rain we'd had, the gravel would be in great nick.  After suggesting a gravel ride, the new KTM owner jumped at the chance to put some more miles on the new beast.  Sorted.

Sometime after 9 on Monday morning, said KTM rider rolled up complaining about ice warnings (dunno what those are) and cold hands.  A cup of coffee seemed to sort him out and we saddled up and hit a damp and probably slippery Pahiatua Track.

Our first gravel taster was on Kopikiopiko Road.  It wasn't in too bad a condition but nothing like what we got to experience later...


Just hitting the gravel again on Mangaraupiu Road I stopped just to check in with Colin and see if he was beginning to enjoy himself.  I believe his answer was in the affirmative...

That bright thing is the sun



Stopping also gave me the chance to see if there was any juice in the rear facing camera.  It turns out that there was just enough to get one of my favourite bits of gravel through to Eketahuna.


In Eketahuna we purchased some expensive fuel and then grabbed an early lunch, things were about to get even better...



Mangaoranga Road is generally a nice fast piece of gravel and on Monday it really was a great introduction to an afternoons' worth of sublime gravel.  It was hard packed with very little loose stuff and oodles of grip.  At the next intersection we had a brief discussion (captured on video) and decided to try the right fork of Mangamahoe Central Road for the first time.  It didn't disappoint either.


At the end of the road we could have taken seal through to Mauriceville or back to Eketahuna but offering up those options and returning back the way we had came was just plain silly - the gravel won hands down.

Back at the junction with Mangaoranga Road, we carried on right, still on Mangamahoe Central Road where I failed to keep up with Colin...


On Bartons Line I did a little better...for a while.


Another quick conversation on the side of the road had us deciding to ditch seal and carry on North to see what Pori Road was like.  In a word, it was magic!  I think I'd found my mojo a bit and the race ride up the hill was fantastic!  Unfortunately it was also where the camera battery finally died (without my noticing).


The only downer was catching a ute and trailer on the seal, the driver not giving us any room to get past on the skinny-ass road.

At the bottom of the hill I made an executive decision to turn right and make for some more gravel on Coonoor Road.  And here's where you'll just have to believe me (or maybe Colin might chime in), the ride up to the lime works was outstanding!  The gravel was perfect (better than some of the seal we'd been riding on) and the pace was hot!  It required a breather at the lime works...





Leaving the works I discovered two things: the camera was dead and that something was annoying my left eye.  It was a very slow ride up to the summit where I had to pull over to check out what was going on.  The problem turned out to be a misbehaving contact lens and as it was partially out I gave it a flick and it disappeared in the howling wind - damn!

Never mind, I managed to brave the breeze for a few pics before we started down the other side.





Riding down the hill was a fair bit slower for me and I found it really strange riding with only one decent eyeball.  It was particularly troublesome in tight stuff where there was stuff like trees and hill on either side of me - I think that my brain couldn't decide which eye was right.  My pace was a lot lower and it wasn't until we were out on the more open Weber Road that I could see better and ride at a more appropriate speed...

In Dannevirke, we finally hit SH2 for the crawl home.  After slowly moving through the traffic we were stymied by a sneaky cop, so I got us back off the main road again so we could at least be out of the traffic.  A nice cruise through to Woodville followed by a trip through Ballance and back over the track got us back to my place again where hot coffees were fairly welcome.

What a day out on some truly memorable gravel!

Sexy map with "tracks" showing the locations of the videos too...

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