Friday 22nd June 2007:
I spent the day staring out my window from my office chair in Hamilton, looking at the weather, just trying to decide.
Should I stay or should I go? Each hour the weather changed dramatically, from blue skies, to unbelievably hard rain and wind.
By 4pm my boss was begging me to work through the weekend so he could reach a deadline, and it was his delay that caused the last minute panic. This was all the reason I needed to go, phooey to the weather, its only wind and rain after all.
So By 5pm I’m saddled up and sitting at Warr’s house, watching him and his wife get their wet weather gear on.
We leave at at 5:30pm in the wind, the rain, the dark.
Headed to Wangarei for the night.
The rain was excessively heavily, and some time is spent under a bridge on the southern motorway, waiting for Warr to get his rain over gloves on :)
Dinner is found in a gas station on the northern motorway, where we meet another rider, she is from Tauranga, and headed to Wangarei, another crazy person in the world!
Wangarei is reached, and a warm dry house awaits us.
Saturday 23rd June 2007:
Up at 7am, and on the road by 7:30.
Heading due west towards dargaville. This leg is only 60kms long, so dargaville is a good place to stop for breakfast.
The rain is hard, the wind is blowing, and on cold tyres the road is a little slippery.
After breakfast we head north toward Rawene, through the forest.
The forest road is massively slippery, and whenever the sun breaks through the tree canopy, the road almost completely disappears. So vision and traction are fought with, throughout this leg.
Rawene is reached and the sky is blue - yay!
So the wet weathers are stripped off while we are on the ferry.
We decide not to turn left toward state highway 1, but instead go through broadwood, a nice leg, and the road is starting to dry out, although the wind gusts keep my concentration on high alert.
Kaitaia finally reached. I feel so far away from home. I see a sign that say Cape Reinga 104kms. I better fill up with gas here.
The roads opens up, and turns almost in to desert. lots of straight roads.
Occasionally I see a glimpse of the hill in the distance, this leg seems to go on forever.
Hard on the brakes, here comes the gravel. The last 20kms of state highway 1F is gravel. It takes me a corner or 3 before my riding adapts to the gravel, then speed climbs to around 80kph, touching on 100kph on the straights. Warr, of course, disappears in to the horizon.
Destination reached. The top of the north island. I celebrate by using the flushing toilets there, and smoking a cigarette or 2. The sky is blue, the wind is howling, the sea is rough, but we have made it to the top.
The return trip is much of the same, gravel speeds are slow going but comfortable. When the tar seal is reached, license losing speeds we’re touched on once or twice.
Back at Kaitaia we stop for lunch at the Kauri Kingdom.
I’m complaining already of sore arms, and shoulders.
So lunch is finished and we head south down state highway 1, toward Wangarei.
I take the lead for the first time in the journey.
The first obstacle is reached on this journey when we hit the tight twisty gorge.
The rain has started again, the road is very very tight, and there is oil all over the road. The speed is adjusted accordingly. Then the road opens up after we leave the gorge and the speed crawls up to a sedate 110kph occasionally touching on 120kph.
right hand bend BANG& I’m lying on my back sliding along the road looking back up the road from where I came. My only thought is “There is a VFR behind me, I hope he doesn’t run me over”.
I come to rest in a ditch about 2 metres below the road. I see Warr come to a stop up on the road, jump to my feet, wiggle all my joints to ensure they are all still working, and yell to Warr that I am ok.
A little bit of panic sets in. My only thought was to get back up on the road.
I pat my helmet down with my hands to check for any cracking, to ensure my head hasn’t taken a bash. Warr, who has obviously figured out that I am ok, is saying something about my bike, and has run down in to the ditch.
I’m saddened to see the hornet upside down, about 2 metres below the road, with the handle bars lodged in a tree.
Warr is concerned about the bike, and it takes a while for my brain to process what is going on. Soon enough I come to realise that we are miles from anywhere, and we need to get home, that’s why he worried about the bike.
We try to get the bike up on the wheels, but it is too heavy.
I hear a car up on the road, so I run up and wave it down.
“have you got a tow rope?”
“Nope” comes the reply, but there is another vehicle coming, and it is a four wheel drive, surely they will have one.
“have you got a tow rope?”
“Nope, but I have a winch!””
So Warr and the 4x4 driver start sorting out the winch.
We now successfully right the bike, and winch it back up on to the road on it wheels. Thanks goodness Warr is still thinking logically. He is trying to minimise damage so the bike can be ridden home.
Back up on the road, everything looks bad to me, but Warr seems happy with what he sees. The throttle cable is damaged, and the rear brake lever is pointing in a strange angle, but everything else looks ok, apart from the massive cosmetic damage, which is all I can focus on.
After a cigarette or two, my nerves are slightly better, and it is time to “get back on the horse”
Firstly check everything is working. The front brake action is slightly different, and the rear brake lever is at an odd angle, but everything else is normal, WHEW!.
So firstly to get my confidence back! .. speed is not the enemy I discover, and there is no fear from speed, but right hand corners look awfully slippery right now.
100kms later we are back in Wangarei. It has been a hard 100kms with no mirrors, and the mental fear of slippery right hand corners, but I have made it.
After dinner, my brain gives up, and I can barely hold a conversation. I’m completely mentally drained.
Sunday 24rd June 2007:
I slept until 8, which I needed, I was whacked last night. We leave Wangarei at around 9, and soon enough we are staring at heavy rain. A quick stop to get the wet weathers on, and over the brynderwyns, and in to heavy rain we head.
The road looks very very slippery, but Warr is in the lead, with his wife on the back, and not struggling very much, so it must be all in my head.
I still have no mirrors which makes riding very difficult. I tuck in very close to Warr so I can follow his lead, hopefully he is looking in his mirrors.
We stop at snells beach for lunch, and Warr breaks out the screwdriver. I think he has had enough of me following him, with my head light pointed at a strange angle.
Back on to the motorway, and what a nervous time this was. With no mirrors it is quite challenging.
Once we reach Ngaruawahia, we turn off towards Whatawhata. This is a road I know, and a good time to build my confidence back up again, so the speed climbs to a less than legal speeds, and I concentrate on the basics of riding, and try to ignore my nervousness in right hand corners.
Finally home at Whatawhata .. what a weekend
Not the best outcome, but my objective was achieved.
I guess now I get to “customise” my bike :)