Friday, October 28, 2016

Hampton Downs 2016

“That’s one of your own racing”

A special Hampton Downs pilgrimage this year as three of our own were racing. Joining Alan DL (a regular competitor) were Dion and Tim. It’s some commitment in time and money to participate, and judging by the smiles it was well worth it.
For the rest of us it was the journey up and back as much as the day(s) at the track. Missing from the regular crew were Kim and Dave T, but joining us at Arrow Lodge were Bruce, Ken, and Barry from Wellington.

Leaving from Palmerston North for the ride up on Saturday were Ian (VX800), Bruce A (VFR750), and Alan (VFR800). We met Bruce S (Kawasaki ZX10) at Sanson and made our way to Whanganui and up to Raetihi on the Parapara Rd. Rich took the Ute up leaving earlier. The Wellington contingent rode up Friday, and were at the track Saturday. Bruce on his GT750L, Barry on the Yamaha XS1.1 (for sale at the track), and Ken on a Kawasaki 650 twin.

After a good lunch at the Angel Louise Café in Raetihi we climbed to National Park and then down to Taumarunui, Te Kuiti, Otorohanga, and the back road through Pirongia, Whatawhata, and Te Kowhai to Ngaruawahia.

Not a drop of rain and little wind made for a very pleasant ride. Once unpacked at Arrow Lodge and with a couple of snorts under the belt, we all headed over to the RSA for a beer and a meal. Great value as always. Some watched the rugby and some of us just had a catch up. The Arrow Lodge has new owners - very nice people who made us most welcome. The units are clean are being upgraded as finance permits. About to be renamed as the River Bed as it’s on the banks of the Waikato River opposite Turangawaewae Marae.

Next morning it was off to the track after a cooked breakfast at the Hopin Stopin Café. Not as many bikes parked up at the track as last year and the field of racers looked to be down a bit on numbers. The day was fine and a bit of breeze kept the temperature pleasant. We soon found Tim and Dion prepping bikes with Barry helping Tim fit a set of flat slides to the CBR600.

 It was great watching the 3 of them on the track. Alan’s Suzuki XR14 has a sound like no other on the track and is always beautifully presented. In addition to the CBR Tim also brought up his TZ350, which we unfortunately didn’t see running. It’s another interesting old race bike. Dion had the NSR250 running perfectly and pulling its 12000 rpm redline in 6th gear on the front straight. Certainly looked fast from behind the fence.

Racing finished at 3pm and we helped Tim and Dion pack up and load the bikes before heading back to Ngaruawahia. The racers left for Palmerston North from the track.

Another meal was enjoyed at the RSA before a few drinks in one of the units (no point in freighting ½ bottles home) with great and interesting stories told, and much swinging of the lantern as the night progressed. We heard that the ships cook throws his arms up in horror whenever he sees Barry approaching the gang plank, in the knowledge he will not have enough food on board. This is quite believable – picture Barry eating cold pies, boiled eggs, and left over coleslaw for breakfast the following morning!  Truly a human gannet.

After breakfast in town we made for home taking the same route as we came up on. This works well as it gives different sets of corners when coming from the opposite direction. We lost Bruce S for a while as he ventured ahead and missed a turn off. We stopped for coffee in Taumaranui where Ken joined us, and then on to Raetihi and lunch at the Angel Louise Café, at which point Bruce caught up. Down the Parapara Road and the back way to Fordell.  Everyone was starting to feel the effects of time in the saddle and it was a long ¾ hour home. Ken then continuing his ride, over the track and down through Wairarapa – a proper biker!

The trip meter on the VFR showed 910 km, so a good weekends riding. No breakdowns or problems with any of the bikes (something to be said for the more modern bikes). Given the lesser turnout it will be interesting to see if this event is held next year. If not it’s a great weekend away on the bikes and a good get together.

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