Saturday, April 24, 2010

Supercity Logo vs Villian

The Auckland Supercity logo has been chosen, so we are going to play a little game of "One of these things is not like the other".

Supercity Competition

Can you guess which one of the above is the odd one out?

Here are some hints to get you going...
  • Governance
  • Cost Savings
  • Unity
  • Economic Growth
  • Future Domination
  • Lovely Trees
  • Executive Power
  • Competing on World Stage
  • Size Matters

Tricky eh!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Taupo Motott Track Day

As noted in an earlier post, we had a fantastic day at Taupo, with great weather and fine company! There were those who may have wished they had stayed at home...

Out but Not Down

Ducati at Taupo turn 14
As noted regarding the knee-sliders which remain in pristine condition, I was trying to get the knee down and have yet to master the technique, although I am sure that it is just a matter of coordinating a few muscles with a few brain-cells... I'd better hurry then...

Down but Not Out

It is critical to warm up the tyres to ensure that they can provide the traction performance that we require, so the first couple of rounds when the tyres are cool, we don't want to ask too much. Regarding traction and cornering, there is, from a physics point of view, a certain amount of dynamic traction available to us as we charge into a turn - potentials available to us tyres, surface, suspension, our COG and then steering, braking (speed) and body position inputs that we make as riders.
Ducati at Taupo
OK so 'charging in' probably wasn't the right term... but from time to time the environment we ride in can be challenging - an unexpected reducing radius, some dodgy road surface or even a race track where we are able to go as fast as physics allows... It was only later in reviewing the photos that I saw that someone quite close behind me was doing his own experiment with physics and losing.

Eyes Front

Interestingly you may note the rear view mirrors are on the Ducati in this shot. Later in the day (see first photo and below) I removed the mirrors and thereby the temptation to look behind, when all in front is where my attention should be.
Ducati at Taupo home straight

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ducati at Taupo MotoTT Track Day

I have been to watch car racing at Taupo when the A1GP was running there - such a shame that it is no longer coming, it was a fantastic weekend of motorsport at a great venue. I have always liked the 3.3km Taupo Motorsprt Park track and then I realised that I could ride it on a MotoTT Track Day! The weather had been clear for so long that as the 10th of April drew nearer I was checking the Metservice every day.

The plan was for Dave and I to take the bikes down on a trailer Friday night and be ready and fresh for Saturday morning at the track. We stayed at the Bella Vista in Taupo which was very comfortable. With the two Ducati's in tow and a fine crisp Taupo morning we downed our Up-and-Go and headed for scrutineering - I admit to feeling a bit nervous in the stomach at the thought of tearing around Taupo, but once there and in our garage (yes garage!) there was only one thing on our minds.
I think it was Steve Spangler who put it so well... "Brrrm brrrrmmm"

Two cats waiting to spring. The yellow dot on the screen signifying Group 2.

The riding was superb! and the track was more than I had expected... its weird, you go there and watch others going around and you watch the big screens, study the youtube videos and the track maps - but until you get out there you really don't appreciate where the track is going. That turn 11 before the main straight I had always seen as a sweeper, not a reasonably tight decreasing radius corner, and the chicane before the front straight was alot more open than I had expected, although I did get caught out early on and arrive way to deep into T13.

We met Moonlight and his son Max, and we got them into our garage. Max is riding one of the new Hyosung 250 EFI bikes - a very good rider too!

The highlight of the day was still to come however... MotoTT have been running a draw for a set of Metzeler tyres since January - and I won them. Yes, $700 worth of tyres for the Ducati. I think that I will go for the new Sportec M5 Interact which are due in the country at the end of April.

I did make a purchase at the track, from QMoto, a set of knee sliders. I can report they are in pristine condition - maybe next time I will get-the-knee-down, as they say.

The thing that I was missing was lock-on... I need some grip on the tank. Dave has Stompgrip on the 998s and it feels really firm and secure (in the garage). I have some Techspec Gripster tank traction pads coming soon hopefully, so I will be able to give a review once they are on, and I have my next track day sorted.

There were 6 sessions in the day, and we left after the 5th - it was a long day, and the sun was getting quite low. Still, that is a good days riding, and after having done my first track day there, will be looking forward to another opportunity.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Central Otago Rail Trail in March 2010

Otago Rail Trail
An amazing landscape unfolds for you as you ride the Central Otago Rail Trail through a beautiful and strangely empty country that echoes of the gold fields prosperity of the past.

The Otago Rail Trail

We read up as much as we could online, bought books and borrowed books from the library - consuming as much information as we could get our hands on:
  • Where is it
  • How to get there
  • When to go
  • Where to stay
  • Hiring gear...

The Route

The Rail Trail runs between Clyde and Middlemarch, travelling 150km (just over 90 miles) through Central Otago - an area that saw many people make or break their fortunes back in the 1800's. The terrain is dry because the weather that comes over the Tasman Sea from the West drops all its rain on Fiordland and the Southern Alps (as many who have been to Milford Sound will know - in excess of 8m (26ft) of rain per year!) With the Trail being a ex-railway line, there is no part of the incline that is greater than 1 in 50 - so that the trail is quite manageable by those of average fitness and from 8yrs to 80yrs - luckily I qualify - at least in age. You pass through layers of hills each one with a perfect valley in between - some being quite wide and flat, others are gorges with a river or stream flowing below.

What direction

We went from Clyde to Middlemarch - and I would recommend this direction due to the prevailing wind which has westerly intentions. We met some people who were battling against the wind on their first day up from Middlemarch, with still plenty of uphill to go.
Otago Rail Trail

Getting to the Start

If starting from Clyde, then there are a few choices, depending on whether you are from the South Island and driving, or from the North (or elswhere) and using public transport. The airport in Queenstown is international and buses will take you to Clyde from Queenstown itself. That's what we did. We met people who had parked at Middlemarch and bused to Clyde so that they had their car/campervan waiting at the end of the trail. There is a train from Dunedin and there are days when it goes all the way to Middlemarch (Fridays/Sundays). We saved the train ride to the end of the trip, so we ended up in Dunedin at the end of the fourth day.
Otago Rail Trail

Places to Stay on the Rail Trail

The way we did it:
  • Saturday: Flew Akl -> Queenstown, bus to Clyde, stayed at Dunstan House in Clyde, where we picked up our bikes.
  • Sunday: Started the trail, lunched at Chatto Creek and spent the night at Blacks Hotel in Ophir.
  • Monday: Lunch in Oturehua, bed and dinner at the Wedderburn Tavern
  • Tuesday: All downhill, stopped Waipiata for coffee, lunch in Hyde, then onto Trails End in Middlemarch for the night.
  • Wednesday: Discovered the Sutton Salt Lake, and took the Taieri Gorge Railway trip to Dunedin.

Rail Trail distances

We intended to smooth out the trip over 4 days, loosely 40km 40km 40km and 30km making up the total 150km run. We found that upon reaching Hyde in the early afternoon we could quite easily do the last 30km down to Middlemarch. That gave us Wednesday to bike down to Sutton and explore the salt lake - in a country-side that was reminiscent (to me) of the open land in the videogame Fallout 3. In fact it was so real I expected to see a giant scorpion coming at me through the grass any minute.
Otago Rail Trail

Money money money...

We hired the bikes from Ranfurly Bike Hire including panniers. We were carrying all our stuff - although you could get your bags shipped from place to place to be ready for you at a small fee, it was fine to be carrying all our clothes etc. Actually I think it felt better - no clutter, no bags on the plane - only carry on. I would definitely recommend Ranfurly. We contacted them and told them where we would like to stay and our intention to take the train to Dunedin, and they did all the booking for NO FEE.
Otago Rail Trail
Everything worked like clockwork... even my legs ;-)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2010 Suzuki Boulevard Rally Napier

The eagerly awaited sequel to last years Boulevard Rally in Hanmer, this year we had the rally in the North Island, in the world renown wine growing Hawkes Bay region - in the city of Napier. And the weather turned out to be excellent with warm clear days for riding the slightly more than 400 kms to our destination. The plan was to meet up in Te Rapa - assembling at Boyd Motorcycles and from there through Kihikihi, Mangakino and Whakamaru to Taupo for lunch. We took some roads past Mangakino that I hadn't been on before - beautiful country-side. Probably in the region of 120 bikes. The reported total in Napier was 152.

View Larger Map

A little drama after our second stop when one rider dropped his bike on a corner while running a bit wide - that sobered the team up a bit but heading towards Taupo on that great Pohipi Rd across the top of lake Taupo I relaxed a little and let the bike have its head. I had stopped for breakfast at Bombay, where I gassed up - so I ran with the petrol warning light flashing for the final 30 kms into Taupo. Taupo ;lunch was put on at the Suncourt Hotel and Conference Centre - and well... I guess bikers aren't meant to be vegetarians so not much for me ;-( however I made do by pulling out the ham and eating more cake ;-)

The ride through to Napier had a little more spirit with some of the nicest sweepers around delivered on the Napier-Taupo Highway.

The gathering at East Pier was drinks, dinner and drinks with old friends and new friends - prizes and a bit of showing off - all good fun. Also a chance to catch up with buddies from the Cruiser Group.

Sunday morning I'm guessing there would have been a few sore heads, but by 10:00 AM with 152 Boulevard cruisers in Napier the cafe's were full of bikers eating breakfast and gulping coffee - getting ready for the ride home. I did a few circuits of town and having planned to go home to Auckland via Gisborne ended up retracing my steps (wheel ruts?) from the day before. However, once in Kihikihi (near Te Awamutu) I remembered the road across to Cambridge and headed off that way.

View Larger Map
I used to go that way back to Auckland from New Plymouth - you hook up with Highway 27 through Tahuna... anyway a great ride on top of a great weekend.

Next time hoping for a pillion.