Monday, January 30, 2012

East Cape Ride.

A swim to Washington...?

The weekend just was Auckland Anniversary weekend.  As such it was a long one, so Terry and I decided to join RATS (Riders Association of Triumph) for there weekend away to East Cape.  It had been a while since I had joined the guys for a ride.  They are a good bunch but as it turns out there was only 6 bikes.  Not that that bothered me.  

We set off from Auckland on Saturday morning with Dave leading us through a series of back roads to Tirau /Rotorua and then Whakatane.  We had several stops on the way, from Whakatane we headed through the gorge to Gisborne.   It is always a great ride through here, and with the weather playing nice it was a most enjoyable.   580kms for the day.

Come Sunday morning we are to head around the cape.  For some reason Dave's rear tyre was all but gone, after just 3000kms.  So he decided to head back to Whakatane and see if he could get a replacement.  The east cape is no place to be with a knackered rear tyre.

We all split up and took our own pace around the cape.  It is a majestic ride. Sparsely populated and stunning scenery.  terry and I stopped several times and regrouped with a couple of other riders .  The ride around is 320km from Gisborne to Opotike, I joke not when it estimate but during this 320km run you encounter at least 3000 corners......I didnt count them though, next time maybe. It is a great ride, but you need to keep your wits about you at all times.  I had one car do a U turn in front of me, a cow on the road, a horse, and un marked loose gravel.  Perhaps other more skilled riders can fang it around here, personally I am not confident doing here.  Safty to me comes first. This was enforced when we saw a rider in a ditch.  There were plenty of other bikes there so not needed to lend a hand, but it just re enforces the need to be careful.  And dont get me started on the Hawk with a death wish and tried to take my head off.......

I will say that my training with IAM has played a big part in how I "see" these situations and consequently deal with them.  Especially the U turning car, just 30 meters from the corner. Because of my postion and ability to see through the corner I saw it early and was able to take action.


On Monday we headed home.  I throughly enjoyed my three days away with Terry and a chance to ride yet more great roads.  Although I think Terry was getting over it a bit by Sunday afternoon.....left right, left right,left does go on forever!

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Quest for Freedom.

I have had an unusual holiday.  Never have I spent so much time by myself.

Originally Terry was to join me on my trip South, but due to a change in family circumstances, I shouted him a trip to LA.  So for the first time in 12 years his whole family was together.  The look on his face when I gave him the present was priceless and well worth it.

So on Christmas eve I found myself heading south on my own.  I was actually a bit apprehensive.  I had never been away for so long on my own, and on my bike.  I was looking forward to it, but being a pretty sociable sort of fella I was wondering if I would get bored or feel a bit alone.  People always say you should live on on the edge.  To me living life on the edge is different for everyone.  I personally think that the real definition is when you move our of YOUR comfort zone,what ever that may be, then for you, that is living on the edge.

But I discovered a few things about myself, and at times found myself doing stuff that I wouldn't ordinarily do.

Normally I am always in a rush to get every where.  Up early on the bike, ride for miles etc etc.  But when I was away I seemed to slip into some kind of "I will get there when I get there" attitude.  This attitude included everything from when I got out of bed, to how fast I ride, to spending a fair amount of time just sitting and looking at my surrounds.  Once I spent an hour looking at a mountain...yes just a bloody mountain.  Just taking in majesty that was all around me.

I began to get a sense of longing to be doing this all the time, that sense of freedom and no pressure. Of not being ruled by the clock, or computer, or what ever the next demand that is put on me.  Of course that sense of freedom is not new, every biker knows it, seeks it, almost demands it.  Isn't that why we ride? For a small moment in time we are in charge of our own destiny, our own decisions.  We are not being pushed and pulled in either direction, the direction we go is because we want to.  You never do a "trip" on a bike, you do a "ride".  A trip is what people do in cars, even then most don't even do trips.  No one doing a "trip" in a car chooses the longest, windiest road to get to a destination.  

So it got me thinking.  If I could do it all the time would I still love it. Would I still appreciate it, the way I was doing?  If I had endless freedom would the desire to "go" still be there?  

Like every one else I have restrictions on my life. Partner, Kids, Mortgage, business to run...the list goes on.  What if I throw off all those restrictions and just would I feel?

After thinking about it I came to the conclusion that it is because of these so called restrictions that I appreciate the freedom more when I get it.  These "restrictions" are not restrictions at all they are my life, and my life is richer because of it.  

So for now thoughts of riding from Alaska to to the bottom of Argentina must go on the back burner.  But one day when some of these things that fill my life are gone. The kids have moved out, the business is sold, where the need for the big house simply ceases to exist, it is then and I only then it will be my decision to go...the question is though,  will I?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Coromandel Explore-Part 2 A Rogeys Gravel Rash Adventure

I left Kennedy Bay and couldn't resist popping down to the beach for another we blat, man it was fun.  From there I carried on up the eastern side of the peninsular.  This is all gravel, in fact apart from a few small bits of tarmac linking the east to the west all the majority of the next seven hours was spent on gravel.

Tuteawa on The Eastern Side.
The scene of the wing mirror incident.

From there I continued to had north towards Stony Bay.    Just before Port Charles, as I was dealing with some tight twisties I came across a truck that was trying to get around a tight left hander.  I pulled over and stopped as far left as I could.  The truck got around the corner OK, but as he went past he straightened and his trailer got extremely close to my handles bars on the right hand side. Eventually with only centimeters to spare I lent the bike, to my left , unable to hold it and with my footing not so good the bike fell against the left hand clay bank.  And there went my wing mirror...., the guys stopped and helped me pick up the bike.  You will see from the pics that part of the road on his left was giving way, so he was also trying to ad void that.   In all the damage was minor, just a $51 dollar bracket from BMW.  It was certainly an interesting moment though.

Stony Bay

Onwards to Stony bay, and I have to say the road is narrow, with a bit of gravel mixed with clay.  Very very tight.   Still got there OK, took a few pics and carried on back south, crossing over towards Colville before turning north again and heading to Fletcher's bay.  But not before stopping and enjoying some glorious white bait fritters at the Kiwi Lodge.

White Bait Fritters

The ride from Colville to Fletchers Bay is just stunning.  All along the coast the windy, narrow, gravel road will keep your senses on high alert.  At times there is nothing but shear drops to the beach below.  Still it is pretty mouth watering stuff.  It is only about 40kms but took me an hour to complete with a stop for some photos.

Over looking Skinny Dip Bay.

Great Barrier from Fletchers Bay


Heading back fro Fletcher's I stopped at one of the many small beaches, and decided a swim was in order.  I have now renamed this bay "Skinny Dip" bay, for reasons I wont go into......Fear not though for the weak stomach amongst my readers, not a single car passed either direction for the 40 minutes I was parked there.

I finally got home after 8, it had been a long day but one of the best.  I am truly loving where this GS can take me.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Coromandel Explore Prt 1 - A Rogeys Gavel Rash Adventure

Since the first day that I brought the wee 650 I have been dying to get out and explore the Coromandel and some of the great gravel roads it has to offer.  The benefit of this also is the great scenery you only get to see if you actually venture off and take some of theses roads.

I left Thursday morning, heading out around Kawakawa bay and Kiaua, and theses first photos are from this part of the ride.

Through Thames, and then at Tapu I turned off and took the gravel road through to Coroglen.  Pretty good condition gravel, and by the looks of it a reasonably well used road.  It was very scenic  as for parts of it the  the road meandered along side a river.  

Once at Coroglen I stopped at the pub there, and that was when a guy on a sports bike went tearing past, quickly followed by a man in a car with his lights flashing.....don't know if they caught him, but there aren't many places  you can run from in Coro.

On the road again, and a we bit further north I turned and took the 309rd which takes you back to Coromandel.  Great fun, although a bit slippery in places, due to a lack of gravel and a lot of mud. encountering a couple of campervans ensuered my wits were about me at all times.

I stopped and took a side down towards the river which is where I took these next few pictures.  It was all very quiet and serene.  Very nice though to sit for a while and watch the river roll past.

Once in Coro, I called into Geoff's house where I bludged a drink and Geoff and I bored Jenni (his long suffering wife) for an hour with motorbike stories and assorted lies.

Time was getting on so I headed off to Kennedy Bay where I had organised to stay with a friend over night.  Not before heading to the beach though, where I spent far to much time zooming up and down like a kid with a toy, seriously great fun.  Has to be careful though it was packed......

So that was day one, all in all I was happy.  I had finally done a few raods that were on my list.  Tomoroow I would complete the rest....and that is where things got interesting, including the "wing mirror incident" and me renaming one of coros little known bays "Skinny Dip Bay"....not to mention some stunning riding and scenery.

Here is a peak of tomorrow...

The Map from day 1

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

South Head- A Rogeys Gravel Rash Adventure.

I still had a few days off until my return to the coal face and decided I would join the Northland Gravel Riders club  for a mid week ride.  The deal was to meet at the BP in Kuemu at 9.00am and as usual for this summer, the for cast was not to be favourable.

As if right in Que when I arrived so did the rain.  But this could not dampen the spirits of the few us who went.  Although weonly numbered it was a good wee number and we set of towards Shelly beach.  This is to be out first stop.  The journey there is mostly tar seal with a small bit of gravel thrown in for good measure just to wet our appetites.

The dirt roads took us down to South Head and lots of fun was had playing in the sand (no buckets or shovels though).  It was a shit load of fun  with some of the guys having a real hoot.  We explored around this area for quite a while.  I suppose for me it is exploring , but for the others who had been here before it was just fun.

I am loving my gravel rash experiences.  It is a real rewarding challenge, a great deal of fun, and just great to get of the beaten tracks and see more of what this country has to offer.

Thanks to Sues for supplying me with some pics....which I shamelessly stole of Face book!(with permission)

After the ride I headed to Cycle treads and changed the front tyre for a knobbly, to offer a bit more assistance when on gravel.  After that it was over to Suzette's place (aka gravel hopper) where her husband had kindly offered to help fit the Hand guards and raisers I had purchased from Touratech. Actually I am not sure offered is the right word...roped in is probably the better phase.

Here are a few pics of the end result....

I am still loving the GS, seems the perfect bike for me at the moment and is continuing to perform flawlessly.   It's only limits are those that are placed on it by the the riders ability.