Every year for maybe the last 9 years, we have done the pilgrimage to The Battle of the Streets, a motorcycle race event in Paeroa which is a small farming town in the Thames Valley. Every year for over 16 years, the event has not had to deal with rain and in spite of a wet summer, February 19th 2012 was no different.
We often make the weekend a special occasion, and this year we stayed overnight at Jono and Hayley’s bach at Tairua. We were not able to get away early as we had various morning commitments; in my case it was the last day of the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ annual conference in Auckland. To complicate things, my BMW K1200s was still in for service of the ESA rear suspension. I had bought a second hand unit from the US, but the BMW dealership had not been able to calibrate the unit. Andre was taking his son Jordan on his Yamaha XJR1200, and he kindly loaned me his Ducati 916, my first long ride on this classic bike.
We met at Justin’s place at Beachlands then picked up Tony at Maraetai. Tony owns our favourite cafe, The Maraetai Wharf Cafe http://www.menumania.co.nz/restaurants/maraetai-wharf-store and he joined us on his Honda Fury. You might think it is a strange mix of bikes but it worked well.
As usual we rode down the Pohutukawa Coast to Kaiaua and across the plains to Kopu before crossing over the mountains to Tairua. I was impressed with Tony’s riding as he dealt with scraping footpegs on the winding roads, but managed to keep up a respectable pace.
The first of two videos is our first experiment, filmed from the pillion footpegs of Jono’s Tenere. Forgive the light interference as the sun was setting behind us, but in this and the next video you will get some idea of the roads we enjoy.
Fish and chips on the estuary at Tairua was done as the sun set over the hills, with beautiful clear skies and brilliant colours. Tony also picked up a spectacular sunrise on his phone camera.
After breakfast at The Old Mill Cafe in Tairua, we were keen to “hit the road” as we planned to take the southern part of the Coromandel Loop through Whangamata and Waihi, coming back into Paeroa through the fabulous Karangahake Gorge. This was the real test of riding the 916 on a road with wide sweeping forest roads followed by narrow winding bush roads. I can only say that as Justin and I pushed on ahead to enjoy these roads, I was able to fully understand why the 916 is such a legend. The bike tips into corners effortlessly and the power delivery is responsive. What it lacks in power against my K1200s it makes up with control.
The Paeroa races were generally good, although not as good as previous years, mainly due to a smaller field in all classes, but good enough. It is always amazing to see the superbikes scream past you in the main streets of Paeroa at 270 km/hr.
We also enjoyed seeing Kevin Grant’s Britten along with Andrew Stroud in attendance. At the NZIA conference I had met Girgit Singh Maharood, a world renowned architect from India who has seen every Britten except this one but he was unable to go to Paeroa to see this bike which won the World BEARS series (British, European, American Racing Series) in 1995.
The trip home was equally enjoyable, to be with good friends and to ride beautiful bikes on spectacular roads; we are lucky people.