Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Coast to Coast

Saturday was the annual Coast to Coast ride which is run by the Woodville Lions to raise funds for our local rescue helicopter.  It's a run that I usually do as it's a charity I like to support - I have been on 3 different rides over the years where the chopper has helped someone out.  Not a good statistic (and I don't think it's my fault) but it is nice to know that there is fast help available when you're riding out in the wops.

I had quite a busy weekend planned so this time around I decided that I was only going to go as far as Woodville and miss out the usual trip to the beach at Akitio.

After dog walking and a few other early morning jobs I fuelled up and made my way out to Himatangi.  I was pretty early and managed to find a park next to another silver Connie.  It turned out to not be Brian but I soon ran into him just up the road a bit...


While we were waiting we got to be showered in dirt by the helicopter landing nearby and I managed to catch up with quite a few NZ Distance and even BRR riders including one (and I hope this cheers you up Chillertek) who is currently hunting for his 4th rear tyre in 6,000km...

Supercharged tyre eater and friend
By the time they gave the ride briefing there were plenty of bikes lined up and the day was getting hotter.  I had all the vents open on my gear - Adv gear rocks in hot weather!



The ride tagged onto the Himatangi Beach Xmas Parade (yes, there is such a thing) and puttered on out of the small settlement.  We then got a little more pace on and made our way across to Foxton and then Shannon.

Then we turned North and made our way towards the Pahiatua Track.  Getting nearer to the track myself and a lot of others started getting passed by all sorts of idiots intent on a fast run over the track - not sure how that went for them, what with a cop leading us an' all...

One of the more disturbing things I saw was a blue Gold Wing go past on the wrong side of the road entering a blind right hander.  You'd think the rider might care more about their kid who was riding pillion than play around like that.  Luckily they made it and had maybe 2 seconds to spare between when they pulled back in and the next car came around the corner - moron of the highest order!


I managed to keep control of my inner squid and took it pretty quietly without passing anyone.  And so did Rob on his 200hp weapon - I spotted him behind me for a while before being astounded to see him replaced in my mirrors by a Harley.  Somewhere there is a Harley riding telling a slightly unbelievable story - I wonder how fast he was going in his story?  My guess, 80-90km/h...

Anyway, we made it up over the track, dodged trucks that can't quite fit in their lane, cruised on through Balance and then puttered into Woodville where we became a part of their Xmas Parade too - great to see all the kids loving the bikes!

And after demolishing the BBQ lunch I scarpered and enjoyed a fantastic ride over a pretty deserted Saddle and down into Ashhurst and home.  Next year I'll need to check out the beach again...


I've lost a badge somewhere...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Animals I have met

The other day I was telling someone my Emu story and it occurred to me that I seem to have reasonably frequent run-ins with critters while out and about on the bike.  Getting into Adv riding has only increased my odds.  So far I've been lucky in that the run-ins have only been eye openers for me, although some critters were harmed  (unintentionally) in the making of this post...

So, now for a bit of a list and maybe some tales...

Birds

They say that in NZ we have a bird for every job that mammals do in other places (our only native mammals are a couple of little bats) so you tend to see a few.  I won't mention every bird I've seen but just the ones where things have got interesting:
  • Swifts - normally travel in squadrons of hundreds and explode on impact when hit by an RG250 at 80mph...
  • Sparrows - small and fast.  Will cook right through when wedged between the oil cooler and fairing on a GSX750F.  Cooked sparrow comes apart easy...
  • Pukeko - dumb enough to run into the side of a Tenere.
  • Hawks - big, slow, angry and not to be messed with.  Often snacking in the middle of the road.  Nearly took one on the handlebars of my GSX400X - would have been exciting.
  • Weka - don't normally see them on the road but they are nosey so and so's
Amorous weka meets SB...
  • Ducks - hard case jokers.  Slow to cross the road unless they lift off.  Unfortunately hit some little ones with the VTR one night.  Mark hit an adult duck one day and it was like watching a cartoon...
  • Magpies, seagulls, pheasants - morons that get in the way occasionally.
  • Penguins/kiwi - only seen warning signs so far.  Seen wild kiwi on Stewart Island - cool!
  • Turkeys - are turkeys...
Why did the turkey cross the road?
  • Emus...
Small furries
  • Cats - quick but dumb.
  • Hedgehogs - slippery, often flat.
  • Dogs - not too bright but man's best friend.  Did see a smart lab the other night - he used the pedestrian crossing to get across a busy road (yes, he was taking himself for a walk too).
  • Rabbits - fast, but not as fast as a Connie.  Soft.
  • Possums - harder than rabbits.  Slow, can be dazzled by lights, make a thumping sort of noise when hit by a Connie mid corner.
  • Rats, Weasels, stoats, ferrets - introduced pests (like all the others above) that munch on our birds.  Small, fast and hard to hit, but I try...
Bigger stuff
  • Goats - quick, agile.  Often all over the road but pretty good at getting out of the way.
  • Sheep - dopey, generally have no idea.  The smartest ones appear to live on the French Pass road - no fences but they know to get off the road for vehicles.
Not the French Pass Road (much further South)
  • Pigs.  Domestic ones are fat and slow but normally stay off the road (they like wet, muddy drains though).  Wild ones are small, fast, hard and hard to see at night - would not want to hit one.
  • Seals - only on the rocks at the side of the road.  Only seen fur seals but would like to see an elephant - as long as it wasn't on the road...
  • Deer - fast, scatter brained.  Scare Concours riders when they run out in front of them at 2am in the night.  Not so bad in daylight - and this is the French Pass Road.
  • Horses - big, solid, dumb and sometimes on the loose on the East Cape.
  • Cattle - see horses but with added poo and more moo.  Have tangled with calves, cows, steers and bulls in my travels...

So far not many moas or Fiordland moose...

He froze upon seeing the Connie pull up...

And I'd be unlucky to come across a sign like this (popped up in my Facebook feed by coincidence).  I will keep my eyes peeled though...perhaps best to stay away from any Jenny Craig's...


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wanganui Toy Run

Well it's that time of the year again - Toy Run time.  Yesterday was the one organised by the Wanganui Ulysses and I normally try to get over for it.

I left home early as I needed a new pair of gloves and thought that I'd check out the bike shops in Wanganui.  It was a really nice ride over as it was still nice and cool - it was a bit of a shame having to stop in Wanganui...

In Wanganui I rode some small bits of the Cemetery Circuit while checking out the bike shops.  I didn't find a great selection available (still a lot of winter gloves on display) and definitely not in my size - bummer.

With plenty of time up my sleeve I parked up in the main street and located some bacon and eggs wrapped in pastry to feed the worms and kill some time.  Then it was off to find the ride start.  Simple: just ride up the street and get flagged down by a Ulyssian...

Still early...
Parked up it was time to hurry up and wait but bikes were arriving all the time and the organisers reckoned that we ended up with more than last year so that's good for them.

Compressor blocking my view of some nice 'busas.



(BTW: the three pics above were taken with my ancient little Olympus, still takes nice pics and better than the Fujifilm).

At around eleven we mounted up and made our way out of town via the main street and followed the river out of town.



The route took in the main road for a while before switching to back roads to Marton and Halcombe.  It was very slow and the day was getting warmer by the time we hit Mount Stewart.

The ride was heading to Himatangi but I didn't really need to go to Himatangi so stuck with it until they were definitely heading further away from Palmy and further towards Himatangi.

Breaking away from the group meant that I could pickup a bit more pace and cool off a little.  Rather than heading straight home I stopped in at the Honda dealership and managed to find a pair of gloves that hopefully will last me more than 5 minutes.


Anyway, not a huge or very exciting ride but good to support the Sallies with a small toy and donation.  Here's some more of the action:


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Silly Season

So apparently the silly season is upon us and everyone is supposedly under pressure, tired out and in need of a break.  Meanwhile our road toll has already exceeded last year's tally and the remedy is speeding fines for 5km/h over the limit - the same solution as every holiday period for the last few years (thanks Australia). 

Anyway, there must have been something weird happening in Palmy yesterday as I witnessed 1 near miss, got myself wrapped up in another and came across two separate accidents...Our populations is supposedly around 84,000 (when the scarfies are in town I 'spose).  Not a bad effort for one day's work, but these are only the ones I saw...

Near miss number 1.  4WD fails to give way to a motorcycle (not me) on the big roundabout just up the road to me.  I got a good view of this and the poor rider must have messed his jacks when a dirty great SUV appeared next to him.  But then, the 4WD must have been in a hurry to just nip around to the left and go blasting up a short dead-end street.  Dramatic re-creation below...


Next up, it was my turn to enter the chaos of the roundabout.  Mine was nowhere near as serious as I was never going to ride the poor old Tenere into the side of a truck that decided to not give way to me.  I did however come to a complete stop in the middle of the roundabout.


Two near misses in less than a minute so now it was time to see what happens when a near miss turns into an event - and this one looked pretty nasty, I hope nobody was injured.

I was held up majorly (along with hundreds of others) by an accident on Fitz Ave which is a major road coming into town.  At an (intersection controlled by lights), two cars had come together with quite a whack - the front wheel, axle and suspension had been torn from one of the cars and neither will probably ever turn a wheel again.  This is a 50km/h zone.


At work, a number of my team were held up by the accident and it was a good topic for our safety moment.  I was able to add in my other earlier adventures...Lots of head shaking all around...

Just after 5pm I was in my car (swapped vehicles, dog in the back) and making my way to the old's when I got held up by the next accident.  This time around a bus had taken on a car.  To me it looked like the bus had decided to turn out into the traffic (busy road, 2 lanes each way) and managed to tag some poor unfortunate.  People everywhere, chaos etc etc.


Well, I'm not an expert but I don't see speed as being a factor in any of these near misses/accidents.  Maybe one of the cars in accident #1 was getting along but far more likely was that someone was running an orange/red. 

What I reckon was the cause of all of them was silliness and I don't think you can use the time of year as an excuse.  In each case someone decided to ignore road rules or to make a risky decision.

ACC have taken a lot of stick about the ridiculous cost of bike registrations (plenty from me for sure - it costs me over a grand a year for 2 bikes) but they have been putting some money into subsidised rider training and then there's Geoff and his mates also offering good training to bike riders.  Advanced driver training courses are available but they are never even mentioned when the police are talking about road safety and I don't think there's any such thing as subsidised driver training...

But, unfortunately driver/rider training is probably only taken up by sensible people - the idiots out there are far too good to need it.  If only the cops could get silliness detectors for their cars...

Anyway, not the most eloquent rant and I certainly don't have all the ideas to fix stupid but please be careful out there, no silly behaviour, watch out the other loonies, have fun and take care over this silly season!

Might be safer sticking to the gravel...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Windy Tag

So after a beautiful sunny week in which I rode the Tenere to work 4/5 times (would have been 5/5 but I needed the car on Monday) the weekend has disappointed somewhat.  Both days have been reasonably fine but with a cold wind a blowing and as I type this it is beginning to look like rain - nice...

Anyway, enough whinging, I did manage a quick ride today to go out and nab Owl's tag.


I got blown around a little but the tag was probably less than 10km from my place...

Who wants a Super Duke when you can have a Super Connie!
My next job was to find the new tag and I took in a few back roads trying to look for something interesting to use.  I somehow found myself in Opiki but rather than take a picture of another school I turned off onto Tane Road where I eventually found a road sign that might prove tricky to find...


When I got home and posted the pics in the Tagorama thread I discovered that someone else was out there tag hunting: https://www.kiwibiker.co.nz/forums/showthread.php/104968-Tag-o-rama!?p=1131072857#post1131072857

Well, at least I bet him eh?  But then:

No flies on Phil...
It definitely must have been a tricky tag then: it took Phil 51 minutes to get it and post up...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Snapping

Righto, so yesterday I was complaining about taking the wrong camera and getting crap pictures again as a result so maybe I need to start looking again...

But first, my current selection.


This is my first ever digital camera and cost a fortune over 12 years ago.  It's a mere 4 mega pixel but comes with a 10x optical zoom and it still takes very good pictures (well, to a very amateur photographer anyway).  It cost me plenty back in the day...


This is yesterday's offender.  I bought it when I started out adventure riding as I didn't want to wreck my little Olympus - either in a whoopsie, bad weather or bouncing around in a topbox.  I think it's about a 12 mega pixel and cost less than half of what the Olympus did.  Oh, and I've dropped the Olympus on concrete and it's survived...

This is my "good"camera and I always take it on my big trips or when I know I want good pictures.  Can't remember how many mega pixels it is but it takes a nice picture and I like the GPS function along with the 42x optical zoom.  And yes, it cost less than the Olympus...

Then of course there are my GoPro's which actually take nice pictures occasionally...

So, I'm sick of the crappy shots from the Fujifilm but still want something small to stick in the tank bag.  And I'd still prefer water and shockproof.

What to get?  Help please!

BTW: I can't quite bring myself to potentially kill the little Olympus doing this job.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Just a short one...

Yesterday I'd been wondering about my next gravel excursion and decided that I wanted to return to the "Badlands" and to also check out another gravel road that I'd only done once, years ago.

The "Badlands" are to be found on Kauarapaoa Road, tucked in behind Wanganui in what most people would call the wop-wops.  On one particular corner there was (now I've given something away) a sign welcoming you to the Badlands and along the fence line used to be various goat skulls and hides - for non-NZ readers, goats are an introduced pest and are very destructive as they will eat anything...

Anyway, I didn't head out Saturday, instead opting for today and before I got ready I messaged Rodney to see if he was keen.  He was busy but when I said it was just going to be short ride he decided that he could make it all of a sudden...

The first bit of our ride was tarmac only across to Wanganui where we stopped for a quick bite before going in search of gravel.

Mmmmm, Pukeko's...

Thirsty pig!
A few kms up the road it was time to turn off the main road and head North on Rangitatau East Road.  I should had the camera going on the seal as I forgot how nice this road is even while on seal as you wind your way through some very nice bush.  Eventually we found the gravel.

Look, there it is, I'm standing on it!
For a fair chunk of the road the metal was fairly loose so we didn't break any speed limits and just took in the neat road and some nice scenery.



There was a surprising amount of traffic on the road too
We stopped just before the turn-off to the Badlands and I attempted to take some photos but my crappy little camera ended up taking crappy pictures - should have used the phone...

It was actually a lot nicer (lighter) than this in real life...

Is that you Rodney?

There's supposed  to be bikes in this picture...
Just before we left I was to see a little VW Golf go past and I think it'd just come out of Kauarapaoa Road.  What?  It couldn't have - it can be a bit gnarly in the Badlands...

Well, it was time to check it out for ourselves.  Dropping down the hill, the road was the driest I've seen it and the road in pretty good condition with a lot less grass growing in the middle of the road...



A particularly tricky bit...
While it wasn't fast riding, it was easy riding with the road in its current condition.  A bit of rain would have made things a little different.




So not quite the adventure it has been in the past and then there was the next disappointment...

Approaching the Badlands I was in for a shock, the sign was gone and the place had been cleaned up.  You could see across the paddock to a nice house in a picturesque spot, the only goats in sight were all very much alive and keen to stay away from motorcycles.

The last of the gravel opened up a bit and allowed the use of a few more gears but then, as always, it ran out and become a nice windy bit of tar.



After pulling over to turn the camera off I asked if Rodney wanted to try out the Tenere and after realising that that meant I'd be riding his bike he decided that it was worth the risk.

I ended up riding his Beemer through Wanganui and Fordell before finally handing it back to him at the little look-out on Kauangaroa Road.  I really enjoyed the little squirt on the Beemer - it's very light and the motor is smooth and willing.

Phew, got it back in 1 piece...




Our next turn-off was onto Turakina Valley road but instead of heading North to Ohakune we went South and took a short (and getting shorter) stretch of gravel over to my next mystery road.  I'd only ridden Taurimu Road once before and that was on a wet day as an Adventure riding noob with the BRR.  Back then it had been wet, muddy, slippery and slightly scary.  Today it was dry and covered in reasonably deep gravel in places.

Once again I should have had the camera on as we rode through some pretty nice scenery - oh well, next time...

Taurimu Road eventually became Galpins road and then sealed again just north of Marton.  But I hadn't finished with my little ride and I took Rodney and another (sealed) deviation just off SH1 just to keep him on his toes.

A little of the Halcombe road (mind the nice policeman)  and then across to Mount Stewart got us back out on the main road for the cruise back into Palmy.  A nice "little" ride of just under 300km...

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Almost 1,000km...

So, I had the GoPro on all day on Saturday with the aim of getting a heap of photos and stitching them all together for a time-lapse of the day's outing.

But I fouled things up in Wairoa by somehow starting the camera in video mode.  And then in Dannevirke the camera gave up - not sure what happened there.

So I ended up with just over 4,000 photos and a couple of hours of video documenting all but about 60km of our 1,040km.  And here it is...


I may have sped up the video from Wairoa-Tiniroto-Wairoa just a little...

Monday, November 06, 2017

The famous Scooter Bob

Well, if he wasn't famous before he is now...Dar has shown him off to the world via her piece on Farkle Garage.  Neat!

(Skip to about 5:30 if you can't wait to see him).

Sunday, November 05, 2017

2017 1KC

Yesterday was the running of this year's NZDR 1KC.  Another great excuse for getting up early and riding all day with like minded maniacs...

The weather forecast had been firmly in the "not great" category leading up to the ride so I'd finally bought some new wet weather gear to hopefully just take along for the ride.  With any luck it could just stay in the topbox for the day...

Because the ride starts in Upper Hutt, the Palmy riders have to be even madder than the others and get up extra early to hopefully meet up with the rest of the gang at around 6:30.  For me, I set the alarm for 4am and then got up at 3:30...

Well, I can quite confidently tell you that there is nothing on TV at that time of the night so I ended up being ready to rock pretty quickly and was first to the gas station where we were meeting.  Not long after I arrived Yod turned up, followed by Meanie and Monie and then Rodney keen for his first NZDR ride.

The Connie knows how to get up early too



With the weather actually better than forecast (no rain, not cold), we headed South with Menie showing the way.  In places the road was wet but there was just the odd spit.  The trip over the Paikok hill got a little exciting for me a couple of times when I hit something that threw the bike a bit sideways before she shook her head and carried on.  Then the idiot rider managed to hit a rock just two corners up the road.  I gave myself a bit of a slapping, dropped back from Monie a bit and settled down.

In the Hutt we were at the ride start for just long enough to sign on and clean visors before taking off again.

Just the 1 photo too
The Rimutakas were a little damp but relatively traffic free with just one unplanned stop at some roadworks.  Off towards the East there was hopeful colour in the sky so we kept the bikes pointed that way.


We got a few showers and were on mostly on wet roads as we made our way up to Pahiatua where we stopped early for fuel.  I'd planned out our fuel stops out with the first being in Dannevirke but two of the crew had been a little doubtful at the 307km first leg so I decided on the earlier stop - as it happened they would have made it easy.

Just before Dannevirke we turned off again and got onto the Weber road.  Conditions ensured that our wet-weather riding skills didn't go wasted.

In the background you can clearly see...not much

Not far up the Weber road we turned Northwards to our first photo checkpoint on the Ormonville - Te Uri roads intersection.  This involved riding a few nice windy back roads in slippery conditions - still fun and there was some nice scenery (when you could see) in places too.


Thinman


From the checkpoint we carried on across more back roads to Takapau where the rain finally gave up the chase and let the sun take over.  The next checkpoint was in Waipawa.




From Waipawa we started off on the way to SH50 with the aim of picking up two more checkpoints along the way.  The first one at Argyll East School was an easy find - I was actually riding Menie's Connie so he could try out my bar risers and even though there was about 200m between us still got my GPS instructions over bluetooth...




After the school the roads flowed through some nice curves and Yod and I broke away from the others for a bit.  We caught up with them again after making a slight little navigational error...

The next check point was supposed to be a sign saying "Somersby" and I had used the street address we'd been given as the waypoint in my GPS route.  It turns out that the Garmin maps are not that accurate in the back roads of Hawkes Bay.  We had a brief chat on the road and carried on a bit looking for the sign but to no avail.  In the end we stopped at the entrance to a couple of properties, took some pics, lost some warm layers and took on water - things were hotting up.


We eventually found SH50 and carried on up (waving to KoroJ along the way) to busy Napier and then Bayview where it was time for another early fuel stop.

The next leg is the wonderful racetrack road to Wairoa and I thought that Yod and I were very well behaved considering...









Just out of Wairoa we decided to stop for lunch at a little cafe by the river.  Unfortunately there was a 45 minute wait and that's not really ideal when you've 1,000km to do so we carried on into Wairoa and had a great lunch at the bakery.


Don't fiddle with the camera!
Before leaving Wairoa I thought I started the GoPro properly again (I was trying to take pictures the whole way for a slide show) but accidentally turned it onto video.  So no pictures until the next checkpoint then...

The next checkpoint was out on the Tiniroto Road and this is another fabulous bit of tar with more corners than you can chuck a stick at - great stuff.  And so the videos...

Me having fun:


And catching some of the other riders - checkout the little Enfield Himalayan:


About 60km in was our checkpoint.





The GoPro was still recording, so here's the Pamy crew and others arriving at the checkpoint.  Notice how dangerous it can be to be a photographer at a 1KC checkpoint...


Now it was time to turn around and head back to Wairoa.  I initially behaved myself and sat behind Monie but she got sick of me and shooed me away.


In Wairoa we stopped for gas and a cold drink before attacking the Napier-Wairoa road once more.





Getting to our next checkpoint meant ducking up the Napier-Taupo road and then turning off onto Glengarry Road to go in search of some letter boxes.  Now, this was one checkpoint I was a little worried about so had used GoogleMaps to locate it and then get the co-ordinates - and this time it worked!






By now we were over the 800km mark and this was the last checkpoint.  But, we hadn't found that fourth one and after asking the troops we decided it was worth another looksee on our way home down SH50.

We crossed over the back of Taradale to Fernhill and then retraced our footsteps to roughly where we thought the checkpoint should be.  In the end we found it by recognising the letter boxes in the ride notes but you may notice a slight difference in the two pictures below...



I that maybe there's been a few changes since Koro took his photo...

Now it was time to abandon the route map and hit home on the GPS.  It turned out that the GPS sent us back past CP3 as well before getting us back onto SH50 and then SH2 to Dannevirke where it was time for one last stop for a cold drink.




It was a fair bit colder by now but the rain stayed away as we finished the ride off with a nice blast over the saddle and a cruise home.  A nice way to spend 15 hours...



I think we must have had a nap somewhere...