Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mrs Windsors Birthday Ride

Queens Birthday Weekend is a great mid year break we all look forward to. Despite the fact that it isn't actually the Queens birthday, no one seems to mind the 'opportunity' to celebrate it. Those of a republican persuasion may need to keep this in mind when contemplating cutting our ties to the motherland. The loss of a holiday would not go down well with many of her 'subjects' and the thought of no opportunity to have a knighthood bestowed on you could be a step too far for many. Sir Al sounds so much better than just Al and Lady Fi sounds so much better than Fi!  Sir John Key is so much better than just John. This ride then was no ordinary ride but one with purpose and meaning. It was pleasing to see the arrival of some like minded 'monarchists' outside Manawatu Motorcycles on Sunday morning.

Whilst the chance of precipitation for the ride was low, the air temperature was also low so our choice of destination required a degree of warmth and that criteria was met by a certain cafe/restaurant in Hunterville. The other criteria it met was for suitably twisty roads to and from. Ian on his VX800 thought it was about one Evening Standard newspaper down the front of your jacket. It actually felt more like a Dominion temperature! Sir Al was on his VFR 800 that he thought would get more than twelve miles out of town. Kim made an appearance on his 'radio station', his Yamaha 250 3XV. It hasn't been seen for a while with a few technical issues. Rich was out on the fuel tap transformed T500. The T500 surging was a thing of the past! Paul was on his booming Moto Guzzi rearing to stretch its long legs and John was making sure the mother country was represented with his sweet Triumph triple and yours truly on the XJ750. A quick stop at BP Rangitikei Street saw Bryan joining us on his recently acquired Suzuki Freewind.

We were soon away from the city limits and much to Sir Als delight he made to Colyton and we were soon making our way around the back of Feilding and heading north up Makino road. Our first stop was at the Cheltenham hill turnoff and much of the conversation was around Bryans new bike. He was impressed with one a while ago and bought his own and it appears it is one of the best 650 adventure singles you can buy. Far more road oriented than the DR with a lower and far more comfortable seat. We were soon on our way towards Vinegar Hill and the lack of traffic allowed us to get into some serious bend swinging. The turn off to Hunterville arrived quickly and after a quick regroup we joined the state Highway one traffic flow heading south. 

The cafe soon appeared as we joined the locals and passers bys for either a late breakfast, morning tea or an early lunch. the locals were certainly popping in to load up on carbs for either a hard day working or more likely hangover assistance! It really is a popular place and a good sign as to the value and quality of the food. Whilst some treated themselves to the world famous Custard 'Rectangles' and pies, John decided he needed a good breakfast. It was huge and tasty and highly recommended at $16.50. Eating this in front of a fire soon had our body temperatures back up and we decided to do our river 'loops' run to avoid most of State Highway One.  
We headed out of Hunterville in an easterly direction towards the Rangitikei River and these loops basically parallel the course of the river. Caution is needed as on any rural road with the usual hazards of animals, farm vehicles, animal 'debris' and due to the time of the year areas of the road that are damp due to being in shadow. The roads are a nice mix of straights, sweepers mixed with some great tight sections. We all made it safely through to rejoin the main drag and the turnoff to Feilding and Halcombe. Some of us took the turnoff to Mount Stewart at Halcombe to fit in a few more corners before we got home. A quick chat at Mount Biggs saw us heading back home with Rich inviting Paul and myself back to his place to check out his latest acquisition and some of his low cost cleaning and refurbishment techniques he has recently developed. I will leave that for Rich to share with us at a later date. His plan for a T500 scrambler looks pretty interesting now he has a frame and running gear! Go Rich! Maybe we will see it next Queens Birthday Weekend?
God save the Queen!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

"It started going slower and slower......"

Sunday a week ago was our May end of month ride and although the weather looked a little dodgy the seven of us who turned up at Manawatu Motorcycles knew that the morning would offer up a wonderful jaunt around our region. A run up to Hunterville was decided with much of the discussion around the destination centred on Sir Als latest acquisition. What sort of range did his Kawasaki Bighorn have? Surely he could make it to Hunterville to refuel? If we had taken a sweepstake whoever had the smallest distance would have won; and it wasn't because he ran out of petrol!
The ride began well with Dion on the RG400, John on his Triumph triple (the Rotary is need of serious attention apparently), Ian on his GiXer, Bruce on his TZR, Bryan on his TS185 and yours truly on the XJ set off up Andrew Young Street looking forward to custard squares and a warm fire at our destination. Heading out of town via Rangitikei St saw the usual cloud of blue haze trailing (I am sure the Donald would have been impressed) from the pose of bikes as they passed the town boundary. The metropolis of Bunnythorpe soon passed by with Feilding International Airport indicating our right turn towards Colyton. But then!!

"It started going slower and slower..." Coming up on the parked bikes with Sir Al and the others looking at the bike did not bode well. The pulling of the spark plug revealed an unwelcome aluminium shimer that meant one thing! Calls were made to organise the collection of the bike and the site of Sir Al pushing the bike down the road was a sad ending to his ride for the day. But what about the rest of us? What was left of the morning was ahead of us. Ian's plans were interrupted with a cellphone call to head to Wellington to rescue his son. John was going to hunt down some mates out riding with the Central Districts Touring club. Dion, Bruce and myself decided to head south for a coffee at Shannon and a visit to his shed.

We were now down to three and after skirting the back of Palmy down the Kairanga Bunnythorpe road we headed down Lockwood and Main Drain and Rangiotu Roads and then into Himatangi Block Road. After missing the turn and turning around in a driveway I had a little whoopsie and ended up with the mighty XJ on the ground. Thank goodness Dion was nearby and helped me lift the XJ off the ground. They certainly are heavy beasts and apart from a broken indicator, a small dent in the muffler and my pride we were under way fairly again. The incident certainly makes one think about maybe its time to get one of my lighter bikes back on the road! We were soon coming to the end of the Foxton Shannon Road and parked ourselves up around one of the Shannon cafes. The town and the cafe were certainly very busy with the town becoming more of destination these days rather than a place you pass through.

It was great sitting outside the cafe watching the world go by talking about bikes. It made me think about how great it was to be sitting around the table with a couple of genuine two stroke enthusiasts. Dion and Kim have between them resurrected a number of two strokes including the RG400 Dion was riding. They have now taken it to another place and space by racing  the bikes as well. Bruce has over the years bought and sold a number of bikes, many of them two strokes. His current project is the rejuvenation of what is a very rare bike, a Kawasaki KR1S. Can't wait to see it on the road. A great effort guys and a valuable contribution to our motorcycling heritage. Unfortunately the gas bagging got away on us and we had to return to town without checking out Bruce's garage, although we had a quick swing by Sir Als place to see how the Bighorn was. The screwdriver disappearing down plug hole with the piston at TDC said it all! In spite of this Sir Al is determined to get it back on the road asap!

It certainly was an eventful ride with more stories to be told as a result. Keeping these pesky two strokes on the road is certainly a challenge but great to be part of a crew who value them and put in a lot of time, effort, money and energy to keep them on the road. Roll on next Sunday!

PS. Bryan missed all the action after he ducked into Feilding to change bikes. His ride to and from Hunterville was rather lonely. All good Bryan I have your number now!

Alan kicking over his new purchase. A 1974 Kawasaki 350 Bighorn.