Friday, November 24, 2017

Smoked Fish

At times we all look for any excuse to go for a ride. Especially if we haven't had one for a while and or the weather is looking suitably fine. A couple of weekends ago the call went out to make the most of some fine weather so a small band of us gathered together one Sunday morning at Manawatu Motorcycles looking for a destination. It was good to see Kim finally out on his Radio Station (Yamaha 250 3XV), Ian on his One and Only (Suzuki VX800), Sir Al on his Bighorn (Kawasaki F9) and yours truly on the Secca (Yamaha XJ750 E11).  The consensus was to point our bikes in an easterly direction and around one of our favourite rides, the Rongomai loop. With the Pahiatua Track now a major link to the east we were expecting a lot of traffic, but it wasn't to be. With the closure more attention is being paid to its upkeep and it certainly allows for a more spirited riding style! Kims Radio Station certainly whistled past me at a rate of knots with Sir Al and Ian also enjoying the light traffic and good surface. All too soon we were at the Mangamaire turnoff and heading towards State Highway Two through some windy road. Caution is a good idea along this stretch of road as it has some deceptive corners and it is a relatively narrow but busy road. Our first stop at Managmaire attests to this with a resident having set up a fence with motorcycle helmets hanging off it. A not so subtle reminder!
After a quick chat we were on our way again and making our way down SH 2 towards turnoff to Rongomai. Once back on our B road we started enjoying the lovely sinuous road as it made its way to Mangaone Valley Road. This is a more open road where you can sit back a little and enjoy the countryside experience with its sights, sounds and smells. As we reached the end of the valley the curves tighten up which are accompanied by some superb cambers. A lot of fun that soon ends as we crest the hill at the back of Pahiatua. We headed into town with the Black Stump cafe as our preferred destination. You have to take your chances on it being open and luckily for us it was. A mixture of light beers,tea coffee, muffins and Caesar salads arrived at our table and were very quickly consumed. After a good discussion on important things like the renaissance of the two stroke our next decision was a big one. We either go back over the Track or battle the masses over the Saddle Road. The decision was made to not fight the masses, but to retrace our steps over the less travelled track.
Returning to our bikes and going through the start up routine Kims usual sad humour was particularly good. (Well relatively good!) He observed Sir Al starting up the mighty Bighorn directly outside the open front door of the local Fish and Chip shop and commented on the fact that the locals would be getting smoked fish on the menu that day! The run back over the Track saw a definite increase in traffic compared to earlier in the day but we still managed to give the bikes a final workout before we got back into town.
It was a great ride and it was pleasing to see how well all the bikes performed. Ians VX certainly has a good turn of speed and the vee twin engine and shaft drive certainly make for quick trouble free riding. Nice to see that Kim has finally got the gremlins sorted out in the 3XV. No easy task. For a two stroke it is a rather complicated piece of machinery but worth the trouble with some claiming it as the ultimate sports two stroke. Sir Al on the Bighorn is now showing confidence in the bike after his initial time sorting it out.  He is now punting it through the corners more like a sports bike than a forty plus year old trail bike. Maybe it is the Klemm Vintage Racing web site? These guys have been road racing Bighorns very successfully from the year dot and know every trick in the book. He is certainly getting a lot more pleasure out of it than the TS400 he has recently passed on!

Monday, November 13, 2017

October End of Month Ride + Classic Racing @ Manfeild

Although we had a smaller turnout than usual for our October end of month ride our visit to Manfeild at the conclusion of our cafe run certainly went some ways to explaining this! Four of us gathered at Manawatu Motorcycles with the morning promising some lovely riding and racing weather. The forecast for showers later on the day appeared to be a distant possibility as Dave on his GSX1100, Warren on his GT380, Bruce S on his Aprilia RS250 and yours truly on  the XJ750 headed off towards Feilding on a short ride via Ashhurst, Valley Road, Colyton and to a cafe in Feilding. It was great to see Dave out and about again. No more weekend work so free to come on a few rides. Excellent!
Our run out to Ashhurst flowed with the traffic making its way to the Saddle Road and instead of turning east through the village to join the convoy to Hawkes Bay we continued on in a northerly direction. The Valley Road turnoff soon appeared and sitting in behind Warren and the 380 going up the hill was music to my ears, The spannies were well into the powerband and Warren and Bruce S wasted no time winding their way down the valley towards Colyton. Dave sat in behind me for a while and then gave the GSX a fistful of throttle and set off after Warren and Bruce. It certainly has a great turn of speed. All too soon we were turning off at Colyton and heading for Feilding where we parked up outside the Essence Cafe and Bar.
After a great cuppa and some nourishment the sounds of motorcycles at Manfeild beckoned us and we were soon heading through the pits to our usual parking spot beside the pit stands. Cruising through the pits it was easy to see that this was a very well supported meeting. The New Zealand Classic Motorcycle Racing Register certainly know how organise and run a great race meeting. 
Great to see the Blue Haze Racing team in full attendance with Dion on his NSR, Tim racing his CBR600 and TDR 350 and Alan on his RG500. The guys were ably assisted by their pit crew/managers Kim and Paul making sure everything was in order. It was also good to see Pete and Chris giving the XR Honda an outing with Chris certainly surprising many with his turn of speed on the one lung versus two or more for the rest.
Wandering around the pits one was certainly struck by not only the number of bikes, but also the variety. From Vincents through to TZ750 Yamahas and everything in between. Some had great racing patina whilst others were immaculately presented in period livery. The smell and sound of two strokes was particularly appreciated by some of us where watching MotoGP isn't quite the same with the two strokes long gone.
We managed to watch a few races and Dions efforts were rewarded with a close encounter of the tarmac kind. He was a lucky lad with no injuries and very little damage to the the bike. It certainly hasn't dampened his enthusiasm! Luckily I managed to capture it on video and it maybe useful for training and development. It was interesting talking to Dion about how he has managed to slash eight seconds off his lap time since he started racing last year.  The improvements are now in smaller increments which you really need to work hard for: preferably not falling off in the process! It has been interesting watching how our group of enthusiasts have changed over the years. For some of us we still enjoy our time out on the road whilst for others they get into other areas of motorcycling as well. Bruce S is making noises about giving it a go. Good on him. Maybe I should get the XJ out there! I can't recall seeing one out on the track in a long time. (if ever?)
If we include our Manfeild members in our turnout numbers, then we get to nine. Not too bad a tally!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Cream Horns and a Bighorn

It was Sunday morning and the cell phone buzzed with a text message from Sir Al: "Are you interested in a short ride?". Hell yeah! The weather was looking suitably H2O free, a rare occurrence these days. A quick call for a few more details ascertained Al was keen to take the mighty Bighorn out for a spin to 'decoke' it after a couple of weeks of commuting. A leisurely 10:00am departure was  decided upon and after a call to Rich we headed on around to Als place. Bruce A was already there and shortly after Bruce S arrived from Levin on his recently acquired bright yellow Ducati 996! A westward route was planned with a cafe stop at Vivs kitchen on the return part of 'the loop'.
It was an interesting gaggle of bikes that made their way over the Napier Road town boundary with Richard and Sir Al providing the usual signature cloud of Blue Haze. The alternative Manawatu Gorge route through Ashhurst was as busy as ever but our westward exit through the village had us on our way to Colyton through some typical Manawatu B roads. We then skirted around the outskirts of Feilding onto Makino road with its nice mix of open curves. Bruce was able to stretch the legs of the Ducati a little and in no time at all we arrived at first stop, Stanway Hall. It is a great stopping spot with plenty of off road parking and it is important to remember that it is these halls that not so long ago were an important part of small communities all over the country. The dances, twenty firsts, weddings and other family and community events kept these facilities going and it is pleasing to see that this one still survives.
The thought of a coffee and some food soon had us back on our bikes heading for Sanson and the now famous Vivs Kitchen. This was Sir Als Bighorns first visit to Vivs and when we arrived the car park was quite full. A couple of us had to have one of Vivs special Cream Horns to add to the calorie count for the day. It has been interesting to watch Vivs Kitchen become so well known over the years and here is a little piece with Duncan Garner promoting Media Works and Vivs Kitchen that shows how some of this happened. With our calories suitably added to and thirst satiated we all headed back into town happy with our short ride around the countryside.