Friday night I headed out of Auckland on my way to Taupo. On the Saturday I was to be joining up with the Gravel Riders to visit Poronui. Please take a moment to click on the link and see what a magical place this private station in the central North Island is like. Just stunning. A lot of work went into organizing the chance for us to visit, as normally, being private land we would not be allowed access. This was the first time bikes have been allowed.
I left Auckland mid afternoon and managed to beat most of the rush hour traffic. It was just great to leave the stress of the week behind, and the further south I got the less traffic I encountered. I went through Te Awamutu as I was keen to avoid SH1. I had the road basically to myself and relaxed into what was a terrific ride on my own. I normally stop at the Waipapa dam, but this time I stopped on the bridge just before it, took a few photos and listened to silence. I gingerly peered over the rather low guide rail, crap it was a long way down.
Saturday morning and we all met up at the Mobile. We headed up the Napier-Taupo road and had a bit of a play on the grass berm on the way, another first for me and cool fun. We collected a few more riders by Rangitaika before heading to Poronui.
Once on Poronui we were greeted with morning tea before being briefed on the ride. Eve, the lodge manager made us feel very welcome.
Two minutes into the ride I had my first ever water crossing, confession time. I was crapping myself. I had never done one before. Got through OK though.. Except for the wet feet. Didn't exactly look pretty but hey..at least I didn't go for a swim!
Two groups split off. I took the blue route which was more than challenging for me. Lots of different terrain's to ride over with a few challenges likes rocks, deep mud loose gravel, tracks, all sorts of stuff to conquer. The whole ride was thrilling. Nothing like being pushed out of your comfort zone and accomplishing things you have never done before. Trying to take in the great scenery and concentrate on what lies ahead was easier said than done. One particular nerve racking bit for me included going down a steep soft clay hill, I did get down OK, but I had visions of my skill level running out about half way down.
A water break down by the cabins next to the river was a welcome break. What an amazing place to stay. Chrystal clear water rushing past, the river over flowing with trout...no wonder why people come from all over the world to stay here.
Once back at the main lodge we were greeted to a scrumptious lunch. Man this adventure riding is hard work. I tried not to over indulge...yeah right.
Once we left Poronui we headed out towards Whirinaki forest where another 100 odd kms of gravel and forestry riding awaited. What a blast through here as I really began to get into standing on the foot pegs and controlling the bike. It was a bit dusty at times but the majority of the gravel was packed and hard, just a few place's with loose stuff. Although my confidence was up, it tends to breed disaster in my case, so I kept well with in my means. Still managed to get up some good speeds and never had a scary moment.
We stopped once to regroup and I noticed everyone looking at Jim's bike. There was a bit of smoke coming off it and as it turns out the ohlin's shock had blown, needless to say the rest of Jim's day was... um-mm..bouncy bouncy bouncy.
We finally popped out onto a main road and headed into Murapara. It was now about Six o'clock and we were supposed to go back the same way. After some discussion it was agreed to head back via the main sealed roads, and meet up later for dinner. I was kind of relieved as I was bloody buggered. I think I found leg muscles that hadn't been used since 1987.(don't get me started on my abs.)
I have had my GS now for about six months. Joining up with Sue and Jim who run the Northern Gravel Riders club has been so beneficially to me. They have taking me places I would never expect to see. The whole adventure riding thing has become very addictive. A whole new world of excitement. Sometimes I sit on the road (or track or beach or river) and look at what lies ahead, my heart racing at the prospect and I struggle to swallow my fear. I always seem to get through, and the sense of accomplishment out weighs the fear that I had just experienced. My skills and technique are improving all the time. I am discovering that confidence plays a big part in this type of riding. Getting use to the bike moving around, staying consistent on the throttle and just plugging on. The 650gs has seemed like the perfect bike for me. Not to heavy, manageable power, fun on the road, and it takes a bloody hammering.
Plenty more pics here on my Flickr Account
Awesome! I saw the ride posted up on Facebook before you left and it looked fantastic! Not sure how a big fat DL would have gone (esp on it's current tyres) but I see a certain Gremlin managed to punt his GS around...ReplyDelete
Allan did well mate, it is a bike bike to put through what we did. Met Neil who you know for the fist time as well. Was a great weekend.Delete
Great stuff Roger!ReplyDelete
Many road riders think that they are "too cool for school", but the dirt sorts them out! And it is a shite load of fun. You will pick up skills for the tar as well.....oh....and Whirinaki forest? Mountain Bike Heaven. You should try it some time.....
Damn you have a pretty country!
Hi Mate, the dirt is certainly fun. We did come across a few mountain bikers as well as hunters in the forest. It is reasonably flat but interesting. Have yo ridden it before?Delete
No, ran out of time when I was there last year but it is on my bucket list of NZ MTB destinations. Rode Taupo and Whakarwearewa(Rotorua) and if I could live there, I would!Delete
Looks like too much fun. I am glad you are enjoying the gravel adventures, but you are making the res of us long for them too.ReplyDelete
Just think of all the exercise you are getting. And the fun kind, not the running on a treadmill kind either.
Brandy: It was heaps of fun for sure. It is hard work on the body, but it is a nice feeling at the end of the day.Delete
Great stuff Rog! Recognise the bridge you stopped at - my old stomping ground pre-retirement. The lodge loogs simply awesom and boy, are you putting in the miles on some of the routes you're doing! Lovely photos mate.ReplyDelete
Geoff me ole mate; Was pretty sure you would recognize a few of the pics. I really like that road where I took the pic of the bridge, had it all to myself as well.Delete
PS: Have you been on the wine again?:)
" I stopped on the bridge just before it, took a few photos and listened to silence. "ReplyDelete
Love this! These are the moments to live for.
Great ride report. I love seeing the bikes out in the dirt (and water and grass).
Kari: Thanks very much. Something special about out on our own sometimes.ReplyDelete
Great stuff, Rog. Once again you make me miss my Thumper.ReplyDelete
Just buy one, three bikes is the perfect number!Delete
Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself to make sure that your not dreaming. What fab scenery you have to ride through. Green with envy :)ReplyDelete
Thanks mate, yeah it is a pretty stunning place.Delete
Wonderful weekend! But I am terribly disappointed with the landing gear being down through the water crossing. ;) Those roads look like tons of fun.ReplyDelete
Roads were a hoot, I did have mt feet on the pegs just moments before the picture was taken, well thats my story and I am sticking to it.Delete
You've got (much) more guts than me. I don't think I could do that water crossing. Now, if I had your GS I may have tried but my V-strom is too heavy.
sometimes I wished I had a small dual sport. I wouldn't like to ride down a soft clay hill either
glad you made it back unscathed
Riding the Wet Coast // My Flickr
Thanks Bob...I am glad I made it back to, but hey that is all part of the adventure.ReplyDelete
I've been shopping this afternoon, Guess what Purchase I made ?