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Tt2000 2012

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My TT2000 for 2012.

I have a R1150GSA but managed to fall off that a few months ago in a farmers paddock at 10 kph and break my foot in the process. So for some reason I decide to take my trusty old K1100LT which I had fitted some extra lights to last year before the Grand Challenge. Also rigged up my radar detector on the LT, with a cool LED flasher in the middle of the dash - I had used the radar detector on the Grand Challenge but it is positioned way out on the handle bar well out of my line of vision, so even when it when off I didn't notice. So some sort of visual signal in my line of sight was going to be key.

I travelled down from Wellington on the Thursday before the TT2000, crossing over on the 8:30 ferry, then scouted out each of the flyer checkpoints between Picton and Chch. Ride out to Fighting Bay on teh 20km of tight roads/gravel, then Oyster Bay then decided to try out the road around the coast from there to Blenheim. Very rutted gravel in places, then I got stuck behind a grader going slow - he was creating a nice big pile of gravel as a center barrier which seemed like too much for me to cross over on the LT, so I couldn't even go around him. Then heading south I checked out Marfell Beach-never been there before. Then the Kaikoura peninsula - a long detour through town for 100 points - hope i can drop that one. Then spotted each of the other flyers south on SH1 but for some reason I decide to skip the Cathedral Gully/Manuka Bay flyers as being too far SH1 and so I won't be doing those.
Rest up in the motel that night, get up late and mooch around Chch for the morning getting a nice brekkie at Robbie deans in Riccarton. Then find a quiet spot in the Riccarton library to do a work conference call for a couple of hours - quiet spot not so quiet when all the school kids get out a three. Then off for an early dinner, gas the bike up and arrive at Hampton Honda around 5.
Check out all the other bikes getting ready to do the same crazy trip, and find Gremlin and Whatastoner who I had arranged to go through the passes with on the first evening as group. Discover that they are also planning on doing Hakatere as the second flyer after Rakaia - what the heck, I decide that makes a lot of sense, and might save me having to do a few of the 100 pointers off the main path.
Get the briefing from Mike about the police presence for the weekend, and the welcome news about the extra 4 hours at then end - getting back by 10pm on Sunday instead of 6. Looking south it looks very grey, and of course that's where we're going.
6:15, TT2000 t-short in hand and we're off - past the C50s on the way out of Hornby thinking they are way tougher than me attempting this on a 50. heavens open up and its thoroughly wet from Templeton on. Big convoy of bikes to Rakaia, take the picture there, and suddenly its just the 3 of us heading to Hakatere. I grew up in Ashburton and forgot just how straight the back roads of Mid-Canterbury are - a much better choice going this way compared to dealing with SH1 to Rangatata. Get to Hakatere, picture and off again. Rain is now patchy through to Geraldine- then on the road to Fairlie the heavens jsut dump and its mayhem - cars pulling over and sitting it out with just us crazy guys and a truckie pushing through it. Fairlie, then Kimbell and by now its dark. Mt Dobson and Burkes Pass in dark then Tekapo - GPS is giving me weird directions in the dark then I realise that the night picture for Tekapo is in a different place - turn in the side street, ride a bit then pull over to figure out what I'm looking for and its right there - statue of Mackenzie's dog. Mess around with my son's compact camera trying to get its puny flash to light up my bike and the statue at the same time - hopeless and I vow to bring a bigger flash next time.
Catch up with Whatastoner at the gas station in Tekapo - where's Gremlin - we guess he went on the Mackenzie Pass and is waiting for us there. Al the rain has completely unnerved me, and the idea of trying to cross rain-swelled fords on the Hakataramea pass in teh dark on the distinctly non-adventure bike LT is too much for me. Even with two other gentleman to help. So I feel very guilty and bid farewell to Whatastoner and hope like hell I'm not leaving them in the lurch. Now I'm consigned to going the long way around via Omarama instead of over Hakataramea - this will cost me a net 900 points - 1300 points for teh pass vs 400 points for Omarama and the dams. So lots of mental arithmetic to figure out where I'm going to make up the 400 points I'm short now - 900 points lost on this detour, less the 500 I gained by doing Hakatere - I figure I'll have to pick up some of the 100 pointers I was planning on missing.
So off to Mt John in the dark, and the instructions look like going up the side road about 4kms and capturing a signpost pic - finally find one and hope its the right one. Crickey what a herd of rabbits up this road, and collect one on my crashbar/fog light - no damage to me.
Then on to Omarama - big mob of Harleys in the Mobil there at 11pm, and more joining them as I head out on the road to Kurow - wonder what they are all doing out this late and where they're going to? At Benmore I follow the GPS rout into the dam area and wind up riding around some sort of work yard by the dam - no sign of the look-out point I'm supposed to find for the photo - finally take a pic outside the visitors centre and hope Mike is lenient. Then Aviemore, no problem, Kurow easy to find and on to Earthquakes. First taste of gravel on this TT2000, but not as hard as I thought in the dark - the extra HID light on the bike is doing good job of making things visible for me. Then on to Dansey's pass which I find a bit slow going - tougher gravel, some corrugations and a bit of fog. Over the pass and fast gravel to Kyeburn and Naseby, then on to Ranfurly and find the 24 hour fuel stop. Have a 10 minute break and rip into the food I bought earlier in the day - lots of spicy sausages and dried apricots which I hope will keep me going. Then back on the road and down to Hyde. My Gos leads me astray at Old Dunstan Rad getting me to turn too early and I wind up doing another 10km on a gravel road which meets up at the Old Dunstan Rd crossing - oh well, I'm there and 1000 points bagged. On this stretch a big red light comes on on my dash - checking at the pic stop it turns out my rear tailight has gone out. Hope its just the bulb and I decide to ignore it for now - spoiler alert - this bites me in the ass later.
GPS lead through the back roads of Mosgiel and then down SH1 to Balclutha - no sign of an open petrol station in Balcutha - oh well, hopefully the word that there is a 24-hour card station in Owaka is right. Detoured to Cannibal Bay and then into Owaka - found the card pump, but then have to queue behind a ute filling up slowly at the one pump at 3am - maybe he's going fishing? Double back to get the Owaka picture I missed then off to Slope Point. Near Slope Point I miss a turn and wind up on a small gravel road at Curio Bay. Turning around on this gravel I manage to drop the LT mid-turn in the gravel. Bugger - mirror is off, foglight is twisted and the bike is like a beached whale flat on the side pannier/fairing. I have picked it up a few times before from a similar position, but on tr seal. This time I just can't get a purchase on the ground with the gravel and my feet slip too much to get it up - and my recovering broken foot starts to throb with the effort. Damn is my ride over? There are a couple of houses nearby but no lights on. I wait about 45 minutes and the sun comes up, and guy comes out of one house to walk his dog. I call him over for a hand, and he looks at the bike and seems reluctant to help, and finally lends a hand and we get it up. The mirror pops back on (lots of scratches though), and the pannier pops back into place as well. No serious harm done although the foglight will never be the same again. Back on the way and off to Slope Point. More fast-ish gravel then on into Invercargill.
I was determined to try to bypass Invercargill, but the GPS had other ideas and before I know it, I'm on Dee Street. A cafe beckons, so at 9am I stop and have a cup o tea and a muffin. 10 minute shut eye as well while sitting there. Then back onto the bike and off, riding slow through Invercargill with an eye out for the cops (my father lives there and lots of tickets in the 50kph areas). Get to Clifden and get the picture then another 20km gravel road to Lake Hauroka - never been here before and the the last 8km through the forest is lovely - really pleased I did it. After the picture at the lake, back on the bike and off. But no. What, it won't start? Dammit - the LT has a safety cut-off so it will turn over but not start if the side-stand is down. Double check yes side-stand definitely up and bike in neutral - definitely no spark. Get off and check out underneath - little micro-switch under the bike for the side-stand seems ok and clicking on/off with the stand correctly. Much more fiddling around with the bike on the centre stand then I ask a bemused Japanese tourist to come over and press the starter while I lie on the ground to hold the micro switch in - before I even get to touch the switch he presses the starter and it fires up. Big sigh of relief. My fiddling with the switch must have sorted it somehow. Did I mention I have zero mechanical skills?
Off to Ohai and picture and look for petrol - none to be had - on to Nightcaps, and spot a 24-hour card pump up a side street and quick u-turn and I'm filling up. Then on to Mossburn pic, and up to Fairlight. Pull into Fairlight and there is a nice lady sitting in the bench in front - she seems very surprised that I pull right up in front, jump off, mess with a t-shirt, take a pic of the bike, station and her, then jump back on again and off with a a wave.
Up to Queenstown, and my stomach is growling and I'm flagging. Wasn't planning on a stop but decide to pull into the little mall by the roundabout at Frankton, and I find a Thai place open for a late lunch at 2pm. Have a Thai curry, another 10 minute shut eye while sitting there then off. Decide to take the Crown Range to Wanaka, and have fun chasing a guy in a fast ute up the switchbacks, then he pulls over at the top. Even better run down the other side to Cardrona - what a road. I still remember my first encounter with the Crown Range 20 years ago, and being super surprised at how much time a back wheel can spend n the air as it skips over the corrugations. Find the Puzzle place in Wanaka, and then mess around in Wanaka finding the gas station and filling up again.
Through the Haast pass which I just love and down to Jacksons Bay - quite a strong wind but a good chance to go a bit quicker on the straight but very bumpy road. Back to Haast and fill up, then have to show a tourist how to use the card pump. Up to Knights Point and follow a women in a very old Toyota being driven slow - can't get around around her, then she proceeds to pull into Knights Point and stop right where I need to stop for the pic - very frustrating, but I pull up right behind her, and she decides to move along a bit - I jump off, get the pic, and take off before she decides to go again. Up to Bruce Bay then Fox, and along the side road for 500 points at the glacier - haven't been here in a long time and am surprised at the built up road surface along the valley to the glacier face - must be new. I deicde to stop again at Fox for some more food as I'm flagging a bit again and its just gone dark - 9pm? - a cafe beckons and I order the fish of the day - turns out its very average piece of fried fish surrounded by a huge salad - horrified to discover when I pay that it was $27 - not what I was expecting but there you go. Up the road I decide I need to do Okarito - not on my original list as it 10km off the road but I decide I must to gain a few points back. Local in a ute travelling much faster on this road than I am comes up behind with high beams, and proceeds to pass on blind corner. I guess he knows the road. Pukekura then Pic at Lake Mahinapua pub where everyone inside seems to be having a good time. Stop at Greymouth 24-hour gas station to fill up at 12pm. Get a hot chocolate to warm up, and sit down at edge of forecourt. Wake up two hours later, hot chocolate stone cold and bike still sitting at fuel pump. Well I really didn't plan on a 2 hour nap there but I guess I must have really needed it. Still a bit groggy and disoriented and remember riding to Runanga trying to sort out reaility from my dreams and remember what I was doing out there. Push on to Strongman, foggy, then turn around and head up Grey River Valley to Reefton. Have trouble finding the tourist attraction in Reefton main street, but some guy in a ute hanging out in town at 3am pioints me at teh right place. Then get teh pic at Blacks Point, and on to Crushington - another stop where the GPS leads me to a point well short of the actual stop and it takes me ages to figure out to go another 300 metres up the road to find it. On to Buller and up to Lyell campground - hope I don't wake anyone in the tents while I mess around lining the bike up for a pic in the dark.
Brief 10 minute stop in Murchison for a 10 minute shut eye and then on to Motueka. Cruising out of Murchison at 4am on a nice straight bit, suddenly the radar detector goes blip. First action all trip so far. Throttle off, bit of brake, well under limit then detector goes crazy, and suddenly flashing lights burst into life up ahead. Damn he must have me speeding to fire up the lights at that range. I cruise up to him and pull over just past his parking stop. Officer proceeds to give me a big telling off about the tailight which is still out. Says he is going to 'write-off' my bike on the spot it is so dangerous. Not quite sure what that means exactly but it sounds like my trip is over. He goes back to his car, comes back, and says he has changed his mind, gives me a ticket and says if he catches me again that night, he will 'write-off' bike. No mention of speeding. So I head off to Motueka, pull into the station there and buy a new bulb, Actually easier to change than I though with my limited skills - tailight lense doesn't unscrew from rear, but you go in from under the seat and unscrew it from the inside. Can't find exact wattage replacement, but find a 5W instead of 3W and so hope that will be OK.

Out of Motueka, and detour to Riwaka - darn that's a long twisty road for 100 points plus some seriously bad sun-strike coming back out. Then over the Takaka hill for the first time ever - what a hill - steeper and longer than I imagined. Another detour to Pupu Springs, not so bad this time. Then find Collingwood OK. Go to leave Collingwood and bike won't start. Nothing at all. Damn I hope that the higher wattage bulb hasn't messed something up. take it out. Still nothing. Bloody hell. Mess with the side-stand micro-switch some more. Not that. Then I realise that I'm trying to start it in first. Even with clutch in the LT won't start unless in neutral. What a dufus. I blame the sleep deprivation at this point. Wasted a half hour and and its now around 10am. I start doing time sums in my head and realise things will be very tight getting in by 10 if I do the rest of the flyers on my list. Go to Pakawau then onto to Cape Farewell up the gravel bit - see the last gravel leg up to the photo spot and think gosh that's a bit tricky for the LT. Really starting to wish I had a smaller bike or at least the GS now. Get the photo, and the back. Was going to do Cobb dam but decide that 36km each way on a very twisty road is going to take too long. Resign myself to going for gold instead of Diamond.
Back over the Takaka Hill and on to Nelson. Gas up, and on to Pepin Island where its a short detour for 500 points. Pass Ray going in on his RF900 as I come out - I rode with him for the last part of last year's TT2000. He catches up with me on the way to Havelock. Looks like we both decide to go the long way instead of Queen Charlotte Sound. Then I have a brain fart and turn of at Kaituna thinking that this is a short cut to Tuamarina avoiding going through Blenheim. Ray carries on - what does he know that I don't? Turns out the nice straight fast Kaituna-Tuamarina Rd quickly turns into a twisty gravelly 8km stretch before getting to Tuamarina. Damn. Then through Picton and out to Fighting Bay where I find Ray and few others waiting. Its now 3pm and I'm thinking 7 hours to Chch plus all the stops I still need to do. I load in all the remaining flyers I need to do to get diamond and it says 9:47pm eta. Blast - with another gas stop and all the pic stops, no chance. So I delete the Sign of the Kiwi and it drops to 9:20 - much better. I get back on the gravel out of Fighting Bay, bag Oyster Bay then Tuamarina, followed by Marfells Beach and stop for gas in Ward. GPS now reporting an eta of 9:47pm including Cathedrals Gully and Manuka Bay. My mental adding out of how many points I have and need to get is now all stuffed up, and I decide that if I need Sign of the Kiwi to get diamond and I'm flagging it, then no point in doing the other two either. So I delete them from the GPS and move on. Kekerengu then Nins Bin and Kaikoura peninsula. Then Leader Road and out to Hope Field. Then bag the rest of the flyers on SH1 on into Chch - Spotswood, Cheviot, Tormore, Omihi, Waipawa. At Waipawa I realise that there is one more of these than I thought and I also remember the 100 points for the odomoter photos. So only 100 points short at this stage. Can I do Sign of the Kiwi after all? Get to Belfast at 9:15 and reluctantly decide that 45 minutes might be too much to cross Chch central given all the messed up CBD, go up the Port Hills and back down to Hornby. So I decide to play it safe and not risk my gold by arriving after 10, turn off at Belfast and blast past the airport to Hornby arriving back at Hampton Honda around 9:30 and 100 points short.
Fill out all my paperwork, see how many others are back by now, and it looks like Mike and the crew are in the process of winding up.
Go back to the motel, crash and have a lesiurely ride back to Picton the next day to catch the 6pm ferry home. I do the Cathedral Gully/Manuka Bay turnoff and discover that it takes 16 minutes for the detour. Damn it - I could have done that easy and still been there by 10. Oh well. Still don't know if I could have got up to the Sign of the Kiwi from Belfast then get to Hornby in 45 minutes. Who knows. I managed to stop at Kaikoura peninsula and sample some whitebait fritters - they had been a serious temptation the day before but no time of course.

After I'm home a few days I get the email from Mike announcing I have diamond! What the heck? I go back over my route and add every thing up again, and realise I had kept forgetting about one of the West Coast flyers - Bruce Bay - from my mental arithmetic. Yahoo. Now my wife says there is no need to do the TT2000 again as I squeaked in a diamond. I beg to differ. Must do again. Maybe on the GS next time.

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  1. baldy47's Avatar
    Liked your story. On the note of your radar, You should try the wireless system . The radar sends a signal to a very small unit mounted in your helmet. this flashes a small red warning light inside the helmet that you can adjust to suit your line of sight
    Well worth having and lets you keep your eyes on the road..
  2. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by baldy47
    Liked your story. On the note of your radar, You should try the wireless system . The radar sends a signal to a very small unit mounted in your helmet. this flashes a small red warning light inside the helmet that you can adjust to suit your line of sight.
    My opinion, I used HARD. The problem was, I was never 100% certain it was working, perhaps it had run out of batteries etc, and you'd never know until it was too late. Using a comms box instead, everything gets fed to one set of speakers in the helmet.

    Matey, it sounds like you had a real adventure compared to my experience (I simply rode my planned route). I'd suggest you double check all the checkpoints beforehand, next year, as I did. I think Mike deliberately misplaces the odd ones by a few hundred metres (ie, it's a Hint). Seems minor when you're sitting looking at a screen, but very different when you're cold and tired in the middle of nowhere.

    Congrats on the Diamond, you definitely did it harder than I!
  3. DRL's Avatar
    Gremlin - thanks for the feedback
    Yes the big lesson learned for me is to do a much better job of route planning and optimisation.
    I thought I had it all planned out but in reality not as well as needed. For example I hadn't really figured out my plan B if I didn't do Hakataramea - sure go the long way via Omarama, but what extra flyers would I do to make up the 900 points lost - no clear idea.
    In hindsight the Okarito, Riwaka, Pupu Springs, Runanga, Strongman and Kaikoura flyers were too far off the beaten track for the 100 points involved. But the Cathedral Gully and Manuka Bay combo were easy reach. And I should have been planning on Hakatere all along.
    I just hope the TT2000 is on again next year, and there is a similar level of 150 flyers to pick a route from.
  4. gijoe1313's Avatar
    Fantastic effort, glad to hear you got your reward in the end for your troubles! Guess the policeman was having a nice day and didn't want to ruin yours!

    Thanks for taking the time to write it all up, living vicariously through all your exploits!
  5. LBD's Avatar
    Good Yarn...thanks for the effort and well done. You really should have gone in to Patarau river....

    Re Radar detector....I have a simple 3 red LED cluster on top of my dash in my line of sight, works fine for me.

    See younext year then...Diamond again?
  6. shafty's Avatar
    Good write up Mate, bugger about your tip-over, but Congrats on your Diamond!