Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ride Carefully: Coromandel Loop

Thunder Beach

The long awaited morning dawns and promises a beautiful day for a ride to Whitianga. Up reasonably early and off to Colemans Suzuki, our meeting place for the ride over to Thunder Beach - which this year is Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Caltex Bombay

Travelling in a convoy is always a bit of a treat however it can be difficult to stay together, especially around the city where there are traffic lights and traffic to contend with. First stop at the Caltex Bombay, we met up with some southern riders and consolidated back into a group. Kev and Cathy were the ride captains and Grey the Tail-end Charlie - the ride was very orderly, with mostly cruisers and about 20 sports or touring bikes. We took Hwy 2 and headed for the next stop/mustering point at Kopu. There were in the vicinity of 80 bikes in total that went over the hill to Whitianga. The roadworks only got us once, just at the start of the Kopu-Hikuwai road where all our polishing and preening got covered in fine dust ;-)

Face Off: Sporties one side Cruisers the other.

A great gathering at Whitianga with BBQ and drinks. Fantastic organisation by Troy Hardy and Colemans own Alistair. I have the tee-shirt to prove it!

Driving on the Wrong Side

I left Whitianga because I had a day at Hampton Downs planned on Sunday and I was going to complete the Coromandel Loop, and stay in Ngatea the night before going on to the trackday early Sunday. It was such a wonderful day, clear and dry and possibly a bit hot... but in the wind created by riding it was very comfortable - I was wearing full leathers in preparation for the Hampton Downs rideday. I stopped in at the smokehouse in Coromandel (a must) and proceeding down the coast. Then I met this:

This Sunny Vanette is on MY SIDE OF THE ROAD... what to do?

I braked of course, but consciously did not go into the right lane, for fear of the driver suddenly 'waking up' and swerving to their left - thereby sending me over the cliff to my far right.

I stood on.

He kept coming...

Now what... of course this is all happening in about 1 second - then I swerved to the right - slightly too late - there was a bang and I was thrown over on my right side - the indicator, mirror and (unfortunately) the clutch lever taking the initial impact with the van. Evil Stig found himself sliding face-first up the road. I got up and the van had come to a stop still in the wrong lane - a trap for the next rider or driver to find. I got myself up and picked up the bike with the help of my new acquaintance - a French guy - who (I guess) had a brain-fade, started driving on the right and when I appeared just froze at the wheel.

If I had of been in a car it would have been a head-on, and we may not have walked away.

Riding home my main concern was getting across Kopu bridge, which currently has a traffic light and is only one way - I managed to crawl along and grab the lights as they went green.

No way to get a new clutch lever before the trackday - damn luck.

Prolog: Hampton Downs Screaming

Well as it turns out Darren and the team at the Hampton Downs Ridedays have hire bikes available - Suzuki GSXR 600's - so maybe I could do the trackday... hello Christmas present.

Turn 5 at Hampton Downs track.

There is a race meeting coming up next weekend, so there were lots of racers there practising, along with us who were there for the enjoyment. And it was again a beautiful day - although getting up to over 30degC later in the day - very hot for leathers, unless you are going around the track! The GSXR600 is a real screamer (well I am a V-twin rider) and all fun with it. I got the steer for gearing suggestions from Darren and proceeded to have a great day, learning the track again and experiencing the different ride of the Gixer. It went very well - although they had taped up the speedo - what is 14K in 4th? The Suzuki handled nicely - seemed to 'waggle' a bit on the front straight while the throttle was pinned, and I was told maybe that was caused by the starting grid marking... don't know.

Nice bike alright, but does it have the soul of a Ducati 916.



Anonymous said...

"but does it have the soul of a ducati?"

This depends on an number of factors.

Factor 1: Does it start when I need it to ride to work on (insert any day here)?

Then yes, it does have the 'soul' of a ducati

If yes, then no it has the soul of a Jap bike.

JohnHS said...

Yes it is edited in - I was a wee bit busy at the time - fearing for my life. This is a reconstruction ;-) And I wouldn't say it was the worst...

JohnHS said...

BTW, the image is a mix of Trademe and Google StreetView.