Sunday, May 31, 2015

Orbiting Ohakune

Today was another stunner all over the lower North Island and Darlene had lain down a new blog challenge to capture a photo that showed off either spring or autumn depending on the particular hemisphere one happened to be inhabiting.

During the week we'd had a bit of a cold snap and Neil had mentioned that there was plenty of new snow on his mountain (you can see it out his window) and as there hadn't been much snow last time I was up there I thought it might be worth a ride to check it out.

It wasn't that cold as I was getting ready to hit the road but I figured it could be further up where the snow was so I geared up for the worst and fired up the heated grips too.  Heading out of Palmy the worst thing I had to contend with was the low sun which did a fantastic job of blinding me as I rode across to Cheltenham and onto Vinegar Hill.

Vinegar Hill was a nice warm-up with just a few wet (but not frosty) corners and only one 4WD on my side of the road to deal with.  Turning onto SH1 it got noticeably cooler and I was surprised at how little traffic there was on the road.  With a 4km/h tolerance this weekend I took things pretty quietly all the way up to Waiouru where I stopped for a couple of pictures and some petrol.

Does this say "winter?"
Next up was a short squirt across to 'kune where I stopped to ring Neil and get directions to his new pad - the Sena very handy for this...

Recognise the bridge?

At Neil's there was coffee and bikkies while he fluffed around getting his Speedy ready and then Pete (a mate of Neil) turned up on Neil's Tiger.  Pete used to ride once upon a time and Neil has been pressuring him to get back into it so he's been forced to ride a Triumph for the last couple of days...

Pete shot off again to grab some more gear and to pick up the fourth rider in our merry band - a Bandit riding Renata.  Neil and I met them at the local servo and then it was time to hit the Paras...

We were pretty well behaved on the Paras and the further South we got the warmer it got too.  It was turning into a pretty nice winter's day.

A Triumph rider ruining what would have been the best photo of the day...
Pete following Renata on a familiar Tigger

Once we'd run out of Paraparas we stopped in Upokongora for a drink and a natter before taking our normal route through Okoia and Fordell across to Hunterville - more great riding.  In Hunterville there was another pitstop before I parted company with the others to take Vinegar Hill (again) home and they cruised on up SH1 back to 'kune.

Another cracker day out on the bike - fantastic!

More pics here.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

More BRR video

More video from last Sunday.  First up a couple from Neil:

And finally, some video from Nick, including his little adventure off the road.  Hopefully he's on the road to recovery and will back on the bike soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Neil was that excited to get back onto the gravel that he didn't get around to making up a funny name for this month's BRR Adv ride...but never mind it was a doesey!

With I think it was about 8 bikes expected on the ride it was a little bit of a surprise to end up with about a dozen of us at the starting point in Halcombe.  One keen rider must have begged, borrowed or more than likely stolen a bike to come on the ride - it was only a KTM so the owner probably wasn't that bothered...

More bikes showed up after these pics...

Our first little squirt took us over to Beaconsfield via a couple of really neat and fast little gravel roads.  It was a lot of fun and gave me a bit of confidence in my new front tyre that I had been wondering how well it would handle the helped that the gravel was in perfect condition.

After some more great gravel and a short stop (see above) we got onto one of our favourite roads - Peep-O-Day Road.  Once again the gravel was in great nick and I had a blast trying to keep up with Ross.

Unfortunately, when we nearly were back out onto the tar, Neil got a phone call telling him that someone had gone down and hurt themselves.  We all doubled back and were soon at the scene where a F650 was lying down and Nick the rider in a bit of grief.  Emergency services were soon on their way (although we were officially in the middle of nowhere) and we righted the bike and got Nick vertical.  Surprisingly we were soon joined by several (3!) fire service vehicles and a cop with an ambulance still to come.

Nick's corner.  Bike already parked in a farmer's shed.
Not a bad spot to stop - just for the wrong reason

Nick holding fence up and practising his swearing
Colin looking like he wants to make a fast getaway...
Seeing the Emergency Services guys (thanks heaps) had things under control most of us got underway again and were soon out on the tar to Pemberton where we turned left to point for Ohingaiti.  But no, as I had suspected we turned off onto more gravel to eventually take us through to Pakihikura and then the last bit of Vinegar Hill and into Hunterville for lunch.  Through here the gravel was a bit more of a challenge for me as it was freshly laid and fairly deep so the tended to float around a bit...

After lunch it was time take in another favourite - Watershed Road.  My new tyre handled this bit a bit better than the deep stuff before lunch but as you can see I did get left behind a bit.

A couple of stretches of seal then took us to our last bit of gravel of the day - Pohonui Road.  We've also done this one a few times and it's a great ride - not only is the ride fun but the views are really nice as you cruise down the valley.  The Road eventually spits you out at Turakina Valley Road and this is where we stopped and said goodbye to Neil who got to ride home via Turakina Valley Road - lucky sod!

The rest of the ride was all seal - from the quick squirt back into Hunterville (where the Welly riders turned South) and then home via Vinegar Hill with a KTM in tow.

The first BRR Adv ride in a while was a blast and we're not too sure when the next one will be but there's bound to be a keen bunch of blokes keen for more gravel action...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Extreme gear test

I rode to work today and it was fantastic!  It's been a while as the Vee was unwarranted for a spell while I was organising a tyre for it.

I usually only ride when the weather is nice because I'm a sook now and own a car.  No sense getting all geared up for a short little ride to work.  Besides, this guy said it'd be sweet...Man, has my opinion of him gone down hill!

It was a nice dry ride in but while in a meeting this afternoon there was a thunderous noise above me which kinda sounded like heavy rain...hmmm...

It didn't last long but there were a few more heavy showers and there was a very light rain as I walked out to the bike.  I decided that today was a good day to break out my cheap Warehouse yellow leggings...My work shoes would have to do...

Leaving work it started to rain heavier and the road was slippery as I nailed it out the gate.  A bit of wheelspin and a bit of sideways action and I was into the traffic and heading homeward.  Then it really started to rain...

Like this, but wetter
The traffic was pretty slow which was great for those in cars but I would have preferred to keep moving - and it would have been nice to have seen third gear a bit more often...

Initially my gear was holding out well but the rain had better ideas.  The closer I got to home the harder it rained, there was more surface water and even the traffic was splashing me as it went past.  It was great fun but chinks were starting to appear in the waterproofedness of my gear.

The yellow pants were fantastic but sitting on the bike drew them up enough to expose the bottom of my trouser legs and of course my socks and shoes.  I was starting to become aware of how wet the rain was.

By the time I got home (about 15 minutes after leaving work) the rain had penetrated through my jacket (I was wearing an ancient Spidi jacket that hasn't been waterproof for some time) and jersey and my gloves were soaked through.  The dog heard me arrive so he joined in on the fun standing out in the pouring rain while I opened the gate and parked the bike in front of the shed.

Getting inside it was a toss up who was wettest and my jacket is hanging up dripping onto the old towel that I used to dry off the dog.  The rest of the gear is either hanging up to dry or in the hot water cupboard.

I still say, it was a fun ride!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Wrestling in the shed

Tonight I changed my 2nd motorcycle tyre - this time the front tyre on the V-Strom.  Overall it was easier than when I did the rear but it's not easy and not my favourite thing to do - I might let the shop do the next one...

Ready to get started
Getting the wheel off is the easy bit although as the stand doesn't quite get the bike up higher enough the front mudguard needs to be removed (or nearly removed with most of the bolts removed) and the brake calipers unbolted and slipped off the discs.

Next up is breaking the bead and removing the tyre.  Breaking the bead on the front tyre was approximately 1,000 (maybe 1,001) times easier than when I did the rear - I just pushed down on the sidewall (after soaping it up) with a piece of 4x2 and Bob was my uncle.

Bead broken and ready to attack it with the spoons
Then it was time to get the tyre off.  Using my new spoons and rim protectors this was pretty easy too.

Now for the hard part...Getting the first side of the tyre over the rim wasn't too bad but when it came to getting the other on I had a few issues.  What you really need is a couple of extra arms and possibly an extra leg as well - juggling three levers and keeping weight on the tyre is fairly entertaining.  I also need to get myself a rubber hammer.  No need to go to the gym tonight either...

But in the end it was on and my compressor soon had the bead set.  I then lowered the pressure back to somewhere around where I run it and re-installed the wheel onto the bike.

Brand spankers Conti Trail Attack
As you can see I've gone for a less aggressive front than the E-07 that I took off.  This is mainly due to price and that I'm now going to put the Vee on the market and go in search of a replacement.  It looks like it'll be a good tyre on the road but not as good off.  Here's what a 9,000km old E-07 (great tyres) looks like:

Even though I'm selling the Vee, I still like it a lot and am looking forward to getting a WOF for it on Saturday and going for a bit of a pootle...

Monday, May 04, 2015

May BRRBT No need for the Paraparamedics

You can tell Neil named the ride...

Yes, Sunday was our monthly ride and this time around Neil was leading the ride and after a few recce rides (just 'cause we can) over the previous couple of weekends he settled on a route that would take us through to Ohakune for lunch before returning back to the Rangitikei.

Our meeting point for the ride start was in Hunterville and see if you can tell whether I was early or late...

Half an hour later...
Once we had all gathered and our leader had finished his coffee we mounted up for the run through to Fordell and Okoia.  This was just as much fun as I remembered from not so long ago.  One neat thing about this ride was that Meanie and Monie joined us for their first BRRBT ride.  After doing a stint as cornerman I caught up to them just before Fordell:

Once again, after taking the Okoia turn-off, we stopped at Upokongaro for a quick regroup and to pick up two riders joining us from Wanganui.

From here we were forced to take in the always delicious Paraparas through to Raetihi.  Naturally we were well behaved at all times.

Now we just had a short ride across to Ohakune for lunch but Neil managed to keep us from getting bored by introducing us to a little loop that took in a couple of narrow little back roads - Pakihi and Lake Roads.  Getting a peek at the snow on the mountain was an added bonus to this nice little diversion.

In Ohakune we parked up amongst a few other bikes who's owners' were also out enjoying a lovely day and ordered our lunch.

After lunch the plan was to gas up if required and then ride up to the Turoa ski field to check out the views.  I flagged the fuel and went straight up the mountain (only to decide to gas up once I rode back down) ahead of the others.  On the way up there was a nice mucky section of roadworks that made me happy that I canned my idea of washing the bike on Saturday...

The ride up the mountain is pretty special (hint: this video is worth watching):

And then there's the views!

Dropping back down the hill I passed the others going the way and then had some more fun playing in the mud.  Back in Ohakune I gassed up the bike and waited by the big carrot for the others to come back down the mountain.

Next up was a cruise into Waiouru and then down SH1 to Taihape.  We got off SH1 for another small diversion by taking Spooner's Hill road.  We missed the turn-off to Napier however...

Back onto SH1 we carried onto Utiku where we turned off again to take in more of the roads Neil and I recced a fortnight earlier.


These roads were still good fun and also still took us through to Kimbolton via Rangiwahia.  In Kimbolton it was time for a catch up and for some of us to head home rather than returning to Hunterville via Vinegar Hill.

Monie with her new steed - a brand spankers Z1000SX
I ended up bailing on Vinegar Hill as I'd done it about 3 times in 3 weeks so I simply followed Meanie and Monie through to Colyton where they carried on home to Ashhurst and I turned off to make my way back into Palmy.  Another great day's riding with the BRRBT crew and yet again with very nice weather - long may it continue!

More yummy pics here.