November 4, 2014 at 10:30 am #5003Scott LivingstonParticipant
Rank: 400cc Rider
- Bike: 2010 DR650
I’m not sure what came over me. I mean really, why would someone living in Auckland buy a Chinese 250cc scooter located in Wellington?
Maybe it was my Irish Scottish ancestry, not being able to resist the bargain price plus the adventure appeal of riding something on roads I’ve not ridden before that some reckon would not make the 650km trip without falling to bits.
Chinese scooters do not have the best reputation for reliability and based on the actual experience of my two sons owning these including roadside repairs and trailer pickups, I empathise with this notoriety.
But what the heck. If I get the bike fully insured including roadside assistance then Murphy’s Law (and a bit of luck) should see me arrive in Auckland without incident in one piece, right?
Having purchased the bike my adventure started waking up at 3am in the morning to catch an early flight to Wellington (wearing my motorcycle riding gear, except for helmet in my pack) where I then caught a bus and after walking up the steepest hill in Wellington (pant, wheez, pant) arrived at the Karori address to collect the 250cc scooter.
The scooter looked good and started up fine (to my relief), so I stowed a few things under the seat, threw on me helmet and gloves and rode away just after 10am.
I decided to ride the slower back roads up to Johnsonville just to get use to the bike before hitting the motorway and heading north on what was a sunny pleasant morning. Yeehah!
For a Jaffa, riding from Plimmerton to Raumati South along the edge of the coast was a real highlight, and what made this even better was the 80kmh speed limit meaning I could cruise comfortably enjoy the spectacular views and not be holding any zooming from A to B drivers up.
Being an auto scooter we just cruised all the way up to Levin where I filled up with gas. Low and behold the lean mean purple machine only needed a top up of 2.4 litres meaning after 96km it’s mileage was close to 40km per litre. Insane! That’s the same as a 50cc scooter (small rider – no hills – no wind).
The tummy also needed some fuel so I rushed in to Subway, asked the girl to make me something with a bit of everything, delegated her the authority to choose sauces and then headed for the loo. Agh.
It’s funny how you relax more when you get out of town and maybe it’s this that also makes people around you seem friendlier.
After some nosh and giving my saddle sore bum a rest it was back on to the steed and head North for Whanganui where I had never been before so quite exciting.
This is where the fun started and I realised that 250cc scooters are not designed to tackle 40 to 50kmh headwinds which is what was being throw at me all the way to Whanganui and seeming to get worse albeit this could could have just been me and my sore neck tiring.
In Whanganui I did the must do tourist thing and walked the long tunnel to catch the lift to the top of Durrie Hill to take in the view of Whanganui township, river and out to the coast which was definitely worthwhile.
When I commented about the strong gusty winds to a lady also taking in the view she did not seem to think the wind was too bad (try telling that to my sore neck) and commented it had been worse the day before. Sheesh. Now I know why motorbikes are cheaper between Wellington and New Plymouth!
After walking down the hill to my bike thinking Whanganui looked liked a very nice place I saw of the locals driving past in their lowered big bore exhaust kits and thought I’d rather stay the night somewhere more peaceful and I’m going to head for National Park via the Whanganui River Road.
It was only 2.30pm even though it felt like 5.30pm after my early start so after refuelling, where the headwinds (and more hills) had reduced my fuel economy from 40km to 28km per litre, I hit the road again taking a left turn where the sign said Jerusalem.
You almost immediately started a tight windy climb and are rewarded with pull over view of where a beautiful peaceful valley with bush on one side of the river and settler style farming on the other. Stunning.
From here was the best sealed off the beaten track road ride I have experienced yet.
The road is narrow and seems like a combination of very tight corners with long flowing sections between, just great riding.
The beauty of this place is the bush and the river combined with a remoteness which keeps you think “Wow, people actually live out here so far away from anything”.
My riding was gentle so I could take in the view and because I did not want to break the bike or myself in somewhere so remote, when all of a sudden I came under attack by goose who came out of the bushes and who started chase, which thankfully some extra throttle created safe distance.
Jerusalem was not the tourist trap I expected. Quite the opposite. There was a peace and serenity about the whole place with the church on the hill which made it both memorable and special.
What did startle me though in my trance like state was the unexpected “Rangi, Rangi, come here” yelled by a teenage boy at another boy half a kilometre away over the paddock.
Oh well. Maybe this is just how young people in small towns communicate where there is no cell phone coverage.
From here it was not far to turn East and head for Raetihi with a very tight twisty but better sealed surface road.
It was here that another of my nine lives was deducted from my life account as I rounded a corner startling four small wild goats who nearly brushed my front wheel as they ducked from one side of the road to other and in to the bush. All I could do was mutter “You got be kidding”.
I had thought about finding somewhere to stay in Raetihi but when I rode through at what must have been just after 4pm the main street seemed more like a ghost town with a lot of places closed and battened up, so decided to keep going to National Park where there should be more life, like skiers or foreign back packers at least!
Low and behold, and starting to feel cold, the next thing I see is snow piled up on the roadside. Now you’ve really got to be kidding.
I’ve been awake since 3am, am riding a scooter, have tackled gale force headwinds, ridden over 300km, survived a goose attack and the “have you heard about the goat family that crossed the road”, and now there is snow. The truth is I’m loving it.
With it starting to drizzle now and SUV’s whizzing past too quick and too frequently it is a welcome sight when I see National Park and pull in to the service station where the guy behind the counter seems both surprised and impressed when he asks where I have come from on my scooter.
I’m too tired to be impressed with myself but it’s still nice that others are.
I pull in to the YHA Hostel and decide to take a cheap bed in a six bunk dorm as nothing, not even five young party goers, should keep me awake.
The nice Swiss bloke managing the place (a friendly fellow biker) offers to let me park my scooter in the garage to keep it safe and dry out of the weather which is a pleasant bonus.
After a cup of hot noodles and a hot shower I’m snoring by 7.30pm.
Next morning as forecast the weather is shite (raining with winds increasing to gale) so wrap up like an Eskimo including a plastic poncho (courtesy of Mum and Dad who scored it on a tour somewhere overseas) and scootered off in to the drizzling greyness.
The ride to Taumaranui was uneventful other than my slow progress against a strong northerly where cars were overtaking, always a little more un-nerving in the rain.
This as it turned out was not as hard as the much longer windier ride to Te Kuiti which I pulled into late morning having promised myself a cooked breakfast and strong caffeine.
However when I popped my head in to a couple of cafes the stares from behind the counter and other tables seemed less than welcoming to the man dripping in the doorway wearing a shredded plastic bag.
The strong wind had damaged the poncho in to something more like a flowing cape of glad wrap. It must have looked odd.
So after standing in the street and scoffing a couple of yesterday’s bake donuts it was time to scooter on and gas up in the next town.
Unfortunately from here the wind delivered on it’s promise to blow a gale and tried it’s best to blow me off the road. The riding was getting harder and scarier.
I pulled in to the Otorohonga service station where the glove I removed and placed on the scooter was immediately blown across the forecourt luckily pursued by some bloke who had just hopped out of his flat tray ute.
“You picked a fine day for it” he says to me, with wind blowing the rain in horizontally through the forecourt. “Hey, it’s not my pick” I reply as well thanking him for retrieving my glove.
“I’ve got a bike but mines in the shed today” he adds. “Yip, mine should be in the shed too if I had any choice” is my reply.
He remains standing there watching me leave, grinning, before going to pay for his fuel!
Now I think of it, I had not seen another motorbike in nearly 3 hours of riding. What does that say about how bad the weather was!
The ride on to Pirongia included an increasing frequency (and volume) of four lettered phrases when ever the wind tried so hard from letting me take left hand bends, instead keeping me heading straight on to the other side of the road, the only option being to scrub off speed, lean in and muscle it around as best I could.
What a relief to my sore neck it was when finally the wind started to ease as I approached Ngaurawahia and as much as I hate to admit it I have never been so glad to see motorway in my life, luxury riding all the way to Bombay.
It was here that I pulled in for my last full stop and sore bum relief before the final 60km stretch to home, and low and behold welcome back to Auckland where they want you to prepay your fuel cause your a Jaffa with a huge mortgage or rent bill who is high risk in the splash and dash stakes. No where else in over 600km did this scenario of mistrust exist. Good on you small town NZ for doing the right thing by 99.999% of your customers.
I pulled in to home at Albany on Auckland’s North Shore just before 3pm and thought to myself “Shit, not bad you know”. I’ve just ridden a Chinese scooter over 650km and on one of the worst days of weather and here I am with out one break down of machinery or myself.
It’s all down to taking out that full insurance policy including breakdown cover and as Murphy’s Law would have it – guess what!
Hope you enjoyed my story.
Safe riding to you.
PS – Two days later I’m on an adventure ride south of Port Waikato chatting to Ann to owns the Nikau Cave Cafe and I mention the weather being better to day than on Monday when I was riding a scooter to Auckland from National Park. “You weren’t wearing a plastic bag were you” Ann says. “You know what, I was” I replied. It turns out that Ann was in a car following me riding up the Bombay’s. “You looked like you were being blown around a bit and your plastic bag had seen better days” she added. Funny. I wonder how many other Waikatonians recall seeing a strange looking plastic caped scooter rider that same Monday.
Attachments:November 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm #5107awa355ParticipantRank: 50cc Rider
Neat to read of someone else riding a scooter. Those long hard days when the weather is against you tend to bring out that bit extra of your character. Makes you a better rider for having done it.
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