The plan was to work on Thursday, then ride to Palmerston North, have a steak and chips at the Cobb with 20 or so other riders, then hit the sack ready for the TT to start on Friday. Everything went according to plan. Thanks to Chris Wiltshire for organising the dinner.
After a good night’s rest at the Awatea Lodge Motel, I went in search of a good breakfast. I had been contemplating a BIG breakfast, but at the last moment decided to go healthy, in anticipation of all the crap I would undoubtedly be eating on the road. Yoghurt and crunchy granola with a flat white, at the very popular Cafe Cuba, on Cuba Street, Palmerston North—highly recommended.
I headed out to the Ashhurst Inn arriving around 11:15 am. There were sooo many motorbikes. Found a park next to another ST1300, checked in, and then waited, waited, waited. It was bloody hot in the midday sun and there was very little shade to be had.
Finally, Wayne gives the briefing. 350,000 km will be traveled by the 160+ riders. That’s a lot of rubber, and petroleum products being consumed for what? For a cracking good time, and a mental and physical challenge.
The briefing ends. There’s a scramble to get the T-shirt. By the time I get back to my bike, it’s 12:05 pm. Already running late!
I get everything sorted as quickly as I can. On the bike and off, towards Akoutere and the Pahiatua Track. I wasn’t convinced this would be the quickest way, but I much prefer this route over the Saddle Road. There were roadworks early on, bad enough that it was ignition off and a bit of a wait for the traffic to start moving again.
Checkpoint 1: Alfredton Flyer
Arrived 13:10 pm (12 minutes behind schedule)
To be honest, I can’t even remember this checkpoint. From my photo, it’s clear that the checkpoint wasn’t crowded. I attach the T-shirt by bungee to my top box rack which speeds things up. I’d calculated 2 minutes for each checkpoint. Did this one in about 45 secs. Off to the next one.
Checkpoint 2: Alfredton
Arrived 13:36 pm (10 minutes behind schedule)
Problems with the GPS, and so early on in the piece. I don’t know how you can plan a route in Basecamp then transfer it to a GPS and have it turn out different. And that’s making sure that the avoidance settings and the route preference (fastest) are the same on both. It turned me into the south end of Barton’s Line.
Now, I have ridden that road before and last time I did it, it was gravel. I thought maybe they had sealed it, and for the first 150m, it certainly appeared that way. But then… well… gravel. So, how to turn a hefty ST1300 around on a narrow gravel road—that’s always a challenge—for me at least. I managed, slowly, and with many inching forwards, and rocking backs. Time lost. Then I get to the Alfredton Checkpoint and it’s like there’s a party going on. The Goldwings were there in force, and newcomers had to fight for a view of the RD mailbox.
My pic belies the maelstrom that was evident just prior. I grabbed the photo and was off.
Checkpoint 3: Weber
Arrived 14:36 pm (20 minutes behind schedule)
At the risk of insulting anyone, I didn’t appreciate the Goldwingers on the narrow roads of SH52. They were a big group (maybe eight, or ten of them), traveling in a relatively tight formation. I started to pick them off one by one and was about halfway through the pack before we took the right-hander to Weber.
The Weber Checkpoint is only about 1 km past that intersection. The Goldwing in the lead came to the conclusion that the checkpoint was just past the bridge and promptly pulled over to the left of the road. Three others hit the brakes, with no indicators. I nearly collected one near the rear of the bunch then had to swing around another who had stopped in the middle of the road. I hit the horn in despair, swore (inside my helmet) and raced off ahead to the ‘real’ checkpoint 500 metres further on. I took the pic real quick and was off before they could get in front. I had some time to make up.
Checkpoint 4: Weber Flyer
Arrived 15:06 pm (17 minutes behind schedule)
I made up some time, being out front, with only my own company to worry about.
When I did the Basecamp routing I didn’t pay much attention to where I needed to go. I grew up in Waipukurau. Some will know that my 91-year-old Mum still lives there. So, I was confident I knew where I was going. And here I was thinking the flyer was at Porangahau Beach. Imagine my surprise when I turned down a different road, well before I had even made it anywhere near Porangahau. Surely my GPS was wrong? Apparently not.
For all my years as a young man in Hawkes Bay, I had never visited Herbertville. That’s what I love about these rides—they take you to places you’ve never been before, usually in the dark of night. I digress.
I arrive at the checkpoint. There’s a rider about to leave. The cairn is on a sandy knoll. It’s too risky to take the ST up there so I stay on the gravel track and gingerly turn it around for a quick getaway. Hence my picture, with a VERY small monument in the background. At this early stage it’s all about survival, and, at all costs, remaining upright.
Checkpoint 5: Waipawa Flyer
Arrived 16:22 pm (15 minutes ahead of schedule) WOOHOO!!
I felt confident, that with my local knowledge, I could get to this checkpoint quickly, and as the arrival time shows, I was right. This is despite the fact that my GPS had the checkpoint halfway down Wakarara Road, a good 5 or 6 km from the actual location. To settle my confusion, I got off my bike, opened the top box, found my nicely printed and spiral bound rider book, found the location, punched it into Google Maps on my phone (couldn’t work out how to add a GPS coordinate to my GPS), did a U-turn, rode another 5 minutes, then took the photo. If all had gone according to plan I would have been 20 minutes ahead instead of 15. No-one at this checkpoint so a quick turn around and then on to Waipawa.
Checkpoint 6: Waipawa
Arrival time 16:43 pm (32 minutes ahead of schedule)
I knew exactly where this one was. As I came over the Waipawa Bridge and swung to the right, what looked like the entire population of Waipawa was frolicking in the public baths. It took me back to my childhood. Typical Hawkes Bay scorcher, with adults and children cooling off in an unheated outdoor pool. A wonderful image.
I parked up, unfurled the T-shirt and made my pic. A bike arrived (I think it was Andrew Brown, on a BMW 1200 Enduro). We nodded at each other and I headed off. Suddenly there was shouting. Someone was yelling at me. I stopped and looked back to find Andrew running after me, shouting that I had forgotten to pack away my T-shirt. I replied, “It’s a cunning plan—it’s held on with a bungee!” He smiled and I was on my way. I appreciated his concern.
Mystery 4: Te Aute Church
Arrival 16:55 pm (32 minutes ahead of schedule)
I arrived at this familiar (to me) church to find a bus parked across the entrance and the remnants of a bridal party in the church grounds. I decided not to cross the road. Competing with a stationary bus and the wedding party felt problematic, especially when it came time to leave. There were many bemused faces peering out of the bus at me as I took my pic. They must have wondered what the hell I was doing.
Checkpoint 7: Bayview
Arrival 17:41 pm (20 minutes ahead of schedule)
You can see that I lost a bit of time on this checkpoint. I blame it on the rush-hour traffic between Hastings and Napier. At one point the traffic was completely at a standstill, and I resorted to riding up the shoulder of the expressway. Quite happy with my progress given the conditions.
I stopped and refueled at BP. The food and toilets are better, and I took advantage of both. My first pie of the trip. Once done, I raced across the road and took the pic of the actual CP at Mobil. There were a few other bikes parked up. I stopped a short distance away, took the pic, and was on my way.
Checkpoint 8: Bayview Flyer
Arrival 18:14 pm (19 minutes ahead of schedule)
This was the dodgiest checkpoint of the trip, and I’m so glad I didn’t arrive after dark.
The rest area and shelter looked like it was used for smoking P. There was litter, and graffiti. Honestly, I fully expected to find a dead body in the bushes or lying under one of the benches in the shelter. Very foreboding. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and back on the road.
Mystery 3: Wairoa Lighthouse
Arrival 19:45 pm (1 minute ahead of schedule)
I don’t know why I lost nearly 20 minutes on my route from Te Pohue to Wairoa. Maybe I was taking it easy because of my recent riding history up that way.
The town was busy, and there was an empty car park right near the lighthouse. A quick photo as a few other bikes pulled in.
Headed gingerly out of town past “Doakie’s Ditch” where I slew a sheep with my FJR in the 2018 NI1600. No sheep in sight. Onwards.
Checkpoint 9: Wainui Flyer
Arrival time 21:30 pm (1 minute over schedule)
This leg is where it got interesting.
Riding a motorbike is a dangerous pastime. Add darkness and the danger intensifies.
About 20 minutes south of the checkpoint a white ute was dawdling down the road with a flashing orange light on its roof. It’s pitch dark. No roadside signage. No evidence of roadworks. No hand signals. Nothing. 500m on I see something looming up off the left-hand side of the road. It’s the same height as my head, and maybe one metre away. It’s a fucking dairy cow lumbering, slowly, onto the road. I swear, I looked right into its eyes as I hurtled past. I think I did a little poop in my pants, and for the next few minutes, I found myself shouting “Holy fuck!” into my helmet over and over and over again. If I had hit that cow I wouldn’t have survived that encounter.
I committed the name of the next road to memory so that on the return journey I could take extra special care as I rode through that area.
I arrived at Tolaga Bay and took my photo in the dark. My motel had phoned on the way to this checkpoint, so I took the opportunity to call them back and confirm that “Yes!” I was staying the night, and “Yes!” I would be leaving very early the next morning so “Please leave my key in the room and charge my credit card!”
Checkpoint 10: Wainui
Arrival time 22:21 pm (8 minutes behind schedule)
I arrived at this checkpoint to find a swarm of other motorcyclists taking photos and discussing dinner plans—McDonald’s was the favoured choice. In an effort to be as quick as possible, I left my engine running, headlights and spots burning through the darkness. My bike was angled out of the turning circle, pointing directly at a car that was parked on the grass under a tree. The other bikes left and for a moment I was alone. I hopped back on the bike, and as I headed out, a man leaned out of that car, gave me the finger, and told me to “fuck off”. Welcome to Gisborne.
I had planned to refuel in the morning but figured that I may as well do it now so I could head out of the road quicker the next day. I had stowed my summer-weight gloves down between the dash and the windscreen on the ST, and as I traveled along the road towards the Mobil petrol station the aerodynamics of the fairing blew one of my gloves out and past me into the gloom and darkness of the evening. Honestly, I just couldn’t be bothered going to look for it. I’d had those gloves for 20 years. They were as thin as tissue paper. I would come to regret that (a little bit) on Saturday.
Found my motel. Carried my top box into the room, had a shower and hit the sack. Day one complete.
Checkpoint 11: Opotiki Flyer
Arrival time 06:45 am (14 minutes behind schedule)
I got up in the morning to find three bikes parked next to mine. It was Mark Waterson and Jeff Cowin, and friend. I rolled the bike out of the motel and started it up on the road. It was 4.30 am and I was conscious of not waking too many people up.
My arrival at the Opotiki Flyer was a little later than my schedule, but I had started a little later so, to my mind, I was right on time. There was a spectacular sunrise as I headed towards Te Kaha. I thought about pulling over and taking a photograph, but really, I decided that I’d commit this to memory without trying to replicate it with pixels.
I found the checkpoint easily, shot the picture in about a minute, and headed off back the way I had come, to Opotiki.
Checkpoint 12: Opotiki
Arrival time 07:22 am (One minute ahead of schedule)
So, I made up some time, and my ride is now back on track. Easy checkpoint here, nothing to report.
Checkpoint 13: Maketu
Arrival time 08:45 am (22 minutes behind schedule)
I can hardly remember this checkpoint, mainly because it had no redeeming features. Let’s skip it this one too.
Checkpoint 14: Maketu Flyer
Arrival time 09:10 am (15 minutes behind schedule)
It cost me $2.10 to get to the next checkpoint. I love the Tauranga Expressway (if that’s what it’s called).
I pulled off at Welcome Bay where I had planned to get fuel at the Welcome Bay Caltex. But first the checkpoint.
Two bikes were pulling out as I arrived. I parked up and hopped off to take my picture. I had a quick chat with a chap who was waiting to meet up with a rider called Alan. I almost told him that was my name, but it would have taken too much time, and I was on a mission. The ‘Alan’ in question I think was Alan Batchelor, who I had left at the last checkpoint. We would see each other again, on the other side of the island.
Fuel stop: Welcome Bay Caltex
Arrival time 9:15 am (13 minutes behind schedule)
This is a small family-run (or so it seemed) petrol station—quite busy for its size. I filled up and bought a 1.5-litre water, and a double espresso flavoured milk. I had allowed 15 minutes for a fuel stop but this time I didn’t need it, and as well, there was a queue of cars keen to get in and get fuel. I left as quickly as I could, ready to make my way through Tauranga.
Checkpoint 15: Whangamata Flyer
Arrival time 11:35 am (36 minutes behind schedule)
The trip through Tauranga was uneventful and surprisingly quick. By the time I got to Whangamata, I was nearly ready to wet my pants, so I decided to ride down the main street and look for a public toilet. Unfortunately, the town was crazily busy, and the public toilets didn’t have great parking, so I pushed on over the hill towards the Whangamata Flyer, hoping to find a rest stop and a large tree to empty my bladder. I found exactly that—a forestry track, closed to the public because of the extreme fire risk. Don’t worry! If there had been a fire I could have easily put it out, as well as filled up a tanker with fluids in case there was a flare-up. I was so desperate to pee. It seemed to go on and on and on, hence my loss of time on this leg.
The other thing that held me back was bloody campervans driven by tourists. I’m not one for taking unnecessary risks. So slow traffic on a very windy road is not my friend. And there was a lot of slow traffic.
I arrived at the Pauanui wharf area and was taking my picture, and, at the same time, feeling like I’d missed something. Perhaps, just perhaps, I had missed a compulsory stop? But nothing had come up on my GPS. I tried to talk myself into believing that the compulsory Whangamata checkpoint would appear somewhere closer to Thames. To be sure, I opened my top box and pulled out my beautifully printed, little-used, spiral-bound rider book. There was the Whangamata Checkpoint, not anywhere near Thames, but back in fucking Whangamata where I had just spent the last 40 minutes coming from. There was nothing to do but return. I would be a DNF without that CP. So, off I went. Shit, shit, shit!
Checkpoint 16: Whangamata
Arrival time 12:05 pm (65 mins behind schedule)
I don’t want to talk about this checkpoint. It’s dead to me. It is NOT my friend. The less said about it the better. End of story.
Mystery 2: Bugger Cafe
Arrival time 12:59 pm (1 hour 36 minutes behind schedule)
By the time I got to the Bugger Cafe, I could only think of the 1.5 hours less sleep I was going to get that night. Amazing how that affects your mood. But, I kept the bike out on the road, quickly took the picture, and headed off, trying to make up as much time as I could along the way.
Checkpoint 17: Pukekohe Flyer
Arrival time 13:50 pm (1 hour 22 minutes behind schedule)
My GPS took me along the Auckland motorway, further than I expected. I exited at 461, or Karaka Road, and as it turned out, thankfully, it took me directly to the checkpoint. I never knew where the old Kingseat Hospital was, but now I do. If those walls could talk what would they tell us?
Another quick stop and off I went looking for the next CP.
Checkpoint 18: Pukekohe
Arrival 14:10 pm (1 hour 16 minutes behind schedule)
Alan Batchelor, who I had been with at the Maketu CP, was also at this checkpoint. Obviously, he hadn’t missed the Whangamata CP and was making good time, despite what was probably a longer stop at Maketu Flyer where he met his friend.
I took my picture and then headed down the road in the direction I thought was logical—south. According to my GPS, this was wrong. A quick but careful U-turn and I was back in the opposite direction, looking for the southern motorway. I found Mills Road and before I could say “Jack Flash” I was heading south on a three-lane motorway.
Oh, how good it felt to be on a relatively fast-moving, well-built motorway. My plan was to head down to Ngaruawahia and hang a right there, taking the main roads to Raglan. The plan seemed to work and I clawed back a lot of lost time.
Fuel stop: Raglan BP
Arrival time 15:55 pm (23 minutes behind schedule)
Chris Apse and Mark Ireland were there eating pies. I was pretty tired but knew if I could keep the stop short then I’d be getting my TT plan back on track. I bought a pie, and another 1.5 litre of water which I poured into my Camelbak. Then I rode into town, over the bridge, past the aerodrome, to….
Checkpoint 19: Whatawhata Flyer
Arrival 16:13 pm (20 minutes behind schedule)
Nothing to report here. There was one camera-shy rider on a BMW GS1200, who removed himself from the scene when I took my pic. I was on my way in less than a minute.
Checkpoint 20: Whatawhata
Arrival 16:50 pm (43 minutes behind schedule)
I don’t know. One minute I feel like I’m catching up, and the next I’m lagging behind. I think I was supposed to have done this checkpoint before I went to Raglan. Anyway, it was an easy ‘get’ and I was off towards Tirau.
Checkpoint 21: Tirau Flyer
Arrival time 17:40 pm (1 hour 34 minutes behind schedule)
Before I tell this CP story, a wee update on gloves. You’ll remember I lost my ‘thin-as-tissue-paper’ gloves back in Gisborne. I regretted not going to find that glove throughout the whole of Day 2. The weather was so warm and muggy (apart from riding into Raglan where there was rain) that it took many minutes to get my warmer gloves on at each CP. I was seriously considering not wearing gloves, but that would have been stupid.
The Tirau Flyer was a cute checkpoint. An ice-cream van, a couple of backpackers drinking beer, an amazing tiny hydro dam that I would have loved to explore. But I was, once again, behind time, and so I pressed on at haste.
Checkpoint 22: Tirau
Arrival time 18:05 pm (1 hour 28 minutes over schedule)
Nothing to report.
Checkpoint 23: Wai-o-tapu
Arrival 19:00 pm (1 hour 14 minutes behind schedule)
I found this checkpoint easily as I had visited this scenic wonderland some years before. On the paid tour they make the geyser go off by pouring soap suds down the blowhole. Don’t ask me how it works, it just does. Maybe it’s a similar effect to washing a kids mouth out with soap and making them vomit!
Checkpoint 24: Wai-o-tapu Flyer
Arrival 19:26 pm (1 hour 14 minutes behind schedule)
As I left this checkpoint the Garmin GPS wanted to send me down Old Wai-o-tapu Road. Only thing was that it was unsealed, and I had unsealed roads as an avoidance. I entered the GPS coordinates into Google Maps on my phone. I retraced my steps to SH38 (to Murupara). It’s a very quick and straight road and one of my favourites, especially in the dark. A photo was taken then back out to SH5 and through to Taupō.
The sun was setting and it was a glorious sight. From a stupendous sunrise this morning to this sunset—it felt great to be alive. Once again, I chose not to stop and take pictures. I just resolved to remember this feeling—not what it looked like but what it made me feel. Spectacular. This is one of the reasons I love distance riding.
I knew there were roadworks around Bulli Point on the Taupō to Turangi road but thought that it’d be quicker than the only available detour via the western route. And I was right. The road team had done some temporary asphalting, and I made excellent time to Turangi.
Checkpoint 24: Turangi
Arrival 20:50 pm (47 minutes behind schedule)
It was so dark at this checkpoint it took a few attempts to get a photo that would prove I had been there. As well, I was hungry, with my mind more focused on the burger and fries I was looking forward to at Z.
Fuel stop: Turangi Z
Arrival 21:14 pm (58 minutes behind schedule)
I bought my fuel and had a very short conversation with the friendly young woman behind the counter who wanted to know if I was in a motorcycle gang, cos of my patches.
I ordered my burger and fries next door at Burger King then saw a text from my mate Stretch. As I was replying, Stretch phoned to jolly me along and to tell me he’d been tracking my progress and that I was doing well. I was feeling good, but chatting to Stretch and hearing his encouraging words gave me that extra boost to keep going.
Checkpoint 25: Turangi Flyer
Arrival 21:45 pm (1 hour behind schedule)
Leaving Turangi I totally misjudged where the flyer was, thinking that it was on the road to Tokaanu. I couldn’t work out why the GPS was sending me to the turn-off at Rangipo and I almost resisted. Thank goodness I didn’t.
I found the Ed Hillary sign on the side of the road. There was a reasonable shoulder to pull off the road, but no easy way to show the T-shirt and the bike. I ended up using my bungee cord and tying the shirt around one of the sign-posts.
As I rode through to National Park, the temperature dropped to 10ºC. I didn’t have any extra layers on under my riding gear, and so made a decision that if the temperature went below 10ºC then I’d stop and add some layers. Luck was on my side. The temperature fluctuated between 10ºC and 13ºC for the rest of the ride.
Accommodation: Panorama Motor Inn, Te Kuiti
Arrival 23:12 pm (1 hour 3 minutes behind schedule)
I had phoned ahead (from the Whangamata Flyer) to let the motel know I’d be arriving very late, and leaving very early. I got some instructions on how to find Room 9—apparently, the motel is a sprawling complex and the woman I spoke to had some difficulty describing how I could find my lodgings. As it turned out it was well sign-posted, and I found my room without difficulty.
I had been refining my gear packing so that I didn’t have to take all my panniers and top box off the bike. Deciding earlier in the day that I’d be wearing all the clothes I was currently wearing, including underwear, I just grabbed my phone charger and toilet bag and left everything else on the bike. In around two minutes, I had switched off the bike, gone into my unit, put the kettle on for a cuppa, and was in the shower. Not long after that, I was fast asleep. The alarm was set for 4.25 am.
Checkpoint 26: Awakino Flyer
Arrival 06:03 am (29 minutes behind schedule)
It was a cold and foggy morning. I left the motel as quietly as I could. I had had the good sense to wear a thin puffer jacket under my riding jacket. This was much quicker and easier than re-installing the jacket liner with all its zips and fasteners. I’d be thankful for this extra layer as the temperature settled to around 7º C for a good part of the morning.
Three sets of traffic lights on the road through to Awakino slowed my progress. I’d had all sorts of trouble routing to the Flyer, and despite forcing the route to arrive from the south, it continually tried to make me arrive from the north. Garmin maps had decided that the road from the south was unsealed, but I knew better and so carried on, ignoring the GPS telling me to make a U-Turn.
I headed to the Awakino Checkpoint and saw Andrew Brown again, who I had last seen in Waipawa. He wasn’t attempting the Flyer but pointed me in the right direction, and off I went. This road was a single track. Very windy and unpredictable, with the occasional hairpin bend, often with a dusting of loose chip. I gingerly made my way to the checkpoint—a farm gate and a letterbox—then turned around and returned to the main highway. It was a much quicker return journey, as is often the way. The sky was beginning to lighten, which gave me an opportunity to see how beautiful this valley was.
Near the end of the road Chris Apse and Mark Ireland zipped past me with a wave. It felt good to be ahead of them.
Checkpoint 27: Awakino
Arrival 06:33 am (29 minutes behind schedule)
There were a few other bikes at the Awakino Waitomo. I stayed on the outside, took my photo and headed off. Chris Coker was just ahead of me, riding slower than his normal blistering pace. He was waiting for his riding buddies to catch up. I overtook him and then barrelled along the highway to New Plymouth. What a road. Chris caught up, and then kept on my tail, until I relented and let them pass. I passed them again when they stopped in Urenui.
Fuel stop: Waiwhakaiho Z
Arrival time 07:23 am (31 minutes behind schedule)
I pulled in here, along with Chris and his mates, so desperate for the bathroom. From around 5 am I’d been suffering stomach cramps. I was trying to remember what I’d eaten—perhaps the lamb and vegetable pie I ate at Raglan the previous afternoon was the culprit. I filled up and paid, and then waited for the solitary toilet to become vacant. Apologies to the person who went in there after me, but, oh—the relief!
I got back on the road as quick as I could, and headed off to Pukeiti Gardens.
Checkpoint 28: Okato Flyer
Arrival time 08:05 am (33 mins behind schedule)
Super quick stop here. One rider was leaving as I pulled up. Probably a 40-second checkpoint and I was back on the road.
Checkpoint 29: Okato
Arrival 08:25 am (35 minutes behind schedule)
The road to Pukeiti Gardens, and the road out, is such a beautiful journey, but slow, as evidenced by the time it took to get to the Okato Flyer. I also wasn’t trusting my GPS and at one point stopped to make sure I was a) heading in the right direction, and b) on the right road.
I approached Okato from the south-east along Oxford Road. There was a lot of bike action, including the big Goldwing group. I was determined not to get caught up in the middle of that pack. I found the checkpoint, took the photo and was off. Chris Apse and Mark Ireland screamed past me about 10 km out of Okato, having made up some time since I saw them heading to the Awakino Flyer.
I love the coastal road and probably broke the speed limits, although I can’t confirm or deny this.
Mystery #1: Manaia
Arrival 09:02 am (31 minutes behind schedule)
I pulled up to the loaf of bread in Manaia just behind the Goldwing crew. Not wanting to get stuck in that group I stayed behind but in view of the CP and took my picture from a distance. Back on the bike and off in less than a minute.
Only two more checkpoints to get before finishing.
Checkpoint 30: Whanganui
Arrival 10:10 am (37 minutes behind schedule)
I found the entrance to Kowhai Park, which I have to say is not that obvious. As I was parking up in front of the orange dinosaur the Goldwingers arrived. Once again, I made sure I couldn’t be hemmed in. I took my picture and then struggled to find the exit, before heading off to the Flyer.
Checkpoint 31: Whanganui Flyer
Arrival 10:34 am (33 minutes behind schedule)
A quick jaunt to the Whangaehu Bridge, then back out to SH3. Nothing to report. Really nice road.
Finish: Ashhurst Inn
Arrival time 11:35am (11 minutes behind schedule)
I took all the backroads on my way back to Ashhurst, catching up on some lost time—around 20 minutes clawed back. I parked up in the same spot I had started from, pushed STOP on my Bubblr app, then went into the venue to check-in.
After I tallied my score sheet I had ridden 2,756 km, completing every checkpoint, every flyer, and every mystery, for a total of 204,000 points. I had two 5-hour sleeps (give or take) so had ridden, awake and alert, for 37.5 hours, at an average speed, including stops, of 73.49 kph.
For the most part, I planned my ride and rode my plan. It was only at the end of Day 2 that I found myself slowing down, but even then, I wasn’t over my arrival times a whole heap, even with the costly Whangamata mistake.
The queue was long at check-in so it was a good chance to have a chinwag with the other waiting riders. Stretch had texted me to say he was in the bar. I replied, and then, my phone died.
From all accounts, my ride was ‘up there’ in terms of distance. I spent the right amount of time resting. I’d calculated my stop times well—two minutes per checkpoint and 15 minutes per refuelling. The ST never missed a beat. I was comfortable, apart from my backside but that’s not really a surprise, is it?
Thanks once again to Wayne for organising this great event. And thanks to the other riders, who, to the best of my knowledge, all returned safely, albeit a little worse for wear. I stayed at the Ashhurst for around an hour, and then Stretch, Chris Carey, Graeme Galyer and me, popped down the road to Shannon for a final cup of tea and pie.
I love this ride. And I’m grateful it exists. See you at the next TT!