Hamilton 1KC - 2018, the ride.
There's already been a post about the planning for this ride: Hamilton 1KC - planning.
This was quite an intricate route again, with some specific expectations listed in the ride instructions which were missed the very first time I simply threw the check-point coordinates into GoogleMaps. I think John Maroulis had been the lead planner on this one again (he also set the NI1600 route), and he clearly had a few nice sections of some more minor roads in mind for us.
The way which I tend to try to cater for these specific directions is to use BaseCamp, and to add route shaping points into the route on the computer, then to create a track from that detailed, planned route (once a track, it doesn't ever change - and it can be set to be displayed as an overlay on the bike GPS unit, so that you can see whether the offered route follows exactly where you had intended to go). That's the theory anyway, and it does work reasonably well (in general terms). We had some further learnings on this point during our ride which I'll share with you later on in this ride report.
Anyway, having completed the detailed route planning, and then adjusting the riding speed averages in basecamp; figuring out where we could stop for fuel (with our ~280km tank ranges), then adding stopping times in at reasonable points in the ride - to give the ladies enough time to powder their noses and have a quick feed... we had what we thought was a reasonably set plan for the ride.
I then went and created our planning sheet in Excel from the checkpoint details in basecamp's route.
We had two bikes; I was on my C14, and my very good friend Luke was on his ZX-14R. We were both lucky enough to have the company of our wives on this trip, Stella on the back of me, and Tania (TK) on the back of Luke. This was the first organised LD ride which any of them had been on, so our focus and priority for the weekend was to make sure that we all had a good time, to try to keep things comfotable and fun. Even so, we had only set 3 minute photo stops, and 5 min re-fuelling stops for the most part, with only two extended stops across the whole 1000km trip, one for mid-morning eats around Thames, and another at 4pm at Wairakei (since the BP there does good food and coffee). Our planned overall stopping time was 1:04hrs across the whole ride, with 12:00 moving time, the route we had set was 1013km.
We ended up taking 12:05hrs for the ride, with just under 11 hours riding time and 1:14hrs stoppage. During this we went off-course for 17.7km adding 11:40mins to the ride which we didn't otherwise need (I'll explain this later - it has something to do with those 'tracks' and the learnings).
This is the NZ Distance Riders '1KC' - "1,000km Cruise". It is one of about three major LD events organised each year in NZ, with this one being the least formal, most fun, cruisy style of LD ride. There is no bike scrutineering, but they do check your checkpoint photos and they award finishers badges and certificates for those who complete the ride. They do not check any ODO readings, it's more about getting a relaxed feel for what LD riding is all about. The organisers create two routes, one starting in Hamilton, the other centered around Wellington, there were approximately 50 or so riders registered in the Hamilton event, and I presume similar numbers for Wellington.
There were 8 photo checkpoints for us to go and collect, the photos are required to show your bikes in the photo, along with the required background.
They gave us a piece of tape to attach to our bike so that we were identifiable on the road to other riders.
I have to explain some of these as it looks like we're being a little bit daft - we were aiming to get 'jumping' photos, but clearly we're neither young or trendy enough to be able to pull that off properly, instead we just look dumb... 🙂 - All part of 'keeping it fun'...
Doing the ride...
The four of us rode down to Hamilton on Friday afternoon after work, the weather had been looking a little dubious with some rain due that evening, with this in mind we were trying to get to Hamilton before the rain hit, gladly we managed that. We'd booked in for two nights at the 'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - The VR Hamilton' so after checking in and parking the bikes up for the night we hit the town for a couple of drinks, some food and then an early night.
We left the hotel the next morning at 6am, getting to the start point a little before 06:15am, checked in, signed our disclaimers, tied our ribbons to our bike, got the GPS ready to go, reset all of the trip meters etc, kicked off Rever's ride tracking and set off at 0629am. There were a number of others who had come through before us and were already on the road.
It was a little damp on the roads to start with, this lasted through to CP1, Whangamata Area School. It was a little chilly, 12degrees in some parts, and this created a little bit of a vision problem for Luke and his inner visor, coupled with the low morning sun, and our easterly heading this made some of the riding a little more difficult than ideal. Despite this, it wasn't long until we settled into a nice rythm. We arrived at CP1 at 0750 - 10 mins ahead of our planned arrival time (taking into account our earlier than expected start). 5:30mins later we left. - Not bad for our first stop, with photos involved, and taking painkillers etc... - Well done Team Kawasaki! Onwards!
Next was the start of the Coro-Loop, north of Whangamata, and up Kuanotunu, before heading over the top of the hills and down to Coromandel township. This is a lovelly bit of road, super twisty in spots, and it was still patchy and damp in places where the sun hadn't quite managed to reach yet. We got to CP2 at 0901, 12 mins ahead of our planned time, so the route planning and timing at this point was looking pretty good. It's always best to be a little bit in-front if you can, you feel like you're banking time which you then have options to apply later on in the day to other things. 5 mins for this stop this time, so we're starting to get quicker at turning things around. 🙂 - Excellent.
Our next stop was a combination stop in Tapu, first the checkpoint and then the nearby fuel stop (a little station in the middle of nowhere; a Waitomo-Fuel pump). The photo portion of the stop lasted only 3 mins, and we had allowed 15 mins for the fuel but when then we found that they only had 91 octane fuel and Luke doesn't use that in his ZX-14R. So I quickly filled up, and we headed off for another 17km into Thames to find a larger fuel station for Luke. 4.5 mins for my fuel stop and a further 14mins in Thames. As we came into Thames, it was clear that something odd was going on; it turned out to be a 3-4 day "Steam Punk Festival", we saw a heap of people dressed up in odd clothing, initially we thought it must have been a Santa parade...
As we know on these LD rides, it's the stopping which often creates the blow-outs against the planned route timings as that stopped time is really very hard to recover on the road. It's also not the way which I prefer to keep my overall times down, I'd rather stop for less time, and keep on cruising at reasonable speeds on the road. Anyway, this was shaping up to be an excellent day, the weather had turned itself on for us now and we were having a lot of fun!
Shortly after Thames, things started to go awry with my navigation. - Thames is shown right at the top, centre of the map below. The blue line is what we did, the Green line shows the track which we should have taken...
You can see how complicated the routes are when they overlap in a figure of 8 or worse, when you're on a road which you've already traveled down, and the two tracks overlap, showing as the same colour, following the correct tail out of that section of road is complicated, especially if the navigational directions on the GPS are also telling you to go the different way... In our case, one of the tracks and the GPS directions were both pointing south towards Tahuna, then the directions were likely pointing us towards Waihou, (which I then ignored) as it was a variation from the track... You can see we followed the route way too far back west and into Morrinsville before I realised we were off course, so then we took some active measures to try to get back on track and headed east before accepting signs to Matamata... All the way down into Matamata I was really struggling to find the easterly track on the GPS at all. It was only when the track converged with our current route that I could see it coming in through Matamata... 17.7km and ~12mins out of our way... Never mind, I have learnt..
If it's not clear why this is difficult then consider that the GPS always thinks it knows best, it will always tell you the shortest or the fastest path to where you want to go. - You can try to lay a route out with shaping points, but using a pre-determined route to navigate through on the GPS is fraught with other issues, least of which is that it continues to want to re-calculate better options for you... Which is why we use Tracks, and overlay them on the map. - The only problem is, you can't use tracks to navigate along roads easily either, it just doesn't work. So you have to use the visual track, and the auto-generated routing recommendations together, and manually notice whenever the Track varies from the visual route on the GPS - which is tricky as the GPS only typically shows you ~ 150m-200m of the road ahead of you at any given point in time.
This means that you have to be continuously scanning your GPS to see if the little green track line wanders off the suggested route, and if it does, you have to trust it over what your GPS is otherwise telling you to do - that's the WHOLE point of showing the track... That's the fundamental approach which you have to live by when you're riding and there's a lot already going on.
It got complicated, I stuffed up, I was unable to do everything which was being asked of me while riding and instructing Luke who had taken the lead at this point, was pushing the pace a little too, lots of traffic etc etc. - all too hard, we followed the wrong green line. Then struggled to find the correct one again.
When creating a complex track of a route which crosses over-itself, ensure that you break the track into segments or legs, be clear about which leg you're on in the routing sheet which is in the tank bag, and only turn one track on at a time, ideally also pre-assign different colours to the legs, and know which colour you're following too. This way we would have been green on the way out and up, and red on the way back down... Simple. We didn't do it. We will next time.
With hindsight, we should have been following a track which looked a lot more like this:
Problem solved. 🙂
Ok, so with that minor diversion out of the way, we got back 'on track' and found our way down SH1 (the worst part of the whole ride as it was busy, blocked with double yellow lines, and full of people who weren't 'driving' but were just sitting in a slow-moving, single lane convoy (as is the way with a lot of NZ's single lane, national highways now). Things got much much better once we were south of Tokoroa, and heading down some of the more minor roads, the little deliberate detour down 'Tram Road' was particularly pretty, and we arrived at CP4 at 12:37, which was 19 mins ahead of time, so that diversion didn't really hurt us that much at all. We were still doing 5-minute stops, but by this point it was clear that we were more than making up for those slightly extended stops during the riding portions. And, we were having fun - which was the main thing!
CP5 was down western access which we arrived at, at 1:17pm, 28 mins ahead of schedule. This may have been our quickest stop of the day with only 1.5 mins taken here. 🙂
CP6A was a fuel stop, not far from there where we diverted 1.2km off our route to fill up at Omori, a tiny little shop and GAS fuel station which is only open during shop hours. This was pretty neat though because doing this here saved us from needing to make another fuel stop elsewhere. We only had to stop 3x for fuel across our 1000km trip. 🙂
CP6 was in Ohakune at the Carrot. - More photos of us trying to jump which didn't work out very well... Arr 2:22pm, almost 40 mins ahead of schedule. Then over the Desert Rd, back up around the other side of Lake Taupo, the views were stunning, and up to the BP at Wairakei where we had a planned 20 min stop. - We stopped for 26mins. 🙂 Arr 3:51pm and left at 4:17pm - we arrived 50 mins ahead of time, so we were looking really good at this point for a ~12 hour ride.
The up through to CP7 which was at the turning for Orakeikorako Rd - this was another very brief stop for us, we managed this photo stop in 1.5 mins. 🙂 - Team Kawasaki were becoming pros at this photo-checkpoint lark! 🙂
Then North around Rotorua (again, traffic!) up to Lake Rotoiti area, for our final checkpoint which we managed to ride past, and U-turn for - I was expecting this on the RHS of the road, but it ended up being on the Left. - Luke was leading again and also over-shot this. Another brief 2 min stop here (55 mins ahead of our plan).
The ride back over to Hamilton was a nice cruise, we'd pretty much accomplished what we had set out to - certainly on the way back in the feeling of achieving it had already well set in. Celebratory, on-bike selfies being taken as we rode through the streets of Hamilton to get back to the pub.
We arrived back at around 18:35hrs, just a smidgen over 12hrs after we had left, which for three LD virgins, a navigator who gets lost, and two bikes is pretty good going. We felt like we'd achieved it well and held it all together well. The lady pillions had a great time, there were lots of beaming smiles and high fives once we arrived back. Stella even through some confetti up in the air as we pulled back into the pub carpark!
We all had a ball, TK was even heard talking about 'next time' and what she'd do differently! 🙂 - A true sign of a successful, and enjoyable ride.
Once we got back to the hotel and showered, we were off into town again for some food and some celebratory drinks. 🙂