Sunday, March 22, 2015

Apiti Loop de Loop de Loop!

What a great way to spend a Sunday morning! A group of eleven gathered at Manawatu Motorcycles last weekend to make the most of yet another glorious Manawatu day. It has been a while since I have been out riding with a Masters exhibition and thesis requiring way to much attention! A big thank you to Al and Ian for stepping in providing some great posts. But what a way to get back into the riding grove with the plan being to head up to Apiti via Pohangina then instead of turning left at the Orua Valley Road, turn right and end up on the Main South Road that then takes you to Rangiwahia. The tarsealing has only been completed quite recently as part of the Manawatu Trail route so we were keen to see what it was like.

The run out of town was uneventful with the first stop being at the Raumai turnoff where we meet up with a Mike and Dave from Feilding. Unfortunately, Paul De Lautour had to leave us with his GT750 not co operating with intermittent electrical problems. We had a great run through to the Makoura turnoff although caution was required with non signposted gravel on a few of the corners and it was here that Dion on the RG400 left us as he and Cheryl had a 2:00pm appointment in Hawera to look at Mini!

After a little breather we were on our way again with and when we got to Oroua Road junction we made a left turn instead of our usual right. What a great piece of countryside and the contrast between the bush in the twin gorges, farmland and Ruahine Ranges was spectacular. Some caution needed with some loose gravel on the newly tar sealed sections of the road. A thoroughly recommended addition to the Apiti loop that has you popping out on the main route just north of Rangiwahia. Another stop at The Rangiwahia Hall to regroup and we headed south to Pemberton corner and took a right to Ohingaiti on State Highway One. This is a great road with some wonderful corners and scenery. A few of the lads forgot to take a turn and ended up exploring more new country but finally caught up with the rest of us at our favourite Cafe in Hunterville.

There aren't many places left with Mince and Toast with a side of chips on the menu! the usual suspects made the most of the cream filled pastries! It was good to catch up with John on his new (old) 1972 BMW 600. The seventies certainly were a great time for for motorcycles of all persuasions. Interesting to hear Dave R comparing the price of his Honda 750 he bought brand new for $1740 dollars (which he still has) versus the BMW over $4000. The build quality of the BMW was superb and has certainly aged incredibly well. Other bikes out for a spin was Kim D out on his 3XV (otherwise known as the radio station). They certainly are more than a classic in waiting.

Sir Al was having a ball on his GSXR 400 with the roads proving ideal for it and definitely an underestimated classic. Can't wait to see its new yellow tank to go with the side covers. Must be time to update 'The Garage' article Al? the Brucies were out on their Vees with Bruce As VF 750 looking wonderful in its newish body work and Bruce S giving his Aprilia twin an opportunity to stretch its legs.
Mike had his GSX 750 out and gleaming in the sun. Sounds like his Suzuki GT750 is coming along nicely and spring might see its appearance. Richard was out enjoying his T500 and following along behind him it was certainly making all the right noises. Some new brake pads in the front had him thinking he was on a GT500! Great seeing Brian out on his trusty XT600 thumping his way around the countryside and Ian was giving the old GS450 a few revs having sorted out some issues with the carbs. The old XJ750 proved yet again what a great fuss free ride it is and probably still one of the most underestimated bikes of its era. Hard to beat the shaft drive and the inline four for longevity and it is a great chassis that encourages you to put the sport into sports/tourer.
The trip home via Vinegar Hill was a nice way to wind down after such a great run. We covered nearly 300kms by the time we got back to Palmy, but it certainly didn't feel like it. The twin gorge loop is a great addition to our touring map and I am sure we will be riding it again real soon.
Mr T (Richard) has just written an ongoing post for The Garage section of our website. He is in the throes of restoring a Suzuki T350 and is going to be reporting periodically on his progress. Definitely worth following with lots of tips borne from experience. So check it out here

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2015 VJMC national Rally

This year’s VJMC Rally was held at Eltham Presbyterian Camp on the last weekend of February.  5 Blue Haze members from Palmerston North were joined by Barry, Bruce C, Ken, and Barry’s son Danny for the ride up on Friday evening. The muster of bikes included RG400 (Dion), TZR 3XV (Kim), GS450 (Ian), GSX750 (Mike), H2 (Alan), T350 (Barry), GT750K (Bruce), RD350 (Ken), and Suzuki FXR150 (Danny). We arrived in time for the BBQ and a few snorts and a few yarns.

Saturday morning was Bike judging which resulted in a single gong for our team with Best Suzuki going to Dion (and Kim) for their RG400. Ross Charlton scored best Kawasaki (bit hard to compete with), while People’s Choice went to a better-than-new Z1 restoration. Alan DL arrived for the day on his recently renovated Honda VF1000F (as good as anything there) and we decided to head off around the mountain on the Top Rd, stopping for lunch in the sun at Okato. Then in to New Plymouth to look at a Mini for sale with Dion. After that we parked up at Alan’s place and walked into town to look at a display of American cars and hot rods. As it was a hot day it was necessary (to prevent dehydration) to call into the pub for a cold one!

The Saturday evening meal was put on by the camp and was excellent and plentiful. A good night was enjoyed over a few drinks, a lot of laughs, and plenty of stories. Judy and Angela had everything well organised and everyone received a prize. I now have a Vernier Calliper, which will be pressed into service as soon as I learn how to drive it. Barry received a new ‘dick of the year’ award for something – possibly for his roadside bike maintenance policy!

Sunday we split into 2 groups with Mike, Dion, and Ian heading back on the main road (Ian having troubles with his GS). Kim, Bruce, Barry, Danny, Ken, and I took the long way home travelling via Whangamomona to Taumaranui, National Park to Raetihi, and down the Parapara to Wanganui and home. There is about 12km of gravel road left on the Forgotten Highway which is currently well packed and very dusty, but easy riding. From the end of the gravel the road into Taumaranui is 60 km of great corners. Want to ride that again. We lunched in the sun at the Angel Louise café with the Harley owners club, and some Patriots guys. Always a good place to stop. Sunday was a long day in the saddle but the best roads of the trip.

In addition to Ian’s GS problems Barry was having ongoing issues with the T350 for the whole trip and my H2 developed a problem on the way home not revving over 4500rpm. Always something to do on old bikes. Most impressed with Danny on the Suzuki FXR150; Wellington to New Plymouth and back with the throttle pinned and not giving an inch to anyone. Good on ya mate!