Sunday, March 28, 2021

Grading Gravel

 No, I'm not talking earth moving - settle down Colin - but on Saturday we had our first gravel ride since the TT2000 and the chance to compare our local gravel to the autobahns of the South Island.

I met up with Colin at Sanson and from there the plan was to ride Turakina Valley Road and that was pretty much all the planning we did.  But leaving Sanson I had an idea...

Rather than ride all the way cross to Turakina (yes, all that way!) I thought that we could make for Marton and then try and find that neat bit of gravel that we have often ended our rides on.  I knew exactly where to find it coming off Turakina Valley Road but couldn't remember where it came out.

So after probably making Colin wonder where we were going, I turned up SH1 from Bulls and then into Marton.  We then skirted the township and cruised out Wanganui Road where I started looking for the turn-off to the road I had in mind.

Taking the first right, I thought that I was onto it but nope, just because the road seems familiar doesn't mean that you're on the right one.  And when the road doesn't transition to gravel when you think it should then that's another pretty big clue too...

Nevermind, it didn't really matter as Waimutu Road did get us to Turakina Valley (I recognised enough of it to know that was going to happen) and it has a couple of nice little twisty sections on it so it was definitely better than boring old SH3.

Heading up the first stretch of the valley we had to slow up for some road works and then eventually hit gravel.  

We'd not gone 100 metres when I had to slow up to let a peacock get up enough speed to get airborne and out of my way.  And then not long after that it was a mama turkey and her three very little chicks that needed to dash for safety.  Mama promptly deserted the kids by taking wing and then I was very surprised to see the chicks launch into the air and get out of the way too.  I thought that they were way too small/young to fly but anyway they all got to safety.

Meanwhile, back to the gravel  comparison.  Well, it wasn't looking good for the North Island.  The roads were really hard and dry and had plenty of gravel to roll/drift around on.  Add in the steeper cambers and they just weren't as good as those magnificent Southern stretches.

Just after Colin passed me (the KTM needed to stretch its legs a bit) I had my next run in with the wild life.  Something entered my helmet and started crawling around on my chin.  I quickly stopped and yanked my helmet off and it vamoosed without stinging me - phew!  No sooner than I had got away with that, when something else hit me at a great rate of knots square on my nose and splattering me in the eye!  Oh, but I was having fun...

The next interesting thing didn't involve animals or insects but a reasonable slip in our path.  Not sure how recent it was but there were two diggers and a truck in attendance trying to knock down any loose material and cart it out of the way.  We didn't have to wait long and the truck made a good job of levelling us a wee path through the crap.

The middle gravel section of the valley was a bit better than the Southern end but there were still plenty of corrugations to negotiate and of course a lot of dust.  The final section was more like the first and there were even some sandy sections in places and some digger diggings as well.  It didn't matter, it's still one of our favourite bits of gravel.

From Tangiwai we scooted across to Ohakune where it was time for a snack and a cold drink - it was fairly warm out and we'd been working in places so I think we deserved it.

After lunch we fuelled up and then made our way across to Raetihi before turning South towards the Paras.  But we were not done with the gravel yet.

We turned off onto Oruakukuru Road to take us across to Fields track and then another favourite Whangaehu Valley.  The first bit of the road was seal but it had just been resealed so there was a truckload of loose metal all over it - the road got much better once it changed to gravel...

The sealed section of Whangaehu Valley Road was brilliant except for the girl in the Subaru who wanted all of the road but when we turned onto the gravel section we were back onto some pretty average gravel with lots of corrugations again.

Dropping down the steep hill we had a group of GS riders meet us coming the other way, the road can't have been too bad as I'm pretty sure we all waved to each other - or maybe we just nodded, can't remember...

Eventually we ran out of gravel and got into the reasonably windy sealed stuff and then we had our next animal encounter.  Rounding a corner there was a ewe with her fairly old lamb in the middle of the road.  The ewe got out of the road pretty quickly but the startled lamb slid over on some shiny stuff and onto it's knees and butt.  It then proceeded to repeat this twice trying to get out of the way.  I tell ya, that shiny tar is dangerous!

More seal got us back onto Turakina Valley Road where we finally found the other end of that road I was looking for earlier.  Taurimu Road was a great little blast with the gravel hill climb being a lot of fun.  Eventually we hit Galpins Road just North of Marton and this is really where I should have been looking in the morning...Too bad, we knocked it off anyway.

In Marton it was time for another cold drink before Colin made his way home down the main road and I scooted across to Halcombe and Mount Stewart, avoiding the main road as much as possible.

So yeah, a very nice little ride and it was good to be back on the Tenere that's for sure but I'm already missing those South Island autobahns...

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Tenere Boogie

 Not me...

I'm picking he was in Touring mode for a bit smoother throttle response but he's good.  First is pretty tall on the S10.

Extra points for running with the bags on...

Monday, March 22, 2021

Big water pumps

 So, no ride this weekend but yesterday Colin, Dad and I shot across to Whanganui to watch some jetsprints.  Awesome day out listening to some great music - mostly angry V8's but there was a solitary nissan 6 there howling away and going very well.

Only a few boats ended up out of the water (all right side up) and it was pretty amazing to see how close the three classes were and how much faster they got as the day wore on.

Video taken on my phone and the pics on my dinky little point and shoot at maximum zoom.

Pics shown below picked at random from all this lot...

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Long distance RMX...

 If there's one thing about the RMX it is that it likes fuel.  And it has a itty-bitty 6.2L fuel tank.

I'm probably being a bit hard on it when I say it likes fuel but on a purely km/l it has the worst economy of any of the bikes in the shed.  But km/l doesn't really tell the whole story, with the sort of riding you do on it you don't cover a huge amount of ground but it takes a long time - and generally the engine is running for all that time.  An example:

  • Last weekend the odometer says I rode around 26km
  • I estimate that I used around 3.7l of fuel
  • So about 7km/l - awesome!
  • But it took be somewhere between 2 and 2.5 hours to cover those 26km
  • So at worst around 1.85l/hr
Anyway, I wouldn't have made another lap without refuelling.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a bit more fuel on board?  When I took the bike into the Mangatuks I was a bit shocked at how much fuel it had used and couldn't really tell how much was left in the tank so borrowed a couple of litres to be on the safe side...

So, when an ad came up on Facebook for a second hand IMS tank off a RMZ450 I was interested.  First I had to work out if it would fit the bike and then decide if I really needed it.

It turns out that yes, they fit an RMX and then after some head scratching followed by some haggling I ended up with a 9.8L tank and some spare plastics for an RMZ450.

This morning the tank swap was completed and the following video was most useful in helping me decide to buy the tank and then showing me how to fit it.

First up, the seat and radiator shrouds were removed and then it was time for the tank.  Man I hate those fuel line couplings!

Then it was time to pull the fuel pump and fit it to the new tank.  This was my "it goes this way around" picture before removing the pump from the original tank.

It was easy as to swap the pump over.  This pic sort of shows the size difference between the tanks.

Then it was time to fit the tank.  It took a bit of jiggling around to get it in place and I still may not quite have it in perfectly.  This picture shows the different front mount with the tank not quite in place yet.

The original fittings for the tank strap and seat bracket were also swapped across to the new tank.

Then it was time to fit the plastics.  Unfortunately I had to fit the plastics that came with the tank as one of the bolts holding one of the shrouds on doesn't want to come undone - I think that the captive nut is turning in the plastic of the tank.  Maybe I'll be able to fix that at a later stage.

Then it was seat on and some gas into the tank to see if everything was still all good.  The bike actually took a little bit to turn over (unusual), maybe the pump had drained of fuel in the swap over and needed to run for a bit to pick some up?

And so, now we have another long distance (not sure if I believe the 130km mentioned in the video) off-road touring weapon!

WR showing off it's extra 4L of fuel capacity...

So will I use all that extra fuel?  Well, probably not on trail rides as you generally do smallish loops and can come back to the ute for more fuel - I'll be able to choose whether to fill the tank right up or just half full depending on whether the extra weight (maybe 3-4kg I 'spose) proves to be a problem.  But, it will definitely be good if I go places like the Mangatuks where there are easy trails for miles and I will want that extra fuel.

Now to try it out properly...

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Moonshine Trail ride

 As mentioned in the last blog, my Sunday ride last weekend was another outing for the RMX on the Moonshine Trail ride somewhere up the Moonshine Valley near Wellington.  And it was quite the outing...

It started, of course, with a ute ride down to Wellington and a snaking ride up a very narrow road to the Kapi-Mana motocross track.

Once parked up I unloaded the bike and wandered off to get registered.  Scarily, after handing over my entry fee, I was handed a number!  What exactly had I got myself in for?

Anyway, eventually the time came for the briefing and the ride start.  I tend to try to let the guns tear into before trundling off myself but this time I was probably away a bit sooner and straight into a reasonably steep climb a narrow little trail.  BTW: don't trust the speeds on the videos/snaps - the camera lies like a politician and then stops even pretending to care - like a politician...

This little track then took us out onto a nice little gravel road that took us along the top of the ridge.  There were plenty of decent views to be had but I was enjoying the ride and didn't stop for any pictures.


The next sections took us in and out of the bush and then down a very steep and rocky section into a creek which became the track for a short distance.  Some of the downhills seemed to last for ever and were fairly punishing on this old bloke.  In the video (end of post) you can hear the bike puttering down in second gear along with the brakes getting a serious workout - the video doesn't really capture the steepness adequately.

From here on we were into the pine forest quite a bit, but still with the odd bit of gravel road and even grass tracks.  And then I wandered off the C grade track and found myself on the A & B loop...

Just the odd tree...

It was in this tougher stuff that I definitely struggled a bit.  The bike could definitely handle it and it was great when I could keep up momentum and bounce my way up some fairly tricky stuff.  But once I lost momentum or worse, stopped then I struggled and my lack of fitness would make its presence felt.  Twice I needed a hand up a particularly nasty bit while I caught my breath and then I would be away again and ok until things caught up with me again.

My next little adventure came about when following a fairly overgrown trail.

Rounding a corner I spotted a couple of smaller branches across the road.  No problem, I thought, they're only small, we'll sail right over them...Unfortunately they were fairly wet and green and obviously slippery and I was given a lesson in face-planting...

Yeah, it was actually quite funny and I felt a lot better when the next guy had the same (although not as spectacular) problem.  In fact, talking to some guys who helped me in some snotty bits, I was definitely not alone in coming a cropper there.

The next (bigger) tree was a doddle in comparison.

The next challenge was at the bottom of a hill (and just before an immensely challenging climb where I also needed help) and it was in the form of a bog which just sucked me in.

Looks pretty tame eh?

450 a little hot under the collar

Yes, it took two of us to lift it out of the hole the bike dug itself so that I could push it out with it in first gear.  Hot work.  And the battery in the camera died so there's no more pics/video.

And then I hit that hill which stopped me for a while.  Luckily, my new mates helped me up the section (one of the guys rode the bike up the worst bit while I attempted to catch my breath).

After that I had no more issues.  The last bit of that hill climb was still reasonably gnarly but after catching my breath I just attacked it hard in second gear and scrambled up and out onto the gravel road for the trip back to the car park.

But the organisers were not finished with us.  Every now and again the road would be roped off and we'd be directed over a bank to perform some more tricky riding on steep and overgrown little tracks before looping back onto nice gravel.  Weren't they nice...

My entire ride probably was somewhere near 2 and a half hours and the odo on the bike (not sure how accurate it is) read something like 28km.  Great average speed eh?

Bike went well, bark buster does need some realigning...

Anyway, overall I enjoyed the ride except for some of those disappointing bits where I needed help or struggled with fitness and it was good to try some tougher bits.  I have to say I'm not a fan of pine tree roots on clay hills - just a nasty combination.

I could have gone out for another loop (and a couple of my helpers invited me to join them) but I was fairly worked out and my shoulders were already giving me a bit of grief - too soft!  Still loving the yellow bike and getting back into trail riding - it's got to be good for you!

I think some super glue might sort this

Up and down, up and down...

Map is a bit funny as camera obviously lost GPS signal at times - there were no straight lines and I didn't hit 726km/h...

Oh, and here's more video if you are truly bored.  I think the video snips work better eh?