January 31, 2017 at 11:03 am #16721
Rank: 1000cc Rider
- Location: Wellington
- Bike: BMW Supertanker, R80 & Velorex Sidecar, Gilera Runner ST200
The last Mike Britton ride I’d done was one of the early Far North Adventure Rides, in the mid 90’s. We’d done the road option the year before. That year we thought we’d trailer the (registered) trail bikes up. At the time I was relatively new to trail riding. Anyway, during the event the group I was riding with came across two guys, one mounted on an Africa Twin & the other another big bike I don’t recall the details of. They’d ridden into a challenge section by mistake. They had totally inappropriate tyres on, & the section they were in had a long greasy down hill into a gully, then another difficult & greasy climb out. They were at the bottom. The Africa Twin owner looked like he was about to have a coronary, he was just so exhausted. Fortunately a couple of our group were very good riders, & by absolutely caning the bikes, & with the assistance of the group, they were eventually able to get them out. But the time it took wrecked our ride, & I vowed we wouldn’t get into that situation again.
The very next ride I did, I was that guy…I’ve always helped out since then. Karma bites.
This ride was hosted at Camp Elsdon, nr Colonial Knob in Porirua. I had the opportunity to camp (or cabin), but decided the home comforts were just too appealing.
A number of the usual suspects were present, with the noteables being Loopy Linda, Glen, Andrew, Andy, & GT, and on the Airhead side – Michael (x2), Ken, Alex, Craig & Kim, & Dean. 8 Airheads in total, including one chap who’s name I didn’t get.
The ride was fully subscribed, with about 90 riders & a surprising number of pillions. Sign in was on Friday night, with roll chart navigation, & a final briefing Saturday morning at 8.30am. Don’t piss off the landowners, respect other users yadda yadda yadda…
There were the usual WRs, KTMs, DRZ400s & DR650s etc. A few of the bigger KTMs (950 & 1050s), a couple of watercooled R1200GS BMWs, the older R1200GS, F800s, a 750 Africa Twin, a new Africa Twin CRF1000, & the Airheads. No Triumphs, no big Yamahas.
Angela was the support person collecting broken bikes. One poor soul didn’t even make it out of the gate before his bike expired – a DR650. No surprises there….At the end of the ride there was at least one broken BMW watercooled – the steering had broken, & the handlebars were able to move independently. Probably more exciting to ride than BMW intended. The other one had at least a broken screen.
Most of the Airheads rode as a group, which was great for social interaction, but also for assistance when things went slightly pear shaped, or a pusher was required. Craig & Kim also acted as the default navigation & gate opening team, which was appreciated.
The ride from the back of Titahi Bay thru to Boom Rock Rd was very pretty. Mostly farm track. Not difficult riding, & a good lead in to the rest of the day.
The 1st challenge was for the entry to Mill Creek Wind Farm, just off Boom Rock Rd. Ingress was from a farm gate, with a small stream crossing to avoid the main wind farm gates. It had a surprisingly slick exit.
The circuit did a short tour of the wind farm. It passed a depot with a number of the huge turbine blades sitting waiting for use. Impressive.
Looking down on Ohariu Valley Rd
Mill Creek Wind Farm
Then across Takarua Gorge Rd to climb into the hills backing onto Crofton Downs, along a ridge line towards Mt Kau Kau. The day at that stage was warm, relatively still, but with fine drizzle threatening. But that quickly went away once we came down from the heights.
B’jesus that’s a big bug….
Finally back down to Takarau Gorge Rd towards Makara, & up into the West Winds Wind Farm.
The rider gives a sense of scale
The morning closed with a loop back to Ohariu Valley Rd for lunch at the Saddleback Cafe. The most notable part of the ride back to the cafe was some drop kick on an XR650 passing aggressively going into a corner & then very nearly dropping it in front of me. He was a pain later on the ride as well. I don’t know who he thought he was impressing. His jacket zip was shot (I don’t think it fit him) & the whole thing was held on with a couple of rounds of electrical tape, so I guess that says some things about him.
Lunch was early, but if it had beeen wet I suspect some of the climbs might have slowed things down tad. The eels at the cafe were probably pretty tame, but also over fed.
After lunch we took in the service track running down from Newlands to Nguaranga Gorge (I see they’d cut the grass – last time I looked down there it was turning into a wilderness), then out to the Belmont Regional Park, to take in some farm & mountain bike tracks. Passed a few of the WW2 Ammunition bunkers. Also apparently some of the riders copped some abuse from MTBs as they felt we shouldn’t have been there – but we had negotiated access to all land the ride crossed.
Photo Courtesy of Kokopelli
Looking down onto the Pauatahanui Inlet
Looking back to the Wellington Harbour
The challenge came in the form of a rutted track up to the bogs at Boulder Hill Track. At the top of that we stopped for a breather. The day had cleared & was becoming hot…
Photo courtesy of Kokopelli
Small bikes on tough climbs is considered cheating…
Earlier in the ride we’d noted a guy riding a KTM 1050. He had a gammy left leg, which he’d propped out on the highway pegs hooked onto his crash bars. He had a climbing stick bungied on the back of the bike to help him when he walked, as that leg was very bowed. He told us he’d crashed into a left side ditch earlier in the day. By the top of the boulder hill track climb he’d decided he’d better check on the damage. He lifted the riding trousers & sure enough he’d damaged his leg just above his boots, on his shin, taking the skin off in a big flap down to what looked like bone. His knee was a big knot of scar tissue. He bound that up, took a couple of panadol, & casually said ‘doesn’t matter, won’t have that in another month’. Apparently scheduled for amputation & fitting of a prothesis. Respect. Some people are tough.
I discovered the weaknesses of the Shinko 805 towards the top of Boulder Hill. There was a couple of bogs which you needed to ride thru to get to the summit. Unfortunately the tyre clogged quickly, & wasn’t great at self clearing. Probably won’t use them again – effectively acted as a slick.
The main issues with the bogs was the amount of energy that you used to get thru them, to help others as well, & then the heat you built up getting others out of them. We cleared the summit fairly quickly when we noted a R1200GS watercooled approaching. You can only do so much…
Michael & Debs McKeon pulled out at the bottom of Dry Creek Rd. He was having starting issues – either no battery charge, or the starter was fried.
The Akatarewas were okay – but at the beginning of McCleary Rd a guy on an Africa Twin (750) warned us about a steep hill climb ahead that he was backing away from. That sort of thing does your head in – adventure riding is all a confidence trick anyway. Part way up that climb Craig & Kim had an off, so we stopped at the bottom of that section to render assistance. Unfortunately that proved to be a mistake, as the section was very hard to get momentum from. This is where the Airhead Mafioso came in handy again. I noted another Airhead (R80GS on Siracs) turned back at this point (didn’t get the guys name)
Photo courtesy of Kokopelli
Photo courtesy of Kokopelli
Photo courtesy of Kokopelli
By the time we were nearing the Orange Hut, we’d pretty much had enough of the Akatarewas, & in a unanimous group call decided to head for the exit, & out to Tuatara for a well earned beer.
A GPS track of what we rode.
Back home for a quick shower, then back to Camp Elsdon for dinner & a wrap up.August 19, 2017 at 6:55 pm #19177
Rank: 400cc Rider
- Location: Auckland, NorthShore
- Bike: 1200GSA KLR650NE WR450 RMX250, DR750,
Awesome BMW’s thereAugust 20, 2017 at 9:27 am #19179
Rank: 800cc Rider
- Location: Auckland
- Bike: DL650, DRZ250, CB500X
Fantastic ride report, really enjoyed reading that and huge respect for the tricky bits. I would have loved to have done some of that on my drz250 (I don’t mind a bit of cheating!) but suspect my skill levels would have a bit deficient in more than a few places.
Especially appreciate the many pictures.
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