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Gremlin's Tall Stories

2012 KB Gathering - Saturday (02/06/2012)

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Last year I’d had to skip the Gathering as I was mid prep for my USA Trip and my bike was somewhere on the ocean anyway. This year there were no such problems, so why not catch up with a few folk I don’t often see.

We met at the BP Papakura Autobahn… for once, I was actually early, around 0815, with barely a soul in sight. GiJoe came out of hiding in the shops, but declared he only had a daytime leave pass, so would return to Auckland some time during the day. In due course some of the others arrived, NinjaNanna, Ntoxcated, the Qks and a newbie, Mplant.

Shortly after 0900 we decided no-one was coming, so headed off. We took SH1 south through Huntly and Qkchk ducked off with a wave at Taupiri, taking the main bypass south. It turned out later she wasn’t feeling well at all and had already spoken to Qkkid about it, and was taking the direct route to Taupo to rest up.

We turned off the main drag at Ngaruawahia (much to my relief) and took the back roads due south. I had nominated myself TEC but GiJoe couldn’t let that pass, so decided to be 2nd TEC (the bloody cheat). Mplant was in front of us and it quickly become apparent that he was definitely a learner as the others disappeared into the distance while he couldn’t get close to open road speed. I watched and observed for a while noting the mistakes he was making and moved ahead, motioning him to follow me.

Using some of the tricks I’d learnt from others in the IAM riding I pointed out important items and where to be on the road, getting him to follow me. The others had also been naughty and not left us a trail to follow, but the route was reasonably simple. After Mplant had been following me for a while and seemed a bit better I put him in front again and the improvement in his riding was clear to both GiJoe and I and good for at least a 10kph increase in speed.

The others had stopped in Otorohanga for a re-group, so I explained what was going on. Questioning Mplant, he’d only been riding for a couple of weeks. Perhaps not the best ride for a very green newbie, he was in for a baptism by fire then! The temperature wasn’t particularly high (I’d been running my heated grips) and Mplant was looking very cold, so he put on another layer of clothing and commented he felt much warmer. I was rugged up in my Rukka suit so wasn’t feeling cold at all.

It was only a short hop to Te Kuiti, the next stop so we continued, with GiJoe, Mplant and I bringing up the rear. The more flowing roads were easier for Mplant so we made pretty good time, but arriving at the Z there was no-one sight. I should have checked where we were specifically re-grouping, but filled up anyway and guessed they’d be at my next choice, the eatery next to the BP at the other end of town, and sure enough, they had already ordered. Time for lunch then, as there wouldn’t be a more convenient time for lunch later.

We discussed the route for the afternoon over lunch, deciding to do Awakino Gorge and the Forgotten Highway. However, this was not a good idea for Mplant, being a challenging and long ride, not stuff for newbies. GiJoe offered to lead Mplant towards Taupo and then return to Auckland, so Ntoxcated, NinjaNanna, Qkkid and I headed south west through the gorge. The others were comfortable on a pace a little above legal, me not as much, so after a few overtakes they slowly disappeared into the distance. I wasn’t too fazed as I knew where I was going anyway and figured they would stop at some point to re-group.

The ride along the west coast was stunning. Conditions were windy and overcast but it was still a nice sight riding beside the ocean. No bikes in Urenui so I continued on, taking the turn off for Stratford. The run along the straights was predictably boring, so I looked forward to the re-group in Stratford… except there were no bikes. Z empty, turn at the roundabout… no bikes. Slightly puzzled, I figured I may as well continue. They were big boys and *should* be able to take care of themselves. They were travelling quicker anyway, so it wasn’t a good idea for me to be the one waiting…

I had a fantastic run through to Whangamomona, all sealed roads this side, but took it carefully through a few damp sections. The rest required sport mode to be dialled into the ESA as I kept whacking the stands on the road through the tight cambered corners, despite 2up preload settings (and not a lot of luggage). Reaching Whangamomona I needed a toilet break, but the bloody public toilet was up a side street. It can’t be far I thought, and if I left the bike on the main road then the guys would be able to find me if they were behind.

Well, it may not be far when you’re on a bike, but walking it was almost 1km – in full bike gear – oh, and 1km one way. I passed a few locals and they even commented “Why didn’t you bring the bike down?”. In between panting I said I was trying to find people and they could see the bike. Their looks seemed to be a mix of puzzlement and questioning my sanity and I think I felt the same. Regardless, they talked funny but then in the Republic of Whangamomona, everything is a bit different.

I found the toilets and started the return trip and upon returning to the bike the guys were just arriving. Seems they got confused in Inglewood and took a wrong turn. I didn’t think you could go wrong in a town couple of houses but there you go. They looked sheepish enough. Qkkid announced that Taupo was putting on nibbles for us in light of the group booking. That’s nice, but it was happening at 1400 ish, and it was already 1430 and we were a long way from Taupo.

Right, so nibbles missed, the guys felt we should still blast along in a futile bid to get nibbles. I think that’s the reason I’ll put on the elevated pace we did to Taumarunui but it sure was fun. I started a bit behind the guys but passed Qkkid and NinjaNanna and followed Ntoxcated through the gravel section. He sure was keen on the slippery clay on his VTR, but I wasn’t letting some road rider disappear.

We stopped in Taumarunui for more gas (I was good for Taupo having filled in Te Kuiti) and the other two weren’t far behind. We had a good look at a group of bikes that were getting ready to leave, a middle aged group on a variety of bikes from road bikes to cruisers. The guys checked into their respective spouses to update their location (and it seemed the party was already in full swing). We geared up and headed out on the final leg to Taupo, some 1.5 hours away.

Reaching the turn off for SH41 I’m in the lead, so I pull over, indicate to two of the guys to turn off and wait for Ntoxcated. I’m waiting for a little while, enough to wonder how hard 5-10km is when a car pulls up and asks if I’m waiting for a mate on a motorbike… well yes I am and it seems Ntoxcated has decided to chat to a cop, or maybe it’s the other way around? I head back to Taumarunui and find him in a side street just inside the 50kph zone so wait to one side for him to complete formalities.

He’s obviously less than impressed at being pinged but there’s nothing you can do about it, so we head along SH41 towards Taupo. It’s starting to get dark and as we’re heading through the forest there have been rain showers and it’s damn slippery. We take it easy, working our way of the slippery patches and reach SH1 without too many slides.

The GPS proves it’s worth as we reach the Blackcurrant Backpackers before the other guys, even after being well behind, as they struggle to figure out exactly where they need to be. Ntoxcated’s wife (OCD Legend) is already waiting with access to room and I head to check in. The other guys (including Mplant) are already in the shared room so I join them and get out of the bike gear.

We head into town to find the other KB’ers (who are in a bar of course) and turn it into a proper gathering. Many familiar faces, both from Gatherings and also the Grand Challenge. I have a really nice steak sandwich for dinner and we have the odd discussion about the following day amongst the rest of the bullshit. OCD Legend doesn’t really want to tackle the full day on her bike and thinks she might spend the day in Taupo, which can’t be that exciting given she spent the time and effort to get to Taupo.

I offer her the pillion seat on the GSA as Ntoxcated’s practical VTR has no pillion seat and she initially declines. A few pitch in their opinions, including Qkkid who hilariously declares that he wouldn’t pillion behind many people, but I’m one of them… flattering but I can’t remember the last time he saw me ride

We head back to the backpackers to talk more shit before turning in for the night, with an agreed time of 0900 the following morning. I go via the Countdown to get some supplies like drink and food for breakfast and even come to the aid of a cute backpacker who can’t figure out how to operate the hobs, although I would probably be the last person who should ever give advice about kitchen stuff, especially when it involves gas and flames. Still, we got the hob lit, much to the entertainment of the crowd… bastards
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  1. gijoe1313's Avatar
    Jeez, this was a whiles ago, amazing you can still remember details! (mind you, you are a pedantic SOB!) ... And what, no picture of aforementioned cute backpacker?
  2. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gijoe1313
    Jeez, this was a whiles ago, amazing you can still remember details! (mind you, you are a pedantic SOB!) ... And what, no picture of aforementioned cute backpacker?
    Uh... like a fine wine I get better? I envy KoroJ and his quick blogging... I'm farking shocking, still, like the post, it'll always get through!

    No, the poor girl looked a bit overwhelmed at a whole group lobbing advice at her.
  3. KoroJ's Avatar
    Wow! A mention in despatches, I feel really special and would await my bronze oakleaf in the mail...if I had a medal to pin it on!