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Gremlin's Tall Stories

TT2000 Break: Day 5 (26/02/2012)

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The alarm is going off at 4.30am, our pre-arranged time. I have some 1200km to cover before completing the TT2000, which I budget to be 14 moving hours, 16 hours all up (rough maths), plus a buffer of one hour for safety, so I want to be on the road at 5am. I send a txt to Toto to confirm heís up (as our rooms are not near each other) which he confirms and I complete packing.

Most of my gear had already been packed where it needed to be, but there are always the final tweaks. Sticking my head out the window I declared the weather was freaken cold but clear, so I put the heated vest back on along with a thermal top but tucked the cord away unless I needed it. The rain jacket stayed in the pannier. We were expecting a lot of interruption from police as the Nelson Tasman police had basically declared war on all bikers passing through the area, so we put our high viz vests on, to look safer (however, the nut behind the handlebar was still as loose as ever ).

Toto left a couple of minutes before me, as he had his own course to do and was fully fuelled already. I never leave the bike standing overnight with a full load of fuel due to how much fuel I put in, and since itís effectively double the amount a normal bike takes, issues with expansion etc could have double the impact for me. I head over to the Shell, which Toto had nicely checked out the previous evening, to make sure it was 24/7 and while paying the attendant said there had already been a couple of bikes through.

By the time I was on the road properly it was just after 5.30am, so there went half my buffer before the day had begun. The roads were mostly quiet so I could settle into my pace and get some mileage under my belt before the sun came up and the day was in full swing. I took SH7 inland, as I had to head towards Nelson, didnít need the extra points Westport offered and SH7 looked to be the faster route. Reefton, The City of Light (or so their boards say) had very little light to offer and plenty of fog instead, some of it quite thick indeed. It was also mostly as cool as I had anticipated, but being a mesh jacket on the outside my arms were a little cold so it was time for the lovely heated vest again. Pulled the seats off to pull out the vest cord from the wiring loom, replaced seats, mmm nice warm vest and I was off again.

I was some half hour up the road going through the Buller Gorge pondering various thoughts, when I couldnít recall strapping the seat pad back on in Reefton. I was carry a seat pad I bought in the USA and had been experimenting with using it, but it altered the ride height and affected air flow over my helmet. Iíd strapped it to the back seat for use if I wanted, but every time I had to adjust the heated vest cord I had to take it offÖ now I couldnít remember putting it back on (but I did leave it on the pannier reminding myself to strap it on).

A quick checkÖ no, it definitely isnít thereÖ FARRRRRK. Itís not like you can buy one here either, and I have some extra time so I risk returning to find it. Iíd only just got some straps sorted for it by an upholsterer, so I was rather cross with myself. Iím initially angry with myself, but try to calm myself to focus on riding and not to end up making a stupid mistake in the process. Back to Reefton, I go all the way back to the centre, no pad. I end up heading back out of town thinking itís been taken and now Iíve lost the time and have nothing to show for it, but suddenly find it on the outskirts. How I missed it entering town I donít knowÖ I try to strap it on, but the buckles are all broken, so I throw it in the pannier and leave Reefton for good (well, for this trip anyway).

I up the pace a little above normal to try and catch up some time, except in the back of my head I know itís really a bit of a futile attempt. Losing time against your ETA is very easy, gaining time is extremely difficult. Back through the Upper Buller Gorge, I finally reach Lyell Camping Area around 7.50am. Iíd passed a cruiser before the photo and he passed me back while I stopped. Up the road he was just pulling into a layby so an easy pass. The road was quiet, but cops were still out hunting, and I saw a mufti having a wee chat with a ute, so did my civic duty to alert oncoming cars to the danger of stopped cars on the road side up ahead.

Sadly, I came across a group of Harleyís while trying to complete the gorge, a pack of 7 up ahead and 8 behind. They didnít use their mirrors much, had shocking lines and needed passing (like hell I wanted to get caught up with them). It took a bit of work as often they followed closely, not leaving much room for me to leap frog them. I got there in the end, but speaking to Toto later, it sounded like the group received an education all round from several bikers. I also wondered if the cops had targeted the poor Harleyís while hunting for usÖ who knows? I finally got past the last of them as we turned left and stayed on SH6.

It was an uneventful trip along SH6, keeping my speed closely in check, and only one cop out hunting. Passed through Murchison, guessing the bridge I was on didnít lead to Murchison Ė but it didÖ woops, as I was only there late last week. I was now keeping an eye on the most important metric, my ETA to Christchurch. It was currently hovering around 8.30pm. The latest I could check-in was 10pm, so I had a little time up my sleeves. Time for another long drag down the highway until I reached the Motueka Valley Highway, and some bikers out for a ride at the intersection, so I gave them a wave. The Mot Valley Highway as itís known was a fantastic run with very little traffic.

Reaching Motueka I snapped the required photo of the Clocktower and headed to the Shell station for gas. I hadnít planned on stopping so early, having planned to have only completed 280km, but with the detour back to Reefton Iíd completed more like 350km, which meant I didnít have the range to get to Picton as I had planned. It was also an opportunity to have ďbreakfastĒ aka, an OSM bar, and watched some of the bikers passing through for their Sunday ride. Slightly long at 20min, I was back on the road at 9.50am and heading ďover the hillĒ.

I had to make stops at Collingwood, Pakawau and then all the way at the top, at Cape Farewell. The hill was an excellent run, waving to some of the other TTíers as they were completing the hill and traffic was light. The hill felt tight on a fully loaded GSA, but with the right ability and riding style you can still make her move at a good clip. The weather was playing ball, the sun coming out to say Hi, so the roads were nice and dry.

Collingwood shortly before 11am, I decided to photograph Pakawau on the return and finally reached Cape Farewell after more gravel at 11.15am. I didnít enjoy the gravel much as it was quite rough, and sometimes missing well compacted wheel tracks. Some campers looked rather bemused by my quick arrival at Cape Farewell and equally quick departure, only stopping long enough for a photo, but it was clear now that Takaka Hill had been a time sink. Iíd lost 10min on my ETA to Christchurch just going over the hill once despite holding a good pace, I still had to return and my ETA was trundling past 9pm and I still had plenty of riding to do in the day.

I was only shortly into the return trip, when I saw Whatastoner heading out, so assumed heíd already done the eastern side with Fighting Bay. Toto was taking scenic pictures in a layby on Takaka Hill so I gave him a toot. Back through Motueka, no stopping this time and straight through to Nelson. I was rather surprised to see no heavy police presence, but figured they would be somewhere around. Exiting Nelson and still no policeÖ are they lurking and ready to spring? Thank goodness I was well equipped with a tin foil hat, so they couldnít scan my brain. Just north of Nelson it was a quick detour for Pepin Island. After the floods last year the photo had been brought forward to 4km from the main road, at the road closure. Residents only past the point, so 500 points for 8km was well worth it.

It was quite the relief to find the GPS finally over-estimating a piece of road, gaining 3-4 minutes each way and finally giving me a bit of breathing space. ETA to Christchurch was still around 9.15pm, so it was uncomfortably tight (especially given I expected the cops to jump out the bushes at any moment).

It wasnít long before I was detouring again, this time heading for Elaine Bay, past Okiwi Bay. In initial planning Iíd excluded it, knowing already how tight the road was, but after the cancellation of the chopper, the 1000 points up for grabs for anyone brave enough to spend 1.5-2 hours for the return trip putting the bike on alternating sides through some very tight corners, was tempting enough. On reflection, I probably could have chosen better.

I said to Mike afterwards he should have simply called the checkpoint ďMike fucks youĒ. The 80km trip was a combination of good seal, shit seal, new seal and no seal. It was tiring, I dropped the bike once and it even drizzled a little bit. The dropping wasnít major, in fact, it was nicely timed (if you could ever call a drop nice). Iíd just taken the picture of Elaine Bay, parked up on the grass in front of the jetty. I started the bike and eased away up the grass slope, stalled and because I was also trying to turnÖ dropped the bike at pretty much 0kph on its right side. Grass was soft and no damage done at all (I love adventure bikes).

They have to be embarrassing of course, so I did it in front of all the campers. Being somewhat of an expert at putting the big BMW on its side through stupid actions, I knew exactly what I had to do. Side stand out (otherwise youíll drop it on the left when you try to pick it up), check itís in first (otherwise youíve have a large bike rolling around on you) and then summon the strength of the gods to return it to its upright state. : I was in the middle of getting it upright and almost finished, when a couple of guys arrived to help me pick it up, so we finished it together (not that I need 4 guys like a couple of Long Way Down folks aye?), I thanked them and said ďIíll try that again aye?Ē with a grin, and no problems this time (otherwise I would have looked like a right muppet).

The route has been awesome time wise, gaining a full 15min (one way) on my ETA, so when returning I stop briefly at Okiwi Bay to have my first toilet stop of the day and my first OSM since breakfast in Motueka, as I felt Iíd earned the break. I had my 2nd close shave of the TT2000 returning to the main road, rounding a tight downhill right hander. Iíd just passed my apex, when a ute appeared coming up, and he wasnít going slowly. I could have sworn his right rear tyre was on my side of the road as he tried to widen the corner upÖ cheers mate, Iíd rather you didnít.

Back to the main road (after pretending to be a slalom skier) and itís already 3.20pm. The main road offers a chance again to sit at 100kph and lift my moving average after the 2nd and 3rd gear slalom that was Elaine Bay. I pass through Havelock without incident and Iím beginning to wonder where the cops are. Thereís even fewer than I would normally expect on a weekend day. I think to myself itís possible that if there are no incidents the cops will claim credit because of their actions, and if there are incidents theyíll just lay it on MikeÖ Nice of themÖ

After the trip south in December, exploring the sounds, I knew it was about the same time and twice the distance, to go around to Picton from Havelock, as it was to go direct through Queen Charlotte Drive. I preferred the safety of the straight roads, against the perceived danger of Queen Charlotte Drive being riddled with crazy tourists in campervans. The main roads were very quiet (I really do like the South Island for the lack of traffic) so I could set my own pace.

On the main drag heading north out of Spring Creek I stop briefly in Tuamarina to take the monument as itís on the left side of the road, so I donít have to fight traffic to get to it when heading south (and therefore possibly taking slightly longer). Itís a short jump to Picton and I use the time doing some planning and number crunching. I can fill in Picton on the way in, and be fuelled to the finish, taking in Fighting Bay and the detour through Waiau and Leader Rd to collect the additional points. I send an update txt to Toto to announce Iím still alive despite the effort of the ute, and what I still need to do.

Time is marching on, itís 4.30pm and Iíve had a 10min break. I get on the road as stops donít give me more time, and my ETA is 9.30pm. After Karen laughing at my attempts to keep my ETA on tight roads, I donít trust her to play nice on the road to Fighting Bay. Everything else going smoothly (and honestly, when does it ever?) I could afford to lose 15min each way, but Iím not counting the 1-2min I lose for every photo stop. I still have 6 stops down the east coastÖ potentially a lot of lost time.

Fighting Bay is tight as well, and even better, the last 20 odd km to the end are all gravel (bar the odd bit of seal for settled areas). I do enjoy gravel but after 2700 odd km Iím slightly over it. Sure enough, I lose 7-8min going one wayÖ crikey, this is not good. I reach the end, take the photo and head back. I havenít even finished the gravel and I see Whatastoner heading out, which surprises me. Iíd figured I would be the last on the road, because I was cutting it so fine, but it looks like Whatastoner is (and heís cutting it real fine).

I pass through Picton just before 6pm. I have 350-360km still to do and only 4 hours to do it in. Normally, itís something easily done, but I have to stop here and there, do Leader Rd which I remember as really tight, and Iíve already done 2800km in the weekend. I begin to realise just how tight itís going to be (and its best that I hadnít constantly thought about it all day Ė well, Iíd only thought about it most of the day, but not all consuming as such).

Passing Blenheim I initially get stuck behind a transport truck but get past, only to get stuck up that twisty hill south of Blenheim behind two cars stuck behind a slow moving campervan (but a cheap one, the converted people movers). My ETA is 9.45pm and I remember screaming in my helmet, ďI have only minutes left to live, STOP USING THEM!Ē. This of course makes the campervan move not one iota faster, indeed, they donít even pull over on the hard shoulder at the top of the hill. Iíve had enough, there are no yellows and no oncoming cars so I gun the bike and shoot past all three and leave them to their dawdle.

As I head south I get a couple of bikes flashing their headlights. I travel 10-20km and still see no danger. Did they have headlight modulators? I know I got tripped up by that in the USA, but theyíre not allowed here. Then I finally get a ute flashing me, and down a hill onto a long straight the radar detector finally screams into life as I hit the bottom of the hill. Where is he? I finally guess heís at the other end, right next to a white sign and at this distance of a good km or more, he looks like another white sign. Sure enough, I finally see him and he tries again at half distance. I pass him and it looks like heís scratching his head Evil of him to try at the bottom of hill where your speed would be the highest, but thatís how they workÖ

With all the baby fur seals and kittens intact I continue making my way down the coast warning of the sneaky member of constabulary, not so much for them (as heís quite obvious Ė but you never know), but hopefully they repay the favour to other vehicles heading south. Iím warned of another cop as I negotiate a few corners. I was having fun in the grey zone but back off immediately and find him right around the corner pulling out of a layby. Iím already doing 85kph odd, so no problem at all. Iíd spoken to other TTíers at previous photos and theyíd mentioned three cars, which is quite regular for the road, but I only came across two.

Brief stops for Kekerengu and Ninís Bin and my ever increasing ETA is standing at 9.47pm. There are roadworks on the outskirts of Christchurch and a 50kph zone on the motorway, so I ideally want to give myself a buffer for that. Passing through Kaikoura Iím standing on the pegs to give myself a stretch and Whatastoner slips alongside. He doesnít look too happy and questions whether or not I will make it. I say itís going to be tight, but I should. Heís going directly south, but I have to detour so I tell him he should make it no worries. I think he very much doubts me.

He tootles on ahead but slows before the Hundalees, when I catch up and then chase him through the Hundalees, gaining a few minutes from the upped pace. I even come across a Ford GTP thatís enjoying the road and can hold his own through the corners. He gets trapped by vehicles ahead he canít easily pass, so I slip through but Whatastoner is long gone. I have to turn at Leader Rd anyway and do my best to keep stops brief.

Itís after 8pm and keeping my pace up and stops times to a minimum Iím able to keep my ETA static, at 9.47pm, after stopping at Hope Field and Red Post Corner. Iím playing leapfrog with a shit and piss truck (otherwise often called cattle trucks). I pass him while moving, then he passes me every time I stop for a photo. No doubt he thinks Iím mad. A final stop at Hurunui Pub and itís the second time Iíve been down this route in under a week. ETA stands at 9.48pm and Iím not slacking off at all.

The motorway is thankfully back to 100kph all the way through, but some moron decides itís a damn fine time to do 80kph in the fast lane, making the whole fast lane slowly divert round said moron. I canít even be bothered to waste my time flashing him, and simply pass him instead. The constant traffic lights are excruciating, but at least itís Christchurch, where they are logical, phased properly and donít spend ages on minor roads. The roundabouts are awesome fun with light traffic and I use them to pass the odd slower moving car before making my final approach to Hampton Honda.

I arrive at 9.50pmÖ more than a little fine for 3147km in 51.75 hours. Iím last to arrive, with a few having arrived in the half hour before me, including Whatastoner, who by eyewitness reports was far from energetic and simply handed in his data, mumbled something about needing sleep and disappeared. Toto reported I actually appeared quite fresh, especially for the amount of riding done, and I found I could do basic math (odometer before and after, whatís the mileage), so I couldnít have been too bad.

DRL is certain that after pulling out of the passes heís missed diamond by 100 points, which would be quite a blow, after the effort heís put in. He found that missing the passes he had a hell of a lot of work to do, to find the additional 2000+ points he missed out on (in a subsequent email from Mike to flyer achievers DRL scraped through with 25,000 points on the dot).

Most of the riders have long since left, and Mike is busy packing up. I fill in the points sheet, my claim of what I have done out of the total 50,000 points available. It takes some time as now my memory is struggling, some the names I never really remembered and I also renamed the points to be more suitable (so Hope Field became Hope Field Gate so I knew what I needed). The sign posts like Melcome Bingham and the church gate at Kekerengu needed some prompting from Mike (I dunno how the hell he knew them all at the drop of a hat) but eventually I had all 25,100 points on the sheet. I had a sausage and drink and had my photos downloaded onto their laptop.

Mike was ready to leave, so I thanked him for a brilliant ride, with some fantastic roads and told him I would see him again next year. So uhÖ whatís the route and format? Iím ready for another

Toto and I retired to our 5 star accommodation (Ok, at least it was close to the necessary places), retrieved our keys and headed for shower and bed. I would have preferred more of a meal, as the one sausage wasnít enough after a day of almost no eating, but I still had plenty of biscuits and also had another OSM. It was lights out before midnight, but we agreed to be up again at 9am.

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  1. KoroJ's Avatar
    Whew!!.....We made it! ........Next time we'll leave earlier!.....and pack the seat thingy in the pannier from Auckland!........and leave earlier!........and ride betterer over the Takaka Hill!....and leave earlier!

    I'd probably be jealous now if I wasn't so worn out.....*sigh*!!!
  2. Sharry's Avatar
    I realy enjoyed that read Grems. Thank goodness for buffer times

    I did note though that you depersonalised Jessica, calling her "the bike", when talking of planting her on the ground.
  3. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Sharry
    I did note though that you depersonalised Jessica, calling her "the bike", when talking of planting her on the ground.
    Yeah, coz I don't throw ladies on the ground
  4. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by KoroJ
    Whew!!.....We made it! ........Next time we'll leave earlier!.....and pack the seat thingy in the pannier from Auckland!........and leave earlier!........and ride betterer over the Takaka Hill!....and leave earlier!

    I'd probably be jealous now if I wasn't so worn out.....*sigh*!!!
    we should have shared the riding then... might have made it a bit easier.
  5. Forklift Driver's Avatar
    Gremlin, what were your thoughts if you still had to finish at 6pm or face DSQ? Would you of backed off and gone for the Gold level?
    BTW, Patarau river was a tough 90 minute detour for me, fuck I was so glad to see the tar seal again!!

  6. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Forklift Driver
    Gremlin, what were your thoughts if you still had to finish at 6pm or face DSQ? Would you of backed off and gone for the Gold level?
    BTW, Patarau river was a tough 90 minute detour for me, fuck I was so glad to see the tar seal again!!
    Realistically, compass restricted my ability to alter my route without drastic consequences. However, the extra 4 hours were not required if I didn't slack off. I got into Greymouth at 7.30pm, only went to bed at midnight, then spent almost an hour going back to find my seat pad in the morning. The extra 4 hours just gave me some luxury. I should have had more sleep on the Saturday night, but it's that typical thing that you're not stressed, so there is no rush. Finishing 10min before deadline was certainly tight, but not really unexpected.

    Hindsight is 20/20, and perhaps I should have done Marfells instead of Cannibal, but my reasoning at the time was not leaving everything until the last day...
  7. shafty's Avatar
    Hey Congratulations Mate on a grat ride AND a great read!

    Felt as though I was right there with ya - and the GSA would be THE bike to do it on - well done all round