Monday, January 31, 2011

Wanganui with Violet.

Anniversary in Auckland arrived, and on Friday night to greet the long weekend Cyclone Wilma brushed along the top of the country causing slips , flooding and general havoc.  You got to love our summers.

During the week I had been in touch with Nick about heading off for a ride on the weekend.  Ironically Nick is an old friend of my partner who I had met before, and didn't realise he was following my blog until I clicked on his profile one day.    So it was a great opportunity to go for a ride together and get to know each other a lot more.  Nick is just as passionate about biking as I, and the two days we were away, we were never short of conversation or enthusiasm....and lets be honest, biking is not just about the ride but the people you meet and the places you see.

Due to the weather still being average on Saturday we decided we would go for a run on the Sunday and Monday.  Wanganui seem like a place to head to, an easy and enjoyable 460km run.

Saturday dawned brilliantly and we met at the Papakura Autobahn, where we enjoyed a McDonald's brekki, and discussed the days riding.  We headed south down the southern motorway, turning off at Glenmurry where we stopped for a quick photo shoot, and yet more gas bagging and talk about bikes.

We followed the normal route through Te Kuiti, Taumarnui, past National park, where we took a small diversion to Ohakune for lunch.  I love Ohakune, it has a fantastic feel about the place, and I know in the winter with it's close proximity to the mountains it would be a happening place for the snowboarders and skiers.

We continued south and once again the Paraparas threw up her own surprises, with some very heavy road works, and slips that had been cleared, but the tell tale signs of mud and crap remain.  Sill it was a great ride, and we arrived into a sleepy Wanganui late Sunday afternoon.  We found a motel and I sent Nick off to get some "light"refreshments.  The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting out side enjoying our drink and discussing how we will change the world by riding around it!

We headed off to find some dinner, and had an excellent meal at "Angora Mediterranean " restaurant.  The food and service was second to done, and although I have often commented on excellent places to eat, I would definitely recommend this place.  It was exceptional.    The "Black Russian's" hit the spot also.

We hit the road early the next morning, with the weather forecast predicting rain and heavy winds, we were lucky in as such we only every encountered heavy wind and nothing else.  Not that Nick on Violet would of noticed, it takes a bit of wind to move a 300kg bike of its mark.  We followed the same road home, and enjoyed a great breakfast in Taumarnui.  We followed each other all the way until my tun off for home.

Ruakawa Falls

It was a great 36 hours away on the bike, and it felt more like a three day weekend away than just overnight.  Nick was great company, and threw the Violet around corners like it's a street triple!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Smallest Things.

Some times it is the smallest things that rock my boat.

Last night, I was sitting at home alone, it was pouring with rain out side.  I was watching a movie, and missing my partner who is in the UK for three months on secondment. The kids are at there mothers.

At 8.48pm I got a text from my daughter,

goodnite dad, love you! *HUGS*

It made my night.

Sometimes that daughter of mine has an uncanny ability to say the right things at the right times.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Feeling the Heat.

Of late Auckland has had one of the most humid summers on record.  December was just unbelievable, I personally believer it to be one of the hottest on record.   This was confirmed the other day by a article in the evening news.

I have always been  "All The Gear All The Time",  sort of person , even when I just shoot down the road to the gas station to check tyre pressures and gas up before a ride, I make a point of suiting up.

Now you probably know where this is heading, and with good reason.  I do not believe that just because it is hot is an excuse not to wear suitable gear when on a bike.  Personally if it is too hot for you to ride a bike, and you don't feel comfortable, then take the air conditioned car.

In this day and age of excellent motorcycle gear available at reasonable prices,  I see no reason why motorcyclists insist on wearing shorts and a tee shirt,  I hate to say, but the $13000 GSXR, and the $1200 Arai helmet look lovely, but will do very little to protect you arse in the case of a small off.

I say small, because from experience I know how small  an off is required to take skin off your knees and elbows.  ( Remember that little push bike accident when you were twelve.)

You can buy gear now a days that suit almost any conditions, air vents and linings means most jacket and pants combination's will be suffice to get you through all year round.  My full leathers are very comfortable to ride in, and a made from a hide far stronger than mine.  Decent gloves go with out saying, your palms will often be the first to hit tarmac, and their is not a lot there to protect you before you get to bone.

Now to most people reading this, you are probably all ready well aware of these facts, and I do not need to preach to the converted.   But let me ask you this question, given the opportunity would you "Tell" a fellow motorcyclist off if you had the opportunity for failing to obey these simple rules.  Would you turn away and just consider it none of your business.

Recently why on holiday at the Bach, while sitting on the deck a motorcyclist with a pillion drove down  our drive way and stopped.  No one was as shocked as much I was, as we were off the beaten track, and even the driveway was hard to see.  They were in fact lost and were looking for directions, and a phone book.

What shocked me the most, was that they had come from Wellington , over the ferry, then ridden Queen Charlotte drive, complete with single lanes due to slips.  He was wearing a full set of leathers and she was wearing.....wait for it.....high heels and tights.  He was obviously an experienced rider, the bike certainly was well used.   My partner looked at me, I looked at them, and after I had helped sort them out with directions etc,  I took it upon myself to voice my disapproval.  Much to the embarrassment of all concerned.  I simply find that this is not acceptable, call me a fuddy duddy, but it is my ACC levy which will end up paying for the skin grafts.

I admit it has taken me some time to build up a closet full of gear which suits all the conditions that I come across.  Buy I am not asking everyone who rides a bike to spend thousands on gear.   And this post is not aimed at the novice, but is aimed at those who should know better.

As motortbikers we have a responsibility to help those that are new, to me that is a given, but we should not be afraid to voice our opinion about some thing like this.  I personally advoid confrontation like the plague, yet I am prepared to speak up about this topic as  I feel it is important.  I have relised that the older  I get the less I know, and you can never stop learning.

When you join the motorcycling fraternity, you become part of a big family, and as such we need you look after one another.  And as with any family there can be issues that need addressing....this is one that should not be swept under the carpet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Love Story.

I had been on my own for over a year, it didn't bother me. After all being single has its advantages.

I first saw her on line.   I wasn't really looking.   But she caught my attention.  

Perhaps she is not every ones thing of beauty, but for me I was infatuated.  I felt like a teenager again.       Meeting online had been a new experience for me.  I would rather meet in person than all this computer stuff.  

Still after a few weeks the relationship blossomed.  I found myself thinking about her more and more, I had trouble sleeping, I was counting the days till we actually met,  they seemed to drag on forever. 

Thoughts of her never, left my mind.  God I thought to myself, "am I turning into some sort of stalker or some thing".

Finally the day dawned and we had our first date.  The ease we felt in each other's company was obvious to any one who cared to look.   It was like we were made for each other.  We had so much in common. 

She was so relaxed and responsive to me, even though we had just met, she seemed to know me.

The time I spent with her seemed to disappear so fast, and I found myself hanging out to our next meeting. Counting down the days and hours.

It wasn't long before I realised I was in love, and I knew she felt the same way. Some of my mates thought I was crazy. She moved in after just a week.  It couldn't last I thought.  It must all turn to custard soon.  After all, I know I am not the easiest person to live with.  Yes there were issues but nothing we couldn't over come.  Only time would tell if it would last.........the skeptics would scoff, but in my heart I knew that I had found what I had been looking for......

Next week we celebrate our one year anniversary,  she has now become a big part of my life,   more than I thought possiable.  We have all ready had some great times together, and I know we will share many more yet. 

Some of you may of seen her before, hiding away in my pics....but in case you hadn't noticed her before here she is.....


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Exploring the "Naki"

Late Friday night I dropped my partner off at the airport, for a direct flight to London, where they will be working for the next three months.  Of course this left we with a free weekend and an opportunity to go away on the bike and do some riding and exploring.

I had decided that Taranaki was a good place to go, and in particular the forgotten highway.  I had not been down it before and having read Geoff's post on it late last year it seemed a good option.

I departed Auckland at 6.30am on the Saturday morning.  I have always been an early starter, and I like riding at this time of day.  I went south following a boring route till I got to Bosco's cafe in Te Kuiti.  I think I am becoming some what of a  local there as it is about the fifth time I have stopped here over the last few months.  My plan was to head towards Taumarunui , but before getting there I  made a right hand turn about 30kms before.  This took me towards Matiere and Ohura.

Taken from just South of Matiere.  

The first thing you notice is the sign at the beginning of the road that informs you there is no fuel for 150kms, I had all ready anticipated that so had all ready re fulled.  The road itself is a back country road, often the seal is rough, and you just never know what lies around each corner.  Within a few Kms, I had encountered a couple of goats and a sheep, as well as a couple of rocks in the middle of the road.

The weather was sunny but not yet hot, and I was enjoying myself immensely just  meandering along at a slow but steady pace.  I saw no reason to speed and was enjoying taking in the smell and sights.   (besides this is no place to come off a bike )  There is literally no body here,  in fact for the next 90kms till I got to Whangamomona I only encountered a hand full of cars, a group of adventure bikes that went past when I had stopped to take some pics, but that was it.  The silence is.......Audible!

Matiere consist of nothing but run down house, and Ohura is not much better.  It must once of been a thriving rural town, but urbanisation and the advent of better roads and technology I presumed have killed it.  I would have to agree with Geoff, as a place for a "Deliverance" movie it would be ideal.  It has a scary feel about it............

Ohura....ummmm...not much night life here.

It was slow progress , and as I travelled over the Tahora saddle I was amazed at the spectacular scenery, and the vastness of it all.   The 12km or gravel that you need to contend with on the way to Whangamomona is not difficult at all and when I finally arrived I was looking forward to lunch.  A few bikes were all ready parked up, and as I got chatting to a couple  the guys, they seemed some what surprised that I had come from Auckland......I seem to be getting that a lot lately.  At this point of the trip I had travelled 350kms and it had taking me 5 1/2 hours.

What a charming "Republic" it is, with fantastic food, friendly and helpful staff who and couldn't do enough for you.  I spent an hour relaxing and taking in the place.

You just got love these roads.

Leaving "The Republic" I headed towards Stratford where there is plenty more fantastic scenery to take in on  the way.

I refulled in Stratford and decided a trip around Mt Taranaki was in order.  Not motorcycling heaven by any means with most of the roads being fairly straight, but the mountain is just awesome and you can not but enjoy the ride in its shadow.  I arrived in New Plymouth about five. A ride of over 530kms for the day, and a lot of it demanding.  Still a hot shower and a cold beer, and I think I could of done it all over again.

Mt Taranaki.  Taken from New Plymouth.

View Larger Map

Sunday morning arrived and I was again on the road by 6.30.  I had decided to head North and then take the inland road to Ohura  (I must be their most famous tourist, twice in two days), then back onto HWY 4 and home.

It was a pleasant early morning ride, and once off the main road and heading towards Ohura I discovered plenty of wondering sheep and goats.  It was again quiet and I had the road to myself, after passing the turn off to Mt Damper Falls (Note to self to  do that next time), the road unexpectedly turned to gravel.  I continued on as there was only 37kms to go to get to Ohura, and I thought there can't be to much of this gravel.  After about 4 kms the gravel road turned to a gravel track!  

So here I am, in the middle of now where, 8.00am on a Sunday morning, fully laden with fuel and luggage, riding a sports tourer, on a gravel track, that in all honesty you would be hard pushed to call a road......I think I am having an adventure .  Well no point turning around, so I continued on and hoped like hell I don't end up having to push the bike through a stream or something.  When I finally got through it I must admit I had a sense of accomplishment, but was ever so glad to be back on tarmac.!!

To the right of where I took this pic is a shear drop! see below pic.

Once rejoining HWY 4 I basically headed home following the same road I had ridden coming down. I had done 900kms for the weekend,  it had been a great ride,  I felt that I had accomplished some of what I wanted to do.
Now, where is that brochure on the new Triumph Cub......I know the exact road I want to test ride it on...

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Not much of a nature photgraphy am I , but when we were at the bach over christamas I was in awe of the birds that were around the place. The sound of Tuis singing in the morning was just majic.  Of cause trying to get photos of them proved a lot harder than I thought.  Must give it to those nature photgraphers they must spend ages waiting for the perfect shot.

Anyway here are a few that I did manage to take.

Californian Quail

Murry-The Weka

Just poking his head out!

I noticed the Weka the first day we were there, but trying to get a photo was a real mission, finally while sitting on the deck I heard a noise and looked down to see see him right beside me and managed to get a couple of photos before he scurried away.

First Trip of the Year.

With the kids going back to there mothers and my partner and I still having a few days off before work it was decided to hop on the bike and get away for a couple of nights.
 I had decided that our eventual destination for the night would be Gisborne, a ride of 560kms for the day.

 The forecast was for some drizzle and maybe rain, but the further south and east we went the less likely hood of either arriving. We left Auckland and travelled out past Kawakawa bay and Kaiaua.  Here we had our first coffee break for the day, the lady at the fish and chip shop we discovered, rides a Triumph America and wanted to chat for ages!  She was most enthusiastic about her bike and riding which was great to hear and see,  She was a bit of a hard case but seemed in awe that we were heading to Gisborne for the night.

We continued south through Paeroa.  I had decided we would stop at Browns Motorcycle Museum and café in Kati Kati for lunch.  I had not been there before and was eager to have a look.  The food was excellent and was very reasonable priced but there is not a lot of bikes to be seen.  I am sure over the next few years it will be added to, but in the mean time it only has a handful of bikes and some bike memorabilia.   We had encountered some rain and drizzle prior to this, which brought a welcome drop in temperature.  It was extremely humid and hot. 

We continued down the coast through Tauranga and Whakatane stopping again briefly in Opotiki for a cold drink.

We entered the Waioeka gorge.  This is a great road and one of my favourites; it seems to have little traffic, is scenic and has some great sweeping corners mixed with some tight ones.  There were patches of road that were sub standard otherwise I had a blast.  But boy was it hot!  This is a road for any visitor or motor biker travelling the country,  that must be ridden.

Finally arriving in Gisborne at 5.00pm to a temperature of 32C (89.6F), and I will say with all honesty that first Vodka never touched the sides!  Neither of us slept well and the temperature remained warm all night.  If seems that I am raving about the heat , please excuse me.  I have done a lot of touring during summer months, but this year I have encountered heat that I have not encountered before.  The humidity has been sky high for a few months , and I am sure at the end of summer it will prove to be one of our hottest.  I know December was was way above average.

Friday 7th

Waking to a glorious day on the coast, I decided that we would take Tiniroto road to Wairoa.  I have never ridden this road and it was great to be on unfamiliar tarmac.  I know Geoff had mentioned it when he did the Grand Challenge.  I will say , that I was glad I was not doing at night!  The temperature was hot again and the time we stopped at Te Regina falls, and the temp was back into the 30’s(86F+).  We took some photos, then headed off towards Waiora and a coffee break.  

At Wairoa we were given a very unfriendly welcome form a local as we entered a cafe.  I know there has been gang trouble in this area before, and I am not sure while we were’ mentioned” but we quickly drank our coffee and headed towards to Napier.

The falls at Te Reinga

lake Tutira

The next 100kms done at a brisk pace, maybe cause it was hot, maybe because we were hungry, or perhaps we just wanted to get away from Wairoa.  Either way we only stopped briefly at Lake Tutira, and it was a welcome relief to sit in the shade. A lovely fresh water lake, I was tempted to strip off and jump in, any thing to cool off.

Arriving in Napier we stopped at “Crab Farm” café, and it was awesome.  Fantastic food and wine.  I had one beer with my lunch, which was the most refreshing beer I have ever had.  Normally as a rule I never touch a drop of drink when I am on the bike, but I made an exception on this day.  Napier was as hot as Gisborne, but with our next stop and over night stay being Taupo. I was hopeful of a drop in temperature as we travel through the central plateau.

Napier -Taupo is another great road to ride, and the 140 kms were done in no time.  We found a flash motel, (for a change) it had an air conditioning unit, and a massive spa bath.
I was feeling very exhausted, even though the total kms where not many the heat was oppressive and I think this contributed to my overall exhaustion.

Today we travelled 360kms.

Saturday 8th 

Another day dawned glorious, and it was  merciful a lot cooler.  We headed south to Turangi, then turned right and headed to Taumarnui.  I was having  a awesome time, the cooler weather and the clear roads, I was in my zone and it was the best of the ride of the last few days.  What an awesome road with lovely sweeping bends and scenery.  I was in that "ZONE"where you just ride and feel at one with the bike and the road.  I was buzzing on our arrival at Taumarnui.   

Heading north we continued on HYW4 through to Te Kuiti, and then finally home.

We had travelled a Total of 1250kms, averaged 5.6litres /100km's and we were on the bike for a total of 13 hours exactly.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On Holiday- The True story!

As some of you would of read my blog that I posted just before I left Auckland you will be aware I was heading off to the top of the South Island where I had rented a bach.

We left Christmas day and headed straight to Wellington. The seven-hour drive was uneventful, but I was surprised at the lack of traffic, and more so at the lack of bikes I saw out.  Perhaps people just don’t like to travel on Christmas day, but we had already done the family dinner thing so it was all planned.
We arrived in Wellington just after 8pm, and the search was on to find somewhere to eat.  After a bit of driving around we found a very nice Chinese restaurant and I have to say the food was exquisite, and for it being Christmas day we were not charged a sur charge.

We found our motel and pretty much showered and went to bed.  We were up early to catch the Inter Islander across to the South Island and from there we had a 30min drive to Mahau sound.   First a brief stop in Picton to load up on fresh food and vegies, finding room in the car was not easy, perhaps it was the 2 dozen bottles of win, couple bottles of vodka and or course some light refreshment beer!  (I like to be prepared for guests!)

We found our Bach on Kenepuru road, and it was just like the photos. It was a great spot and I was instantly on the deck with a cold one and a good book ….yah I am finally relaxing.
The weather forecast for the next two days was not promising, although the rest of the week following was forecast o be a ripper.

We awoke on the morning of the 27th to strong winds, and it had begun to rain. We settled in for the day playing endless card games and puzzles, reading books and eating, a lot of emphasise here on eating!
By late evening the rain was heavy, torrential in fact and it didn’t stop all night.  A heavy rain warning was in place, and I have been in many a good storm. But this was unbelievable.  The Marlborough sounds had over 400 mm’s of rain in a 12-hour period.

THe lawn and beach atthe front of the bach.

Some of the intense flooding

The following morning we awoke to downed trees, no power, no phones, and extreme flooding. The house next door was surrounded by water. The “show Garden “ was no more, their place was devastated.  The water was two feet up around their front door.  Although we were safe it was a scary sight to behold.

Finally by around mid morning the rain stopped and the sun had come out.  We discovered that all roads around the area were closed and blocked by slips. Our neighbour came over to see how we were, which I found very heartening considering his place was under water!
We assessed the damage around the property and realised we had got off very lightly.  Apart from some water flowering around the property and a down tree on the front lawn we suffered no serious damage. 

We managed to get over to the neighbours, got hold of some shovels and got stuck in.  Our main efforts were to concentrate on diverting the water away from the foundations. He had a digger and was trying to divert the “STREAM” away from his house.  In reality I am not sure we succeeded much as the water had began to subside not long after the rain had stopped.   Ironically I now needed to apply sun block as the sun was out in all its intensity.
Road slips

Power and phones were restored late that night, and some of the roads had at least been cleared for one-way traffic.  The clean up would continue long after we had departed back to Auckland.

The 29th, 30th and 31st of December were spent lounging around the Bach, the weather was now brilliant and the days were spent playing rugby, cricket, swimming, patanque. (of which I am the undisputed champion) and any other game the kids could think of.  I enjoyed the late afternoons the most as we sat on the deck and looked at the view, while sipping on a glass of wine and working my way through several books.

On New Years day we headed back towards Picton and walked a part of the Queen Charlotte track.  Not much of a nature fanatic myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, it was great to do.  I can see why some people spend there whole holidays doing things like this.   I was trying desperately to take some photos of the birds that flew around us, fantails, and tuis, but the little buggers wouldn’t stay still for more than a split second!  I strongly recommend anybody that is in the area to walk some of this track, is a great and easy walk.

Come knew I was gonna post this one!

January 2nd saw us head to Blenheim for a day.  The weather was again beautiful and there were plenty of bikes out, must to my annoyance.  Still Blenheim is a great little town and as we drove through all the vineyards we noticed many of our favourite brands.  On our return it was off for a swim and then a wine on the deck, I could get use to this lifestyle.

Still all good things must come to an end, and the following day we started the clean up around the Bach and left the following morning to catch the ferry and the drive back to Auckland. 
This is the fourth year in a row that I have rented a Bach somewhere for the holidays, and as an alternative to camping and, motels it us well worth the exercise.  All the Bach’s that we have stayed in have been well appointed with most of the home comforts, and close to beaches and places to visit.  We have stayed at Omaha, and the last two years were at Coromandel.  There are a huge variety to choose form and I use either BookaBach, or Bachcare.

Next year I will look for somewhere closer to home perhaps up north somewhere.

Happy New Year everyone, I shall finish this blog with a few random pics from the holiday.

Twisty-Queen Charlotte Drive

The Kids.