Monday, April 23, 2012

Wandering Our Way Round Whanganui & Whangaehu

On Sunday it was once again time to join the Back Road Riders on another day of gravel worship and site seeing.  It had been a while since I'd been out with the guys and even though the route was taking in some roads I'd done before (while checking out a few bridges) I happened to have enjoyed the roads and was very keen to revisit them.

The ride was due to start at 10am in Wanganui and a few of the Palmy riders had decided to meet up and ride over to Wanganui together so I thought that this sounded like a plan and after getting everything ready I jumped on the bike and headed off to meet them.  Too bad I had gotten the meeting time wrong by half an hour...I was early!

Rather than going home and pacing for half an hour I decided to make my way over to Wanganui the long way and first rode my normal route over to Halcombe and Marton before riding Makuhou Road (mind the surprise new seal) and then the short stretch of gravel on Turakina Valley Road.

 Turakina Valley Road
At the end of  Turakina Valley Road I turned left to ride onto Wanganui via Fordell.  At the gas station meeting point I joined a number of other guys filling up before the ride.  As it turned out the fine weather had encouraged a few more riders than usual to join us and it was about a dozen of us that mounted up for start of a great days riding.

First up was a gentle cruise out of Wanganui and onto Kauarapaoa Road.  I really, really enjoyed this road last time and this time we were going the opposite way so it was almost like doing it for the first time again.  The road was in fantastic condition although with all this great weather we've been having it was very dusty but this just meant that we had to spread out a bit.  One of my great regrets of the day here was that the GoPro did not capture any of it - I had turned it on and hit the go button but it was on the wrong setting (should have checked that one eh) so all I got was a picture of me hitting the button!  Curses!

After a fantastic ride through here (I think I prefer the direction we did in as you get to do more uphill) we reached our turn-off at Rangitatau East Road.  This road is much wider (two vehicles wide even) and it too was in great nick but dusty.

Rangitatau East Road
Rangitatau East Road
After a quick stop so we could all remove a layer or two (hot work this adv riding) we quickly carved out the rest of Rangitatau East Road before taking another back road (this time sealed) into Wanganui for our lunch stop.

After lunch we retraced the route I had taken into Wanganui earlier and rode out through Fordell and onto Kauangarou Road before turning Northwards onto Mangamahau Road.  This road starts off as great seal and takes in some great views as you wind you way up the valley.  The GoPro was even playing ball.

Eventually the road (having changed names to Whangaehu Valley Road) runs into more dusty gravel but the scenery remains fantastic.  For the most part the ride is easy but towards the end there are a few steeper, tighter and rougher sections which require a little care.

After another quick regroup at the end of Whangaehu Valley Road we turned right onto Fields Track and rode in the direction of Waiouru.  But we didn't make it Waiouru - Neil had other plans for us and we turned off again to take Oruakukuru back to State Highway 4.  This road soon turned into fast gravel which was just a blast - there's nothing like being able to let rip on a big adv bike in gravel - talk about dust though!

Oruakukuru Road did eventually tighten up and as you can see on the video a couple of DR pilots had to put me in my place by passing me effortlessly in the tight stuff and then disappearing in a cloud of dust!  There is something to be said for small light bikes after all I 'spose!

Back at SH4 we said goodbye to Neil who is based in National Park and then pointed our bikes at the Para Para's and hit the road.  I had a ball through here following a certain orange F650 along at a nice pace until Upokongaro where I took the lead to take us home via a little short cut to Fordell (again) and then SH3.

Anyway, I was back home by about quarter to five having enjoyed a fabulous 476km with the BRR Team, bike and rider covered in dust and ready for a cold drink and a breather - may there be many other rides as enjoyable as this one!

Zig-zagged all over the place
A few more pics here.

PS: videos with recorded audio or music?

Man Cave or Hoarder's Hovel?

Time for another Blog Challenge via A View from Above.  This time the challenge is to post pictures of where my bikes live.  Well, I think I've posted something like this in the past but anyway...

My poor vehicles are forced to live in very close comfort in a single car garage.  Somehow I manage to wedge two big bikes in with my 'baru wagon.

Count 'em
Bench needs a tidy up (again)
Naturally the Connie takes pride of place in her very own parking spot.

Heed the sign!
To access a particular vehicle I enter from a side door and then squeeze past the Connie, then the DL, then I can open the roller door and start making my selection.

Suck it in.
And for those out there that are fans of the great Aussie film "The Castle", to get the Connie out I first take the car out, then move the V-Strom and then I can get her out.  I then have to put the DL back in place and put the car back in the shed before I disappear.  The DL can be extracted by carefully squeezing past the car...

Out in fresh air!
Definitely a bit of a hassle but always worth it - remember that great old saying "The worst days riding is better than the best day stuck at work/home."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A different kind of adventure...

Yes, way off topic today...

Today Bart and I joined Mark in a fairly vigorous tramp up Sledge Track.  We drove up to the car park and hit the track just before 10am.  The track starts off pretty easy for a while but the further in you go the more climbs and descents you have to do.

The route follows along a nice little creek and their are a number of places where you can stop for a break or even a swim (but not in April unless you're a lab cross).  We stopped at the "Picnic Table" for a smoko break and refill our water bottles before starting the big climb up to the "Elevation".

This next bit is quite a grind (especially for someone as unfit as me) but rewards you with some good views in places.

From the "Elevation" we carried on upwards with the track getting a bit trickier in places until we finally came out of the bush onto the tops at the Platinum Ridge Junction.  From here we could have carried on to the old Platinum mine but instead opted for a sandwich and then to retrace our steps back down the hill.

We were a fair bit quicker walking back down the "Picnic table" but once again stopped there for a breather and to get more water.  Then it was a case of tackling a few more ups and downs and some nice bush before we were once again back at the car after a trip of about four hours all up.

Overall I really enjoyed the walk even though it was tough going for me in a few places but now after a shower and a coffee I'm feeling good.  Just hope I'm not too sore tomorrow as there's some back roads that need riding...

Map stolen from the PNCC website (I'm a rates payer so it's ok):

More pics here.

Happy pooch

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Adventure Riding 101

Found this courtesy of a Google+ post.  Only watched one "lesson" so far but must sit through the rest...

Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter Sunday ride

After puttering around in the Shed on Saturday fitting the mud guard extension to the Connie and pumping up the tyres I was looking forward to taking her out for a decent ride on Sunday.  When Sunday arrived it was a perfect autumn day and I quickly had the Connie loaded and ready to go.  Then disaster!  After warming her up I started to pull away and uh-oh something felt funny...the front wheel proved difficult to turn.  Yep, flat tyre - sod it all!

Anyway I was determined to get a ride in so rather than check out the tyre I loaded up the DL and finally got on my way.  First up I pootled over to Feilding and then made my way to Mangaweka via the Rangiwahia Road.  The road was in good nick, the sun was out and I was having a ball!

From Mangaweka I settled down a bit for the cruise up to Waiouru and a quick fuel stop.  I also picked up some Subway to take with me for a picnic lunch on the side of the road somewhere.  Now it was time for Fields Track - I'd decided that I wanted to ride through here and get the track on video so I could show off some of the great scenery as you drop down the valley (see video two) and the day was just perfect for it.

Here's a geeky taste of Fields Track courtesy of Google Maps:

And now for some proper video (decided not to add music over the wind noise and DL whine):

After crossing that little bridge you get into some really great riding as you carve up the hill and then finally drop down that magnificent valley until you hit SH4 at the bottom.

Along the way I'd realised that I was riding an adventure bike and that meant that I had a few more options available to me for the ride home.  I decided that it was time for me to tackle the Wanganui River Road - a road that I last did a long time ago on my RF900 (not exactly an awesome gravel muncher).  But first it was time for that picnic lunch at the Ruakawa Falls.

Not a Connie
Not much rain lately...
After my lunch I rode the remaining 30km of the Para's to Raetihi and then turned off to make for the River Road.  The first section of road to Pipiriki is fantastic winding seal (pretty sure it was not all sealed last time although I could be wrong) although I did have to keep an eye out for cyclists as there was a pushie race in progress.  Great riding through awesome country though (geeky map).

Just after Pipriki I finally hit gravel as I continued to follow the river towards Wanganui.  There are a few little settlements along the way but really not a lot of anything except for great scenery.

Eventually the gravel petered out and I was back on pretty good tar for the rest of the trip down river.  It was actually good to be travelling a little faster as by now the day was fairly warm and so was I.  There was still plenty to see and I ended up stopping quite a few times for photos of the great country (more pics here).

That'll be the river then...
Hmmm, wonder where that goes...
Perfect day!
Once back onto SH4 I took my usual diversion to miss Wanganui and then a few more back roads back home.  Total distance was 409.7km according to the GPS and it was a fantastic way to spend 5 and a half hours!  I love Autumn riding!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

A bit more protection

On day one of my trip away to the TT2000 I rode through some very muddy road works which resulted in a big muddy stripe up the radiator (well the rad guard).  While the rad guard was stopping anything big from holing the radiator and ruining my day I figured a decent caking of mud probably wasn't doing much for the cooling of the bike.  So on my return I ordered a mud guard extension from Projekt D.

The new farkle
And so, today it was time to get stuck in and fit it.  First I had to remove the guard from the bike.  This was pretty easy except for the little plastic clips which hold the brake hoses in place.  These are quite tricky to remove and I broke one so will have to pick up a replacement.

Something missing
After cleaning the inside of the guard, the next job was to to stick the guard in place using the adhesive strips already stuck to the guard extension.

Extension in place
Then I had to drill a few small holes through the guard and extension so a couple of screws could ensure that the extension stays put.  Then all I had to do was reinstall the guard.

Ta da!
Now all that crap off the front wheel is going to end up on the belly pan instead of the radiator...

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Just another cool vid...

A bit quiet on the riding front - but long weekend coming up...

Trials still rocks!