Its been a while since I have penned a blog post. Having knee replacement surgery made things like riding a motorcycle a little difficult for a while. Mind you I was able to get on a scooter fairly early in the piece, but whilst easy to get off and on, the staggering power of a 50cc two stroke wears a bit thin after a while and limits ones excursions to the city limits. At least the scooter was called a Katana so I was able to rightly drop the word into motorcycle conversations that indicated I was back on two wheels without revealing its true category! However those who had an interest in old jappas would inevitably ask which model; at which point I would have to confess. So it is nice to finally be back on the mighty XJ and riding beyond the city limits once more.
Last Sunday at around 9:30 saw the gradual gathering of nine motorcycles outside Manawatu Motorcycles on Andrew Young Street. Ian appeared on his newly 're-tyred' GSXR1100 and keen to check them out. Sir Al on his VFR was an early arrival along with Graham on his new 1200cc Bonny, with Dave on his 'owned from new Honda K2 750. Kims chosen bike for the ride was his 89 NSR 250, with Bruce appearing on his ever faithful Yamaha RZ350 and Richard rumbled up on the mighty
T. Rich informed us about a wonderful RD400 he came across on his way to the rendezvous and sure enough that very distinctive RD400 sound was heard coming around the corner. On board was Craig and his daughter Katie who were out for a Sunday morning coffee. Quite a huddle developed around the bike that was in pristine order and recently featured in Olde Bike. You could certainly see why. Craig was keen to come out with us for the first 20 kays or so. The destination for the ride was to be Apiti where great stories were told about the new owners of the tavern and the wonderful menu!
The departure from town was punctuated with Craig adding a few more pounds of air into his tyres at the Caltex station on our way out and we quickly got into the Pohangina Valley 'rhythm' as we headed north into the hills. The temperature had certainly dropped since I was last up this way, but the familiarity with the road certainly helped my cautious confidence return as we made our way through some parts that had some moss come back with the departure of summer. However, the road was in very good condition with very few sections of loose gravel in the corners as is often the case. Our first stop at Totara Park arrived very quickly and it was here that Craig and Katie said goodbye. It was neat to see two generations of a family enjoying motorcycling with Craig telling us Katie has her own 125 dirt bike at home. Cool! The sound of the RD heading south down the valley was music to our ears. It was also here Sir Al managed to lecture one of the locals on road safety matters. The cat was mildly interested! Soon we were back on the bikes and heading towards our destination half expecting to see a some snow in the great vistas one sees of the Ruahine Ranges as we climbed towards Apiti.
Our arrival at Apiti found the doors at the tavern locked. The custodian soon arrived to open up the premises long after the posted opening time. It appears as though the opening of the duck shooting season was celebrated in style the evening before. The status of the catering was in doubt for a while, but the chef appeared and fired up the kitchen and we he managed to maintain the great food standard from the previous visit. After some great conversations around all manner of topics it was decided to retrace our steps for the ride home. Whilst the road through to Kimbolton includes some great windy parts, the remaining road through to Palmy is not! Our departure was a little distracted by a Victory motorcycle. An amazing piece of 'iron' and with the recent demise of the company the motorcycle world is all the poorer for it.
Doing the reverse rather than the loop has a lot of pluses including knowing the current road conditions and upping the corner count. Not a bad thing! Our last stop was at the Totara Reserve turnoff where all agreed that it had been a great ride and that the liners and thermals were going to be dug out from the back of the wardrobes. It was great to be out and about again on the XJ in the company of fellow motorcyclists sharing the wonderful world of heritage motorcycling. I certainly missed it.
See you out there!