Organised by Buggsubique, at the Waiouru army training ground. This area is open for use in December on a limited basis, & only if sponsored by Army personnel. Originally there were to be 15 of us on the ride, 14 made it. EddieB, who had pestered Buggs to revisit the ride, broke his leg a couple of weeks prior.
Most of the Wellington contingent assembled for the ride up at 8.30am Friday morning, at the Waikanae coffee cart, with the idea that going up early would allow a more interesting ride up, & that arriving at the training ground early would allow us to ride the Tukino Ski Field road in the evening. The group consisted of me (R100GS), Underground (Dominator 650), MarkS (KLR650), Stormtrooper (KLR650), Buggsubique (Africa Twin), & Gav24 (DR650).
We picked up GPSman (KLR650) & Bart (DR650) at Ashhurst, then rode the Pohangina Valley to take in Takapari Rd.
Takapari Rd runs over the Ruahine Ranges, starts as a gravel road, and then progressively becomes steeper & less maintained through the Ruahine Forest Park into an Alpine area. Part of the top track is bulldozed from rotten rock, some in big chunks. We lost Stormtrooper part way up as his muffler bracket parted ways.
Photo of MarkS by Bart
The guys took a break in the Alpine section, at the top end of a hill climb. Faced with a number of cameras, what would you do? I took the track round the back, & avoided the hill climb completely. I know what the camera curse can do to a guy. These photos courtesy of Underground.
There is an A Frame Hut near the summit, but the fun / technical part comes after that, as the track summits, then starts down (eastern) Hawkes Bay South side. On a clear day you can see Dannevirke. Not today. During the ride up, the weather was fine. That deteriorated as we progressed higher into the Alpine zone, into cloud - which made visibility difficult.
Lack of visibility was compounded by 'surprise' erosion ruts cut across the track, some too deep for my bike to get through, all of which make line selection critical. The track is a dead end for vehicles, ending at a bog, so there was no help for it - we had to ride it again...
Photos by Bart. Some ride with deorum. Others....
MarkS's misty video of the ride back up to the summit from the dead end
Back down at the gate to the Forest Park. The road down from here improves to a farm track, then gravel road. Huge views though.
This photo by Bart
Made our way to Taihape via the Rangiwahea - Mangaweka Rd, then on to Taihape for a late lunch (Latte & Steak Burger). Replete, we rode on to Waiouru, where we met Night Falcon (690 Adv) & 9Fiddy (KTM 950a).
At camp, Buggs gave us a briefing on the unexploded munitions (mortar rounds, smoke bombs, artillery shells etc) we might encounter in the training grounds. Best not to run over anything rusty out there ..or even to cast your shadow over it. Some of the older munitions date from WWI, & can be exposed over time, due to weather (snow melts & run off) & ground movements.
Accommodation was single rooms in Army Barracks - $55 for 2 nights. Pretty good – real beds, linen provided.
As a group, we decided to forgo an early meal at the camp, & rode up to the Tukino Skifield Road, following army tank tracks paralleling SH1. These proved challenging for Gus – basically an issue of width & lack of height. The cylinders don’t fit the tracks, & when they got deeper…I did try riding between the ruts, but this often wasn’t possible, given tussock grass hummocks etc.
Stormtrooper had issues with his light coming loose at SH1, so stopped to repair this.
The Tukino Skifield Rd is not far from the summit of the Desert Rd. This wanders through volcanic sand fields, & was a taste of Saturdays riding. Aside from being loose, this generally was good for traction. Further up the mountain, the road became much rockier.
The views from the repeater station were fairly impressive, if gloomy, given the cloud cover round the mountain.
Shades of LOTR..
On the way back we stopped at a dry lake bed to play dirt trackers. Nice to be able to drift in safety. The next two photos from Underground
Ended the day riding back on tank tracks. Nearly crashed a few time when the crash bars dug into the walls of the ruts. On one section I had to duck walk the bike along to keep the weight off the suspension, to keep the bike was as tall as possible. A couple of times I decided that I'd had enough, but caught the group, so kept going. Photo by Bart
Did a final steep downhill (engine off, braking with the clutch), then took to the road after that back to Waiouru township to fill on Butter Chicken, then back to barracks for a nice hot shower & bed. Funny, I remember that downhill from Desert Storm way back in the early 90's.
Bloody full & tiring day...