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Gremlin's Tall Stories

2011 TT2000 Day 2 (27/02/2011)

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So, picking up from the Blog of Day 1, itís 10pm, leaving Queenstown, and now we are properly into the night section. Donít want to go too quickly, as you simply donít have as much light, yet donít go too slowly so as to lose time.

I did have one handy trick up my sleeve for the night section. During the 10k service the mechanics worked on the bike for two full days. She now sports 8 forward facing lights. Low beam (HID), high beam (+90% bulb), OEM fog lamps (wasnít able to get the uprated bulbs in time) that do an excellent job of filling in the low beam, LED strips for when stopped at night, or viewing the paper on the screen, and Denali LED spotlights. The spots are mounted above the OEM fog lamps, and angled up and out, for cornering. The only issue was turning off or on the extras when cars passed, as it was 3 switches.

Up Cardrona, and itís a difficult road in the dark. With the spots only just fitted Iím still trying to get the right angle, but they are certainly helping in the switchbacks. Iím still trying to get into the groove, but the Cardrona Hotel comes into view soon enough. There is a bike already stopped, but I have no idea what heís doing, as I pull up, take the picture and leave while heís still standing around.

I head towards Wanaka, and make a detour to Treble Cone to tick Flyer 20 off the list while Iím in the area. Stopping briefly in Wanaka to re-adjust my spots as they could still be better, the bike behind catches up briefly. I see KoroJ and Jantar on the way out, so I know they are around, but itís the last time I see them. Photographs at night are also proving tricky, with the flash struggling to light much past the bike, so I hope the bike lights are lighting things up enough. I had already decided to carry the camera in the tail bag, no key required to access it, and therefore, the bike was left running the whole time, except for the fuel stops.

Returning from Treble Cone there are more bikes heading out, so there are certainly a few of us still circulating during the night. After Wanaka I take what I thought would be a shortcut, Ballantyne Rd, little did I know it was mostly gravel, and up and down. I canít maintain 100kph as I canít see over the crests enough, but the road is straight and the gravel is OK.

The Luggate Hotel was still in full business with patrons inside, so I wondered what they were thinking when bikes were appearing from the darkness, photographing them, then shooting off again. The Mt Pisa intersection off the main road (damn, only now I find out that for night shots the main drag would have been fine) is a hard one to shoot. Daylight, an intersection isnít a problem. Night, there is no light, and initial photographs only have the bike, nothing behind. A few more shots of the intersection, Mike should be happy. The number of moths and bugs was ridiculous. Every time I stopped, with my lights blazing away, they would descend in hordes.

With Flyer 11 complete, it was now straight into Flyer 12, Bannockburn, riding around Cromwell to get it. The road out was quiet, the sign itself a little difficult to find. Entering a small cul-de-sac I notice the loose sand/dust on the road too late, and have another moment like Queenstown. I always try to ride in the middle of the lane, giving myself room to move on left or right handers if needed. The only problem is stuff like sand can gather in the middle, which makes for interesting moments. Iím grateful for my powerful lights, as they light up the yellow warning sign out of the corner of my eye.

Detail and accuracy of the photos is going downhill rapidly. The flash presents a yellow square for a signÖ I donít care, no time to be messing around with award winning pictures. Back on the main drag, I bypass Alexandra using the back roads and head to Checkpoint 6, the Poolburn Hotel. Itís an unfortunate photo for those doing Flyers as it requires a back track to head to the subsequent flyer, but oh wellÖ on yer boike.

The Poolburn is still open, the typical small country pub, and again, I wonder what the locals are thinking. The extra lighting makes the shot easier to take, and Iím on my way after the brief photo.

Flyer 13 is up next, the Vulcan Hotel, off the beaten track in St Bathans, and I can expect some gravel to return to the main route. I find the Hotel without difficulty, feeling somewhat guilty for going through what looks like an historic town in the dead of the night. The GPS tries to lead me down St Bathans Back Rd, and I remember from route planning I have two roads that link together within a short distance. St Bathans Rd looks like a dirt track and I am already on gravel, so I stick to Loop Rd, thinking it looks better. I suspect it was the better choice, and St Bathans Back Rd re-connects with mine in due course.

From there itís some ordinary roads to Ranfurly, and stop 4 of 6. This stop was a late addition, due to the issues with Kurow bridge, so I re-positioned some stops to even out the distances between them, hoping I wouldnít need the extra stop to briefly fill with the fuel can. With the help of FJRider and others in the TT thread I had found out about them, and given them a ring, to check they were open 24 hours.

Itís card operated, something I seldom use, but easy enough to figure out. The temperature has continued to drop as night progressed, and weíre into single digits, hovering around 6-8 degrees. I put on an extra layer under my Knox armour and use the station lights to check on my oil, which appears fine, and also have a bit to eat and drink. I can hear people in neighbouring streets somewhat drunk, I just hope they leave me alone. I roll out of the Ranfurly stop at 1.50am, still 1 hour ahead of the basic schedule. With 1707km complete I was over halfway.

Iím now heading to Flyer 14, Maniatoto, a memorial in Patearoa. As I start down the road, bikes are coming the other way, so still, there are some out and about (perhaps more mad than me? One can only hope). The memorial is easy enough to find, sitting on the roadside, so another quick stop. I head north again, looking for my shortcut (that KoroJ had already commented he wouldnít use). Kokonga Rd is a gravel road, but a good surface. The downside was that it was bumpy, so the shock would have had a decent workout pounding over the corrugations.

Turning onto SH87 it was back onto some smooth seal, but in reflection I rode straight into wascully wiley wabbit countwy. Initially it was just the odd one, which I could dodge without too much difficulty.

I had a bit of a moment turning onto Hyde-Macraes Rd I believe. It was a narrow bridge, but only when I landed on it and had the front go all over the place did I realise the piece between the wheel tracks was not where I wanted to be. I got hold of the bike OK, but the bridges sure can make your heart jump, with each one a bit different.

There are more wabbits now, all over the road. Rounding a corner and seeing 5-10 on the road, then running all over the place, and you know itís only a matter of time before you collect one. When the first one came, it was a suicidal one. He was safe on the road side, then jumped out as I rode through a left hander. Of course, he didnít go without a fight, and I collected him with my peg and left boot. I can now tell all readers that trying to pretend a wabbit is a soccer ball at 100kph is not a wise idea, and hurts like hell, even in a stiff bike boot.

A quick distraction from the wabbit hunting when Flyer 15, Macraes Flat comes into view. A photo of the gold stamping battery is required, and easily done. I believe I can make out bike tyre marks, so others have been through already. Back to the wabbit hunting, and there are now tons of them, on every corner and straight. They deserve some pay back, so I aim for the little ones, missing them miserably.

I come close to needing a change of undies when I fortunately miss the big bastards, which are close to axle height. Surely they are big enough for someone to have seen and shot it already? The worst is hitting wabbits mid corner with the front wheel, while leant over, and I have this in two consecutive corners. I have to alter my lines and slow down, in case I hit one, as they really affect the cornering. Then Iím hitting two in one shot down a straight, when they couldnít decide what to do. I basically lost count of the number of rabbits I collected, but it became quite casualÖ yep, thereís another, I saw that coming. I would estimate 20, but probably more.

SH85 was much more devoid of wascully wabbits, which was a nice change. Rolling into the Palmerston checkpoint (number 7) forced a re-think in photo. The hill wasnít visible, so instead I took a picture of the carpark, with the bike in it.

Heading north to Oamaru, it was a long drag, and now the riding was taking its toll on my body. The straights were boring, nothing to do, and compared to 100 in the twisty stuff, 100 down the straights was a snooze fest. At Maheno, the turn off to Flyer 16, I stopped for an unscheduled break, to break the monotony of the riding. Jumping around, waving my arms like an idiot re-focussed my mind, and I jumped back on the bike feeling much better.

Flyer 16, Oamaru Hinterland was an annoying flyer. 5 photos were required, dog-legging across the country side to photograph halls and other random objects. I found some of the roads challenging, tricking you, as you entered a corner, then suddenly finding it sharper than it looked, and had 3 corners in a row I didnít like. Five Forks was a Hall, and the initial shot didnít even show the hall in the darkness, so I took another of the hall itself.

Tokorahi Hall was easy, with the bike shining on the name, and the Flour Mill at Ngapara only just had its name come out at the top of the shot, when reviewing after. Enfield was another hall, and I parked my bike a little badly, struggling to get it upright from such a leant over position. The last photo of the flyer was a random street sign in the middle of the country. There should have been a small hillock, but I couldnít even see it in the darkness, let alone photograph it.

16 Flyers complete, almost 2000km, and now I had a boring drag up to Waimate. I almost passionately hate SH1 for how boring it can be, and this section was no different, with endless straights. Now I have even more reason to hate it, as I never reached Waimate.

Heading down one of the straights north of Waitaki Bridge, probably about 0500-0530, I close my eyes for a moment, and when I open them, Iím on the hard shoulder. The camber pulls me left, off the road and I try my hand at some high speed tractor farming. Okay, okay, the field jumps out from the side of the road and whacks me in the head.

Still not believing me? Fair enoughÖ The wet grass provides no ability to control the bike (I must send a letter to BMW expressing my disappointment in all the Electronic suspension, traction control and ABS) and after a couple of tank slaps of the bars we depart company. I tumble down the verge like being in a washing machine, eventually coming to a stop sitting on my arse, feet pointing south, thinking FUCK. Looking over at my poor bike, itís lying on its side in the field, somehow vaulting the fence (remembering it weighs a quarter ton or more, with all the luggage and fuel on board).

My gear has done its job, along with the long wet grass. Rukka jacket and pants are a bit muddy, I have grass everywhere (and still finding it) but no rips or breaks in the gear. Completely re-usable. The Knox chest and back protector have probably done their job, as I have no bruises or aches. A truckie has already stopped, and is concerned I might need an ambulance. Iím already on my feet moving around, insisting I donít.

Another truckie stops, and together we find some of the gear, all the luggage has gone flying off the bike, and I retrieve most of it, but the panniers and top box have sustained a lot of damage. I go into the field to take a look at the bike lying on its right hand side, picking it up easily, but there looks to be some decent damage. While inspecting, she starts going over the left and I canít stop her. In disgust, I leave her be, needing to come back in the daylight. The truckie kindly offers to take me into Oamaru, and drops me off at the police station. Itís obviously well outside normal hours, so the intercom takes us through to a call centre. They grab some details and say they will ring back about finding an available unit.

I send a few txtís to Mike, Toto, GiJoe, so they know what has happened, and Toto is already up, preparing for his second day. He offers to pop by and say hello, as heís only a few km up the road. In due course a squad car comes by, grabs some more details, but they canít do much more (and probably have far better things to do as well). Is the bike lying on the road? No. Does it present any danger? No. What were you thinking you would do? Subject to speaking to you, I was going to ring my insurance and sort some recovery. Good idea they reckon.

They ask for my license, but goodness knows where the hell it is, if I even have it. Lucky I have a weird ability with numbers, and know it off by heart. He looks at me suspiciously (why would you remember that anyway?) but when asking for the rego of the bike, I supply that without delay, and he comments, hmmm you do have a thing for numbers. I didnít bother to mention I also know my bank account number and my previous one from several years ago.

There isnít much more than can do, so they head off, and I ring Swann Roadside Assistance. Iím put on hold straight away, and after 15 min, they give me some stupid menu, which effectively stops me from being on hold. I ring in again, explaining I am on mobile, and being on hold is chewing up my battery, and I have no way of charging it. This guy is better, but now I find out the hard way that the insurance doesnít have accident recovery in the policy? Aye? I thought they would sort collection, recovery, and get the bike to Auckland for repair? Apparently not. They can recommend a company, and then I pay them.

Not ideal, but my bike is 25km out of Oamaru, I need to get back there, Iím not impressed. Toto turns up, and very helpfully takes some of the gear back to his motel, which he still effectively has until 10am. A tow truck appears, I apologise for pulling him out of bed on a Sunday so early, Toto returns, and we head out to the field.

Itís now daylight, we find a little more gear, and we can take a better look at the bike. The damage isnít as bad as first thought, and once in neutral a few coughs and she starts. The front brake lever is completely missing, but after a bit of exploring the fields, we find a gate and can ride it onto the road. She can pretty much be ridden back to town, so we head back, the towie dropping off some gear for me to the motel, I leave him my details, and heíll send me his bank account for payment.

Toto asks the lady if the room is still available, but sheís fully booked, but kindly lets us stay until midday. On GiJoeís advice, Toto wants me in bed, but weíve decided to make the bike rideable, and some time is needed to correct some issues. Liberal amounts of zip ties are used to secure the buckled panniers to the bent frames. Toto proudly says the zip ties are strong, then breaks one while tightening it upÖ. Right. I think weíll use a tie down on each pannier as well, just for extra insurance. I lay all my gear out on the deck, figuring out what I have and donít have, and find the laptop screen has been broken as wellÖ. Sigh, the cost mounts at a dramatic pace.

We use Totoís laptop and ring some alternate accommodation, and find something for the next couple of nights a couple of km away. Toto has sacrificed his TT to help me out, and now there is no way he can complete his route before evening, so he txtís Mike to say he is also out. Much appreciated mate, and sorry for ruining your attempt at a record.

We pop down the road loaded upÖ Iím already missing my front brake lever. The low speed turning and positioning is the hardest, especially reversing. The Empire Hotel Backpackers serves as a base, and we unload again. While debating if we want food or sleep, Toto gets his wish, and I fall asleep. He falls asleep as well, and we grab a couple of hours.

Up again at 2.30pm, the Bridge Cafť right next door is most handy, and we have a great late lunch, ordering several plates of food. I have a smoothie, shepherds pie and toasted sammie. Rest of the afternoon is spent exploring the town a bit, and we find a suitable place for dinner, a pizza place called Filadelfios.

A txt or two comes in during dinner, as other TT riders like KoroJ find out I finished the ride unexpectedly early. Congrats are sent for KoroJ and Jantar achieving gold. The pizza place is awesome, with messages from past visitors scrawled all over the wall, and they serve a mean pizza and smoothie.

Back to the backpackers, the day is over in a very different way to the plan.
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Comments

  1. gijoe1313's Avatar
    Y'know, it all reads normal until that bit where you bin it ...

    Kudos to TOTO for assisting above and beyond the call of duty, I would have left you languishing in the field as revenge for past cornfield abuse!

    Glad to hear you got off lightly that night, the devil looks after his own!
  2. KoroJ's Avatar
    Aaahh! So it happened because you were riding too slow and came out of 'the zone'!?

    I was really disappointed to hear about the off, knowing all the work and prep' that had gone into this endeavour...and to see you doing so well and being so far ahead of schedule. In fact, I was expecting you to beat us to Yaldhurst.

    A big Thumbs-up to Toto too....mind you....he's not all there for attempting the ride on a ginnie and had obviously had enough anyway.

    You should try Affiliated Insurance Brokers in Wgtn. They wouldn't have answered the phone 'cos I was at Jantars, but you could have rung the 0800 for Roadside assist.
  3. Gremlin's Avatar
    You learn from everything I guess. And yes... I posted a thread once trying to discuss whether corners or straights were more dangerous. Had one or two agree with what I was saying, but most laughed. I still reckon straights are more dangerous. You hear police blaming fatigue, but was the fatigue brought on by the straights?

    Either way, next time (diamond or not, have to view the route), I know 3200km in 40 hours isn't a problem pace wise, so more time down the start, maybe make Friday a lay day, just sleeping and relaxing, a 2 hour nap in the middle around midnight, 1am, and it should be much better.