Yes, still in Auckland, still saving pennies for new exotic adventures, but these might be a couple of years away!
My back wheel had a dangerous wobble. The bearings that make the wheel spin smoothly had worked their way loose for the upteenth time. And so it was time for a new hub (the central bit of the wheel). I ordered a new shiny one from Suzuki in Japan.. and got the chaps at HoleshotSuzuki, Auckland to re-lace it onto my existing rim.. with some new spokes, new bearings and new spacers.
This means my bike is now safe enough to take out of the city onto faster roads! Yay!
It is now Winter in New Zealand. However, the evenings are not so dark, and the landscape remains much greener than the UK in comparison. I’ve been working like a trooper recently and i’m not a city kid at heart. I needed a day out in the country. It does get bloomin cold though! It got up to a lovely 13c in the sun today… but this does mean wearing:
Merino wool long johns and top, icebreaker ski socks, fleece sweater, regular textile riding pants, waterproof pants and jacket to break the wind, and then motorbike jacket over the top, silk scarf and a buff as a balaclava. Of course a cuppa tea to keep my belly warm. The icing on the cake however was fitting a replacement set of heated grips to keep my fingers toasty. I fitted one grip and the controller earlier this week, and have been riding around with only the one grip working, so I can definitely confirm that one hand remains warm and the other like a block of ice. In order to fit the other grip, I needed to order a throttle tube, as the duff hand grip would not come off without destroying the old throttle grip. Even though winter is short, I really did miss my heated grips whilst riding in the rain down in the South Island.. and up at some altitudes, or early mornings/late evenings it gets nippy as. These grips made such a difference that I wore my summer enduro gloves for the most part of the day. Bliss.
This website http://www.adventureridingnz.co.nz/ is a great resource of GPS tracks in interesting places.. So today I thought i’d try a few tracks. I’ve ridden two previously with the Northern Gravel Riders and as much as I enjoy the occasional group ride, I do like to bimble at my own pace and stop for pics and pees when I want to.. and I suppose I am very used to going at my own pace. A needed lay-in prevented me from riding all three tracks I had intended.
So once out off the motorway, through the potato fields of Pukehoke (that remind me of the Fens), I started to climb up into the hills and along the logging tracks. The good thing about Saturdays is the lack of double axled logging trucks flying round tight single track corners. Do you hit them head on or jump down the ravine? I cansmell the sea before I can see it, and soon enough, I round a corner, come out of the trees and see the huge breakers of the Tasman ahead in the distance. I descend towards Port Waikato and back inland. There are tonnes of really interesting limestone rock formations. The pancake rock structures are nearly almost identical to those I saw down in South Island. The gravel tracks run up parallel to the sea, really exposed to the onshore winds in places, and then weedle down into twisty valleys and meadows.. and past clusters of Nikau palms.. Over 200kms from Auckland to Raglan.. and on the back roads I only pass a couple of cars.
I also passed a couple of Hangi (method of cooking in an underground pit with stones).. again I could smell them before seeing them…, ummmm..
Once I hit the sealed roads on the final approach to Raglan, a man was yomping up the road, with a gun in hand, pack of dogs and a wild boar lashed to his back, blood dripping behind.. obviously a hunting success.
Raglan is an interesting kinda place. Always pays to ask the locals where to eat.. found a fab fish and chip shop at the Wharf, which I wouldn’t have found by myself..
Epic confusion with the young lass at the till though. There is a wet fish counter as well as the fast food area. I asked for a snapper and chips, and 12 mussels. ’12???’ she asked? Yes.. 12! Ok… 10 mins later my fish and chip package arrived, it was huge. And inside were 12 battered mussels along with the fish and chips. Oops .. no way I can eat all that in one go! Luckily she gave me the live mussels free of charge.. Best fish and chips so far in NZ, great crispy batter, and soft and gooey on the inside. I took the leftovers and the mussels back to town with me, and blasted back along the highway as i’d run out of daylight to play with. Time to get home and get warmed up.