Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Wee Pootle!

A small group of us meet at Manawatu Motorcycles last Sunday with thoughts of not heading out for long ride, but a shorter one that involved a large number of corners within a short distance of Palmerston North. Oh, and a good cafe along the way as well. After a brief weather check and group consultation a trip over the Pahiatua Track and return via the Bridge Cafe was chosen. Supporting the Cafe was also a consideration as the closure of the Manawatu Gorge has been a real challenge for a large number of businesses on the Woodville side. Lining up for the pootle was a selection of the Manawatus' finest motorcyclists sausage roll and muffin connoisseurs and coffee drinkers. Sir Al dragged out his VFR for a spin, as did Ian with his VX and rounding out the the four strokes was yours truly on the XJ. The two strokes were covered with Kim on his NSR and Rich on his T500. The run over the track was rather enlightening. Having spent a bit of time toing and froing to Hawkes Bay over the last couple of months, the track was in remarkable condition compared to the Saddle Road with the traffic being comparatively light. We all did our share of cautious bend swinging and the only thing that slowed us down was a couple of light showers along Ballance Valley/Gorge Road. The Bridge Cafe soon appeared just and we were able to park up in our favourite spot under the trees where a few slabs of concrete are conveniently placed for side stands!
It was good to see the support the cafe was getting from others as well as us. Not only do they serve great food, but the olde environment is a lovely place to munch on a sausage roll and slurp a cup of tea or coffee. Mind you the lads were a little concerned with Sir Als choice of food. No sausage roll or muffin for Sir Al. A gluten free cake is very out of the ordinary for him. Maybe it goes with his latest motorcycle acquisition? It was good to catch up with some of the pit gossip courtesy of Kim and the Blue Haze Racing team who had a great time racing in the last of the Vic Club Winter series at Manfield.
All too soon it was decided to head back to town via the way we came. It is a great little ride, and as the days get longer and daylight saving kicks in, it might be nice to do an evening run to the Bridge Cafe when they have one of their Friday Pizza evenings?
PS. We think Sir Al is alright. Maybe he is adjusting to the fact that he now has a big bore two stroke single trail bike that doesn't break down or run out of petrol after 50 kays!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August End Of Month Ride

This months EoM ride was predominantly a 4-stroke affair. There were a couple of bikes new to the group; Warren’s Yamaha R6 which has a very interesting history including racing at the IOM 3 times (has a factory engine race kit fitted), and Scott’s Triumph 955i Speed Triple. 

Of the vintage 2-strokes there were 3; Paul’s GT750, Rich’s T500, and PC’s Kawasaki S3. Also from the 70s Dave’s CB750 Honda. 

From the 80’s we had Bruce’s GSX-R1100, Kenny’s BMW K100, and from the 90’s Brian’s Suzuki Freewind 650, Ian’s Suzuki VX800, and my VFR. From more current times Ray rode his Triumph Tiger 800.

Our destination was Hunterville, via the less traveled Fordell route. This involved a lot of open flowing road for the first leg to Turakina and Fordell. The 46 Km ride from Fordell to Hunterville is a lot tighter, and not in very good condition in parts. The wet winter has taken its toll on the road. There were odd slips including a recent one covering one lane with a tree.  

Lunch was at the usual café, and I scored the last door-stop custard square (it turned out Bruce A had been there that morning which would account for the lack of stock). After lunch we returned via the back roads and on through Halcombe to Mt Biggs.

A group of us then went to Manfeild to have a quick look at the racing. We timed it well with Dion just going onto the track and Tim in the next race. The Blue Hazers did very well considering their out dated machinery. Dion’s Honda NSR appeared to be flying down the straights although in a sporting gesture he let one or two through in the tighter corners. But then dashed their hopes of victory by blasting past them again. Most entertaining.

A good ride on a perfect spring day.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Perfect Winters Day

A brisk morning with the sun shining and dry roads provided ideal conditions for our end-of-month ride for July. And perhaps because of this we had 12 riders on the starting grid at Manawatu Motorcycles. A really good turn out for a winter ride.

Bikes ranged from Bruce and Ian’s Suzuki GSX-R 1100s; Bruce having the first ’86 model and Ian the last of the air/oil cooled Gixxer, to my ’74 Kawasaki 350 trail-bike (at each end of the performance scale). In between there were 2 BMWs (a boxer and a Brick), a Honda CB750, RD400, Honda NSR, T500, Yamaha XT600,  Triumph triple, and a Moto Guzzi Le Mans.

We decided on the Rongomai Loop and once off the busy Pahiatua Track there wasn’t much traffic and the roads were mostly dry. It was clear there had been quite a bit of flooding out the back of Pahiatua evidenced by dry sediment across the road in places. There had also been some recent cattle movements (in more ways than one!) leaving quite a bit of the road littered requiring some defensive riding. 

A quick stop was taken at Pahiatua to top up the trail-bike (to be on the safe side while fuel usage was established) before heading to Balance Cafe for a coffee and lunch. We were keen to support this establishment in light of the Gorge closure, and we weren’t the only ones as the place was packed.

After a very pleasant stop, we made our way over the Saddle Road to Ashhurst and home. Sadly the Saddle Road is being wrecked despite best efforts of the roading crews. At one point on the climb we caught a tanker crawling uphill at about 30 kph. Great to be on a bike and able to squeeze past. The last major Gorge closure was 2012, so the roading planners have had 5 years to create a workable alternate route and it appears they have failed. I think we all feel for those whose Ashhurst homes now line a state highway

Only problem suffered was a flat tyre on John’s BMW. None of us had a tyre Pando on board, so the bike was chained up and Dave gave John a lift home to collect the trailer. 

The 350 Kawasaki averaged 45 mpg travelling between an indicated 60 and 70 mph, so quite some improvement on the TS400’s 19 mpg! This should give a range of 100 miles. Old trail-bikes are great fun to ride, so I hope to be using this one a lot.

Another great day on the road for the Blue Haze crew.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

June End of Month Ride

Winter rides are always fraught with the possibility of a combination of cold, rain wind or occasionally even snow. Our June end of month weather forecast the previous day indicated  a suitable mixture of the above, so expectations for a large turnout for our end of month run were low. The following mornings early rain did not bode well so the rain suit came out just in time to greet the sun as the weather cleared. Heading down to Manawatu Motorcycles on the XJ certainly confirmed the change in weather fortunes and the sight of six and soon to be seven other bikes was an affirming message about the weather for the next few hours. The only big decision to make was where to should any of the promised weather eventuate.
Warren suggested we head out around some of our 'less travelled' roads to the west and see which way the dark clouds were heading. The bikes were fired up and a nice cacophony of four stroke and two stroke sounds echoed around Andrew Young Street as we left. Warren on his 'spannied' Suzuki GT380 leading the way, closely followed by Sir Al on his Honda VFR800, Ian on his Suzuki VX800,  then Dion on his NS400R, Bruce on his Honda VFR750, Kim on his Honda NSR 250 and Rich on his trusty Suzuki T500. We were soon making our way out through the western burbs of Palmerston North. It wasn't long before we were zig zagging our way through the countryside to eventually zag our way to the first stop just before the rise into Bulls.
Warren soon had us on the move again and heading through Bulls with a right turn at the State Highway One and Three crossroads. This had us heading off down Parewanui Road and then on to Raumai Road, Santoft Road and back to the State Highway and finally up to Marton. This was a great little run and one I hadn't been on for a decade or two. Not a lot was happening in Marton so we were able to park up outside the local bakery.  We had a good feed of the usual pastries washed down with tea and coffee.  Whilst we were munching on our food the locals were coming in for their Sunday lunch roast dinners. They looked and smelt very tasty, especially on a cool winters day! Next time. After certain members of the group began reminiscing about Linda Lovelace we decided it was time to refocus on more important seventies and eighties cultural phenomenons; our motorcycles! We then headed back towards Palmerston North over more familiar roads via Halcombe and our final stop at Mount Biggs School. As the troops dribbled off back home those of us who got to hear Warren give the 380 a fistful of gas still have the sweet sound of three expansion chambers disappearing off into the distance ringing in our ears. Ah the memories. That is what this is all about. Rekindling old memories and creating new ones with like minded people. It was certainly worth the time and effort to come out on such a winters day to share that something special you only get from riding heritage motorcycles!      

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mike Peros Classic Japanese Motorcycle Museum

Here is something a little different for the blog with a recommended youtube clip about Mike Peros new Museum in Christchurch. It sounds like it has been very successful and certainly a sign of the times with the growing interest in Japanese Classic Motorcycles. This is a great interview and it certainly conveys Mikes passion for the bikes. I am sure he has more tales to tell of his time racing back in the day. A must see next time one is down in Christchurch.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mrs Windsors Birthday Ride

Queens Birthday Weekend is a great mid year break we all look forward to. Despite the fact that it isn't actually the Queens birthday, no one seems to mind the 'opportunity' to celebrate it. Those of a republican persuasion may need to keep this in mind when contemplating cutting our ties to the motherland. The loss of a holiday would not go down well with many of her 'subjects' and the thought of no opportunity to have a knighthood bestowed on you could be a step too far for many. Sir Al sounds so much better than just Al and Lady Fi sounds so much better than Fi!  Sir John Key is so much better than just John. This ride then was no ordinary ride but one with purpose and meaning. It was pleasing to see the arrival of some like minded 'monarchists' outside Manawatu Motorcycles on Sunday morning.

Whilst the chance of precipitation for the ride was low, the air temperature was also low so our choice of destination required a degree of warmth and that criteria was met by a certain cafe/restaurant in Hunterville. The other criteria it met was for suitably twisty roads to and from. Ian on his VX800 thought it was about one Evening Standard newspaper down the front of your jacket. It actually felt more like a Dominion temperature! Sir Al was on his VFR 800 that he thought would get more than twelve miles out of town. Kim made an appearance on his 'radio station', his Yamaha 250 3XV. It hasn't been seen for a while with a few technical issues. Rich was out on the fuel tap transformed T500. The T500 surging was a thing of the past! Paul was on his booming Moto Guzzi rearing to stretch its long legs and John was making sure the mother country was represented with his sweet Triumph triple and yours truly on the XJ750. A quick stop at BP Rangitikei Street saw Bryan joining us on his recently acquired Suzuki Freewind.

We were soon away from the city limits and much to Sir Als delight he made to Colyton and we were soon making our way around the back of Feilding and heading north up Makino road. Our first stop was at the Cheltenham hill turnoff and much of the conversation was around Bryans new bike. He was impressed with one a while ago and bought his own and it appears it is one of the best 650 adventure singles you can buy. Far more road oriented than the DR with a lower and far more comfortable seat. We were soon on our way towards Vinegar Hill and the lack of traffic allowed us to get into some serious bend swinging. The turn off to Hunterville arrived quickly and after a quick regroup we joined the state Highway one traffic flow heading south. 

The cafe soon appeared as we joined the locals and passers bys for either a late breakfast, morning tea or an early lunch. the locals were certainly popping in to load up on carbs for either a hard day working or more likely hangover assistance! It really is a popular place and a good sign as to the value and quality of the food. Whilst some treated themselves to the world famous Custard 'Rectangles' and pies, John decided he needed a good breakfast. It was huge and tasty and highly recommended at $16.50. Eating this in front of a fire soon had our body temperatures back up and we decided to do our river 'loops' run to avoid most of State Highway One.  
We headed out of Hunterville in an easterly direction towards the Rangitikei River and these loops basically parallel the course of the river. Caution is needed as on any rural road with the usual hazards of animals, farm vehicles, animal 'debris' and due to the time of the year areas of the road that are damp due to being in shadow. The roads are a nice mix of straights, sweepers mixed with some great tight sections. We all made it safely through to rejoin the main drag and the turnoff to Feilding and Halcombe. Some of us took the turnoff to Mount Stewart at Halcombe to fit in a few more corners before we got home. A quick chat at Mount Biggs saw us heading back home with Rich inviting Paul and myself back to his place to check out his latest acquisition and some of his low cost cleaning and refurbishment techniques he has recently developed. I will leave that for Rich to share with us at a later date. His plan for a T500 scrambler looks pretty interesting now he has a frame and running gear! Go Rich! Maybe we will see it next Queens Birthday Weekend?
God save the Queen!