Wheel alignment

Thursday 22 July 2010

A mid-winter outing

There are 5 of us, possibly 6, riding as a group at the Grand Challenge endurance ride in October (see Part 1 and Part 2 ).  Only 2 of us have done the event previously although most have ridden together on day rides and weekends away.  We know and implicitly trust each other's riding styles but as the event approaches, we need to get out for some decent night runs to get used the blackness of the countryside again; not to mention build awareness of nocturnal creatures of all shapes and sizes just waiting to blunder into the path of unfortunate motorcyclists!

For now, however, getting some mid-winter daylight rides under our belts in a wide range of conditions  and getting used to heavy winter riding gear is all part of the toughening-up process.  Actually getting together for ride-outs is a major mission in itself as we live up to 200 km away from each other.  Add the fact that family commitments, weekend duty at work and other competing tasks get in the way; it's a bit like herding cats - nearly impossible!  Three of us, Andy from Auckland, Richard from near Hamilton and me from Coromandel  managed to get together for a back road run last weekend to the small coastal settlement of Raglan. The round trip was a modest 420 km, but that will be ramped up over the coming weeks.  The twisty, unfamiliar backroads were also a good test of my GPS, which rarely gets used on the bike.

Coromandel to Raglan - a 420 km round trip

With the temperature below freezing, I leave Coromandel with multiple layers of clothing on.  Take it really easy in the Coromandel high country as the fields are white and there is a band of frost down the centre of the road.  Going down on my arse a few km from home won't get a sympathetic response from my mates! The trip across the Waikato province to the rendezvous point at Woodleigh on SH22 north of Raglan is uneventful and although the frost has largely disappeared, extreme care is required on shaded bends.  It's a beautiful ride and the road running due west from SH1 at Huntly to SH 22 at Woodleigh,  follows a ridge which gives incredible views of the countryside both north and south. Gorgeous farming country at its very best.

View looking north

View looking south

Arriving at the rendezvous point, it is less than a minute before Andy and Richard show up. Andy from the "sophisticated" metropolis of Auckland thinks that Richard and I are inter-bred country boys and the moment he spots the 3-fingered Rain-Off mittens I'm wearing over my winter gloves for added insulation, he reckons they're the perfect accessory for both of us.  We might both live in the rural backblocks, but it's hardly "Deliverance" country and as neither of us can play the banjo, he's got a bloody cheek!  He'll keep....

Andy and Richard rocking up

Richard and Andy having words about 3-fingered gloves

After a quick chat, Richard on his GS 1200 leads off as he knows the Waikato back roads fairly well.  SH22 is a biker's paradise with no straights at all longer than a few tens of metres although how it gets a "State Highway" designation given its narrow width and remote location is beyond me... maybe because it's actually tar sealed, unlike a lot of the other nearby roads.  Richard sets an excellent fast pace although showing a lot of wisdom in riding conservatively in the shaded parts of the road as frost is still evident, even though it's just after 11am.

The main street in the coastal village of Raglan is packed due to school holidays and it being a weekend so we ride straight through and out to the wharf where the Marlin cafe is situated right on the harbour.  There are other riders there already enjoying the winter sun and it's surprisingly warm.  Everyone is chilled out and bikers and non-bikers alike enjoy each others' company.

The Marlin Cafe and Grill, Raglan

Geoff, Richard and Andy eagerly awaiting sustenance

Lunch consists of seafood chowder, John Dory and chips with salad, washed down with great coffee and spiced tomato juice in Andy's case as he's a sophisticated Aucklander ;-).  Unlike our esteemed Canadian bloggers, I don't take photos of the meal but it tastes great! The conversation briefly turns to the big ride in October and how to protect our butts from terminal damage due to hard bike seats over the 1000 miles.  Andy reckons an inflatable haemorrhoid ring might be the way to go.  The conversation then takes a downward spiral with Richard suggesting that a kid's  rubber swimming ring complete with a blow-up duck on the front of it would really fill the bill.  Oh dear......

Raglan harbour and big sky across from the Marlin cafe

After a most enjoyable lunch, it's time to head to our respective homes, with Richard heading just south of Hamilton and Andy and me re-tracing our steps back up SH22.  The road is now frost-free and dry and it's a rapid trip north with Andy setting a cracking pace on his K1200.  The fantastic wail from his 4 into 1 aftermarket can is an added bonus!

Saying goodbye at our morning rendezvous point, I head back to Coromandel across country where there is virtually no traffic - absolute biker heaven.  Riding up the Thames-Coromandel coast, the radar detector pays for itself yet again!  A member of the Highway Patrol is cunningly hidden by some trees to collect revenue from inattentive motorists.  Although I'm not "a lot" above the legal limit, the detector picks up the microwave emissions several hundred metres from his position so the wallet-opening ritual is easily avoided.

Coming into Coromandel,  a thin veil of cloud is moving over the sun, casting a beautiful light over the harbour so I stop to take a couple of shots.

Coromandel Harbour and one minute away from home

Coromandel Harbour as the winter sun sinks

All in all, a wonderful winter ride with treasured friends - no room for the winter blues on a day like this.  In fact, such a day genuinely rejuvenates the soul!


  1. Lovely trip. Reminds me of some good times in Kiwi-Land (also called weekends...)

    And there's nothing wrong with taking a pic of your food, even if is is just fush 'n' chups. You should try that some time ;-)

  2. Sounds like a great day out Geoff...and what better way to prepare for the big ride! Reading your blog always makes me want to get out on the bike and go for it!

    (And regarding the "Deliverance" comments, don't worry, I grew up in similar circumstances, and when discovering where I was from, some people would count my fingers before shaking my hand!)

  3. Got my entry back today. yeehaa!

  4. Sonja: Only some Kiwis say "fush and chups" haha and I'm not one of them :-). Have a wonderful trip!

    Anthony: Thanks very much, great to hear that you're not a city boy either, hehe!

    Steve: Good man!!!! Do you want me to stay in touch regarding practice runs?

  5. I must get to Raglan one of these days. We went as far as Te Uku on last year's GC and I loved the road. Have also done a few of those Waikato back roads...

    The GC tends to let you see a bit of the country...

  6. Andrew:
    The '99 GC took us up a goat track west of Ngaruwahia to Tuakau which was horrible, especially as it was in the middle of the night. We're planning to come down towards your territory before the GC to do the Forgotten Highway as we've never done it before.

  7. Great post there mate!

    I live half a planet away from you but I'm always happy and heartened to see that bikers are virtually one species wherever they are!
    Of course, it's middle of summer over here, but that just means it's grey and raining without sub zero temperatures! ;-). Last winter was a challenge and I rode the old Kawasaki right through (had a couple of meetings with the snowy tarmac too!).

  8. Great post Geoff, if your mate Richard does indeed go for the kids swim ring, please take loads of photo's......

  9. I will indeed Pete. There's a fighting chance as he's English!!!!

  10. Geoff:

    I'm deeply disappointed. Now we don't get a chance to see what a kiwi breakfast looks like. If you don't post food photos, at least include your brown crocs, or red shorts.

    any idea whether your "fush 'n' chups", look like our "fish & chips" ? I guess we'll never know. Which is less expensive ? Flying us over to check it out or post a few photos ?

    Wet Coast Scootin

  11. Bob:
    I do apologise, get Sonja to describe a Kiwi breakfast now that she's an honorary Kiwi :-). I suspect she's been talking to Aussies about the Kiwi dialect as that's how they think we pronounce it. Of course, we think Aussies say "feesh and cheeps", especially Sydneysiders. (Sorry Anthony *grin*).

    I will attempt to redeem myself in future posts.


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