Monday, October 23, 2017

Burma Hill

Yesterday was the day I picked for some two wheeled fun.  I started off by taking the dog for a run beside my mountain bike - just 3km for her rather than exercise for me.  She thought that was fun but perhaps didn't like it when she saw me wheel the Tenere out of the shed.

I can't remember what it was but on Saturday I got it into my head that it'd be a good idea to go and investigate the Mangamahu Valley and climb Burma Hill.  And so, that was the beginnings of a plan...

I got away from Palmy just before nine and made my way over to Bulls where I fueled up for the ride.  Gassed up, I settled into a slow cruise (4km/h tolerance this weekend) as I made my across to Turakina before turning off to Fordell and then making for the valley.

There is quite a bit of tarmac on Mangamahu Road before you hit the gravel but it gets pretty narrow and windy.  There were also a few sections of roadworks and places where slips had come down across the road.  Not too many animals on the road though - I just missed a rabbit and spotted a few pheasants and one colourful peacock.

Hitting the gravel I took my time getting into the groove.  The going was definitely better than last time I was up here - much less (none in fact) mud and even my poor worn out E-07's were better than the Tourance I was running back then.

Just below the "summit" of the hill I stopped for a breather and to look about a bit.

Carrying on, it wasn't long until I ran out of gravel at Kakatahi but before I got there I noticed a little something that I don't believe I'd seen before.

When I got home I did a little Internet searching and couldn't find out anything about this we tunnel and the slip and slide below it.  I'm guessing that it's a natural occurrence as I've no idea why it would need to be there otherwise...

Weird, but it had given me an excuse to stop again...

Back on the tarmac again I made my way towards Ohakune, avoided being squished by a car towing a caravan, plowed through a mob of sheep and eventually caught up with some light rain...great.

Leaving home I'd had no real firm plans but had thought that Ohakune might make a nice lunch stop but looking off in that direction things were looking bleak...So, I decided to cross over to Turakina Valley Road a little earlier by taking in Owhakura Road.

I really love that first climb up the hill - even in light rain...

Turning South on Turakina Valley Road the gravel was a little loose in places but it was a lot of fun.  I particularly enjoy the more open sections where the pace can be a little hotter.

By the time I hit tarmac again it wasn't only the riding that was hot, the rider was also feeling fairly warm.  So, it was time to switch to motard road on the twisty windy tarseal on the last bits of Turakina Valley Road and Ongo Road, eventually getting me through to Hunterville where it was about quarter past lunchtime and definitely time for a cold drink.

After a quick lunch there was time for a quick trip over Vinegar Hill, a visit in Feilding and then the final boring leg back to Palmy and home.  It was a real shame about the weather up North as I got home pretty early and could have quite easily done some more gravel up there somewhere...

Saturday, October 14, 2017


It was a very nice evening on Thursday so I decided to go for a bit of tag hunting on the S10.  "Burnie"had put up the below tag and it looked easy to me...I didn't even check with Mr Google...

Well, it wasn't in the first place I looked...And I then spent some time riding up and down SH1 looking for it as it got darker and darker.  I even rode straight past it once...

So in the end I gave up and went home in disgust...

On Friday it was the Connie's turn to go looking and luckily there was even a bit of drizzle about to stop me from getting too hot...

This time I had conferred with Mr Google and rode straight to it.

And I forgot to replace the headlight bulb before leaving...
Then it was time to find a new tag.  I initially had thought of the Taikorea Moto-X track (near the previous tag) but think that maybe it had been used before.  I settled on the below, very hard to find one...

Not much of a ride but gotta keep my hand in...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

2017 NI1600

Okey dokey, here's the link to my write-up on this years NI1600:

Spoiler Alert, didn't quite go as planned...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mid-week gravel

Shock, horror - the sun was out today and it wasn't raining!

I also have the week off!  Yes, there was stuff to do at home but come on - it wasn't raining!

So, as the Connie had got some exercise over the weekend (more on that later), it was the Tenere's time to come out and play.  I also decided that it would be worth exploring Ridge Road through to Apiti to see what the road was like after all the rain.

A quite pootle out to Pohangina saw the bike's economy hit 5.1L/100km and I was simply enjoying the sunshine and dry roads.

At Pohangina I pulled over to turn on the GoPro and try an experiment - turning the Traction Control off for the gravel ride up Finnis Road and then along Ridge Road to Apiti.

As it turned out the roads were in mint condition with very few muddy spots to worry about - maybe they're used to all the rain?  The run up the hill on Finnis Road gave me a bit of a chance to work out how the bike behaved with the TC off - basically it turned it into a gravel spitting demon...

It was a real hoot blasting all the way through to Apiti.  Wheelspin kicked in every time I got on the gas and I got the back end out a few times.  The bike's behaviour really brought out the inner hoon but even when I got a little out of shape the bike always seemed to sort things out and bring itself back more or less in line.  It was quite a workout for the rider though...and the economy nose dived to 5.7L/100km...

Nearing Apiti and what would you know?  I managed to find some rain again - fantastic...

See, I'm smiling...
Luckily, as I headed back towards Kimbolton the rain eased off and the roads dried out a bit for some more fun climbing up the hill.

Leaving the rain in Apiti


Camera fell over...

Now the other way...
From Kimbolton I settled down a bit and cruised on to Feilding to drop something off at the olds' and then pootled off home again. 

Leaving Cheltenham behind

Big white fluffies and a mint road...
I could get used to mid-week rides...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hooning around Herbertville

Well, it seemed like forever since the poor old Tenere has been let off its leash and taken for a decent gravel ride so today was the day to fix that.

Yesterday I'd been trying to chase down a slow leak in the front tyre and didn't really get anywhere so after checking it again this morning I decided that I was good to go.

I'd posted a note up on FB last night to see if there was anyone else out there interested in a ride and my bait hooked me a Rodney again.  We agreed to meet in town and when I got there I discovered that his 650 had magically turned into an 800 - nice!

We left Palmy with a little bit of moisture in the air and made for the track.  Clambering up the hill we seemed to be climbing up into the clouds and at the top we were having to part them as we rode...

Even the constabulary were concerned with the weather...

I never even saw him there...
Dropping down the other side of the hill we took Tararua Road for our first taste of gravel and as I was in front I got to chase all the sheep off the roads for Rodney - it is very rare that there are not animals out on this little bit of gravel.

We carried on through to Pahiatua and then turned Eastwards to make our way onto Pahiatua-Pongaroa road.  Here we ate up some tarmac before turning off onto Pori road.

Pori Road starts off as a narrow sealed road before turning into gravel.  At about the same time as the road changed to gravel we ran into fog again and visibility was pretty limited.  We didn't stop at the normal photo spot 'cos if you've seen one picture of the inside of a cloud you've seen them all...

About halfway down the hill the fog petered out and we got to enjoy some pretty nice gravel before getting spat out on Route 52.

Turning Northeasterly we rode up through Tiraumea, riding around the new roadworks which skirt the slip that took away the road a few months ago, until we got to the next turn-off at Waihoki Valley Road.

Waihoki Valley Road dished out more nice gravel but once again I had to sweep the stock off the road for Rodney - this time 5-6 cattle.  The road surface was really nice too and the S10 got a little excited at times with the rear end trying to overtake the front a few times - this seems to becoming a bit of a habit...

Waihoki Valley Road ends right after the above bridge and forces you to go either left or right on Huia Road.  Right was our pick as it was taking us further towards the coast and into better and better weather.

Further on up the line Huia Road completely gives up the ghost as it becomes Waiowaka Road but we skipped this by taking a left onto Spur Road.  This little road has been a bit messy in the past but today it looked like someone had been through reasonably recently with either a grader or perhaps dropping some gravel.  It is a cracker of a road though and takes you up through some nice country before dropping back down the other side and taking you to yet another junction.

Another left onto Marainanga Road and things start to open up a bit more with faster gravel and less of the steep tight turns.  A final right turn got us onto the fabulous Coast Road which funnily enough takes us all the way out to the coast and the settlement of Akitio.

Coast Road is always fun and generally really hard, smooth gravel but today there was a short section of recently laid gravel which did slow things down for a little while.  Luckily, the truck driver ran out of gravel and there was still plenty of fun to be had on the way to the beach.

By now it was nearly half past lunchtime so we went out and checked the store to find that yes, it was closed on Sunday's.  Oh, my poor starving worms...There was nothing for it but to carry on up the road and see where it lead us.

Glenora and Esdaile Roads made up our next stretch of gravel and got us back out onto Route 52 again just West of Wimbledon.

I missed a turn which would have used another gravel road to bypass Wimbledon so pulled up next to the pub to let Rodney know.  We decided that rather than stopping there for lunch we would drop into Herbertville and check out the offerings there.

As it turned out there was plenty on offer for the famished Adv rider but a simple fix of fish and chips sorted out us out and prepared us for the next leg of the ride.

We removed a layer or two, remounted and retraced our steps back towards Wimbledon but instead of heading West we went North on Route 52 until our next turn at Birch Road.

Birch Road winds its way through a forestry block and can get a little muddy after rain.  We've had a lot of rain...But, a grader has been at work and a lot of the muddy spots had been smoothed out with a layer of metal.  Logging trucks have then been through and squished small ruts into this mud/gravel/porridge and the odd spot was a little was similar to hitting soft sand.

In the open spots there was a bit of wind to bash us around a bit but it was still better than the fog on Pori Road.  Our last bit of gravel took us down Tahuokaretu and you guessed it, back onto Route 52.

With a few spits in the air it was now time to head home and hopefully not get a drowning.  We made Dannevirke without getting wet and after topping up the Beemers tank, made our way by various (sealed) back roads and a busy Saddle Road (they've given up on the gorge) to Ashhurst and then finally Palmy.

Ahhh, but it was nice to be out on a decent ride for a change!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Old age

So apparently I'm getting old.  Well, at least that is what one other Concours owner (who may or may not live in Ashhurst) said when I told him I'd made the purchase described below...

While I may be getting old (although I don't appear to be catching up to a certain Ashhurst Connie pilot), I am also getting used to the comfort of the Tenere's riding position.  It is slightly more roomy and also has a more upright riding position.

I can't do much about the legroom.  There are people out there that have lowered their foot pegs but that is not an option as I have been known to give them the occasional shine up on the road and I do not want to be doing this on every second corner.

So that leaves me with playing with the handlebar area.  To give me a slightly more upright riding position and to hopefully offer more comfort to my arms, back and shoulders I decided to try a set of bar risers.

There were plenty of options on E-Bay and I had a bit of a hunt around before settling on a set of 50mm jobbies.

As you can see they came with some longer bolts but I also have my GPS mount bolted to the handle bar mounts so I bought another 4 slightly longer bolts just in case.

On my initial attempt at installing I decided that I didn't like how much pressure they were placing on the brake and clutch lines so I found someone with some engineering skill how was able to take 10mm of each riser.

Once that was done it was time to fit.  This was a pretty simple job and the risers even had a thread tapped into them to allow the repositioning of the brake/clutch lines so that there was enough slack in them.  Shaving off that 10mm also meant that I didn't need those flash stainless bolts I bought either.


So they're on now and I've only really ridden the bike around 50km with them on so no decent distance to test comfort but I can say that they haven't had any detrimental effect on comfort or handling.  Swapping from the Connie to the Tenere (just with the bikes on their main stands) demonstrated a pretty similar feel with the only really noticeable difference being the width of the bars - the S10 having the wider jobbies.

I'd better plan in a decent pootle...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mechanical Mission

I am not a mechanic.  I understand how some mechanical things work and have just enough knowledge (knowledge <> skills) to be dangerous.  But I'm keen...

With the Concours just having celebrated a big birthday and it finally due to get some exercise it was time to give it some loving.

The first job I completed a week ago and that was easy (having done it a few times), replacing the air filter.  I also had intended to dive into the big job of changing the plugs but ran into an issue with a damaged fairing bolt that I couldn't move and didn't want to totally destroy.  A trip over to the old man's shed sorted that pretty quickly.

And so, on Sunday it was time to start removing tupperware (and a lot of other stuff) to go in search of the plugs.

It begins...
 Dad and I had done this job about 60,000km ago and I knew from that experience that it wasn't easy.  There is a motor (and what a motor) under all that plastic and other stuff.

Nope, can't get my mitt in there yet...
All sorts of stuff needs to be removed or pulled aside.  You cannot just remove the tank (like a lot of bikes) as the airbox is basically built into the frame and the area between the top of the motor and the frame/air box is tiny.

The RHS is a bit easier and you see the donk sooner
When we first did the job we couldn't get any of Dad's spark plug removal tools in anywhere near the plugs and sat around for a while scratching our heads trying to work out how we were going to perform the operation.

In the end I decided to check the bike toolkit and low and behold there was a special tool in there which has a joint in it to allow you to get it in under the frame and drop it down the plug hole.  It can then be turned by a ratchet and then skinny hand (don't have one of those BTW).  I tried to show how little room there is in the pictures below - tricky to get a decent picture.

This picture appears to show more room than there actually is...

Anyway, with a lot of perseverance and holding my tongue the right way I eventually got the first plug out and a new one in.  That was a nice bit of encouragement with just three to go...

I did 3, 4, 2 and then 1 with 4 being the easiest followed by 1 and 3.  Number 2 was definitely the most awkward.

Anyway, by lunchtime (I think I started just before 10) I had the plugs in and half of the bike back together.  Another half an hour or so in the afternoon had the rest of the bike back together - and yes, I fired her up before putting everything back together just in case I'd made a blue.

Here's a comparison of an old #3 and its replacement.  Mechanics out there (Dad) will be able to diagnose all sorts of things from the colour etc, I can't.  I hope the old girl is still in good health...

An untrained eye sees some carbon build-up...
After buttoning things up I took her for a wee pootle into town to pick up some oil and I reckon she felt like she was enjoying the new plugs.

Maintenance not quite finished for the day, the hot oil was dropped out and replaced along with some more fresh oil for the final drive.

Now all she needs is a warrant of fitness...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Keen as mustard!

Something inspirational I stumbled across on Advrider.

Good choice of bike - DCT making one thing a little easier.

One of the guys at work actually has a cousin in a similar position.  He (the cousin in the chair) has modified his own GSX-R750 with a similar system and I've seen him out riding it a few times on the Coast to Coast.

All power to them!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

10th Birthday Ride - Part 2

As is pretty usual for me when I'm "on tour" I awoke far too early (5am) but rather than hit the road early I lazed around waiting for the sun to come up and show me what sort of day was in the offing.  Of course, I also was wondering about frosty roads too.

In the end I hit the road just before 8am and crossed up over the hill to Ohope Beach.  The roads were a little suspiciously damp so some care was exercised and then when I accidentally caught up to a cop even more care was exercised...

I ended up stuck behind him for over 30km until he finally leaped into action, all flashing lights and aggressive U-turn to go after a car going in the other direction.  I have no idea what they'd done as to me they didn't appear to have been speeding - maybe they were doing a dangerous 105 or something while the Connie was idling at 98...

Arriving in Opotiki it was time for brekkie at the cafe before topping up the tank for the trip around East Cape.

The ride around East Cape is a favourite of mine with corners aplenty and some great scenery.  Leaving Opotiki you stick close to the coast for most of the way and there are some really nice spots to stop at for photos.

Damn winter!


Sunday morning, a bike, a road...

When I stopped for the piccys above I also started fiddling with the GoPro to get it going.  Unbeknownst to me (oblivious with music blaring inside my helmet) a local had noticed me stopped and fiddling with the bike (camera actually) and was seeing if I was ok.  When I finally noticed him and worked out what was going on I gave him a big thumbs up and he carried on along on his way.  I have to say that this is not the first time the locals have shown to be a great bunch - I have been helped out twice with punctures.  Fantastic stuff.

The rest of the ride around the cape was uneventful except for the bouncing off all the usual massive pot holes and bumps that the road is known for - you really need to keep your wits about ya.  There were also some damp roads to deal with but all in all, a great ride.  The video below is really just a series of snippets from the 2 hours or so that the GoPro captured.

Leaving Te Puia Springs I checked out the sign showing the distances to Tokomaru Bay, Tolaga Bay and Gisborne while also checking my fuel status.  It's 330km from Opotiki to Gisborne and this is generally easy within the range of the Connie but with all those corners, lack of traffic and the amount of ummmm, exuberance expended then economy can suffer.  Anyway, maths was deployed and this along with close monitoring of the fuel gauge saw me ignoring all the gas stations and rolling into Gisborne for my fuel.

Nice place for a drinks break

Looking out towards South America...

Bike gassed up and a cold drink down my gullet it was time to make for Wairoa.  This part of SH2 is a gem with the best bit being the climb up and over the hills South of Gisborne.  I had a great run with very little traffic and no goats all over the road until just before Wairoa...

On the road South of Wairoa there are some other great hills to climb and corners to ummm, corner and I even had some excitement when I got in behind a group of about 10 Porches.  They were getting along in places and I think enjoyed playing with a bike for a bit - I wonder how many of them had 142,000km on the clock?

The roads continued to stay dry into Napier and across to Hastings where for a change I took SH2 and sat in some quite heavy traffic all the way South.  As I crossed the Takapau Plains the view of the ranges changed from nice snow capped hills to no view at all as they disappeared under some dark looking clouds...

By Dannevirke it was time for one last gas stop and while there the first few spits of rain started to fall.  I really didn't like the look of the big black clouds so even changed into my waterproof gloves for the last leg.

Arriving in Woodville, the rain was falling and it was looking like a wet ride over the Saddle to finish the trip.  Across the top of the Saddle it was raining fairly heavily and the road surface was like oil in places.  A few little slides woke me up a bit so I just idled along down the hill and into Ashhurst.  Twenty minutes or so later I was pulling into my drive after a 766km day.

So, with another 1,400km on the odo the birthday ride was over and the old girl definitely still has plenty of life left in her!  There is some TLC planned in the near future but still no plans to move the old girl on - what will the next 10 years bring?