Category: Travels

Final Results TT2000 2016

I’m not going to publish the complete results of the TT2000 as that would be a breach of privacy, and some of the front-runners had very fast times over very long distances. So fast and so long that it’s almost impossible to conceive of them having pulled it off.

I was very pleased with my final result though – 12th out of a field of 87. I’m pretty happy with that given I’ve never done a TT before, and given that my ride wasn’t overly strenuous. I’m very keen to improve on my result next year. And when you think that I only knew where ONE of the mystery checkpoints was, well, again, I’ll just say that I impressed myself.

Thanks again to all the organisers. It was a great event. We need more like this throughout the year.

TT2000 – Ride report (2016)

It’s Tuesday night after my first TT2000. I’ve just ridden my motorcycle 2,406 kilometres over a 48 hour period. The riding went from checkpoint to checkpoint amassing scores of between 1,000 and 5,000 points depending on the severity of the checkpoint. I ended up with 68,000.

The ride was ‘invented’ by Mike Hyde who wrote books about motorcycling in the USA, Australia, and around New Zealand. Sadly in 2015 Mike passed away but there are enough enthusiasts to keep the ride running.

Line-up of bikes for 2016 TT2000 in Picton

Line-up of bikes for 2016 TT2000 in Picton

This year there were two starts – one in Picton and one in Dunedin. Both ended in Christchurch. The checkpoints were released several months before the event so riders could plan their route to meet the distance requirements, and to get the minimum number of 50,000 points.

Mileage at the Picton start

Mileage at the Picton start

I’d recently bought a Garmin Zumo 590 and so spent time using the Garmin Basecamp app to work out where I was heading. The logical place for me to begin, as a Wellingtonian, was Picton. The ride began midday on Friday 19 February. The deal was to make it to Christchurch before midday on Sunday 21 February.

Road to Rainbow Ski field - the road was closed so we could only go as far as the first ford

Road to Rainbow Ski field – the road was closed so we could only go as far as the first ford

I’d planned a route that headed first to Hakahaka Bay east of Picton, then back to Picton, down the Wairau Valley to Nelson Lakes National Park, across to Tapawera, up the Moutere Valley, over the Takaka Hill all the way to Whanganui Inlet (8km from the start of Farewell Spit) then back over Takaka Hill taking in Mairahau and Kaiteretere. I’d worked out that I’d arrive sometime around 10.30pm in Murchison where I had booked a cheap cabin for the night.

Whanganui Inlet near Farewell Spit in Golden Bay

Whanganui Inlet near Farewell Spit in Golden Bay

North end of Kaiteretere Beach

North end of Kaiteretere Beach

The first day was around 650km. I managed 25,000 points, already at the half way mark on points at least.

Hakahaka Bay 5,000
Wairau Valley 2,000
Rainbow Skifield 5,000
West Bay 1,000
Tapawera 2,000
Whanganui Inlet 5,000
Courthouse Cafe, Collingwood 1,000
Pupu Springs 1,000
Mairahau 2,000
Kaiteriteri Beach 1,000
SUB TOTAL 25,000
Murchison campground for the night $25

The first day riding was great weather. No wind and the temperatures relatively mild.

Despite requests from the organisers for riders to take care on the road to Hakahaka Bay there were some speedsters who decided the road was too much fun to move sedately. Three riders tailgated me on the way back to Picton so I indicated to let them past. Two made it successfully, the third went a little too fast for the immediate corner. He got caught in the loose gravel on the shoulder and, despite me thinking for a moment he was going to recover, the lip back up onto the road proved too big an obstacle and he went down into a ditch. His right leg went under the bike. By the time I had found flat ground to park my motorbike two other riders had pulled this chap out of the ditch and were checking him, and his bike, for injuries. He said he was OK but the way he kept rubbing his leg indicated to me that he was running on adrenalin and that he’d be in a lot more pain and discomfort further down the line.

I found out at the end of the ride that one other rider had come off on that stretch of road.

The Takaka Hill is always a highlight for motorcyclists and it didn’t disappoint.

Travelling back through Motueka I couldn’t bring myself to have McDonalds, or Fish & Chips. So I carried on riding. By the time I got back through Tapawera I was starving. I’d packed a small gas primus so sat on a park bench outside the closed Tapawera cafe and cooked up a freeze-dried meal of Lamb Curry. Just what the doctor ordered.

My bike, a BMW R1200GS, only has a cruising range of around 330km. And it seemed that there was limited 24 hour petrol in the top and west of the South Island. Murchison seemed to be the logical place to stay if I wanted a decent rest before what I knew to be a huge ride the next day based on how far I could get on a tank of gas. I arrived at the Murchison camp ground where I had pre-booked a cabin around 10.30pm. Got chatting to two other TT2000 riders who had decided to stay in the same campground. We traded war stories and hit the sack not long after.

I made an early start on Saturday morning leaving at around 6.30am. The first checkpoint was Six Mile Walkway about 9 kms from Murchison. There was fog around at that time of the morning – it was a really nice little valley albeit a bit chilly at that time. An old white mare looked over the fence as I took my checkpoint photo.

sixmile

The valley east of the Six Mile walkway checkpoint

I headed back to Murchison and on to Inangahua. Following that it was to Westport.

Carters Beach at the mouth of the Buller River was a very impressive checkpoint, and not one I would have enjoyed being at in bad weather.

Carters Beach at the mouth of the Buller River

Carters Beach at the mouth of the Buller River

After that I headed to the Fox River Bridge, then Greymouth for breakfast, then down to Kaniere. I realised that I had stuffed up my planning a little and missed Roa which I should have done before hitting Greymouth. I decided at only 2000 points I could leave it out altogether.

The route then took me over the Arthurs Pass where I hit rain. I decided not to put the rain suit on, rightfully expecting that the 30 degree temps in Canterbury would dry me out in short order.

(A) – I didn’t get that damp, and

(B) – I was right about the hot temperatures.

Six Mile 2,000
Inangahua 2,000
Carters Beach 2,000
Fox River 2,000
Kaniere 2,000
Inchbonnie 1,000
Klondyke Corner 1,000
Cave Stream 1,000
Coopers Creek 2,000
Pudding Hill 2,000
SUB TOTAL 17,000
TOTAL POINTS 42,000

Coopers Creek was interesting. My GPS sent me down a gravel road. Not a gravel road with tyre tracks and hard packed shingle – a gravel road with three inches of metal. I slid all over the place. The GPS then took me to an intersection with more gravel and a ford! FFS! A road sign said the ford was closed. It didn’t look that bad to me so I crossed it. After taking my photo I recalibrated the GPS to avoid unsealed roads. The last thing I wanted was to tip off in a remote country lane and not be able to pick up my bike.

Coopers Creek checkpoint just after I crossed a (closed) ford

Coopers Creek checkpoint just after I crossed a (closed) ford

Pudding Hill is the beginning of the road up to Mount Hutt. I saw a few bikes travelling to the checkpoint as I was heading back out to the main highway. I didn’t know if they had started in Picton, or were bikers from the Dunedin start heading north. It felt about halfway between the two starts so either was possible.

I gassed up in Geraldine, and had a restorative lime milkshake in Fairlie. It was bloody hot. Even the man in the fish and chip shop said so.

Next through the Mackenzie Country – some of my favourite roads in New Zealand. I witnessed a few stupid tourists in small underpowered sedans pull out and overtake truck and trailer units with not much room to spare, and then if that wasn’t enough they promptly overtook a car on a blind bend. I was yelling expletives inside my helmet! It seemed to work and everyone survived, just.

Mt Cook airfield is a stones throw from the Hermitage. There was a massive black rain cloud hanging over the Hermitage basin. This impending deluge demanded a rain suit so I pulled over to pull it on. The wind was blowing hard, directly at me. I was being buffeted and blown all over the road. It wasn’t pleasant. Then the downpour hit. I took my photo as quick as I could (another 5,000 pointer so worth the effort) and got on my way. The ride back was stupendous with the wind directly at my back. Absolutely no wind noise in my helmet as my road speed seemed to match the wind speed. I did the normally 40 minute ride in what seemed about 25 minutes.

Mt Cook airport in howling wind and torrential rain. It's worse than it looks

Mt Cook airport in howling wind and torrential rain. It’s worse than it looks

Fueled up in Omarama. Next stop was Aviemore. The road to the lake took me across the Benmore Dam. It was around 6.30pm and the sun was getting lower in the sky. Such an amazing experience riding across this massive man-made structure surrounded by incredible countryside. Last time I rode across there I was on a Yamaha TT500 in the early 80’s when I was at university in Christchurch. I have to get back to that place and spend a bit more time there.

Elephant Rock is on the south side of the Waitaki Valley. You head some of the way to Danseys Pass but before you hit shingle veer off to the east. The landscape is rolling pastureland with outcrops of limestone. I spent a bit of time at the Elephant Rock checkpoint eating a muesli bar and watched the reddening sky as the sun set.

Sunset at Elephant Rock

Sunset at Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock was a point at which I had to make a big decision. If I just wanted to meet the minimum guidelines I could head towards Christchurch and pick up Clandeboye and Pleasant Point to meet the 50,000 point minimum. The ride back to Christchurch at that point would have given me the required 2,000 km.

If I was feeling good the alternative was to carry on south to pick up three checkpoints south of Dunedin. One of them at Lees Flat was worth 5,000 so it was a serious consideration.

I’m not one to do things to the minimum. The Iron Butt Rally(11,000 miles in 11 days) in the USA is on my bucket list so I was keen to see how far I could ride. I felt OK. Remarkably so. What would be the consequences if I felt tired? I’d stop and pitch a tent, have a rest and carry on.

I decided to head south.

I reached Dunedin around 10.30pm. I got caught up in a breath testing traffic stop on George Street, surrounded by partying new university students. The nice cop, an elderly man, laughed with his breathalyser and said “This is going to be interesting!” as there was no way I could speak into the thing with my helmet on. When I told him I’d driven down from Murchison he decided to let me go without the official measurement. After all, it didn’t look like I had been out on the turps.

Gassed up and had a coffee in Mosgiel. Then began the ride inland to Lees Flat. It was closer than I thought. The challenge for the next three checkpoints was getting the bike and the location correctly exposed in the photos so that the scrutineers could determine if I had actually been to where I said I had. Lees Flat was OK – the checkpoint was photographing the bike in front of a highly reflective road sign.

Lee Flat, the easiest of the 'dark' photos

Lee Flat, the easiest of the ‘dark’ photos

If I thought that was the biggest of my problems I was wrong. The GPS decided it wanted to send me on shingle roads again. Because a GPS only looks as far ahead as the next intersection or turn I thought that surely 4.1 km of gravel would lead me to a sealed road. Remember, it’s pitch dark. I’m in the country. From what I could see there were no farm houses, and there certainly wasn’t any other traffic. While I have HID headlights it was difficult to read the condition of the road. It appeared to be hard packed but very corrugated.

After 4.1 kms of riding I get to the next intersection. Still more gravel, this time I think for about 6kms. I carried on, again hoping that this was leading to a nice sealed road. Wrong. The next stretch, again unsealed, was 19.1 km. And the conditions were getting worse. It was too late to turn back so I kept going. Steep downward declines and upward inclines. Extensive corrugations. Not a soul to be seen anywhere. I was completely discombobulated. The GPS showed I was heading north which I thought was non-sensical. At one point I thought I was on the coast as I crossed a bridge near a heap of what looked like fishing boats. It turned out when I looked at the map the next day that I had crossed Lake Mahinerangi. Who would have thought.

I finally arrived in Lawrence where I struggled to photograph my bike in front of the stone house which was set quite a way back off the road. I was shining a torch at the house, using my camera flash, and keeping the bike running so I could make use of the headlights. It’s after midnight and I figured any moment someone is going to come out with a shotgun and drive me off.

I left Lawrence on a sealed road – next stop the Clutha Ferry. But, 3 km down the road the GPS tried to send me on more gravel. Enough was enough. It might have been quicker as the crow flies but certainly not quicker in terms of peace of mind. I re-routed and headed off. But I was still confused as to what direction I was heading. I honestly thought I was heading UP the Clutha River with the ferry crossing on the east side, when in fact it was completely the opposite.

I found Clutha Ferry and rode half way down the small track to get closer to the sign so the photography would be easier. Halfway down I realised the track was narrow, and I couldn’t easily turn around back up the hill. There was a big ROAD CLOSED sign at the bottom of the track with a larger turning circle beyond the barricade. Only thing to do was ride beyond the barricade, do the photo and then ride back out. I have a slight nervousness making tight turns on narrow shingle tracks. This stems from a solo ride I did seven years back when I dropped my bike on a steep section of the Dunstan Range. For the life of me I couldn’t pick the bike up. And I didn’t want to be in the same predicament in the middle of the night this time.

All was fine. I turned the bike around and rode out of there, back through Dunedin heading north to Christchurch.

On the way down SH1 four hours previously I had spotted a camping spot (actually, just a blue sign with a tent on it) in Herbert, about an hour north of Dunedin. Doing the return trip I arrived in Herbert at 3.30am – at this stage I’d been riding 21 hours. I was buggered. I needed to rest.

I rode as quietly as I could into the Glencoe DOC campground and cut the engine. With a head torch strapped to my noggin I erected my small tent, blew up a 3/4 air mattress and fell into a deep sleep. Woke up freezing at 5.50pm. I can tell you two hours sleep was a pretty good effort. As quietly as I could I packed everything up and left the campground at 6.30am. No-one saw me arrive and no one saw me leave. I’m sure they heard me though.

I slogged it back up the line, having breakfast in Timaru (finally succumbing to a bacon and egg McMuffin, yes at McDonalds) before picking up Mystery Bonus #4 at the Pleasant Point railway museum. Further down the road there was the official noted railway station checkpoint in Pleasant Point, and finally the flag poles at the Clandeboye milk plant. Then on to the finish at Hamptons in Christchurch.

Pleasant Point railway station

Pleasant Point railway station

 

Mt Cook Airport 5,000
Aviemore 2,000
Elephant Rock 2,000
Lee Flat 5,000
Lawrence 2,000
Clutha Ferry 2,000
Mystery #4 4,000
Pleasant Point 2,000
Clandeboye 2,000
Hamptons, Christchurch 0
SUB-TOTAL 26,000
GRAND TOTAL 68,000

I arrived at Hamptons at 10.50am. There were quite a few riders there already. I handed over my camera card, and my score sheet, had a sausage, spoke to a few riders I had met along the way, and then left to stay with friends.

The finish mileage at Hamptons

The finish mileage at Hamptons

I want to thank the organisers. It was heaps of fun. I feel like I exceeded my own expectations. And while I can’t remember every part of the ride I know that I experienced some amazing weather, some amazing countryside, and a real sense of accomplishment.

Finishers, every one of them, I hope!

Finishers, every one of them, I hope!

I’ll definitely be back next year.

My Spotwalla track including the trip from Christchurch to Picton on the Monday afterwards.

My Spotwalla track including the trip from Christchurch to Picton on the Monday afterwards.

TT2000

So, this Friday I’m starting the TT2000 – an endurance event for motorcyclists. I leave Picton at midday on Friday 19 February. and arrive at Christchurch at midday on Sunday 21 February. The idea is to accumulate 50,000 points from collecting photos at checkpoints, as well as riding a minimum of 2,000km.

Without giving my route away I’m going to be riding 800km the first day, having a 6 hour sleep, and then riding around 1600km the second day.

South Island Tour – November 2015

On Sunday 22 November I begin the annual motorbike trip with some old mates. We’ve been doing it for around five years now and each time bar one we have ridden around the South Island.

Day One – Sunday 22 November 2015:

My journey starts on the Bluebridge Ferry (Wellington to Picton) on Sunday morning arriving at Picton at 11.30am. The others are a day ahead of me as I had to stay behind to attend a friend’s wedding. So, my first day riding is a long one – from Picton to Tekapo in an afternoon. I’m aiming to get there by around 7pm.

Day Two – Monday 23 November 2015:

Tekapo to Catlins

Day Three – Tuesday 24 November 2015:

Catlins to Te Anau

Day Four – Wednesday 25 November 2015:

Te Anau to Milford Sound to Te Anau to Glenorchy

Day Five – Thursday 26 November 2015:

Glenorchy to Franz Josef

Day Six – Friday 27 November 2015:

Franz Josef to St Arnaud

Day Seven – Saturday 28 November 2015:

St Arnaud to Picton to Wellington

You can follow my trip on the Spotwalla map below (refresh as you go). This map relies on me remembering to keep my iPhone in tracking mode. It will start tracking from 7.00am on Sunday 22 November and finish at midnight on Saturday 28 November.

The North Island 1600

NI1600 logo for 2015On 1.00 pm on Saturday 10 October 2015 I’ll be leaving a campground at Turangi to attempt to ride 1,600 kms on my motorbike in less than 24 hours.

I have done this three times previously. Twice as part of the Rusty Nuts organised rally, and once as the Distance Riders Group. We won’t know the route we need to take until 7.00pm on Friday night. I’ll post that route here tomorrow (Friday night).

I’ll also be setting up a Spotwalla track so you can follow my progress through the night if you find yourself with nothing to do and you’re wide awake at 3.00am on Sunday morning.

The link for that is: https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=f10156163bdb960e8 – at the moment it’s just a map. When the ride starts I start an application on my iPhone that starts pinging location messages back to the map. All you’ll need to do is refresh the map to see where I am!!

The other exciting thing about this years event is that if we’re successful we are eligible to apply for membership of the renowned Iron Butt Association of USA. The IBA are the premier long distance riding group in the world. Their most famous rally is the IBA Rally held every two years where contestants ride 11,000 miles in 11 days.

And the weather is looking good.

weather

 

 

 

Day 1 – San Francisco

We arrived in San Francisco yesterday lunchtime, all completely exhausted after getting only 3 hours sleep on a very noisy 777. I’m not complaining – it’s part and parcel of getting halfway around the world for a holiday. But we were knackered.

The apartment is great. We were met at the door by a heavily tattooed cleaning lady who turned out not to be the owner. We wasted no time beginning our exploration of the Mission neighbourhood.

First stop was the highly recommended Philz Coffee, literally one block away. We’re spoilt for choice in Wellington so when we walked in to find three people making coffee from around 30 different flavoured and roasted beans then we thought we were in heaven. Looks can be deceiving. Weak, insipid, watery…sorry, just not good enough. All filtered too, not an espresso machine in sight.

We wandered as far as 16th Street and Dolores Park. A gentle slope on the western hills overlooking the city was completely crammed with young-ish hipsters playing frisbee, throwing balls for their assorted dogs, drinking wine, and, by the smell of things smoking the occasional herbed cigarette.

We stopped for groceries at the famous Bi-Rite grocery store on 18th Street, battling with the locals for the most amazing produce. Funny thing was Sugar couldn’t find acodophulus yoghurt. We did manage to find some wonderful eggs from chickens fed on sea kelp, and some fabulous smoked bacon.

By the time we got back to the apartment we were completely busted. Finding a restaurant to eat in can be stressful, and in our family often causes the most arguments. This time we all agreed – the closest thing to an American Diner we could find in our neighbourhood – St Francis’ Fountain – an original 1940’s diner that sold the best burgers and BLT’s in the neighbourhood.

We wandered through the dark streets around 7pm, past the Latinos playing cards across the street from our house. They looked threatening but the Guest Book in the apartment says they’ve been doing if for decades.

Bring on Day 2!

Mexican wrestling masks - The Mission

Mexican wrestling masks – The Mission

Near Dolores Park, San Francisco

Near Dolores Park, San Francisc

Dolores Park

Dolores Park

Shops on 24th Street, Mission

Shops on 24th Street, Mission

 

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