Monday 21 December was the start of the summer break for at least one member who had missed out on all of the Impromptu rides during the year. The day was fine and sunny with the promise of temperatures in the late 20s in the Southern Wairarapa, it did not disappoint getting to 27 degrees on the road between Martinborough and Featherston in the afternoon.
Four riders gathered at the Caltex Rimutaka for the 09:00 departure Dave O, Stephen O, Kevin B and Peter N. The ride over the ‘Mountain’ was uneventful as was the ride through to Martinborough to meet up with Peter Tibbs and Paul Marshall. This was something of a new experience for Tibsy or an experience not enjoyed for decades – riding as a pillion passenger! Tibsy was currently ‘between’ bikes which he will no doubt explain at a future time.
This ride was essentially a re-introduction to gravel for 2 of our riders who are both booked to ride on Tibsy’s 10 day post National Rally tour of the South Island. The ride to Tora on the coast north of White Rock started with a ride up Dry River Road onto gravel for the ride through to White Rock Road. Stephen O took off ahead of the main bunch and took some great photos of the guys riding to go with the usual static pictures. We turned on to White Rock Road for the sealed ride to the Tora Road turn off. Tora road is pleasant hard packed relatively flat wide road down to the coast ideal for the re-introduction to gravel. The road was dusty and the wind wiped this up at times coating everything including the GoPro lens. The land is dry and it would not take much to start a massive fire.
Tibsy ‘s eye witness account of a great escape – While riding pillion on Dave O’s very nice R1200GS over a very interesting section of gravel road at a tidy clip I had the good luck to witness a great escape. Dave had taken on the role of tail end Charlie, and immediately in front of us was Paul M. Now Paul has ridden many thousands of km’s on the tar but never on gravel roads. Paul and I have spent some time discussing ways of riding on what some people these days would describe as the wild side of riding.
Now I am watching Paul getting along on his R80RT at a very good pace thinking you are doing very well Paul but don’t forget what we have been talking about, when all of a sudden Paul ran off the road half way through a downhill right hander. Paul took to the long acre. The going here was pretty rough. The grass was close to two feet tall and thick. There was no show in seeing what the bike was running over. The R80RT started leaping in the air and rapidly getting very untidy. Grass and lumps of dirt were flying in all directions. I thought Paul you have about 2 seconds before the faring and luggage start flying off your bike. You better start thinking about what we have been talking about. Well Paul told me later a switch went on in his brain and raced him back to our chat. Message was to pour all the power on and just look at where he needed his bike to go. What do you know that is just what Paul did and the R80 came round headed back to the gravel and back on track. I never once saw the brake light come on. Paul achieved something here that only a pro could do. His luggage celebrate being back on the gravel by bursting open. Paul dived into a left hander without backing off the throttle fully aware that his luggage was wide open. He brought the R80 to a stop closed up the luggage and took off down the gravel road like the robber’s dog in pursuit of the other riders.
It is amazing what you can see while riding as a pillion, now all we need is to get Tibsy trained up to use a video camera and these little gems would be there for all to share!
The road follows the coast south to the Tora Farm Settlement the coast is rocky and rugged there was a group of young guys in wet suits, they looked to be consuming some of their catch so the fishing is probably very good.
Tibsy rode back from the coast with Peter N on the F650 GS (800) having the extra weight on the back made the bike more stable on the gravel. We worked well as a team I set the bike up into a corner and Tibsy helped straighten up on the exit this could become a new competitive sport imagine racing around the Isle of Man 2 up and swapping rider and passenger at each pit stop, doesn’t bare thinking about!
The ride back to Martinborough and lunch at Toppy’s Café was uneventful on a great sealed road and no traffic and it can easily be seen how these roads unfortunately bring out the hoon in some riders. Lunch at Toppy’s is good value with a large coffee and a sandwich costing $9.00. After lunch the Wellington members returned over the ‘Mountain’ in moderate traffic the writer took the option to ride over the Moonshine Road just to top off a great days riding with the home to home distance being 270kms.
Peter Nash (Images, Stephen Oatley)
Below: Dave O with his new bit(ch) on the back, Petranella Tibbs.