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Thursday, 21 October 2010

1000 miles in 21 1/4 hours on a Street Triple

Well, as our most revered NZ'er Sir Edmund Hillary said about conquering Mt. Everest, "We knocked the bastard off".  Enormous pride in getting under the 24 hours limit imposed by the organisers, the Rusty Nuts Motorcycle Club who as always; managed to set one hell of a route and had a direct connection to the Weather Gods to throw a whole range of conditions at the hapless entrants!  Pride in making it, but without the slightest exaggeration, pride in sharing it with 4 great mates and riding partners; one who has done 4 previous ones with me, 2 "virgins" and one who had done it a lifetime ago.

I'm hopefully going to avoid boring you to death with the absolute minutiae blow-for-blow of the ride, instead adding a bit of other stuff such as what our thoughts were and how we felt at different parts of the ride to give it a bit of a human angle. Some entrants, usually travelling on their own, go hard out to do it as fast as possible.  Others just hope to do it within the allotted time. We fell in the latter category - enjoy each other's company, sharing the experiences and to get home safely.  My personal motivations for doing it again after a gap of 7 years and turning 63 the day after the event were primarily about whether I still had the willpower and constitution for it .  Also wondered what it would it be like to do it on a small(ish) naked bike after 4 previously on litre-plus faired bikes.  Hell of a way to find out!

Fellow bike blogger, Julian Pearce from Australia of Tar Snakes fame wrote to me recently and quoted the old military adage - the 7 P's.... Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  How absolutely true and over previous months, the guys and I got out in all weathers and times of the day to get mentally and physically prepared.  Lots of emails flying about too on topics such as lighting, clothing, nutrition and so on.  Sort of our own version of the 7 P's in effect!  Now to find out if the planning had actually worked.

This is our tale - click on photos to enlarge:

THE DAY BEFORE
Three of us, Andy, Richard and me live some distance from the start/finish point so we booked a motel near the venue and converged on a half-way point to meet up for lunch and then travel south together.  John P and John H will be riding down on the day of the ride as they're a lot closer.

Apprehensive - who, me??

Richard and Andy's bikes in Tirau - lunch stop at Subway

After lunch, Andy who rides a BMW K1200R, confesses to not entirely having complete confidence in the gel pad he bought to protect his nether regions from prolonged pain.  There's a shop a few km down the highway which sells sheepskin products, so a stop is in order to see what they've got in the way of offcuts to soften the seat.
Andy with shaggy sheepskin - the long haul icon!
..... or maybe a hairpiece for Richard

From the sheepskin shop, it's an easy cruise down to the motel, check in and fit the sheepskin properly.

The object of grubby sheep jokes!

After settling in, we ride over to the temporary Rusty Nuts HQ to introduce ourselves, sign in and get the bikes scrutineered.  The Rustys don't take a current official warrant of fitness as sufficient evidence and have their own rigorous checks, including testing headstock bearings on a precision turntable.  If you don't meet their standards, you don't ride and fair enough too.  All the bikes pass and it's back to the motel for a beer and an excellent meal.

The course for tomorrow's big day is to be posted at 7pm so we head back after the meal to see what horrors are in store for us.  The map is on the wall and route sheets are picked up.  The initial impression of the easterly part of the course is dismay and alarm as it will be negotiated in the dark in an area which just 2 days previously, had road closures due to appalling weather and massive slips.  "Bless me", we said, only we didn't say "Bless".  The offhand comment by one of the organisers of, "They've cleaned up enough of the slips for you to get through with a bit of care" didn't do much to ease the jitters either.  Still, if it was easy, it wouldn't deserve the Grand Challenge title.

This is what 1000 miles/1600 km looks like

The start/finish is at Turangi on the southern end of Lake Taupo in the centre of the map.  The first leg will head south, then east through what can only be described as "Deliverance Country".  Lots of narrow winding roads at the bottom of deep valleys and over ridges in pretty inhospitable terrain, ending at Checkpoint 1 (CP1) in the small town of Waipukurau.  Navigating the often poorly-signposted roads in that area will be extremely difficult so I volunteer to programme my GPS and lead the leg. Programming it turns out to be quite tricky with a lot of similar direction minor roads in the area. The trap is that a number of them are dirt, so make a mistake and it can lead to tears!

Andy volunteers to lead the northerly run up the east coast to CP2 in Gisborne as he grew up on the east coast and still makes regular pilgrimages to see his parents.  This will be the first full leg in the dark and the start of where all the slips are.  We decide that the westbound third leg to CP3 at Karapiro should be lead by one of the Johns as Richard knows the leg south and down towards the west coast and CP4 at Patea very well.  The other John will lead the leg to the finish along the southern Taranaki coast, up through the Parapara Valley and Tongariro National Park to the finish back in Turangi. The organisers have given out a list of 24 hour fuel stops along the way, plus a few that open at other times, so some calculations are done with respect to where and when we might need to stop for fuel.  Although Richard has the best range on his BMW 1200GS,  my bike and John H's ZX10-R will probably be up to100 km short of that.  However, we really need to refuel at the same time to keep in step with each other, even if it's only a "splash and dash".  Hey ho, time for bed as it's the big day tomorrow!


THE BIG DAY OUT
A lie-in is called for as our start (Group 2) isn't until 3.03 p.m, which gives nearly 5 hours of daylight riding.  A decent brunch late morning, then it's on to the diet of mainly dried fruit, nuts and so on to give a linear energy release and reduce the risk of unplanned comfort stops in inappropriate places!

Richard, me and Andy waiting for brunch

After brunch, we ride over to Rusty Nuts headquarters to see what's going on, meet some of the other entrants and have a look at what other bikes are about.  There are apparently about 70 entrants, although there have already been some withdrawals.  The thing with the Grand Challenge is that there are nearly as many motives for doing the ride as there are entrants.  Some enter on small capacity bikes, just to make the ride REALLY interesting.  Some enter on gas-guzzling 2-strokes to make life hard for themselves and that variety is part of the joy of the GC.  Here are a small selection of some of the bikes:
\
 Yamaha R1.  Another sheepskin but oh, those low bars and high pegs!

 
 Gorgeous RZ 350 - sluuuurp!

ZX 1400, Concours and Multistrada, mile-munchers at pace

Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 - unbelievably loud Termignonis

Nice long-range fuel cell on a Bandit - serious stuff

John P and John H arrive early afternoon , check in and proceed straight to scrutineering.  Both bikes pass with flying colours.

John H anxiously watching the VERY thorough check

A short meeting then follows to discuss the route and the proposals for leading the different legs are confirmed, as are the proposed fuel stops.

Andy, John H, John P and Richard discussing strategy
John H's ZX 10-R and John P's ZX 9-R in background

Two hours to go to our start and the seconds tick by very slowly.  The atmosphere is typical of all Grand Challenges as the riders start to "Zone In".  No raucous laughter, just quiet chatter among small groups, many just laying in the shade alone with their thoughts.

Andy meditating for a few minutes

John P, John H and Andy chilling with their bikes

Two thirty comes round and it's time for the briefing by the GC organisers.  Lee Hurley, head honcho, talks about expected weather conditions - fine, but it's going to be very windy as we move east and heavy rain sometime around daylight out west.  Well, at least the only (big) positive is that it's not going to piss down in the dark like so many of these runs.  He then reminds us that this is not a race, it's all about the personal challenge so ride within your limits and take extra care in the areas where slips are still being cleaned up and watch out for lichen on some backroads.  Isn't it refreshing in these litigious days where personal responsibility still rests with the participants, and is accepted by them?

Machiavelli reincarnated - Lee Hurley

The Rusty Nuts organising team - super organised, super low key and super helpful

Riders being briefed

Lee then mentions that when the colour cards allocated to each group of starters are held aloft from 3pm, it's time to get on with the job in hand.  Finally, he announces the winners of the raffle and I'm staggered to find that I'm the recipient of some fantastic Oxford brand throwover saddle bags!!  How cool is that?  I never win anything!!   Back to the bikes to kit up, a lot of us throwing on Icebreaker brand  merino undershirts as they are the best of the best in both hot and cold conditions.  Time for a quick handshake among all of our group and onto the bikes to await the start cards to be raised.

The first card is raised at 3pm and Group 1 depart.  The 3 minutes until our departure seems more like 3 hours in our heightened state of awareness until finally, the green card goes up and so it begins....

I lead off south on State Highway1 and we almost immediately begin climbing up to the Desert Road at around 2800 ft altitude.  Not your normal desert, a barren volcanic ash plateau which surrounds the active volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.  Only fit for military manoeuvres and a few wild horses.  Godless place in bad weather but today in warm, sunny conditions, the snow on the volcanoes makes for a breathtaking backdrop.

Mt Ngauruhoe from Desert Road - altitutude 7500 ft

The group concentrate on settling into a reasonably quick pace, but one which can be maintained without fatigue.  Suddenly, the radar detector goes off and a highway patrol car can just be seen in the far distance.  The universal hand signals for cops go up among all the riders in the vicinity.  As we slowly close, the cop pulls over and stops, turning off his radar too.  Maybe he knows about the ride, maybe he's more keen on nicking errant cage drivers, who knows?  A welcome gesture, whatever the reason.  

Approaching Mangaweka, the GPS indicates a turn to the east and the start of narrow roads and inhospitable country.  None of us have been down here before so it's going to be quite an experience.  Almost immediately, I wonder whether I've programmed the GPS correctly as the road is narrow, rough and covered with a fine clay dust which has been falling from the bluffs on one side of the road.  It isn't long before we come upon the Moto Morini rider.  He's had a lowside on the clay but apart from one side of his bike (and him) being covered in road dirt, everything else seems ok and he tags onto the back of the group.  I'm conscious that we want to maximise distance in daylight so keep up a decent, but stress-free pace.  The GPS seems to be working really well and it's surprisingly comforting.  This area east of SH1 is honeycombed with tiny roads leading in all directions and for people who don't know the area and just using maps or the route instructions, the potential to lose time is quite high.  Not that there's much time for sightseeing, but the terrain is astoundingly beautiful and several of us remark later that we must re-visit with our better halves.  

There's a time check (safety check in case people got lost?) at Ashurst, the end of this twisty section, then through the Manawatu Gorge to Woodville for the first fuel stop.  Leaving Woodville, the wind is building noticeably as we continue to head east and entering the next set of twisties, it's pretty diabolical.  Bikes are getting blown around with the swirling gusts and extreme care is needed when leaned over (i.e most of the time!).  Richard has the map pocket on his fuel tank torn off the velcro and slap him in the helmet, it's that windy!  Equally bad on both the mountain range valleys and going over the saddles - guess that's why there's a huge wind farm near the Manawatu Gorge!  

Coming round a corner just east of Pahiatua, I spot a bike with hazard lights on and start slowing.  Just round the next bend, there's the appalling sight of a rider laying prone on the road with his bike on its side.  Some riders are already on the scene and fellow blogger Bandit Rider (Andrew) is one of the first two bikes to arrive.  Miraculously, one of the other riders there is a doctor and is applying care.  I ask whether any additional assistance is required but one of the guys says that emergency services have been notified.  We carry on badly shaken, all of us thinking that it could easily have been us.  Only considerably later do we find that the rider had suffered a medical condition.  As a postscript, the rider was rushed to hospital and was sent home a few days later.  Profound relief for everyone and every good wish to the rider.

Dusk is settling in and every time we dive down into one of the deep valleys, it gets worse.  A horrible time for riding as the headlights never seem to work particularly well in these transition conditions.  Adding to the stress is the odd cow and other livestock wandering about on the roadside which are hard to spot in the endless twisties.  There's a lot of flooding in the fields adjacent to the road, testament to the terrible weather a couple of days ago.  With it becoming fully dark, the Osram Nightbreaker headlight bulbs fitted to most of the bikes for the ride really come into their own.  Nothing at all wrong with the Triple's lights on this run!  CP1 at Waipukurau is reached without further drama and my 409 km stint in the lead comes to an end at around 8pm.  Now I can relax and follow Andy, who will lead us up north to CP2 in Gisborne.

After some sustenance and a drink, Andy leads off and I drop towards the rear.  The Morini rider is just in front of me and we've been joined at the rear by a VStrom rider who linked up half way through the previous leg.  Andy is setting a great pace on an open, sweeping road, only easing back a little when a vehicle comes the other way out of the pitch blackness in case it's the Highway Patrol.  I'm the only one with a radar detector and being near the rear, I'm as useless as tits on a bull.  There's something really comforting about following other tail lights in the dark, really taking the stress off  and it looks really cool too.  However, the first irritation starts to emerge.  That Morini with its Termignoni pipes is REALLY loud despite the use of ear plugs and whilst listening to it for a short while is great, it starts to get bloody annoying before too long and becomes a distraction.

We reach the city of Hastings and Andy (remember his confident local knowledge of the area?) confidently manages to guide us to a dead end in the middle of a housing estate.  Other members of the group laugh out loud at the irony (nothing like showing no mercy to a great mate).  Fortunately, my GPS is showing the way out of the dilemma and I take the lead for a couple of km until we get back on track.  It's here that Karma bites me in the arse for laughing.  As we turn onto the corect route, I'm looking in the mirror for Andy to resume the lead.  What I've failed to notice is a sort of pavement extension just round the corner sticking out a little into the road.  Fortunately, the sides are sloping rather than vertical and the Triumph leaps over it motocross-style to the immediate hilarity of all who see my inattention.  No damage apart to my dignity, but it's a wake-up call to concentrate in the blackness.  Overall the two stuff-ups have provided some comic relief so it's not all bad!  The section from Napier to Wairoa where the road goes through a series of gorges gives an indication of what's to come.  Water seeps across the road in many places from the cliffs, mixed with clay from the heavy rains just 2 days earlier - a treacherous combination.  Andy's riding is inspired and he sets just the right pace and takes perfect lines to minimise risk.  Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Morini rider who lags behind on the straights and closes right up on the bends, taking some strange lines into the bargain.  It would be quite unfair to label him a poor rider but he's different and maybe not as smooth as the rest of us who ride regularly together and it's breaking up the natural flow of the group watching out for him and wondering what he's going to do.  It harks back to the implicit trust we have among the regular riding group.  This issue was to be remarked on by other members of the group several times later in the journey.

Soon we arrive at Wairoa and stop for a quick safety "splash and dash" as CP2 in Gisborne might be towards the edge of the range of some of the bikes.  It's from Wairoa that Andy really earns his keep as group leader.  Rather than going up the main coast road, the route calls for us to head inland up Tiniroto Road.  We came through here on a trip earlier in the year so know what to expect.  Continuously twisty for the best part of 100 km, maybe 4 metres or so wide, generally poor road markings and slips - eek!  Andy makes it look easy although the personal toll on him trailblazing up front must be pretty high. He sets a good pace but is so smooth in his actions that line changes to avoid slips, rocks or other obstructions are hardly noticeable and stress levels remain low, thanks to his great lead.  We roll into Gisborne somewhere just around midnight (I think), check in, gas up, have more sustenance and put on more clothing for the long night ahead.  Andy has dragged us through just under 300 km of what were potentally hazardous conditions with little seeming effort - bloody magnificent.


Now it's John P's turn to guide us through the next 350 km leg to CP3 at Karapiro just south of Cambridge, the most northerly point on the route.  The first challenge is the Waioeka Gorge which was closed due to massive slips just 2 days ago.  John rides fast but smoothly, gently easing back as he comes across hazards which gives the rest of us time to react with plenty of time.  This makes for a really pleasant ride because of the implicit trust in John and the 140-odd km long gorge is disposed of in quick time.  The only problem for the naked bikes is that there's a fairly strong headwind which makes holding on tightly pretty tiring!

However, another drama is about to unfold.  There's supposed to be a 24 hour gas station in Opotoki which was going to be used as a "splash and dash" to Karapiro.  Oh dear, it's closed and although there may be one that nearby that we don't know about, the decision is taken to go into economy riding mode and gas up in Rotorua, some 140 km distant. A bit of a stretch, but just about do-able.  We set off and run into a bit of mist which coats my visor, but nothing too alarming. A bit further down the road, some of the group peel off to the nearby settlement of Kawerau as they think that Rotorua might be a bridge too far.  The rest of us carry on,with John waiting for a while to allow the others to catch up.  We arrange to all meet at the BP gas station in Rotorua.  My fuel light comes on at approximately 260 km and with about 20+ km to go, my backside starts to twitch.  It's at times like this when you realise that rural NZ is a lonely place at night, with nothing on the road but the GC riders.  I creep into Rotorua and reach the gas station, getting just over 14 litres into the tank.  If my math is correct at that time of the night, there's over 2 litres left in the tank and if it's all useable, I would have achieved over 300 km to a tank.  Pretty darned fine for a Street Triple, even with fairly gentle throttle control over the last 140 km.  We're all reunited some 20 minutes later and set off for CP3.  A really fast transit as this is John's normal riding territory and he does a fantastic job of towing us along!  Refuel, log in with the Rustys manning the checkpoint and snatch some food and drink.  First light is less than 2 hours away and the spirits are starting to lift.  Interestingly, the GPS provided quite a psychological lift for me in the dark, watching the little triangle (me) steadily moving round the map!  And another thing.... we've now covered 1046 km and my arse is still in fantastic condition thanks to the Airhawk pad I fitted for the ride.  Some of my mates are now standing on the pegs whilst riding along on a regular basis to get relief, hehe! 

Richard and John P at 1046 km and still smiling!

Richard takes the lead for the 320 km leg down to Taranaki Province and CP4 as it's a region he knows particularly well.  Someone with reasonable local knowledge up front has worked extremely well although it has to be said the trust between all 5 riders is probably the single most important factor to have made the ride so enjoyable.  Much of the leg consists of interconnected sweepers which is rather pleasant for tiring bodies after the previous conditions!  We pull into Te Kuiti to refuel in early daylight and this gives a real mental uplift.  Time has got a bit distorted and it feels much later than daybreak.

Richard is setting errrr... a "brisk" but totally safe pace and we're munching up the miles.  Going through the magnificent Awakino Gorge is more like a hooligan day ride than towards the end of a long haul which is great fun and breaks up the routine a bit.  However, some confusion reigns over Mt. Messenger.  Just over the summit, John H pulls into a rest area for a comfort stop.  Andy goes with him and John P and I pull in a little further down the road.  Out front, Richard doesn't see this happening and carries on for a bit before stopping for a while.  Because rain is threatening, Richard decides to cruise on down to CP4 in Patea and wait there.  Soon, the rest of us get underway again and near New Plymouth, the rain comes down in torrents, and plenty of wind to go with it.  John H stops to pull on full wets over his Goretex and the rest carry on towards CP4, which isn't too far away.  By now, the empty roads have got a little busier and the reputation of Taranaki Province for its dairy industry is reinforced with the high number of milk tankers on the road.  In short, they're a bloody pain, throwing vast amounts of road spray everywhere and getting safely past is a bit of a nightmare.  A bit of time has been lost since the heavy rain set in and after a wait at CP4, Richard decides to continue on his own.  As we check in, the rain eases and we get ready to tackle the final 240 km to the finish.

John H takes over and with drying roads and a strong rearward wind, we fair scoot along the southern Taranaki coast.  John is particularly vigilant for the Highway Patrol on this stretch, but they don't seem to be out of bed yet.  Turning north in Wanganui, we enter the Paraparas.  This is motorcycling heaven - a twisting road 90 - odd km long at the bottom of a gorge.  John attacks it like a normal day ride and it's great for keeping the concentration levels up as the finish beckons.  We encounter a boulder in the middle of the road which is the size of a car engine block - a good reminder to keep observational skills up. However, the pace combined with the very strong headwind is giving Andy and me on the naked bikes a bit of a tough time (oh, ok, we're knackered!).  The two of us pull over at the Raetihi gas station for a few minutes to coax some life back into seriously aching wrists and fingers before getting underway again.

Gaining altitude as we enter the Tongariro National Park, the weather packs up big time, with torrential rain, high winds and plummeting temperatures.  Pretty darned unpleasant on tired bodies but the bikes handle the conditions with no dramas whatever.  Andy says later that he's fascinated with the huge volume of water that the tread pattern on my rear Avon Storm Ultra is displacing.  They're certainly a fantastic tyre in wet weather and pretty darned good in the dry too.  Soon, we see a sign saying Turangi 10 km and I can't help grinning like a lunatic.  In what seems like only a minute or two after seeing that sign, we're rolling into the finish, 21 1/4 hours after setting out.  No punching the air or anything crass like that, just handshakes between us and a well-done from the Rusty organiser who comes to check our odometers.

We stagger inside, ditch our wet rain gear and collect our badges from Lee Hurley to a feeling of enormous pride, not to mention relief!  The Rustys have a huge pot of steaming stew and dumplings on the go for all the returning riders - absolute perfection given the conditions outside.  John H says that the only thing which doesn't hurt is "this", pointing to the tip of his nose!  The rest of of us hurt in various places, my problem being in the fingers through hanging onto the bars tightly in very gusty conditions.  Can't be helped with a naked bike on a run like this but we'll all recover quickly.

 5 minutes after finishing - grimace or smile?

Mission accomplished and a shower and nice warm bed beckon!

As a matter of note, the 1000 mile in 24 hours rides in NZ take place on twisty 2 lane backroads to make them a genuine challenge, especially in the dark as there is always about 11 hours of riding in these conditions. There's a short video here: Grand Challenge  of part of one daylight section posted by fellow Kiwi blogger Andrew after completing his 10th 1000-miler, plus a dusk section HERE.  Not an easy ride!

SOME PERSONAL THOUGHTS
  • At one day short of my 63rd birthday, I'd answered whether my body was still up to it with a resounding YES!  Sore fingers were fine the following day and apart from being a little tired, that was about it.  Preparing for the ride as detailed in some previous blog posts clearly paid off.  Interestingly, I think my mental strength was better than any previous Grand Challenge.  Mental outlook is a huge part of getting through this ride.
  • Riding with treasured friends.  Doing it solo wouldn't have given me anywhere near the same buzz as the shared experience and it further strengthens already strong bonds of friendship and trust.  Each one of my mates were simply outstanding in the lead which took a lot of stress off those behind them.
  • Night riding on unfamiliar territory was ok because we'd all upgraded our headlights from the OEM bulbs.  Getting out and testing them in the twisties before the ride was essential.
  • The Street Triple - what can I say?  Apart from the obvious wind-blast from a naked bike, I was in better shape on finishing the ride than previous rides on the BMW K100RS and the Blackbird.  Lack of a numb bum was almost entirely due to the Airhawk pneumatic seat pad.  An extreme test of any product.  The fairly upright riding position took the load off the wrists and the light weight and fairly agressive steering geometry made 1000 miles of corners a breeze, as opposed to having to wrestle bigger, heavier bikes over that distance.  No scary moments whatsoever.  Before the ride, I honestly thought I'd be writing about huge levels of pain and exhaustion but it wasn't like that at all. OK, it isn't a good choice for prolonged 2-up riding but after replacing the OEM bulbs with Osram Nightbreakers, the Street Triple is a potent long-distance motorcycle.
  • The Rusty Nuts organising committee and helpers.  Terrific people.  Complete absence of beauracracy, unfailingly friendly and helpful, tough as nails and never fail to set a course that stretches you and then some.  They always stress personal responsibility and amen to that.  The two friends who hadn't previously done a Grand Challenge both said that it was the most memorable ride of their lives.
  • It really sharpens your riding skills.  Riding the 350-odd km home after the event, I was in continuous "Zen" riding mode with heightened observational and riding skills -  like I was on rails.  That's what extended periods of absolute concentration do for you!  Guess fellow blogger Gary Francis will understand this as a result of his mammoth ride across the USA.
  • Will I do it again?  Every time I finish a Grand Challenge, it's "never again", so who knows?  Will need  new motivator though although riding with great mates is always a pretty good one!
   My badge for 5 Grand Challenges - rather proud of that





28 comments:

  1. Congratulations! And a great ride report. I don't think I'd be up to it, so kudos to all who finished.

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  2. A very enjoyable read Geoff, You have done something that I personally dont think I am capable of doing. THe fact that you did it with your mates helps the process I imagine.

    And remember NEVER SAY NEVER!

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  3. Great report of the ride Geoff. Well done for coming in under the 24 hours too!

    Is there a better way to spend a weekend?? Cruising around the countryside on a motorcycle with your mates!!!

    Cheers!

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  4. Well done!!!
    First: Happy belated Birthday
    Second: I am glad you made it all the way safe and sound.
    Third: It sounds you had a blast.
    Forth: I second what Anthony said!!!

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  5. I agree with the others - great ride report! And happy birthday! Sharing this with good friends has got to be the best part. Congratulations!

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  6. A big congratulations Geoff - well done!

    I've been checking your blog each day and was getting a bit worried at the lack of report through most of this week.

    Oh, and thanks for the rap for my blog - though there's not much biking in it at present.

    when I get back from the USA i have week to prep the VFR and get over my jet lag before we head off for a (Melbourne Cup) long weekend of riding the Vic High Country.

    Again, well done Geoff - a great achievement and an excellent report.

    Cheers Jules.

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  7. Thanks very much everyone!

    Canajun: It really depends how motivated you are in wanting to do one. Not everyone's cup of tea. I think I've done my dash now.

    Roger: Same as reply to Canajun. Theoretically, could have done it much faster on my own but that wan't the point of the exercise. All about getting out with some magnificent riders who are cherished friends.

    Sonja: Thanks on all counts. With Jennie in Aussie, my birthday dinner was a cheese and tomato sandwich as that's what I REALLY fancied. Hope I'm not pregnant!

    Mike: Thanks and if you were thinking positive thoughts, double thanks for helpinf to get us home safely.

    Jules: Thanks for worrying! Had mundane stuff such as washing, shopping and other things before I could even think about the blog. Bike still unwashed. Have an incredible time in the high country. Got a hot tip for the Cup? Big over here too!

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  8. Well done Geoff. It was great to meet you and then catch up again on your completion. It's a bit of a shame that I had to pull out but I think it was the best decision for me. Brett's accident shook me up and I might have been a danger to myself or others. I visited Brett in hospital today and he's definitely a lot better than he was on Saturday night but is still struggling with short-term memory.

    I'll be writing up my 1/3 of the GC (and Four Points) at some stage...

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  9. Cheers Andrew - likewise, a real pleasure and I'd have liked more time for a yarn. I think you did the right thing, given how shaken we were. Pleased to hear that Brett is on the mend. Were the others who crashed all ok?

    Look forward to reading your blog as soon as you feel ready. Take care mate...

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  10. Congratulations - 47.06 mph average speed is notable - I'd be lucky to do that on a motorway in UK!

    I'll be looking at buying an Airhawk sometime soon!

    Best wishes from the not-upside-down part of the world, N

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  11. Cheers Nikos. So that's the reason.... being upside down causes rushes of blood to the head :-). Don't think the Triple will be entered again but one of those rushes of blood has got me wondering about doing it on a 50cc scooter, Honda Cub or similar. Now where's that slide rule???

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  12. What a good read and I'm full of respect
    I'm 57 and last did a proper long trip-Avignon to London-more than 25 years ago. The point you amply prove is that it is not the bike but the rider who makes the trip. Not sure you'd come in under 24hours on a step-thru though?
    Congratulations
    jcp

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  13. Thanks Anon/JCP! The worrying thing is that I'm sitting here doing mental calculations to see what advantage fitting a big auxiliary fuel cell to a step-though might give. No worries, will take my pills and have a lie-down shortly :-).

    Thanks for dropping by!

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  14. Geoff,
    Just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this ride report. I have just recently begun following your blog and have added to your blog to the list on my blog. I have an acquaintence that recently completed a "bunn burner", 1,500 miles in 36 hours, which I consider to be somewhat crazy. I am very impressed with your accomplishment and it seems that doing a ride like this with some others along as well could make it even that much more enjoyable. Needless to say, I am quite jealous.
    I'm 53 yrs old and have to say that if you are 63, then you are just a bit older baby than I am. Happy Birthday, BTW.

    Jim
    Premeditated Scootin'

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  15. Thanks Jim! The Rusty Nuts guys sometimes add another 500 miles for those who are interested too. Maybe ok on interstates but in twisty NZ, it's a bridge too far for me!

    Thanks for the good wishes - my wife says I never got past a mental age of 5!

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  16. Well done, Geoff. You're darned tough for an old fahrt!

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  17. Hahahaha! Thanks Doug, you wouldn't have said that if you'd seen me the following morning :-)

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  18. Hearty congratulations! I was so pleased to read about your successful ride. I looked at your blog every day after the weekend and didn’t see anything for a while and I was beginning to wonder if something had gone horribly wrong. So I was both pleased and relieved at the same time to read your post a few days ago.

    At 62 you are right to be very proud about making it (a) at all and (b) in under the 24 hours allotted. I enjoyed reading the bit about sharing each other’s company and sharing the experience with your mates.

    I have known about the 7 P’s for a long time and thought it was very fitting that you compared your preparations to that. I imagine it was crucial to the overall success of your ride.

    The before and after photos are very telling. In the first, you look alert, straight back and ready for the start. In the last you look shagged out and bent over a little. Maybe it was just the way the photos were but I suspect not!

    I really liked the plan that each of you should lead different legs – that sort of takes the onus of you all to remember and plan the route for the whole 1000 miles. It must take the pressure off somewhat.

    Fancy winning the raffle as well.... !

    I had to laugh about the universal hand gesture for cops. I wonder if it is the same everywhere. Bad news about the rider with the medical condition and I am sure it shook you up at the time, but good that you were able to carry on riding with a doctor already on scene.

    I know exactly what you mean about getting in the right riding mode. Having ridden a long way for so long, getting on the bike and riding just feels so natural, I hardly give it a thought. On some days though it just doesn’t feel right and you have to watch out for those off days.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post first time and again just now. What a fantastic thing to have done. Congratulations on having proved to yourself you can do it.

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  19. Thanks very much indeed Gary and also very nice of so many of you to worry!

    It is indeed a rare privelege to have such great friends to share such things with. Unconditional in all respects. Sharing the lead was the most natural thing to guys who are used to working in high performance teams at work.

    I'd forgotten all about the 7P's until Jules mentioned it and it was great to be reminded. Like you, project management is second nature and the ride was treated just another project, complete with a critical path. My wife despairs.... :-).

    Well, the hand signal for cops in NZ is the clutch arm held vertically with the hand/forefinger rotating like a flashing light - same as yours?

    Yep, we all have off days when you just can't get a flow going and it is indeed wise to simply back off.

    Thanks again for the very kind words.

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  20. Oh, and Gary....
    Got it in one! With the stress of the ride off, I WAS totally shagged out!

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  21. next year is too far away... I would be out again tomorrow!
    Still riding with Zen, good isn't it!

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  22. XP@: Being retired, no waiting... I normally AM out tomorrow, hehe. IIRC, aren't you a pal of Mike Angell?

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  23. Congratulations Geoff! I really enjoyed reading that, I am sorely tempted to go for one of those trips but (or should that be butt?) I don't know whether I am ready for it. My longest has been a 980km ride in 12 hours and after that I was knackered!
    Your write up was very entertaining, I could appreciate how you trusted your buddies on the ride and there were places I know like Taranaki and Wanganui - I was with you there my friend, great stuff.

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  24. Thank you Andrew! You know, the more I think about it, 90% of doing one is about what's between the ears. Firstly, wanting to do one despite all the fears and doubts which come with it. Then actually sending the entry in and committing to having a go. Once committed, doing all the preparation to raise the chances of success. Finally, doing it. Even after having done 5, I still go through all those stages although Stage 1 is not quite as bad as stepping into the unknown for the very first time.

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  25. Geoff- So Gary F. let me know about your blog and Im glad he did. Im planning a 1500 mile trip in 24 Hours from Western, NY to Miami,FL in the first two weeks of May. It will be a great trip regardless if I make the deadline but I want to prepare myself for success. Any suggestions for me? Anyway, I enjoyed reading your posts and keep up the great work!

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  26. Hi Rob and thanks for dropping by! My trip was pretty much on twisty backroads so if you're planning a largely freeway route, that should help with average speed and take some stress off the body. However, it's a heck of a trip and I take my hat off to you. Really looking forward to seeing your ride report!

    I don't know if you saw the 2 preparation blogs but if you didn't, these are the links:
    http://geoffjames.blogspot.com/2010/07/1000-miles-in-24-hours-part-1.html and part 2 deals with nutrition and comfort: http://geoffjames.blogspot.com/2010/07/1000-miles-in-24-hours-part-2.html.

    After using an Airhawk pneumatic seat pad, I reckon they're superb: http://geoffjames.blogspot.com/2010/09/airhawk-seats-and-other-stuff.html.

    Also, making up a time/distance chart is great for when the brain slows up - a great ready reckoner. Can send you one of you want to PM me. If I can help in any other way, I will.

    Most of all, have a fantastic time and savour one heck of an achievement!

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  27. Geoff, great post and you are dead right about the Airhawk and right mental attitude - only anyone with a couple of quid/dollars can have the Airhawk! I did my 1000 miles on a 2002 ZX6-R and just. bought a Triple like yours. Like you I'm wondering what the challenge will be within the parameters of not tempting divorce :-) The Iron Butt Association does have routes for 1500 miles in 24 hours for the UK which are very tempting, but I think that could be courting disaster at home even if I complete the run in one piece!

    Safe travels and I hope you enjoy the Triumphs grin inducing abilities for many miles and years to come!

    All the best,

    Simon

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    1. Hi Simon!
      Eeek! A ZX6_R sounds like absolute torture - well done!!! The Southern Cross round NZ 4500 km in 5 days ride didn't please my wife too much, especially as I sent her texts in the middle of the night from some lonely spot but we've just celebrated 40 years together so I guess I was forgiven :-).

      Doing the 1000-miler on a reasonably big bike isn't much of a challenge any more but I'm mulling over having a go on a Honda C90 or CT110 with a long range tank!

      May you have as much fun on the 675 as I have for nearly 3 years now!

      Safe riding.....

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