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Gremlin's Tall Stories

Wellington Work Ride & Weekend Return (19/04/2012)

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My 4th trip since I started blogging, involving riding for work, she’s a hard life indeed. The usual drill that the boss was prepared to fly me down and that budget would be spent on riding down instead. Having a biker for a boss certainly makes it easy.

This trip was to sort out the move of a client’s branch office and install some VOIP phones for future development work, so what also made this trip easier was the capacity of the luggage to take several IP phones along with cabling and still have space left over for my own gear. The luggage was still pretty full though!

The original plan was to spend the morning in the office and head away around midday. This fell apart as I dealt with calls instead, worked remotely, and spent a few flying minutes in the office getting a few things sorted and then got on the road around 11am.

My esteemed riding companion GiJoe was on holiday (or is that break) from the delinquents called students, lamenting his lack of riding so I invited him along leaving him no excuses. We met in Takanini, timing it almost perfectly. He was already fuelled up, I filled up and we headed south. It was a shortish run down the motorway before exiting onto SH2. Traffic was average and the weather reasonably good.

Past Maramarua I decided SH2 was far too boring and headed south on Okaeria Rd. A fantastic road but we got stuck behind a truck for most of the good bits. We continued south taking a selection of roads until heading east to Tahuna and then south again to Morrinsville running parallel to SH27. These roads were mostly quiet but it was time to re-join SH27 through to Tirau which had the usual volume of traffic.

Mindful that GiJoe needs gas a little more frequently we had a gas stop at Matamata, checked the wear pattern on our tyres and continued south. Turangi was the next stop around 1545, the bakery for ourselves and the Z for our bikes. On the road again at 1615 it was a run straight down SH1, in hindsight we should definitely have stopped for the setting sun on Desert Rd as it was very picturesque. Still, we needed to be in Wellington so we kept moving. On the road south of Waiouru we started getting wet, but the showers never developed into rain.

GiJoe’s Honda was thirsty for gas again but the fill in Taihape at 1730 would see him through without another stop. I tried to get a photo of his bike having yet another pitstop but the camera was flat. Instead I chatted to a Super Tenere rider, apparently on a local Thursday night ride with a couple of others. It was SH1 all the way south but this time the rain was heavier and then departed as soon as it had arrived. Another few smatterings of rain as we did the long drag south. Passing through Waikanae and Levin you keep deluding yourself that you’re close to Wellington when in reality you’re a good hour or more away of really boring roads and traffic.

We reached KoroJ at 2000, and he’d kindly volunteered to play host providing both of us with beds, so the bikes all chatted in the garage, Ann had a delicious dinner already waiting and we caught up over dinner. For Gijoe and KoroJ it was the first time meeting each other, so they got to see how nutty GiJoe really is. We finally turned in shortly before midnight.


The next morning we were up, bit of breakfast and on our separate ways. GiJoe was going to invade Wellington for a little while then return to Auckland by evening, Ann was already off at work, I was off visiting clients and KoroJ off to work as well.

The day was spent visiting three clients, checking systems, installing some new equipment and overseeing a move of offices for a client. I checked in with KoroJ near the end of the day and got to visit his place of work, complete with his meeting room… or is that biker cave? It was a useful room and a talking point for him and clients to break the ice. For a biker interested in long distance riding, the effort he had put in was remarkable.

All rides he had done, Grand Challenges, Capital Cruises and TT2000, had been individually traced out on paper maps, badges and patches framed and hung on the walls, along with the trophies on tables. Most impressive indeed, when I can’t even keep up with my blogging.

I’d been of two minds whether to head north on Friday evening, perhaps making Taupo, or staying in Wellington then heading north on Saturday. Ann insisted we head out for dinner, very hard to refuse her request, so we went to a great Italian place nearby and had a delicious dinner.

Back at KoroJ’s place I started planning my weekend route north to Auckland. As with most trips, I do one direction on weekdays and get the work done, then the other trip is over the weekend, minimising the use of work days (and I don’t want to use the direct route for every single trip). Using KoroJ’s local knowledge we built a really nice trip north to Taupo for Saturday maximising back roads and minimising highways. Of course, all this work… I had to invite KoroJ himself along didn’t I?

Unfortunately, since we’d been debating about whether the roads existed or were sealed, he was hardly enthusiastic, but we compromised, and I wouldn’t do some of the definitely rough stuff and therefore we’d be able to have a good ride together.

With a winding 535km route up the eastern side of the island completed, that would get me to Taupo in an estimated 9 hours we turned in for the night.


The alarm rang at 8am. Up, quickly packed my remaining gear, a quick breakfast and we were out the door slightly late at 0915. We planned to meet up with the usual Saturday ride out of Caltex Rimutaka and KoroJ would double check where they were going and whether he was more interested in that.

KoroJ had already popped out briefly to check his pressures and fill up, so I filled up en-route for the day’s required gas. We waited at Caltex Rimutaka for the riders to arrive chatting to those that were there. Most I didn’t know, and annoyingly some already knew me (seriously, how do they do that?) but I introduced myself to a few, including katiepie who I had seen posting online, along with some other identities. Always fun to put some faces to names.

It turned out that the routes they would use for the day were not enough for KoroJ, he wanted more, so he would indeed accompany me. We figured we would head out first so as not to disrupt the other riders, but katiepie’s group was already on the verge of heading out. KoroJ quickly demonstrated his local knowledge, heading out of the service station by another exit while I was stuck amongst riders exiting the other. Drat.

We headed north over the Rimutakas and just as we approached them I finished easing ahead of the riders and with a wave, left them to it. I know the locals enjoy the hills but I was hard pressed to keep KoroJ in sight. I ride the hills maybe a couple of times a year so treat it like any other road I don’t know. Traffic kept our progress in check anyway and the first group almost caught up a couple of times.

Passing through Greytown around 1045 the detours started, and with KoroJ in the lead we headed west of the main highway, bypassing Carterton, but the presence of the river meant we had to go through the outskirts of Masterton. As we headed past a Tui billboard I chuckled, but then thought I really should photograph it, especially since I was an Aucklander. “NZ Rugby is only strong when Auckland Rugby is strong.” Yeah Right. Hehe

A shortcut across to the eastern side of the highway and onto a really neat road, Opaki Kaiparoro Rd, one I had never done before. It rolled over the hills with lots of corners and took us past Mauriceville. We jumped across to the western side again (hey, this route did take a bit of planning), debating one or two turns, but wound our way through the roads closest to the mountain ranges. Predictably of course, going this far off the highway we’d inevitably find gravel…. And we did. KoroJ wasn’t exactly happy about it, but waved me through and I had a little fun until it returned to seal. To be fair, he wasn’t that far behind anyway.

Heading to Kopikopiko we found another gravel road. I said our route ran along it, KoroJ didn’t believe it even went all the way through as there was a major river it needed to cross. This kind of disagreement is only solved one way… going and finding out. KoroJ would meet me on the other side ready for some back roads through to the Pahiatua Track. I would either go through and meet him, or have to back track and take the same route as him. Either way, it’s that sense of finding out the unknown (at least to me) that appeals.

Sure enough, the road did go through, a little bit of tricky gravel but mostly pretty easy going. KoroJ was already waiting at the intersection of Nikau Rd and Tutaekara Rd and we did the usual back roads towards Pahiatua Track. The road has changed since I was first through. They’ve widened up the road and removed some of the more challenging corners, but it’s inevitable I guess.

The initial plan was to use North Range Rd which is apparently quite rough, but KoroJ definitely wasn’t having a bar of it. He offered to wait at the other end, but not knowing how long it would take we opted for the easier option of heading through Ballance Valley Rd and we had a nice run out to the Gorge. Of course it was still closed so we headed back to Pahiatua and went around to Saddle Rd. It was an temporary 70kph area, hard to stick to and somewhat predictably we saw a cop at the other end having a little chat to someone.

Up and over Saddle Rd, wow, they weren’t exaggerating that the road is taking a hammering. Sometimes you think people exaggerate but Saddle Rd really was in shocking shape. Apparently they are doing the minimal maintenance required to keep it usable and closure to a minimum and once the Gorge is back in action they will re-seal properly. Still, I had never done the road and it’s got a great view. We headed into Ashhurst for a late lunch at 1315.

KoroJ had a good idea for a little café and it turned into quite a leisurely 1 hour affair. It was also a good opportunity to part ways, him to head home and for me to continue to Taupo as I had plenty of roads that required some exploring.

I headed north along Pohangina Rd, not the usual more travelled Pohangina Valley East Rd which is sealed. Pohangina Rd is not sealed for much of its length and winds its narrow way through farmlands with some rather stunning views. The road leads to Makoura Rd then Oroua Valley Rd and finally Main South Rd, alternating between sealed and unsealed sections. In Apiti as I joined onto Oroua Valley Rd I took a brief break and found a highly amusing parking meter outside the GAS station. With nary a soul in sight, I don’t think it was turning much trade and the GAS was closed on a Saturday afternoon…

Returning to Rangiwahia, I’d done some of Ruahine Rd in a previous Grand Challenge but since the roads on that ride aim to all be sealed, I hadn’t done some of the more remote roads so I turned down Karewarewa Rd and took Auputa Rd north which was really fantastic. Very tight and very winding the maps started getting inaccurate (always the place I like to be) and I found a couple of roads marked on the map that clearly didn’t exist. Finding a local I asked him out of curiosity if they existed, which he confirmed they did not.

Still, time was marching on and by the time I reached Kawhatau Valley Rd it was already 1620. The road returned to seal and I even spotted a cruiser heading down a side road so I figured it couldn’t be all that adventurous I followed Kawhatau Valley Rd to Potaka Rd and then Toe Toe Rd (I could swear I’ve been along this road before but no idea when) which brought me out onto the main highway and I headed straight north passing through Taihape and Waiouru and onto Desert Rd. The sun was setting on Desert Rd again and I wasn’t going to miss another sunset without pictures. It wasn’t quite as spectacular but at least I photographed one.

I’d always seen a side road on the approach to Turangi, but always when crossing a bridge of sorts and always wondered where it went, so this time I set about finding the entry (which err… wasn’t too hard if you’re actually looking) and it ended up leading to the Blue Pools, which I reached just as the sun was rapidly setting, at 1800. By the time I had had a toilet break and had a little walk to the water’s edge (the break from riding was nice) it was getting properly dark, so after a little more exploration of side tracks I played with the high beams back to the main road. I have to admit, perhaps I’m juvenile, but I really do love the power of the extra lamps lighting up EVERYTHING

As I return to the main road the combination of light and reflective tape makes for a confusing scene but it turns out to be a police car and an elderly couple. The couple have stopped because of a flat tyre and the police have stopped to assist. I lend a hand, first stopping at the right angle to shine light onto the Rav4 and tyre and then lend a hand here and there getting the tyre changed. My low beam was slightly more effective than the torch they had been trying to use before. Once done we were all on our way but not until the cops had had a quick look at the bike and all the gadgets… including the heated grips which I had running. They’d initially thought the approaching sound had been a quad.

Once back on the highway at 1830, behind the others as I’d needed to gear up, it was an easy run up to Taupo and my bed at Stag Park Diner, reaching it shortly after 1900. I did pass the Rav4 when going around the lake and had waved good bye, as they made their way north to somewhere around Hamilton. Checking into the diner the girl recommended I take a double bed as it was closer and available, mmm I wasn’t going to complain about a bigger bed. I commented on the higher price but she said that was the usual price, so paid. Then I asked her if singles were cheaper… yes. I was rather abrupt that perhaps she should have mentioned that the price would go up by 50% and she seemed surprised.

Mmm, that’s why I book a specific room then. Room 7, it’s on the carpark side so I can get the bike right under the eaves and it’s a single at $45 a night… all I need, a crash pad available 24/7 with food also 24/7.

I think I mentioned in a previous blog that other riders had rated the Diner food as average and while it probably was, I’m no fine diner, so a slap up meal of chips, meat and salad, soaked in gravy wasn’t such a bad end to a very enjoyable day. I was also one of a handful of people in the diner so it was quiet. I retired to the room, watched a bit of crappy TV with shit reception, had a shower and turned in for the night.


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  1. Gremlin's Avatar
    btw, I'm experimenting a bit with embedding the pictures into the blog instead of attaching at the end. I'll let the one or two readers I have guide me on which format they prefer...

    You can see where the pictures fit into the story and they don't take up any space on the KB server, but the blogs don't look as pretty when listed out chronologically, as it's a wall of text...
  2. gijoe1313's Avatar
    This is mucho betterer with the piccies laid out as part of the narrative. Soon, you'll be using similes and metaphors with juxtapositioning of themes!

    Yes, was a pity I couldn't join you on that ride back - that was the first time I have been down to Wellywood and not just turned around and rode straight back up!

    And yes, riding that german tank of yours makes it all too easy! (ok, maybe not on the more gnarly rough stuff).
  3. suzieq's Avatar
    the pics embedded into the story is all good I really enjoy reading your blog
    Keep up the good work Can't wait for more........ Gravel Riders tales from The Darker Side te he

    S Q
  4. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gijoe1313
    This is mucho betterer with the piccies laid out as part of the narrative. Soon, you'll be using similes and metaphors with juxtapositioning of themes!
    I'll be what?

    The whole readership is unanimous then, pics embedded into story it is...