TT2000 Break: Day 3 (24/02/2012)
by, 29th February 2012 at 23:05 (1114 Views)
A rest day in Christchurch means a nice slow start to the day, then tackling a few things that needed sorting. Both of us were going to check-in for the TT2000 in the evening, but while I would head south in the evening, Toto was heading back to the accommodation for sleep, then leaving early in the morning. With that in mind, and most places offering a late checkout of midday, we booked the accommodation for Friday night as well, to give us the most flexibility.
9am and by mutual agreement our alarms go off. Toto doesnít seem to be stirring immediately, but some banging on his door receives a muffled response. I plan to be visiting a client at 10am, just a quick site survey for new premises for a branch office, all earthquake related. I receive a call however, wanting to shift it back to 10.30am, which suits me fine.
We jump on the bikes and head down to the Couplands bakery at the end of the road, which turns out to be rather large, with an awesome selection of food. I have a delicious roll, orange juice and buy some apricot and yoghurt biscuits. After the late breakfast, I have some spare time, and Toto had discovered his WOF had expired. We were by now well aware of the stories surrounding the TT2000, police threatening to shut it down, or stop every rider, so it was important to make all the legal stuff nice and tidy.
We went over to Hampton Honda to see if they could assist, but they take the bikes elsewhere, so on their suggestion Toto headed for the local VTNZ. I headed off to my client, with Karen playing up. The first time I entered the address and saved it I noticed it was an entirely different address that was saved. Then Karen tried taking me some place else, and I had to re-focus her thoughts on the task at hand. I got to the address a minute or two late, but no issues.
Site survey complete, the Chorus installer had made our lives very easy by terminating the line in the required office (shared offices), so little to be done by us, but extra power sockets required. I texted Toto, who was just waiting for his little label, so we arranged to meet at the Mitre 10 Mega (all local in the Hornby area Ė it was very handy), as Iíd completely forgotten about getting some Knead-It for the trip. We bought a tube each, then the Countdown was across the car park, so we went there for supplies.
Cheaper than a servo, plus I have a Onecard so itís good buying. We stock up on energy bars (One Square Meals for me) and liquids, and I also get a sandwich for lunch. Back to the backpackers, itís into final planning for the TT2000. After some events unfolded in the last week, the plan to hire a chopper to take us to Stewart Island and back had fallen apart. The company no longer had the small chopper having sold it for a larger one. The special price of $250 return was now $500 return, so instead of it being a bit of a giggle (Toto and I have never been on a chopper) and some points for the TT, it was now far too expensive.
For Toto it meant going back to the basic route of 2000km, stopping whenever he liked and generally taking it easy. For me, it meant some additional planning as I still wanted to achieve diamond level, which meant I required 25,000 points. Stewart Island would have represented 5000 points, so 5000 had to be found amongst the 100, 500 and 1000 point checkpoints on offer. My route of 2850km increased to 3050-3100km, which meant more riding to be done, but then the time spent on the chopper was now available for riding.
I checked the route, checked I had the correct number of points (my route tallied up to 25,100 points) and uploaded all the data to the GPS, ready for the trip. I checked all my gear, did some last bits of planning, and by the time I was ready to have my planned nap of 3-4 hours, it was already 3pm, and I was planning to get up at 4pm. I set my alarm and tried to grab some shut eye.
It was disrupted a bit by the general movement of people around the complex, talking, shouting etc, but I did find myself sleeping now and then (or at least waking up, and realising I had been asleep). The alarm went at 4pm and I completed packing, cleaned my visors and packed the bike. Shortly after 5pm we left and headed to the Shell and then Hampton Honda. The backpackers had been chosen for being less than 5km from Hampton Honda and the Shell was also nearby.
Riders were already filing through, and much to Totoís delight, there were three Yamaha Super Tenereís parked on Shellís forecourt. We filled up and proceeded over to Hampton Honda where there were a lot of bikes gathered. Having learnt my lesson from previous years, I parked on the roadside, for an easier get away, rather than being locked in by all the other bikes. Due to the publicity by news media and the police press releases, the organiser, Mike, had extended our riding window from a maximum of 48 hours to 52 hours. Previously, if we left at 6pm, we had to be back by 6pm Sunday. Now, we could leave at 6pm Friday and return by 10pm Sunday, so most were logically choosing to leave as soon as possible on the Friday evening.
I chatted to a few riders, most were interested in all the gear Jessica had, and some appeared to know me. Iím shocking with faces and names, so played dumbÖ hopefully they didnít realise I had no idea who they were It wasnít long before Mike called everyone inside for a final briefing to bring the time up to 6pm, at which point we lined up to turn in signed disclaimers and receive our shirts.
Through previous bits of organising, Iíd arranged to ride the Hakataramea and Danseys Passes on Friday evening with a couple of other guys, the main reason being safety. We could make sure that we got through safely (since usually those passes are done in daylight) and then proceed on our own routes. Therefore, I couldnít leave immediately, and had to find Whatastoner and DRL. Once Iíd located them, we had a quick meeting to check we were all on the same page and doing the same thing. DRL hadnít planned to do Hakatere, but decided to, since Whatastoner and I were.
We set off shortly before 6.15pm, with threatening clouds to the south that indicated rain. My views of the forecast said no rain, but other guys disagreed. Gear wise, Iíd put all liners in my pants, but just the waterproof liner in the jacket, but mostly ready for the cold of the night, but summer gloves to keep me cooler until it was cold enough for winter gloves. Leaving town I finally spotted the C50 guys, who were attempting to do the basic route on C50s. Crazy buggers, but someone has got to do it. Seems they were having huge amounts of fun and it was only the start.
Once we got into the countryside it wasnít long before it was drizzling and then the drizzle turned into rain. Then full blown rain with cross winds that made life very interesting. Visibility was heavily reduced and it had become so dark it was almost like a false dusk. A lot of bikes started following traffic at reduced speeds but Whatastoner was directly in front of me and DRL a bike or two bike, so we kept our pace up, passing anything slower. By the time we reached Rakaia and our first photo stop next to the salmon my jacket was quite damp and the summer gloves wet. After the photo I quickly threw my rain jacket on, as 40+ hours in a wet jacket is never a good idea for surviving the ride.
Out to Hakatere and the rain was still storming down. It was very tricky riding conditions with slippery bits of seal thrown in for good measure. I had one hell of a moment rounding one corner on the way to Hakatere. Tipping into a left hand kink I suddenly felt that I was probably going a bit too quick should there be an issue on the other side of the corner. I backed off a little and when exiting found myself confronted with mirror like black tar across the lane in front of me. The blacker and shinier it is, the less grip it will have. The front lost grip and started to weave, stopped only by my pressure on the bars. Once the rear hit the black tar it spun up, traction control intervening almost immediately. There was nothing I could do, but wait it out until I drifted onto better tar and regain grip. Whatastoner had the exact same thing (also on Anakee 2) but DRL said no issues for him.
We continued to Hakatere, commenting that it was cold and wet and Whatastoner paused to change some of his gear, with DRL and I continuing on. Whatastoner would catch us up later on the way to Fairlie, so we carried on at a slightly slower pace, having discussed the weather and condition of roads. He caught up not far out of Fairlie, just as we entered a massive rain storm that rendered almost zero visibility. The tinted visor didnít help things, but I had to slow down to give myself a chance to see where the road was ahead.
Still, we made it through and entered Fairlie at 8.40pm. In previous months Iíd been through all 150 checkpoints, checked their accuracy, and cross-referencing with Google Maps, moved a few to make them more accurate. I know Mike deliberately makes some a little vague, so I check each one. For example, one in Roxburgh (which I didnít do) was at the other end of town. Rather than try to pin-point them when youíre tired, maybe itís raining and/or dark, itís much easier to arrive at the waypoint and find it within metres.
With the Fairlie statue snapped it was on the road again. I was tempted to stop and change my gloves to my winter ones, plus the tinted visor to the clear one, but being in a group I figured I would have time later, rather than hold it up now. The weather was clearing, so at least it wasnít raining, but night was now falling rapidly. The Kimbell Town Sign was next, and I partially suspect the other guys had forgotten, as they almost went past, but since I was still leading we all stopped. DRL wanted to add more layers of clothing, but I didnít want to have everyone stopping at every point, for one person to adjust something.
Instead, I said I would ride on ahead, perhaps re-group at Tekapo. Whatastoner stayed with DRL. I carried on, finding the Mt Dobson Skifield Sign (with a little difficulty Ė it wasnít immediately visible from the main road) and then Burkes Pass Church (I looked on the right side of the road, but it was actually on the left). I still didnít wish to stop and change gloves or visor, but with hindsight (which is always 20/20) I should have.
I was in a good rhythm, so continued to Tekapo where we needed to photograph a cattle grid on a side road. The wildlife was now appearing, especially on the side road, with a lot of rabbits running around and I scored my first road kill. Exiting the road I stopped and waited for the other two, but after a few minutes I figured I would catch them on the road, as we had to re-trace our steps to Haldon Rd to do the Hakataramea Pass.
Reaching Haldon Rd at 9.30pm Iíd only seen other bikes, but not the two I was after. I concluded they must have stopped in Tekapo, but I never went into the actual town. I started going down Haldon Rd, but figured I should wait to re-group, so stopped at the intersection of Mackenzie Pass Rd, knowing that Whatastoner wanted to do the 100 point photo on that road. I took the opportunity to add a thermal top Ė the only problem was I had to remove the rain jacket, Revit Jacket, Knox Armour, then dance around freezing my arse off while I tried to find the thermal top. I fumbled getting all the gear back on, surprised at how numb my fingers were and how cold I was.
Gear back on, I swapped the wet liners for dry ones, summer gloves for winter gloves and finally get the clear visor out. The dry gloves felt amazingly good, and I should have known better than to wait so long. I waited for almost 25min, wondering where they had got to, and promised myself I would wait 2min more, then I needed to get going. Sure enough, within a minute Whatastonerís headlight comes into view, and when pulling up he announces that heís lost low beam and DRL has decided not to follow us. Heís off to MacKenzie checkpoint and warns me that if I find the water crossing too difficult to wait for him, as itís much easier to do some with two people. Iím slightly alarmed, as Iíve never done the roads before, so at night is a bit of baptism by fire, but hey, it wouldnít be the first time!
10pm and Iím back on the road. Lights on high beam and I can pick out all the detail of the road ahead. I find the turn off for Hakataramea Pass Rd and onto the gravel, with wildlife in abundance. The pass actually turns out to be very good. All the rain had only affected it slightly, and in a good way. It wasnít as slippery and dusty as normal, but the water crossings were all easily done by myself. One was a bit rough, with water having cut channels in the gravel, but I made it through fine, and found the checkpoint at the top of the pass.
Iím just pulling up to take the Cattle Creek photo at 11pm when in excellent timing Whatastoner has caught up. He announces the pass as: ďFuck yeah, that was awesomeĒ. Having no comparison, I ask for his opinion, and he mentions the lack of dust and not being so slippery. He takes the lead and we end up playing tag through Cliffside, Melcome Bingham, Kurow and Earthquakes finally at 11.50pm. Leaving Earthquakes it gets more exciting, with Whatastoner in the lead and I come around a corner to find him steadying his bike and a loading ramp lying in the middle of the road, with his wheel tracks running right over it! It turns out heís indeed hit it, but never established if he kept it upright.
I provided some light for him to assess his bike, we threw the loading ramp in the grass and carried on up Danseys Pass as Friday ended and Saturday began.