Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Warming up

 Yep, I was glad I removed my "waterproof" liner from my jacket yesterday - and I should have done the same with my trou too...

Yesterday was a public holiday and I'm sure the idea there is to give you more time for getting a ride in, so that's what we did.

Colin and Adi (on his new-to-him Wee) turned up just before 9am and we set our sights on the Napier-Taihape Road.  

Two things you can be sure of on the last day of a long weekend is oodles of traffic and radar buddies.  For these reasons (mainly reason #1) we decided to take as many back roads as possible and get the little bit of SH1 done in the morning so headed for Taihape first.

Crossing over to Cheltenham we straight away encountered a fair bit of traffic making their way over Vinegar Hill so I led us off to Kimbolton, and through Rangiwahia, finally joining SH1 at Mangaweka.  This was a great little warm-up as the road was nice and dry and very clean of it's usual loose metal, fallen branches and live stock.  It was only the last section "past the bluffs" that had rocks, dust and dirt on the road - it is never not like that.  No ice to worry about either Adi...

The short stretch of SH1 got us into Taihape where the petrol station was doing a roaring trade in gas and coffees.  Plenty of bikes and some harleys there too.

Leaving Taihape, Colin took the led and I tucked in behind Adi for the cruise over Spooners Hill and onto the Napier-Taihape Road.

After the first descent to the old bridge I somehow sneaked past the Wee and set off after the GS.  Some of the best tarmac in the North Island got us to the usual stop - although there was a lot less snow around than last time.

We weren't the only guys with the right idea...

Rest over, we got back into it only to discover that the rest of the road was just as delicious.  I really enjoyed the tighter sections and it was a much better experience than what we (well, me anyway) had on the NI800 when we were heading into the setting sun.

Is that...

Well, yes it is.

After another wee stop we hit the last section of the the Napier-Taihape.  I am pleased to inform the readers that it was just as glorious as the rest.  I did manage to scare some of the wildlife though...

Dropping down into Fernhill we made our way across through Bridge Pa to a very warm Havelock North where we parked up at one of the pubs for lunch.  I may have demolished a Kangaroo burger...

After losing the guys while I grabbed some fuel, we regrouped and headed South on Kahuranaki Road to Elsthorpe and Patangata before hooking a left on SH2 at Waipawa.  A short stretch of SH2 got us to the start of the Takapau Plains before we turned off again to take the backroads through to Takapau and onwards South to our new hillside photo stop.

Yep, Colin and I had just been here a couple of weeks ago...

Another stop in Dannevirke got the Beemer & Wee some gas and the riders a coffee to get them home.  We then got really boring again and followed the same route through to Pahiatua and over the track again - but at least we kept off the main drag!

Great day for a ride and I was really glad to have opened all my vents at lunchtime - those liners are coming out of my trou ASAP.  The Napier-Taihape Road is definitely one of the best riding experiences in the North Island - full stop.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Coffee in Eketahuna

 Some time ago Oldbeer from Advrider suggested that some of the Kiwi Advriders needed to meetup at some stage to put some faces to names.  Apparently he likes coffee and decided that a coffee would be the perfect excuse for us to meetup and then perhaps even go for a pootle.

Well, Saturday was the day and after twisting Colin's arm I managed to rope him in as well - it is tough sometimes...

We left my place just after 8 and proceeded over the hill and then onto some of our favourite gravel down to Eketahuna.  I believe that this just may be the only way one can get oneself down to the bustling metropolis that is Eketahuna - the Tenere definitely doesn't seem to know another way.

The ride down wasn't quite as nice (or quick) as usual as some terrorist had been out pouring new metal on the road and spreading it around reasonably thick.  This was a bit of a bummer but as we were pretty early we did get to chase the bunnies all over the road - I even saw a completely black one at one stage.

In Eketahuna we caught up with a bunch of blokes we did know and a few we weren't too sure about.  Actually we weren't too sure about any of them but at least recognised a few.  We even had coffee with a few of them...

Eventually, as we couldn't sit around drinking coffee all day when there were stones that needed flipping over, we decided that we should deal to some of those stones and go for a ride.  We split up into two groups, one initially planning on a sealed route (though I believe they couldn't resist a little gravel in the end) and another wild bunch with a passion for gravel.  I got lumbered with the job of towing the gravel munchers around.

We started off with the particularly delicious Mangaoranga Road which, as usual, was a perfect warm-up.  Plenty of oh-so-smooth, fast gravel with just enough fine stuff on it to permit some slithering.  

Have I ever mentioned how much I like pulling top gear on gravel?

Next up was a slightly slower section of gravel on Bartons Line and then back onto the seal at Alfredton for the run up 52 to our next turn-off on Waihoki Valley Road.  This got us onto more great gravel and our usual route through to Coast Road and Pongaroa or Akitio.  I must have been enjoying it because I missed the usual photo op for the out-of-towners - oops!

I made up for it with a quick stop at the Coast Road turn-off:

All manner of machinery scattered about the place


From there it was just a quick blast into Pongaroa to meet the others for lunch at the pub - we were only just over an hour early 🤦

Horses being tended to before the owners were fed

Friendless KTM...

Glen refuelling his WR - fancy forgetting to bring his Tenere!

Viffer looking out of place - the rider wasn't with us

Beemers snuggling together

Yep, being elitist...

After a leisurely lunch it was time to roll again and as we left the pub there was the odd spit of rain to make us wonder if we were in for a soaking or going to stay lucky.

Out of town we got stuck behind a ute who was all over the road before we turned off and got back onto the gravel of Waione-Horoeka Road.  Cruising through this reasonably twisty section we started getting some light rain and this made the climb up Towai Road a bit trickier - the rain was a pain with the visor up and I couldn't see a heck of a lot with it down...

Time for a wee break at the top:

Water hovering above the hills, waiting to pounce

When we got a bit lower down on Coonoor Road the cloud moisture decreased and it was much more fun as Colin and I got in our last gravel fix before taking the seal home.

We did stop at the Pori Road turn-off to say see-ya-later to the others who were going to have a final play on Pori Road before returning to Eketahuna to check out the nightlife there.



Monkey-less Stephen

I was home in time for afternoon smoko after a nice little outing.  Good to catch-up with some more like-minded lunatics - and get a gravel fix in.  Cheers Oldbeer!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Weekend Wander

 Ok, so I'm behind on my write-ups, so I'll start with yesterday's one and then go back in time for a couple more when I get a chance.

Yesterday was a pretty decent sort of a day and Colin just happened to have a demo 1250GS sitting in his shed that really needed some exercise.  Why he had the bike is a story for another day but it did definitely need a ride - or perhaps Colin needed one slightly more...

Pic stolen from Colin's rave on FB

After his cruise up to my place and the usual pre-departure coffee and chin-wag, we mounted up and headed for the track.  I chose to take the Connie as I hadn't ridden it since the weekend before and casually slipped into a similar pace as on the NI800.  Shortly we found ourselves in Pahiatua for fuel and the dismantling of my tank-bag so I could get fuel - perhaps those two events were around the other way for me.

Our next little leg was a cracker.  Through to Pongaroa over the Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road.  It was magic - I particularly enjoyed the ride through the Makuri Gorge and up over the hill.  The other bits were pretty damn good too.  At Pongaroa I stopped basically just to tell Colin that I was having a good day - I'm pretty sure that he wasn't having a bad day either 😎.  Zero pictures were taken.

From Pongaroa we dealt to Route 52 up to Pongaroa.  It was pretty much more of the same but man there's been some changes through there.  There has been a heap of logging going on so the hills looked a lot different and yes, the road has taken even more of a pounding.  It certainly pays to be on your game and is heaps of fun on an Adv bike or perhaps a 13 year old Concours with 161km on it...

An exasperated Colin showing his displeasure at how the day was shaping up

Two pretty girls?

The pub has changed hands recently (or at least I think so) but we couldn't argue with the cost and quality of the tucker.  We'll probably be back at some stage.

For the afternoon's entertainment I was keen to return via some more back roads but not 100% sure of the right turn-off but after one unnecessary but fun loop and an overshoot of a turn we got back on track and got stuck into the road from Ormondville to Te Uri.  It was more great riding but we did have to stop to have a quick yak about and grab some more photos at a pretty nice spot.

That's a little waterfall down there

Crappy digital zoom on phone but waterfall more visible

For the next wee leg to Weber Road I was forced (😉) to sample the Bavarian beast while Colin got to sample Kawasaki's finest.

So what was it like?  Well, my previous experience on saggy-boobed BMW's was on Dad's 1150GS and 1100S: 

Unfairly, when I rode the GS I had just hopped off the Connie and then had to tackle Vinegar Hill with mum on the back while Dad disappeared on the Connie.  I remember it handling ok but I struggled to get my head around the motor thinking that it needed to rev a fair bit more than I thought (from an 1150 twin) it should.  I probably should have rode it solo and hammered some dodgy back road...

With the 1100 it was a bit different.  I hopped off the V-Strom so the bikes were about even on hp (although the Suzy was more torquey and less civilised).  Once again the bike handled nicely and overall I preferred it to the GS.

Pretty too

Leap forward a fair bit in technology and the 1250 was a whole new ballgame.  There was this big flash LCD dash and all sorts of switches and gee-gaws to play with.  I ignored these and concentrated on learning how to ride the bike.  Thoughtfully, Colin had left it in Dynamic mode...

Firing it up there was a little shake from side to side (to let you know it's a boxer) until the engine ran up to idle and then it was as smooth as silk.  Safe to say it is the smoothest twin I've ever ridden.

The other day I hopped from the Connie to the Tenere after about an hour and a half break and it took me a little while to get my head right for riding the Ten.  When I got on the Beemer I got in the groove a bit quicker.

Did I mention that the motor is smooth?  Well it is, and it is very quiet and spins up readily and quickly.  I barely heard a peep from it (I did have ear plugs in) and actually had to keep half an eye on the tacho to check how much petrol I was pouring into it.  And there was plenty of torque hiding inside waiting to hustle me towards the next corner too.  I think I'd actually want to make it a bit louder so I could have some indication of when I needed to hunt for another gear - maybe you'd get used to it.

Anyway, the motor was very nice and let me stuff things up (like not down-changing) every now and again and I can definitely see it eating a lot of miles very easily.  Colin told me to compare it to the Ten and not the Connie but honestly it was nearly as smooth and very comfortable.

The suspension was setup quite firm but it handled those dodgy back roads really well and had that nice planted feeling that you want.  Tip-in (like on the Ten and most Adv bikes) was a piece of cake and hitting the awesome brakes didn't upset the bike at all.

What about the comparison to the Ten?  Well, I guess it might have been easier to write this if I'd had the Ten along too, but they have some similarities and some differences.  Handling wise, they are very similar and if I put similar (80/20) tyres on the Tenere then they'd be very close although the BMW probably has better suspenders (and I think it had ESA).  They are both great bikes for riding NZ roads.

Engine wise they are quite different.  The Tenere is definitely lazier and kicks out oodles of torque from idle whereas the GS spits it out far more smoothly and wants to rev more (higher redline too).  This probably where it is more like the Connie too - that smooth torque delivery is deceptive, you don't necessarily get the kick in the pants but you accelerate pretty damn quickly and oh so smoothly.

I only did about 16km on the GS but yeah, it's a very nice bit of kit.  If I were a rich bloke maybe I'd even have one...or a new Ten with ESA and some other mod-cons and 10k or so in my pocket.

Anyway, back to the ride...

From the Weber Road we carried on South on SH2, got waved at by a bloke in a red car - not sure what he wanted, we didn't stop to ask - and then turned off at Orinigi to take a few more back roads to Pahiatua where a certain BMW got thirsty.

Thirsty Beemer, patient Connie...

One last squirt over the track got us into Aokautere where Colin turned for his trip back down to Waikanae and I rode home for a cold drink - the liners will be out of the gear for our next run...

Outstanding day out and I really enjoyed sampling something different.


Smiling even with all those bugs in her eyes...

Thursday, October 01, 2020


 Great to hear this podcast.  

Folker is a great old chap that has done a lot of long distance riding on one or the other of his Beemers.  Mark and I used to catch up with him on Southern Cross Rallys and Grand Challenges (he was doing them well into his 70's) and I'm sure that Geoff knows him too.

He knows how to pedal his bikes (and definitely how to keep them running) fairly well and has been known to get along at times.  I won't share any incriminating stories but he did pass me on the outside on the Tahora Saddle (Forgotten Highway) one day.  I was probably on the Connie...

I happy to be an FB friend of his too and he definitely is still out there cruising hooning around the place.

Anyway, here's the podcast and I really hope I'm able to be doing what he's still doing at his age!