The lack of traffic continued, apart from a handful of logging trucks coming the other way and a few classic cars from the Napier Art Deco weekend en route to somewhere else. Another fuel stop at Wairoa ready to depart the coast road and head for Gisborne via another superb riding route - Tiniroto Road. T Road is about 85 km of continuous bends in the middle of nowhere with beautiful scenery. I'd previously done it a couple of times in daylight as had Lloyd and once around midnight on a 1600 km in under 24 hours organised endurance ride. Doing it at night with no mobile phone reception and no traffic was a scary experience and not to be repeated. Daylight was a different matter entirely.......... or so we thought!
At about the halfway point, I was up front and we were getting along rather briskly. Coming out of one bend, I saw something in the road and rapidly came to a stop. There was a slip across the road, not very deep and maybe 10 metres or so wide. The weather front which we experienced the previous day had brought some mudstone and other debris down from the nearby cliff. It didn't look too bad and as turning round would have added a massive distance to our journey, we decided to ride through. Things were due to turn rapidly to custard..........
At walking pace or less, I rode through the slip, followed by Lloyd. Pretty straightforward actually until we got to the other side. What was not obvious was that there was several metres of a very thin layer of slurry which had a friction coefficient akin to a sheet of ice. The slight road camber caused the wheels to track at right angles to the direction of travel and down I went! "Bless me", I said. Actually, they weren't exactly the chosen words, but you get the drift. Lloyd was right behind me and suffered the same fate. Tony hadn't started his run and wisely chose to stay where he was.
No real damage except to our dignity. Getting the bikes upright again was a real issue as it was so slippery that we could hardly stand. Eventually, we got them upright and pushed them to a relatively crap-free spot but not before Lloyd had tweaked a leg muscle. Fortunately, this was quickly fixed with an anti-inflammatory. Much use of roadside twigs and grass to clean out the tyre grooves.
In the meantime, a road gang had turned up and helped Tony push his bike through long grass and ruts on the side of the road to avoid the worst of the slip - more difficult than it looked.
Tony pushing the MT 10, me cleaning out the rain grooves (photo: Lloyd)
Whilst we were still cleaning up the tyres, an Australian motorcycle tour group showed up. One of them decided to ride through and despite being on dual purpose tyres, he suffered the same fate as us. That prompted the rest of them to push the bikes through the slip with the help of the road maintenance crew. Even so, there were a few anxious moments. Also, an 18 wheeler truck slid off into the verge and was waiting a tow out which shows just how treacherous it was.
Anxious moments for the Aussies (photo: Lloyd)
The remaining Aussies waiting to cross the slip. Looks like one is having a nervous pee on the verge!
Tony managed to video the aftermath of the carnage. Fortunately, he missed me hitting the deck but did catch one of the unfortunate Australians doing the same trick. In the following video, I'm in the hi-viz jacket at the far end of the slip, busy cleaning my tyres. It all starts about 50 seconds from the beginning of the video.
The shenanigans cost us over an hour by the time we were ready to roll but we were thankful as it could have been so much worse. None of us had ever experienced such a loss of grip, even on black ice. The first few km were spent at a very low pace, gradually increasing our angles of lean to ensure that our tyres were completely free of the vile stuff. Stopping at the first gas station in Gisborne, we spent half an hour or so scrubbing our bikes and selves to get rid of every last trace of crap.
Just about clean at last (photo: Tony)
Despite the odd light shower, the run from Gisborne up to East Cape (Te Araroa) was a fast one with virtually no traffic - motorcycling at its very finest. Bringing up the rear for a spell and watching Tony and Lloyd peel into bends at exactly the same spot and ditto for getting on the gas exiting them was a privilege to watch and testimony to their level of skill. Although the pace was brisk, it wasn't the speed but the way they made it look so effortless that was so appealing. The mark of seriously good riders.
A quick stop for Tony to take on fuel at Te Araroa and then the remaining 56 km to our accommodation at Waihau Bay for the evening which turned out to be a real highlight. Waihau Bay is a tiny community in a breathtaking location. The lodge we were staying in is only metres from the water and our accommodation on the upper floor had its own verandah and views to die for. Beautifully restored, 3 bedrooms, 8 beds and a massive lounge at an unbelievably reasonable price.
Waihau Bay Lodge - Tony and Lloyd in foreground
Panoramic from the verandah (photo: Lloyd)
Lloyd and Tony on our verandah - doing it tough!
Our spacious lounge
The place was buzzing as there was a fishing contest on and we enjoyed chatting with the boaties about how their day had gone. Food in the restaurant was very reasonably priced, plenty of it and great quality. Just what was needed after the adventures of the day.
Tony with his fresh fish and chips (photo: Lloyd)
Once again the friendliness of Kiwis showed through with perfect strangers enjoying a yarn with each other and efficient, friendly service from the lodge staff. As the sun started to set, a partial rainbow appeared, adding a nice touch to the end of the day.
Just before sundown
The fishermen were up before dawn and getting on the water for the contest and a few photos were taken from the verandah leading to sunrise.
A new day dawns (photo: Tony)
Here comes the sun, la la
We were also up, anticipating an early breakfast and getting on the road for the last day and home some 430 km away. We found out that the dining room didn't open until 0830 so it was off to Opotiki, just over 100 km away for brunch. The stretch of road to Opotiki is simply magic. No other traffic, warm and with the sun mainly behind us, we all had grins a mile wide.
Clear road and blue skies...... (photo: Tony)
A quick photo opportunity at Raukokore Church, built in 1894. It's right by the ocean in an isolated setting, absolutely breathtaking. It's hard to see but on the horizon between Tony and Lloyd, there's a hint of white. This is the offshore volcano White Island, which erupted recently claiming many lives. It was a lot more visible further along the coast and still looked pretty active. There wasn't a lot of chatter over the comms and I think we were in our own worlds, soaking up the sheer joy of riding.
Tony and Lloyd at Raukokore Church
Yours truly and Lloyd (photo: Tony)
From Opotiki onwards, we were on what was effectively home ground with a higher number of towns and increased traffic but we weren't exactly stuck in queues. Not long after crossing the Kaimai mountain range, it was time to say goodbye to Lloyd as he headed off to Hamilton whilst Tony and I rode north. We said our goodbyes at Paeroa and I rode the remaining 90 km to home in Coromandel.
What a tour! Great mates who you trust implicitly and have a lot of fun with. Mixing with the IAM team from round the country and kudos to the Wellington team for putting on a wonderful conference and social activities. Finally to New Zealand for being such a wonderful place to ride bikes. Rides like that are truly good for the soul. Wonder what's next?