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Thread: Shafty's First Grand Challenge

  1. #1
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    30th March 2004 - 21:29
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    Shafty's First Grand Challenge

    Rusty Nuts Grand Challenge 2007


    I had previously enjoyed a couple of “4 Points” events that Rusty Nuts MCC had organised, then earlier this year completed the Southern Cross event – which was fantastic, so I couldn’t resist entering the 1000 Mile Grand Challenge when the time came around.

    The bike was serviced, new tyres all round, and I’d completed a night ride (midnight to 8am) with a couple of Mates as practice, which went well and proved my riding gear was up to keeping me warm thru the night. With my packing list complete, the ST1300 was loaded up, radar detector transferred from the car and I headed off to Turangi via the Western Access route, arriving at 5pm at the Shell station to refuel for tomorrow’s start.

    I booked in at the camping ground, and headed straight for scrutineering to save the hassle the following day – all went sweet, so parked the bike up and wandered around, taking some photo’s, admiring the bikes and meeting some faces familiar from earlier events. Once my riding Buddy, Tony on his FJR arrived, it was off to tea at the Shell Truck Stop, infamous from last years DVD. I wasn’t really hungry but tradition is tradition!!

    The route was revealed around 7pm, along with nice clear instructions – these Rusty Nuts Guys are super organised. The route was a goodie – I was stoked – it took us back over the Western Access skirting around Tokoroa to Putaruru, thru to Old Te Aroha Road, > Paeroa > Ngatea > Auckland > Orewa > Dargaville > Kaitaia > Bay of Islands > Wellsford thru to Helensville > Pukekohe > Tuakau thru to Otorohanga > Te Kuiti > Ohura loop then Taumaranui back to Turangi = 1620 km’s in 24 hours, starting at 3.24pm the next day.

    A few quiet drinks catching up with Dougie NZ, and meeting KoroJ and an earlyish night in prep for the big day didn’t really work – too excited about the ride I guess, but a late arising, shower, free brekie, and time to kill, draw up our maps etc and an afternoon snooze. That made me feel sleepier still!!

    3.24pm saw the Blue Card being held up, signalling the start for a dozen or so bikes heading out in fine conditions but wet roads. A speedy run thru to the Kurutai turnoff, as I settled in to the groove and passed - and was passed -by bikes galore as we shuffled for position. 63 km’s into it, on SH32 thru to Whakamaru I came across a Guy I’d met earlier on his nice blue Aprilia stranded on the roadside with a flat rear (no JAFFA’s, that’s not a new type of coffee). So I pulled up and threw him my puncture repair kit, then set off after my mate who had passed as I stopped.

    Still nice and fine, with drying roads as I follow the throng turning into Old Taupo Road toward a speedy time check at Puketurua Hall. We were soon arriving in Putaruru, smiling while we passed all the bikes gassing up, as our big tanked tourers cruised on thru, unable to resist a toot and a wave.

    The route took us on to Whites Rd – a right hander just north of town and thru past Okoroire to the Kaimai road, but it was left here for us, thru to the start of the Old Te Aroha Road, - mostly familiar territory so far, so all good.

    Dry roads and a pretty fast pace thru here, and lots of concentration to keep the bike on track, til we come across a group of stopped bikes, attending to a fallen rider. A Rocket 3 was lying in the grass, with a snapped strainer post at the end of a skid mark showing the point of impact. There were about 8 bikes stopped already, we couldn’t contribute any more, so I led a small group thru albeit at a more modest pace toward Te Aroha, where Tony and I stopped for a drink.
    My flip front Shoei really pays off in such situations – flip the front open, reach for drink from front glove-box – all while still on the bike, no need to remove helmet, radar earpiece etc

    Off we shot at a rapid pace to Paeroa for the first checkpoint – at a crowded Mobil, so we parked across the road, ran over to get our cards clicked and refuelled at the other end of town. I was feeling tired already, so had some chocolate and a drink here as well.

    Back on the bikes and we flew thru to Ngatea, turned off just past the Shell station to avoid the well patrolled Ngatea straights, enjoying a nice 140 km cruise speed. Pretty quickly we arrived at the Bombay Café at 7pm in the rain, parking under their verandah as we peeled off the layers for a sit down dinner. We had taken the view that we just had to get back to Turangi within 24 hours to meet the challenge, so felt a meal stop was sensible.

    Once we had refuelled our bodies, it was back on the bikes and into the rain – yuk! The rain alone was OK, but a wet Auckland motorway didn’t appeal. We had plenty of gas on board – the ST takes 29 litres which gave me a strategic advantage I used to great effect the next day! We sat at 120 km on the wet slippery shiny motorway from Bombay right thru to Orewa – traffic wasn’t too bad, - a good section to get out of the way – til tomorrow of course when we would retrace this portion.

    The radar detector paid for itself as we exited the motorway, picking a cop out of the crowd in the dark in plenty of time to reduce to a legal speed – thank you Mr Escort.

    More wet roads and rain as we headed thru Waiwera, Tony on my tail the whole way, us both maintaining a creditable pace given the conditions. We pulled in to Wellsford gas station as agreed at 9.20pm, to check fuel and each other. I had felt really tired after dinner – strange because I’d made sure I had good sleep leading up to the event. But now I was wide awake and feeling good, despite the rain. Tony on the other hand was suffering, was wet thru and had problem with his helmet misting up and decided to pull out.
    A sensible decision and a gutsy one. I was on my own, had enough gas so without further ado, headed outta town, soon latching on to the back of a group of 4 or 5 who were riding tidily.

    We headed west from the Brynderwyns toward Dargaville, until a collection of tail lights gathered on a left hand corner. I quickly saw someone had taken the corner a bit wide and was in the grass, so positioned my headlight on the scene so we could see what we were doing and a couple of us easily lifted/dragged the beaut ’66 Norton back on to the road. The Rider was fine and the only damage seemed to be a bent left footpeg – great out come. A couple of kicks got the Norton roaring to life and it sounded beautiful.

    The bunch shot off, and I trailed Mr Norton thru to Dargaville just in case, though there was apparently no need as he was hoofing along at a healthy pace. We had some strong winds thru here, but it was a nice fresh breeze – made me feel grateful to be alive and the wind would dry out the roads – surely?

    In to Dargaville at 11.15pm for a gas-up and pee stop, checkpoint plus an energy drink and quick chat. Straight back on the bike before I could think about how much further we had to ride, the roads now really greasy, wet and smooth. I passed some of the bunch I rode with earlier, but the big KTM (Warewolf) and his mate on a new Kawa 250 Sherpa (ClintNZ) were moving at a great pace and eluded me. Several times during the night I would pass them as they stopped to share gas/have a drink etc, then they would fly past me riding real sweet, my hats off to them.

    The tight winding wet roads of Waipoua Forest – normally a delight in the dry daylight, were strewn with branches from the severe winds, the ST seemed about a metre too long for the sharp bends and I would just exit a corner to see “The Trailies” tail lights disappear again. I encountered 3 bikes, 2 riding together, coming the opposite way thru here – they must be in the GC, - why else would you be riding in the wet at 12am? But they must be lost as this is definitely NOT a short cut coming home this way. Oh well…

    I flew thru Opononi – thinking it as something of a crime to fly thru such a beautiful part of the country, at night, without stopping to appreciate it, but this was a time challenge afterall!
    Signage was good and the route to Kaitaia was easy to follow without consulting the map, with intermittent rain all the way. I felt I was riding well, no real panic situations, and given the state of the roads and the time of night, the ST was flowing beautifully. The electric screen is like gold in these conditions, the power and ABS/Linked brakes a delight. It was dark and wet, but not cold, with the hot grips as yet unused. All my gear was performing well, and I was still dry under the wet gear I had worn from the start to avoid a roadside pantomime when I encountered rain.

    It felt good to reach Kaitaia at 10 past 2.00am – I was half way! Yay! Quite a collection of bikes here, including one entrant on a Aprilia 125 sport bike – he’s keen! Plus an ex Paramedic BMW which looked grouse in white, despite sacrificing a mirror to a bird he hit on the Western Access. A Triumph Sprint, complete with right side grazing where it hit the road earlier in the event. A father and son team on a VTR1000 and SV400, putting in a good effort, despite Dad’s attempts at navigation apparently.

    Pic 1: Club Med Turangi
    Pic 2: The ideal GC bike
    Pic 3: Ulysses Entrants with KB'ers amongst them
    Pic 4: Typical 2am refuelling scene

    Continued...............
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    "If you haven't grown up by the time you turn 50, you don't have to!"

  2. #2
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    30th March 2004 - 21:29
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    Shafty's First Grand Challenge Continued...

    I sculled a can of Vee, gassed up, checked in, had a pee, texted my Lady as promised, and hit the road ahead of the bunch. I did this wherever possible, - I enjoy riding alone, using the full benefit of high beam, not worrying about blinding riders in front, nor being distracted by lights in my own mirrors. A few k’s up the road and the big right at Awanui – I felt great – a nice piece of road, no rain now, roads pretty dry and headin toward home! I had a great run down the coast, mostly on my own til I stopped in pit stop fashion for a fast scull of Vee just North of Kawakawa, only to have 4 bikes pass me – bugger! Not fast enough, so I left my half empty can to the local street kids and was off after the posse. The ride was much more interesting here with milestones and towns to pass or pass thru, giving something to look at versus the hours of black hole riding earlier.

    Approaching Whangarei city limits as the sun rose the Trailie Boys buttoned off, and me and Mr Escort Passport 8500 took advantage and whipped ahead with plenty of go juice still onboard. A 29 litre capacity gives such a slothful advantage I love it.

    I flew through to the Brynderwyns in good conditions, Mr Plod must be enjoying a Sunday lie in, - and over the hill at a good pace to complete the loop of the upper North as I congratulated myself on progress so far. I was purposely not looking at the clock on my dash, as I didn’t want to start calculating possible finish times, and start pushing too hard. I knew with the average speeds I was achieving, I would complete the challenge OK, provided I didn’t do anything silly.

    My goal now, was to simply not let any one behind me pass me before Turangi, with my radar detector and generous gas range being my trump cards. Wellsford came up pretty fast, no need for a gas stop (see what I mean?) and over the SH16 route towards Helensville. I was thirsty, so allowed myself an even faster drink stop, quick enough for a quick squirt of water, and off again. Real strong winds thru here mean’t I had to work a bit harder – I even saw a Bus Shelter blown over against a cockies fence! That’s what I call a decent blow job.

    Into Helensville – I was having fun now, could smell the finish line, and enjoyed the challenge of keeping the others behind me. A quick slurp of water in Helensville, a speedy ride thru to the N’Western Motorway, then honked it down thru to Auckland then a good pace all the way thru to Bombay, no cops, great progress.

    I gassed up straight away, noting a lot of Riders here having coffee, food etc, so could see an opportunity to push on quickly. I paid for my gas, got my card clipped, no toilet or food needed – amazingly I felt fresh, despite 1200km’s so far. I got the impression people were watching me make a quick departure which may have spurred them on to do the same – or was I paranoid? Anyhow, great handfuls of throttle had the V4 squirting toward Pukekohe, then out past the motor race track thru to Tuakau.

    This area was new to me from here – but it can’t be too complicated surely – it was an area I’d always wanted to check out. I’d simply memorised the names and sequence of towns to pass thru and the signage did the rest. A real pretty little rural area, that’s for sure, but as I clocked up more k’s, the weather started to stir up, with strong winds pushing the bike around, narrow twisty roads with steep drop offs if the wind got the better of you, wet shining tarseal and debris across the lanes, all good character building stuff.

    I eventually surfaced in Ngarawahia, whipped around to the Otorohanga turn off and was away. This is a grouse piece of road, so I was happy – but not for long. The wind was even stronger, with some America’s Cup tacking required to keep on the road, throw in some freshly laid thick gravel and the gloss was taken off the dream road. At one stage I pulled over to let the cars pass me – they were probably enjoying the display of the ST sailing along at 45 degrees, but I couldn’t hold a decent speed, so let them thru.

    In thru Whatawhata, Pirongia, then Otorohanga, back in my sales territory and familiar country. A quick toot to Riders in the servo, and on the main road to Te Kuiti.

    Heading out the other side of Te Kuiti Mr Radar picked up a Cop ahead, turns out he was trolling in the same direction, and soon enough caught someone doing 65 km/hr on the edge of town, put his lights on and pulled an untidy 3 point turn on the main road to pull him over. At least he was outta our way, so more gas was applied.

    A couple of Guys were now behind me here – a new Kwaka Concourse rider I’d met earlier and his Mate on a Blue Bandit, These Guys were experienced Riders, so I thought I’d better make sure I was riding tidily too, and soon got in the rhythm, the bike cornering nicely, despite wet greasy roads – it was fine and the new tyres were performing brilliantly, no slipping at all, and using my engine for braking versus the discs.

    Turning on to the Matiere-Ohura road we picked up a GTR1000 and this is a favourite road for me. We’ve just bought some land here, and it’s quite familiar, so despite the moss and cowshit on the wet roads, I was loving it and soon lost sight of the others, no slipping at all. Thru Matiere (great Cosi Club and locals here!) straight on to Ohura where I found 4 or 5 bikes parked, fiddling with gas, gas bagging and generally lolling around, so without killing the engine, got my card punched and off again before anyone else pulled in.

    The end is getting real close now, so avoiding wandering sheep and wild goats on the road, the mighty ST whisked me around the loop to Taumarunui, where I bypassed the first 2 gas stations, electing to stop up at the far end of town, to keep visually ahead of following Riders! Crafty or stupid, I was having fun! I guess 20 plus hours on a bike does strange things to ya. My perfect rendition of Roy Orbisons “Only the lonely” riding thru Whangarei is further testament to this craziness.

    The Gas Attendant thought I was crazy when I told him about the ride in response to his curiosity – and was racing home to look at www.rustynuts.co.nz after work.

    Righto, the final leg. Rain started as I departed Taumarunui, good speeds thru to Manunui but worsening rain and wind slowed me down thru the twisties until the road opened up at Kuratau – then it was just a matter of ticking off the milestones, the lookout, the bridge, down the straight, then left to the camping ground where the Rustys were based. I cruised in at 1pm, in the rain, completing the 1620 kilometres in 21.5 hours, and an estimated 20 hours riding. Inside without delay to hand my card in, and receive handshakes of congratulations from Lee and his able assistant, my badge and certificate, then directed to the dining room for a hot meal and free beer!

    Wow, I did it – it’s amazing how the human body can endure this stuff, - I felt wary, but not too bad at all really, in fact I felt fresher than I had felt after dinner at the Bombays 18 hours earlier. I didn’t get any seat discomfort until 5am that morning, which is amazing, and a credit to the Rider seat I have – and even then, I wasn’t that uncomfortable, just standing on the pegs occasionally for a change.

    Sincere thanks to Lee and all the Rusty’s who do a fantastic job – and who really know their stuff. To watch them work, they are pretty laid back, but clearly relaxed in the knowledge that “they know what they’re doing” – you Guys are awesome!

    The bike performed flawlessly; the tyres went real well, slipping only a couple of times in 20 hours of many many wet roads, once on a white line and maybe a couple of slick patches where throttle was being applied, - I’m very happy with these Michelins. Thanks also goes to my trusty radar detector. If you don’t ride long distances with one, you don’t understand! The ST is the ideal bike for this type of ride – and its no coincidence there were about a dozen entered.

    I take my hat off to everyone who completed the challenge, well done, much respect, especially on some of the smaller machinery used.

    Major admiration for those who qualified to and went on to complete the 500 km extension – they were sent to Foxton and back for some extra fun! And finally, the people who enter these types of events are really good Guys and Girls (at least 3 Ladies completed the Challenge). For more long distance madness see www.rustynuts.co.nz .

    Pic 1: Scrutineering
    Pic 2: Bikes lining up
    Pic 3: Pre Ride briefing
    Pic 4: Ouch! But Rider was fine
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    "If you haven't grown up by the time you turn 50, you don't have to!"

  3. #3
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    Fantastic write-up and hearty congratulations. Words can never describe the battle that goes on in your head in the small hours eh? Funny you should mention the Waipoua Forest as that was the scariest part of the '99 ride. I ran over a ponga frond on one of the bends and had a front wheel slide and we nearly hit a Doberman in the road on an unlit road just north of Dargaville

    RESPECT mate

    Geoff

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbird View Post
    Fantastic write-up and hearty congratulations. Words can never describe the battle that goes on in your head in the small hours eh? Funny you should mention the Waipoua Forest as that was the scariest part of the '99 ride. I ran over a ponga frond on one of the bends and had a front wheel slide and we nearly hit a Doberman in the road on an unlit road just north of Dargaville

    RESPECT mate

    Geoff
    I was on the '99 one too - it wasn't wet through there that time but it sure was blowing. My first GC and a real doosey.

    Great write-up Shafty, bling-d-bling!

  5. #5
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    Good on ya Pete.
    sounds like ya had fun

  6. #6
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    Great write up Shafty.

    Guess you'll be back next year then!

  7. #7
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    Way to go Pete!!

    www.PhotoRecall.co.nz

  8. #8
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    Shafty

    What the fuck have I let myself in for?
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    Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow aren’t just the 4 cycles of an engine

  9. #9
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    30th March 2004 - 21:29
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    - or just a failed fine weather prayer praps Nadroj!!
    "If you haven't grown up by the time you turn 50, you don't have to!"

  10. #10
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    9th June 2006 - 05:24
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    Awesome write up mate, and well done on completing the GC - no naked frolicking this time ??
    are you doing the 'mini returns' next year ?
    Last edited by DesmoJohnny; 17th October 2007 at 21:16. Reason: typos

  11. #11
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    Great write up esp. for us that couldn't make it.

    Glad to see you made it back safe and sound.

  12. #12
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    Pity it was too wet and windy to see all that skin that Dougie talked about from down south.....or was it just not enough celebratory drinks after.
    How a man wins shows much of his character....How he loses shows all of it!!"
    Knute Rockne

  13. #13
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    Well done Shafty!

    Maybe next year you won't have so much of a fuel advantage over us. The Super Sherpa has a 9L tank and because it was being worked so hard the economy dived, 180km was about a safe maximum. I haven't seen Clint's numbers but we thought it was using more fuel than the 640.

    The 640 averaged 4.8L/100km for the run, so 450km to res and 525km to empty. Clint's 18L tank on his 640E should go 350km, twice the range of the wee Sherpa!

    The Opononi Tavern was pumping when we went through; any other time I would've stopped for a bevvy with the locals.
    Cheers,
    Colin

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve McQueen
    All racers I know aren't in it for the money. They race because it's something inside of them... They're not courting death. They're courting being alive.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbird View Post
    Funny you should mention the Waipoua Forest as that was the scariest part of the '99 ride. I ran over a ponga frond on one of the bends and had a front wheel slide
    Hah yes! My introduction to the Waipoua Forest was on the '99 GC, on the Triumph Tiger for that run. It was a delight in the tight stuff and the big twin headlights were great.

    There were three of us in a group. I was right on the tail of the CBR1000, using the high-beam flasher nearly every corner to light up the road when his headlight disappeared around the corner. A couple of times when his tail light disappeared too, I just chucked the bike into the corner after it, not waiting to see where the road actually went! We had a few slides on the ponga fronds, all of us did at least one good road-surfing effort on one, front wheel "hanging ten" on a frond. It was much easier for us following riders, as we could use the light of the bike ahead, plus see which way the lead bike swerved.

    The section after Ruawai was great, that's where I could see long trains of tail-lights snaking their way over hill and down dale ahead of me. Really gave you a sense of camaraderie.
    Cheers,
    Colin

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve McQueen
    All racers I know aren't in it for the money. They race because it's something inside of them... They're not courting death. They're courting being alive.

  15. #15
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    24th May 2007 - 15:52
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    great read,one day one day I shall give it a go

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