Friday, November 8, 2013

Barry Sheene Oceania Challenge

Labour weekend this year saw a few of the lads head up to the Barry Sheene Classic races at Hampton Downs, Here is Alans report.

Friday 25th October, myself (Aprilia 650ie), Dion (Honda NS400R), Bruce A (BMW650GS), and Bruce S (Yamaha RZ 375) left town at 10am on our way to Hampton Downs Race Circuit. Our plan was to travel to Ngaruawahia and stay at the Arrow Lodge Motel. We would ride up to the circuit for the day on Saturday, then return to Ngaruawahia for the night and head home Sunday. We planned a route with as many corners as possible keeping off SH1 and the busier highways.

Friday dawned wet and very windy. We headed over to Whanganui to ride up the Parapara road to Raetihi, National Park, and through Taumaranui to Otorohunga, then the back road to Ngaruawahia. By Whanganui I was having a real struggle with the wind gusts on the Aprilia, and Dion was suffering too. Bruce A and Bruce S were OK. Bruce A, Dion and I decided to return to SH1 via Marton in the hope of better (and safer) conditions. Bruce S wanted to carry on and went up the Parapara on his own. At Marton, I decided to shoot home and and change over to the trusty H2 ( a way better bike in the conditions). Bruce & Dion waited at Hunterville (thank you for waiting). We then worked our way around to National Park and back on the planned route. We stopped for a break and a meal at Te Kuwiti. The wind lessened the closer we got to Ngaruawahia and we completed the last section in calm darkness, arriving safe and dry, fed and watered.

Saturday was a cracker and we had a great day at the track. The bike parking area was just about as interesting as the pits. There was a large contingent of Aussies with some stunning machinery. Alan and Paul De Latour were there with Alan's ex Pat Hennan Suzuki 500cc XR14. This bike looks and sounds great and I believe it is very much as it was raced in the 70s. There were also a few Kawasaki triples including a sidecar outfit. Barry Drummond, Bruce Currie, and Ross Charlton were there living the good life in Bruce's well appointed horse truck. All had bikes in the VJMC display. We finished the day with a back-road ride to Ngaruawahia. All a bit pink from plenty of sun. Over to the RSA for a couple of beers and a meal.

Next morning was a leisurely start with breakfast at the local greasy-spoon and then through to Taumarunui in occasional showers. We turned off just south of the town onto SH41 through to Tokaanu. A few km from the turn-off we came across a bike that had gone down the road. The rider was OK and we helped get the bike back on the road, then followed him through to the Western Bay Rd turnoff to make sure he was OK. It was sobering to look at his bike jacket & pants; the contact points being where the armor is located and worn right through the fabric, but not the armor. Don't think I'll be riding in jeans this summer!

Next stop was Tokaanu for sandwiches and coffee. Then over the saddle and round to National Park. At this point Bruce S disappeared into the distance and that was the last we saw of him. We had a good ride down the Parapara with the sun out and a dry road for the last part. We stopped for a break and coffee at Upokongaro, then into Whanganui and back to Palmerston North.

Generally a good trip and enjoyed by all. The value of a good rain-suit, over-gloves, and over-boots were well proven in the conditions. Hampton Downs is a great venue, and the Barry Sheene weekend is worth the effort.

Alan Clark

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