Finally, on Wednesday night last week, the Central North Island got hammered by a cold blast and both the Desert Road and the Napier-Taihape Road were closed. It's the Napier-Taihape that is the draw-card. Glen even posted up some enticing pictures from Mangaweka/Taihape.
Now, what we should have done is taken Friday off work...
Unfortunately, I did have to work but managed to talk Colin into heading up on Saturday and he in turn talked his work-mate Andrew into joining us. Unfortunately, Glen couldn't make it😞
Colin and Andrew trailered up and I took the mouse up on the back of the ute to meet them in Taihape. Unfortunately Colin's WR had a dead battery so rather than bringing up his 1090, he pinched Jenny's XT250 to give it a little exercise...
After parking up outside Glen's place we saddled up, gassed up and made tracks.
Pungatawa Road (just off Spooners Hill) took us on seal until we turned off onto Kotukuraeroa Road. While checking out Google Maps prior to the ride, I'd spotted this road as a possible short-cut and chucked it into the GPS. When we got there the road sign said no exit but we thought it was worth a peek anyway - occasionally you get lucky.
A nifty little bit of gravel got us to a corner by a woolshed with three possible options: left, right or back the way we came. With gates on both the turn-offs we thought we might be out of lucky but while yakking about it, the farmer came out from his shed and let us know that yes, it was a paper road and he had no trouble with us taking it - mint!
So, through the first gate and we were into it! First up, we had to get past a big mob of sheep before hitting gate number two where the road became a grassy track for a bit, and then mud...
I nearly fell off in the mud a few times, but it wasn't due to the mud. I was following Colin and the little XT was getting well out of shape in the slop and he was all over the place. Not only did Colin have to deal with this excitement but he had to put up with me laughing my head off at him. I kicked myself that I didn't have the camera on...Colin was happy that he left the KTM at home.
After that great diversion we had a little bit of tar to take us to Taoroa Junction and our usual photo-op stop.
|Yep, that's a Colin on a XT250...|
|No snow yet|
A short race on great gravel got us through to Pukeokahu with just the odd bit of snow on the sides of the road. Last time on the Tenere, I didn't even get this far so I was a little disappointed with the amount of snow about. Never mind, we were having a blast anyway.
Onto Matawhero Road and the race was on again. It's a pretty wide-open bit of track with good visibility so we were just about hitting the speed limit and sliding around just a tad in some of the deeper gravel - little bikes are an absolute ball!
After a few road name changes we finally hit a decent amount of snow on Mangaohane Road, time for some more pictures.
|Someone might just have finished picking up his bike...|
While we were mucking around, Andrew decided to ride up a small snow covered hill, we thought it might be worth catching on camera - just in case...
After the non-event, it was just another magic piece of gravel with added snow and ice before we finally summited at the top of the Napier-Taihape Road. Time to break out the thermos and have some lunch.
After lunch it was time for the return trip. It was just as good as the trip out but we were really surprised at the amount of traffic on the road. Usually we're lucky to see more than one or two vehicles but this time around there were a number of cars coming our way, along with a petrol tanker(!) and another group of bike riders out having fun.
Just the one stop on the way back.
|My favourite of the day|
Back at Taorao Junction we took a different route back to Taihape. This involved a number of little gravel roads and one navigation error. It didn't matter, all the gravel roads were in beaut condition and we were having a blast. It probably only took us just over an hour (including the picture stop) to do the 70 odd km back from the Naper-Taihape Road.
Still pumped from the ride, we loaded up and then started our trip back down SH1 - somehow it's not so bad in a ute with the heater on...Another stop for refreshments in Hunterville and it was time to say seeya to the other guys as they carried on South and I pootled off home to Palmy via another stop in Feilding.
What an outstanding day out on the little bikes - everyone should have a 250!
Too finish, here's some of my video. Unfortunately I had the camera aimed a bit low (I still hate helmet cams) but you'll get the idea.