Thursday, December 31, 2020

Quick Xmas trip

This year for Christmas my family was basing themselves in and around Nelson where one of my sisters is based.  For me this meant a quick trip down on the Tenere.

I left Palmy on the 23rd with my wets on as there was weather coming.  In the end I got to the ferry with only a few spits so promptly removed the wets and put them away.  Of course this was a big mistake...

Within about ten minutes the rain arrived and for a while all the bike riders could fit in the provided shelter - but the bikes kept coming.  I staunchly maintained by relatively dryish place until I recognized a couple of bikes rolling up.

The riders were Chris and Karen who Colin and I did the Dusty Butt with.  It would have been rude for me to ignore them, so I gave up my spot and went out into the weather to chat to them and eventually even put my wet weather gear back on.  We ended up standing around in the rain for quite some time as the ferry was late and they were quite happy for us to get very wet...

Anyway, that's it a bit of the boring stuff out of the way.  After a decent crossing spent yarning with Chris and Karen and enjoying the comforts of the Plus lounge it was time to get back into my wets and head out into a gloomy and damp looking evening.

The ride through to Nelson was pretty boring with the new lower speed limits (soon the powers at be will have us all walking everywhere), and only the wet roads provided something mildly interesting to concentrate on.

The next couple of days were spent doing Christmassy things but on Boxing Day we all broke camp and headed over to the bach in Golden Bay.  A Tenere lead the way...

I got stuck in a bit of traffic at the lights on the Takaka Hill but pretty much got past everything by the summit and had a nice ride dropping down the hill.  Before Takaka I turned off (at my bro-in-laws suggestion) to take East Takaka Road - Dan had mentioned gravel and that was enough to persuade me to go looking.

The road ran into gravel straight away and quickly changed into a quite windy and narrow road with a gentle rise to climb up above the river.  I took it fairly quietly and this turned out to be a good idea when I ran across a big tractor coming the other way.  The driver was great though, slowing up and driving off the road (into a shallow ditch) so that I could use a Tenere sized portion of the road safely.

All along this windy bit of road I'd been noticing some great views out across the valley but it took me a while to find a decent/safe spot to stop for some pictures.  Glad I did.

The gravel only lasted around 6-7km and spat me out onto a long straight bit of seal which helped me cool off a little before stopping in Takaka for elvensees.

Funnily enough I arrived at the batch a fair way ahead of the rest of the family and got the bach unlocked and aired out.  After a few hours of relatively nice weather the rain ended finding us again but luckily the BBQ could be operated out of the weather but unluckily for me the weather wasn't going to be changing in a hurry and I had to get back to Tahuna for my last night in town.

While waiting for dinner, I was checking out my phone and a Stuff article popped up on my phone describing a huge hail storm in Motueka.  The photos were amazing with a huge amount of hail hitting the area and piling up like snow drifts.  This article was the only one I could find and really doesn't show it at its worst.

Anyway, by hook or by crook I had to head out into the weather.  It was pretty wet when I left Pakawau but it eased up a bit by the time I hit Takaka and the hill.  The roads were pretty damn wet though so no speed records were broken.

I hit Mot at around 9pm and was amazed to find that there was still heaps of hail drifts everywhere about 4 hours after the event!  Here's the proof:

I finally got in around 9:30 and set about drying stuff out for the next days ride home.  I had to get a bit radical...

Not sure what the correct temperature setting should be...

In the morning the rain had finally vamoosed but it was fairly chilly riding through to Havelock where I changed my mind on my route into Picton.  I was pretty early so had plenty of time to get from Havelock to Picton via either the main road or Queen Charlotte Drive so I decided to throw in a diversion around Port underwood which involves quite a bit of gravel.

In my mind I had imagined stopping along the way and grabbing some spectacular photos but once again the weather decided to throw a spanner in the works.  This time it wasn't rain, but wind.  At each of the nice little bays that you ride through the wind was howling so the water wasn't it's usual flat calm and it was also cold!

So this wuss just gapped it to Picton and made for the Ferry terminal where an official looking Al had a quick chat to me before I started the line-up of bikes heading North.

After another decent crossing I hit SH1 for a quick trip up to catch up with Colin and to eat some of his tucker and drink some of his coffee.  Adi was visiting too - fresh from completing his first SS1000 so we had a little to talk about...

So that was Xmas and tomorrow a whole new year of riding starts - bring it on!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Bush Riders Xmas Trail Ride

 Since the purchase of the RMX I've been keeping a keen eye on trail riding Facebook groups and Silver Bullet for any sniff of a trail ride and so far I seem to be able to find at least one per month not too far from me.  I spotted an event listing for the annual Bush Rders Xmas Trail Ride a while ago and was really keen to give it a whirl.

The ride was on Sunday and as usual I was up early and loaded up not long after 7am.  A quick trip to fill my gas can up and then grab some cash and I was off over the track heading for the Makairo Track.  Sign-on started at 8am and I was one of the first there so had to do quite a bit of nothing one I'd unloaded the bike and got my gear on.

The ride was organised as a led trail ride meaning that there were lead riders to keep people on the right track and under some sort of control.  There were also A and B groups to allow you to pick the one that best matched your skill level and also a small course marked out in a paddock for the little guys and girls to blast around on.

I decided to stick with the B group to make sure that I stayed out of trouble but somehow ended up near the front of the group most of the time - the pace on the first lap was pretty easy for this noob to manage.

The ride itself was over about 3 big farms (they mentioned 20,000 acres at the briefing) and also involved some short bits of the Makairo track to link up the paddocks.  There was plenty of neat hill climbs with the odd spooky decent, a few creek crossings and plenty of dust!

Yes, that's a bike in front of me...

One of the more disappointing aspects of the ride were the number of gates that had to be opened and then closed.  The lead rider would open the gates and then ask someone to wait at the gate until the sweep crew came through.  Yes, I got stuck at one of the gates...

I don't like to complain as I appreciate the work that goes into running one of these events but I think a club should be able to organise some of their own members to look after things like this for the paying riders.  I was stuck on that gate for nearly an hour and yes, it was very frustrating.  Talking to a girl who stopped at the gate, she mentioned that there were a lot of people needing help to get up some of the hillclimbs so the B group was definitely strung out a fair bit.

Eventually a couple of other guys who had been doing gate duty rolled up and said that they'd been told that they could go so that was all I needed.  I was back into and then soon back at base for lunch.

During lunch it was cool watching the little bikes tearing up their track.  I saw one little guy get his bike fairly sideways in a corner - just like a pro or an out of control RMX pilot.  Another boy on a Kawasaki was trying his damnedest to catch some air on one of the bumps in the circuit and I saw him definitely loft the front wheel at least once - very cool!

After lunch it was time for a second lap and this is where I got the video (for some reason the camera didn't co-operate on lap 1).  This lap was run a bit quicker too which was great but we did have quite a few stops at gates etc.  This allowed us to group up again and resulted in a big bunch leaving together and a lot of dust eating.  Never mind, it was still great fun but definitely over a lot quicker than my first lap.

Unless this little dude got lost somehow he must have done the B loop - keen man!

Ride done, it was good to get out of my dusty, sweaty gear and get stuck into re-hydrating before loading up and following the dust trails of others out of the valley.

Here's a wee map made up from a couple of tracks from the camera.  The data is from both the first and second laps - it's quite interesting how inaccurate the data is...

Anyway, yet another great day out on the Yella Terra and I'm looking forward to it giving more exercise next year!

FRDC MC Xmas ride

 A few weeks ago I thought that the FRDC MC should really try and squeeze one last ride into 2020.  On Saturday we had all pretty much finished up with work so it was time for that ride.

Just before 9:30 the Connie and I made our way down to a local petrol station to meet the others.  We had a few hangers-on join us so in the end there was eight bikes in all ready to hit some back roads.

First up, we got out of town and onto a pretty busy Pahiatua Track where we spread out a little due to that traffic and riding abilities, but nobody had got lost and when we pulled up at the Mangamaire turn-off for a quick regroup everyone was accounted for.

The ride through to Mangamaire was all good until we met up with a milk tanker who was stuck behind a pretty sick (sick as in crook, not cool) van.  The tanker was pretty much pushing him up the hill but was good enough to indicate when the road was clear for us to pass - top man!

After another regroup at SH2 we took the main road for a bit before taking Hamu Rongomai Road to Mangaone Valley Road.  This was a neat little squirt until we caught up with a mob of sheep going in the same direction and leaving their own special trail on the road...

Mangaone Valley Road got us further North but rather than ducking into Pahiatua we carried on taking more neat back roads towards Mangatainoka and then on to Hopelands.  Somewhere in here a Triumph decided to check out the long grass but luckily he kept it upright and there was no damage done to bike or rider - just a bit of a surprise...

Eventually we popped out onto SH2 again and trundled our way into Woodville in search of a Cafe.

After an early lunch and a bit of yarn, the gang broke up with different guys taking different options to get back home.  Ian tagged in behind me and we had a great ride through Ballance and back over the track again.

Nice to end the year with a neat little back road jaunt.

Friday, December 18, 2020

2020 Coast to Coast

Last Saturday was the 28th Coast to Coast charity ride and I believe my 21st.  This time around I had enticed Colin up with the suggestion that we just ride the first half of the ride to Woodville and then disappear in search of gravel after the lunch break.

On the way out to the beach the S10 was blown all over the place in some pretty windy conditions and at the Himitangi intersection I managed to pick up a wee-strom with the rider turning out to by Adi. 

At the beach we signed up and wandered around checking out bikes and chatting with others.  I caught up with a few people I knew including Doug and Kirsty who I had met at the opening of our new Yamaha dealership.  Naturally, they ride a quality motorcycle:

A thorn between two roses...

Eventually it was time for the quick briefing and then we were off via some backroads to Foxton and then Shannon.  It was nice to have the wind mostly behind us and we hung back, just cruising along with everyone else until we hit the Pahiatua Track where we may have let a few more horses out.

Just before crossing the Manawatu River we had a bit of a regroup so that we could all enter Woodville together and become the starring attractions of their Xmas parade.

In Woodville it was time for a quick bite before our afternoon escapade.

That damn thorn again...

Rob still loves his H2 and reckons he'll never sell it

Leaving Woodville, we made our way through to Pahiatua and attempted to fill up at the BP but the pumps were dead.  I did a quick calculation and decided that we should all be able to make Pongaroa (there is a card pump there now) so we remounted and vamoosed.

We took seal across to Route 52 and then turned North before hitting the gravel of Waihoki Valley Road to take one of our favourite routes to Pongaroa.

The gravel through here was pretty good and not even that dusty so Colin and I made reasonable progress with the new Adventure rider following along behind.

Spur Road gets a bit narrower and rougher in places and as we nearly hit the summit Colin gave me a toot and immediately turned around.  It turned out that we had a Wee-strom down.  Nothing serious, but Adi had not quite gone right enough into a corner and had gone off into ditch and dropped the bike.

We soon had it upright and there wasn't much harm done.  A bit of support and a few revs got it back out onto the road and then up to the summit for some photos.

Dropping down the hill, Colin got ahead of us and unbeknownst to us he may have missed a turn...

After a great ride through to Coast Road, I dropped then hammer (surprising Doug and Kirty coming the other way) for Pongaroa only to find no Colin...

Adi and I wandered around a bit looking for him amongst all the Coast to Coast riders who had stopped for a drink and eventually saw him filling up.  It turned out that he had discovered a dead end that I knew about but hadn't been keen on visiting...

After a cold drink and some snacks we left the Coast to Coasters to it again and headed up over the hill towards Makuri.  Along the way I started to get a bit worried as the Tenere was very sluggish, taking harley-esk lumps of time to accelerate and not really wanting to give me more than 4,000 revs.  Most weird and just a little scary...

A quick stop in Makuri quickly discovered the issue.  The super-glue holding my RHS hot-grip on had given up and the grip had rotated enough that it was not allowing me very much throttle travel.  I got the grip back into position and secured it temporarily with a couple of cable-ties and she was back in action.

Taking a right on Coonoor Road we got back onto the gravel and this time around things were a bit more hairy for Adi.  There was plenty of new deep gravel and plenty of slipping and sliding to be had.  But all was good and everyone got through to the intersection with Towai Road Ok.

Next up we took a little diversion up to the start of the Makairo Track for a looksee - the WR's will need to take a trip through there at some stage...

Then it was a quick double-back before our last section of gravel on Waitahora Road followed by some smoother tarmac back into Dannevirke for fuel.

Our route back to Ashhurst and Palmy was via some of the sealed backroads to Woodville and a trip over the Saddle.  In Ashhurst we said our see-yas and the other two headed South to home while I made for Palmy and home base.