Saturday 17 October 2015

North Island 1600

The NI1600 ride is organised by a group called NZ Distance Riders .
The ride is an endurance ride to ride 1609 km,s ( 1000miles) in 24 Hours.
This type of ride is quite common in the US but they do seem to have a multitude of freeways where it is possible to keep your moving average at a respectable pace.
This year’s ride is also being certified by the Iron Butt Association as a SS1600 Ride
Little old New Zealand on the other hand has very few major motorway type road except around the main cities . From looking at past routes of these types of rides in NZ they seem to run on mainly minor less used roads and even their fair share of goat tracks !
I soon realised that this ride was more about strategy and planning than just getting on the bike without a good idea of where I needed to be at any time during the 24 hour period.
I had done some long distance rides before but about 1100 km’s in one day was my longest and if my memory serves me well I was extremely tired at the end of that.
I started doing some practice rides and monitored both my moving  average  and overall average , it soon became apparent that even a small stop would take a fair amount of catch up time so for me the key would be keep the stops small and then a moderate pace on the road would suffice , this for me is far less stressful over such a long period.
I decided that I would ride the ride on my own, it was recommended that we should try and group up in case of an emergency however I didn’t want to find myself riding at a pace that I was not happy with.
I made the choice to ride my trusty 22 year old Yamaha FJ1200 . Although a bit long in the tooth compared to the modern machinery the FJ can still eat up distances without too much effort. I did a couple of mods specifically for this ride one was to rewire the headlamp and heavy duty wiring via relays straight from the battery, this made a huge difference to the headlight output that on a bike of this age is never going to be great. I also added a couple of small 10 watt LED units that came on with main beam and did a good job of lighting up the whole road great when on the twisties in the dead of night.

The ride was due to start Saturday at 1pm . I rode up to Turangi on the Friday morning. The sun was shining and all was good I decided to take the longer but more enjoyable ride up the Para Para’s . The road had been quiet badly damaged in places by the flood a few months back and there were parts that were down to one lane. Never a bad ride up the Para’s though so got the Ride HQ about 12.30.
There were about 5 or 6 others there so went to check in and find out what I needed to do. Was issued with my rider card this told me what time my start was, the rider were let loose on groups of around ten at 3 minute intervals. Then off to get the FJ scrutineered .  Bike all checked over and passed with flying colours. Long John said he was wondering if my bike would be ok !  me being a mechanic by trade ! 

  Had a good chat with some of the other guys then decided to go and check in to my room and have a rest.  Big part of my plan was to get well rested properly hydrated and nourished before the ride, so an hours nap was a good start.
Got a message from Andrew ( Banditrider) inviting me to join him and his mate Neil for dinner in town so tootled off to town.
There were about 20 or so other riders and organisers at the pub having dinner before the route was revealed at 7 PM.
Everyone assembled at Ride HQ for the route details and briefing on some of the roads. The route looked good to me avoiding the major cities although a lot of roads I had never been on and by my reckoning they be mainly ridden at night !
The route had 10 checkpoints that we needed to visit. Some of these were manned checkpoints where marshals were there to check everyone had passed through their time and could assess if riders needed to take a rest or even pull out. The other checkpoints needed a digital picture to be taken with your bike in it.
I got back to my room and started plotting the route on my laptop. Didn’t take long my software told me it was 1635 km,s and would take 22.5 hours. I loaded all checkpoints to my GPS and drew the route on my map as a backup if GPS failed. I wrote the time my routing software said I should be at each checkpoint to monitor my progress throughout the ride.
I had a shower phoned my wife sent her and my mate Ed in England a copy of my route as they we re following my Spot satellite tracker.
Asleep by 9.30 and had a great sleep waking at 8.45 next day. Breakfast filled bike with gas plus spare jerry can I decided to carry and off to the start and wait for 1.06pm my groups start time.
I had some various food to eat on the way cut up some apples into small chunks . Small mini choc chip cookies nuts raisins and almonds and plenty to drink.

Start time soon arrived and we were off heading down the parapara,s the reverse way I had ridden on my way up yesterday.
We got to Upokongaro the first manned checkpoint about 10 mins ahead of schedule. I ended up following another rider who riding a similar pace to myself so was happy to settle in behind him. At the checkpoint took my photo and ready to head off.

Second CP was at Mangamahu Rd down the Fordell to Hunterville Road. Stopped for second checkpoint and took photo.

 Had a chat with the guy I was riding with who was going to stop in Hunterville for fuel , I decided to carry on as I had a different plan. I suspected that a lot of riders would be stopping at Hunterville and there is only one gas station with a couple of pumps so I decide I would put my extra fuel in aat the next checkpoint and fuel up at Whanganui. While on the  Hunterville road I tagged on behind Mr & Mrs Hitcher with another guy on a BMW behind me. We went road a fairly sharp right hander to be confronted by some very ugly looking loose gravel. I straightened up the bike as much as I could but the front slid out ,I was able to get a foot down and was able to save it all slow motion stuff ! The guy following me said he thought I was over when we spoke at next checkpoint. I later learnt that 2 people had come off at the same corner but no injury or major damage.
Third Checkpoint was Pemberton Corner  the road up to hear was again very winding and technical. Filled up gas tank with gerry can took picture and headed off toward Cheltenham .

Forth CP was at Halcombe where there were about 6 or 7 other riders taking a break so quick picky something to eat and drink and back on the road. Next stop was not a CP but a fuel only stop in Wanganui. 3 min stop and off again.

Lovely ride around the Taranaki coast with the sun setting was great next checkpoint was Oakura just outside new Plymouth. This was a manned checkpoint so checked in with marshall topped up with fuel and was busting for the toilet so rushed there. In my haste to get on the road I forgot to get my photo, to make things worse I didn’t realise this until I got To Raglan the next CP far too late to return. Would I be disqualified felt a bit disappointed but thought well I know that I have been there I have my spot track and the marshal has sighted me and signed me in should be ok ??
The road to Raglan was new to me the GPS seemed to be a bit confused so I stopped to consult my map. A bike stopped next to me to see if I was lost , it turned out to be Chris who I knew from some previous 1000Km rides I had done. He was also having some GPS issues so maybe this is one of those black hole areas you can get with GPS systems sometimes. I tagged along with Chris although his Multistrada was a bit more capable on these roads than the old FJ. We got to Raglan had a chat then headed off.

 I just followed my GPS that I am sure took me on the route that was shortest rather than fastest any way saw no one else until I eventually got to the expressway .
Next CP was another manned one at Bombay. At this point I was still about half an hour ahead of my schedule . I asked the marshal if I was one of the last through but he said only half the field had been through so far so I was happy with that. Bumped into Chris again and we soon headed off towards the Coromandel for the next one.

The ride from Thames up the western side of the Coromandel I found very hard Chris pulled away and I found myself having to stop clean my visor and just catching my breath. By the time I got to Te Rerenga Chris and another rider were taking their photos and I felt a lot better after a stretch something to eat and a toilet stop.

I seemed to have gained my second wind and felt in really good form as we headed across to Kuaotuna . Here I saw Andrew,s Connie parked on the side of the road. The Bike was upright and looked ok so I assumed he was taking a rest . Turned out he was feeling crook so made the best decision to get some rest then see how he felt .Andrew Ride Report Here
Next checkpoint was Whangamata we had to head into town and find the Z petrol station drove straight passed it first time luckly doig a U turn at 4.30 in the morning not a problem !!

Next stop was going to be a fuel stop at Waihi. I was still riding with Chris and we had a good time buffer so decided a longer stop at the gas stop a coffee and pie to recharge the batteries a bit before heading off to Rotorua the last manned checkpoint.

Only one more checkpoint left to go that was Ohura out in the middle of nowhere. The Waimiha and Ohura Roads I found tiring after 1400 kms covered they were both in fairly bad condition.

From here was a fairly relaxed ride back to HQ we did it in 22.25 hours so the plan worked out as planned.
I actually felt very good much better that I thought I might. Had something to eat checked in my photos had a chat with some of the other guys. People soon started departing and I had a nap then felt ok to ride home about another 3.5 hours.

So what a great weekend . Meet some great people who all share the same passion for being on two wheels.
So will I do it again ?? While riding around the Coromandel , I had moments I questioned what the hell I was doing but I will be back again next year.
A final huge thanks to all the organisers and helpers for putting together such a great weekend J


  1. Good stuff Phil! Congrats on your first big day!

    1. You can take the blame for me getting into this after reading your blog :)

    2. You can take the blame for me getting into this after reading your blog :)

  2. What a challenge. Longest I've done is 1200 in a day on easy roads. My arse, wrists and back thought I'd done 2000! Nice one Phil. Cheers, James

    1. You will be able to do it on the BMW by next year James :)

  3. Nice effort Phil and good write up. Looks like it was a mental game as much as a physical one. Congrats mate.

    1. Not sure if its a mental game or you need to be mental !!!! Either way had a great time :)

  4. Hi Phil Great write up mate. The Ducati has been moved on for a new ST in black due to a main bearing failure at 38,000 km and 4 years old -nice bike to to ride but......
    See you on Saturday for the 1KC.

    1. Hi Chris. Shame about the Ducati sound expensive ? Do you have the yellow stripes on the ST yet ? See you Saturday

  5. I was thinking green stripes actually.