Sunday, February 14, 2016
5 of us formed up at Manawatu Motorcycles for a planned ride to Napier via the Taihape – Fernhill road, known locally as ‘The Gentle Annie’. Kim rode his stripped RZ250, Ian on the inimitable GS450S, Gazza riding his ever faithfully XJ750, Bruce S on his latest acquisition - CBR600, and myself on the VFR800.
The first part of the ride was Palmerston North to Taihape and the Rangiwahia road from Kimbolton. After the long straight stretches to Kimbolton this road makes a most welcome change being all corners. After a quick stop to straighten the joints at Rangiwahia, it was on to Taihape for petrol and coffee at the BP. Gazza and Bruce parted company with us at this point having other commitments, and made their way home via the Manawatu scenic Route from Rangiwahia to Ashhurst (known locally as the Dress circle).
We three finally pointed our bikes at the hill around 11.30 and enjoyed the climb up to the plateau, on through Erewhon Station and then the steep plunge downhill to the Rangitikei River. Then it’s on the gas again and the climb up to the tussock. This bit of the road opens out nicely being well suited to the long legs of the VFR. Then comes the tight steep decent to the Kaweka forest, the bit of road that was nicknamed Gentle Annie, and it must have been quite a challenge both ways back in the days. The 250 and 450 shot past like a couple of whippets and disappeared into the distance. Eventually the road opens out onto a lovely long decent to Fernhill; a great series of sweeping corners and short straights.
The whippets checked fuel levels at Fernhill and optimistically declared sufficient to make Dannivirke! So on to SH50 we went and ate a late lunch at the Tikotiko Country Hotel. Very generous meals were consumed – further taxing dwindling petrol supplies for some! The ride to Dannivirke was interesting. Kim undertook a wonderful economy run using all of the skills acquired over years of riding to eke out every last metre from his meagre supply of petrol, running onto reserve 50 km from Dannivirke. Ian gave Kim a tow in the slipstream where possible, but he also ran onto reserve with some distance to go. We all made it to the Mobil station. Thankfully.
Leaving Dannivirke we elected to take the Topgrass route to Woodville, cruising at 120+ with fuel to burn! Happy days. Then through the gorge to Aokautere and home.
420 km for the day, and despite the forecast not a drop of rain. Must try riding it the other way.