Monday, July 1

TRAVELLING ON GRAVEL

The forecast was reasonable, but the temperature was only just in double digits.  The roads were wet, but the sun was doing its best to share a bit of its heat.  We all met at BP Papakura, amongst many other groups of bikes, but we thought our group looked the best, so John and I joined the BMWs, and off we went. 
There were 6 gravel road riders, including John who led us, and Jimmy was the only one two up.  We left the road riders at Te Akau and shot up the long and beautifully winding road to Klondyke Road where we started our ride proper.   
All the rain made the ride pretty hair raising, with large patches of clay, as well as large patches of new gravel.  I brought up the rear, as Tail End Charlie, which was just as well as I was the slowest!  Each of us kept an eye out on the rider behind, as instructed by John, so Richard who was in front of me would stop every so often after a particularly nasty, bouldery patch of so called gravel, just to make sure I managed it.  Which I did, thank goodness.  My tyres skittered and slid over all the slippery bits, but kept going in the generally correct direction, so all was good. 
Around midday we reached the Nikau Caves, but our goal was Raglan, so we had a 15 minute break here, but no coffee for most of us as their espresso machines were not running properly.  However, Jimmy managed to get a couple for him and his pillion, but I have no idea what he had to do to bribe them!
We resumed our journey, having a lovely ride, on a slightly better quality gravel, so I was able to increase my speed a little.  I started to get a bit of rhythm.  John would re-group every so often, so as Richard and I would turn a corner, we would see the rest of the group waiting and then they would set off again.
At one point I met 3 vehicles, unbelievable really, as we were meant to be in the middle of nowhere. One was an articulated truck, coming towards me as I negotiated a right hand corner on gravel, and I have to say, if I had been in a car, we would have collided.  He took up three quarters of the road!  Added to that, on my left was a four wheel drive vehicle, kind of parked up on a slight recess, front facing the road, and looking like he might be headed onto the road any minute.  Behind the truck was yet another four wheel drive vehicle, the occupants laughing, probably at the sight of so much unexpected action.
Then Richard and I caught up to Jimmy as he was in a race with a bull, the two appeared to be racing up the hill, with Jimmy on the wrong side of the road.  Finally the bull accepted defeat and ran onto the grass and Jimmy was able to resume his position on the correct side of the road.
A short while later Richard and I were slowed down by three cows running helter skelter up the road in front of us,  so we puttered along behind for a few kilometres, with no way around the three as they took up the entire width of the road.  I tried not to imagine anyone coming towards us, around any of the corners, especially on a bike, as meeting three, very large cows running towards you would not be a welcome sight.  Finally there was a turning up ahead, and the three, without discussion, ran up this turn, leaving us to get on at a more brisk pace.  I have never followed cows running reasonably fast before, and I have to say, their legs don’t run in an even manner.  In fact the phrase ”legs akimbo” would be apt here.  At any moment I thought one of them might trip up, such was their ungainly gait!

After a very late (2.30) lunch stop at Raglan, where we had missed the road riders by quite a margin, we set off home, along the road, to get home before dark.  What a great day;  you really feel like you have had a work out when you travel on gravel.  Can’t wait for the next ride.