2007 Grand Challenge
Created 17 October 2007

2007 1000 Mile Grand Challenge.

 

1000 Miles 24 Hours.

 

During the weeks leading up to this years GC the bike got some new tyres and a service. A few day rides were done. But nothing longer than about 600k’s. We didn’t do any special riding preparation, just relied on being generally ride fit and would turn up and hope for the best.

 

I was due to be working the weekend of the ride but had managed to secure leave from Saturday through to Monday.

 

Rode the bike to work on the Friday, all packed and ready to go. Managed to finish early and was at Andrews just after 1pm. Before long we were off for our weekend of adventure.

 

The weather forecast had not looked promising at all for the next few days. We made the trip to Turangi without incident just had to negotiate a few showers along the way.

 

As soon as we arrived we headed straight for the camp to get scrutineered. There were already a few bikes there and we had to wait a few minutes before it was our turn. Andrew was first and as you would expect passed without a problem (his bike being almost new). I passed ok as well just with the mention that my brake pads were getting a bit low, which I knew anyway.

 

After that little pit stop we went and checked into out motel and unloaded our gear. Shot out a couple of hours later for some Chinese for tea.

 

The next morning we hung around our motel as long as possible before hitting the Turangi truck stop for a cooked breakfast. Our last proper meal for about the next 28 hours. Then it was off to fuel up the bikes and into the camp to check in and have a look at the map.

 

The weather forecast had said the worst of the weather was going to be in the west and north of Auckland, and guess where we were headed, Kaitaia!! Right into the worst of it, rain and wind gusting to 100kph.

 

We quickly worked out where we had to go and where the check points were. Chatted to a few of the other riders. Listened to the riders briefing and before long it was 3:03pm our start time.

 

We left in pretty good weather the road was dry and no sign of rain. Heading out of Turangi and up the western side of the lake and it wasn’t long before the pace was increasing, everyone was well aware they had to make as much ground as possible before the weather really turned to custard. We continued on through Whakamaru and just before Tokoroa took a left onto the Old Taupo Road which eventually took as to Puketurua and the first time check. A quick stop here and we were off to Putaruru. Here we turned onto Highway 28. We tagged on with another  group which ended up taking a wrong turn while looking for Old Te Aroha Road. But after a quick stop to check the map we were back on track and got onto the right road which took us through Te Aroha and into Paeroa and the first check point proper. 250km done.

 

We didn’t stay long and were soon on the road again heading for Auckland. Almost as soon as we got onto the motorway the rain started but we pushed on in spite of the weather getting worse. Getting over the harbour bridge was a real battle. Eventually we pulled into the service centre just before Orewa and decided, like a few others it was time to get the wet weather gear out. Talked to one guy who told us he was going to pull out. But of course this thought never crossed our minds.

 

Going north from here we really hit some weather with the rain coming down by the bucket load. We ended up following a couple of Goldwings but in the decreasing light and poor visibility every time they light up their Christmas Tree of break lights I couldn’t see a thing. Thankfully before long they waved us through. Eventually the rain eased to just the odd shower but the wind was always there and the road was constantly wet. I had to laugh to myself a few times when I started to think about what we were doing, most people would think we were mad.

 

It was just the two of us until we hit check point two in Dargaville. Where we found about 30 other wet riders, however most were still in good spirits.

 

We continued north and before long entered the Waipoua Forest which consisted of about 30k’s of slow corners one after another in addition to this the road was still wet and all manner of rubbish had been blown out of the trees onto the road so extra care was needed through this bit.

 

As we came out of the forest and started dropping down to Opononi we came across a rider who had gone down, we stopped to see if we could help but his mates had everything under control and told us to continue on. Further up the road we were stopped by another group of riders wanting to know if everything was alright with the guy that had crashed we filled them in on the situation and continued on.

 

When we hit Highway 1 again just after Kaikohe we joined up with another group and we all headed over the hill into Kaitaia together and arrived at the third check point just after midnight. This was approximately the halfway point so it was good to know we were on the down hill side.

 

After a short break and some refreshments we were on our way again heading north to Awanui and onto highway 10 that would take us south via the east coast.

 

Somewhere north of Kawakawa Andrew pulled up saying he wasn’t feeling too good so we stopped, removed our helmets and spent a few minutes clearing our heads and relaxing a bit. Then we were off again, not stopping until we got to Wellsford, where we pulled in for fuel. But the lady operating the pumps couldn’t get them to work and we wasted about 15 minutes before going to the station up the road to fill up.

 

Then it was off towards Helensville which turned out to be a lot further and slower that we had thought and by the time we got to Kumeu Andrew was in need of another revival stop.

 

After another short break we managed to find our way back onto the Auckland motorway (only made one wrong turn) and continued south. Soon we were pulling into the Drury service centre thinking that was the check point but as it turned out we had both misunderstood the instructions and we should have been at the Bombay service centre. However we took the opportunity to have a quick breakfast break then swung by the Bombay service Centre got our cards clipped and headed on out through Pukekohe and onto Highway 22 which is more like a back country road than a highway. We took our time due to the wet roads and eventually made it to Ngaruawahia for our final fuel stop. 1300km down 300 to go.

 

After that we were onto better roads, although still wet and increasing wind. Otorohanga and Te Kuiti came and went and we took a left at Eight Mile Junction and headed south towards Taumarunui. But we needed to make one more detour out to Ohura and the final check point. This turned out to be the best part of 100k’s of slow wet going and we were glad to see the back of it.

 

Once we got back to Taumarunui the going got better, even if the weather didn’t. We made steady progress and eventually made it back to Turangi at 1pm a mere 22 hours after starting.

 

This was definitely the toughest Grand Challenge I have had to do so far but that was mostly due to the weather. Strong winds, rain and about 12ook’s of wet roads. Had the roads been dry I think it would have made things a lot easier.

 

Come the next morning our spirits hadn’t been dampened too much and the weather had improved so we took the long way home via Napier stopping for a nice cooked breakfast at the summit between Napier and Taupo. A quick pit stop in Napier and we were back in Plamy by 2:30pm