Monday, November 13, 2017

October End of Month Ride + Classic Racing @ Manfeild

Although we had a smaller turnout than usual for our October end of month ride our visit to Manfeild at the conclusion of our cafe run certainly went some ways to explaining this! Four of us gathered at Manawatu Motorcycles with the morning promising some lovely riding and racing weather. The forecast for showers later on the day appeared to be a distant possibility as Dave on his GSX1100, Warren on his GT380, Bruce S on his Aprilia RS250 and yours truly on  the XJ750 headed off towards Feilding on a short ride via Ashhurst, Valley Road, Colyton and to a cafe in Feilding. It was great to see Dave out and about again. No more weekend work so free to come on a few rides. Excellent!
Our run out to Ashhurst flowed with the traffic making its way to the Saddle Road and instead of turning east through the village to join the convoy to Hawkes Bay we continued on in a northerly direction. The Valley Road turnoff soon appeared and sitting in behind Warren and the 380 going up the hill was music to my ears, The spannies were well into the powerband and Warren and Bruce S wasted no time winding their way down the valley towards Colyton. Dave sat in behind me for a while and then gave the GSX a fistful of throttle and set off after Warren and Bruce. It certainly has a great turn of speed. All too soon we were turning off at Colyton and heading for Feilding where we parked up outside the Essence Cafe and Bar.
After a great cuppa and some nourishment the sounds of motorcycles at Manfeild beckoned us and we were soon heading through the pits to our usual parking spot beside the pit stands. Cruising through the pits it was easy to see that this was a very well supported meeting. The New Zealand Classic Motorcycle Racing Register certainly know how organise and run a great race meeting. 
Great to see the Blue Haze Racing team in full attendance with Dion on his NSR, Tim racing his CBR600 and TDR 350 and Alan on his RG500. The guys were ably assisted by their pit crew/managers Kim and Paul making sure everything was in order. It was also good to see Pete and Chris giving the XR Honda an outing with Chris certainly surprising many with his turn of speed on the one lung versus two or more for the rest.
Wandering around the pits one was certainly struck by not only the number of bikes, but also the variety. From Vincents through to TZ750 Yamahas and everything in between. Some had great racing patina whilst others were immaculately presented in period livery. The smell and sound of two strokes was particularly appreciated by some of us where watching MotoGP isn't quite the same with the two strokes long gone.
We managed to watch a few races and Dions efforts were rewarded with a close encounter of the tarmac kind. He was a lucky lad with no injuries and very little damage to the the bike. It certainly hasn't dampened his enthusiasm! Luckily I managed to capture it on video and it maybe useful for training and development. It was interesting talking to Dion about how he has managed to slash eight seconds off his lap time since he started racing last year.  The improvements are now in smaller increments which you really need to work hard for: preferably not falling off in the process! It has been interesting watching how our group of enthusiasts have changed over the years. For some of us we still enjoy our time out on the road whilst for others they get into other areas of motorcycling as well. Bruce S is making noises about giving it a go. Good on him. Maybe I should get the XJ out there! I can't recall seeing one out on the track in a long time. (if ever?)
If we include our Manfeild members in our turnout numbers, then we get to nine. Not too bad a tally!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Cream Horns and a Bighorn

It was Sunday morning and the cell phone buzzed with a text message from Sir Al: "Are you interested in a short ride?". Hell yeah! The weather was looking suitably H2O free, a rare occurrence these days. A quick call for a few more details ascertained Al was keen to take the mighty Bighorn out for a spin to 'decoke' it after a couple of weeks of commuting. A leisurely 10:00am departure was  decided upon and after a call to Rich we headed on around to Als place. Bruce A was already there and shortly after Bruce S arrived from Levin on his recently acquired bright yellow Ducati 996! A westward route was planned with a cafe stop at Vivs kitchen on the return part of 'the loop'.
It was an interesting gaggle of bikes that made their way over the Napier Road town boundary with Richard and Sir Al providing the usual signature cloud of Blue Haze. The alternative Manawatu Gorge route through Ashhurst was as busy as ever but our westward exit through the village had us on our way to Colyton through some typical Manawatu B roads. We then skirted around the outskirts of Feilding onto Makino road with its nice mix of open curves. Bruce was able to stretch the legs of the Ducati a little and in no time at all we arrived at first stop, Stanway Hall. It is a great stopping spot with plenty of off road parking and it is important to remember that it is these halls that not so long ago were an important part of small communities all over the country. The dances, twenty firsts, weddings and other family and community events kept these facilities going and it is pleasing to see that this one still survives.
The thought of a coffee and some food soon had us back on our bikes heading for Sanson and the now famous Vivs Kitchen. This was Sir Als Bighorns first visit to Vivs and when we arrived the car park was quite full. A couple of us had to have one of Vivs special Cream Horns to add to the calorie count for the day. It has been interesting to watch Vivs Kitchen become so well known over the years and here is a little piece with Duncan Garner promoting Media Works and Vivs Kitchen that shows how some of this happened. With our calories suitably added to and thirst satiated we all headed back into town happy with our short ride around the countryside.

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.