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The Post-Christmas Pootle

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This year saw the 90th Anniversary of the Maori Tennis Tournament …which didn’t mean a lot to me, but it did mean that I had to ride to Hamilton, then go riding around the Waikato for a couple of days, then ride back …so, as usual, I was really excited that Ann had to go to the Maori tennis tournament!

Our adventure commenced on Boxing Day with a short hop to Hawera, Ann taking the car because she was hitching a ride from there, then bringing some Moko’s back after the tourney. That was fairly bland riding up SH’s 1 & 3 amidst hordes of traffic, encountering plenty of bikers returning from the Cemetery Circuit Races as I approached Whanganui, where we paused for visits before carrying on. I did extend the trip slightly by diverting at Sanson to cross to Halcombe then rejoin SH3 via Makirikiri Rd. (298Km done)

The 27th saw us on the road before 0920 and I had 3 bars on the gauge so didn’t bother filling until Urenui. I might have been able to get to Te Kuiti, but that would have severely restricted any potential fang through the Awakino Gorge …so that was that!

I was just puttering along, did pause to put the wets on at Inglewood, then stop for the fuel, so as I climbed the hill into Mokau, passing a few cars for the third time, the phone went with Ann advising that they were stopping for whitebait fritters …so I had to stop to be sociable and settled for a coffee. Forty minutes later, (1135) we pulled back into the traffic and I had a pretty good run through the gorge, averaging 95kph despite the traffic, and was up to 97 by the time I got to Te Kuiti, at which point I decided to have a play.

My diversion involved retracing some of the ride Topher took us on last year, making my way across to Putaruru via Rangitoto and Barber Rds, then taking Otewa Rd down to the Tauraroa Valley, onto Maimiihi and Mangatutu Rds up to Wharepuhunga Rd, but instead of turning left, I turned right to try Ngaroma Rd and finally Wairehi Rd to get back to one of our favoured routes along Waipapa Rd. I wasn’t finished yet but! Instead of heading over to Kihikihi, I carried on to Arapuni Rd (by Pukeatua), crossed the Arapuni Dam, then missed my turn onto Horahora Rd, so ended up in Putaruru.

That put me back in holiday traffic and I figured I’d had enough so just headed up SH1, made an appearance at the tennis, then retired to our hotel and finished the day with dinner at the casino. (425km for the day)

I was up at 0700 on Day 3 expecting to go for a ride with mates, but those plans changed due to forecast drizzle, so I opted to still go for a ride to revisit some roads I hadn’t done for a while.

I checked the tyres and filled, then got on the road at 0910 and headed out towards Raglan because that is a nice road that would take me to Te Uku and the southern end of Highway 22. I haven’t done 22 since mid-2011 and figured it was time to check it out again. The expected drizzle had pretty much cleared, but the roads were still wet so between that and the traffic, I was riding at a very relaxed pace with the average at about 80kph when I got to Te Uku and staying at that until about half way up when the Sena battery went flat and I had to stop to attach a power-pack. After that the road opens up bit and gets a bit quicker, although the slick patches are far worse on the northern half.

By 1100 I had transitioned from Tuakau to Pokeno and was joining the masses out of Auckland heading for Coromandel via SH2. That part of SH2 is just a 90kph limit with continuous double-yellows and the traffic was bumper-to-bumper doing 60. In recent years the traffic in Wellington and the lower North Island has become very ‘Biker-Friendly’ whereby in these conditions, the majority of vehicles move well left and if they spot you coming in their mirrors, they attempt to make even more room for bikes to pass. Not these pricks!!! They tended to sit nearer the centreline and if they spotted you, tended to ease right rather than make room. I couldn’t help wonder if the bikers in and around Auckland tend to be arrogant numpties who think they own the road, carve up the traffic and don’t wave to acknowledge those drivers that make room for them, …or if the Dorkland drivers are just a bunch of self-centred, ignorant pricks who don’t want to let anyone else make better progress than themselves? (Probably a bit of both)

Anyway, I didn’t have to endure for too long as I was soon pulling onto Miranda Rd and that was virtually empty …and that raised another question. Maybe half (or more) of the traffic was heading for Tauranga, but with only 1-2km difference between Mangatawhiri and Kopu on SH2, or the way I went, why wasn’t more traffic taking the empty alternative?? …and apart from saving me time, there was nothing special about Miranda Rd.

I was soon across the Kopu Bridge and onto SH25A. The only time I have ever ridden that road was on the 2009 Grand Challenge and I recall it as being ‘quite nice’. Well…all I can say is 25A and 25 are dream roads!! They are curly, have an excellent, clean surface and the lanes are quite wide (for a curly road), so one can focus their ride on good lines, with not having to scan and avoid crap on the road, or a crappy surface, that combined with the wide lanes give one plenty of latitude to hold a pace close to the speed limit. So even though I was encountering and passing clumps of traffic, I still managed to average 80kph across 25A. Another odd thing was that I passed a couple of sprotties. Now I might expect a cruiser, or perhaps a two-up cruiser to be sitting in the queue of traffic, …but a sports bike??!!

Heading south through Whangamata then on to Waihi was more of the same. Short bursts of delicious fang, interspersed with making progress through clumps of traffic, but all I can say is, “Sweeeeet!!” and “a big well done to the Ride Forever crowd that focused on making this road safe for bikers”. They often do that with crappy signs about staying focused or taking breaks, but here they concentrated on the surface.

*Sigh*….all too soon I was in Waihi and called in to ‘The Legend’ Murray’s place, but alas they were out so I continued back through the Karangahake Gorge to Paeroa, down 26 to Tirohia, across Tahuna Rd and back on 26 at Morrinsville and back to make an appearance at the tennis in Hamilton. There was a social on that night and that was that. (362Km for the day)

Thursday was an 0730 rise to get ready, pack, check the tyres, fill at BP to accumulate some discount, then get over to Mobil Hillcrest to meet up with Topher and whoever else would be there, which turned out to be two of his sons and Goose.

This ride was a reverse of some of what I’d done the day before, but with some new roads (for me) thrown in, so we started out to Morrinsville, but halfway up Tahuna Rd we diverted onto Quine Rd, then up 27 to Mangatarata, across 2 for a bit then down through Okaeria, Taniwha and Waiterimu, before heading back up Lake Waikare and through Te Kauwhata to Rangiriri for a coffee and a pie. I tried the pie, having been touted as Waikato’s best …well I’m sorry to say it looked very nice, but it was a bit dry for me and our local Khandallah Parson’s Café makes a PepperSteak pie to die for …so I won’t bother with another Rangiriri offering.

From here we crossed the river but took more ‘new-for-me’ roads by crossing to Highway 22 via Glen Murray Rd, down Rotongaro Rd, then across Hetherington Rd. These were all very nice and in good condition and the bottom half of H22 was easier riding in the dry than it was going up in the wet the day before. Heading back to Hamilton on the Raglan road had more traffic than the day before and would have been better solo, but just to top off the day, about halfway in and just after midday, we encountered a Police Checkpoint on the top of a hill, complete with booze bus. They didn’t actually test us, but it says a lot for the locals if there is a need for this at that time of day …or the local police don’t have enough to occupy themselves and must have filled their quotas for the traffic violations??

We finished the day with a snack at Topher’s, I made another appearance at the tennis, then we went out for dinner (262Km for the day)

It was now time to return home so I had another 0730 rise to scrub and pack before leaving Ann. I needed to get back to the office so a relatively direct route was required and in the end I decided to do the Waikato Expressway to Karapiro, down Horahora Rd to Puketutura and continue on Old Taupo Rd to Tokoroa, on to Whakamaru, down the Western Lake, over to the Para’s and on to Welly. It was generally a downhill run so I thought to make it interesting, and help to ride within the ‘Holiday constraints’, I’d try to do it on one tank (about 550’ish Km).

The tyres needed a bit of air and I only needed half a tank from the day before, so no AA Rewards this time, and I was on my way. I was generally just sitting in the traffic (with a little overtaking) down SH1, then sitting on the tolerance through the relatively deserted minor roads and it all went pretty smoothly. It’s quite intriguing when one is wanting to have a bit of a fang to enjoy a road, but having to avoid using the wrist out of the corners and just maintain the pace …and I wasn’t that good at it at times because every now and then the economy did drop off a little, but I managed to maintain a 95kph average down to Levin. Luckily Nth to Sth on the Para’s is easy on the throttle but I probably didn’t use quite enough constraint because I was already down to two bars when I turned at Sanson. That left a little doubt as to whether I would make Wellington on the tank and in the end, the fact that Levin has the cheapest fuel around, had me stopping there. As it turned out, I put 23 litres in and with generally only being able to put up to 25 litres in my so called 29 litre tank, I suppose it was a good call.

In the end, I got back to the office at just after 1500, did my jobs, got home around 1800, unpacked and waited for Ann. …and prepared myself for the onslaught of rugrats which would disturb my peaceful existence for the next couple of weeks.

Some stats:
I did a few Km (probably 1800+)
Top Speed: varied from day to day
Moving Average: varied from day to day
Overall Average: was slower than the moving average
Temp was between 13 & 26, so the vents in the jacket did get opened.
Rating for the ride: it was rather pleasant.

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  1. Gremlin's Avatar
    That run through to Putaruru looks fun, must remember do explore there at some point...

    Sounds like you enjoyed the break then
  2. biggo's Avatar
    A bit of scouting around for the 2017 NI1600 there John ?
  3. KoroJ's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by biggo
    A bit of scouting around for the 2017 NI1600 there John ?
    After a bit, one gets in the habit of always scanning for roads and conveniently located, easily identifiable checkpoints. Unfortunately, there are masses of sweet roads around the Waikato that would be great for the big rides but they would require too many CP's to force the lazier riders to take them. This is compounded by including the option to qualify for Ironbutt on the NZDR rides as their requirements are very stringent.