Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in pictures

Idea shamelessly stolen off Trobairitz - just some of my favourite pictures from each month of the year.

Fields track
Crown Range Road
Turakina Valley
"Somewhere near Taihape"
Pori Road
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


No bike riding this Xmas - doh!

But I did get to catch up with these little urchins (and their parents) in the 'naki.

Alex, Caitlin, Billy & Isla
And this was the view from the front yard...

Mt Taranaki
Christmas is done & dusted so time to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  Take it easy and ride safe!

Back to work and a challenge...

Yes, back to work today...but the weather is due to go bad again tomorrow and it's another long weekend this weekend...

There's been a few blog challenges going around lately so I thought I'd start one of my own: how many people at your place of work ride bikes to work?  The below picture was taken today when we probably only had a maximum of 30 staff at work.  So, counting the scooters, not a bad result eh?

The fleet
BTW: that's Mark's push-bike in the corner - he rides that to work instead of his Bandit.  Also missing from the pic is at least one other scooter, a GSX750F and Brian's VTR or Connie...

Okay, now let's see some more parking lots...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Favourite Five

Time for another Blog challenge.  This comes from Roger from All things Rogey and the challenge is to post up my five favourite photos of the year.  The rules are that I must have taken all the piccys and there must be at least one including me (egad!).

Ok, so here is number one and while it may not include any fantastic scenery it is a memorable shot.  I took this just after finishing my tenth Grand Challenge and the Connie's fifth.  The Connie made the ride easy...

Ready for more
Number two is taken the day after buying the DL and is my first decent ride on the new bike.  The ride was also memorable as it was my last ride across the Gentle Annie before it was completely sealed - also my first dirty ride on the DL.

Somewhere on "The Annie"
Time for another shot of the Connie.  I couldn't really decide on a pic from the Southern Cross or some other ride but then I remembered - the Connie actually did two Grand Challenges this year.  Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to re-run the 2010 GC as I'd pulled out after assisting at an accident.  So here she is at 3:30am in Ashhurst after 1,000 miles in 18.5 hours.  Did I mention it's a fantastic machine?

Blown LHS headlight bulb and all
Number four is the most recent of the pictures - taken on Saturday during the Coast to Coast.  To me it just defines why I bought the DL - exploring out of the way places and seeing new sights.

Coast Road
Ok, you asked for it (actually, come to think of it, you didn't - blame Roger) a pic of me accidentally taken while playing with the GoPro - and no, the camera did not break!

Linkee to Roger's post.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wanganui Ulysses Toy Run

Today was the Connie's turn for some exercise and the purpose of the ride was to attend the Wanganui Ulysses Toy Run, my second Toy Run of the season.

Brian, Mark and I saddled up and made our way across to Wanganui by the main road for a change (geeze, they've chopped those trees down near Bulls!) and made our way to the race course where the ride starts.  Here the BBQ was already in action and we were quick to line up for a couple of pigs in blankets prior to the ride start.

At about 1pm we had a quick ride briefing before mounting up to follow Santa's DR800 out of Wanganui and back the way we'd come.  At Turakina we turned inland and started taking a series of back roads that would eventually take the riders into Marton for a pitstop.

The ride then carries on back to Wanganui where they have a bit of an after match function but as we'd already been to Wanganui once today we pulled out before Marton and made our way back home via Feilding where it was nice to take off hot riding gear and grab a cold drink.

Not a bad weekend's riding!

Coast to Coast

Yesterday was the 19th running of the Woodville Lions Coast to Coast and about number 11 for me.  In the morning Mark and I cruised out to Himatangi where we met up with Meanie and Monie and signed up for the ride.  By the time of the riders briefing there was probably at least 200 bikes waiting with more late stragglers still arriving as we were leaving.

From Himatangi we quietly rode into Foxton before turning towards Shannon where the four of us pulled out of the line just long enough to top up our tanks to avoid the mad rush at Woodville.  Tanks filled we managed to get back into the procession as a lot of bikes were still coming through from Foxton.

With the gorge still shut and the Saddle being the most popular detour for traffic it was good that the ride took us over the Pahiatua Track and then through Ballance to Woodville for the lunch stop.  In Woodville we enjoyed a BBQ lunch and chatting with other riders before sneaking off early ahead of the pack to avoid being held up or taken out by idiots.

We weren't the only ones to do this and Mark and I ended up passing quite a few cruisers on our way through to Pongaroa.  In Pongaroa we went our separate ways as I was keen to try out an alternate (read: gravel) route to Akitio while Mark was not quite that keen - even though it was 10km shorter in distance.  Coast Road turned out to be a great ride with about four sections of very fast, easy gravel and some pretty nice scenery too.

Coast Road
In the end Mark beat me to the beach by about 2 minutes but I was quick to point out that I'd stopped twice and had been riding on a slightly more tricky surface than him...
Downtown Akitio
While we were waiting for the others to arrive we grabbed a cold drink and parked up to watch the rest of the bikes come in.  After chatting with the others and checking out the beach we decided to skip the prize giving and head home.
Boat retrieval
I tucked in behind Mark as far as Waione (at the Route 52 turn-off) where I pulled over and convinced Mark that he needed to sample a V-twin for a while.  From then on we had a blast riding back towards Danniverke - swapping the leader every now and again so we could both have the opportunity to see (and in Mark's case hear) our bikes in action.

Normally we stop in Danniverke for fuel but the Bandit's gauge had a couple of bars left on it and I figured the DL would be ok too so after a few rude gestures at Mark we bypassed Danniverke and then took some more back roads that eventually hooked us up with the Saddle Road for the last leg home.  A coffee at Mark's and a chat about the ride and the bikes and that was it - home for tea!  Another Coast to Coast done and dusted (this time with dust included).

More pics here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Lube Tube

When I got the DL one of the great farkles already on it was a Scott Oiler for keeping the chain in good condition.  On a bike like the DL I reckon an oiler is a necessity - it doesn't take much riding on a gravel road or in wet conditions for the poor old chain to get a bit dry and therefore be more prone to wear.

On purchase the reservoir had obviously been filled up and the oiler was doing it's job quite nicely.  But when I looked at the reservoir placement (see picture) I wondered how the heck I was going to fill it.
Reservoir tucked well out of the way
After trolling the web I happened upon what I thought looked like quite a neat Scott oiler accessory - a "Lube Tube".  Not only does this give you more oil capacity for the oiler but I thought that it would mean an easier way to top up the reservoir.  $80 later and I had one.

Lube Tube tucked in under the seat
When I first fitted it I made the mistake of filling it up quite full prior to installation and shortly after hooking it up noticed oil leaking down the side of the reservoir and running down over the exhaust - damn!  I checked everything and it looked like everything was all setup right so I started wondering what was wrong - was the reservoir itself cracked or damaged in some way?

Anyway I gave up on it for a while and removed it so I didn't have oil continually leaking everywhere.  But earlier this weak I decided to give it a go but with very little oil in the lube tube.  On hooking things up I squeezed some oil from the tube into the now empty reservoir and watched to see what happened.  After a couple of days riding around there was no leaks but also no lube on the chain - I figured things were a bit blocked up or something - time for some closer inspection.

Yesterday I played around with the oiler, setting it to the flow rate to the prime position and running the bike on the stand.  By the time I was due to leave for the CDMTC Toy Run I had got nowhere so turned the flow rate back down and gave the chain a squirt with some chain lube in a can.

But on arrival at Feilding I was pleasantly surprised!  There was oil on the chain and even on the wheel - it was going but maybe with a bit too high a flow rate.  I adjusted the flow rate again and then rode the roughly 85km of the Toy Tun and this is what the chain looks like now (the white stuff is the spray on chain wax).
It works!
Where the oil meets the chain
So now I enter the trial in error phase of setting the optimum flow rate.  Apparently this can be a bit finicky so I guess I'll be doing a bit of experimenting.  I think I'll leave it as is for any riding this week and the Coast to Coast charity ride ( I'm intending on investigating some gravel while on the Coast to Coast) and see what it looks like then.

And now to an important question: does the bike need a bath?


Yesterday was the 25th running of the Central Districts Motorcycle Touring Club's Toy Run (what a mouthful) and so as the owner of nine badges from previous rides I thought that I should add number ten.

Brian, Linda and I rode over to Feilding and met up with Mark to have lunch prior to the ride start.  By 1pm there was a reasonable number of bikes - some decorated and some not - parked up waiting for the ride to kick-off.

Disgustingly blurry pic of us waiting for the kick-off
After a quick ride briefing Santa and his escort led us out of Feilding and onto Halcombe.  From there we wound our way around a number of back roads before returning back to Palmy to donate our toys and get that important badge.

View 2011 CDMTC Toy Run in a larger map

Toy run number 1 of the year done and dusted.  Wanganui next week...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Me and my shadow

Rachael from posted a pic of her and her bike's shadow and asked to see other bloggers do the same.  So here's a couple:

The first on the Apiti Loop with about 3-4,000km on the clock:

And this great one by Cowboyz on the Forgotten Highway with about 70,000km on the clock:

Sorry none of me behind the bars on the DL yet - to be continued...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

IOM madness

This was posted on Kiwibiker tonight - some awesome footage!

And I ordered my own copy of TT3D - can't wait to get it and crank up the stereo...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lets ride Annie

Yesterday was the Hunterville Lions "Lets ride Annie" charity ride (funds raised going to Ronald McDonald house) and so I had an excuse to ride the Gentle Annie (Napier-Taihape road) for the third time this year...

So after an early rise (man, it's Saturday!) I rode down to meet Brian and Manie (riding down from Normanby on his K6 Bandit)  and a few other local riders at Freedom Suzuki.  After filling in our entries and chatting with others it was time for us to ride up to Hunterville to the official start of the ride.

Brian ended up leading us out of Palmy, across to Feilding and the Halcombe road.  Here the group got split up a bit with a few riders deciding to make themselves scarce - the cop just out of Halcombe must have given them a bit of a fright...

View Lets ride Annie 19-11-11 in a larger map

In Hunterville we gassed up and completed our sign-on before grabbing a quick coffee prior to the ride briefing.  While waiting Al turned up on his Tigger and Colin (from the BRR) on his Wee - both keen to ride Annie again.

Soon we were on the road again and after a quick re-group at Taihape it was onto the Annie itself.  With a lot of different bikes on the ride and riders of different riding styles we pretty soon spread out and people could ride at their own pace.  The road is definitely seeing some use as it is getting a bit broken up in places and there was the usual loose metal in a number of places.  This road is a fantastic ride (for it's scenery and it's hills and corners) but it is certainly one that needs to be ridden with some caution.  I got separated from Brian, Manie and Al for a while as a another biker had a whoopsie while pulling over to let others past - poor guy, trying to do what's right and getting a kicking for it!

Al eventually caught me up near the front of the ride but eventually went past as I settled into a slower pace as we neared the more demanding, windy and poorly surfaced sections.  But further on he actually came back the other way - he had noticed that the bike that had been following him had disappeared from his mirrors and fearing the worse turned around to make sure that he was ok.  Apparently the guy had pulled of the road for a breather so all was good and Al was able to then catch me up and follow me into Fern Hill.

Here we waited for a while but with the other riders still somewhere on the Annie we carried on into Hastings to our lunch stop and managed to get a head start on the sossie eating.  Actually, not long after we arrived the rest of the mob started coming in in dribs and drabs all drawn to the smell of the barbie I guess.

After lunch it was time for a prize draw and to my delighted surprise I was one of the lucky recipients of a Freedom Suzuki gift voucher!  Awesome, thanks Barry (that's him on the left in the picture above)!  The ride from here was to take in SH50 and then SH2 back to Palmy and then Hunterville for a bit of a get together but as Manie had to get back to the 'naki we took the opportunity to sneak away a bit earlier than the rest and just head for home.

On SH50 we had to ride through a few decent showers and at the end of the road Manie was getting a little worried about his fuel so we ended up ducking into Norsewood to sup from the sole petrol pump in town before carrying onto Dannevirke.  Here I took us in closer to the ranges and we took in Topgrass and Pinfold Roads before heading up over a wet and busy Saddle and dropping into Ashhurst.  In Bunnythorpe we said goodbye to Manie and made our way home.  Another great ride over Annie - that's two for the Connie and one for the Vee, may have to even that up...

A few more pics here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

2012 Wee-strom

Had a wee look at the new Wee today and it is a very nice looking bike and bound to be a load of fun.  It is a bit of a shame that they haven't been able to move the oil filter as it's still pretty vulnerable sticking out the front (just like on my Vee, although it at least has a bit of protection in the form of it's belly pan) although there is no oil cooler there as well like on the Vee.

Anyway, not ready for a change yet but here's some videos:

This next one needs to be watched from about the 2 min mark (although perhaps if you understand French you might get something out of the first bit)...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

VFR Crosstourer

Finally the version of the VFR that makes sense...and it's got a reasonable tank on it...

Another pad change...

At the Grand Challenge the Connie was scrutinised prior to the ride and the guy checking my front pads mentioned that they were getting down.  I already new this as I know that they last around 25,000km and the bike was sitting on about 74,000km - but I had checked before leaving home and they looked pretty good.

Actually when the guy had another look from a better angle he also agreed with me and the bike was passed as fit for it's 1,000 miles in 24 hours - phew!  But riding it on the weekend (for it to complete it's Best Bike duties) I was starting to get the odd squeak from the front end - time for those new pads eh?  So tonight was the night and here's a few pics of the job.

Pin removal
Spring removal
And finally pad removal - 7 to go!
It is actually a pretty easy job you just need to be gentle when pushing the brake pistons back, make sure that the pads are around the correct way (I know of one bike coming back from a bike shop with at least one pad in the wrong way) and everything is out back together properly...

With 8 pads to do it is a bit of a fiddly job and took me (a ham fisted, strictly amateur mechanic) around half an hour to do.  I then brought a light in closely and checked those pads were around the right way and called it job done!

Old vs New
Now we'll just have to go for a pootle this weekend and see if they work eh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Saturday was the fifth running of the Capital 1,000km Cruise and things didn't quite go as I had planned...

I did get a little ride in though and still had a good time (except for sweating through a speech).

Congratulations to Mark and Shelley and I hope the Bandit behaves itself on the honeymoon!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Blown around

Oops, nearly forgot to post my Saturday ride...

On Saturday I realised I hadn't ridden a bike since Monday and that was obviously not cricket at all so it was time to fire up the Vee and go looking for gravel again.  While I was fluffing around getting ready I decided that I wanted to revisit Pori Road which I had last ridden with the Back Road Riders in June as part of their Waewaepa Wanderings ride.  I remembered the great climb up the hill and some fantastic scenery which I didn't get a chance to photograph.

Excuse the poor map - Google Maps refuses to believe that Pori Road is not a dead end...and I didn't download my GPS track (doh!).

To get to Pori Road I first took to the Pahiatua Track and it was here I first hit some pretty serious wind.  The Vee is a fair bit lighter (and possibly a bit more top-heavy) than the Connie and I found myself getting blown around a fair bit.  But I managed to stay on the road to my first stop at Pahiatua for fuel.

Gassed up it was time to head for Route 52 via Mangaone and Pa Valley Roads.  These roads wind through great dairy country (mind those cow crossings) and you eventually pop out on Route 52 just North of Alfredton.  At Route 52 I turned left and rode about another 4-5km to the Pori Road turn-off.

The first bit of Pori Road takes you "up the hill" and you eventually end up winding your way around the side of the hills on a very narrow road with great views out to your left.

After a quick stop for some pics (more here) I carried on up the hill and ignoring the turn-off to Puketoi road which had proved so exciting last time (actually the road was closed so who knows how bad the mud is through there at the moment) and started riding the remainder of Pori Road that I didn't get to ride last time.

Eventually the road actually becomes sealed and takes you onto Pahiatua-Pongaroa Road - right for Pongaroa and left for Pahiatua.  I managed to stop myself from going right to take in some more great riding and turned left for Pahiatua and home - once again battling the high wind on the track.

Another nice little ride to sort out that itch I had...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

East Coast traffic...

At least they sort of kept to the left...

GC Route and Timeline

I've just been playing with Google Maps and my GPS tracks to create a bit of a timeline for the Grand Challenge.  Most of the times have been taken off the GPS tracks except for Opotiki where I was missing some information but I know I arrived there at about 20:30 and have a fuel docket with 20:38 on it (I was interviewed on camera when I arrived and started to fill up).  Distances are from Google Maps except final GPS odometer reading.

13:00 Depart Turangi (Points A & G).
15:42 Fueling up in Wairoa, quick bite & drink.
17:38 Checkpoint 1, Tokomaru Bay (Point B), pit stop, drink, bite to eat, 461km.
20:30 Checkpoint 2, Opotiki (Point C), longer pit stop, fuel, interview, pie, drink, 696km.
23:28 Fueling up in Wairoa, gas and go.
00:55 Checkpoint 3, Havelock North (Point D), pit stop, drink, bite, no fuel, 1,065km.
02:08 Waipukarau, fuel only.
03:32 Checkpoint 4, Eketahuna (Point E), punch card and go, no fuel, 1,250km.
05:17 Taihape, fuel, quick drink and bite.
06:21 Checkpoint 5 (Fields Track, SH4 intersection), punch card and go, no fuel, 1,472km.
07:30 Arrive Turangi (Points A & G), 1,619km (GPS).

So, nine stops in all (and these are what kill ya times) but these had to be planned around fuel availability and of course the checkpoints were compulsory.  I could have made it from Opotiki to Napier/Hastings on a tank and so missed out the second fuel stop in Wairoa but that may have fouled things up for what would have been the next two fuel stops to get home - I made have needed to make a diversion to find stations that were open.

All in all I'm pretty happy with how the ride panned out and my 18.5 hour time - well within the allowable 24 hours!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A bit more...

More of the East Cape - getting darker now and the bugs are hell bent on killing themselves on the camera housing.  Oh, and the gravel detour is still in place...

All done!

Yes, I'm back home after completing my 10th Grand Challenge.  I will save most of the story for later but will say that this was a tough ride but in the end I did it very easily - I felt very good for the entire ride (no tired moments) and enjoyed the whole thing.  The route was very challenging (see map) but the Connie was more than up to it and brought me home in 18.5 hours (including stops) - a truly fantastic machine!

This year we were being filmed again so I had to have a little play myself.  Not wanting to have to get on and off and start the camera all the time I decided to go for broke on the East Coast and just let the camera run from Tokomaru Bay right around to Opotiki.  I'm not sure how much video I'll post as the video does get spoiled by the camera fogging, bog splatters and finally darkness but the below might just give you a little taste.

A few pics here and more later...

Monday, October 24, 2011

New camera mount

I had the folks here last night to see the AB's claim the cup (phew!) and this morning the old man made me up a  mount for the GoPro.  It's a sturdy bit of ally bolted to the bike via the muffler hanger and has an old ball mount on the end allowing me to mount the camera facing either forwards or backwards.  It has to stick out a fair way to see around the bike but looks ok when the pannier is on.

Seems to work fine and is a lot more sturdy than the suction mount.  I also tried a different back on the camera housing - this one is not waterproof as it has ports cut into it to allow for better audio capture.

No hassling my flash riding gear...

RIP Marco

Absolutely terrible news from the Malaysian GP

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Someone's idea of the top ten best sounding bike engines:

They can't of ever hear my old VTR bellowing through it's titanium Two Bros cans...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BRR Gravity Canyon to Gentle Annie

We've had a lot of rain lately and sitting at home on Saturday listening to it fall on my roof I was thinking that all the rain would be settling the dust nicely for the BRR ride on Sunday.  Unfortunately come Sunday it was still raining with a vengeance so the old rain suit had to be pulled out and pressed into action.

On my way out to the meeting point I discovered that the vents on an adventure helmet work really well at letting the rain through so while the rest of me stayed dry, the beard got a good rinse out (should be right for a while now eh?) - all part of the "adventure" I guess.  Arriving second I parked up with Rob to await Colin and Graeme.  When Graeme arrived we heard that even Neil was keen and was splashing his way down from National Park for the ride - that's dedication for ya!

The plan for the ride was to take in as much gravel as possible on our way to lunch at Gravity Canyon, then a wee bit more gravel to meet up with the Napier-Taihape road followed by just a little more gravel to get us home.  Sounds good eh?

The first bit was just a quick little loop to the West of Kimbolton followed by more gravel on Ridge Road into Apiti.  After Apiti we rode through to Rangiwahia on Main South Road (previous visit) and then were led by Graeme off on a series of back roads (mostly gravel) that eventually led us to our lunch stop at Gravity Canyon.  Here's some video from some of these great roads:

After lunch we had a date with Gentle Annie so we headed North for a bit before taking in a diversion to the River Valley Lodge to check out the lodge and the great scenery.

The ride in and out of the valley was really neat with the last bit before the lodge being quite steep, narrow and rough - no problem when taken quietly though.  Video of the trip out below:

Out of the Valley we were on the home stretch to the Napier Taihape Road but on perhaps the longest stretch of gravel for the day.  Matawhero and Mangaohane Roads were pretty much all gravel but it was in very good nick and a pretty easy and slightly faster ride than some of the roads we'd ridden earlier in the day.

Eventually we reached the end of the road and the intersection with the Napier-Taihape and stopped briefly before...

...deciding to turn around and head back the way we'd come - yes, it's a great road!  Unfortunately for both Neil and myself the rain came back with a vengeance and we both had problems with bad visor fogging (time to get a fog city) which slowed us up a bit - and the slower we went the more fogging we got...

Never mind, it was still a good ride and once back out off Matawhero road Graeme was able to find some more gravel (a lot of it fabulously tight and twisty) to take us into Taihape for a drink and some fuel.

Our trip home took us down SH1 for a piece before turning off just North of Ohingaiti and tackling some familiar gravel (Mangamako, Waipuru, Mangapapa and Lower Pakihikura Roads).  After popping out on Vinegar Hill the rest of the ride was on seal back through to Feilding and home.

Another brilliant ride and I'm really glad I decided to put on that rain suit and get out there!

More pics here.