This Adventure started with one of the Publisher’s cryptic emails.
Usually good news when one turns up. If it’s anything to do with the magazine I get a phone call – invariably starting with – ‘My name’s McPhee and I’m a desperate man.’ – even if it’s just to check a phone number.
An email is good – it means a social on the agenda, a ride, or something to photograph – something to stick in’t diary.
Fortunately his route sheets and maps are exemplary, because the emails are a mix of out-of-the-way place names and McPhshorthand.
But I got the message. 7.00am Saturday morning - Café on the Freeway – Awakino Pub – Via as many dirt roads as we can.
I noted the distribution list also included a posse from the Capital who would make their way North to Rendesvous at said Pub.
I loaded camera and gear onto the Triumph Scrambler Demo early on Saturday morning and hooked up with The Publisher, Stretch, Campbell and numerous other friends of the magazine for a Coffee atop the Bombays. Just under a dozen bikes in total.
Mostly dedicated, TKC equipped, specialist off road equipment.
The Maestro was aboard the New Cagiva 500 single and it was worth the price of admission just to watch the man make it dance.
Chasing this lot on a borrowed Scrambler, I was quite comfortable dropping off the back or scooting off first and taking the photos.
So it was off, down the hill, across the mighty Waikato and onto the shingle not far past Onewhero.
The boss’s route sheet started at the Tuakau Bridge and took in some nice sports bike twisties out through Onewhero and onto the gravel not far past that township.
Some splendid dirt roads ensued, rarking the Scrambler up exiting the sweepers out to the coast. Then South through the steep limestone hills, all the way down to Te Akau.
From there we hooked up with Hwy 22 through to Te Uku then turned left and took the road that runs to the West of Pirongia, around Aotea and Kawhia Harbours all the way down to the Kawhia Rd.
Brilliant rolling limestone country over a variety of unsealed roads, some freshly graded, others hard packed and solid. Some with long ascents and descents, some along the valley floor.
In the exposed places on the coast the freshly graded track got very ‘interesting’ at times. We were into the teeth of a westerly gale and I crossed wheel tracks once or twice – not entirely of my own undertaking, as the hill funnelled the gale across the road.
When we moved away from the coast there was only a passing heavy shower to contend with.
Beyond the Kawhia Rd we hit some more sports bike paradise on the western edge of the ‘Waitomo loop’. Great technical sections of twisty road continued beyond Te Anga, as far as Marakopa and then it was back on to the gravel. Zig zagging our way South
We were forced to strike a detour or two because the heavy rain had made several water crossings impassable, but when we got on track the last section of dirt to Awakino was superb.
High mountain tracks through lush rainforest and then it led to a final sports bike blat and a hot shower and at the Awakino Pub.
The Wellington crew greeted us at the bar and a night of hard laughs followed.
They had followed as many unbeaten tracks as they could manage too.
The folks at the pub were great, The bar staff obliging, the food good and the rooms were clean and warm. Bathroom down the hall.
Some green and seedy looks greeted another overcast and windy morning and Stretch, in stunt man mode, put on a real show at the Sunday morning photo call.
A slap on the back for the crew heading south, a burn along to the beach at Awakino heads where we saw some impressive riding along the beach by the skillfull crew.
The stuff from the final scenes of ‘On any Sunday’ – except these blokes were doing it in a gale on black sand on fully loaded adventure bikes. Very impressive – and to watch Stretch wheelie across the ocean is a sight I’ll not forget. (The killer photo will help.)
And then it was Northward ho.
It’s almost a shame to turn off Hwy 3 before it enters the Awakino Gorge, but the Coast Rd covers similar terrain without the traffic as it follows the Manganui River Valley. Stunningly beautiful country and roads – it’s like the Parraparras run all the way up the Coast and it’s just ideal for riding - and we had the wind at out tail.
Then we got to my favourite bit of the whole ride – Pomerangi Road. A twisty mountain trail with lush rainforest jungle all around. An epic place. After crossing several mountains it opens out to a collection of sweeping bends that can be attacked at pace. A brilliant simly brilliant run.
A few flat tyres on the hard chargers, mores great dirt roads, more great sports bike roads, another blast along Hwy 33 in the showers and by the time we got back to the Raglan turn off – I’d had enough. Enough!
Yep, farewelled the crew as they headed up the final bunch of twisties, cranked up the iPod and did the last 80km up Hwy 1 in Mr Relaxo mode.
Home just ahead of some following showers.
What a fabulous weekend, what great company a bunch of mud larks are, what great motorcycles and what an opportunity to again count the blessings of the wonderful place we live in. To see the places that not a whole lot see.
The Scrambler proved a great way to take it all in. Versatile, comfortable, great looking, and old fashioned cool.
Looking forward to the next email Vege. Waiting by the in box.
It was probably my last throw of the dice as far as sponging a loan of a Triumph Scrambler is concerned.
Once again the good folks at Triumph NZ made a bike available. This time to follow the Publisher, on one of his famous adventure rides,‘On as many dirt roads as we can.’
Once again I got a beautiful new Demo bike entirely filthy with some seriously dirty fun.
Once again I enjoyed every minute of it. The versatility of this mid power standard always impresses me.
Its great looks and finish means it’s quite at home on a parade ride and will find as much acclaim as machines costing twice the price, when it’s down to show.
It’s a beauty on the open road. The 270 degree crank twin performs as a modern motor should. With 54 horsepower on tap you have to use the gearbox and hold it open out of the corners to keep it on a pace, but to be able to do that occasionally and not be sweating on a highway patrol around every corner has its own merits.
On the Dirt, those great looks and lots of chrome tend to temper the speed and the recklessness with which you throw it around, but the Scrambler’s 19” front wheel, low centre of gravity and medium knobby tyres mean that it very pleasurable off the tarmac at a medium pace too.
It can manage more, I do find it good off road, and I really like the way the 270 degree motor engine brakes on the gravel, but if hard charging is what you are about, and pushing to the limits of a front wheel tuck – plastic is a lot harder to scratch and easier to repair than chrome.
As it is for a recreational all rounder – Happy Daves.