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Monday, 7 December 2015

A Run in the Sun

Due to commitments as an IAM Observer, I haven't done a lot of social riding recently so yesterday was an opportunity not to be missed.  The IAM Auckland and Central North Island region organised a social run out to Raglan, a coastal village famous for its surfing and fish and chips on the wharf.

400 km of heaven!

The sun shining, minimal traffic - what could be better?  Arriving half an hour early at the meeting point in the village of Te Kauwhata, at least half the team were there already, keen to make the most of a lovely day.  The route had been organised by Lloyd, one of my trainees as he knows the area well.  It contains some of the best back-roads for bikes that you'll find anywhere.  Hardly any straight roads and varying from fast sweepers to highly technical tight stuff with sudden elevation changes; not to mention stunning views if you could take your eyes off the road for a second or two!

 Some of the bikes meeting at Te Kauwhata

There was a great mix of bikes on the run - sport bikes, sport tourers, adventure and a big cruiser (more on that later!).  The common factor was that all the riders are trained to the Police Roadcraft system.  This means that you know how each rider is going to react and position themselves for any given set of circumstances which makes for an enjoyable and stress-free ride.  Lloyd was to lead the ride and the system of the second rider stopping at every turn until the last rider had gone past ensured that no-one got lost on the tricky back roads!

A fast, smooth pace was set by Lloyd up front and the roads were so twisty that I don't think I got past 4th gear on the GSX-S on the run down to Raglan and much of it was in 2nd and 3rd!  No dramas whatsoever, even with the odd sheep and pheasant out on the road and we all arrived at Raglan with big smiles inside our helmets.

Geoff's GSX-S and Terry's Beemer GS at Raglan.  
(photo courtesy of Tessa)

Geoff, Steve and Lloyd - fish and chips on Raglan wharf.  Doesn't come any fresher!
(photo courtesy of Tessa)

Nice vista for lunch

With clouds gathering, it was time to get back on the road and start heading north.

Getting ready to hit the road
(photo courtesy of Tessa)

Steve, motorcycle cop extraordinaire waiting for the off on his V-Strom 1000
(photo courtesy of Tessa)

Up front, Lloyd set a great pace again and had chosen another outstanding route back to Te Kauwhata.  The back roads north west of Huntly were my personal favourites - all second gear stuff and very little time spent upright!  Don't think there's more than another 1000 km left in the rear tyre though so it will be worn out in under 4000 km.

Terry, Steve W, Steve B-J and Lloyd looking at rear tyres!

One of the Riders, Lee, who owns several bikes; brought his Victory cruiser on the ride and I'm sure there were quite a few who were a little more than interested in how it would cope in the twisties. The answer was impressively well, flicking from side to side with little apparent effort from Lee and no wallowing over rough surfaces.  I'm sure his butt was in better condition than mine at the end of the day too!  However, he did cop a bit of gentle teasing about the large mirror situated in the lid of his top-box!  

Lee's 106 cu. in (1737cc) Victory

Even has a mirror in the top-box lid to help combat helmet hair!

The Suzuki performed extremely well.  Despite a lot of the ride being done in the lower gears, it still returned not far short of 300 km per tankful.  I guess trying to be smooth on and off the throttle had some bearing on this. However, the twisty sections with rough surfaces made for plenty of rider input in terms of countersteering and hanging on when it was jumping about.  At present, the suspension is set far too hard for NZ's back roads so there's a bit of work to be done setting sag, compression and rebound damping in the next week or two. 

What a fantastic day!  A superb ride set and lead by Lloyd, 400 km of twisties with skilled riders who all have a great sense of humour - what could be better than that?  I slept well last night! 

10 comments:

  1. Nice to see you getting out and about Geoff. Looks like fun was had by all

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    1. Hi Steve!
      Yep, it's nice to get out with people you trust and the riding was suitably brisk! We had an off-duty motorcycle cop who is a senior instructor with us too :-). Has your Yamaha had a recall? I understand some of them have had a gearbox issue.

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  2. Primo roads Geoff - done them all now, although some only in the dark. There's one less possum on Waingaro road courtesy of the Connie since October (we popped out at Ngaruawahia on that occasion).

    Good see the odd blog being posted lately too...

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    1. Hi Andrew,
      They certainly are mate! Likewise and for the same reason, I've only done some in the dark. I think it was my second ever Grand Challenge. Saw plenty of squished possums on the Waikato roads yesterday too.

      Thanks - getting a wee bit more time as other activities wind down before Christmas.

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  3. Glad you finally got out for a nice pleasure ride. Sounds like good weather, good food, and great company. Can't ask for too much more than that.

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  4. Thanks Brandy. Guess that in his instructor role, Brad would understand the "All work and no play...." saying! Yes, there's nothing better than riding with people you trust implicitly. Hope that you guys have a fantastic Christmas!

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  5. Geoff, life is good when you can get out and enjoy a run like that. The Victory looks like it would be far from nimble, sort of the motorcycling equivalent of a A380 aircraft!

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  6. Hi Jules,
    Sure is mate! Haha, that's a fair call but Lee didn't appear to be pouring sweat from the effort! However, he's a senior naval officer so might be used to tacking somewhat larger objects :-). I have my first trackday coming up in February!

    All the best for the festive season to you and Dorothy.

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  7. Hang on a second, what has happened here? Due to being way too busy, it has been a long while since I did any blogging, or reading of blogs. As I scrolled down the list of the blogs I (used to) read, one caught my eye. This one, which I thought had been retired some time ago. Geoff has obviously had a change of heart, or has suddenly become less busy methinks.

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  8. Hello Gary,
    Blame ScooterBob for kicking it into life and then one or two other things popped up that I had time for. Hope all is well with you.

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