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Waiouru: everyone likes a parade

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"Young people today, put 'em in the army, that'll sort 'em out!" Well, recently my nephew decided to put himself in the Army, successfully completed his recruit training and is now a trooper in the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles Regiment (he was pretty well sorted anyway if you ask me.) The family went down to Waiouru for his graduation parade so I decided to take the bike. It was a two day trip, the first from Auckland to Ohakune, the second Ohakune to Waiouru for the parade, then Waiouru back to Auckland.

This would be my first longish winter ride, so I was expecting it to be cold and got rugged up pretty well for it I thought with merino thermals, my normal winter clothes (polar fleece jacket, jeans etc) and the bike gear on top of that. I wouldn't say I was warm (except for my hands on the heated grips), but I never got uncomfortably cold. Also wore a windproof neck tube/ half a balaclava thing which was great at keeping the chill off under the helmet, although not so great at fogging up my glasses whenever I had to slow down to round town speeds - four eyes bad!

The worst part on the first day was the road pretty much the whole way from Ngaruawahia to Otorohanga, which stank of diesel - there seemed to be metre-wide swathes of it on the left side of the lane at regular intervals, plus the surface was wet and the weather very misty. I only had one minor wobble, but it was a nerve-wracking stretch. I did pass a "road inspection vehicle" at one point, don't know if they were there for that reason (and if they were what they could do about it). After that though the road dried out and was fantastic all the way to National Park and on to Ohakune, I'd forgotten how nice a run it is through there although I used to travel it fairly often for ski trips in my youth. The weather stayed cloudy though, so no picture postcard views of the mountains yet.

Entertainment for the evening came in the form of an accident right outside the restaurant where we were eating dinner - a peugeot failed to stop at a give way sign on the main road and t-boned a passing ute. People poured out to help, the drivers from a couple of big trucks stopped and jumped out to see if they could help too (or possibly just make sure they could get past?), an ambulance, fire engines and the local constabulary turned up, everyone was OK but what a great way to ruin your evening if you were the peugeot driver. Another car driver that just didn't look, I guess.

I was a bit worried about ice on the trip from Ohakune to Waiouru the following morning but no problems. Arrived in Waiouru for the parade with snow still on the ground in places. The recruits put on a great show, although who knew you could march to rap/dance music? They even did a couple of mock battle drills complete with insurgents and smoke bombs and shooting. It was all finished off with a rousing haka, everyone was very proud and after tea/coffee, sausage rolls and cakes and lots of photos in the mess I took off back to Auckland around 1.30pm.

The weather had come right by now and the desert road was gob-smackingly beautiful, snow everywhere (except on the road), brilliant sunshine, magnificent mountain views. I managed to pass a truck on one of the straights, although regretted it when I came to the next set of corners as he caught right up to me again, and what followed felt a bit like that movie "Duel", with me trying to put some distance between us on the straight bits and him barrelling up behind me on the corners (of course I could have pulled over but I didn't.)

The rest of the trip back to Auckland was uneventful, although the sunstrike got pretty bad with the sun being very low in the sky (too low for the strip of tape on my visor.) Finished it all off with a bit of night riding from Hamilton onwards - I'm not sure if it's the freakishly small headlight on my bike or I'm expecting too much, but I wouldn't have seen any obstacles in the road in time with the amount of light it throws out and high beam wasn't an option with cars in front of me and oncoming traffic.

So once again I was lucky with the weather, and seem to have a bit more endurance now on the bike thanks to the extra miles I've been doing lately. Still it was tiring, I was sore when I got home and now I've got a cold, but overall it was good. Must take more photos next time - here's a couple I did take (haka and mountains from Waiouru).
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  1. Dogboy900's Avatar
    Riding in the winter around there sounds COLD! A mate of mine rode from wellington to Auckland in the winter once, he stopped for a stretch on the desert road and found the water that had run into his pockets had frozen solid!