As previously mentioned, life in NZ has been close to normal since mid-2020 with the exception of on-going basic C-19 precautions and the odd community case which has been effectively dealt with. From a motorcycling perspective, it's been business as usual with hot summer days and minimal rainfall - wonderful (apart from our garden suffering with the drought)!
Last Sunday was a scheduled get-together for the central north island region of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. The format varies depending on who turns up. Potential new members can have a 1:1 assessment, we can take existing members for a coaching session or simply go for a social ride. It also happened to be the IAM national AGM in the south island and a number of our regional members were heading for that, so uncertain what we were going to do.
The meeting point was in the city of Hamilton, 160 km from where I live so it was up before sunrise to get ready for the 2 hour trip south. Staggering out of bed, this was the view from our deck to get the juices flowing in anticipation of a great day on two wheels.
A bit of a mental debate about which jacket to wear . The forecast was for 29 C later in the day which is a bit warm for my full leather suit. Dawn temperature was 16 C, so the choice was to wear a mesh jacket with the liner removed - shouldn't be too cold even with wind chill. Hmmm...... big mistake and wish that I'd packed a light wind-proof jacket as the temperature dropped to 11 degrees at one point as I rode inland to the south. It certainly affected my concentration for a while but it soon warmed up as the sun rose. Silly mistake not to be repeated!
A pleasant breakfast at a Hamilton cafe as others trickled in from around the central north island, including 3 potential new members from the Bay of Plenty. One was a member of the Patriots NZ Defence Force motorcycle club on his Harley Davidson, plus partners on an MT-09 and a GSX-F 1000F. Lovely to see ummm... "mature" riders on sporty hardware :-) ! Due to most of the mentoring team being down south at the AGM, the decision was made to make it a purely social ride through twisty Waikato province back roads out to the Nikau Caves cafe for lunch.
Chris, who was leading the ride had planned a really scenic but challenging route through back roads with minimal time on significant public highways - sheer magic! I volunteered to be Tail End Charlie to keep an eye on things from the rear and connected to Chris by helmet to helmet comms.
The route was an absolute cracker and a smooth approach to attack the bends to make good progress rather than on and off the throttle and brakes - we would have been stuffed in no time! The new riders in the group fitted in seamlessly and really enjoyed both the scenery and the riding. The Harleys performed really well in the slower tight stuff despite their conservative geometry, using their low down torque and engine braking to good effect. Of course, attitude and skill far outweigh what sort of bike you ride. The Duke 790 was in its element - it ain't called The Scalpel for nothing!