The long awaited South Island VJMC rally was held over the weekend of 11, 12, and 13th March in Nelson.
Next morning dawned warm and sunny in true Nelson style. The Tahuna Camp is huge and we shared motel style units which were very well presented. An interesting feature of the camp was that it lay directly below the airport flight path. Aircraft passed very low on approach giving quite a different view. This included a vintage DC3. This was also our first look at the bikes of our friends from the CJMC Christchurch, and the wider VJMC group form all over the country.
Late afternoon was show & shine time and the judging of the bikes. 42 bikes in total. They made a good display parked on the lawn at the front of the units, although we were the only ones to see them.
Much to my horror Ross Charlton won the whisky raffle with the ticket between the two numbers I had invested in! To his credit he whipped the top off.
Sunday morning was a relaxed start and we departed the rally for the West Coast in a couple of groups. We had a very pleasant ride out through Wakefield and down to Murchison and a stop for coffee and time for those of us late leaving to catch up.
The next leg was down to Punakaiki (pancake rocks) and a stop for coffee. The roads down the coast are unbelievably good and proper biker’s roads. Traffic is reasonably sparse and surface condition of the blacktop is top notch. PC Plod was nowhere to be seen. Nirvana.
It was as good as I remembered it from 2010; a snaking road through great scenery with only the odd tin-top and mobile chicane to impede progress. Once the pass is crested the temperature lifts and the surroundings gradually turn brown and dry. We stopped at Culverden for petrol and lunch in the shade. Noticeably warmer on the East coast.
Now most of us might be a little daunted at the prospect of a holed piston and 200 km to ride home. Not a problem if you’ve brought a spare piston with you (note to self) along with two engineers and a toolmaker. Barrel off, piston changed, problem sorted – different sized jets in the carbs being the culprit. Barry assured us it was nothing to do with riding it in Grand Prix mode for most of the trip!
The crossing home was on the Kaitaki and in much calmer seas. This is a spacious and comfortable ship and we were very lucky to be given a tour of the engine room by Bruce and Barry, both senior Engineers with Interislander. Four straight 8 turbo-charged, intercooled diesels that are 2 floors high, two in a line driving two shafts to variable pitch propellers. Everything on a huge scale and hot and noisy, it would be a challenging working environment in rough seas. The engine room of a ship is somewhere most people never get to see, so a big thank you to Bruce and Barry.
The only bike to have a major problem on the way home was Dion's RGV with a broken throttle cable. Fortunately only 40 mins from home. It could have been anywhere along the way, so a bit lucky really.
And that was our trip. 1389 km for the H2. More or less for others. Things learned; lights are useful – fit an H4 Halogen in place of the old candle holder (as Bruce has done with his GT750). Always carry a spare piston. Comfort is important – discomfort steals your concentration. Always have a get home plan because you never know with old bikes.
And on behalf of our group a really big Thank You to Judy, Angela, and Ross for all of their work organising this rally. This included going to Nelson early to buy and pack our breakfasts. Another successful rally enjoyed by all. Back to the North Island for next years rally.