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Gremlin's Tall Stories

ANZAC Day Ride to Opononi (25/04/2012)

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A blast from the past required an alarm 0630. Yep… public holiday and up at some crazy time. NinjaNanna had organised a ride that had seen an excellent uptake from the old crew, most of which I hadn’t ridden with for years, so as the popularity grew, it became more obvious that ya simply had to be there!

I tried to get Zapf along, almost successful bar his girlfriend’s neck playing up on the morning, so he was a non-starter and GiJoe never seemed interested enough. I left home just after 0700, stopping by the gas station for the first fill since the Taupo one on Sunday, some 35L, much to the amazement of the attendant. Don’t often have those vouchers handy, but the 4c one netted me $1.40 in savings.

The meet point was Caltex Dairy Flat, a fair hike from East Auckland and I arrived around 0815. Some were already there, including NinjaNanna, and a positively ancient identity in the form of justsomeguy put in an appearance, with some of the other old crew including Death, DMNTD and Unit and the Qks (complete with a pair of B-Kings). Around 16-20 riders in all, quite a good turnout.

NinjaNanna did his duty as organiser with a quick briefing, rough idea of route with a re-group at Paparoa and I put my hand up for TEC duties. Gas stops would be 160-200km apart, but when he caught me grinning he said I wasn’t allowed to re-fill until we got back to Auckland, or I was cheating. We headed out along Kahikatea Flat Rd to Kaukapakapa and then north on SH16 to Wellsford. The pace was a bit on the wrong side of legal, so having waited for one guy, I found myself a decent distance behind anyone so settled into my usual pace, happy to keep them in sight when longer straights allowed. In tighter stuff I would slowly gain, then lose a bit on straights.

North through SH16 I was slowly gaining and finally caught up shortly before the scenic lookout where it gets reasonably tight. No stopping at the lookout and straight through to Wellsford where justsomeguy was marking the turn. Up SH1, no marker at SH12 but it was obvious enough. The group was stopped at the start of Paparoa Oakleigh Rd and looking like taking a proper break, except NinjaNanna was cracking the whip and motioning for us to continue!

A potentially left-behind mobile caused a couple of 250’s to start well behind the pack (after a talk with a couple they decided to leave the phone there) but one of the 250s eventually disappeared into the distance. At the end of the road at Maungakaramea we met the Northland crew, complete with Grant and newhere (2up on the Preddy to boot, with newhere’s Gladius temporarily off the road). There was a quick discussion about route plus re-group, with bikes all over the intersection, and then on to Maungatapere for more gas.

We continued north along Mangakahia Rd through Twin Bridges to Kaikohe. I had one of the 250s in front of me, who turned out to have been riding for 2 months, when speaking to him at Opononi, which explained the lower pace. Three of the fast boys were sitting on the Twin Bridges waiting, and then urging us on as we crossed the bridges They didn’t take too long to put their gear on and catch up and pass, but Kaikohe wasn’t far away.

Another gas stop (anyone would think they simply ride between stations) and the group left rather spaced out for Opononi. The 250s had a short break, tough going when you’ve only just got in, but the fast guys are chomping at the bit to get going! The 250s got the jump on me aided by some traffic, but I knew it wasn’t too far, so settled back into my pace. I was hitting the corners hard enough I flicked the suspension into Sport, as the bumps were unsettling the suspension and I was just starting to wonder how much of a jump they had had, when I rounded a left hander to find a 250 waiting at a one lane bridge, with 2 vehicles on the bridge… uh, pointing at each other.

Slightly confusing, I can only put this down to the Northland rules of driving and give way , but perhaps the learner had something to do with it. The 250 rider later said the learner had driven on while the other car was on, clearly failing to give way… The two drivers evidently had a bit of a discussion, but eventually the car on our side reversed and we could all proceed.

We reached the Opononi Pub at 1245, everyone else sitting at the tables, but because it was Anzac Day the place only opened at 1300, and I’m sure everyone was wishing for some food. I ducked next door to get a drink to tide me over, DMNTD commenting the chocolate milk was definitely the hard stuff… always got a nice comment that man… yeah right The pub opened its doors and uh… we made a strategic move for the front counter to get our orders in first.

Mine wasn’t too far from the front of the queue, a delicious Tane Burger, patty and bacon and it didn’t take too long to make it disappear. I chatted to the 250 rider, who turned out to have been riding for 2 months, so was doing remarkably well, but gave him some advice and explained a few concepts as he didn’t know what the vanishing point was, etc.

Soon enough people started making noises about continuing on. Some had already headed down the road to the adjacent town of Omapere to fill with gas, but I was still fine. On the way through Omapere some stopped to fill with gas so I waited for them. When only 3 of the fast guys were left I figured this was probably a bad idea since they would easily be catching up and I wouldn’t be going as quickly. Equally, it didn’t look they were in much of a hurry to get cracking, so I left them to it and set off for whoever was last on the road.

The 3 fast guys caught up and passed before I even reached Waipoua, but I checked all had come through so I knew I was last. I had nice clear road in front of me to focus on lines and was really enjoying myself through the tight corners of Waipoua Forest until catching Unit who was last, having also waited at the Omapere gas station for a short while. There was no problem following her through the forest as I quickly learnt just how good the crossplane crank in the late model R1 sounds with 2 Brothers exhausts.

I turned my music off, lifted the visor and sat back, probably drooling slightly, listening as she accelerated out of corners then decelerated for the next. Damn the bike sounds good. The closed in forest and slow corners only served to emphasise the sound. Once the speed increased as the forest opened out into normal countryside the bike wasn’t as easily heard. We slowly caught up to the next bike and had finally caught right up on the outskirts of Dargaville.

More gas for others, and I told DMNTD just how good the R1 sounded. The ride proper was over, so people headed off on their preferred routes home and I decided to take SH12 with a few others, including the pair of 250s. They disappeared into the distance and I eventually caught justsomeguy and another and left them behind before the Brynderwyns as they were doing a little under 100kph. The straights were as boring as always but traffic was at least light, and also no cops.

People had re-grouped in Wellsford, so I grouped up with them. Some decided to head down SH1 but there’s no fun in that so some, including I, headed back down SH16. The pace was just above usual, so fine, but I found myself always slightly behind the next bike, not quite latched on and consequently, one too many when it came to passing opportunities. Passing through Kaukapakapa the whole group turned off onto Kahikatea Flat Rd, but I saw no point as it would take you down SH17, old SH1 into Albany which isn’t that fun, so I continued and turned on Peak Rd, then Old North.

A bandit eased past right after the 80kph straight on Peak Rd so I followed him as we headed south. I slowed for the 80kph sections but he continued on. On Old North Rd I decided to mix it up and follow the GPS’s idea of going to Riverhead, then turning right onto Coatesville Riverhead Highway and down to Westgate at 1800. My gas was running low and I had just dipped into reserve, having travelled some 600km. The sun was setting fast and I figured that since I was out there I could take in NASS, as usually I’m still working.

I haven’t been on NASS in years, but after a quick search of KB on my phone, it was still on and meeting at 1830 at Westgate. I finally had a reply from Toto enquiring about NASS, except he informed me it was 1900 at Albany… crap. I was about to gear up and head off when another rider appeared for NASS, so Toto was sending me astray! I filled in preparation for departing and swapped to my clear visor for the night time riding.

A couple of others arrived and we left, heading for Albany the back way along Coatesville Riverhead Highway, which brought us out just outside Albany. We headed through the carpark, but upon finding no-one I think it was decided to head straight for the pub. Outside the pub I said goodbye, as I didn’t see any point in hanging around the pub.

Hitting the motorway after 1900, I figured I could see if SASS was doing anything, as they headed to the Manukau car park at 2000, after riding through the Hunua ranges. I would reach Manukau just before 2000 so headed south. I got there with 2 minutes to spare, and being the good southerners of Auckland were indeed practising, with a couple of little courses laid out. I’m still not as comfortable on the BMW as I am the Hornet, but then I’ve been on the Hornet for more than 5 years and know it very well. The BMW suspension and drivetrain also has the odd bit of slack here and there which affects response.

After some practise we headed off the pub, ordered some food and talked some shit. Initially my order of wedges arrived plain, so they let us keep the dish while making my wedges with bacon and cheese. Free wedges!

It got a little chilly outside where we were sitting, so after some shit talking we all headed home. Some 750km for the day for me and got home around 2230. Not bad for a Wednesday!

Route Map:,6,10&t=m&z=9
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  1. Grant`'s Avatar
    Rather delayed posting

    Good ride though.
  2. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Grant`
    Rather delayed posting

    Good ride though.
    Indeed it was. Yes, it's delayed because I'm rather behind in my blogs
  3. gijoe1313's Avatar
    Fun and games on the norfland route! Some good riding it seems!
  4. Grant`'s Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gijoe1313
    Fun and games on the norfland route! Some good riding it seems!
    Some of the best although I am probably a little bias (well until I move to Cambridge)
  5. kathy-rose's Avatar
    I have enjoyed your blog of your ride to Opononi. Glad you enjoyed your chocolate milk at the 4 square as it burnt down in the weekend. The pub was saved. happy riding.