Monday, April 17, 2023

Earning a burger

The Thursday phone call often starts with "it's ages since we went for a ride".  Well, this time it was doubly true as the phone call was on Wednesday night...Colin needed a ride on his 890 and I was dead keen on getting the T7 out too - I had new rubber to try!

Mitas E-08, mmmmmm...

After giving my arm that gentle twist, we then had to decide on a "where".  We ended up deciding on a wee jaunt out East to check out how some of our favourite roads had fared during Cyclone Gabrielle.  Spoiler alert: they got hammered.

Leaving my place on Saturday morning we had a quick squirt over the track before trying out that new tyre on the little bit of gravel on Tararua Road - our usual gravel warm-up when heading over that way.  Next up was a quick stop in Pahiatua for fuel and then we were off aiming for our next bit of gravel on Pori Road.

So, the verdict on Pori Road was that it was all good and as you can see from the video, we had a lot of fun crossing over to Route 52 on it.  Checkout the cruiser a few seconds into the video - I hope he enjoyed it as much as us.

Out on 52, it was a short bit of seal before the turn-off onto Waihoki Valley Road.  This is always a great run and is generally pretty fast but there was definite signs of damage around and a fair bit of metal had been spread over a muddy surface which made things interesting.  

I had one wee moment entering a slow right hander where a dozer had been working and ended up having to gas it out of a really soft "hole" in the road.  Some sneaky bugger on a KTM weaseled his way past giggling like a madman too...

Onto Huia Road and things were mostly better but there were definitely the odd muddy bits, the kind where you can't tell how slippery it is until you're right in it.  Sometimes no issue, other times a little bit of dancing around.  The wooden bridges needed to be treated with a bit of respect as well.

Next up was Spur Road which had some cones out to put us off but we snuck around them to check out one of our favourites.  There's bits of this road that really have got a bit damaged due to weather and logging trucks in the past so we were definitely expecting more of the same and I was mentally preparing myself for having to turn around a tall bike in a dodgy place...

I needn't have worried though.  Yes, the road was worse with washouts and slips and one quite mucky section but both of the bikes handled it pretty easily.  I don't know how much difference the new rubber was making but I was glad to have the more aggressive tyre on I guess it made me a little more confident.

Here's some video of it, starting on Huia Road.  You can skip to 8:34 for the start of Spur Road and to 18:05 to see a nervous me in the mud.

Time for some pictures too:

Dropping off Spur and onto Marainaga Road (pretty good condition) we hit a muddy intersection at Coast Road and another cordoned off road.  Again we snuck around to go for a wee peak and were immediately in a fairly boggy bit where normally it is a hard and fast gravel road.

But that wasn't the end of it, the end was just up the road by a wee slip.  And just past that wee slip was a big slip, well, the entire road had slipped into the river and it was a case of "you shall not pass".

As confident as we were, we decided against attempting it...

And so we turned around to tackle the mud again where someone was definitely feeling confident - for a while...




Yes, the orange bike was stuck and nowhere in the settings did it have a "dig myself out of the mud" mode.  That left us to the job - it was great fun...

After trying to yank it out backwards at 0.0001km/hr we eventually lent it over onto its side and lifted the rear wheel out first followed by the front, Some careful manoeuvring back and then gentle coaxing back into the muddy rut (that the T7 found easier than Colins bog) and she was out.

Outta here!

After that bit of exercise it was getting on and we needed tucker - and to somehow get back to Pongaroa.  In a decent shower we rode fairly quietly through to Akitio just in case we hit some more bad road damage.  There certainly was plenty of evidence around but it wasn't until we had gone through Akitio and halfway back to Route 52 that we hit the next diversion.

All the way out there had been signs of some great work by the roading guys to open up the roads for the locals.  Quick little cuts into the hill and some gravel to help people get past places where the road was just gone and of course signs of slip clearing everywhere.  I was amazed that the bridges were ok, the land leading up to them had been badly scoured out right up to and after the bridges.  They must have built them right the first time.

That next diversion was a quick little nip up what may have been a farm road at one stage to get around some major works where a really big slip had come down and more than likely (unless Glenora and Esdaile Roads were ok) cut off the Akitio community.  One again, the roading guys are doing great work - they've got an entire East Coast to sort out...

Not too long after this we finally found our way into Pongaroa and the welcoming pub.  By now it was nearly 2pm and we were ready for a bite - that Kiwi Burger was the best!

After our late lunch we decided that we'd had enough exciting riding so after a brief gravel loop that takes you the long way from Pongaroa to Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road, we started our cruise home.  One more squirt of gravel on Millers Road and then Colin went one way and I the other to return our dirty horses to their stables.

One heckofa good adventure!