Sunday, 16 October 2016

NZ Distance Riders 1600KM

The New Zealand distance riders hold an annual North Island 1600KM in 24hrs challenge and three of us decided we would take up the challenge.

Tony, Ken and I rode up to Turangi on Friday afternoon and stayed in the Top Ten Holiday camp overnight. That evening the 1600KM course was revealed to just over 50 riders that were taking part in the event. Cape Reinga and back ! Well we were pretty familiar with that chal- lenge and knew it was a long old slog up through Northland. The course took in some pretty twisty back roads along with some state highway action. After planning our stops and program- ming the checkpoints into Tony’s GPS we headed for an early night.

Next morning was a leisurely breakfast and lunch before it was time to set out at 1pm. It was staggered starts to keep the bikes split up but the first few hundred KM’s were pretty busy with bikes. I witnessed a guy fall off on a bend but he managed to get back on and carry on. The bikes soon split up and we ended with our own space just regularly passing the same few bikes as we stopped for fuel-ups and re-passed each other. The plan was to get as far as possible with only short stops while the light was good. By the time we got to Whangarei it was dark, we were supposed to stop for tea there but managed to miss the only fast food joint and had to carry on to Kawakawa for fish and chips.

Riding through the very dark night we realised quickly why so many of the seasoned riders had adorned their bikes with huge floodlights, it was hard concentrating in poor light for so many hours. I was on a BMW roadster with an upright riding position but no fairing. We made the cape at 12:30 am and it was pitch black just like the last time we were there. The wind pressure at elevated speeds was getting very tiring and by 5:30am I had to stop for a break so I took a 30 min nap on a park bench at Warkworth. Later it pissed down with rain and that actually woke me up for the rest of the ride. We made it back to Turangi just before noon, about two thirds of the way through the pack which wasn’t bad considering it was our first time. Then it was time for a hot meal and an hours rest before we hopped back on the bikes and rode the 300 kms home.

It was hard work and very tiring but the feeling of accomplishment at the end was pretty bloody good and I’m glad I decided to take part. I would probably recommend doing it on a bike with some wind protection and extra lights as it would make it much easier. If anyone wants to give it a go but needs some practice first they also run an 800KM ride on the same day which doesn’t go on through the night. There is the 1000KM cruise that takes place on the 5th November this year. 

Cheers Nik

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