Our 2-Up+1 Winter Solstice, Saddlesore 1600K ride for the puppies.


Some of you will be aware of the fundraising efforts which we had been putting in alongside the preparation for this ride: another blog post was written about all of that, along with various links here: https://www.wiltshire.net/2019/06/20/preparation-and-links-for-our-saddlesore-fundraiser-2019/

Our ‘2-Up+1’ ride included Stella (pillion) and myself (rider) on our Kawasaki Concours 1400, and Luke Mitchell on his Kawasaki ZX-14R (also a 1400cc bike). This is the second rider and pillion Saddlesore which I’ve done with Stella, and Luke’s first Saddlesore. This is the third fundraiser ride which we’ve done for the benefit of Aran Animal Rescue. – There’s a heap of information on who Aran are and what they do, listed on the fundraising page (if you’re interested in reading more).

So, this is our ride report – it focuses on the actual road-trip, the experiences and our accomplishment of finishing the ride (spoiler alert – we made it back safely). 🙂

Our planned route, anti-clockwise.

The crew having made it back unscathed.

The crew, having made it back unscathed.

View all photos (shared iCloud, web library)

Our ride timings:

Fri Jun 21, 2019

  • Afternoon: Chris takes the afternoon off work and Luke turns up at home to stay over the night in prep for an early start.
  • 8:40pm Moonrise

Sat Jun 22nd, 2019

  • 3:30am Ride Dept
  • 3:51am Winter Solstice
  • 7:33am Sunrise
  • 10:57am Moonset
  • 5:11pm Sunset
  • 9:37pm Moonrise

Sun Jun 23rd, 2019

  • 3:30am Ride finish by…

Friday afternoon

We had always planned for Luke to travel up to our place in the afternoon on Friday, but we weren’t expecting him until late in the afternoon. We were surprised when we had a call from him just after 2pm saying that he was on his way. Laughing, I joked about how he probably got booted out at home for being annoyingly excited, so we called TK to check in on her – yup, he’d been kicked out for having ants in his pants and TK wanted some peace. Well, that’s how TK told the story anyway… Luke said that he left home early, casually telling TK that he was ‘just popping down the road to go and pick up some Milk…’. (More on this later…)

When Luke got here we used the extra time to run through some final things and to make sure that everything was as it needed to be in order to put the bikes away for the night. I cleaned my lights, we put a little extra air into Luke’s front tyre, packed up some of the food goodies into the bike’s bags etc. I had already been charging-up all of the devices and had mounted and re-waterproofed things like the charging cables for the GPS and camera units with electrical tape, I’d re-fitted Stella’s AirHawk seat pad onto the pillion seat on the C14 and we’d packed all of the tools, puncture repair kit, air compressor, spare fuel, dry-bag with a change of clothes etc into the top-box and tank bag.

Friday - Prep in the garage, almost ready!

Friday – Prep in the garage, almost ready!

So with that, we were ready to shut the garage door and head inside to chill out and run through the final parts of prep on our phones. Luke had already installed SWConnect, in order to create a ‘SPOT Track‘ on SpotWalla.com – this is a system which the IBA is happy to rely upon as a source of truth for GPS based tracking. Since it receives location points in real time, and since this can be checked, they are happy to trust this when verifying rides. It’s a critical part of making sure that the NZ based routes are known to have been taken so that mapping tools can be used and relied upon to determine the mileage ridden.

Once we were done, we turned to chilling out and having some Pizza…

Pizza on Friday night

Pizza on Friday night

After which we sat down to watch the weather forecast. It had been iffy all week with the forecast changing quite dramatically, we’d been watching it from about 10 days out and knew that there was substantial weather around, that there was an expected southerly blast (cold) coming in during the few days prior to our ride, and that there was another patch of low pressure coming in behind it, but there was a small window of static, level pressure which we were hoping would settle in for the Saturday. Initially, it had seemed like it might be too good to be true, but we were hopeful.

So there you have it, the forecast confirmed that the possibility of rain during our ride had subsided and that the steady, wind-less flat pressure area had arrived, hopefully providing us with a nice clear day-time ride. We were elated.

From the chatter is was clear that we were all excited, and worried that we might not sleep, we came up with a plan to have ‘just a couple of beers’, followed by a dip in the warm spa pool, then off to bed for an early night.

Well, it was a good plan, and we enjoyed the Pizza and Beers, along with the spa, but I can’t say it helped me particularly much to fall asleep. We set the alarm for 2am, and hit the sack at around 10pm, even then I couldn’t sleep, not properly anyway. I did have periods when I nodded off, but I was just way to excited to be able to switch my brain off and sleep… I remember thinking through everything we needed to do in the morning and came up with two things which I’d overlooked doing on Friday which I’d need to do in the morning. When the alarm went off, I couldn’t initially remember what they were 🙂 – Typical hey!

Stella was straight up and out of bed, she was in charge of the beans on toast for the three of us which we all sat down to scoff just before 2:30am. We were ahead of our planned time as we managed to be in the garage, mounting the bikes to leave at 2:45am, which was great, because, on the way over the Warkworth the trip was a little slower than expected since we were riding through some unexpected light-fog. It was slightly colder than we’d hoped with temperatures at around 8deg C.

Ready, set, go...

Ready, set, go…

Since we got to the petrol station earlier than planned, we ended up standing around for a while, I went to speak to the station attendant and explained what we were doing so that he didn’t become concerned about us loitering at the pumps, and not filling up. – Since the IBA ride clock starts when you get your receipt, it’s worth taking a little time at this point to perform all of the pre-ride things you’ve got to do, like re-setting the GPS computer’s trip-meter, re-starting the Rever ride track, ensuring that the first navigation points are entered into both the Garmin, and also into the iPhone’s TomTom GO app, getting the ride log book out, resetting the bike’s Trip-A display and recording the bike’s Odometer reading.

During this time, we had the local constabulary visit the petrol station and fill up, they were friendly and chatty and took an interest in the bikes. Luke decided to tell them the whole and unfiltered story about what we were up to, the distance which we were planning on doing and the timeframes in which we were doing it. – They were interested and asked if that meant that they’d see us passing them at 200k shortly. – Luke explained to them that the IBA don’t allow that, and that we’re expected to be well behaved and not speed. – Nothing about not doing it because it’s just plain illegal!!! 🙂 Anyway, they were friendly and wished us all the best for our ride before they headed off in the same direction we were about to go.

Then it’s a case of waiting until just before you want to head out before starting to fill the tank and pay. Stella was on ‘photographer’ duties with strict instructions to take clear photos of the starting receipts and our bike’s Odometer display. This is a requirement of the IBA’s premier member’s ride verification process, it’s a key part of the evidence which they require to show the bikes involved and is required from the start and the end points on the ride.

Looking calm and positive.

Luke’s starting ODO

Chris’ starting ODO

Formally, for the record, here were the ride’s start readings: Chris’ starting ODO: 54,680, Luke’s starting ODO: 56,423

Warkworth – START @3:24am receipt, 3:30am dept

It almost goes without saying, that leaving Warkworth at 3:30am means that the roads are going to be quiet. There was virtually nothing else on the road until we got much further south. When we came through the Johnstones Hill Tunnels there was absolutely no one around, which meant that we could rejoice in the sounds of our people through the long, thin music-halls without bothering anyone.

When we passed the Constellation Drive junction we gave TK a quick beep in case she was up watching to see us pass on the motorway.

Auckland city was particularly pretty and the view over the harbour was really clear, the city lights always look really nice over the water. Beyond the city the road was clear-flowing all the way down to the Bombay Hills.

Waikato – Hitting the Fog

Temperatures dropped through to 5:30am from 8 to just 2 degrees C on the Waikato Expressway. From Mercer through Huntly, Te Kowhai, Otorohanga and through to Te Kuiti it was foggy, with patchy wet roads.

Luke had a bit of an issue with moisture on the outside of the visor from the fog he got pretty used to having to wipe his visor with his glove, at some points as frequently as every second. When the fog got thick and his visibility dropped, it was all he could do to follow my tail-lights. I, on the other hand, was extremely lucky to have my raised wind-screen on the Concours which diverted all of the moist air away from me and my helmet. I could see fine because my helmet was clear.

As we neared Te Kuiti, Luke’s moisture issue became so bad that it started dripping down from the top of his visor on the inside of his helmet too. No degree of wiping was going to help that. Paper towels at the petrol station sorted it out (for now).

Despite this, good progress was being made and we turned up at the Te Kuiti fuel stop about 5-6 minutes early.

Stop 1 – Te Kuiti – 6:10am

When we arrived at the BP, we kicked into action: Tank bag off, start filling, change the destination on the GPS, load the next stop into the TomTom GO app. Ask Stella to help by getting some extra layers out of the dry bag. Go and pay, get a receipt. Return to the bike and start filling out the paperwork, Odometer reading, time and receipt into the log book. Reset the Trip A display on my console. Get changed, put the extra layer on, wait for the others to come back from the toilet. – Helmet back on, check in with the others, a quick chat with the action cam rolling… Get ready to head out and leave. All within about 7 minutes.

Things were going pretty well, all of us were pretty up-beat. Luke seemed happy that he’d managed to dry his visor off properly using paper towels.

Stel put her extra glove liners into her gloves. She seemed pretty happy to be bopping away to music in her helmet while Luke and I chatted over the helmet comms. What we’ve all got are some pretty basic helmet comms units (ordered in from eBay), they’re excellent for what they cost, and as a group they’ve been exceptional for a first set, but they are a little limited in that you can only talk to just one other person at a time. At some point in the future we might invest in some which are a bit more flexible but for now they’ve really enhanced our group rides.

Heading off, through Waitomo area and beyond 8 mile junction then through to Piopio the fog got far, far worse. Visibility dropped to ~100m, the fog significantly thickened, and temperatures dropped further. 1, 0 … -1 degree C.

Shortly before the Awakino gorge, we had to stop to wipe the inside of Luke’s visor again. We didn’t have paper towels but instead used one of my microfibre cloths which didn’t really help as it didn’t dry it fully, it just streaked it a bit. Again, luke unable to see anything beyond my tail lights, having to wipe the outside of his visor with his glove every second or so, constant wiping… This wasn’t Not much fun at all. – We slowed the pace considerably through this section.

Things started to clear at the bottom of the Awakino Gorge, with the blanket fog becoming patches, with daylight creeping in at the bottom of the gorge as the fog lifted. The coastal views were extremely pretty along the rugged west coast and the mountain came into sight with its head sticking out above a layer of cloud.

We met some morning New Plymouth traffic, heading into town just after 8am, then settled into the very pretty trip around to Opunake, the views of the mountain were stunning with the sun rising up behind it.

Stop 2 – Opunake fuel stop – 8:54am

Despite the fairly challenging fog which we’d worked through in the first 350km, we made it to the second fuel stop just 10 minutes behind our planned time. It felt like proper daytime by now; I think we’d finally managed to wake up a bit (with the fresh sunlight). The roads were now predominantly dry. Skies were clear, with high cloud. It was shaping up to become a beautiful day.

The temperatures had risen to 6-7 degrees, we were joking saying that 10 degrees would feel tropical.

At the stop, a bag of snakes got opened, Luke had some bread, and some painkillers were taken. Stel put an extra layer on. I took my balaclava off and swapped it for a neck warmer, as it had been giving me a headache through pressure inside of my helmet.

We were looking forward to a brief stop and coffee at Whanganui shortly.

Stop 3 – Whanganui – rest stop 10:20-10:45 (20 mins planned, 5 mins over)

Heading out of Opunake, things were starting to look really bright and pleasant. We arrived in Whanganui just 8 mins late and put the kettle on, used the facilities, ate Pizza, and drank some coffee. I helped Stella to get a charger sorted for her phone as she’s been listening to music and it needed a boost.

We messaged Andrew to let them know that we were running 10 mins behind, the plan was to meet him at the next fuel stop along with his good friend, Colin. By the time we left, we were more like 15 mins behind.

Stop 4 – Bulls fuel stop and meet up with Andrew and Colin – 11:23am

I’ve known Andrew now for a just over a year, I first met him during my ANZAC Day ride last year when he rode out to Ashhurst and navigated me through the back-roads up towards Vinegar Hill. I was on the R1 for that ride, but he came out on his Concours 1400, this was the first C14 that I had seen in person and it obviously made an impression because it was only 2.5 months later that I bought mine. Andrew has done a number of long distance rides having completed a number of TT2000 and NI1600 rides. I managed to help him through his IBA ride verification process during the last NI1600 event.

We met Colin for the first time in the South Island in February this year at the 2019 – TT2000 event. Colin rides a BMW R1200GSA which I’ve had a strong liking for since we saw one pull up at Danseyes Pass Coach Inn when we were riding through there after the TT2000 this year. Anyway, I digress. Stella and I had a good chat with Colin in Yaldhurst after the event and took quite a liking to him, he’s a big, friendly personality and just a little bit nutty. – Which is why we like him. 🙂

It was fantastic of these guys to pop out to ride with us, they were there in Bulls in good time, enjoying a coffee when we left Whanganui. I feel bad that we kept them waiting a bit, as we were about 15 minutes behind our planned schedule when we arrived in Bulls.

After a quick Hello, a tank top-up, a nibble on another Snake, the ride log etc, we were off on our way towards Ashhurst and the Saddle Road (the Manawatu Gorge is still closed). Just our luck, as we were pulling out of the petrol station, a police dog wagon came down the road and we ended up pulling out directly behind him. (Not that we were planning on speeding, or behaving badly, of course, but it does mean that you’ve got to be on your bestest of behaviour for them).

The main problem with following a police car is not the police themselves, it’s the way the public reacts to them. We, and he were forced to sit in a procession created by the fella in front of the police car who was doing at least 10km/h below the posted speed limit. When you’re on the clock and hoping to smash out the miles this can be quite trying and the last thing you want to do is create a situation by passing a police car (there were four of our bikes to consider, and we all know how much the police hate being over-taken don’t we?).

The policeman was keen to make progress himself, and each chance he had to make progress through the overly cautious members of the public at a passing lane, he took. It looked to us like he was heading towards Palmy and as he got closer, he turned off down a small side-road to get off the main drag (obviously a rat-run local road). We ended up doing something similar about 2km further on down the road and came across the same policeman on those back-roads, he was approaching on a side road from our left.

We were on the more major of those two back-roads and he needed to stop for us as we went through, he gave us a smile, wave, and a massive thumbs up as we went past. 🙂 A very nice reaction from him considering that we had just won that round!

We all enjoyed heading through the Saddle Road and down the other side this was one of the highlights of the ride for us and it was Luke’s first time on that road.

Heading over the Saddle Road

When we were nearing our half way point on the ride, we made plans to find somewhere to stop and to take a commemorative photo with the group – This happened at 12:58pm at Waipawa.

Our half way point in Waipawa

We then settled into the reasonably-mundane next section of road which takes you up towards Hastings. It’s good and flowing with a fairly high average speed and plenty of safe passing opportunities, while it’s not exciting riding, it is a great long distance route since those miles don’t take the same toll or require the same effort as a lot of other NZ roads. – A fair amount of these roads are covered in Andrew’s video clip below:

Andrew is a blogger and has an extensive motorcycle-blog under the name of ‘BanditRider’ – he wrote about our shared ride here and included a heap of photos too: https://banditrider.blogspot.com/2019/06/solstice-ride.html

Stop 5 – Bay view – 1:57pm

So this is where we left Andrew and Colin, they had a coffee and then turned around and went back through some of their favourite roads towards Palmy.

Andrew and Colin

Luke got the milk he ‘popped out to get’ – Time to say our goodbyes…

Heading up towards Wairoa from Napier provided some of the most enjoyable riding of the day. The weather was settled and there were only a few wet patches left on the roads at this point. These roads are lovely flowing roads, they have some dodgy patches with a highly variable surface, but if you’re expecting and making allowances for that, they are a lot of fun to ride. They’re also not overly busy and so you can get a nice flowing rythmn going…

Stop 6 – Te Karaka / Rangatira – 4:28pm

We arrived and filled up at 4:28pm, which was some 20 minutes after our planned arrival time, this is at roughly the 1,100km mark, and is just before the main part of the Waioeka Gorge. We’d been hoping that we’d manage to get through a good portion of the gorge before it got dark, but with us being that little bit late, it was starting to look unlikely.

This is a little GAS station in the middle of no-where in a small village. I’ve stopped there before while I was riding with Jon on the R1 a few years ago. Now, clearly, I didn’t make any useful or extensive notes on that trip as I should have known that they only served 91 octane unleaded fuel. Luke’s ZX-14R is only supposed to take 95 or higher octane fuel, and so this created a bit of a problem for us. .. In a moment of brilliance Luke had an idea, he asked me what I had in my 5L reserve fuel can in the top-box. Yup, it was the only 95 available for us there, and so we came up with a plan: with only 5L available to us, that would add another ~80km to Luke’s fuel range which would be enough to get him through the gorge, and to Opotiki where we knew that there was a fully equipped Caltex station. While it would add another, otherwise unplanned stop to our trip, it would fix the immediate issue. So I mirrored Luke, and put 5L of 91 into my bike (which is OK for mine), and filled the fuel can up with another 5L of 91. This would provide us two receipts, one for each bike from that fuel stop (for IBA if needed) as well as provide another buffer of emergency fuel (albeit only 91 octane) for the next leg of the journey. I would put the 91 into my bike in Opotiki, then top it up at the Caltex, then re-fill the fuel can again with 95 (useful for the remainder of the trip).

Petrol is a solution… – Literally.

As we traveled through the gorge, the sun set and it quickly became dark. The roads were scattered with wet patches on every left-hand bend, the right-handers were predominantly dry. With the changing light and the patchy roads, it was pretty hard to find and maintain a good rhythm, this isn’t the first time I’ve found this gorge hard to ride smoothly.

Twisty gorge from Te Karaka to Opotiki

Stop 7 – Opotiki fuel stop – unplanned – 5:57pm

As the ride moves through from daylight into darkness it enters into another phase. Each phase takes a degree of acclimation and if you throw in an unexpected fueling mix-up along with a very twisty gorge, it can upset that transition somewhat.

By the time we arrived at Opotiki I was happy for the break, a chance to reset, take on some food, get dressed a little warmer, sort out refueling the 5L jerrycan, take some pain-killers and then look forward to the next leg. I grabbed a nice looking Kumara and Chicken pie from the pie warmer and devoured it. That thing was tasty, but it didn’t last very long at all!

Draining the remaining 91.

As we were standing around in the petrol station swigging on drink bottles and scoffing a pie, a police car drove past the station with his radar actively scanning, it set off my radar detector while we were stood next to the bikes, which flash some incredibly bright LEDs and cause my air-horns to go ‘beep-beep’, they’re super loud, they’re air-horns! It didn’t cause them to stop, turn around or take any interest in us, but I found it so funny. Way too funny for what it was really…

The police car was heading out of Opotiki in the direction which we were traveling and so needless to say, we were particularly cautious when leaving the built-up area to make sure we didn’t creep ever so slightly over the limit. We saw two police car units between Opotiki and Rotorua which wasn’t surprising given that it was early evening on a Saturday night.

It might be worth mentioning our general approach to speed management: The IBA does not look kindly on riders who exercise excessive speed on their rides, it’s not required for these endurance rides, they’re all accomplishable at average speeds well below the legal limit. For a 1600K ride you need to average an overall average of only 67km/h across 24 hours. The key to finishing these rides within the allocated time is to minimise your stopped time. Every minute-stopped is a spent-minute which you can’t get back. Across our ride we spent a total of 2:12 hrs stopped and 17:28 hrs riding. 25 of the stopped minutes were at Whanganui where we had planned to stop to eat breakfast and take a proper break. The remaining 1:50 hrs was spread over 10 petrol station stops, and one photo stop at half-way. That’s 110 minutes across 11 stops, meaning that each petrol stop was 10 mins on average. There were three of us, and we’ll only ever be as quick as the slowest person at each stop. If you’re by yourself then there’s only one person who affects the stopping time, but with three, you’ll always be slower than one, or two people. Couple this with the social aspect of catching up with Andrew and Colin and I don’t think that this was too bad really. Anyway, we try hard to keep our average speed up by keeping on moving along as much as possible, and by limiting our stopped time – not by riding excessively quickly.

This general approach also helps to keep another type of ‘stopped time’ down to a minimum, it’s a type of stopped time which you can’t easily afford – that initiated by the ‘exciting lights’ that might get shown to over-exuberant riders from time to time. I don’t know what the average conversation duration might be with a policeman, thankfully I don’t personally have enough data on that topic for my own input to be considered ‘statistically significant enough to comment’.

Thankfully, because of this approach, neither of the patrol car units on the way to Rotorua found us interesting enough for them to want to stop us to say hello… Another win for us!

We had originally planned to stop in the North of Rotorua, at the Gull petrol station, they sell 98, but it’s E10 (10% Ethanol), Luke wasn’t initially, particularly keen to put this into his bike and I understand that a number of riders of performance machines share this view. Given that we had just stopped at Opotiki, this opened up a series of other options to us. We quickly, and on the fly figured out the distances between Opotiki and Tirau, via Rotorua and it was now easily within reach. Prior to stopping at Opotiki for Luke’s 95 octane fuel, we would have been at 252km at Gull, with insufficient range to make it to Tirau, but now it was achievable. There was a BP station in Tirau which sold 98, so we opted to bypass the Gull and head up to Tirau.

There’s a fun, little twisty road around the northern edge of Lake Rotorua, it’s much more enjoyable than to have to go through the built up, and heavily speed restricted southerly route through Rotorua’s main drag. Once through this, it’s a good-quality, wide highway over the top of the local hills, through the local glade and on to Tirau.

Stop 8 – Tirau fuel stop – unplanned – 8:24pm

It was starting to feel like we’d been riding for a while at this point, my back-side was really starting to ache again now, so there were some further painkillers taken at Tirau.

Just as we were starting to come into Tirau, we had noticed the first of the nighttime mist. We hoped that this wasn’t going to be a repeat of the morning’s adventures…

Mist in the background while filling up in Tirau

Still going…

Waikato – Hitting the SMOG

We rode up from Tirau through to Cambridge in the company of some of the locals who were out in their cars on a Saturday night. Their driving was so inconsistent it was both terrible and entertaining to watch. We’re still not sure if any of them knew each other but their resistance to being passed was next-level stuff! (I’m not talking about being passed by us, I’m talking about by the other cars (three in total) who were overtaking each other, then slowing down, then being over-taken themselves, then having another go…

We were quite happy to leave them to it when we turned off at the North Cambridge exit to follow 1B North, towards Gordonton. This is when the real fun began. SH1B is a ‘state highway’ which follows a route where it crosses a number of other roads, and never seems to hold any priority over the other roads. You’re constantly coming up to another Stop, or Give Way and zig-zagging your way along SH1B.

SH1B snaking its way through…

As we joined and then left the Morrinsville road, the fog thickened and took on the very distinctive smell of smoke. Visibility plummeted. Luke expressed concern over sitting in the middle of the road, waiting to turn right, and warned me that he would be following me closely, between two cars so as not to spend any further time sitting in the middle of the road. When we entered the side road things got much worse.

I slowed down considerably on the side road, and Luke was complaining too about not being able to see anything. I had to ask him to slow further so I didn’t lose him. Then we both came to a brief stop in the road. We realised we couldn’t even see the road markings in our own lane denoting the sides of the road. Visibility was down to just meters.

Clearly the cold temperatures in the Waikato had remained all day, likely with a covering of fog or mist for most of the day here, the nearby houses would have been burning their log fires, and without any wind to clear it, the smoke had combined with the mist / fog to create thick dense smog. None of us had seen anything like it, the closest we’d come to this before was skiing on the mountain then it closes in on you and you have a ‘white out’.

Luke expressed concern about being stopped on the road again, we put our hazard lights on to try to make ourselves slightly more visible and agreed that we needed to find a way out of being sitting ducks on the road.

We edged forward, looking for a driveway entrance but couldn’t see anything, the GPS map at this point became quite a useful reference as we could tell that the road was straight for a short while before turning left.

We’d just managed to find the road edge markings now, but finding a driveway was impossible as we couldn’t see enough to spot an opening and the lines on the road edge continue uninterrupted across a drive’s entrance. So slowly we crept forwards.

The GPS track below shows it took us 1:30 mins to cover just over 700m – in a straight line, and so we pushed on at a snail’s pace… We had no idea how much of this we would have to ride through. I remember thinking that it might take all of our remaining time-buffer to finish the ride. Then I wondered if this would going to continue all the way through the Waikato area.

We referred heavily to the GPS to know what the road ahead was doing – we could barely see more than a few car’s lengths in front of us. Within 5km it had lifted and visibility had grown to ~250-300m. It improved even more as we approached Gordonton. From there it was just a light mist in the odd patch here and there.

Getting into Auckland

Luke had another overly eager friend on the motorway want to play with him, he ended up being tailgated again just after the Vic Park tunnels. He had been trying to call his wife TK, to let her know that we were about to be on our way past their house but was having trouble with his bluetooth pairing from his phone so asked me if I could call her.

She pleasantly surprised us all by asking if we’d stop by on the way through to pick her up so that she could come up to Warkworth with us all for our ride finish (on the back of Luke’s bike). So we had another small change in plan and stopped by very briefly to grab her. She did well, she was stood outside the house with her helmet on, ready to go when we arrived! 🙂

Our 2.2 km unplanned detour to collect TK on the way up to our finishing point as we rode through Auckland on our way back up to Warkworth

A little further up the motorway, almost at the Dairy Flat service station, we came across another police unit who was playing laser tag with the north-bound traffic. When he hit my bike the whole of my console lit up with a bright flashing white light and my horns went off again. We weren’t traveling excessively fast and so there was no need for any reaction from us. I think the light show from my console must have been impressive because as we rode past this gentleman I could clearly see him looking curiously at us both (he’d put his laser-gun down to do this) and he had a really good look at us both as we rode past him. I wonder, if in his magnified aiming view through the gun, whether he had found the light show from my console (which he had caused) somewhat distracting?… Anyway, he had no further interest in us, and so left us to carry on with our business…

Stop 9 – Warkworth – Ride End – 11:14pm

Stella took the obligatory odometer photos again here:

Chris’ ending ODO

TK was on hand to take a really nice team photo at the end here:

Stella and TK taking a quiet moment for a cheeky picture. 🙂


Proudly at the end of our Winter Solstice Saddlesore 1600K ride.

Chris’ End ODO: 56,272
Chris’ ODO Total: 56,272 – 54,680 = 1,592 km (reads low due to ’55’ profile of rear tyre, instead of ’50’ profile as standard.

Luke’s End ODO: 58,006
Luke’s ODO Total: 58,006 – 56,423 = 1,583 km (reads low due to ’55’ profile of rear tyre, instead of ’50’ profile as standard.

There is a good reason why the IBA doesn’t regard the odometer as an accurate reflection of the distance traveled, they are known to be wildly inaccurate and open to external influences, like the circumference of your tyre. In both of our cases, we run a 55 profile rear tyre, instead of the standard 50 profile size. The width of these tyres is 195mm, the height of them is expressed as a percentage of the width, so we’re running a tyre which has a mounted height of 55% of 195mm: 107.25mm instead of 97.5mm these are mounted on wheels with a diameter of 17inches (431.8mm, a radius of 215.9mm). The running radius of our tyre setup then is 323mm compared to a standard 313mm setup. The circumference is 2πr = 2.03m compared to 1.97m.

That’s a full 3% further, per measured-revolution of the wheel. So if the ODO indicates 1,583km on this tyre, then it would have indicated 1631.2km on the standard tyre. These degrees of variation are critical when you’re aiming for a measured distance, which is why we rely upon other means.

The IBA do not inherently trust GPS data as it can be manipulated and created by tools. This is why they required receipts from the ride (all the way around can be needed if there are any queries about it). For premier members, they are happy to take photographic evidence of the start and end receipts and ODO readings (to establish the bikes which are involved). They then require us to be able to prove our route using online GPS logging tools (SpotWalla). Then the route can be re-built using those tracks, and online mapping sources will then generate the distance traveled to the nearest 0.1 km.

If the IBA can be satisfied that all of this aligns and can be verified, then they will certify the ride. In our case, our GPS was showing a total of 1,630km when we finished, Rever tracked a total of: 1,637.2km

Why the differences? Well – GPS tracking is a sum of a series of lots and lots of little, straight lines.

Each time that a curve is represented as a straight line, bits of the overall distance from the start and end-point of that curve are lost. A ride is truly a series of curves, not straight line segments.

GPS tracks are a series of small lines, not curves. This will always read less than the distance truly traveled since the *shortest* distance between two points is a straight line. – The degree to which the overall track reads-short is affected by how twisty the route is. Most trips in the USA, for example, wouldn’t be concerned with this, but almost all of our tracked routes in NZ are affected.

The smaller the line segment, the less overall distance is lost across the whole route, in the case of Rever, it continuously keeps the segment size very small and creates a higher number of track points, so the overall distance lost to this ‘approximation of the track’ is reduced. The Garmin has a good, balanced middle ground which captures most of the distance, but also aims to keep the track size small and manageable on a low CPU powered device. It can be set to forcefully log a track at fixed, small increments, or even at fixed timing intervals, but for the purposes which we use these things for, it’s simpler by a long shot to add a few extra km to the route to make sure you have a buffer, over and above the minimum required distance of 1609km, which is the metric equivalent to the imperial ‘1000miles’ required for a Saddlesore.

We have other tools available to us now too. I helped to develop a re-routing tool for the IBA which takes a SpotTrack and feeds it piece by piece into a BING MAP’s routing engine to churn out a properly routed distance from the coarse, 5 minute logged, Spot Track points.

Here is a routed summary of our Spot TrackAt the very bottom you’ll see that BING confirms our captured SpotWalla route was 1,628km long.

Luke had a lot of fun, and I have no doubt that he and TK will join us for another SaddleSore later on in the year when the weather is more enjoyable. I’ve been able to submit our ride application to the IBA and I’m hopeful and confident that everything should be in order.

Stella and I are stoked to have completed 2 of 4 of our 4 seasons rides, and also to have performed fundraising for Aran Animal Rescue. With your help we collected over $1800 for them which they are so thrilled about. – Thank you.