Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boulevard Rally 2011 Goes North

This years rally had been split into two parts, with South Island and a North Island legs to cater for those who wanted to make a real roadtrip out of it, and those who just wanted the weekend. The Christchurch earthquake put a dampener on the South Island part and so it was largely called off - although there were a few that made the trip to Nelson to be together.

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The trip up and back to Whangarei on Saturday, return to Auckland Sunday.

Saturday morning started very early... I was at Coleman's Suzuki at 6:00AM - just me and the 'girls'. Eventually the crew turned up and 7 of us headed north to the meeting place at the Pacific Motor Group in Whangarei. I had new tyres and brakes fitted on Wednesday and had spent some time cleaning and polishing ready for the meetup. We had a good trip up, at a reasonable pace, and not much traffic, arriving at PMG gassed up and rearing to go. And there was Paul Bougher - I didn't know he rode bikes, but he was on a Boulevard cruiser. I hadn't discovered riding when I worked with him at Fletchers many years ago - we usually talked sailing.

Quite a number of the crew had come up on Friday, and the use of sunglasses for 'medicinal purposes' was apparent.

It was a fantastic day though... after a dark start (and quite cold). Coming up we hit some pockets that were foggy and cold enough to fog the mirrors and around the visor. I have a Shoei XR1000 helmet with the pin-lock anti-fogging 'skin' on the inside - it works so well - highly recommended.

The Starship Enterprise leaves Whangarei.

Once briefing was over the "Rolling Thunder" experience hit the road North. I was amazed at the numbers of people along the way that waved from bridges , who took photos and movies with their cell-phones, and who waved signs at us like "Feijoa's $2.00" and stuff like that. One even said "Dangerous Curves" - in reference to the northern and downwards side of the Mangamuka hill - held by Dayna from Suzuki.

The north road does get a bit windy at times, and its all the better for it ;-) We arrived in Kaitaia, gassed up, and regrouped at Kaitaia Motorcycles.

I was getting a bit hungry now, the effects of my 2 fried eggs on toast for breakfast had run out - but ahead lay the quick run down from Kaitaia to the Mangonui Fish Shop, at, er ... Mangonui. I headed for the front of the pack as I knew that a) parking was going to be at a premium, and b) I was hungry and reckoned I would be better near the front of the queue (of 200 people!!) I pity those who had gone their of their own volition - finding a huge queue snaking out of the fish shop. Anyway, I checked in with Foursquare and waited in line for THE BEST FISH AND CHIPS - the fish was wonderfully fresh - I imagine it had come in that morning.

The trip back to Whangarei took us to our hotel. I was staying at the Kingsgate Hotel Whangarei, across the river from the city centre. I checked in, cleaned up, and walked back into town to take part in the judging of the "Show-and-shine" competition and to get a shuttle ride to the golf course, where out dinner was being held. There was a bit of under-estimating when it came to organising the shuttles - quite a few people taking up on the offer, and leaving their bikes at the Hotel or locked up at PMG.

I went with a van-load of BOP people who reckoned that the next one should be in Tauranga, and we set about planning where the reception would be. The night at the golf club was great - good company, good food, cold beer! However I was very tired, saying that "yesterday when we came up... oh no that was this morning wasn't it..." it had certainly been a long day.

Looking at the Kingsgate from across the marina.

Sunday up and breakfasted, we hit the road back to Auckland headed for the Puhoi pub (which I by-passed). I was going to meet up with Kev and Cathy and the crew but I was at Warkworth at 11:15AM and figured they would be along in a hour or so - so carried on.

So, home for lunch, and enough time to trim the hedge, have a beer, and eat some excellent fresh pasta before crashing. 650KM roadtrip weekend - thanks Suzuki for putting on a great Boulevard Rally 2011.

johnhs [windingroad]

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