Saturday was a scheduled attack on the desert, to entertain the budding Dakar riders amongst us.
But first, an Army mess breakfast, which I am sure
The riding for the day started a little later, to allow four more riders to arrive. These were Hugo Nugo (EXC520 on supermoto wheels), Clint640 (KTM 640), Waihou Thumper (XT600), & MXNut (DR650). While we were waiting, a few attended to running repairs to their bikes.
Buggs briefed the newcomers on Waiouru ride etiquette. I am fairly sure that this wasn’t absorbed by all. Civilians are not as good at taking on board instructions as the Army. A question of consequence, I guess. One of the instructions was that we ride as a group & not deviate from the planned tracks. Both went out the window fairly shortly after we left camp.
One of the first major challenges of the day was a climb up a rutted hill, for those mad enough to try it. It was probably too early in the ride day for some I guess.
Eventually headed into the Desert. Almost as soon as we did so, Buggs rode into a rut, & cartwheeled the Africa Twin. He sustained a bit of damage there, but fortunately nothing too serious to himself (deep bruising to his leg). Which was a relief, because the weekend could have ended right there, given he was the ride leader / sponsor. While we waited for him to collect himself, we had a play in the surroundings.
Did a quick ford (quite deep & fast), then followed some tracks towards Ruapehu. Some tracks were in dried up stream beds, which had shifted sand & rock down from the mountain.
This photo by Bart
In a few places the sand became quite deep. Especially once we got near the forestry section, which tended to push everyone into the same tracks, with a consequence the sand was quite rutted. Have to say that the outriggers went out on a number of occasions in that stuff, because I just couldn’t keep up enough momentum to keep the front wheel from digging in, & losing control. I was blowing fairly hard at one point & MarkS offered to swap bikes. I was no better on the KLR, but at least it was a little lighter. Gives one new appreciation for the Dakar riders.
Next 2 photos by Bart
Made it up to the playground – some riders went off to get as far up the mountain as they could, then returned later to play on the hill climb. I had lunch – the deep sand had killed my energy levels. In hindsight I wish I had gone further into the mountains & done the hill climb. Speaking of which, that proved very entertaining, & quite photogenic. But the photos don’t do justice to how steep it was. The next three photos are courtesy of Underground
Some riders found this too tame, so tried another climb. Unfortunately this was too much for some – a portion of it was loose & dipped, which meant that the bikes weren’t carrying enough speed for the steeper portion of it. Buggs, Bart, & Clint dumped their bikes there. Buggs’s Africa Twin was starting to look decidedly second hand after losing the screen.
The next two photos are courtesy of Underground
The ride back down the mountain was better than the ride up. I was more confident in the sand, & also started going off track to avoid the churned up tracks. The downside of this was that I needed to keep near the track, & once bellied the bike (on a scrubby bush) trying to get onto the track. I ended up pulling it out backward, pulling on the pannier frames. That was as tiring as riding the soft sand.
Buggs took us across to the training area the Army is using for Afghanistan. I was getting much more confident in the sand & rocks by then. A few nameless riders made it to the fort first & entertained themselves encouraging hapless riders into a hidden rut, which was savage enough to bottom out suspension & flat spot rims, but not enough to throw riders. These two photos courtesy of Underground.
Just up the track was the lahar & lava field. The photos speak for themselves. People in the photos give a sense of scale.
Rode back to SH1 on more sand & gravel (getting good at this now), & back over the ford.
Some people just can't help showing off for the camera. Photos naturally by Bart.
Across SH1 to follow a gravel road to Lake Moawhango. The road gets rough coming down to the lake – fairly coarse rock & a little steep, but still a good formed road.
Two more photos by Bart
Back to SH1. Some took tank tracks back to barracks. I decided to SH1 it, & hit the showers early.
Army food for dinner, followed by a convivial evening drinking Buggs & Clint’s Bourbon. Bed after 11.30pm.