A Wet Weekend
All of my weekends are busy. Most of my weekends are spent out and about. Some of my weekends are spent doing things I love.
This last weekend was one of those few weekends that I was busy, out and about, and doing something I love. So rarely do all these collide, that I’ve been driven to write an entry about it.
Decided that I had to get out of Auckland, so Friday night I packed the bike and headed out… straight into a rainstorm. Battling both peak hour traffic and weather that were both out to kill me was a challenge that I wasn’t really wanting on a Friday night, but such was my will to get out of Auckland, I plugged on.
During the week I had purchased and fitted a new rear tyre for the bike. The fun thing about this is that new bike tyres come ‘unscrubbed’. This is referring to the plastic coat that the tyre manufacturers put on the rubber so it doesn’t corrode while in storage. While this means all tyres get to the end user in perfect condition, it also means the rubber has certain plastic tendancies for the first 200kms of use, the main characteristic being a drastically reduced amount of traction.
So it was that I struck twisting open roads and THEN remembered my new rear tyre. This added a further dimension to the challenge, and meant any corner I took at over 40kph involved a certain amount of slide. Thinking this was about as difficult a bike ride could get, as I ascended over the Coromandel ranges, I was suddenly in some of the thickest fog I have ever encountered. It was so dense in places I couldn’t see the road under the headlights. I plugged on.
I arrived at my mates beach house at a late 9pm (I had mentally scheduled for 7.30). The rest of the evening was spent finding food, and rotating my dripping bike gear around the fire place.
The next day I spent catching up on sleep and paperwork, not too enthusiastic about having a repeat performance of the night’s bike ride. Some mates were passing through on thier way to Hot Water Beach, so I tagged along with them. Hot Water Beach is very true to it’s name. At a certain point along the beach, underground thermal activity comes close to the surface, heating the sand to an often scorching degree. When you find this point, you dig a hole about 2 feet deep, and wait for it to fill with heated water. The trick from there on is to make the occasional break from your new spa to dig it a bit deeper, as sand has a tendency to refill holes.
The next day I awoke to a strong urge to get out of the house. This was a weekend for adventure wasn’t it? Repremanding myself for such an easy day the day before, I got onto the road.
Taking the 309 road in poor weather is generally not recommended by most people. Needless to say, I had a ball. For those unfamiliar with the Coromandel area, the 309 road is a historic dirt/gravel road that traverses the Coromandel ranges, and so far has escaped any major upgrading. Saying that, by the time I got to a tempting side road, I was so bored of the well cultivated gravel road, I gave into the temptation to explore. By this stage the rain had increased to ‘Bucketing’ status, and I mindfully crossed several fords that looked like they were on the edge of flooding. Ascending deeper and higher into the forestry, the road became rougher and rougher, spuring me on to see the end.
The end turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax, with a large open area lined by tall pine trees. I spent a while stretching the legs at this stage, then turned around and went back down, exploring some of the side trails that I had spied on the way up. After getting bogged in the world’s stickiest clay for 10 minutes, I decided I had better recross the fords before I was sealed in with raging rivers. Turns out I was just in time, and even when I crossed, I could feel a strong current threatening to pull the bike sideways.
Mathematics has never been a strong point of mine, so after I had passed what I counted as the last ford, I sped up, reaching healthy speeds of around 80kph on the deserted dirt roads. Needless to say, I was unpleasantly surprised when I rounded a corner at warp speed to find the last ford in front of me. With no room to brake, steer, or generally do something evasive, I ploughed straight into the flooded river. Water planing on a motorbike on a raging river is, quite frankly, not something I’ve ever wanted to do. After having done it, I understand why I didn’t want to do it. It’s possibly the most terrifying feeling in the world. Almost as terrifying as feeling the bike getting dragged over, and plunging under water in full bike gear. Funnily enough, the thought that raced through my head wasn’t that of ‘I’m going to drown’, or ‘My bike’s going to drown’, instead it was ‘My iPod isn’t going to like this…’
I retrieved my bike from the water, got the water out of the engine, and ran it for a bit to clear out the system. Right. Seems to be running fine. I check it for any damage, everything still intact. I open the ‘waterproof’ pocket that housed my iPod. Water gushed out of it. Not so good. Placing the soggy device into another pocket, I remounted the bike, and squelched off down the road.
It wasn’t until about half an hour later, just as I was rejoining tarseal on the west side of the Coromandel peninsula that the shakes started. Partially due to the cold that was setting in through the soaked gear, but mostly by the adrenaline wearing off. This was offset by a quick coffee and pie in a servo, but it stayed with me until I got back to Auckland.
Recapping that night on the weekend I had just had, it now features amongst my best weekend trips ever in my life.
1x Scariest Bike Ride of all time due to night, rain, fog, wind, and new tyres.
1x Excursion to Hot Water Beach (complete with F&C)
1x Fire for gear drying at the bach
1 x 309 Road
1x Castle Point Road/Track
4x Flooded Fords
1x Kauranga Valley (Deserted)
1x Spectacular iPod Death
8x Near Death Experiences
1: Scrub your brand new tyres BEFORE heading out on a night/wet ride.
2: Wet Rides are good as long as you acknowledge that you will get wet and cold and you mentally label this as ‘Fun’.
3: iPods and Digital Cameras don’t like water.
Stay well, stay safe, and stay tuned for the next caper*.
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