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Gremlin's Tall Stories

NGARNZ Pureora Adventure Ride (05/05/2012)

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The ride started at 9am on Saturday in Taupo, so a Friday evening trip down was required as Iím probably not the earliest of risers. Iíd managed to tempt Devil into doing the adventure ride, but he was so keen he left Auckland at 1530, already packed and fuelled. I was not so lucky, with a day of work to pile through, so left work at 1700 (still early for an average day) and headed home. I hadnít packed the previous night, so still had all that to do.

During the day Devil and I had traded Skype messages, mostly around the trip and heíd also warned me that Taupo was expected to be 0 degrees overnight, so I should get down early. Weíd also discussed packing light, but initially Iíd planned to stay Friday and Saturday night, so I could travel light during the ride on Saturday. Anything happening on Sunday however, and as I found the last time, I have to carry all my gear, which makes the bike more of a handful, so I preferred to try travelling as light as possible.

This required some re-organising of my gear and cutting what I didnít need. From two panniers (not completely full) and a tail pack (not full) to just the tail pack in its small configuration. At least I had the toolbox inside the right pannier rack so I packed a couple of tie downs, air compressor, air gauge and BMW toolkit (with some extras) into it. In the pack side pockets went the additional tools and puncture repair kit.

It didnít leave me much room, especially once I threw in the spare visor, snacks, water and emergency gear like PLB and medi-kit. Since I had to fly to Christchurch on Monday for some work I wasnít going to have a full day on Sunday anyway so decided to head back to Auckland on Saturday early evening with Devil, which meant I didnít really need any overnight gear. Woohoo, more space saved! All these tidy preparations meant time was also ticking along and it was already past 1900. I had some dinner and a shower and once completed with packing and geared up, I was raring to go by 2100. So much for the early departure thenÖ

This was scotched by the quick realisation that I should probably double check my oil, as I wasnít carrying extra. Of course, now it tells me that I have about a quarter of a sight glass left. UrghÖ I better top that up to be safe. Off comes some of my gear, dug into toolbox for the tool for the oil cap and topped it up. Happy the bike was ready to go, geared up and was on the motorway heading south shortly after 2130.

I expected it to get much colder as I headed south, but in preparation I had all my liners, balaclava and winter gloves on despite the temperature hovering around 10 degrees. Iíd considered the heated vest but didnít have the space for it when I didnít want it and I didnít figure it would get cold enough anyway, with a trip so short. I got off the expressway onto SH2 with no traffic. Caution through SH2 in the ďSafer Speed AreaĒ of 90kph then back to normal pace after the Coromandel turn off. Traffic remained light and I had a good clean run through Patetonga.

The temperature was definitely on a downward trend and after Patetonga it sat between 4 and 6 degrees for the most part, getting as low as 3 degrees. I wasnít feeling cold and if anything felt I might have been a little overdressed but headed for Matamata. Traffic remained light so any cars were easily dispatched. Reaching Matamata just after 2300 it was time for a re-fill. I hadnít filled in Auckland because I wanted more range for the adventure riding and didnít want to fill in Taupo otherwise I would have a full tank which was more gas than I needed.

The attendant kindly opened the pump and when paying enquired if it had been cold, with a bit of a grin. Iíd noticed a cop car head south on my road as I was exiting the station, but never saw it again. SH27 led to SH1 via Tirau with some low lying fog as I passed through the Waikato. The fog was predictably colder but it was only 45km out of Taupo when it started getting much colder passing the region of Atiamuri. I saw a low of 0.5 degrees on the dash which is a reasonable effort. The gear was doing well so still felt warm enough. The Stag Park Diner was reached at 0030, checking in and cancelling the Saturday night room. It meant I could change to a preferred room on the car park side, parking Jessica right outside making unpacking really easy.

Initially I chucked my gear on the same bed as previously but a hunt through the room for available power points netted a heated blanket on the bed so I switched my gear and got the blanket running (hey, I donít have one at home, it was the corner of the building with 2 exposed walls, why not have some luxury?). Jumped in bed before 1am wondering when the blanket would start feeling warm, as I have no idea how long they take to warm up. I did find out at some point in the night, waking briefly to realise it felt like summer I was so warm, and then rolled over.

8am and Iím up again. The diner is perfect for breakfast, but somehow this time the same request of cereal and fruit evolves into the continental breakfast, same price but includes toast, spreads, and a whole bowl of fruit, instead of a few slices. Awesome. Debated with some truckies who thought it was far too healthy but I said I couldnít be round and riding a bike!

Since Iíd already filled in Matamata the previous night, it was straight to the Mobil, just before 9am to meet everyone else. Devil had come down for the ride, but stayed in far flasher digs for the night, commenting he had a spa bath in the unit (some people ayeÖ they do nothing to fix the BMW rep). We talked shit for a little, everyone comparing notes on what they had done to their bikes, which mods worked better and so on.

Jim did a ride brief laying out the dayís riding and since Tim was around he was taking TEC so I was free to ride like normal. We headed north through Taupo and along some back roads (Jim never seems to take a straight line if he has a route twice the distance handy) using the corner man system to keep everyone moving. We re-grouped before the Pureora Forest and then headed in, taking some of the side roads I initially thought Iíd already done on my own exploration.

This proved to be incorrect as I started passing water crossings Iíd never seen before so enjoyed the route. Continuing through the forest Jim proved his desire for travelling in circles (I bet you think Iím joking) before we headed out the northern end and made for Whakamaru for lunch. Ok, so some small bikes might have needed a little top up of gas tooÖ Not feeling too hungry after an excellent breakfast I grabbed a pie and drink from the dairy.

This proved useful as Jim was trying to locate Sue and another, whoíd taken their own route through the forest since they were moving slower, and now didnít know how to reach Whakamaru as the GPS was giving them all sorts of weird directions (odd, never had that happen at all ). Reasonably certain they were on SH30 I offered to head out and find them. Stopping and asking the odd rider if they had seen them (with no luck) I continued past the forest and eventually found them oncoming, so they were on the right track. A quick chat, phone call to Jim to say Iíd found them and we cruised back to Whakamaru as the lady thought she was very low on gas.

We made it to Whakamaru safely and I decided I was hungry again so had another snack before we started the afternoon session of riding. From Whakamaru we headed south back into the Poihipi Rd area doing more back roads and re-running some from the morning. Some gravel but quite a few sealed, which I didnít mind at all We came out at Atiamuri in the mid-afternoon, where Devil and I debated when we needed to split off. He needed to be back in Auckland for other stuff he had on Sunday, and I also had some things I needed to do (plus another nightís accommodation wasn't really necessary). However, I wasnít too phased what time we got to Auckland (including midnight) while he had a dinner, so I said for him to set the time and weíll peel off.

We continued with the group, crossing over the dam with the camera guy, Chris, taking some pictures. I marked the next corner, waiting for him, but he didnít appear. Heading back, he was still waiting, thinking there were more people, but some had already left early. By the time we reached the next turn the corner man was gone and we reverted to tracking bike tracks. The gravel was quite difficult, the bike sliding all over the place. With the low sun I was heading into some shaded sections absolutely blind until actually in the shade.

Chris is a much more competent rider so he was already waiting at the next turn but the gravel was gone and the seal had returned. Tracking doesnít work so good on sealed roads We guess and weíre in luck as we hit the next corner, as Devil is marking and hasnít seen me come through. Weíre back in the group and we continue. The IAM training pays dividends on one cresting left hander as we come through the corner and there is loose gravel from a badly repaired patch. My road position allows good visibility and time to react, first tapping the brakes to warn others behind me, then selecting and line and sliding through the gravel, as the K76 tyres Iím still using were quite road biased. Knobbly tyres would have made it much easier, but such is life. Once we hit SH30, Devil and I have already decided we would be splitting off. Weíve covered most of the ride anyway and said our thanks to Jim for organising.

The rest of the group took off while we stopped to put air in Devilís tyres as heíd aired them down for the adventure riding. For all the grief he gives me for carrying too much shit, it was amazing how quickly he gave up on his manual pump knowing I was carrying a compressor. HahÖ

Trying to decide on a reasonable way to get to Auckland, not too many highways but not too long we headed north for Rotorua as I needed gas anyway. We reached Rotorua just after 1700 I filled so we could both make Auckland without another stop. We cleaned some of our gear, I swapped to my clear visor as it was getting dark and had a quick chat with a curious motorist who had a bike himself.

Devil was happy for me to lead so we took SH5 to Tirau (I donít do SH5 too often and the glades are nice) and then up SH27 until SH2 and boring slog back to Auckland (mmmm, what if work didnít exist huh?). We hit the motorway which was a smooth run until near Manukau, when a motorist seemed intent on holding everyone up in the fast lane by refusing to move over. Cars would eventually make their way around him but I was in the mood for educating a fellow motorist.

Eventually our turn behind the car and I ease up behind and flash high beam, as a request for him to move over. He has plenty of space in the middle lane and I give him time to move. Unfortunately (for him), he seems to ignore me, so I stick my lights on high beam and plaster the arse end of his car with light, lighting up the entire car, and all occupants within.

Amazingly, he still refuses to budge and Iím almost on the verge of overtaking before he finally suddenly swerves into the middle and almost the slow. I give him a hard look and a shake of my head as we pass by, but the rest of the trip is uneventful and Iím home around 2000. Iíve done Pureora before, and will do again, but itís still nice to catch up with some of the NGARNZ guysÖ
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  1. gijoe1313's Avatar
    The usual shenanigans and gremlinesque type behaviours. Good to see you are reining in your predilection for carrying the kitchen sink! (will wonders never cease with this new Gremlin?)

    A very restrained ride by your usual standards!