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Thread: The Hitchers' Grand Challenge 2007

  1. #1
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    eek The Hitchers' Grand Challenge 2007

    Grand Challenge 2007 – four for me, Mrs H’s third. My second on my trusty FJR1300, Mrs H’s first on something other than a Marauder.

    Speculation as to the 1,600km route prior to the official posting of the map at 7:00pm on the Friday, is always subject to much speculation. The last few GCs have involved westerly and easterly jaunts around the central North Island. I had had a thought that this event hadn’t been “north” for a while and earlier in the week, using Google Maps most excellent “directions” facility, had worked out that a 1,600km route via Kaitaia was a possibility. Indeed this proved to be more than a possibility, but not the one I had speculated upon. Perhaps the Rustys may be interested in mine for a future event…

    With a few GCs under our belts now, the annual pilgrimage to Turangi has taken a special place in our lives. Not saying for a moment that we are GC addicts. Heaven forbid!

    We now are on good first-name terms with a goodly swag of our fellow pilgrims and the most excellent Rusty organisers. Each year we learn more about what the Rustys do behind the scenes and in advance of each event, and they are truly tremendous and caring folk.

    There is now a “hard core” group of Kiwi Bikers who participate in this event, some of whom we met and know, and others we don’t. It’s not easy to get around all of those who attend – particularly those who only roll up a few hours before the start.

    Our bikes had had regular services and special attention the week before the event (my FJR had its 40,000km service, Mrs H’s its 12,000km service and a brand-new set of Avon Storms) and easily passed the fastidious attention of the Rusty scrutineers.

    Then it was time for a Truck Stop dinner with the Taranaki contingent and assorted others prior to wandering back to the motorcamp kitchen to soak up the minutiae of the map.

    Awanui was to be our most northerly destination, having reached this via Putaruru, Paeroa (checkpoint 1), Dargaville (checkpoint 2) and checkpoint 3 at Kaitaia about 10km prior. We would then skirt down the eastern side of Northland, turning off at Wellsford to take a north-western entrance to Auckland and checkpoint 4 at the Bombay Service Centre. From there it was westward ho to Tuakau, down route 22 to Waingaro and Ngaruawahia, Pirongia, Otorohanga, checkpoint 5 at Ohura and then the remaining 116km to the finish at Turangi.

    The weather for the first three hours was excellent. Fine and dry roads. Mrs H set a cracking pace for the first stage to (almost) Tokoroa before detouring to a time check at Puketurua (wear the fox hat). We averaged better than 120kmh for our first hour. Ascending the Bombays, the weather started to change with the odd heavy spit appearing. Summiting the Bombays, all we could see to the north was a black blanket of rain. We stopped at what would the following morning be checkpoint 4 and donned our super-protective rain gear.

    Just as well, as the journey from there largely to Wellsford was in torrential rain, and gale-force winds. These winds accompanied us for the balance of the event. While the rain abated at Wellsford, we still struck the occasional shower over the balance of our journey. The winds across the plains to Ruawai and then Dargaville were extremely brisk. I was glad I no longer rode an ST1300.

    From Dargaville we headed up through the Waipoua kauri forest, along the southern shores of the Hokianga harbour to Kaitaia via Kaikohe. I’m pleased we did the forest stage at night, as oncoming traffic (of which there was none) would have been much harder to see and cope with during daylight, when this road is full of tour buses, campervans and Germans in rental Toyota Corollas. Mrs H made extremely good time through Waipoua, clearly enjoying the confidence a set of magnificent Avon Storms had endowed her Bandit.

    I loved the Mangamukas just south of Kaitaia. Not only twisty, but beautifully sealed and cambered. As with the Waipoua forest stage, the FJR howled along nicely in second gear, with the rare excursion into third.

    After a longish stop at Kaitaia (thanks to a queue for the sole dunny at the service station), we were off into the night once more. Our gas stops to this point had been at each of the three checkpoints. At 413km the next stage was somewhat longer, and the stretch and coffee while topping up the bikes at Whangarei in the wee smalls was most welcome.

    The sky started to brighten from Kaukapakapa (that Helensville back road does not impress me much) and we rode through Auckland in daylight with the motorway system almost to ourselves.

    Another longer stop followed at the Bombay Service Centre checkpoint before setting off down route 22 through Waingaro to Ngaruawahia. What a fucking goat track! Crap surface, slick tar where the chip has been rolled out, off camber corners, tar snakes, and newly applied centreline (my sphincter puckered on one corner as the rear stepped out). It was certainly a blessed relief to get back onto a better road, in the form of SH39 to Otorohanga via Pirongia. Until, that is, we hit extreme gales south of the Kawhia turnoff.

    There was no gas at checkpoint 5, so we stopped for our final fill at Te Kuiti.

    A highlight of this trip was the ride into Ohura from SH4. Mrs H led in, and was clearly well into her stride by now, enjoying the nimbleness of a Storm-equipped Bandit 650. She also led out again to Taumarunui. By now the road was starting to gather a rather impressive selection of limbs and other tree litter that had been ripped off by the gales.

    We returned to Turangi at about 1:15pm in good shape and great spirits. A magnificent Rusty Roast Dinner set us up well for our slumbers and sweet dreams of next year’s Grand Challenge.

    Thanks to the Rustys for another top event. You guys and gals rock!

    And the four riders (including KoroJ) who earned extra credit by riding an additional 500km (to make 2,100km for the 21st GC), you guys SERIOUSLY rock!

    And thanks too to all of the other GC participants we met en route. It’s a privilege to ride with you folk.
    "Standing on your mother's corpse you told me that you'd wait forever." [Bryan Adams: Summer of 69]

  2. #2
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    20th April 2007 - 22:06
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    All these right-ups are getting me in the mood for next year - where's that entry form...

  3. #3
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    6th January 2007 - 15:03
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    A MIRR (Mention In Ride Reports)...I feel famous.

    Nice one Brett, It's great that we get to extend the memories of the adventure by reading all these reports. I'm also glad to see that someone else has the same crappy recollection of H22/Waingaro Rd as myself.
    How a man wins shows much of his character....How he loses shows all of it!!"
    Knute Rockne

  4. #4
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    15th November 2005 - 10:09
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    Nice one Hitcher

    I wasd GLAD to be riding an ST. Didn't see any FJR's completeing the extension!

    Avon Storns and 'SH' 22 - totally agree!

    Cheers
    Regards

    DougieNZ
    J'Ville
    Wellington

  5. #5
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    28th August 2005 - 19:37
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    The 'H'ers

    KoroJ has copies of the full res shots.
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    Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow aren’t just the 4 cycles of an engine

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nadroj View Post
    KoroJ has copies of the full res shots.
    Sweet! Thanks Nadroj. Nothing beats that "been there, done that, my piles are bleeding" look of relief at the end of a GC.
    "Standing on your mother's corpse you told me that you'd wait forever." [Bryan Adams: Summer of 69]

  7. #7
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    7th May 2007 - 14:56
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    Nice write up Hitcher.

    Another convert of Highway 22. I've done it twice now. Both in the wet. But would like to give it a go in the dry sometime.

    Cheers

  8. #8
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    30th March 2004 - 21:29
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    Good write up Dude - the GC's are certainly "something else".
    What time was your departure from Turangi?
    Spotted you at the penultimate Check Point, but pressed on after gassing up, feeling good to go.
    "If you haven't grown up by the time you turn 50, you don't have to!"

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by shafty View Post
    Good write up Dude - the GC's are certainly "something else".
    What time was your departure from Turangi?
    Spotted you at the penultimate Check Point, but pressed on after gassing up, feeling good to go.
    We were away from Turangi at about 3:05pm.
    "Standing on your mother's corpse you told me that you'd wait forever." [Bryan Adams: Summer of 69]

  10. #10
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    Cheers, I was away at 3.24pm, justb aiming to safely finish within 22 hours. The ST performed well, no scary moments to speak of, thankfully the new (off the shelf) rubber fitted that week performed beautifully.

    After the event I thought "That was fun, but I've got it out of my system now" But since then, well, (cough) ..........if I'm in the country, ...........to quote the Governor of California "I"LL BE BACK"
    "If you haven't grown up by the time you turn 50, you don't have to!"

  11. #11
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    20th June 2005 - 14:27
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    all these moans and groans about 22 .. funny !!!

    its a good "challenging" road in the dry .. I assure

    Before the Grand Challange, I think the last time I did 22 was warr (surprise surprise) and we both chewed out tyres, through .. err .. umm .. over enthusiasm (sp?)

  12. #12
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    15th August 2004 - 17:52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hitcher View Post
    down route 22 through Waingaro to Ngaruawahia. What a fucking goat track! Crap surface, slick tar where the chip has been rolled out, off camber corners, tar snakes, and newly applied centreline (my sphincter puckered on one corner as the rear stepped out).
    Hey, that's one of the primo biking roads around Auckland?!
    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.

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