My harsh riding critic turned up on his orange bike at around half nine and after thrusting a coffee into his mitt I took to organising myself and thinking about where we should go:
Me: Where are we going?Sorted then...
Colin: I don't know and I don't care.
Our first mammoth leg was around 2km to get some fuel and then we headed towards the ranges to tackle the track. This got us a wee ways East before we turned to take Nikau Road Southwards towards Eketahuna.
After riding through the first of a few of small cattle movements we finally hit some gravel and very soon afterwards the second herd of moos. This must have been stressful or something 'cos I stopped just up the hill to take in some damn nice scenery.
Not too far from here some of our favourite gravel gets even better by opening up a bit and allowing all of the gears and a generous portion of ergs to be let off the chain. Apologies to the farmer (and dogs) in the side-by-side that got zapped on Mangaraupiu Road...
Off the gravel and out at the SH2 turn-off I asked Colin whether he wanted to go left or right. My clock said 11:40 so I figured that we had time for another little loop before lunch in Eketahuna. As it turns out Colin was ready for lunch and 11:40 had actually been gone approximately an hour ago...
We ended up trying a different cafe in Eke and while there a group other Adv bike riders (mainly beemer riders in search of lattes) rolled in. We were lucky to beat the rush hour.
After lunch things only got better. To say that Mangaoranga was fun is a bald-faced lie. It was nothing less than sublime - a fantastic surface of very fast gravel that had us practicing our rear wheel steering and even generating a few smiles. Bartons Line was just a slightly slower sampling of similar deliciousness. Dammit, it was good.
Taking in a short sealed section first, our next section of gravel was up over Pori Road and what do you know - it wasn't too shabby either. The views still rock too.
|I really like this view...|
While I'd been scrambling up the hill, I'd also been multi-tasking and pondering on where to next. I asked Colin if he remembered where the left turn on Coonoor Road (of course I couldn't remember the name of the road, so this made for a longer explanation and possible some flailing about of arms) went. He couldn't remember either so that settled it - we needed to find out. And looking at the map later reveals that it isn't a left turn and it is not a right turn up Towai Road either - merely a continuation of Coonoor Road.
That settled, we quickly dispatched the rest of Pori Road and then scooted through the Makuri Gorge, catching some other bikes just as they turned for Pongaroa where we went straight ahead onto Coonoor Road.
In places on Coonoor Road there was some freshly graded stuff that slowed us down for a bit but generally it was pretty good if dusty gravel. How dusty? Well, when a truck and trailer came past the other way I was forced to pull over for 5-10 seconds while some of the dust settled - mostly on me.
At the Towai Road intersection Colin led us off down the hill through a very pretty little valley that got more and more familiar as we went on. Yes, I'd definitely been through here before but I think that this was the first time in the direction we were travelling. Next time we have to go through the ford Colin...
After hitting tarmac once again, Colin pulled over and let me
Tragedy avoided, the tarseal got us back to Checkpoint Five and back out on SH2 again. But we couldn't have that now, could we...
Another left at Oringi got us onto some mostly sealed roads until I found a short section of gravel that ended up spitting us back out onto Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road. From there we cruised into Pahiatua and made for the track again.
Our final piece of gravel was the short stretch of Taraura Road where I got to upset the feathered locals again.
Poor old mama duck had already been scared witless by a car coming the other way but a Tenere up her backside was too much - she abandoned her young-uns (safe in the drain) and took to the air in front of me, all the while losing weight as she went...
A short, otherwise uneventful squirt over the hill pretty much finished up a pretty damn fantastic day out on the bike and after waving Colin off I puttered on home in search of another cold drink and wash the dust off me. Heck, that was a fun day.