Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Staying off the main drag

On Sunday, fresh from finishing his first TT, Colin invited me along on a road ride and with my sore butt pretty well recovered, how could I say no?

On the slightly chillier autumn morning I met up with him and another of his mates (Rob, CB500X) for a trip over the Napier-Taihape road.

We got away a little after 9 and made our way across to Colyton where Colin surprised me by going straight ahead instead of turning left.  I thought that he perhaps was then going to take us off onto Valley Road and then around Pohangina (the long way) to Rangiwahia and then North.  But no, he had other ideas...

As it turned out he was trusting the GPS on his phone and was going to take another road off to the left (Forlong Road) over to 54.  I had my doubts as there was a river in the way and I was pretty sure that there was no bridge...When we pulled up at the road the sign clearly said no exit so that settled things, carrying on further on Taonui Road would have eventually got us onto gravel and I still haven't gotten around to fitting E-07's on the Connie...

Anyway, that was only a minor diversion and our navigation sorted itself out with not other interesting diversions for the rest of the day :)

North of Kimbolton I got away on the team a little as the Connie was being impatient but the others were not far behind when I stopped for a couple of pics.

Blue sky day

Colin and his AT

Rob on the nice little CB
The guys repaid me for disappearing on me by giving me a wave as they went past and I then had to sort my gear out and give pursuit.  I eventually caught them around Pemberton for the cruise into Rangiwahia.

Having had a little exercise the Connie was happy enough to settle down a bit and follow the guys through to Mangaweka.

We didn't actually go into Mangaweka but stopped for a quick chat to say goodbye to Rob before I showed Colin how to stay off SH1 by taking in Kawhatau Valley and Toetoe roads.

After just a little of SH1 we arrived in Taihape and then carried on to tackle the Napier-Taihape Road.  We weren't the only ones either as there were a lot of bikes coming the other way.  And they were mostly Italian too - Ducati's, Aprillias and I think I even spotted a Guzzi.  It was a shame that a number of them wanted my side of the road...What side of the road do Italians ride on?

Colin revisiting one of his TT checkpoints
Colin was happy for me to permit the Connie to have a little more exercise and I had a nice ride through to Kuripapango where I stopped and failed to get a picture of Colin going past...

Eventually I caught him up again and settled down for the cruise into Hastings.

In Hastings we stopped for a late lunch before fuelling up and making our way to Havelock North and then onto Kahuranaki Road to Elsthorpe.

We popped out on SH2 at Waipawa and pootled on down to Waipuk where we left the main drag again and made for Porangahau.  Along the way we saw plenty of evidence of the wild weather that the Hawkes Bay saw a little while ago - places where the road had been flooded, slip remains and all sorts of wreckage collected on fences near the flooded bits of road.

From Porangahau we turned South on Route 52 to Wimbledon.  The road along here was not too bad, although there were a few sections of new seal and some wind blown wreckage on the road - hardly worth mentioning...

From Wimbledon to Weber it was definitely a different story.  This bit of road is always fairly dodgy as it does get damaged in bad weather and the logging trucks also pummel it but this time around it was worse than I can ever remember.  All sorts of road surface issues and wreckage but also a lot of road slumping - a real roller coaster of a ride and I was on the wrong bike...

Some of the not so bad bits below:

Unusually (for my good camera) blurry pic of the Weber Road
The day was starting to get on so we abandoned any further exploring and simply made out way back to Dannevirke, down SH2 and over the Saddle to Ashhurst and home.

I got home some time after 5 after a pretty pleasant jaunt of around 530km - thanks Colin!

Thursday, March 08, 2018

2018 TT2000 - Day 9

Day 9?  What happened to Day 8?

Well...My plans had included a trip over to Golden Bay to explore a bit more gravel.  But that friendly little cyclone had hammered the stuffing out of the area.  The Takaka Hill Road was closed for a number of days due to slips (trapping my brother-in-law at his bach) and washed out a bridge on one of the roads I was going to go exploring on.

By the time I hit Richmond the road had been cleared and Dan was home but the road was only being opened for essential traffic twice a day.  I thought that I'd best keep out of people's way so they could carry on the clean-up and look after the locals first.

Therefore the day was spent in Richmond with a bit of tripping around with Dan and catching up with my sister and nieces.  We did manage to visit a great bike shop which had a number of tasty bikes to drool on - one even had a supercharger but I did not have 55k on me...

And so, Day 9 was my last riding day and obviously it involved getting me back up North and back to my own bed.

I had also made sure that my route included a little gravel on the way to Picton.  But unfortunately, after crossing the Whangamoa, when I turned off onto Hori Bay road only to find signs up saying that the road was closed due to, you guessed it, weather damage - bummer!

So, no more gravel to finish the trip off.  I stopped briefly in Havelock for fuel and that is where I caught up to the demon on the DR - dragging his surfboard on Queen Charlotte Drive.  It made entertaining viewing...

Arriving in Picton, I had time for a quick bite before riding almost directly onto the ferry.  Also aboard and tying their bikes down was another group of riders that had been on the same ferry as me on the way down.  They weren't TT riders but had obviously been down enjoying the magic of the South Island.

Is that a surfboard I see?

The big blue bikelashed down
As mentioned we loaded fairly early so I clambered up to the top deck and started working on my sunburn while we waited to depart...

Picton is a lovely spot

I enjoyed another very smooth sailing and we disembarked at about 5:45.  This sailing often catches the rush hour traffic in Wellington and I'd been thinking that I'd get home around 8-8:30 but the there was only a few snarl up's at Pukerua Bay and again at Paikok but after that the new motorway was great and I was home easily by 7:30 with smack 4,100km for the whole trip.

Another fantastic TT with very reasonable weather and some more fun exploring made for a tired but happy chappie!  Keen to do it all again as soon as possible...

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

2018 TT2000 - Day 7

Day 7 was another decent sized run of about 600km from Christchurch to my sister's place in Richmond via a few little deteours here and there.

I left my motel around 8am and pointed the Tenere West.  My first stop was for fuel in Springfield but I just made it a splash and dash and was soon back on the great West Coast Road.

At one stage I caught some traffic (including a HP car) stuck behind a truck but he quickly pulled over.  The cop then did a dirty on me by pulling over, letting the 2 cars past and then pulling in behind to check me out.

This meant me watching my speedo like a hawk for about 15km until he pulled off - good thing I never speed.  He eventually pulled off just before light controlled road works that had me waiting for a few minutes before I could continue on.

My first diversion was to check out a short gravel road that I'd found listed on the Adventure Riding NZ ForumWaimakariri Valley Road takes you about 1.5km off the main road to a campsite by the river.  When I got there people were still cooking breakfast...

Here's some video of the ride in:

At the car park/campsite I stopped for some pictures and my warm gloves - it was a bit of a chilly morning and perhaps looking like things might get damp later on...

After the ride out I stopped again - I decided that I didn't like my thick gloves after all and just made do with the heated grips...

Next up was more of the magnificent West Coast road through Arthurs Pass and then onto Otira.


At Jacksons I left the West Coast Road and made for Lake Brunner.  But rather than ride right through to Lake Brunner I turned off (after first missing the corner) to take in Bell Hill Road.  This was another road that I'd ridden before on last year's TT.  Once again there had been a checkpoint out there and I remembered the really nice, smooth gravel road and wanted to check it out again.

The road takes you through to Nelson Creek-Bell Hill Road and then out onto SH7 a bit further North East than the road through Lake Brunner would.  It also turns out that you can ride the full length of Bell Hill Road in less time that it takes to listen to Telegraph Road...

I carried on up SH7 through to Ikamatua before turning off again to sample another road from the Forum.  Waiuta and Blackwater Roads take you up to the Waiuta Historic gold mine site.  The last bit of the road is some nice gravel through native bush.

At the end of the road is the abandoned Gold mine and I spent a bit of time wandering around having a good old nosey.

A thing

Father Christmas shouldn't have any issues with the size of this chimney

Old boiler

Hot side of the boiler

Quite a few signs warning of holes in the ground...

Nice doer-upper

On the way back out to the main road I stopped again - on my way in I had noticed an old school on the side of the road so I thought I'd better have another poke around.  Good to see that the locals are trying to preserve the old school.

My next stop was in Reefton where, after fixing my tank-bags locking system, I was able to fuel up the bike and then grab a quick lunch for me.

Next was the magic bit of SH7 to Springs Junction and then the now quite busy SH65 to Murchison - SH1 was still closed by slips so all traffic South has to go the long way through Murchison and the Lewis Pass.  SH1 is now open once again - the roading guys are doing fantastic work there and making a killing...

Just out of Murchison I turned off for my last gravel excursion of the day.  This time it was to ride the Braeburn Track through to Lake Rotorua.  This was a lot of fun with 4 or 5 small fords and a really nice track.  There were also a few mountain bikers riding it in the other direction but plenty of room for all of us.

And the Lake is just a lovely spot.

Shy ducks

Gowan Valley Road got me back out onto the main road again and I settled in for a slow cruise into Richmond - once again timing my arrival nicely for afternoon tea with my nieces.