Saturday, March 21, 2009

The 2009 Suzuki Boulevard Rally Hanmer Springs

[Day 1] Thursday - The trip to Wellington

The packing had been done and I had the alarm set for 5:45a for a departure that should see me at the Papkura Autobahn at around 7:30am, the agreed meeting time. The alarm decided that 4:45am would be a better idea, as that was the time that I got up LAST Thursday on my way to Wellington (but traveling by AirNZ that time).
Yeah yeah, I know, how hard can it be...the wonders of early morning alarm setting. So I didn't even notice and when all packed up with bags on bike and riding gear on I checked the time - 5:20am... eh?? I was an hour early for our rendezvous - better than being late, I guess.

The trip for the day had 4 bikes going down to Ngarawahia, through to Otorohonga, and onto Hwy 4, with lunch set for Wanganui.

Wanganui and Nelson share a taste for hanging plants.

We got drenched between Mercer and Whatawhata and in hind-sight, wearing my rain-suit would have been a good idea. Luckily IT stayed dry in the saddle-bags. The rest of the day dried out and the roads got better. Road-works got more frequent on Hwy 4 but all in all a good ride. I stopped briefly in Bulls and profuse apologies to Midnight, two bikes split up and headed off to lodgings in Wellington. A good thing too as the curries had just arrived just before I did. Thanks Graeme, I really appreciated the stop-over - especially your great key finding abilities, without which I would be walking to Hanmer.
Lets just say the night ended quite late.

[Day 2] Friday - Across Cook Strait aka So Many New Friends

Up and dressed and consuming vast quantities of water - quite thirsty for some reason... it was clean-the-bike and get going time. I trundled off to Wellington Motorcycles and once registered found a very nice coffee at Cafe Deluxe next door - and then started meeting people - what a great bunch! We were instant best friends, and by the time we had waited in the sun to board the ferry, and then loaded on and sailed across on the Aratere, we were old mates. And with my best effort to recruit for the Cruiser Group I hope we will be riding with them again in the near future.
The ride from Picton to Nelson was at a good pace, and boded well for the bigger group ride from Nelson to Hanmer.
My riding buddies from the day before had gone over on an earlier ferry, and on arrival at Nelson we all headed off for the Sports Cafe, dinner and a beer or two. The main entertainment was the table of young girls beside us, as the drinking got more serious, so the volume increased and the stories more entertaining - what is sexercise anyway?? In bed before 12:00am - well done.

[Special Mention]

If you are riding through the Nelson area and need a place to stay, then go to the Mid City Motel. It was great, not expensive, and if asked nicely Ajay will organise a lock-up for your bike. He went out of his way to make us comfortable and it was appreciated.

[Day 3] Saturday - Nelson to Hanmer Springs

Up early, breakfast at McDonalds - custom Egg McMuffin and coffee. Pack and assemble for the ride through Murchison to Hanmer Springs.

Some of the assembled Boulevard riders in Nelson.

The morning was sunny and the road through to Murchison dry. Where the sun had not penetrated through the beech canopy though it was quite cold - like when you go into the beer fridge at the wholesalers and can't make up your mind. Gas up at Murchison and time to put on another layer of clothing. Imagine 80 bikes all hitting a small gas station at once - bedlam. On the other hand 80 bikes x $15...
The Lewis Pass is an absolutely great ride, especially around Maruia Hot Springs. And then where you pop back out into the sunshine you are in a grand valley amongst the alps. Its just not the same coming up the other way from Christchurch.

Suzuki Boulevard Rally 2009 bikes assembled. There was no big ride with Northern and Southern riders together, which was a little disappointing.

Drinks and dinner, and a few drinks, and plenty of discussion over tyres and jackets, and the best exhaust etc. I didn't win a prize either :-(

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