Sunday 9 March 2014

TT2000 2014

So I decided I was going to have a crack at the TT2000 this year after reading other peoples reports of previous events looked like great fun to me. I spoke to a few people who had done similar rallies in the past to try and gauge what would be involved. I decided to do the C1KC ( 1000km ) run in November to see how I felt after half the distance needed to finish the TT. Did that and really enjoyed it and was hooked.

The planning part of an event like this is more challenging than I initially thought. There are so many variables I played around with all sorts of options and was going to start the rally in the North Island. The ferry across the to the South Island has had more than its fair share of troubles recently so decided that I would can the North island and head down to the South on the Thursday before.
Getting there the day before gave me the chance to have a look around some of the roads in the sounds that I have never been on before. I decided to head out to Penzance as this was on my route to get some idea or road conditions time etc.  Great road did have some roaming sheep in places but seem better trained than North Island sheep that I’m sure want to get run over, the south island guys get out of your way and just look!

Waiting for the ferry in the fog



I checked into my campsite and asked what time I had to out in the morning, when I told them wha I was doing they were happy for me to stay till 2-3 pm. I used the opportunity to relax and get afew hours sleep in the shade of what was a very hot day. I woke up about 2.30 feeling very chilled packed and hit the road.

Arrived at the Argosy cafe at about quarter to five to find everyone hiding under the wings of the plane in the shade to keep out of the fairly intense heat. Already 30 - 40 bikes ready to go. I parked up and took off my bike gear to try and keep cool for as long as I could. Finally met Bandit Rider (Andrew) after crossing paths at a gas station in Rotorua whilst doing the C1KC back in November and not knowing who each other was then. Drunk plenty of water and had an ice cream while chatting to everyone about each other’s plans etc.
Just before 6pm Mike gave us his final briefing, issued our tee shirts and it was time to go.

 Quite a few people headed off to the Waihopai Valley to pick up the two checkpoints there for 3,400 points.

 From there it was to Onamalutu and Top Valley. Top Valley was a lovely straight road, however I was riding straight into the sun for about 10ks which was not nice and something to remember when planning next years TT.

Up to now we were riding in quite large groups but people seemed to start going their separate ways. I headed off towards Havelock and did Canvas Town and Pelorus Bridge checkpoints, then into the sounds to Penzance.

 Before I got to the turning for Penzance I saw a 24hr gas station in Rai Valley, there was another TT rider there on a Yamaha RZ500 the same year as my XJ (1985). We had a quick chat he was there just cleaning his visor but our paths would cross again several times before Sunday night. The road to Penzance was a pearler and I had planned to camp at Harvey Bay if I felt tired. I had a good rest throughout the day on Friday so was still feeling pretty fresh so decided to head on to what were my Saturday checkpoints.

I headed back out the Sounds on my way to Nelson and did all the checkpoints in that area. At Rabbit Island I stopped to do my pic and now it was about 12.30am and the lights went on in the house over the road and the front door opened so the residents obviously wondered what was going on. I quickly got my pic and left the area so they could get back to sleep.

 Continued on feeling fresh picked up points at Upper Moutere and Orinoco with no problems.

Filled up with gas at Motueka where the pubs were just throwing out at 2am, so plenty of police around but showed no interest in me. I think they had their hands full seeing the number of people staggering up the road. Had a 15 minute break and some fuel for me too.  Off on the road again to Marahau for 1000 points then out to the Riwaka Resurgence by now it was 2.15 am and I was aware of several camper vans parked by the checkpoint so was very quiet. However managed to make someone get out their van in PJ,s to see what the hell was going on J.

From here I headed over the Takaka Hill which is always a wonderful ride. Did the checkpoint at Anotoki Salmon farm where I was greeted by a wondering cow who showed some interest.

Got to Bainham and couldnt find the checkpoint. By now it was about 4am and pitch black so I worked my way up and down the road for anything that resembled what I was looking for on the run sheet. I eventually found the gate and parked up. The heavens had just opened so it was a good opportunity to put my wet weather gear on.

 From here it was off to Farewell Spit, again pitch black and pouring with rain, so not very pleasant. I was feeling a bit tired so decided to have a lay down for half and hour which recharged my batteries enough to head off again.

Day was beginning to break by now I had been on the road over 12 hours. My pace through the night had slowed due to rain, uncharted roads for me and probably extra caution realizing I was quiet away from civilization a lot of the time. It’s amazing how much of a welcome daylight is after riding all night even though I was really impressed with the LED lights I had fitting in anticipation of the TT. I had fitted 2 small 10watt led lights to use as daytime running lights. When I first fitted them I went out in the dark to see how they performed. They work fine as DTR lights during daylight but do glare in low light and certainly could not be used with dip beam at night. I wired them through a 3 way switch so I could have them manually switched during the day or switched on with main beam headlamp at night.  At night they produce the most intense white light that gives a great spread of light ahead and to either side of the bike. Travelling on winding roads at night has become a whole lot safer and more enjoyable as the leds light around the bend not just forward like my normal high beam.
Headed back over the Takaka Hill which was now covered in thick fog, my visor fogged up, then the glasses so I ended up removing them and made my way very slowly across the hill. Crossed Paths with Andrew again around the summit who was also riding cautiously.
Headed off down the Motueka Valley to the next checkpoint which was a good distance away and it was Hope Saddle Summit on highway 6.

 I wanted to keep going until I got to Westport where I planned to check into my motel and freshen up before doing the checkpoints to Karamea. Stopped at hope saddle just before 10 am got my pic then off to St. Arnaud 20 minutes later. Meet up with a couple of other bike who I assumed were on the TT but they were just on holiday having a tour around the area , funnily enough I spotted them again on Sunday at Waiau.

 I got to Westport about 1.30pm and headed to subway for some lunch. Met another rider named Ross from Greymouth who knew the area well. So he was able to give me an indication of what the roads were like and probable times to get up there. I felt really refreshed after a shower so gassed up again and headed up the Karamea coast Just as I was coming into Waimangaroa when I got waved down by a cop using his radar gun, just as I got up to him he gave me hand signals telling me to slow down then waved me on with a thumbs up ! that’s what I call positive policing . Headed up to Dennison, wow what a fantastic view from up there worth going up just for that although the 1000 points was handy too.

 From there a quick scoot up to Stockton mine picking up the Mystery (Grand Canyon) checkpoint on the way, that must have been the worst kept secret of the weekend!! Lovely ride up the coast stopping at Sedonville where there was a wedding in progress and the guys outside had obviously noticed the unusual bike traffic during the day gave us a wave. 

Passed lots of bikes on the way to and from Kohaihai and I could see the smiles on everyone. Got back to my room about 8pm. Checked the bike over and found my left Pannier had come loose and was resting on the exhaust. Some of the bolts holding the frame had vibrated out, maybe due to the gravel road or overloading....Who knows.?  Looking at my photos the pannier had come loose soon after I left Westport heading North but I was too focused on the job in hand to even notice it was loose. Managed to do desert repair that I thought should hold, in the end it did and got me all the way home.
There were 5 riders staying at the holiday park in Westport, I got talking to the guy next door to me who was going to head up the coast in the morning to do those chechpoints, the road was quiet slow in places and the weather was not looking good for Sunday morning so he decided that a early start was called for.
My Sunday plan should take me aroung 10-11 hours I estimated so thought I would leave around 6am giving myself a buffer.
The guy next door was off at 4 am and although he was quiet I was basically awake and ready to go. Tried to go back to sleep to wait for my alarm but in the end decided to get on the road early.
The ride down the westcoast at 5 in the morning with horizontal torrential rain and wind that was blowing bits of tree across the road was somewhat challenging. The only other vehicles I saw before I got to Punakaika were milk tankers all sensible people were still tucked up in bed.
 Got to Boddytown and turned round in the layby where the checkpoint was thinking I had missed it. Some other bikes arrived just as I was leaving so other people on early starts.

 Got to shantytown just as day was braking but the rain didn’t seem to be giving up. Back into Greymouth then off to Dobson .

 Over the river towards blackball where the heavens opened again. Got stuck behind a milk tanker who thoughtfully pulled over when he could to let me past on what was now more like a river than a road. Quick stop there then off to pike river nearly missed that one hidden behind a substation in the middle of nowhere but a very nice memorial to the poor victims of the pike river disaster.

Next stop was a 1000 pointer Waiuta. A disused historic mine the last 6 kms of what were gravel so not sure what conditions to expect with the rain, but I guessed this is pretty normal weather for this part of the country.
The road turned out to be quiet narrow and winding therefore slow at least for me. Meet a few bike coming back as I was heading in including KoroJ and his posse.
Anyway the ride out seemed much quicker except when I meet a camper van who thought he should have all the road, good job I was going slow.

Next stop Reefton for gas. Filled up the out to Italian Creek for another 100 pts. Then quick stop at blacks point then over the Lewis pass one of the best motorcycling road in the country.

Two nice easy 400 pts across the pass at Marble Hill and Glynn Wye Station. The temperature coming over the summit of the pass got very cold but nice warm hands that to my rain off gloves thanks Pauline ! ( Birthday prezzy from wife ).

Finally got my wets off at Glynn Wye and the weather was starting to look much better.
Next stop Hamner .  GPS sent me off around the back of Hamner then wanted me to turm up gated paths through a wooded area. Something not right here so got my book out and looked and though I needed to get to other side of this wooded are if poss. Very busy in Hamner as always so stopped at a shop and asked a local for some help. Was only 2 streets away so able to get that one in the bag for another 400pts.

Next it was off to jail at Waiau .  Meet up with Ross here who I had lunch with in Westport the previous day.

 We basically has the same checkpoints from here on. Headed north now for Goose Bay where 3000 pts were on offer. Got our photos I was running short of gas but had plenty of time up my sleeve so decided to head up to Kaikoura for more gas and lunch. Only needed another 400 pts to qualify While at Goose bay meet up with another group who had GPS problems. They had the same (Chinese) gps that I did and they had died. I had the same problem with mine that doesn’t become evident until about 6 hours continual use. It happened twice with me once doing the C1KC ( 1000km ) run last year and again when I did a trial run using the North island TT checkpoint about 6 weeks ago. I came to the conclusion that the system cannot get enough power from the bike to keep the battery topped up. I ended up buying a spare battery that only takes a minute to swap over when it dies not ideal but you get what you pay ( maybe a Garmin Zumo for xmas from the wife !!! ) .

I planned a nice cruise down to the finish picking up Gore Bay and Motunau on the way.
Pulled down into Gore Bay where I saw Ross at the side of the the road, I stopped to what was going on only to find his battery had gone flat but he had got a jump start off a passing car and was good to go. We both got to gore bay when his bike died again. He has some loose tools under the seat and suspected a spanner has shorted across the battery.
We took the seat and covers off my bike in a bid to get him going again, luckily he had a set off jumper leads with him. Left them connected for a while but no life in his bike at all. We waved down a local guy on his quad bike and asked for help. He was more than happy to go back and get his utu to try something more grunty to get some life in his battery. Didn’t look good Ross told me to go and gave me his details so I could let Mike know he would not be finishing, add to that no cell phone coverage etc he was working on a plan to get home the Greymouth.

My time was ticking away now I decided to have a stop add up my points to make sure I have meet the 35000 target, I had so decided to head straight for the finish.
The skies above Christchurch were looking very black. As I was within a few Kms of the finish we had a huge hail storm that actually hurt your arms while riding in it. I decided to pull over in a shop awning and either sit it out or get my wet gear back on again.
Hail stopped a soon as it started text home to tell them I had just about finished and then made my way down to Hamptons for the finish.
Felt pretty tired now but had a warm welcome from Andrew and got photos downloaded then hit the very welcome BBQ.  Andrew had a good run and looked more alert than I felt !!

Not long after getting into my second sausage off the Barbie was great to see Ross pull up on his bike. After 15 mins connected to the ute it seems all was well with his bike so great to see him finish after flat battery so close to the finish. Meet up with lots of great people who all had a great time over the weekend.  There was board of people who were not going to make it to the finish for one reason or another great that none of them were due to injury’s though.
Went off to check in to my room for the night and got a call from another rider Graeme for Levin who I had swapped notes and ideas with during the planning stages. I was only 5 mins away so back on the bike and spent a bit of time with him. Graeme had started in the North Island so had the ferry to contend with I chose to avoid that and do my run wholly in the South Island. He also had a great time and without incident so all good.

Can’t wait for next year I think I have even talked my mate Steve to come over from the UK to do it with me J


  1. Great stuff Phil! Man you were lucky with that pannier! I guess the Connie was easy to recognise in the fog - I remember seeing another bike but damned if I could tell it was you! You sure did a lot of riding in the blackness - practising for a certain 1,600km ride eh?

    Funny you thought that I looked pretty fresh. I was only about a quarter of an hour earlier than you getting in but I did feel really good and could have ridden on if need be. I put it down to drinking heaps of water on all the days. If you don't have a camel-bak then I highly recommend you get one - I drained mine completely (2L) on both Saturday and Sunday, hardly ate during the day but felt great!

    1. Hi Andrew. Yes up for the 1600km later in the year.The reason I kept going was that I still felt fresh but was concerned at how slowly I seemed to be clocking up the Kms. I dont mind riding in the dark however rain fog and un known roads just add to the mix..
      Did have a camel back in my tank bag but had a leak so gave up with that in the end, will find a better solution next time.
      Anyway great time, great people, great roads, what else could you ask for :)

  2. Great trip report Phil, I see your another nutty like andrew. Riding through the whole night now thats hardcore.
    You couldn't do that with any degree of safety here in oz as there is too much wildlife, unless you have a death wish.

  3. Nutty aye LOL. Had great fun been reading your blog on your trip over so you will understand how lucky we are with roads down south. Only a few rabbits and possums to contend with overnight. No Roo,s like you guys !! Did come across a few sheep but they were well trained and got out the way whereas the north island sheep tend to target your bike !