TT2000 Break: Day 12 (04/03/2012)
by, 5th April 2012 at 01:22 (524 Views)
5.30am… the alarm is ringing… urgh, don’t want to get up but I have to. Not for the first time, I find myself wondering why I sign up to all these early ride things. KoroJ is already up, so I pack and gear up, and we’re out the door shortly after 6am.
Gas is the first task (I had most of a tank left, but filling meant I wouldn’t need gas before Napier), but there is a Z near the Cenotaph meeting point, so easily done. Hard to believe how many normal people are at the station at 6.15am in the bloody morning on a Sunday, but oh well. We’re the last to arrive at the Cenotaph making seven riders in all, but we hang around until shortly before 7am before leaving. I grab some photos of the batons starting their journey before we hit the road. The weather is still looking rather threatening, the roads were damp but undoubtedly it was better than yesterday.
Paul in NZ was the baton carrier for the first leg to his house in Kapiti, where he (and his poor wife Vicki slaving over the stove) also kindly provided a slap up breakfast of bacon, eggs, tomato, hash browns and toast and jams. It was certainly an interesting leg. Paul chose Paekakariki Hill, which was definitely not in the best condition, debris and fallen rocks around most corners. Add in the rain which started falling and it was a cautious leg indeed.
Nevertheless, we made it to his house, to find sinful already waiting. We stripped off the wet layers of gear (don’t want to ruin those nice carpets would we?) and had a sit down breakfast. Paul kicked off the maps, marking the route and getting us to sign little messages as part of the route. I said I would think of something clever to say during the day and sign at some point (I only realised that night I completely forgot to ever sign it… oh well) as I wasn’t the imaginative sort.
Breakfast probably went on a bit long, so the pressure was to get back on schedule. Sinful didn’t have anywhere waterproof to store the batons and the rain had no immediate intention to go elsewhere so we chucked them in my topbox for the leg to Sanson. Paul’s job was done (and the handover dutifully documented), sinful took over and only 3 of the original riders continued on, including myself with a route straight up SH1. Initially KoroJ was just going to the meeting point at the Cenotaph, then decided to tag along to the first point… now he was tagging along to the second as he didn’t fancy mud riding instead of dirt riding after the rain had fixed things.
It was an uneventful run, reaching Sanson shortly after 10am there was another contingent of riders ready and waiting. The baton (actually a pair of bags) was splitting up, one going west to New Plymouth and the other going east to Napier. Maha, one of the lead organisers had requested that I accompany the eastern baton. It was the longer route, but also took in the Napier-Taihape Rd, also known as the Gentle Annie, a road I had only done once before and in the opposite direction. No complaints from me then.
The weather had improved immensely, so off came the rain jacket as I was starting to feel like vegetables boiling in a bag. We had a quick break, time enough for some guys to have a pie or two. KoroJ had other things to do, so as much as he wanted to do the Gentle Annie, it would be another time for him. I was asked to pass on a reciprocal message to Yungatart, and there was a whole new batch of six riders including myself to accompany the baton on its eastern leg to Napier, led by 86GSXR.
We headed up SH1 through Hunterville to Taihape for a quick re-fill for those on smaller tanks, as Gentle Annie needs 150km+ of gas to make it through. It was then onto the back roads before reaching the Napier-Taihape Rd itself. The weather looked threatening in the distance but never decided to dump on us again, the Gentle Annie serving up great conditions for riding, and the road itself had far less loose seal than the last time I went through.
Three of the quicker riders decided to have a scenic stop at the lookout, but with the baton rider continuing on I took a photo then carried on, wanting to be with the baton and if he only stopped at the Omahu Rd gas station it would be a longer break for me rather than arriving last. I caught up to banditrider and I was enjoying the road so much I decided to pass and continue at my pace instead. The wind picked up along ridge lines which made for some very interesting corners, either the wind trying to blow me into the ditch or having to change line to avoid using the oncoming lane.
86GSXR was waiting at the end of the road, so I pulled up and told him who was where, with banditrider not far behind as we were moving off the other three had caught up as well. It was only a couple of km into the Caltex and we arrived at 1.20pm, slightly behind schedule, with MSTRS 2up with Yungatart and another guy on a sportsbike.
MSTRS was keen to get on the road, but I told him a couple of times that I needed a few minutes. I hadn’t anticipated any problems in accompanying riders for the entire ride, but it was clear that each group was fresh and keen to get on the road, when I had just finished a leg. Jessica needed re-fuelling, as did I, so I quickly consumed an OSM, muesli bar and some water. The digestion could happen while riding. The handover was documented and none of the previous riders joined us on another leg.
As we entered the Napier Taupo Highway there were three more bikes waiting to accompany the baton so it made a group of six bikes for this leg, the same as the previous. The route was a simple one, straight up the highway to Taupo and MSTRS seemed keen to regain lost time as he kept the pace up all the way through. Reaching Taupo it was time for the somewhat infamous Katman to take over outside his workshop.
Perhaps I’ll spoil his image but he seemed rather unremarkable in person and not like the identity KB’ers love to hate, but perhaps he was on his best behaviour He had nowhere to store the baton so I threw it in my top box (the support bike once again proving useful). None of the riders from the previous leg were continuing on, and two other riders were accompanying the two of us, making four in all. I took up the reasonably familiar position of TEC behind the learner.
The Taupo ironman was winding up so traffic was still in chaos and we couldn’t completely avoid it as we needed to get onto Poihipi Rd. We got split in two as we tried to work our way through traffic, but Katman waited at the Poihipi Rd turn off. From there it was onto Western Access and north to Whakamaru, turning left onto SH30 for the really nice run through Benneydale, which I haven’t done in years.
We finally reached Te Kuiti at 4.30pm, the western guys already there having arrived half an hour or so prior, and Maha and a couple of others there having come south to meet us. I was hanging out for some decent food again (you can only have so many OSM’s before your body gets a little unhappy) but unfortunately the kitchen had closed at 4pm. I had to console myself with a smoothie and carrot cake. Yes I know… but it’s one of life’s burdens I guess.
I was grateful of the slightly longer break, Maha and co seemingly in a very relaxed mode (probably from waiting for us) and we photographed the final handover. Katman and his group headed back to Taupo and seven of us pointed our bikes for Auckland. Speaking to Maha, and with the delay of the ride to Sunday, there would be no meeting point on the North Shore, and while he offered space in Warkworth, it would only mean I would have to head south again, so I told him I’d peel off when on the motorway and took TEC as he lead out of Te Kuiti.
We headed north on SH3 and SH39 into Ngaruawahia for a quick break at the BP, but I stayed geared up. For whatever reason, blue rider and another KB’er were there, so I said hello, but didn’t ask what they were up to? Maha wanted to stay on the back roads for a little longer so round the back of Ngaruawahia and Huntly finally re-joining with SH1 at Rangiriri. Once back on the dual carriageway I found they upped the pace a little higher than I was comfortable with, being SH1, so let them slowly drift ahead, before suddenly finding them by the Pokeno interchange.
I’d be playing with the cars, figuring out which ones were slower and which ones were quicker, slowly passing the slower ones and I was just in the process of finishing a pass when I saw them all pulled over on the hard shoulder. A quick shoulder check to confirm I was OK, and I dived left to see what the problem was. As I did so, they were pretty much ready to head off again, so all that time spent carefully passing the cars was lost… Oh well.
I finally ducked off the motorway at Highbrook and headed home arriving around 7.45pm. After a week and a half on the bike plus a 14 hour day, I didn’t have any desire to unpack, so pretty much dumped all the gear inside and headed for bed shortly after as I had work in the morning (Sunday was going to be a relaxing day, unpacking, checking gear etc – but that changed when the weather forced a plan change).
All up it was a brilliant trip, some 6000km in 12 days, with 3 days basically being rest days. I don’t think I’ll need to twist Toto’s arm into another trip next year (would be the 4th in a row) but we’ll see. Hopefully he brings an adventure bike so we can re-visit the passes again