Saturday, May 29, 2021

Four months later...

 And 6,200km mean the Tenere needs a new rear tyre.  This time around something different showed up.

Shinko E705

Looks a wee bit different to even the worn E-07 eh?

Definitely not as knobbly as the E-07 and it's supposed to be a 70/30 tyre versus the 50/50 that they claim for the E-07.  I figure it might be a good one to have on over winter when the seal is slipperier and the gravel grippier...

Not the first time I've had one either...

On the WR, it was a pretty decent tyre, good on gravel and I even made it across North Range Road only getting stuck once in a really boggy bit.  It then came off the 250 and onto Glen's WR450 and he really liked it too and got some decent miles out of it.  Not sure what the S10's torque will do to it...

Anyway, today off came the E-07.

And on went the Shinko.  Just getting to the trickiest bit here...

And then it's all over:

Sure looks different to those chunky E-07's.  Now to find out how good it is...

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Suzuki Extreme 4WD Challenge

 A fair bit off topic but hey it's got Suzuki in the title...

A couple of weekends ago Colin and I popped over to Turakina to check out the Suzuki Extreme 4WD Challenge - any excuse to see some V8's being gouged on eh?

I last went to something like this as a teenager and back then the vehicles were generally modified Suzuki's, Land Rovers and Land Cruisers.  Yeah, some of them might have had a bit more horsepower under the hood than standard and some big tyres but they were nothing like what we have now.  Also, the trials were not as extreme but did often included a bog/swamp that the vehicles often ended up getting dragged out of...

While there are different classes in the sport (some were on display), for this event it was all about the big boys.  These are purpose built machines, all of them sporting V8's (some supercharged), all with independent braking on all four wheels and some with 4 wheel steer.  Big tyres running about 2psi of pressure and phenomenally long travel suspension allow them to tackle stuff that a trials bike would turn its nose up at...

All that grunt and grip launches them from zero to hang onto your hat in the blink of an eye and things like steep climbs are a walk in the park.  None of the photos really give you a proper idea of how steep the obstacles were.

As you can see often plenty of power is applied "just in case" resulting in plenty of crowd pleasing aerial antics.  But, the drivers have to be careful as they need to get out of the power real quick once airborne.  If they don't they run the risk of breaking driveshafts on landing - this happened quite a few times but they obviously keep a supply on hand to get the cars ready for the next trial.

V8 powered winch in action

So with the mud mostly gone, the trials require all sorts of tight maneuvering through obstacle courses (generally on the side of a steep hill) with points off for hitting a flag and instant disqualification if the car touches the tape lined course.  They are also only given so much time to complete but could back up and have another go at a particular part of the course as long as they stayed within the time allowed.  A couple of courses were speed sections where the shortest time was what they were after.

One of the things that struck was how quick the driver and navigators (the guys on the brakes) got themselves out of trouble if they muffed one of the obstacles.  Often when you thought that they should probably just tumble down the hill or roll, they somehow got the truck pointed in a better direction or spun it it around for another go.  The 4 wheel steer an independent brakes mean that they can turn at least 90 degrees inside the length of the truck.

Checkout these guys getting through a decent set of obstacles:

Pretty sure the #6 flag may have been clipped here...

This truck wasn't so lucky:

Anyway, it was a great way to spend the day, wandering from course to course, listening to the V8's and taking photos.  I also shot a bit of video and by highlights video is getting plenty of views on Youtube.  Here it is:

Oh, and by the way, one of the trucks was for sale at 100k (including transporter), Colin managed to avoid taking it home...

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

An old favourite

 After missing out on a ride the previous weekend, we really needed to get a decent fix in this past Saturday.  During the week Colin announced that we were riding Turakina Road and then some more of our favourite gravel from the Napier-Taihape road through Pukeokahu, back out to SH1 just North of Utiku.  We've done this one so often that I can just reuse an old map 😉

So, with Colin doing all of the extensive planning (including the invites to others), all I had to do was get through a week at work and check the tyres on the Tenere.  Perhaps I shouldn't have looked too closely at the rear...

Dust on tyre actually makes it look like it had tread...

Yeah, a slick really - the WR's Motoz makes it look pretty sad...

Saturday eventually arrived and come 8:30 I was ambling my way over to Sanson where Colin was already waiting - I know he had a coffee, but cannot confirm whether or not there was a pie involved.  Shortly we were joined by Steve on his GSA.  I hadn't ridden with Steve since the old BRR days so it was great he could come along.  Last to arrive was John, on a KTM just about ready for its first service.

We eventually got away and headed off into what was shaping up to be a pretty nice day.  Heated grips were still required but as you can see from the first picture from Turakina Valley Road, the sun was out and making a pretty decent attempt at warming things up.

Turning up the valley for the first sealed section, it was great to get off the main road and onto an outstanding back road.  But just around the corner (well, not the first corner) there was a surprise in store for us.

Now, I know you can see two bikes stopped in the road in the second photo but can you see the feathers in the first one?

Well, they belong to the bloke you see below:

Yep, a peacock decided to take on a Colin and was headbutted into will not be doing that again.

These jokers are pretty heavy (Wikipedia says 4-6kg for the males) and he hit Colin's bike on the top of his clip on wind-deflector (smashing it) before hitting Colin directly in the face.  The damn bird wasn't going that slow either.

Some science (momentum): p = mv ==> 6kg x 100km/h = 166.7kg m/s  ==> big whack to the noggin...

Luckily Colin managed to keep the bike upright as he hauled up to see what had just given him the headache from hell.  He was fairly lucky...

We had a little break for a while to make sure Colin was ok and to clean (well, he did that, we watched) all the goop off his helmet and after he had scoffed a few panadol, we set off again.

A wee bit further up the road we came to an inviting sign:

Yep, well and truly into the good stuff now.

Following Steve

All the way up the valley the road was in pretty fast condition, the only downer was some pretty heavy corrugations out of some of the slower corners.  Nobody really liked these but I have to say, with a dodgy rear tyre they were definitely not as much fun as they might have been - very hard to get decent drive out of the corners.  You might be able to spot some of these corners in the video later and note how I'm pretty slow out of the corners but the new camera is pretty good and dampening out the vibration that runs through the whole bike...

Anyway, the corrugations were not enough to make me want to turn tail and make for home because the rest of the ride up the valley was magic and the scenery stunning.

Along the way, in the middle of a right-hander there was a most interesting item:

Pic stolen from off the web

Yes, there really was a fork in the road and I wasn't the only one who saw it - a chocolate fish to anyone who can spot it on the video.  I chose to go right at the fork...

Back to the scenery:

Reaching the end of the road we stopped for a quick photo before cruising into Waiouru for lunch at our normal place.

Note damaged wind deflector on the 1090

Steve's souvenir hanging in there

And here's the video of the ride up the valley:

The after lunch ride involved a sweet tarmac fang across to the summit of the Napier-Taupo with my rear tyre just hanging in there and then we were back onto more fantastic gravel.

We didn't even stop for a breather until we came to Pukeokahu where everyone had pretty much the same thing to say about the ride - awesome!

One last section of tighter yet still delicious gravel got us through to Torere Road for a little sealed sprint back out to SH1.

On SH1 we were amazed to be passed by a Harley, but then we were, of course, behaving ourselves.  I wonder if he was enjoying SH1 as much as we enjoyed our magic gravel back roads?  For the record, SH1 sucks!

One last squirt got us over Vinegar Hill and in Colyton we waved John off, in Bunnythorpe it was Steve who left us.  Colin followed me home before making his way home and I was probably sitting in front of the fire before he got home...

Another damn good day out and there is a tyre on its way...

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Operation Claw-out

 So, in the last blog we had been forced to leave a feral feline fending for itself somewhere in the wilds of Makairo Track.  Well, we couldn't leave it there forever so last Saturday another expedition was undertaken to track down the wayward Tiger.

Plenty of planning took place during the week, equipment was prepared and a team of volunteers organised.  Colin came up from Waikanae in his work cruiser with a quad to carry all of his Tiger trapping equipment and Stephen also drove up from Wellington to join him in the cruiser.  Darren was more keen, riding down from Taihape (yes, there was rain) so he could have a bit of a scoot after the retrieval and I picked up Stefan on our way out of town.

Our convoy left Palmy around 9:30 and apparently I stuffed up by not stopping in Pahiatua for pastry and coffee but hey, we were supposed to be on a mission.  The rain had really sorted out the gravel roads out to the bottom of Makairo track and although it was a lot of fun in the ute, a big blue Yamaha would have meant even more fun.

After unloading the trailer and grabbing our gear we set off up the hill.  Colin probably enjoyed the quad ride more than I enjoyed the walk but hey, my gumboots got me up the hill.

Arriving at the wee clearing where we'd parked our bikes the previous weekend, we then went to find the Tiger.  

It's in there somewhere...

As it turned out, the big cat hadn't slunk off anywhere and was sitting there patiently awaiting some sort of attention.  After checking things out we made a wee plan and prepped the gear.

We ended up anchoring the quad to a decent tree and backed it back close the edge (it ended up sitting in the rut to the right of it in the photo above) so that the winch wire could be as vertical as possible and not need to drag across the ground.

Darren and Stefan also trimmed a bit of foliage back to give us a clearer path up the bank.

And then the winching began.  Initially we had the bike hooked up around top of the forks and Stefan and I stayed down below to steady the bike as it slowly climbed the hill.  Darren roped himself in so he could grab it once the Tiger started to poke it's head out of the hole.

Nope, I'm not sitting on it (photo: Darren)

About half way up, we paused to move the winch cable to the left footpeg and do some track maintenance to help get it up the more vertical bank near the top.

Photo sort of by Darren (he's hanging off the bank)

This pretty much got the bike out of the hole and to finally get it back onto the track itself we resorted to man-power and out she came.

Now all that remained was to see if the beast could be cajoled into life.  Initially things did not look good as there was very little life on the dash and no response from the starter button.  Eventually even the little bit of life we could see dimmed to nothingness - uh-oh, RIP battery...

Colin was dispatched to the ute to grab my battery pack and once we worked out how to use it we actually got the bike to fire up.  Darren then suited up to ride it out...

But unfortunately, it wasn't going to be that easy.  Darren accidentally stalled the bike and we couldn't get it to fire again off the battery or by attempting to crash start it so we were back to man power.

Darren and I ended up getting a decent bit of exercise pushing it down the hill.  This sounds easier than it actually was.  There were actually a couple of little rises (including a slip across the track) to negotiate and it was quite hard for me to see where I was putting my feet with a bike in my way - I was in and out of ruts and all over the place.  We were both happy to get to the bottom of the hill.

Loading it up onto the ute ended up being the easy bit.

Then it was time for a bit of a celebration before departing the scene.

Back in civilisation we just had to stop at the place where the ride started and finally deal to those pies we missed on the way over.

One last hop got us back to Palmy and around to Marty's to deliver the puddy-tat.  He was pretty happy to be reunited with it and is now hobbling around working through the list (a small one actually) of repairs needed to get the bike back on the road.  It'll probably be fixed before he is...

So, a slightly different sort of adventure for us but it was a lot of fun and really good to be able to get the bike out relatively easily and back into Marty's hands.  Also neat that we could organise all this ourselves (and that Colin had all the gear) and just get it done quickly rather than having to wait and pay for someone to do it.

Finally, here's some video of the extraction that I managed to get.  Unfortunately the camera blew over before the beast completely emerged but you'll get the idea 😁