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Old 10-14-2007, 10:10 PM   #1
clintnz OP
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1000 miles - 24 hrs - 250cc - The RNMC Grand Challenge

I'd been thinking about doing the Rusty Nuts MC Grand Challenge 1000 mile ride for a while & a few months back I decided 2007 would be the year.

Things did not go entirely to plan.

The ride starts in Turangi in the centre of NZ's North Island, mid afternoon Saturday. You then follow the route sheet you've been given at sign-on to several checkpoints around the island & then hopefully back to Turangi, 1609 km / 1000 miles later, within 24 hrs. The route varies each year & is mainly backroads & minor highways. It's usually all paved but the Rustys know how to pick a road & there's bound to be a fair bit of tight, windy, hilly bumpy stuff in the route.

http://www.rustynuts.co.nz/


My mate & fellow KTM 640 pilot warewolf is a seasoned veteran of the GC, & he invited me to tag along with him & his friends, & provided much sage advice beforehand.

With the windscreen on I found my KTM 640 Enduro to be OK for moderate distance & I'd done a few 500 & 700km days without issue. 1600 km was unknown territory though so during the preceding months I decided to seize the excuse to fit a few farkles. I got the (very reasonably priced) KTM 'comfort' seat, fitted some heated grips, upgraded the headlight wiring, replaced the tarnished headlight, & fitted a small spotlight. I also splashed out on a new jacket & some waterproof boots.



To try all this out & get some night riding practice I decided to head out for a 500ish km ride around East Cape a couple of weeks ago. It started out well & with 350 odd km under me, heading into Gisborne at about 23:30 after negociating most of the rough & twisty cape road in the dark, everything felt good, I was warm, the new lights were great, 1000 miles was going to be a snap.

Then a white blur flashed into the bottom of my field of vision & I was flying over the bars at about 80 km/h & tumbling down the cold hard tarseal of highway 35. 30m back up the road were a lamb & a big ewe, in the middle of my lane & both very dead. They'd run out of the shadows & right under my wheels. I picked myself up, staggered off the road & looked around for the bike. I found it in the ditch:



It appeared to have endoed over the sheep into the road, smashing the mudguard, lights, dash, everything on the bars & the carrier & taillight at the back, then cartwheeled off into the ditch. It wasn't going to be doing the 1000 miler in 2 weeks. As the adrenalin wore off & the pain started to kick in I wasn't sure if I would be doing the 1000 miler in 2 weeks either.

Continued Tomorrow.
Clint
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The wilderness, the desert - why are they not crowded
.................................................. .....with pilgrims?
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Old 10-14-2007, 10:44 PM   #2
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This sounds like it should be a good one.
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:53 PM   #3
clintnz OP
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Luckily the East Coast is populated by plenty of helpful people, A local farmer went & got his trailer to take the bike & put it in his shed until it could be recovered & I got an ambulance ride to Gisborne hospital A&E, which I can thoroughly recommend. An X-ray the next morning revealed that my beat up ankle wasn't broken & Rosie drove over & picked me up.

A plan B was formulated shortly afterwards when my mate Paul offered me the use of his DR650. With a good light & a fussy mechanic owner the Dr would be a good alternative to the 640, even if it was missing some of the creature comforts. When I called him up again a week out to get organised plan B developed a slight flaw in that Paul was on his way to the South Island, with his shed key in his pocket. The DR was no longer an option.

Fortunately a plan C was as close as my girlfriend Rosie's garage. She had recently purchased a new bike well known for it's hard-core, long-distance adventure touring capability; a Kawasaki KL250 Super Sherpa. The bike had had it's first service & we had just fitted up some higher Renthal bars, some handguards & I'd made some racks up for her soft panniers.



Rosie was off to Australia on the weekend of the 1000 miler so she wasn't going to be needing it, & she graciously offered to let me use it. Woo Hoo! we're back in the game!

more later
Clint
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.................................................. .....with pilgrims?
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:59 PM   #4
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more plse

Hey Clint!

Shame about the KTM!

looking forward to hearing about about the ride as I am doing a south island version on the 8th of December!




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Old 10-15-2007, 03:32 PM   #5
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that's one heck of an endurance test

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Old 10-15-2007, 04:34 PM   #6
clintnz OP
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I knocked off early on Friday afternoon, loaded up the Sherpa, said goodbye to Rosie & headed south to Turangi, It quickly became apparent that the stock seat on the little Kwaka could probably benefit from some extra padding. Fortunately I know some good upholsterers in Taupo on the way down so I stopped in there & in exchange for a box of beers I got a couple of layers of foam slapped on top of the seat. Unfortunately they didn't have any orange vinyl, so we had to make do with bright red Despite my instructions that it only had to be a rough effort as I'd be pulling it off after the weekend, the boys did a very tidy recovering job in no time flat. Another 50km & I was at Grand Challenge Central : the Turangi Cabins & Holiday Park.



A feed at the truckstop & a few beers with Colin & David when they arrived then I limped off to bed.

Saturday dawned & I had the bike scrutineered with no problems, then we sat down to check out the route. For 2007 it was a convoluted loop North to Kaitaia & back, mostly avoiding hwy 1.



The S+F is the start & finish at Turangi. The 500km extra challenge to the South was a special addition for the 21st anniversary of the Grand Challenge, participants who had done a GC before could opt in to try for 2100 km in 24 hrs. About 20 signed up to give it a go. They would have to knock off the first 1600km in 18.5 hrs to be allowed out again to try for the 2100. Thankfully our group were having no part in this mad dash.

Also scrutinised was the weather forecast. Unfortunately the predictions of earlier in the week were unchanged, things looked slightly less than optimal. The forecast for all the areas we were to be riding through was as follows:

"SATURDAY: Rain with isolated squally thunderstorms. Winds tending northerly, strengthening in the afternoon, gusting 110km/h. Changing to showers & gale westerlies later.

SUNDAY: Showers, frequent & heavy at times. Strong westerly winds."

The rainsuit I'd just purchased to wear over my already fairly waterproof gear was looking like a good investment. I was a little concerned about 110 km/h winds, the Sherpa doesn't do much over 110. The prospect of getting blown backwards down the road was somewhat unappealing.

As the morning rolled on more bikes turned up. A large contingent of tourers & sports tourers, a few cruisers & a smattering of sportsbikes & big adv bikes. Honda ST's & most flavours of R-series BMW's being particulary well represented. I believe the phrase 'Bringing a knife to a gunfight' would sum up arriving at an event like this on a glorified farm bike like the Sherpa




15:11 duly rolled around & off we went. There is a staggered start with groups of 4 or so riders being sent out every few minutes. Our Grand Challenge was under way.

more later
Clint
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The wilderness, the desert - why are they not crowded
.................................................. .....with pilgrims?
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Old 10-15-2007, 04:46 PM   #7
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Keep em coming!

Thats one looks interesting.. David Vs Goliath?

Whats the size of that fuel tank? I mean it couldnt be more than 10 litres or so?
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:12 PM   #8
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I also did this ride. But can't wait for Clintnz next instalment. Come on hurry up!
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:23 PM   #9
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Uh, thats kinda crazy man...
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:42 PM   #10
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The weather wasn't too bad to start with & I actually caught up to some bigger bikes going over the twisty road to Kuratau. Then a more familiar pattern emerged as we buzzed up the lightly policed Western side of Lake Taupo, every few minutes another group of bikes would fly past with a wave. There was a pretty solid headwind & the Sherpa was either full throttle in 6th, or full throttle in 5th the whole way.

Unfortunately there aren't any pics of the roads we travelled. Pissing around taking photos chews up a lot of time. Time, like horsepower, or a sensible touring motorcycle, was a luxury I did not have. After the western access we shot through the glorious Old Taupo Road, where I again caught up to some bigger bikes through the turns. Corners were the only place I was going to make up any time so they were all attacked with enthusiasm.

At 118km I hit reserve after using 6 of the 9 litres on board. This was a problem, I was expecting better mileage based on what I'd used on the trip down. To accomodate small tanks the route went past quite a few 24hr gas stations, but a 180km range wasn't going to cut it. We clocked in at the Puketurua checkpoint at 144km then I gassed up in Putaruru: 16:44, 155km, 8.24 L. At least we were making reasonable time. I also purchased a 5 litre fuel container that would fit in my panniers & give me a better range.

Then it was across hwy 5 & up Old Te Aroha Rd, the weather was still holding off apart from a bit of wind & it was a pleasant run up through the green Waikato countryside. Then we came across a bit of drama where a Rocket 3 had skidded off a corner & through a fence. David knew the guy so they checked up on him , he was a bit battered but not too serious & an ambulance was on the way so we left all the other helpers to it & continued on to the next checkpoint in Paeroa where there were dozens of bikes milling around gassing up & getting checked in.

After Paeroa it was a straightforward run up through Ngatea & hwy 27 to the Southern Motorway. We were planning to punch on through to Orewa, but warewolf made the very wise call to stop at Bombay & suit up for rain.

more later
Clint
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The wilderness, the desert - why are they not crowded
.................................................. .....with pilgrims?
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Old 10-15-2007, 07:13 PM   #11
clintnz OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesdemien
Uh, thats kinda crazy man...
Strangely enough, a few other people have made similar comments
Sometimes you just have to feel the absurd stupidity & do it anyway.

Besides, I'm a shining model of lucid sanity compared with the bloke who did it on this:




Clint
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The wilderness, the desert - why are they not crowded
.................................................. .....with pilgrims?
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Old 10-15-2007, 09:16 PM   #12
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We're waiting......post some more and I'll tell you about a proposed trip we're planning.

I wonder who owns the big blue van in the background of the line up pic...
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Old 10-15-2007, 09:27 PM   #13
clintnz OP
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Sealed up against the weather we pointed our bikes into the gathering darkness over the Auckland isthmus. Pretty soon we were in the thick of that weather forecast. Splashing through the sheets of water on the motorway & getting a good buffeting from the wind, especially over the harbour bridge, we continued on to Orewa for gas & a burger.

Fuelled up, it was onwards & upwards & off the end of the motorway. Warewolf & I shot past the other guys as we were a bit quicker through the corners. We waited for them at Wellsford, they turned up with Ian's Triumph all scratched up where he had hit a curb & toppled over back in one of the towns. She was still serviceable though. Warewolf & I went on ahead to Brynderwyn & turned off to Dargaville & into the teeth of the promised gale westerlies. The poor little Sherpa struggled a bit with this & our speed dropped off quite a bit.

We still got to the Dargaville checkpoint at km 556 in reasonable time:



Some fuel, a snack & a quick headlight adjustment on the Sherpa & we were off again: next checkpoint Kaitaia, damn near the 1/2 way mark.

more tomorrow
Clint
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.................................................. .....with pilgrims?
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Old 10-16-2007, 12:30 AM   #14
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A pic for you Clint. Courtesy of Kevin Jordan who was snapping pics at Tokaanu.
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Old 10-16-2007, 04:03 PM   #15
clintnz OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lard
We're waiting......post some more and I'll tell you about a proposed trip we're planning.

I wonder who owns the big blue van in the background of the line up pic...


I did recognise that van, the last time I saw it I was sitting in the back on a 625SXC, all liquored up & revving the snot out of it with some other drunken lout next to me doing the same on a Scrambler Bring on the next Capital Coast ride!!

Cheers for the pic XTC & Kevin!

Back to the Story:

After Dargaville the riding was a lot more fun than the preceding few 100km, the roads were a bit more sheltered & although there were still quite a few torrential showers out there there were also some patches of better weather allowing us to enjoy the twisty roads. The Waipoua forest is a very tight track & we had a ball through there, despite the storm debris all over the wet road & the patches of very slick tar it was great. I managed to pull a bit of a gap on the ST1300 behind me & I think we passed a couple of other bikes in this area too. The Sherpa light is not too bad straight ahead but it lacks a bit of spread in the tight corners. The std tyres (Bridgestone TW302 IIRC) did very well in the conditions, only sliding out on the very slipperiest patches.

Somewhere up North we came across this poor bugger who had put his trusty Norton off a rather tricky corner, so we helped him pull it back onto the road & he got it fired up again:



At Kaikohe we stopped in the main street to fill the Sherpa from the can I was carrying, then rode 200m up the road to find that the gas station was actually open & we hadn't needed to worry about fuel at all!

Not to worry, there was more great nocturnal supermoto action to come through the rain soaked, leaf & branch scattered twisty excess of the Mangamuka Gorge to Kaitaia. We also came across a few bikes heading back down SH1 - they'd obviously taken a wrong turn somewhere as we were supposed to be returning south via a different route.

We hit the Kaitaia 789km checkpoint just after 2 am, putting us all but halfway distance wise, at an hour ahead of the 1/2 way mark on the clock. The Sherpa had used 10.24L to travel the 223km from Dargaville. We had a bit of a relax, Colin put on another layer & I had a powernap.

We set off again to Awanui then turned the corner & began heading south on hwy 10 - The headwinds that had so cruelly tormented the little Sherpa now became our ally & the riding got a lot more comfortable. The profusion of small towns heading down around the Bay of Islands were sweet relief - the lower speed limit meaning I could stand up & give me arse a break.

We got into Whangarei at 4:40am, I gassed up, had a snack & sucked back an energy drink for my first caffeine hit of the ride. I'd been sipping a mix of powerade & water out of my camelback for the whole ride & I reckon this helped me stay sharp through the night.

Continuing on to Wellsford we turned off onto hwy 16 west & again into the fangs of the gale. 16 follows ridgetops a lot of the way to Helensville so we got a good thrashing by the wind as the sun rose behind us & behind the clouds.

A piss stop at Hville, a gas stop at Huapai & we were on the Northwestern Motorway. A run enlivened by the sight ahead of me of a huge cloud of tyre smoke in the fast lane - two cars were nose to nose - I moved off to the middle lane out of the way, then moved over again to the slow lane, only to find mr wrong way coming straight for me in a 1/2 arsed U turn - luckily still far enough in front of me that I could avoid him.

The next checkpoint at Bombay & km 1202 was reached before 8am, keeping us an hr ahead of the game, so we had a coffee & a snack & waited for David & Ian.




With 400km to go & 7 hrs to do it in we knew we could take it easy for the rest of the trip & set out towards Pukekohe to enjoy the rough, wet, potholed, slippery & sinuous delights of hwy 22.

more later
Clint
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