Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday night ride?

Yep, awesome day in Palmy today so Brian and I decided to go for a ride after work to make the most of it. We shot over to Feilding where I topped up the Honda before we went to attack Vinegar Hill.

After a great ride through Vinegar Hill we stopped in Hunterville for tea before the return ride home. Leaving Hunterville we did a little loop behind Hunterville to avoid a little bit of SH1. We still had to do about 20km of SH1 (1 x speed camera and 1 x rolling cop) before taking the Halcombe turn-off.

Instead of rolling through Halcombe and then into Feilding we turned off again and rode through to Mt Biggs before the last little leg into Feilding and home. A really good ride to blow the cobwebs out before the last day of work before Xmas.

Friday night ride

Ok, ok, so it's Wednesday and I haven't written up the Friday night ride yet - well here goes.

I met up with the guys at Ashhurst as per usual and it was nine of us who eventually left on our weekly wind down ride. We had a great ride up and over the saddle before taking in a bit of Topgrass road and then crossing SH2 at Oringi for some more back roads.

After a final squirt through the gorge we parked up at the recently renovated Ashhurst pub to enjoy a drink and a bite and a fair bit of yarn telling. Not a huge ride but a good night out on the last Friday night ride for the year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Am I know-it-all old fart

Tonight I was out walking the dog when I saw a young guy go past on a Yamaha Scorpio. He was riding right up on a car's bumper and only wearing shorts. I tut-tutted (old foggie-like) and carried on walking.

When I stopped at the shop here he was trying (and failing) to get his bike up on it's main stand. I asked him if he was ok and if he wanted me to show him how to get it on the stand easily. He mentioned that it was a bit of a heavy old thing . I didn't mention that my Connie out weighed his bike by over 100kg and showed him how to use his weight to get the bike up on the stand - none of this lifting nonsense.

And then the most convincing display of codgerness - I told how I didn't think much of his safety shorts. I guess it's been a while since I was young & dumb enough to ride in shorts...

No, I'm not going to buy a Harley!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wanganui Toy Run

It's been a ride filled weekend - starting with the FNR, the Coast to Coast, scoring a tag and finishing up today with the Wanganui Ulysses Toy Run.

It was not quite so windy today so Brian and I took our Hondas on the ride and picked up Mark on the way out of town. A quick stop in Feilding for fuel and then a few back roads to Turakina followed by a cruise along the main road got us into Wanganui in plenty of time to grab a sausage before the ride started.

This year the ride took a different route, instead of going through the Turakina Valley road into Marton it went further off the beaten track towards Hunterville before turning for Marton. Brian, Mark and I decided not to go into Marton and instead went and played on Vinegar Hill before puttering home.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2009 Coast to Coast

Today was the running of the annual Coast to Coast ride from Himatangi to Herbertville to raise funds for the local rescue helicopter and although I woke to pouring rain by the time Mark and I left we could see clear skies out towards the coast.

What a shame that just down the road the skies opened and gave us a serious drowning. We pulled over on the main highway and donned our wets before continuing on. Naturally, 5 minutes down the road it stopped raining...

In Himatangi we signed up for the ride and got our badges before catching up with some of the other Manawatu crew and watching the rest of the riders turn up. Numbers were definitely down on previous years (probably due to the weather) but there was still at least a couple of hundred bikes parking up and donating their entry fee to
the helicopter.

After a riders' briefing we departed Himatangi and rode through to Foxton and then Shannon. Mark and I stopped quickly here for fuel and then joined the ride a bit further back in the pack. The ride then carried on up through Tokamaru and Linton before sneaking past the back of Massey and hitting the track. The track was a bit damp in places and pace was pretty slow with riders and bikes of all types generally taking it easy.

Riding through towards Ballance we came across a GSX-R in the ditch but it looked like the rider was ok - a shame to see this but unfortunately this ride often sees people on it who over estimate their abilities and do something silly. In Woodville we parked up with the rest of the bikes, grabbed our lunch and caught up with Shelley, Connor and his granddad.

After the lunch break we carried on towards Mangatainoka and really had to battle with the wind - it was blowing very hard in exposed places and made for some interesting riding.

Thankfully when we turned off towards Pongaroa we either had a tail wind or were protected from the worst of it by the surrounding hills. I had a great ride through to Pongaroa and finally Akitio where a cold drink was definitely in order after quite a hot ride.

Mark and I waited in Akitio for the rest of the hordes to arrive before leaving early (and missing the prize giving) and making our way to Weber and then Danniverke. We followed a DL650 for quite a while until we hit the wild windy weather again - his lighter bike seemed to not like the wind so much and I found a slightly quicker pace was best for me on the Connie.

From Danniverke we simply took the main road home, stopping just the once for petrol in Woodville. All in all, not a bad ride and good to be able to help out the rescue helicopter again.

Friday night ride

Not a very big turnout last night for the Friday night ride last night but I guess a lot of people are busy at this time of the year and also the weather didn't look that flash prior to the kick-off.

In the end there were just four of us who left Ashhurst to take on the Apiti Loop and that number dropped to three when Matt decided that he'd only do part of the run. The ride itself was a blast but quite hot work in the humid conditions. After blasting around the valley we stopped in Kimbolton for a cold drink before heading home in plenty of time before the rain finally came down.

Make some noise

After a year of owning a V-twin I've finally weakened and bought some aftermarket mufflers for the VTR to unleash some more of the V-twin music. They're a set of Two Brothers Racing Titanium mufflers. Installation was a piece of cake, the only issue was waiting 24 hours for the sealant to cure before I could fire her up.

So what's the verdict? Well, she's loud! Possibly a bit too loud but it is great fun working your way up and down the box - the overrun in particular is great and you also get the odd crackle and pop. I'll post some video of the bike running at some stage so I can share the music...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A few changes

A while ago my website was moved by Google from Googlepages to Google Sites. In the process something went wildly wrong and it bit the dust big time. Well, it's taken a while but I've finally rebuilt the website here.

And I've also finally finished writing up my report on the Southern Cross too.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Yes, it's that time of the year again - toy run time! First one off the mark was the CDMTC run today. A fine day today brought out plenty of riders keen to support the cause and enjoy a short ride over a few back roads to Palmy.

Brian and I got there early and had a bite of lunch while we waited and were soon joined by plenty of others including Mark and some of the other Manawatu crew. We even were given a huge bag of soft toys by a nice lady who wanted to make sure they got to the kids. These had to be spread amongst quite a few bikes but was a very nice gesture by a non-motorcyclist.

Next toy run: next Sunday, Wanganui...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An important meeting

Yes, very important indeed: my sister Christine had her second child last Thursday so I thought I'd better pop up to the 'naki and meet little Alexander.

Saturday was a bit of a wash out so I was lucky that today the weather came right and all I had to contend with was the wind and mufti cops (a bit lucky there, just a flash of the headlights). The ride up was pretty boring but on the way back I had Dad with me on his SV so we decided to go around the mountain and come back via the Surf Highway.

Along the way we swapped bikes for a bit, fueled in Wanganui and then I showed Dad a back road through to Marton then Halcombe and Fielding. In Colyton I sent him on his way home to Napier while I turned off for Palmy and home.

A pretty good day out on the bikes and nice to see the rest of the family including it's newest member!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taming the Beast

Pffffft! As if I even got close to taming her but as mentioned in my Friday night ride post below, I was lucky enough to sample a very nice 'busa last night.

The bike in question was Martin's and he is a big Suzy fan also having an old GSX-R1100 in his shed too. I'm not sure what other mods Martin has done on the 'busa but it definitely has a very nice Hindle pipe and a TRE fitted to make the most of the big suzy's ompf.

Climbing into the bike (yep, feels like you're sitting in it rather than on top) everything feels good and all the controls are where you'd expect them. The bike also does not feel big and heavy but once under way you get that great planted feeling that comes with what is a pretty heavy bike. Personally I really like that planted feeling - something you don't get on the little VTR which can be quite flighty over bumpy roads with the back end bouncing around a little.

Arcing up the powerhouse rewards you with a lovely growl from the exhaust and you know that this bike is alive and ready to rock. Pulling away I immediately noticed how responsive the throttle was - very little throttle movement is rewarded with gobs of smooth 4 cylinder grunt. It actually took me a while to come to grips with this - I guess I was still in VTR mode and had to get used to the throttle action but whenever I changed up the bike would just leap forward. Whether this is a feature off all 'busa's or a result of the TRE I'm not sure but I am definitely sure that this bike wants to go - no matter what gear you're in or how few revs are on the dial. Very addictive.

As mentioned in the ride write-up, we were riding in a bunch and taking it pretty quietly which was fine by me as i was learning a new bike. The bike pottered along quietly and had absolutely no problems with any of the corners it was asked to tackle. Martin says that the bike isn't a great handler in the very tight stuff but personally I really liked the way it behaved on Nikau Road - very easy to pilot with that lovely planted feeling I mentioned above.

Later on, on the main road where the road is more suited to opening a bike up I got to give the 'busa a couple of little squirts (still treated the throttle with a lot of respect) and was rewarded with that instant take-off - there is no way that I'd ever be able to use all this bike's performance but it sure is fun having a quick sample!

Summing things up, the 'busa is a very comfortable and relaxing and easy bike to ride (no need to be up and down the box all day) with more go than I need. I now know why Steve loves his so much and is able to dispatch the Grand Challenge with ease. Thanks for the ride Martin - sorry the only picture I have has been cropped from an old one - no camera last night.

Big Four's rock!

Friday night ride

Another week's gone by and we've certainly had our share of wacky weather - fine one day and wet and windy the next. Friday was no exception, it was a pretty grey day and there was more than enough wind to turn umbrellas inside out. Flynn had posted up a ride involving riding through to Pahiatua and all day it was hard to see the hills between Palmerston North and Pahiatua - not a good omen for a fine ride.

The good news is that it didn't put off many people from attending the Friday night ride - 14 bikes all up and 16 keen riders/pillions - and we stuck to the original route too.

Flynn was obviously pretty keen to get going and was clearly enjoying his new Buell as we left Ashhurst as he shot away at a good rate and thundered into the gorge. I had a bit of a play following him through here until we reached the turn-off to Ballance. We stopped there to wait for the others who had got caught behind a truck before I led the group off.

Another nice ride through the valley and onto the Pahiatua track for a wee pootle to the Mangamire turn-off. I pulled over there to wait for eveyone and got a nice surprise when Martin offered me the keys to his 'busa - very mint slice!

Once we'd regrouped we waved some of the group through before I pootled quietly on after Martin and started to learn how to ride the beast. I love the road through to Mangamire and although we all took it easy it was a lot of fun getting to know a different bike.

After the obligatory refreshments at the Black Stump in Pahiatua we made our way home in dribs and drabs - all heading in different directions. I stuck with Al, Monaime, Flynn and Leonie (who was still getting to know her nice little ER-6) and we took the track back home to Palmy.

Another nice Friday night ride and good to see plenty of bikes and absolutely no incidents.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friday night ride

It's Sunday so I'm a bit overdue in writing up the Friday night ride, so here it is.

While we were waiting for the kick-off we got the unpleasant news that one of our regulars had had a mishap on the way to the ride. Luckily, Flynn was on the scene straight away as the accident happened outside his house (!) and had the emergency services on the way ASAP. Even luckier is that Sparkles spent just the one night in hospital and is now at home recuperating. Hopefully this is the last incident of this type for him and preferably all who attend our great weekly wind-down rides...

Back to the ride, after a bit of a delay while Flynn attended to Sparkles, about ten of us headed out the Pohangina Valley to take in one of my favourite little rides - the Apiti Loop.

This ride takes in some great scenery as you work your way around the valley but also demands a bit of respect as the road does tend to be littered with dirt and metal etc from slips and other damage. Stock can also be a concern.

After a nice ride around as far as Apiti we stopped and popped into the Apiti pub for refreshments and conversation. By the time we left the light was starting to fade and on my little blast through to Kimbolton I had to avoid mowing down a couple of bunnies - no ducks out though.

From Kimbolton it was just a quiet cruise home with the Friday night wind-down complete for another week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ACC Protest Ride video

Some of the video I shot yesterday of the protest ride. Still sorting through & uploading more.

Leaving Levin for the ride down State Highway 1 to Papakowhai:

Arriving at Papakowhai. Gives some idea of the number of bikes involved. There was another group like coming in from the Hutt.

On way into Wellington.

Arriving at the Stadium to park.

More to come...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ACC Protest Ride

Had a pretty much perfect day for the ACC ride although a bit windy in places. Rode with perhaps 300 others from Palmy to Levin and then with even greater numbers to Papakowhai. Here we met up with thousands for the ride to Parliament where we listened to a lot of good speakers and booed the ACC minister.

While there we heard reports of up to 12,000 people there although the TV has been saying 5,000 bikes. Very hard to say but the place was swimming in bikes and the Parliament grounds were packed out. A great effort by a lot of people to make it all happen.

I'm currently uploading some video but in the meantime here are the pics:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bad night for ducks

Well the weather was ok for ducks last night but they really shouldn't try and cross a busy main road at night - more on that later.

Leaving Palmy and heading out to Ashhurst for the Friday night ride Brian & I really copped some wet stuff and so we when pulled up at Ashhurst we weren't too surprised that there was only one other hardy soul out and about - Road King on his VFR.
After waiting around for a while to see who else might show we finally decided to take off and ride Vinegar Hill to Hunterville for some tea. The roads were quite wet as we left Ashhurst but the closer we got to Fielding the better the weather became. Before long we were riding in dry conditions and Vinegar Hill was starting to look like a good choice for the ride.

It turned out to be a great idea as the road was in really good condition and there was very little traffic on it. The three Hondas gave their riders a fantastic ride and soon we were parked up at the Hunterville cafe ordering some tea and keeping a close eye on the weather outside.

The return trip was a pootle down SH1 before turning off to go through Halcombe and Fielding. It was just getting dark but was a really nice ride with the rain managing to stay away until just before home where we copped a few spits.

And the poor old ducks? Well, over the past few weeks I have come across duck families crossing the road three times and until last night I had managed to avoid hitting one but last night their luck ran out. A very large family (with mostly grown up kids) decided to cross the road (all in line astern) in front of me in the dark and only just saw them as I came across them. Unfortunately I had no time at all (and no options) and I ploughed right over one. All Brian saw was feathers and then he was through as well, although he reckoned he got through the gap I'd made without hitting one. Poor little duck - if only they'd learn to use the pedestrian crossings...

GSX-R self-assembly

Sunday, November 08, 2009

ACC after us again

Ok, so it's not breaking news but the ACC are putting forward a proposal that will increase the cost of motorcycle registration dramatically - the rates for both my bikes will be more than trebled and cost more than my insurance.

There have already been a few protest rides and there is plenty of discussion going on about errors in the ACC figures and the injustice of the proposed changes so I'm not going to go into all that here but I think Mowgli's "Tui ad" below is not bad at all...

November the 17th is scheduled for a National protest ride where bikers from all over the country are going to converge on Parliment buildings to demonstrate their opposition to these proposed changes. I'll be there!

2009 Capital 1000K Cruise

Yesterday was the third running of the Capital 1000km Cruise and as I've done the previous two then I thought I'd better not break the habit so I dragged myself out of bed just before 4am, had a quick brekkie and trundled off to meet the rest of the Palmy riders.

We met up at a local gas station and on the dot of 5 mounted up to ride down to meet up with the rest of the riders who were starting from Upper Hutt. The morning was cool but calm and this made for an enjoyable ride down to Shannon where we picked up a couple more riders (barely had to slow down - good organising there). The highlight of this first stretch was a great run over Paikok Hill chasing a certain Tiger. The road was dry this time around (damp and slippery last year) and at 6am there was no traffic on it. A lot of fun.

At Caltex Rimutex we met up with most of the other riders although some were already leaving to make the most of a nice day. Brian, Mark and I quickly signed in and hit the road heading for the Rimataka's and some more corners.

By 7am we had already done around 170km for the day and Mark was looking for gas for his bike. We stopped quickly at Carterton and topped up all three bikes before heading off again.

From Carterton we took
the Masterton bypass and then trundled up State Highway 2 until the Mangamire turn-off. Riding through Mangamire and
over the track we started to get blown around a bit as the wind came up but it was all good on familiar roads.

More familiar roads took us across from Ashhurst to Colyton, Fielding and Halcombe before crossing over to Wanganui and then turning Northwards towards National Park. The Parapara's were in fantastic condition and what a difference riding them in fine, daylight conditions rather than pitch black and pouring with rain as they were on the Grand Challenge a few weeks ago. Only two sheep to avoid too! I love the Paraparas...

Our next stop was for fuel in National Park and this took us a bit longer than it needed to as some of the pumps were out. But soon enough we were on the road again and looking forward to lunch in Te Kuiti. The ride from National Park to Taumarunui was it's usual boring self but once onto Highway 4 we were back onto great riding roads. The only thing that marred this fine bit of road was a section of very rough road works which some riders likened to riding along a river bed...

Dropping down into Te Kuiti we had already completed 600 odd km of our target 1,000 so it was time for a spot of lunch at the Gas & Gobble. While we were there we caught up with Yod, Meanie, Monie and Koroj before hopping on the bikes again.

Our route then took us on through Otorahanga to the Te Kawa crossroads where we had to stop for a photo to show that we'd been there and therefore covered our required distance to get our certificates. Here we turned off to take some fantastic back roads through to Mangakino and Whakamaru. At one turn-off it was interesting to note that the road sign was down - I wonder how many riders missed this turn-off? It didn't affect us too much as Captain Zumo doesn't need no stinkin' signs and we were quite happy to trust him to lead us on.

From Whakamaru we had a pretty quiet ride through to Tokaanu - I couldn't see Mark behind Brian (and thought he may have stopped for gas) so took it pretty easy. In Tokaanu we had our last stop for fuel - and yes, Mark had made it without topping up (something like 320km or so).

The last leg home was just a gentle cruise down SH1 until the Vinegar Hill turn-off. Here we waved off the ZX-10 pilot who had been with us since Te Kawa and attacked the Hill.

In the end I would have been home by 5pm but for running into Cowboyz on the road and him breaking down (fuse) while chasing us down. A great day out riding the bike in good conditions for a change!

Zumo stats:
  • total distance: 1,024km
  • riding time: 10hrs, 40mins
  • moving average: quite good
  • Paikok Hill
  • Parapara's
  • 8 mile
  • riding some of the GC route in perfect conditions.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pete's GSX-R For Sale

Pete is selling the mighty GSX-R. This is a lovely bike and in primo condition. Shouldn't take long to find a home...

More on the 2010 Connie

A couple more links (there's a ton of them) with articles on the new Concours 14. One has a video of the traction control in action.

Friday night ride

Not a big turn-out for the Friday night ride this week and only a short little ride over the Saddle, back through Balance and over the track to the Summerhill shopping complex for some takeaways.

The ride was marred by one guy falling off at very low speed when he braked in some gravel on the side of the road. No injuries to the rider and very little to the bike as well. Still not something that we want to encourage on these rides. I hope the rider is more careful next time out - it is not a race and nobody should feel that they have to prove anything.

I also had an issue with the Honda - when I left Summerhill I noticed that my headlight was out. Luckily it was still not very dary and I got home ok without attracting any unwelcome attention. Today I traced the problem to simply the plug falling out of the bulb...

Hopefully we'll get a few more next week and can plan a decent pootle somewhere.

VFR1200F Video

It slowly grows on you...

The VTR gets a birthday

Yep, the VTR is coming up on 24,000km and so this week it went in for a service and a new rear tyre. She came away with a clean bill of health and a brand new PR2 on the back.

I decided to fit the PR2 to the Honda after having such a good run with them on the Connie. The previous tyre on the Honda wore out the centre well before the side so I figure the harder compound in the centre of the PR2 might work out a bit better. I think when it comes time for a front I'll go with a slightly softer Pilot Power on the front as the Honda is a lot lighter and more sporty than the Connie. It will be interesting to see how that combination works.

Time to go riding...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rossi does it again!

I got to watch the Doctor take out his 9th world title last night in pretty bad conditions.

The race was delayed for quite a while due to a pretty wet looking thunderstorm and the track was wet for the duration of the race but Rossi was able to do more than what he needed to clinch the title by finishing 3rd ahead of Lorenzo. Fantastic!

Hats off to Stoner too who just cleared out from everyone to finish a good fifteen seconds ahead of second placed Pedrosa.

Awesome watching these fantastic riders hanging it out in the wet!

More at the below links:

Still not a lot (besides some pictures) on Rossi's own website - it's entirely possible that the team is needing a sleep in this morning...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coming Home

After finally getting a bit of sleep in our nice warm & dry motel it was nice to wake up a reasonable looking day and think about getting on the bikes again. We'd already decided that if the weather played ball we would be heading home via Taupo and Napier so that we could have breakfast at the Summit Cafe on the Napier-Taupo road.

Well, the weather looked just good enough and the forecast was good so it was all go for the brekkie run. We packed up the bikes and hit the road to Taupo. We had a quick pitstop just out of Turangi for gas and with sunglasses (wow!) on we were off.

After our big ride we were happy enough to just take things quietly and enjoy the scenery but once off the plains and into some corners it was a little hard to hold back - although I had unpleasant memories of a ticket on the Taupo road last time I was on it to keep me from getting to carried away.

Although it was still quite cool the sun was definitely out in force and it was very nice riding conditions and we were soon pulling in at the summit both really looking forward to some tucker. We were in for a very nice surprise too - the cafe is very bike friendly and we got free coffees with our brekkie. My mocca was fantastic and the cooked brekkie went down very well.

Stuffed to the gills we continued on our way eventually coming of the magnificent hilly bits and dropping into the Esk Valley. On our way through Napier we stopped in to see Dad as he was keen to hear about the ride and then we made our way out of town and onto Highway 50.

Highway 50 was great - both of us could ride it in our sleep and we just cruised on down enjoying the ride and the views. A great day to be out on the bike for sure. We stopped briefly in Dannevirke so Mark could get gas while I decided to try to make it home on the tank as I was getting very good economy.

So just one short hop back into Palmy and the ride was all over - a real shame as the weather was perfect and we both could have just carried on riding...

Just a little ride of 362km and economy of 5.25L/100km - outstanding!

2009 Grand Challenge

Right, so I got home yesterday after a great ride back from Turangi via Taupo and Napier (more on that later) so it's about time that I finally wrote up my report on the Grand Challenge.

As mentioned in an earlier post Meanie, Cowboys, Mark & I rode up to Turangi on Friday afternoon, got wet in a few places, got the bikes scrutineered, had tea at the truck stop and parked up at the motel to put the route maps into Mapsource.

Over the course of the night we had a lot of rain with it waking me up on a couple of occasions - it was that hard. The rain also played a part in a particularly annoying incident overnight - the Connie fell over on her right side sometime in the middle of the night. Luckily there was very little damage apart from a broken mirror because she had her cover on and this prevented any scratches to the fairing etc. Still very annoying and mirrors are $170 to replace.

Come morning we got up, picked the Connie up off the ground and spent the morning just relaxing until Meanie turned up to take us off to breakfast - at the truck stop again. After brekkie we fuelled the bikes and headed down to the motorcamp to await the kick-off. We spent the next 3 hours or so just relaxing and chatting to other riders and being impatient.

While we were waiting Bazza turned up on his ZX-14 - he had ridden up from Dannevirke so had already done 200+km as a warm up for the next 1600. I asked him if had also milked the cows before he left but he hadn't quite been that keen...

Eventually it was time for the rider's briefing and then to start getting ready for the ride. Cowboyz and Meanie were a couple of groups ahead of us so got a head start on us that we never managed to make up. Quite funny really - we never saw them at all on the ride but weren't that far behind them at the finish.

When we finally left Turangi the weather was fine but we were heading towards some grey looking clouds and new we were in for weather at some stage. Regardless we had dry roads at the start and it was nice to finally be on the road and starting to eat into those 1,000 miles we had to cover.

As it turns out it didn't take long to hit the wet stuff - probably only about 40km in the first shower came through. We didn't stop immediately as we could see blue sky in places and we seemed to be riding in and out of the weather. But about another 10 minutes on we got a real dousing and ended up pulling over with a couple of other groups of riders and climbed into our wets. This turned out to be a pretty good idea as things got very wet further on up the road and the roads were doing good impressions of streams or small rivers...

Mark and I had decided that we would make our first fuel stop early at Te Awamutu as this would easily give us the range to get to the first proper checkpoint in Whangamata. We weren't the only ones with the same idea as a few others pulled in behind us. We quickly fueled the bikes and were soon on the road again.

At Whatawhata we turned West onto the Raglan road and the time checkpoint (no ticket punching here) at Te Uku. This was a new road for me to ride and what a road! Lots of delicious corners and some of them were even dry! At Te Uku we didn't even shut the bikes down and were very quickly onto some lovely back roads to Huntly - slightly windier than the Raglan road but in great nick and we fell in behind a ZZR-1100 who was getting along quite nicely.

After a very short stint of Highway 1 (sucky-moto) we were back onto back roads heading towards the Coromandel. These roads were all good and I can't remember it being too wet either so we made pretty good time. The only boring bit was the big long straights coming into Kopu and it appeared that these had got the better of one Blackbird pilot as when we went past him he was having a nice chat to a police officer - sucked to be him!

From Kopu we rode over the hill to the Whangamata checkpoint- a great ride, more hills and delicious corners. Here we got our cards punched, filled the bikes and had a quick bite and drink before disappearing off into the gathering darkness. Over the hill to Waihi and then just after turning off at Bethlehem we ran into the first issue with the GPS map. For some reason it decided to take us in the wrong direction and onto a gravel road - this can't have been right so we turned back and eventually found our way onto Pyes Pa road and heading in the right direction again.

It was quite wet again through here and we had to negotiate some nasty road works before finally cruising into Rotorua and back onto some familiar roads. Cutting across Highway 30 through Atiamuri, Whakamaru and Benneydale was all familiar territory and even though it was very wet we clipped along nicely. Dropping down into Te Kuiti I was feeling a little crappy so it was nice to stop and have something else to drink and eat at the checkpoint.

Just after midnight we were on the go again and it was great to be doing roads you know in the wet and dark conditions. The only concern we had was the state of the Paraparas given the weather we were experiencing. It was very wet from Tamarunui through to Raetihi but pretty easy going and when we finally hit the Para's they were not really an issue - just one patch of muddy road works and a few slips here and there - oh and plenty of moisture.

At the Wanganui checkpoint Mark was feeling a bit crappy so I led us off around the coast. Unfortunately our rushing at the checkpoint meant another unscheduled stop on Opunake for a comfort stop but it was quite nice standing under some shelter as a real downpour hit for a few minutes. Continuing around the coast to New Plymouth was a bit of a mission as it was now not long before dawn and this always seems to the time of day that is hardest to get through - tiredness really makes itself known and concentration can wander if you are not careful.

So it was good stop again at the New Plymouth checkpoint and have a coffee (my only one for the ride and I normally never have them on the GC) before pointing the bikes Northwards again. As we rode out of New Plymouth the skies were beginning to lighten and with the growing light came our second wind and the hope for some sun.

The sun didn't seem that keen but as I took the lead it was nice to hit Mt Messenger and the Awakino gorge (very wet) again. We splashed our way up the road and then turned East at Kihikihi to Putararu. We actually had a very good ride through here with no mucking around and Mark and I were joined by Steve on his 'Busa and another guy on his Beemer - all happy just to tuck in behind us.

At Putararu Mark and I gassed up for the last time while Steve chanced it and went on ahead of us. From Putararu we got take in the Kaimai's - a great ride in the dry but we got to sample it in the wet (although the sun was also shining at the same time) as we made for Tauranga and the last checkpoint at Te Puke.

At Te Puke we met up with Steve again and after having our tickets punched we were keen to get started on the last leg back to Turangi. Once again we had to pick our way through Rotorua before crossing through Atiamuri to Whakamaru and finally Turangi.

All the way we were still in and out the rain and at one stage it looked like we'd get some fine weather but as we dropped down into Turangi it really hosed down - just great.

Coming into Turangi we caught up with Bazza and it was nice to follow him the last couple of k's into the camp where we finally caught up with Meanie, Cowboys, Koroj, Steve and others and got a nice warm meal into us. Lee Rusty also made sure to mention that I only have two more GC's to go to get my engraved mug...

Following our lunch we said our goodbyes and headed for our motel, a hot shower and bed. All done for another year!

A few stats courtesy of Captain Zumo:
Total distance: 1,681km
Total time: 21 hours, 20 minutes
Riding time: 19 hours
Stopped time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Moving average: 88.5km/h
Overall average: 78.8km/h
PS: Bazza rode home after the ride so he ended up doing well over 2,000km without a break for sleep. Meanie and Cowboyz also rode home as they seem to have become addicted to riding in the rain...

Stoner hanging it out

Seems to be all better now...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cowboyz preparing for his first GC

The night before

It's quite a novelty for me to be able to sit in a motel and post a blog before the Grand Challenge so I thought that I had better give it a whirl.

We rode up to Turangi yesterday afternoon through some small patches of quite wet rain and some very windy conditions but got here all safe sound. The bikes have all been through scrutineering and all passed so it looks like we have to do the ride.

Later on we went down to the truck stop for tea and then back down to the camp to get the route map. This is the first time Mark & I have seen the map the night before the ride but it is also the first time we've had a GPS for navigation.

So after grabbing the map we headed back to our motel where we started putting the route into Mapsource. We are pretty happy with the route we've planned but loading it onto Cowboyz computer his map and mine do not match. We finally worked it out that we had different mapsource files and the two were not quite the same and caused the maps to look different.

Nevermind, the map is now loaded onto the GPS and we're sitting around waiting for the 3pm start...hope the weather is not to forecast.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

T minus 7

Yep, only 7 seven days to go to the GC. I have to say the way the weather has been lately we seriously need spring to kick in - snow closed roads and icy rain will not be welcome next weekend.

But anyway, today I continued with my preparations by washing and polishing the bike and changing the oil. All I gotta do now is polish my boots, pack my bags and I'm gone - that and get through a few more days at work...doh!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

It's that time again

Yep, the Grand Challenge is just over a week away and it's time to start getting ready. The first step I needed to take was to replace the rubber on the Connie. The first set of Michelin PR2's I've tried have really proven to be the tyre for the Connie.

My first impressions of the tyres were that they transformed the front end of the bike, offering great feel and making it easier to access the great handling of the bike. Over the life of the bike they have offered great performance with no grip issues except in situations when any bike tyre is going to have trouble - road debris, very extreme weather etc.

Not only that they have worn very evenly - the harder compound in the rear tyre preventing the usual situation where the centre wears well before the edges of the tyre. The eventually did wear thinner than the sides but it just took a lot longer and I got a lot better tyre life. The fronts also wore nice and evenly although at the end of their life the profile was definitely affected - something really noticeable riding home on the new tyres.



So in the end the tyres came off with around 11,800km on them - more mileage than I have got out of a set of tyres for a long time (read: riding smaller, lighter, lower powered bikes). The previous best mileage on the Connie was my first set of Pirelli Stradas that went to 10,300km. A significant difference! What's more I think I could have got at least another 500km out of them - although in the pictures they actually look better than in the flesh.

So naturally I'm very impressed and yes the new tyres are also PR2's and nothing is likely to change there in a hurry. Sold!

More preparations for the GC this weekend...

Rocket 3 Video

From the hooligans at Triumph! You gotta love a Rocket!

More on the new beast

A couple of more articles on the 2010 Connie. Mostly the same info but a bit more detail than some of the previous links.

And a lot more here:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

2010 Concours

Wow, it's only been 2 years and it look like next year's Connie is in for some pretty reasonable changes. Not completely convinced by the belly-pan but the fairing and muffler look ok. And there's more technology to play with:

Monday, October 05, 2009

New VFR launch

Looks like the unveiling is getting ready to happen:

Be nice to see some actual facts, not just guesswork and rumour...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Friday night ride #1

Yep, daylight savings has kicked in so the Friday night rides have been kicked off. We've had pretty average weather all this week and it was not looking good for the ride. Add me getting a cold to this and you'd think that I'd have more sense than think about going on the ride.

Well, you're wrong! I'm an idiot. After getting home from work I chucked on plenty of warm clothes and my wet weather gear and fired up the Honda. In Ashhurst I met up with the rest of the gang - about 15 or so of us and we followed the normal Friday night ride procedure of plenty of crap-talking before finally deciding on the ride route and getting on our bikes.

Because of the weather it was decided that we'd just do a short ride over the track to Pahiatua for a coffee. This suited me as I shouldn't really have been out on the bike at all...

Riding through to Aokautere there was plenty of wind to add a little interest to the ride and once on the track we faced greasy roads, wind and fog. All the same it was a good little blast and once in Pahiatua the helmets came off for a bit more nattering.

In the end I decided not to hang around and spread my germs so I remounted and took to the track again for the return leg. The ride was more of the same although if anything the wind had increased and this had helped clear most of the fog away. Nice to get home without any rain at all though.

Not an ideal kick-off to the summer riding season but it's in the books now and I'm looking forward to improved weather and many more great Friday night rides.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Looping the Loop

Okay, so these damn PR2's are just not wearing out and I'd like to put my new set on before the Grand Challenge so I'd better try and wear them out eh?

Last night I was chatting with Gary and he suggested that he wanted to go "around the mountain" this week and I mentioned that I was keen to "head west" so it didn't take much persuading on his part to suggest we do the loop today. We hastily posted the ride up on Kiwi Biker and the Feilding Riders Website but didn't hold out much hope for more riding buddies.

Never the less, I got up early-ish (a bit trickier due to daylight savings kicking in) and geared up to go meet Gary in Feilding. It was drizzling a bit in Palmy so the wet weather gear went on and off I went.

In Feilding I parked up to wait and in no time Nigel turned up on his wee-strom soon followed by Gary on his Kat. We got under way straight away and followed Nigel out through Halcombe and the onto Wanganui.

We kept up a pretty nice pace and even though we had a bit of drizzle here and there it was a very pleasant ride up through the 'naki. Our first pitstop was a comfort stop in Manaia before we continued on around the Coast road to New Plymouth for our first fuel stop (I even had a pie).

Next up was the fantastic Mount Messenger where the PR2's were given a bit of work. Just north of the Mount I pulled in at the Three Sisters just 'cause I never had before. We all pulled up and had a stretch but saw no sign of any sisters so remounted and hit the road again.

Back on the bikes again we soon had to contend with another sublime piece of road - the Awakino Gorge. Corner after corner of biker's paradise with great scenery all around and very little traffic. Eventually the gorge had to end and we had to put up with Highway 4 to Tamarunui - a road almost as good as the gorge! It sucks being so spoilt for choice!

After a quick top up of the tanks in Tamarunui we settled down a bit and rode through increasing traffic to National Park, Ohakune, Waiouru and Taihape. In Taihape we stopped for the last time and had the first coffee of the ride!

From Taihape we pootled down SH1 until the Vinegar Hill turn-off which simply cannot be avoided - so we didn't and had a nice play to finish up a great ride.

729km of great riding to make it 1,016 for the weekend. And the tyres? Well, they're now at 11,795km and starting to actually look like they need replacing. Very impressive - I love these tyres! Fresh ones going on soon...

A little bit of 52

I had a busy Saturday morning: mowing the lawns, tidying the section and taking the dog for a walk so I thought it only fair that I squeeze in a little ride in the afternoon.

I decided that I needed to do a bit of Route 52 so I set off on the Connie heading for Ashhurst. On the way out of town I noticed that we still had some snow down pretty low after the bad weather we'd had on Thursday/Friday so I thought I'd better go over the saddle and see it there was any snow on the ground up there.

The saddle was in good nick - just a couple of places where there'd been slips but they had pretty much been cleaned up so were not a problem. Not a lot of snow down near the roadside but I managed to get a couple of pics of it on the surrounding hills.

From Woodville I rode through to Mangatainoka before turning off into Pahiatua Pongaroa Road. I had a really nice ride through here as the road was dry and in good condition, there was only one area where loose metal was an issue - this will be something to look out for on the Coast to Coast in December.

At Pongaroa I turned southwards on Route 52, one of my favourites. On the first section to Alfredton there was plenty to look out for: slips, metal and debris on the road and I'm sure that there was more stock on the road than in the paddocks. I even chased a hare down the road at one stage - the Connie was quicker but the hare had better handling and off-road ability.

South of Alfredton the road is a little more open and it was great to be able to get up to a nice cruise and enjoy some of the delicious sweepers. Unfortunately the wind also came up a bit and it was a little chilly in places.

Soon enough I was in Masterton and from here I just turned for home taking the main road all the way to Eketahuna where I stopped for gas. In Eketahuna there was a bit of excitement going on - utes and people everywhere. Looking across the road from the gas station I saw a crowd and a whole heap of pigs hanging up. Must have been a bit of a pig-hunting competition on this weekend, it looked like they'd managed to bag quite a few - good stuff.

The rest of the ride was just a quick flick through Mangamire and over the track. A nice little ride to finish off my Saturday.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Ok, so maybe there isn't a 2010 Bandit 'S' coming. Looks like it has changed into a GSX - at least in America anyway. Looks quite sharp. Just needs luggage, a bigger tank and a shaft...

Edit: Found another article with some more info on the GSX1250. More photos of the bike with some showing it fitted with luggage. Very nice.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fields Track Revisted

For second weekend in a row I've made plans to go out and run up a few miles in an attempt to finish off my Road 2's and then changed my mind at last minute or enroute.

This time around I had planned to head to Te Kuiti for lunch and then make a decision on which way to head home based on the time or how I felt. But, also on today was the Feilding Riders assault on Fields Track which had been postponed (well for some anyway) a couple of months ago. What to do?

In the end I headed off to Wanganui by myself, taking in Mt Stewart, Halcombe and Marton on my way. A quick stop for gas in Wanganui and I was off on the road again with the Parapara's firmly in my sights.

Even though the road was still damp in places the first section of the Para's was an absolute blast - all the road works on top of the hill turning the road into a paradise of fast sweepers. Further on up the road though there was signs of slips everywhere and I came across the messy remains of three real dooseys.

In the wet conditions (road, not weather - the sun was blazing down) these bits were a bit treacherous so I decided to pull over at the Raukawa Falls and try to text the other riders about the road conditions. (Note to self: no cell phone reception at Raukawa Falls and phones need recharging occasionally).

Oh well, nothing i could do about then so I kept on going Northwards to Raetihi. As I was pootling along I looked down at the time and thought that if I shot through to Waiouru I might be able to catch the others and let them know about the slips. Great a mission for the day!

In the end I got to Waiouru well before them and treated myself to half a pie (yuck) and coffee, chatted to a Wing pilot and generally just watched the comings and goings on in Waiouru for a while. At least it was a nice day in Waiouru - not even any snow on the ground.

Presently the others turned up and fed their bikes and themselves and I let them in on the excitement awaiting them on the Paras. There was also a few new faces to meet and two interesting new bikes: Al on a stolen Buell and another chap on a brand new Thunderbird. The bikes looked great and both the thief and the new owner were very happy with the bikes and having a ball.

After a bit arm twisting I decided that I'd better go with them to make sure they got through the Para's ok and didn't have too much fun without me so I turned the Connie around and followed them on out of Waiouru and onto Fields Track. Fields Track was in good condition again and we were forced to stop at the bridge again for photos and again at the top of the hill for more photos of the fantastic scenery.

Once off the track and onto the Paras again the pace could come up a little and as the road had dried out the slips were not a problem - just dust and grit to contend with. Another great run over the hill, a brief fright from some sheep on the road and we were soon parked up in the bustling metropolis of Upokongaro for a cold drink.

From here the group split up a bit with people taking different routes home, some taking the main roads and others including me extending the ride more by taking the back roads through Fordell to Hunterville.

Another quick stop in Hunterville for a drink and some gas and all that was left was to pootle quietly down SH1 before turning off for another run through Halcombe, Feilding and home. A fantastic day weather wise and a great to be out on a bike twice in one weekend. The PR2's are still hanging in there too...