Monday, February 6, 2017

Hampton Downs International Track

Waitangi Day 2017, and headed down to Hampton Downs to ride a track day on the internation circuit. This is the first time bikes have had the whole circuit to ride.

Feels like the international track doubles the size of the track, as it adds a long straight from turn 1 [Pirelli Corner] down to the bottom rh hairpin [Foster's Hairpin], which had plenty of lines - I found some that didn't work... and once after a spirited overtaking manoeuvre realised that I was still in 4th and bogged down as I made my pass - well I gave it straight back.

Now that you are heading back, there is a left [Key's Carousel] which is an accelerating corner leading to a rh double apex [Swampy Curves], which allows you to scrub all the lettering of the right side of your back tyre. It's weird if you come in too quick on the first apex you going yourself stick in slow motion hugging the inside strip while everyone goes around you. Once you get the double apex thing you are fine, as you get an extra blip straight from one spec to the next.

The next is a bumpy lh uphill corner that joins the national track at the old turn 3, affectionately known as Double Bastard Corner. Two corners that can be taken as one, however the old turn 3 is unseen over the rise, so you have to take your line and just go for it. Then it's business as usual. I found I was faster on turn 1, I think because I had this big straight looming, so carried speed from the front straight. It certainly felt faster and smoother. Not sure when the next international day is, but it is well worth looking out for.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Gibbston Valley

A wonderful trip to the South Island, staying at Kinross Cottages in Gibbston Valley, and then road-tripping back to Christchurh.

Kinross Cottages. Great stay, has bar and hot-tub under the stars.

The Kawerau River from near the bungy jumping bridge, looking north up the valley.

There are lots of cycle tracks around the area and we cycled into Arrowtown along this beautiful stream. I did end up carrying the bike back, as it broke the rear axle.

The Routeburn Track from the Glenorchy end. No filter, it was blue in there.

Milford Sound mirror picture, amazing after the rainy, misty day we had yesterday.

Oamaru boat harbour made me think of Rita Angus

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nelson Great Taste Trail

Its time for a break! The beginning of September found us in sunny Nelson. A big roadtrip from Auckland to Wellington on the first day, and then across the Cook Strait on the InterIslander and on to Nelson. We stayed at Delorenzo Studio Apartments on Trafalgar St giving us autonomy with apartment style accommodation and being close to the city centre.

We had planned for one day of bad weather, to go exploring in the car - the rest of the time would be biking.
This is at the Lord Rutherford Memorial.

Great Taste Trail - Mapua

The Trail is easy to find and day 1 we headed over towards Mapua, hoping to catch the ferry across for lunch. Unfortunately the ferry does not run in 'winter' so we got to view Mapua across the water.

Mapua from the Rabbit Island side.

Rabbit Island from the Mapua side.

The ride to Mapua across Rabbit Island went through a wonderful wetland, with Pukeko's and White Heron's taking not much notice of us. A decent ride for our first day, with a welcome coffee and excellent ginger crunch in Stoke at Lydia's Cafe.

Great Taste Trail - Wakefield

The overcast weather was welcome - I'm sure this would be a very hot place in the summer!

Great Taste Trail - Kaiteriteri

We drove with the bikes up to Motueka and rode on to Kaiteriteri, including the mountain bike track near the Kaiteriteri end. A beautiful beach - but the highlight for me was stopping at Hop Federation Brewery at Riwaka. With a couple of cold ones in the pack we headed back to Motueka and drove back to Nelson where we had a well deserved break from the saddle.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hawkes Bay Cycle Trails

To get away for a break around Easter, we decided to head for Napier, and cycle the bike trails of the Hawkes Bay region. At Christmas I got a book "New Zealand Cycle Trails - Nga Haerenga" by Jonathan Kennett, and we decided to load the bikes into the back of the car and check it out.

This is an overview of the tracks recorded on my phone using Tracks. The terrain is flat, and biking is on paved trails, limed tracks and on stop banks.

Accommodation at the Quest

Napier is around 400KM from Auckland and we elected to stop over in Taupo on the way down. Next day we checked into the Quest in Napier for the week which is located in Dickens St, close to the main shopping area of Napier. There is secure parking for car and bikes, and being a serviced apartment, cooking and washing facilities. The position is good for access to the rides, and great for dinner and shopping when not in the saddle.

Day 1 - Water Ride North

Once settled we jumped on our bikes and headed out for the first ride, across the wetlands that rose from the bay in Hawkes Bays 1931 earthquake.

Northern Water Path - 30.8 km, 2:32 hrs.

This was a good (easy) way to start the riding, and a good introduction to the terrain. I had purchased a phone holder for my Samsung S5 (waterproof came in handy) and the first big bump, the phone flew off and skated across the road. Undamaged thank goodness, as I have also got a fairly chunky rubber case for it. Subsequently I installed a band of black elastic to hold it in place. We discovered that the wind rises in the afternoon - but it was not too bad. What a lovely place to bike!

Dinner at Kilim, middle-eastern.

Day 2 - To Clifton and Back

Our first big ride was down to Clifton, the most southerly part of our trip, where there is a cafe and a beach to sit on for lunch.

Napier-Clifton-Napier - 83.5 km, 6:45 hrs.

Day 2 was a long day, but the weather was holding, and although we struggled with 'bum-fatigue' it wasn't too bad. We took the long way home through Taradale and stopped for a beer at the port on the way back - well deserved! It had been hard work earlier in the day when we got to Clifton to find that the cafe was closed, and our morning coffee would have to wait until we were back in Clive, 15KM back up the road.

Dinner at the Indonesian Restaurant. We had vegetarian and seafood Rijsttafel - amazing.

Day 3 - The Wineries

Bums and legs somewhat repaired, and amazed that we had done the same distance as cycling from Taupo to Rotorua, we headed out for the wineries trail. This starts about 20KM from Napier, but all accessible by trail.

Napier - Wineries - Napier - 80.5 km, 6:26 hrs.

If Day 2 was cycling like Taupo - Rotorua, then Day 3 we were going to do it again. And the weather wasn't looking too good - but luckily we only had a drop or two of brief rain during the day. No coat required ;-) We bought some wine and cheese along the way.

Dinner was the spoils of the day including some dukkah butter from the Salvare Estate cellar door, and an early night.

Day 4 - Rained and we drove about

The rain finally came, so we took a rest day. This also allowed us to get out further afield in the car, and explore the area. We had great coffee in Havelock North, and we discovered the Arataki Bee Centre. Back in Napier Viv found me a music shop, and I bought a Cry Baby (wah wah pedal). Following the visit to the Museum to see the earthquake video, we headed for Italian restaurant for dinner.

Day 5 - Puketapu

The rain abated and we took on the Puketapu trail.

Puketapu Loop - 59.5 km, 5:13 hrs.

This was our last trail for the trip, and had an unexpected and welcome twist - we found a walnut tree - or actually several in a little grove near Puketapu. We filled our bags with nuts (after opening we had 900g of walnut meat).

If we had to do it all again, I'd be ready tomorrow!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Molesworth Station ride

A trip that took me 2500KMs on some of New Zealand's most epic roads to be on a motorcycle. This year the November ride was to tackle the Molesworth Station road, French Pass, and the Rainbow Road, with some fantastic sealed roads between them. The South Island sure turns on some great riding!

Getting there

The ride started from Hanmer Springs on Friday, and I live in Auckland, so Wednesday after work I hit the road and headed for Taupo as my first stop on the way to the South Island.

I knew it would rain, so I put on my rainsuit over my riding gear (which is waterproof already) and headed south, through Matamata where I stopped for gas. Once clear of Matamata the rain really started - I found out my new helmet is NOT waterproof - you can't close all the vents... and the visor also leaked, so I had water running on the outside and the inside of the visor. The rain was so heavy at one point, the traffic slowed to around 10 km/hr, because nobody could see the road. The new Avon Distanzia tyres I had fitted held on in the wet and I was comfortable enough. Lucky that people are water-proof too. My room in Taupo had a bath, so it was me in the hot bath with a nice craft beer and some Kapiti blue cheese. Holiday off to a very good start.

Across the ditch

I got cracking on Thursday morning and headed off to catch the 1:30 Bluebridge ferry across from Wellington to Picton.

The rain was just a drizzle as I headed through Turangi and on towards the Desert Road. I was suited up but started to feel a bit cold, with wet gloves. Next thing its starting to snow - now I really am cold, but I did not fear for ice as there were a few trucks on the road already, and they are easy enough to pass - even in these wintery conditions - the faster I went the colder I got. Coming back down towards Waiouru I could feel the air warming up as I descended from the mountains. In Wellington in good time and a ferry that was running late. This would mean I had to 'try harder' once on the road again on the other side. I made Hanmer just after 9:00 which incidentally was the time the kitchen closed at the pub in Hanmer Springs - bar food did the trick including a well earning beer.

The Molesworth

Up bright and early for breakfast back in town, and the beginning of my off-road ride. I haven't really done any off-road or gravel, so this would be an adventure.

The first part of the ride is Jollies Pass, which was a bit muddy and climbs up to the Molesworth, crossing a couple of small streams on the way.

There were 17 of us in the group, from all over New Zealand, with a range of riding abilities from full-on motorcross riders to occasional road riders.

It was truly stunning. We stopped for lunch at the DOC Ranger station where you can camp if you like - it had recently snowed up there, but now it was a very warm bluesky day.

The Honda ran beautifully, and the Avon Distanzia tyres worked well on the very easy and groomed gravel on the road.

At the end of the road, and about to tackle the Taylor Dam road before heading to a Pub in Blenheim to revive 17 blokes with a cold beer or two.

French Pass

We stayed the night in Picton. Breakfast at Havelock after a spirited ride around the Queen Charlotte Drive. Then French Pass.

From the road to Nelson you take a right turn sign-posted to French Pass. The sealed road is a real treat for the bike, and I have not been on such a winding road as this anywhere else - its amazing! You can get a coffee at Okiwi Bay and after that and a bit more seal, you hit the gravel that takes you to French Pass. What a beautiful sight it is. This treacherous piece of water separates the mainland with D'Urville Island and flows up to 8 knots when running strongly. I could see a standing wave going across, and swirling water that looked more like a river than the sea.

Saturday night we were in Nelson, visited a wonderful classic motorcycle museum and found a great craft beer place called "The Freehouse", tag line "Craft Beer Heaven".

The Return

I decided I would head back to Picton on Sunday instead of doing the Rainbow Road, as I would have a big day Monday riding from Picton home to Auckland.

Thanks everyone for making this a fantastic couple of days, with great company, great weather (eventually) and great riding. Bring on the next one!

Cheers, JohnHS.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On a Panigale 899

I have been trying to get myself sorted to sell my bikes in order to get a new Ducati Panigale. Now that there are two Panigales to choose from I took the opportunity to test ride the Ducati Panigale 899 that has arrived at Cyclespot.

Ducati Panigale 899 at Westhaven.

First Thoughts

I trundled over to the North Shore to the Cyclespot Ducati showroom where Richard had the 899 ready to go. The demo had just arrived, and had been out 3 times already today. I was curious after all the reading I had done, which suggested that the 899 performed very well and had a more 'usable' power.

Of course it started to rain... and I'll admit I wasn't about to test the traction control right away.

I rode for about an hour, with plenty of time in traffic to get the feel for using the bike everyday - which would be a requirement. I also tried all the modes - but the WET mode was not that different around town anyway.

The Sound is Right

Yes that Ducati sound is there - quite loud in fact, and when you give the throttle a bit of a wind ;-) it sounds awesome. That is with the stock exhaust - I'm sure the Termis would be better still. I captured a bit of video, but being there is much better!

Would I buy one?

Yes, and there is one arriving in a couple of weeks. Need to get on Trademe and sell the other bikes to make space ;-)


Friday, August 8, 2014

Chilli sauce - Sichuan

This chilli sauce is made with Sichuan chillis. I bought them dried.

The one jar that looks different at the right is apple chutney, which is an ingredient of my latest recipes.

Apple Chutney

  • 6 x granny smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 x onions diced
  • 2 x cups raisins
  • 350 g raw sugar
  • 500 ml malt vinegar
  • 1/2t salt, black pepper
  • 2t all spice
  • 2t cloves
  • 2t tumeric

Makes about 5 x 360 ml jars (mmm... peanut butter had to be eaten to produce these jars). I cooked it down for a couple of hours on a slow heat. I actually used whole all spice and cloves, heating them first in a frypan and then grinding them with a mortar/pestle. Down-side is little black dots in the chutney - oh and the furniture smells of spice afterwards - tip: use the range-hood fan :-)