Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Great East Cape Adventure

Bruce and Alan have recently completed a three day trip around the East Cape with Alan on his H2 and Bruce on his trusty BMW 650GS support vehicle. (Just kidding Alan) I would say that the roads around the East Coast haven't seen an H2 for many years.I hear that Alans daily dose of whiskey and Voltaren have recently been reduced to every two days as his hunched back and bow legs begin to straighten out! Dr Smith and ACC are very relieved. A big thank you to Alan for the report.
Gary

From Bruce and Als excellent adventure

From Bruce and Als excellent adventure

From Bruce and Als excellent adventure

From Bruce and Als excellent adventure

From Bruce and Als excellent adventure

From Bruce and Als excellent adventure

Bruce came up with an idea of a trip around East Cape. Sounded good and we made plans for a three day tour. Bruce rode his GS650 and I loaded up the trusty H2. We headed off at 6.30 on a cloudy Saturday morning and rode to Dannevirke via Topgrass road, then on to Takapau and took the back road to Waipukurau. We turned off at Waipawa and followed the Elsthorp – Patangata road on the coastal side of the Tukituki River through to Havelock North; this is a great ride through rolling sheep & beef country.

We caught up with the rain at Havelock and it was full wet gear until Gisborne. At Wairoa we headed off inland on the Waikaremoana road, stopping at Te Reinga to look at a spectacular waterfall. This was a great twisty road but required caution as it was wet, covered in leaves in places with loose gravel on the bits that didn’t have leaves! We stopped for a coffee and a bite at Gisborne, and headed off for Tolaga Bay just as the rain started again. There must be a shortage of “loose gravel” signs up the coast as there is only one sign put out every 100km or so, and someone has thrown a shovel full of gravel across every sixth corner! Tolaga Bay is a slice of 1970’s New Zealand. We had a cabin overlooking the beach at the motor-camp. Went into town for the best feed of fish-n-chips I’ve had in a long time, had a wander out on the famous pier and turned in early. Fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing, a salt-laden sea breeze through the open window, and the thought that the H2 might be rusting away as I lay there.

Up at 6.00 and brewed a coffee, and went for a walk down the beach. Sunrise was spectacular. A breakfast of bacon & eggs supplied and cooked by Bruce and then into town and gassed up. Sat in the sun for a moment and watched a mother and son ride their horses through town. We headed up to Tokomaru bay. Not too much in the way of straight roads on the east coast so every bit of the ride is fun with plenty of 35, 45, and 55 kmh corners to keep you honest. And then there’s the gravel on every 6th corner. After brewing a coffee it was off again and inland to Ruatoria. This was not what I expected of a place with the reputation that was built around it (didn’t even get shot at). From here it was out to Te Araroa. Fortune smiled on us and we arrived just in time to fill up before the pumps shut. A delightful old gentleman helped us and said he closed at 1pm on Sundays so he could enjoy his ½ day a week off! Felt a bit guilty riding around doing nothing. We sat in the sun and enjoyed a toastie, and our day was made when a little fellow of about three years old gave us the East Cape “nod”. He had it down pat, not a hint of expression. After lunch we took the gravel road out to the cape lighthouse. The day was hot and we opted not to make the tramp up the hill in our bike gear.

We left Te Araroa and followed the coast road east towards Opotiki. There are more 35 and 45kmh corners than 65 and 75, and not too many straight bits. The only moment for me was opening up the H2 to pass a caravan coming into a 45km corner, only to find it was a “sixth” corner with a shovel load of gravel thrown over it. The corners continue all the way down to Te Kaha and the scenery is outstanding, often looking down through Pohutakawa trees to small bays and blue sea. By late afternoon visors were becoming opaque with salt spray and sun-strike made the tight corners interesting. We finally reached Tirohanga Bay camp and unloaded the bikes, then headed into Opotiki for a pizza.

Next morning it was bacon & eggs for breakfast and then on the road and heading for Whakatane via Ohope. At Whakatane a glitch in the H2 nav system (“follow me, I know where we are”) meant a tour of the residential areas before we headed off to Rotorua on SH30. We stopped at Lake Rotoma and brewed a coffee just in time to don wet weather gear for the remainder of the trip. We decided to head down to Taupo after we were told of snow on the desert road when filling the bikes up at Rotorua. Lunch was at Taupo looking down the lake at ominous looking snow cloud. At Turangi we heard the desert road might close, so opted to go the National Park route instead. We were joined by Ian on his bandit 1200 also heading to Palmerston North. As we climbed out of Tokaanu we encountered huge wind gusts and rain, and then around National Park sleet. The snow was down and paddocks were white, and this was the scene until Taihape. The road seemed fine and we pushed on at a good pace, the old H2 out front. We fuelled up at Taihape and then over Vinegar Hill and home.

Bruce and I covered 1600km over the three days, and it seemed like we had all four seasons as well. The H2 performed faultlessly. Fuel economy was good, but rider comfort was not. Perhaps 350 km a day is enough on the older bikes. The BMW is clearly designed for the long haul and Bruce never seemed any worse for the experience. Personally I looked forward to a Voltaren and a whisky at the end of each day.

And did the H2 survive? Absolutely! It comfortably kept up with Bruce’s GS and returned around the 50 mpg mark. The entire trip was completed on less than a tank of oil, and no gearbox oil was used. The bike was always stable, fun in the twisties, and had plenty in reserve when needed. The only issues were seat comfort after an hour of riding (there isn’t any), the loud squealing of the front disc, and a problem with the indicator switch self activating. H2’s always create a bit interest, and this trip proved no different; a couple of guys at Tologa Bay camp even asked for a ride by to hear the H2 sound. I think H2s might be as rare as three legged horses up around the cape!

Alan

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