A couple of years ago after finishing one of the Rusty Nuts Motorcycle Club's Grand Challenges somebody said that they were thinking about a Super Tour.. 10,000 kilometers in Ten days. Yeah right...!!! who in their right mind would do that..??. Well I forgot about it for a year until the last Grand Challenge in 2009 when I was told that it would go ahead in 2010. Of course I had to think about it... Well... after thinking for a very short time I decided I couldn't let it go past without giving it a shot as it would only be done once... So I sent in the application to Lee Rusty and immediately went into panic mode... wondering what the hell I had done...!!
Scheduled for March 17th to 26th inclusive I put it in the budget, applied for leave from work... and made sure Xena was serviced and had new tires before I set off to Turangi. The first 5 days were to be based in Turangi and on Day 6 we were to ride to Timaru which would be the base for the rest of the ride. Having a bach in Turangi was an advantage as I could sleep in my own bed at the end of every run and also took Xena down a week before hand. TK (aka Sue) came down with me as support crew the weekend before the ride to prepare food for the ride so I could rest up for it.
The night was a long one... Sleep was elusive... but forced myself to rest. Then the alarm finally went at 0500. Shower.. Breakfast... Climb into gear... Load Xena's Tank Bag.. GPS loaded and set... iPod loaded .. Plugz in Lugs... and head over to the Start/Finish to meet Richard.
Xena all clean and shiny at the beginning of the first day... She wouldn't stay that way long.
I should mention now that there were few pics taken on the ride itself as I didn't want to keep stopping for photos.. This ride is about riding... stopped time makes the day longer so only essential stops for fuel and checkpoint collection of Electronic Till Receipts (ETR). and of course desperate toilet stops only when absolutely required. The scenery was there but on this ride my intention was not to be looking at the scenery... Just focusing on the road ahead and planning the next corner. This endurance ride was more than about riding it was more about self management. Lets see how that goes...
The Official Day One Route was Turangi to Taupo, Wairoa, Gisborne, Opotiki, around East Cape, Awakeri, Te Teko, Murapara, Taupo, Turangi.
Richard was all ready and we head out on our adventure at exactly 0600. I set off towards Taupo with Richards lights in the mirrors.. Right turn and head over the Taupo - Napier road... We were on top of the hills closer to Hawkes Bay when the sun came up.. Nice sunrise but looking over to the south were big black menacing frontal clouds. Hmmm we should be ok. We are well ahead of it and going in the same direction. Any late starters will get caught and drenched. (Which I later found out was the case)
Left onto SH 2 and to Wairoa where signals were made and we both needed one of the desperate toilet stops... Whew made it..!! One has to plan ahead as one has so many layers to get to the waterworks..!!!! All zipped up and off again... We later found out we missed the secret checkpoint which was a local Rusty member who stopped other riders (disguised in his work blue and white patrol vehicle.. lots of laughs after recovering from shock!.)
On the way to Gisborne I had a close encounter with a Hawk. He was feeding on road kill and startled at my approach he took off and I nearly hit him..! whew...! We drove through Gisborne and stopped for Petrol.
Off again... things going well... in the groove... Moving average was ok... just north of Gisborne heading inland we spot a car pranged and upside down in a paddock with two of the local constabulary in attendance. How did they do that...? We rode through my birth town of Tolaga Bay... It still looks just the same.
North of Tolaga of course the road becomes more twisty and the quality degrades... and lots of road works of course... This highway is always being worked on. Richard took over the lead and moved ahead as he is a faster rider on the corners... I seemed to catch him on the straights so it was working out ok...
Our first checkpoint was in Hicks Bay where we stopped for lunch and got our ETR.
Of course I had to have a Ruatoria Pie for lunch... Just like the old days.
Richard stowing away his ETR.... The twin BMW's look great.
We met up with Phil on the Harley and David on the Honda... They left early and were doing well.. Phils number plate is DVRCD and drew the attention of a woman near Wairoa who asked him home for a drink..!! lol.... such luck..!!
David on his Honda 900 Hornet... We thought we spotted him coming back shortly after he left but found out it was another Honda not part of our tour.
All fed and a short rest we set off again... enjoying the twisty roads.. Getting closer to Opotiki a huge irrigator was spreading fresh cowsh on the pasture with a huge wind blowing it towards the road... Ick.. the things motorcyclists have to put up with..!
On the way to Awakeri we passed through a gorge and came across another prang... a 4WD had crashed badly and was on its rear wheels with front wheels up the cliff..!! we later found out that a boy was killed in the accident and bikes were rerouted away from the crash site. We saw there were people in attendance and the ambulance passed us a few minutes later.
We refuelled at Awakeri although we probably could have made Murupara.... Rode down the Galatea road and was pleased that Richard was leading as George my GPS would have taken us on a more direct but likely not as good route.. this wouldn't be the first time..!
Arriving at Murupara we had to get an ETR so went to the local store and I bought some bananas. The locals were intrigued about the idea of riding for 10,000 kms!!
A quick banana gulped down we loaded up again and set off for the finish... a mere 144km away. It started to get cold but I didn't want to stop to put more gear on so toughed it out.
I was using my new molded plugs in my ears with ipod speakers. The trouble was of the 3500 songs on the ipod there was every Beatles album... including unknown B sides... and Every John Denver album...and I was already getting sick of them..! Its going to be a long tour musically..!!
An uneventful ride to Taupo... slow through town itself... but a smooth ride to the finish where we arrived at 1744... Lee and Brian were there to meet us.
A beer or two was had and after arranging start time in morning with Richard head back to the bach. TK the support crew had left meals in the freezer so I heated one up and enjoyed that. Batteries and iPod on charge gear ready for tomorrow I head to bed to get some sleep... Yeah right..!!!
Distance covered Day One: 1001kms
Total Distance Covered: 1001kms
The alarm went off at 0500 although I had been awake most of the night with white lines and twisty roads in my head... Still wound up and running on adrenalin. Hopefully it will wear off.. My guess around day three.
The usual prep in the morning and was at the motel start/finish to leave at 0600.
Today's route was Turangi to Kuratau Junction, Whakamaru, Tokoroa via back roads to Kihikihi, and then south west to New Plymouth, Opunake, Hawera, Bulls, Levin, Shannon, Tokomaru, Palmerston North, Feilding, Waiouru, Ohakune, Mananui to return to Turangi.
We left right on 0600 again and set off west towards Kuratau Junction... Up the western access.. I was up front and enjoying the cool pre dawn.. In fact it was pretty cold.. the temperature dropped to 1.3 deg C... and I know I didn't have enough on but kept on going..
When we turned east at Whakamaru near the dam I had to stop and take a pic.. I know I said I wouldn't do it often but the moment grabbed me and I needed to capture it.. The light and the mist on the lake was nice.
On towards Tokoroa turning left onto the Old Taupo Road... A few bikes.. I think it was John, Andrew and David zipped past us... Hmmm oh well... We all ride our own speeds and abilities so no problems... But we will catch them when they stop..!! On to Puketurua Hall where George (GPS) took over and took us on a short cut towards Arapuni... Oh well.. keep going we will get there... and of course we found Arapuni Road and rode on into Kihikihi... The cold and the morning coffee was having an effect on the bladder that was becoming urgent... Richard was having the same challenge..!! We saw Corinne and Andrew at the local bakery and I hollered out "where is the toilet!!!???" whilst hopping up and down and gesturing in obvious manner..!!! Corinne Yells... "Down there... >>>>!!!!" quickly back on the bikes and we rode the 400 metres to the public convenience... WHEW...!!!! Just in time... Note to self.... I gotta plan toilet stops..!!!!
As we left the Toilet John, Andrew and Dave arrived and wondered how we got past them... Good old George served us well this time... lol... hope we didn't take kms off the required distance today.
We rode back to the Bakery and had a coffee and Danish..... We put on more clothes to ward off the chills... Corinne and Andrew had kitted up and head out while we enjoyed a break and hot coffee....
On the way somewhere my iPod stopped working... Nothing I could do would make it go again.. It needed rebooting and couldn't remember how to do it so I texted TK the technical helpdesk and asked her to find out. I knew it would be taken care of. But the rest of the day was done with wind noise in my ears only..!!
On our way again we head down SH 3 towards New Plymouth... Past PioPio we somehow caught up with Andrew and Corinne... They must have stopped for Petrol somewhere.. It looked like they were taking things easy so we passed them on some straight roads... No doubt they will catch us on the twisties if we ran into any. We must have got well ahead of them as over Mt Messenger twisties we didn't see them. I am sure somewhere we rode behind Paul on his Ducati... I got stuck behind a big truck on windy road so lost touch with the group.. Safety first...
Cruising into New Plymouth... Slowing down for roadworks and urban traffic... we decided to stop for Petrol before heading to Opunake. Fueled up we rode on to Opunake and called in to a cafe there and enjoyed a Bacon and Egg lunch and collected our checkpoint ETR.
The bikes parked up in front of Cafe... We noticed a few other bikes parked down the street... Didn't notice who they were. We set off on the next leg.. Next stop in Levin. Always slow going through towns.. Wanganui is a pain as it takes so long to ride through...
Richard took over the lead on the leg from Bulls to Levin.. The Foxton straights are so boring... making sure we kept an eye on the speedo as there are always patrols on that road.
We arrived in Levin without incident... We needed to collect an ETR here but didn't really need anything... So I bought a Moro bar and I think Richard started a habit of buying peanut slabs.. Just to get a receipt to prove we had been there...!! I will have to burn the calories off after the run..!!
Onwards we ride from Levin to Shannon then Tokomaru where I spotted a parked bike and fluoro vest and recognised Rusty Brian who was doing a random checkpoint.. We found out that we were the first through..!! I wonder where the fast bikes got to...!! After a quick chat we set off again to Palmerston North... More city riding... mumble... and I think we lost 20mins off ETA!!!.
We decided to top up with petrol to get the required ETR before setting off again for Fielding... Schools were just out... There were school kids everywhere...
On to Fielding... Enjoying the twisties of Vinegar Hill then to Ohakune and north towards Taumaranui where the last checkpoint was Manunui. We didn't need petrol so we bought an easter egg each for the ETR and head off over the saddle to Turangi...
I need to declare that during the execution of this adventure no living beings were deliberately or intentionally harmed by myself... I can't help it when a bird flies into the bikes path and splatters itself onto the bike fairing... I think I hit two this day... feathers flying everywhere... along with the millions of bugs..!!
We got back to base at 1835... first of the group... Enjoyed a beer and a chat until a few other bikes arrived....
A great part of the ride... The beer at the end.. Andrew, Corinne, Richard and Murray enjoying a relaxing chat after day two.
TK (the support crew) had arrived from Auckland with a solution for the iPod and a supply of beer.. very excellent... After a few beers and arranging tomorrows start time with Richard I took Xena to the petrol station for fuel top up and went for a nice freshly cooked dinner and early night. and hopefully sleep.. Yeah right..!!
GPS Track of Day Two:
Distance Covered Day Two: 1051 kms
Total Distance Covered: 2052 kms
I was hoping I would be tired enough to sleep after day two... But I had another sleepless night... It might have been the three coffees I had which for me is a no no...!! for precisely that reason.. I am sure there was more to it than coffee... This ride has me all keyed up and .... bloody determined... I knew at the beginning that day three would be my greatest challenge.. and it turns out that it was the toughest route
Today's Route: Leaving Turangi to Taupo... Rotorua via HW 30, and then 36 to Greerton, Bethlehem, Waihi, Whitianga, Kuatotuna Coromandel, Thames, Waitakaruru, Kaiaua, Clevedon, Kawakawa Bay, Drury, Ngaruawahia, Otorohanga, Taumaranui, Nat Park, and Raetahi. Ohakune, Waiouru to Turangi
Having the support crew available in the morning made the preparations go smoothly and I was in good time to leave for the camp and start line...
TK took a pic of us before we left.. The Hi Viz jacket is very effective...
Richard was all ready and we left at 0600 again.. Seems to be a good time for us and I enjoy pre dawn riding. I led the way over to Taupo and as we were riding through the town a white commodore got shitty when I tried to overtake him.. Oh well.. make your mind up buddy.. away you go.. He took off north of Taupo... Lo and behold near Atiamuri I spot some blue and red flashing lights and the white commodore... haha... we waved as we cruised past...
Right onto SH 30 to Rotorua... The sun came up and we cruised into Rotorua... I was still leading and was distracted with traffic and missed the Old Taupo Road turn and ended up going through the city... We picked up Ray on the K1200 who I think was more lost than we were... So I led them out of Rotorua to Ngongotaha and over bad road works onto SH36...
This Pyes Pa road is great now that they have done it up... With some really nice twisties on the way towards Tauranga. We took a left at the Greerton roundabout... Of course it was rush our.. traffic was heavy... Noting the signals of impending bladder pressure it was necessary to plan a quick stop. I knew there was a public toilet at Bethlehem so stopped there... A much less stressful stop this time.. planning works... In a few minutes we were on our way again...
Through Waihi and taking the coast road north... Enjoying the twisties.. This Coromandel loop must be the best bike road in the north island. At least I had no chance to feel tired... A rider has to be very focused to get around these corners... Great work.. Great Fun...
We weren't sure of petrol availability up the top of the peninsula so we decided to stop at Tairua for a fill at the Gull station. All fueled up we head off again and enjoyed more twisties right up past Whitianga and over the hill to Kuaotuna where we were required to get an ETR. I overshot the village turn and had to loop back to find Richard parked outside the local shop and cafe.
I parked Xena and took a pic before walking around to the cafe for snack and drink...
Richard reciprocated for the record...
After enjoying a bit of humour with the locals I promised to return to this place in the truck and spend some time in this relaxed spot.
Plugs in... Helmet on... Gloves on... Come on Richard...!! Struggling with his gloves again... lol...
We head off again and Richard took lead around over the hills and twisties to Coromandel and down to Thames. As the roads straightened I started to feel more tired... It had been serious riding so far and I was starting to feel the effects of sleepless nights and long rides. Now was the time to dig deep...
Using some yoga energizing techniques I used to teach a while back kept me focused for now... we rode across the Hauraki Plains to Waitakaruru bridge and turned right up the Miranda coast... More twisties helped to keep me focused and we rode into Clevedon for a well earned lunch. A gentleman came and asked us if we were riding the Super Tour and said his son was also doing it and he was waiting for.. It was Barrys father..! Nice to meet him.. Barry was behind us somewhere and rode in while we were having lunch... He has relatives all over the country.. Yesterday we passed him in a layby with his wife over in Taranaki somewhere..!!! hmmm.....
Lunch over we loaded up again and rode to the Auckland motorway and rode south... We were originally supposed to go down SH 22 to Glen Murray and Te Uku... but Rusty's thought it would make the day too tough.. Shame really as in the last two weeks I have ridden that road twice and was keen to do it again... So we head down to Ngaruwhaia and turned towards Whatawhata and back on track to Te Kuiti... Of course the after lunch period is the toughest.. I was wilting a couple of times so had to dig deep again... The iPod helped and I found myself even singing along with John Denver..!!! and the Beatles...!!! Oh my god.. did I say that..! It did help keep me focused... We rode into Te Kuiti.. I was leading and pulled in to the Shell Station for petrol.. RIchard prefers BP so rode on to the station at the bottom of the hill.. After filling I met up with him and had a couple of bananas for energy and a drink while he ate something in the cafe... I loaded the next route onto the GPS and we set off for National Park and Raetihi. Of course the closer we got to the plateau the colder it got and heading into Raetihi it even started to rain.
We needed to get an ETR at Raetihi so we both bought a couple of Easter eggs..! I am sure I am gaining weight on this ride..!! We spotted Barry on his Kawasaki as we left Raetihi... Hadn't noticed anyone else for some time now... We rode on to Waiouru and up the desert road to Turangi without incident... spotting the mandatory patrol where we expected it to be. Not that we were speeding at that time of day...
We pulled into Start/Finish first home again... I don't know what the other riders are doing.. obviously stopping a lot longer than we are.. But when I got off the bike I was SO tired.. this ride was starting to bite and I was at the end of my endurance without a good sleep. Hopefully tonight..
TK was there with a couple of cold ones and a camera....
XC checking in with Rusty Brian who just got back from the secret checkpoint at Waitakaruru bridge which we missed as we had already gone through... Is he waving the finger at me..!!?? Ooops sorry Brian...!
This was the hardest day so far... lots of hard work pulling the big Beemer around so many twisty corners... but great ride none the less and would do it again in a flash... But I need sleep... So arranged departure time with RIchard and head off home for a good sleep (fingers crossed).
Distance Covered Day Three: 1011 kms
Total Distance Covered: 3063 kms
My eyes opened.... What time is it... I SLEPT....!!! YES..!!!! Exhaustion took over in the end..!!! What time IS it...? YIKES...!! it is 0524 the bloody alarm didn't go off... I only set it to go off on working days and it is Saturday today...!!! PANIC..!! Instantly awake I burst into action.. Having the support team there was great she made the coffee and toast while I did the ablute thing...!!
All good I managed to get rigged up.. load GPS route.. iPod... and Xena with tank bag etc and rode around to the Start/Finish.. Richard was all kitted up and ready to go and we even managed to leave a few minutes before 0600. It seems that most of the riders had left earlier... Maybe we will see them during the day.
Our route for day four was: Turangi to Taupo, Napier, Taradale, Takapau, Upper Hutt, Featherston, Martinborough, Masterton, Alfredton, Pongaroa, Wimbledon, Porangahau, Waipukurau, Napier, Taupo, and Turangi. Just another day in office for a Super Tour rider..!
Feeling refreshed and recharged by a solid nights sleep I knew I was over the hump.. or through the other side of the wall to use marathon speak...
We rode the very familiar route over the Taupo Napier highway yet again... The sunrise gave us a nice show on the way over the hills.. No I didn't stop for a pic... I only recorded it in my head.. I need a camera solution I can use while riding... Will get TK to investigate..! lol...
Turning right towards Napier this time we rode to Taradale for the required ETR.. We decided to top up with petrol as this would give us enough to get to Upper Hutt where we also needed to get an ETR... We came across Corinne and Andrew in Taradale.. They left while we were refuelling...
Onwards again down SH 50 towards Takapau and at a road works red light we caught up with the two green bikes again... We sat right behind them and when it turned green gave them a dual blast on the RT horns..!! heh heh.! They seemed to be cruising again so we engaged turbo and cruised right on by.. We met some tighter corners and I spotted them gaining on us again but the roads straightened again and we moved away.. It was easy to recognise one of the Super Tour bikes.. they were already noticeably dirtier than most bikes going by..
We slowed for Dannevirke but didn't stop... heading down the Wairarapa towards Masterton.. Richard was leading which was just as well as George (GPS) directed me towards the city whereas Richard obviously had worked out the bypass and we skirted the city centre... Just hope there wasn't a checkpoint in town..!!
The wind was getting up the further south we rode and by the time we got to the Rimutakas it was blowing a gale and the traffic was like Queen Street on a Friday night..!!! Getting caught behind slow traffic was a pain but we managed to get past the slowest... Of course in this sort of traffic Richard got away from me and it took the down hill straight roads to catch up with him.. On the way down into Upper Hutt we passed a Honda Goldwing.. Not sure if it was Ian though... We continued down to the first petrol station in Upper Hutt and topped up with petrol for the ETR Plans for lunch were made.. Lets stop at Martinborough where we also needed an ETR.. So on the bikes again we turned around and head towards the RImutakas.. On the way up we passed the green bikes on the way down.. Big waves.. we fought the wind and traffic once more to get over the hill..
Right turn towards Martinborough the wind seemed to ease off and we had a smooth ride into the town.
We parked the bikes and together they did turn a few heads... It was good to stop for half an hour for food and for Richard his seat is not as comfortable as Xenas and he was hurting.. lol.. it was fun to watch him doing calisthenics on the bike to get comfortable. very entertaining...
The body refueled we mounted up again and headed out for the next leg which was nearly 200km of back twisty roads to Porangahau... Route 52 is not my favourite road.. I have only seen it in the middle of the night in driving wind and rain... It was nice to do it in the day time and get a different experience of it.
Part way into the twisties we came up behind a Harley.. It was Steve who had set out very early and was chugging along nicely. We cruised past and continued around the back roads.. The white lines disappeared the state of the road deteriorated... Long ridges of asphalt dragged me off line a couple of times but no dramas but one badly signed sudden drop on a steep right turn surprised me and had to slow right down at last minute to make the turn. Whew..!! Thank god I didn't have many of those moments..
We approached Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu and I saw a fluoro jacket next to a parked bike and knew it was the special checkpoint.. We stopped and had a chat and while we were chatting Steve cruised by on his Harley.. lol.. He didn't bother stopping for the checkpoint..! He later said it was the only chance to pass us.. lol...
We didn't take long to catch up with the Harley and cruise by him again... another wave as we went by and cruised into Porangahau. There was a funeral happening on the road into town so slowed down to a respectful speed and parked the bike opposite the local store. It was too busy in there to wait for an ETR so I took a pic instead.. Steve caught up with us and joined the pics.
Richard and Steve making out in front of dairy to prove we were there...
XC is having a bad hair day.. but I was there..!!!
Once pics were taken we loaded up again and was careful to head back the way we came to head to Waipukurau. I have been fooled by the GPS before as the most direct route is over the old hill road which is gravel and exposed.
We make it back to Waipuk and my old home town of Waipawa where I had to stop to swap batteries in my GPS this only took a minute then we were on our way again... Stopping at Bay View for petrol. When we pulled in there were more than a dozen bikes there taking a break. I told a couple of them that we were on the Super Tour.. They seemed to think we were crazy... We probably are..!!
Bikes refueled.. a banana for energy we were off on the last 180km... We are getting very intimate with this road now and not feeling so tired it went by pretty quickly... We did happen across Steve on the Harley again... He must have passed us at the petrol station... A reasonably clear run over the hills down into Taupo... then Turangi Start/Finish where I think we were first in again.
Steve wasn't too far behind.. He was in time for a chat.. a pic (which I have lost) and a beer or three... A great days ride.. Much better after a good nights sleep and it was great to see Route 52 in the daylight and we even found the checkpoint..!! After swapping a few stories we arranged start tomorrow and I headed home for more sleep.
At the bach I checked Xena's oil and topped up. I filled up the bottle and put it in the glove box.. Note this for later...!!
Distance Covered Day Four: 1048 kms
Total Distance Covered: 4117 kms
Awake on time this time.. Loaded up and rode around to the Start/Finish... RIchard was waiting all booted and spurred... Not many bikes at the motel.. It seems they were getting away earlier and earlier.. Maybe we will see some of them today...
Today's route is: Turangi to Kuratau, Whakamaru, Rotorua, Pyes Pa, Mt Maunganui, Opotiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Taupo, Tokoroa, Whakamaru and then to Turangi to finish.
We cruised out of Turangi a little before 0600 and rode up the western access road.. It wasn't so cold this morning compared to the last time up this road... From Whakamaru we cut over to SH 1 then turned right onto SH30 again.. Dawn broke before we got to Rotorua... This time I managed to take the correct turn and we cruised through to Ngongotaha and over the roadworks before the turn onto Pyes Pa road.. We were tasked to get an ETR at Pyes Pa which could be a problem as there isn't much there. I had noted the store the other week when I was driving the truck up this road and marked it on my GPS.
We arrived there right on 0800 and the store was just opening... I wonder where the earlier riders got their ETR from given there wasn't anything else around. The lady in the shop was very nice and even took pity on my bursting bladder by showing me to a private toilet out the back.. Thank you..
We obtained the required till receipt and loaded up again... Ray on the R1200RT and a couple of others stopped there while we were loading up.
Turning right at Greerton we rode over to Mt Maunganui and onwards to Opotiki. This road is so busy in the mornings so it was a bit frustrating... but it thinned out by the time we got to TePuke.. I purchased a drink in Pyes Pa and it was sitting on my tank bag holder.. Riding through TePuke I went to take a drink but the seal was still on..! mumble.. So without stopping I endeavored to remove the cap.. rip the seal off with my teeth then replace the cap.. One handed..!! Richard noticed me slow down and must have seen the splashes as I spilled drink..! Not exactly a disaster but perhaps I should have stopped to do it..!! He cruised by.. I indicated all was well and we rode out of TePuke..
Opotiki was our scheduled fuel stop.. One great advantage of the BMW R1150RT is it has a 25 litre tank and we can ride in excess of 450km on one tank... We are used to seeing other riders stopped at petrol stations filling up sometimes 2 to 3 times to our 1.
While filling at the BP station we spotted Corinne and Andrew over the road at the Caltex station. Big waves as they left... a bike pulled up and the guy said he had just come through the gorge and that there was fog around Matawai... We refueled and had a snack before heading off ourselves.
It has been some time since I have been through the Waioeka gorge and as we rode into the valley I had memories of day trips we used to do in Dads Wolsley 680 way back in the 60's from Tolaga Bay over the top and down through the gorge... God I am getting old... At least the memory brain cells are still there..!
A great ride through the gorge and the fog had obviously burned off by the time we got to Matawai. The roads straightened a bit after Matawai so things speeded up a little but we didn't see the green bikes until we rode into Makaraka. They were parked at the petrol station along with a few of our other bikes.. Hmm I guess Makaraka is Gisborne enough for the ETR so we pulled in and joined the largest gathering of our own riders I had seen since the start of the run.
Photo opportunity while we were here... The bikes all in a row.!!
Paul on his hot Ducati... Note Corinne behind her and the state of her trousers..!!
It seems the trousers had "blown out" was the expression she used.. I didn't want to ask how..!! so she did a bodge job with duct tape to hold them together... I hope it doesn't rain..! lol...
Lunch had.. Stories swapped... ETR obtained.. we loaded up again and head out towards Wairoa.
All was well.. The bike was purring along.. not missing a beat.. I was feeling ok.. My left ear was starting to hurt from the plug.. Maybe I didn't put it in properly.. Note to self: Check plugs are inserted properly..!!
I had a couple of oops moments on this leg.. I was in front and coming up to crest of a hill where I came up behind a motorhome... All clear ahead I indicated to over take and as soon as I started my passing manoeuver he suddenly indicated to turn right into a lookout stop without checking his mirrors..!! YIKES!!!!!! an instant counter steering turn to the left of the bus and I was past him..! Mumble Mumble.....
The heart settled down and we continued on to Wairoa where after coming down the twisty hill we of course had to cross the railway line. It had started to drizzle a little I think.. and the line was a little wet. I have had trouble on wet rails before so deliberately engaged clutch to take the drive off the rear wheel but still she slid her rear... Ooops..!! a quick pull on the opposite grip and she stood up again...
We rode into Wairoa looking out for the patrol car checkpoint.. or at least a checkpoint as there is a Rusty who lives here. No sign.. Maybe we were too early again..!
We kept going without further incident... deciding to fuel up again at Bay View before heading over the Taupo road.. Xena all topped up and I got another bottle of Powerade for some rocket fuel for myself.. we rode back towards the Taupo turn and spotted Corinne and Andrew parked up at a Cafe...
Riding over the Napier - Taupo road we started to meet Horse trucks... not one.. not two.. dozens of horse trucks.!!! yuk.. all in convoy.. Obviously there was a horse event in Hawke's Bay and they were heading north again.. Getting past them was a challenge some times.. and of course horse piss is not a pleasant thing to be riding into..!! Yuk...
I was so over passing Horse Trucks by the time we got onto the long straights we were still passing them... Closer to Taupo we saw the lights of a bike coming the other way.. a big wave.. Rusty Brian doing a mobile checkpoint... Glad we didn't miss him.. lol...
Turning right and riding through Taupo we rode up the main highway to Tokoroa where we needed to collect an ETR. Another Moro bar for the collection we head straight out. I think we saw Barry on his Concorde when we rode in. A local cop gave me a nice wave as we passed him in the forest on the way to Whakamaru.. I wonder why he waved with his fingers pointing down..!?? Just as well I wasn't speeding...
Down the western access again.. I love this road.. I ride it most weekends to the Bach... What better can life offer listening to good jazz.. sitting on a great bike... riding a great road... in great company... Life is good..
We turned at Kuratau and cruised into Turangi Start/Finish at 1737.. A great days ride.
TK was there with the beer and we swapped experiences until some more bikes arrived back. Including Brian who also had a run in with the Horse Trucks..!! so much swearing and cursing toward horse truck owners was done. lol.... oh well these are the challenges we meet on New Zealand roads.
Xena was smeared with oil on the left side head.. Hmm this could be nasty... better check it out... Richard took off the spark plug cover and noted it wasn't coming from the plug... Further investigation I found that the bottle of oil in the glove box had tipped over and drained out.. over the engine head and making a hell of a mess.. I cleaned it up glad it wasn't anything worse. Duh.. Note to self.. Make sure oil bottle is sealed...
Tomorrow we head to the South Island.. Richard has to catch an earlier ferry so will be leaving at some ungodly hour in the morning... So tomorrow I will be riding alone.. Wishing him luck I left camp and headed home.GPS Track of Day Five:
Distance Covered Day Five: 1040 kms
Total Distance Covered: 5157 kms
I woke up before the alarm so had no panic this morning... A different day today as the ride takes us to Timaru which will be our base for the second half of the Tour.
The official route is: Turangi , to National Park, Raetihi, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Tokomaru, Levin, and SH 1 to ferry, Picton SH1 to Christchurch and Timaru. ETA was between 2300 and midnight.. So it will be a long day but not difficult riding.
Richard had left earlier so was probably already in the south island when I woke. I loaded up Xena's panniers making sure I had easy access to ferry booking sheets and tie downs were easy to get to. All booted and spurred I rode around to the Start/Finish and checked in with Brian before departing on my own.
The plateau is familiar territory to me as I spend so much time down there.. I turned onto SH 47 and riding up over the Te Ponanga Saddle I spotted a possum crossing the road in my beam ahead.. Hmm careful... He was going from right to left... so I jinked right to pass behind him when the stupid bloody animal turns around and goes the way he came and ran right under my wheels... BANG BANG...!! Buggar..! I am pretty sure the hit would have killed it.. Xena stayed upright and behaved perfectly... One less possum to eat our trees..! I have always wondered what it would be like to hit one and wouldn't recommend the experience as it could have been a bit tricky if I didn't hit it square on.
Continuing on around the mountain in the pre dawn it was chilly and I got a sprinkle of misty rain but nothing significant. I was warm with plenty of gear on. Riding alone I was relaxed with no time pressures as there was plenty of time to get to the ferry. I cruised through Raetihi and head down SH 4 and the Paraparas... This is a good bike road when it is dry but devilishly slippery in the wet.. Grateful that the rain had not followed me down this far the roads were dry although there were plenty of road works.
Just on dawn a huge bug found the centre of my visor... SPLAT...!! Yuk.. all over the front of the visor and blurred my vision too much. One of the "bug bears" of riding... lol.. I couldn't leave it there as it obscured my view too much so pulled over to deal with it.. It was right on dawn and was a good pic although my camera didn't capture the colour very well... but I did take a pic.
This is my view above the screen. It would be nice to be able to take pics on the bike while riding.. If anyone reading this has an easy solution let me know as I don't like stopping to take pics.
Visor all clean again I continued the pleasant ride over the Paraparas and down into Wanganui. I needed to get an ETR there so pulled into the garage along the way and met up with Corinne and Andrew and a couple of other riders who were just leaving... ETR obtained I figured I had time for a detour so rang my mate Wayne who flies the Air Ambulance out of Fielding.. A quick chat and we arranged to meet in Bulls for a coffee and a catch up.
Cruising through the outskirts of Wanganui I passed Corinne at the Honda motorcycle shop showing off her new trousers... haha...!! I wonder how long they will last..!!!
An easy ride to Bulls among the morning work traffic I cruised into the bovine town and parked at the Cafe and was joined for coffee by my friend... Always nice to catch up.. Wayne and I have known each other for years since we were both working in the Defence Computer Centre in the early 1980's. He being Air Force.. and me Navy and we have kept in touch all this time.
While we caught up we noticed a few bikes ride through but I wasn't in a hurry.
Catch up complete... Wayne had to get to work and I loaded up again and cruised on towards Palmerston North.
Not being pressed for time I didn't grumble too much about riding through Palmerston North again.. I stopped at a BP station and filled up to obtain the required ETR. Had a chat to a local Police lady who was buying breakfast...
Following George the pre programmed GPS I cruised to the other side of the Square and rode out of Palmerston North onto SH 57 to Tokomaru and Levin... I spotted Andrew and Corinne turn from another road in front of me.. They must have taken a short cut to get there.. George didn't know about that one..! They rode on ahead and I just cruised on my own not looking forward to riding into Wellington.
The further south I rode the worse the weather got... I had my bike boots on and they are not very water proof so decided if it really started to rain hard I would stop and put on rubber boots.. Not wanting to walk around on the ferry in soaking boots.
The rain did come and I pulled off the road at Paekakariki and swapped boots. Now fully waterproof the weather can do whatever it wanted. I continued on and joined the throng on the worst road in this country. I hate the road to Pukekura Bay and think it is a travesty. A major road going into our Nations Capital City and you are in one lane no passing with barriers either side.. Talk about third world.. Our engineers should go see some Australian roads and how it is really done. Sort it out..!! Grumble over...!!
I cruised down the motorway into Wellington and ran into a howling gale..!! Bloody hell.. Windy Wellington was certainly living up to its name today. I rode into the city centre and stopped at the first petrol station I found. Fuel for the bike and a pie for the pilot... I had to chase a glove as it got caught up in the wind..!!
Then back to the Ferry terminal where I joined the queue of bikes waiting for the ferry.
Riders had to stay close to their bikes as the wind got stronger and stronger and I hear even blew one bike over down at the BlueBridge queue.
Xena in the foreground.. Ferry in the background making its way in slowly in the gale.. and Cam in the middle.. This is the only pic I managed to get of Cam so will post the shot here..!! I did take one without him in shot..!
The ferry did manage to dock and unload and although a little behind schedule we were given the go to load up...
All lashings were double checked for this crossing... likely it is going to be rough.
Xena all secure... Is that Cam and Mike in the background..? Up into the lounge where most riders found somewhere to sleep.. I don't sleep during daylight hours so didn't bother.. I enjoyed a chat with a few of the guys then spent a bit of time on the upper deck.
Took a pic astern.. I can see why they chain down those trucks.. they were tipping right over and would have been exciting if they weren't chained.
We had a meal on board and I did manage to get some quiet time to rest the mind a little. We got the call and made our way down to the bikes again and rode off the boat around 1735.. Of course there was a bottle neck and the road was busy for a few km out of Picton until we got past the cars and trucks off the ferry.
Down the Kaikoura coast in the dwindling light.. Always a nice road and I had to berate myself for sightseeing a couple of times... No distractions XC.. Ride your bike... Of course about now is when we would be finished for the day but I had another 6 hours to go yet so stay focused and keep going.
The ride was pretty uneventful... I just cruised down towards Christchurch not looking forward to the south canterbury roads... I noted a few bikes stopped at petrol stations but I didn't stop until Hornby just south of Christchurch. While donning more clothing a car pulled up next to me and the occupant said "Alright..!" Aah it was Boss Lee Rusty in a Car!!! He was heading south after visiting friends in Christchurch and stopped to say hello.
Now was the big challenge.. Getting late.. Been riding and waiting around since 0600 so need to concentrate and get down these long straight roads of South Canterbury.. Put cruise control on a reasonably legal speed and cruise south.. No I don't have cruise control.. Just a mental note to watch speed...
All went smoothly and I cruised into Timaru just after 2300 stopped at a station for fuel for the morning and arrived at the Grovesnor Hotel after getting a little lost at around 2330. I found some room in the shed for Xena as there weren't many bikes in yet. Apparently they weren't expecting us until the following day but Richard being the first to arrive gave them the news that we were all arriving tonight. I was allocated a room on the top floor well away from the renovations as the room was in dire need of renovating..!! lol.. oh well the bed was comfortable and the shower worked.
There was a note for me from Richard saying he was leaving at 0700 so that was sorted and I had an extra hour for sleep.
Distance Covered Day Six: 917 kms
Ferry Distance: 92 kms
Total Distance Covered: 6166 kms
The alarm on my phone goes off at 0600 and I awake with a start..!!! Aarrgghh!!! Where am I..!!! Oh.. That's right I am on an adventure..! I am in Timaru and it is day 7 of 10. I drag myself out of bed and ablute before going down to the dining room where they had arranged an early breakfast. Hmm hardly a breakfast for champions but motel type continental fare with perked coffee was barely adequate but enough to get the day started.
Todays route was: Timaru, to Winchester, Geraldine, Arundel, Mayfield, Mt Somers, Mt Hutt, Glentunnel to Arthurs Pass, then Greymouth, Westport, Inangahua Junction, and Reefton. Then via Lewis Pass, Culverden, Waipara, to Amberley, Woodend, Rangiora, Oxford, Waddington, Rakaia George, Mt Hutt, Geraldine, and Winchester to Timaru and finish. Just another ride in the country.. Riding south islands roads will be different though..
I was all loaded up and engine running at 0700 but still no sign of Richard... Hmmm he must have slept in.. Not being a man who likes to wait I started Xena just as I spotted him come to his bike.. "where have you been..!?". "The clock was wrong in my room..!"... haha.. good excuse... "I will ride on slowly... catch me up...."
So I head out north of Timaru.. turning left at Winchester heading inland.. No sign of Richard in my mirrors... He can't be far away... Not being familiar with these roads I was following George along Route 72 to Geraldine.. on to the Arundel road... A cool clear morning with the sky lightening in the East. These roads are going to become a challenge.. where are all the corners..! I must admit I did forget about going slow for Richard but likely he will catch me.. Riding through Mayfield then on to Mt Hutt.. I was passed by a few bikes including John on his R1200 and I think it was Murray and Dave... Oh well.. he can't be far away...
Then approaching a place called Windwhistle (which is very aptly named as it was howling a gale) George the GPS lit up and told me to turn left... I turned up a road with a sign indicating Mt Olympus...? Hmmm this is interesting... I followed the road a few kilometers and the road became more obviously minor... then the white lines disappeared on the sealed road.. Hmmm... GPS still saying continue on... so I kept going.. Brian must have found this minor road that links up to the West Coast road... Then I knew things were not as they should be when the seal ran out and I was on a gravel road... A sign indicated 15km of winding road... What do I do now..? I knew I was on the wrong road as the tour didn't include gravel roads. The road kept climbing so I stopped to think and take a leak...
Hey Brian.. is this place on the route..!!?? I am pretty sure it wasn't but it was such a beautiful place I decided I would continue trusting that George would bring me out onto the right road...
Xena parked on the gravel.. I know it is on the road but there wasn't much traffic..!! Come on Commander stop admiring the view and get back on the bike... You can't blame me though.. it is such beautiful countryside... I must come back here in the truck and stay awhile...
So onwards and upward I counted down the kilometers of gravel. Note the shadow in the pic... I had sun strike on lots of the corners... Couldn't see a bloody thing..!!! which dropped the moving average even more. As it turned out good old George was right... the road took me up to Lake Linden then back onto the West Coast Road on the way to Arthurs Pass... A nice side adventure.. I just hope I didn't miss any checkpoints.
It is likely that Richard had passed me while I was in the hills..!! so i kept on going over the Arthur's Pass.. While I was stopped at some road works lights Richard pulled up behind me..!! ah hah..!! Where have you been..!!?
A quick catch up and glad that I didn't slip behind him on my detour we continued on together.
Through the road works which there was many... we cruised on to Kumara Junction... We did encounter rain but I would be disappointed if I got to the West Coast and it wasn't raining.. It is much better when raining. We went on to Greymouth where we stopped for Petrol. I reckon we could have got to Westport but Richard didn't want to risk it.
Continuing on we enjoyed the coastal twisties to Westport where we decided to stop and have lunch...
We went into a Subway like shop where we had to make a lot of decisions about a sandwich and had a great laugh with the ladies there saying we didn't want to make any decisions.. great people... great fun..
I don't remember the name of the shop but here it is with Richard and the bikes in front.. Highly recommended for a lunch stop. Refreshed we prepared to continue and I think it was here we ran into John and co... They did ask me how I got in front of them... I couldn't fib.. so told them about my "shortcut" over Lake Coleridge to Lake Lyndon.... This still might cost me..!!!
On we go again as I led Richard back out of Westport and off in an Easterly direction... This Island isn't that big as we were again crossing over from coast to coast again... We got to Inangahua Junction and turned right taking SH 69 to Reefton.. There are some lovely little towns in this country... Note to self.. bring truck down and spend some time here...
On to SH 7 we head up the Lewis Pass... I was going through my after lunch slump... My mind was getting soggy and my concentration was slipping.. Techniques to maintain focus were starting to fail me so on the way up the Pass I came to a rest stop and indicated left to pull over... I just needed a break..
Richard pulled in behind me glad of the excuse to take a leak... Yes he is still adjusting himself in the above pic.. lol... I wasn't quick enough to catch him in the act..!
Well you might be getting sick of the bike pics.. but I don't get tired of seeing Xena and Richards bike together thinking of all the work they are doing to carry us all these k's.. Great German technology never missed a beat.
It took a banana... one of the moro bars I had been accumulating for ETR's... a drink and a chat to perk me up... While we were doing so... John and co zoomed past us again... So we mounted again and continued on towards Amberley where we needed to get an ETR... Richard went in lead so I could focus on something ahead of me... The mind was refreshed and I enjoyed the rest of the Lewis and past Hamner and down into the boring Canterbury roads...
We rode into Amberley and stopped for Petrol to get the required ETR grabbing a snack at the cafe next door. All aboard again we head south again to Woodend and turned inland on the inland scenic route.. yeah right... more straight roads after getting confused in Rangiora... Richards GPS obviously didn't have the one way roads on it and he took a couple of wrong turns..!! I tooted and took over and George soon had us back on the right road.again... On to Oxford where we needed another ETR... Nothing needed I got another Moro Bar and Richard another peanut slab.. We must be loading up the kilos.. lol...
The route from here was pretty much the reverse of what we started this morning... Straight roads to Waddington, to Glentunnel which I had missed because of my detour...! Past Windwhistle again the wind was howling again... I did note the road I had turned on... It seemed I had cut quite a few kilometers off the required route... It will be interesting to see the final Odo reading..
I enjoyed the Rakaia Gorge road again then we were back on straight roads all the way to Timaru. A quick fill up for the morning and we arrived at the hotel at around 1835. I didn't note if there were any other bikes in but we freshened up and enjoyed a beer and a meal in the bar. South Island roads are very different to the North Island...apart from the West Coast mostly pretty boring... Tomorrows start time was organised I had an early night.
GPS Track of Day Seven:
I have put in red dotted lines on my little detour this morning...
I am getting into a routine.. I awoke before the alarm went off this morning and had plenty of time to get ready and go down for what they call breakfast... A few of the guys were already there.. No sign of Richard but I don't think he does breakfast.. I wonder if he is up.!!
Todays route is: Timaru, via Washdyke, Fairlie, and Lake Tekapo, Twizel, Omarama, to Haast. Then north to Franz Josef, Whataroa, Harihari, Kumara Junction, Jacksons, Arthurs Pass, Waddington, Geraldine, Winchester, Temuka, Timaru for the finish. Just another day's ride.. These routes don't scare me any more.. with seven days behind us I was confident I was going to get to the end and the goal.. the badge..
I removed the side panniers off Xena to ride a little lighter... I don't think it makes much difference to handling but it might save in fuel economy..
All geared up I went to Xena just before 0600 and Richard was already there waiting with engine running.. Good lad... lol... So we set out on time and rode out of Timaru again... Turning left at Washdyke onto SH 8 towards Fairlie... It was dark of course so there wasn't much to see.. and the roads are pretty boringly straight so I was glad to see the sky lightening in the east to give me some perspective as to where we were...
The temperature dropped as we went inland... I didn't have enough gear on so was starting to feel it.. By the time we neared Lake Tekapo I was freezing... My plan was to ride through to Haast before refuelling but was not confident that we would make it... so amending the plan and as we had to get an ETR in Lake Tekapo we decided to top up there.
Once bikes were topped up and we had emptied out... Corinne and Andrew pulled in while we were donning more warm gear.. I gave her my camera for a photo op.. Yes that is Richard over the back... really.. He lives in Australia now and it is rubbing off...
You can tell by the look in his eyes..!!! and I ride with this bloke..!!!
On we go.. Richard led out of Tekapo and we continued south on SH8 past Lake Pukaki... The light was great across the plains... This is wonderful picturesque countryside... Concentrate Commander..!! On to Twizel, Omarama and over the Lindis Pass to Tarras... Nice roads... Now I was really enjoying my self and wished I could take lots of pics.. but will have to come back for that.. This trip is about riding... riding... and more riding..
Taking a right after Tarras onto SH 8A then SH6 we went up the side of Lake Hawea... and over the divide and down the Haast River.. Great roads.. Of course it started to rain.. and we ran into lots of road works but I was enjoying myself on these great roads... Down the Haast pass towards the coast where we stopped at the Haast Junction. There was a petrol station open there but we didn't need to fill up so we parked at the pub there and went in for a coffee and snack.
Look at the weather behind.. although the rain had stopped here we did have more to come...
Who is taking a pic of who...?? we seem to do this a lot..!!
The bikes make much better subjects...
We enjoyed a break here.. had coffee by the fire in the tavern to get the required ETR... I tried to text TK but there wasn't enough telecom reception here.. as was the case in many places we stopped..!! XT network.. Yeah Right...
After our break we head north again along the coast road.. of course it started to rain but the roads were good and I didn't feel the rear wheel slip at any time. We pulled in at Fox Glacier for Petrol... and after topping up we decided to have lunch here as well. We checked out a cafe... the cute Argentinian girl was fun but the meals we would have to wait for to be made... I wasn't keen on a cafe style lunch so went to the local shop and got a sandwich and bananas and a drink and had them outside in the cool... Chatting to a local he informs us there are many South Americans working in Fox Glacier...
The body refueled we continued north and were stopped by the secret checkpoint in I think it was Franz Joseph.. It was the same guy who was doing checkpoint at the longest place name.. Was it Tony...? So a quick chat and we kept on going... getting slowed down a number of times because of the camper vans on the road.. I have nothing against them.. I have one bigger than any we saw.. but sometimes on twisty roads they are hard to get past.
The further north we went the rain became more constant and persistent.. We turned inland again at Kumara Junction and then it really started to rain.. I was having difficulty with my visor fogging up.. and had to crack it to allow for sufficient ventilation to keep it clear.. A real pain... Maybe I should invest in a double glazed visor.
We continued up the river to Jacksons where we saw Rusty Brian who said we could proceed without getting the required ETR there.. We parked the bikes anyway as I was getting desperate for a leak... so walked dripping wet through the bar to the toilets.. and then walked out again.. how rude is that.. but nobody seemed to mind.. I guess it happens a lot..
Saying our goodbyes to Brian we pressed on.. riding up the Arthurs Pass.. When we got to the top of the pass the rain stopped... so I was enjoying the clearer air and as we were riding along the flats by Lake Grasmere we passed three bikes stopped on the side of the road. I think it was John M and David and Andrew I think... We zoomed past them wondering what they were up to.. Likely just a break.. We continued on... Richard was getting ahead of me a bit.. I was just cruising and wasn't interested in chasing him if he was in the mood for a bit faster ride... As we neared Lake Lynden I noted the lights in my mirrors.. I slowed down to point to John M where I had come out yesterday on my detour... but he just zoomed on past me.. Cheerio... I continued on at my own pace.. noticing the other lights coming up behind me...
I came up over the crest of Porters Pass and looked down the hill to see John M still sliding on the right hand side of the road...!!! His bike still sliding further down the road hitting the bank and coming to a halt..
My mind didn't register for a split second then ... SHIT...!!! somethings is happening.. I jumped on Xena's horn... a split second after I noticed the stuff on the road.. I avoided the brakes.. just geared down pulling over to the left off the slippery stuff on the road...
I parked Xena safely and ran up to where John had come to a stop... David and Andrew had caught up and luckily spotted me stopped and came to a safe stop... John was mostly ok.. sore wrist and bruises on first examination... He walked over to the side of the road cursing and grumbling as I did last year... He wasn't happy that it could put an end to his Tour... I would have been too.. we walked down to his bike and picked it up.. It wasn't in a ride-able condition...
Richard rode back up when he recovered from his slip slide descent on the slick... He thought to take a couple of pics.
John on left... shaken but thankfully alive and ready to ride if he could have.. David and Andrew (and RIchard behind camera) waiting for the trailer to arrive... John's R1200 was a little worse off though...
The steering damper was wrecked... and the engine head took some serious scraping.. The guys told me that it started but made awful noises.. So not rideable at all...
This was the slick responsible.. I ran up to where Johns track started to slide and stood on the slick with my boots and actually slipped downhill like it was ice... No wonder John lost it... anyone would have.. I was so lucky I was riding on a left line... away from the slick... I am sure it wasn't a diesel spill as you usually smell diesel and it has that rainbow effect from fuel... This was just waxy greasy stuff.. maybe tallow... and it went all the way down the hill.
There was no Cell Phone signal up there so I volunteered to go down to Springfield and arrange a pickup... On the way down the pass I passed a police car going up.. I signaled them and they waved so I think they already knew there was an incident up the hill... I rode on down to the service station at Springfield and spoke to the guy there and he said he would go up with a trailer...
That arranged I rang Boss Lee Rusty and informed him of the incident. There were enough guys up waiting with John so I decided to continue on the route to Timaru.
The route back was the reverse of yesterday mornings ride. Riding the inland routes again I saw how much I cut by doing my gravel ride. Most of the way back to Timaru I was thinking how lucky I was.. How it could have easily been me who went over on that slick.. I felt pretty bad for John who decided to pull out of the Tour and return to Auckland. Mostly I was grateful that he was alive and ready to ride again on future rides.
I cruised on into Timaru.. Fueled up and reported to the Finish line. A couple of beers and dinner I briefed the waiting riders all I knew about the incident.
Day Nine... I was in a groove... Waking up before the alarm.... Damn... only two more days to go. I could keep doing this. Although I was tired at some level I was still "Keyed In" to this Tour and didn't want it to end. Stay focused Commander... Incidents can happen so easily and quickly as we saw yesterday so take a little more care as I don't want to have a DNF next to my name.
Today's route: Timaru south to Waimate, Kurow, Omarama, Cromwell, Wanaka, Cadrona Valley, Crown range, Queenstown, Alexandra, Milton, Mosgiel, Ranfurly, Palmerston, Oamaru, to Timaru and finish. Didn't look like many difficult roads today.. Crown range has some nice twisties...
After breakfast I geared up and went down to Xena in good time. RIchard was all set to go so we departed right on 0600. Heading south for a change although at this time it was all dark and didn't really matter where we were... Just following the white lines and working through the corners... We turned inland just south of Hook towards Waimate and down to the Waitaki River riding towards Hakataramea...
I think it was around here that I encountered a little Ooops moment...!! coming around a sweeping right hand corner the road surface changed to a darker colour and although I couldn't see it I certainly felt it pretty quickly... there was small gravel like ball bearings all over the road... It must have been recently sealed and not swept... Whoooops...!!!! Both Xena's wheels slipped left... sliding on the stones... Everything went into slow motion.. Things can go wrong here..... Only the right action will work... and thankful to the years of riding an instinctive pull on the right handle bar and centripetal forces pulled Xena upright... Tires bit in again and I continued around the corner..! Whew... that was close... I later learned that others had the same experience on the same corner..! All part of the ride..
Past Kurow and on up past Lake Aviemore the dawn was breaking... but the further inland we went the colder it got.. I had only put on a light sweater on under my gear so I was chilling down. As it got lighter we were past Omarama and heading over the Lindis Pass... I could see the thermometer on my tank bag... I saw it go down to 3.7 deg C... It is interesting to watch what happens to the body when it chills down on the bike.. I don't feel cold apart from my feet and hands until I get off then the core chills down... brr... We continued on past Tarras again this time going down the side of Lake Dunston and turned into Cromwell where we needed an ETR.
I purchased a hot sausage roll for my ETR and to warm me up we and also took the chance to don some more warm clothes.. Although now it is likely to get warmer.. But glad for the extra layers we mounted again and rode up the other side of Lake Dunston and along the Upper Clutha to Wanaka... We needed an ETR here so decided to fill up.
Out of Wanaka we head over the Crown Range road.. One of my favourite roads in the south island.. It goes past my favourite ski field Cardrona... Enjoying the ride and glad I put on more clothes as we head up the range.. Just as we got to the top we ran into serious road works which bought us to a stop... Still it was time to enjoy the view and watch a Boeing 737 fly through the hills towards Queenstown airport.. and a bonus a perfectly formed rainbow in a shower on the other side of the valley.. What beautiful country... No wonder it is a tourist magnet here... Sorry I didn't get out the camera... I was waiting for the green light.
Down the winding road to the valley floor.. there are some serious turns here.. Indicated 15kmh... serious corners but not able to enjoy them fully as there was so much traffic to deal with as well... mumble grump...!
Down to the valley we ran into more road works and I enjoyed watching Richard do a fancy slide as he rolled over a deep pile of gravel... Well negotiated..!!
We needed an ETR from Queenstown and had to ride right into the town centre to get it. My notes tell me we got petrol here too even though we topped up in Wanaka. ETR in wallet we then had to ride out of Queenstown the way we came and passed the Crown Range turn off and on to Cromwell following the Kawarau River. Bypassing Cromwell town we rode on past the Clyde dam to Alexandra where we had agreed to stop for lunch.Richard in Alex.. You can see the cafe behind him where we enjoyed a nice hot meal as we were both still feeling a little cold.
XC and Xena in Alex... Note the clear sky behind... which wasn't to stay that way as we got a bit of rain on the next leg.. Not enough to soak us though.
All aboard again we continued down SH 8... Following the Clutha River to Roxburgh... to places like Island Block... Beaumont... Lawrence... Now there is a nice name.. lol... There are some towns down here I have never heard of.. There is even a town in NZ called Sutton...!! but riding on this tour we rode through a lot of towns..!!
We stopped in Milton as we needed another ETR.. took the opportunity to top up with fuel. I am not sure why but I lost Richard after that stop... Maybe he had to do something when I was all set and I took off without him... I am known to do that.. I hate waiting.. lol.. So I was on my own... Heading north to Mosgiel... Now I could have bypassed Mosgiel but who knows.. there could be a secret checkpoint there so I did the right thing and suffered the town centre traffic. It didn't take long and I was back out in the countryside on the road to Middlemarch... Here I met the wind..!! It was blowing a gale.. along the ridges I had to counter steer to keep Xena on her line... and there were some moments when I was leaning left into the wind going around a right hand corner... It felt really unnatural and very weird...
I was cruising along the windy ridges through Middlemarch, Hyde and Tiroiti... watching my mirrors for Richard to appear.. My tank bag rain cover came loose in the wind so I tucked it under my bum to keep it from blowing away... I spotted Richard in my mirrors just as were getting close to the turnoff that would take us to Ranfurly where we needed to collect an ETR... It was about then that I did some stretches on Xena to ease the achy bits... I threw both my legs back and out straight to stretch them a few ways other than the normal sitting posture... When I sat up I noticed that Richard was no longer in my mirrors.. Hmmm The buggar has found a short cut to Ranfurly... and is going to beat me there.. Well I didn't know the roads so I followed George to the turnoff and turned left near Kyeburn.. ( I know I hadn't heard of it either...) I rode the few k's to Ranfurly town and found Brian Rusty in his fluoro vest doing a random checkpoint... "Hi Brian... Have you seen Richard..?" "No..?"
Oh oh... I hope nothing has happened to my riding companion... Now I was worried. Brian said I didn't need to get the ETR and I was checked through so I turned around in a hurry to ride back to find Richard...
On my way out of Ranfurly RIchard comes into town...!! Glad he was ok I yelled at him.. "Where did you get to..?" He yelled back something but I couldn't hear clearly with plugs in... So I continued on out of town.
On the way down what I think is called the Pig Route I cruised until Richard caught up... While doing so I figured out what happened.. When I was stretching my tank bag cover flew off... Richard must have spotted it and stopped to pick it up.. which would explain why he disappeared... We shall see..
RIchard took over the lead as we went through some twisties.. the road was wet and I was a little soggy and wasn't riding my best... I caught up with him in Palmerston and turned onto SH1... Ho hum...
Richard was up front with the radar screen... and I followed him through Oamaru and on to Timaru where we fueled up and then checked in at the Start/Finish.
When we parked the girls and removed helmets and high fived for another days ride... Richard asked me if I had lost anything...! hah.. You did stop to pick it up..? He hands me back my cover... Lots of Loud Laughter... Cheers Richard...
A quick freshen up and we went to the bar for a well earned beer... Lee comes in and tells us to get our bikes as there is a reporter from the Timaru Herald who want a pic to go with an article about the tour.. So we take the bikes around to a side street for a pic.. The article came out in Saturdays paper..
Back for another beer and a nice dinner.. Then an early night before the last day.
No need for the alarm at all this morning... I was awake in good time and keen to get on the road. Xena loaded... batteries charged... GPS loaded with required route... Xena's oil checked and ok... Breakfast had... iPod plugs cleared of ear wax..!!! eew..! too much information.... Gear on... lets go Richard... I told him being the last day I wanted to take things easy and keep the risk factor down. No worries..!!! Yeah right...!
Today was our last day on this great Super Tour. I was sorry that it was going to end but all good things do.
The route was I think the easiest for the tour: Timaru to Dunedin, and Balcutha, then via Catlins to Owaka, Fortrose, Invercargill, Lumsden, Gore, Tapanui, Raes Junction, Milton, Dunedin, Oamaru, To Timaru and final finish. Just a few corners around the Catlins.
We heard that Steve on his Harley tourer had caught up from his breakdowns earlier in the tour and to avoid being late had left on this leg very early in the morning after only a couple of hours sleep... He is a legend... Maybe we will see him on the road.. Yeah right..!!
We cruised out of Timaru right on 0600 at the same time as a few others... In fact they knew the direct route south from the hotel and we were still following the GPS out the only route we knew. Oh well... in the end we got onto SH1 heading to Dunedin. As expected it was quite a routine ride down the main roads... Road works slowing us down through Oamaru... The sun came up as we were riding the coast road near Shag Point making a nice scene.. a pic would have been nice but I wasn't stopping for anything.. Richard was pushing the pace up front a little and I wasn't too keen to hold on to him so he moved ahead and I kept catching him when he was held up by roadworks or a town... all good.
Of course Dunedin doesn't have a bypass so we had to ride through the city centre.. mumble grump..!! we saw a few other riders in the lights queues so the group was closer together today.
Continuing south past Waihola ( A place I like) Milton and on to Balclutha.. It was getting cooler and was playing havoc with the bladder. I had to keep distracting my focus away from it or I was going to be in trouble..!!
I indicated to Richard that I needed to stop so we pulled into a garage in Balclutha and I made a mad dash for the toilets before it was too late............ Whew...! made it... Note to Self... Plan loo breaks..!! haven't I said that before..??
Pressure eased I fueled up Xena.. Richard followed suit.... We had a quick chat to Corinne and Andrew who had pulled in for fuel then continued on our way. Heading out of Balclutha on the south east road we passed a Harley sitting on the side of the road..? From the plate it was Phil.. No sign of him though.
We rode on down the Catlins coast road.. Very picturesque... It had been raining earlier and the road was damp and a few times my rear wheel told me that these southern roads are very different to the north island ones.. It seems the stones they use down here are like little round marbles and are pretty smooth. When embedded in tar they are fine when dry but when wet they are like slippery marbles. I felt my wheel go a couple of times so I became a bit nervous and my speed dropped.. I just didn't want an incident today.. Richard pulled away from me but I didn't chase him this time as I wasn't going to risk it on these roads.
He was waiting for me at the Fortrose cafe/tavern where we had to get an ETR. All good.. we enjoyed a coffee and a snack and a chat with the locals.. This is a nice spot.. I will bring the truck down here and enjoy some time living in the area.
I wanted to take a moving shot on the bike so got Richard to use my camera in video mode and see how it panned out... Well the movie wasn't usable but I got an action shot on the camera...
We won't make good movie makers... You can see in the top pic that it was blowing down on the south coast. We were going to get a lot of it on the rest of the ride.
We loaded up again and headed towards Invercargill. It could have been easy to avoid the city but the boss might have put a checkpoint in the city and the route did say go through Invercargill.. So we did... I did manage to take a wrong turn and we rode through some streets we didn't need to.. But no sign of a checkpoint.
Riding out of Invercargill on SH6 the wind got stronger and the temperature rose.. Very uncomfortable and we were glad to ride into Lumsden where we stopped for lunch.. taking off gear to get cool while we did so.
We met up with Barry around about here and he joined us for lunch.
After lunch we continued on these central Southland roads.. The wind was howling and I was roasting again in my gear... fighting the wind around corners is worse than riding in the rain. We rode through Gore and on to SH 90 to Tapanui. We needed an ETR from there so fueled up the bikes.
Not much else to report in the last part of the tour... Apart from killing another bird... It flew into the side of the bike from the right this time.. Other than that we cruised along.. Richard in the lead.. I was following and fell back when Richard wound it on a bit.. Barry was happy to cruise behind. After Raes Junction we turned onto the road to Milton again... then north.
We stopped in Palmerston as I needed a loo break and didn't want to hold on till the finish..
Our last stop before the end of the tour... A short break using the local facilities... I was glad of a rinse with cold water... From here it was all main highway so it was low risk cruising all the way back up to Timaru. Richard was leading and I tried to convince him to take the shortcut to the hotel but he went left... Barry went straight on but I followed Richard but turned a couple of streets up and wound my way to the hotel and the final Finish..!
Yaay.. a bit of an anti climax but it was great to be finished.
The welcoming committee.. Steve on the left had finished much earlier as he left at some ungodly hour in the morning... Richard caught up and it was high fives all round.
GPS Track of Day Ten:
Here is the full track of all ten days... As you can see we covered most of the country...
If you want to see it in the full size pic or any of the pics of the tour you can click on the contact me and I can send them to you.
I took a quick shower and went back down to the finish and waited for the rest of the riders and took some pics as they came in...
Steve had put his bike away so I asked him for a late shot... Nicely done Steve... He had is own adventure with breakdowns and fixes along the way...
Paul arrives back on his hot Ducati.. He came all the way from Kyrgyzstan to do this ride.. Crazy...
David on his FZ600...
Andrew on his Street Triple...
Murray arriving on his V-Strom.. I know it is him by the beard under his helmet..!! very cool...
Ray on his K1200 arriving...
Corinne is back... on her Triumph Street Triple...Andrew on his Ninja getting in
Ray and RIchard now part of the welcome committee... Still a couple to get home...
David on his Honda.. Phil can't be far away...
Phil not far behind.... Shakes hands with Boss Rusty Lee...Murray without helmet... We had to wait a while for the last few riders so we stocked up with beers in the outside "foyer" and enjoyed stories of the ride while we waited..
Ian with his Goldwing.. I had to take a second shot of him without reflecting gear on as it destroyed the pic.
Ray arrives on his R1200RT... not sure where he got to..?
Finally Cam and Mike turn up.. I didn't hear where they got to...
Mike arriving.. The reflective strips absorbs the light... I think that is all the riders back now.. I think I missed a couple of riders photos.. I know I missed Barry as he arrived back with us... If you read this Barry get a shot of you arriving from Lee and I will post it here..
Once we were all home we all enjoyed a gathering in the "foyer". Some interesting people turned up.. We did wonder if they were organised entertainment... But they were some local mothers who were raising money for Plunket.. a good cause. We swapped stories and donations were made...
After everyone was cleaned up we moved into the conference room in the hotel for a formal presentation of the badges..Some photos were taken.. If anyone has a better one than this I would like to upload it here.. This one is a bit dark but it has all the riders in it...
Lee Rusty making a short speech and hands out the hard earned badges... All credit to Lee and Brian Rusty for putting this amazing event together.. Another big thank you guys.. also to the other Rustys who did the secret checkpoints...
Here is the hard won badge... It will be sewn on prime position on my leather waist jacket... along with other hard earned Rusty Badges.
So there it is.. a great ride.. a great adventure... Probably a one time only ride... we enjoyed a great evening relaxing with a few beers.. We found out that in the morning a Professional Photographer is going to take a pic of all the bikes in front of the hotel for the hotel... So in the morning we gathered all the bikes together..
I took a couple of shots but I didn't have the camera that would capture the shot properly... Richard took this shot of the two best bikes on the tour.. (I am a bit biased...!!)
The guys waiting for the cameraman to line everything up...This is a copy of the professional shot... Contact me if you want a full size shot.
Here is the article that was in the Timaru Herald...
If you have read through to here you are keen..!! lol. Thanks for popping in and reading about this adventure I have been on with 18 other riders... Crazy?? well we might be but it was worth it... When I was asked if I would do it again ... I said.. well maybe not next month... but would definitely do it again at some time..
I can't finish this missive without saying a big thank you to The Rusty Nuts Motorcycle Club and especially to Boss Lee Rusty and Brian Diesel Rusty for doing a wonderful job of organising this event. Big Creds. If you like motorbike riding.. Long Distances... Come and join me on a Rusty Nuts ride... Check out the site for future rides already planned. Click Here For Rusty Nuts Web Site.
Stay tuned for more great adventures.. You can post a comment on my forum if you want to give any feedback.