On the 23rd Sept, Stella and I set out to complete our 3rd, 2-up Saddlesore, as part of our four seasons collection. We now have only our Autumn Equinox ride remaining.

This one had been in the planning since we successfully completed our Winter Solstice ride. Having done the easiest and hardest rides (of the four), we felt entirely compelled to work towards knocking the other two off.

Being the Spring Equinox (southern hemisphere), it occurs at a certain time on a certain day, (7:50pm local time on the 23rd September 2019). We therefore had no flexibility on when we did the ride, it needed to be on the Monday. So we booked time off work and worked our plan towards being ready to head out for a 0330hrs start from Warkworth.

The route

Part of what we enjoyed the most about our Summer Solstice ride was the ability to go and do something entirely gratuitous, to go somewhere, where you would never otherwise make it to, and for no other reason than you’ve got the opportunity to do it.

Planning a 1,600km route from home in NZ is somewhat limited in terms of how many roads / directions you have to go in, Auckland is only a few kms from west to east coasts in some parts, so you can either head North, or go South. There’s not enough land-mass North of Auckland to do the whole 1,600km, so if you do go North, then you have to end up coming back through Auckland (traffic is often terrible) and completing the ride further south.

That said, there are some lovely roads up North, and they tend to be much quieter than a lot of the rest of the North Island, especially in early or late hours of the day.

I’ve been talking a fair bit recently about ‘cape-to-cape’ rides. The extremities tend to be places you never need to go to, they’re never on the way to anywhere else.

We did the East cape during the Summer Solstice, we went round the west cape (Egmont) during our Winter Solstice, and so this time we thought we’d head north and visit Cape Reinga at the very North of the North Island.

I tend to like to leave at 0330hrs if possible, so with that fixed departure time and with the cape as our first major target we had some route options to consider. During our TT2000 ride in 2018, we did a SS1600K (with Nigel), and found the gorge just south of Kaitia really tough work in the dark / early hours. Having that experience, I looked and found a route up to the cape which allowed us to avoid that section of road before day-light.

It’s a really fun bit of road in the day, when you can see – so we planned to return, south of Kaitaia that way instead.

Heading back towards Auckland, we’ve also commented in the past how we’ve never gone all the way around SH16, through Hellensville – again, there are more direct and quicker route to take most of the time. But if you’re looking to put miles into the ride, there’s no reason to avoid it. So on the way South we included that loop too.

Our trip South through Auckland was timed for around midday, and on a Monday that tends to be reasonable, so we thought that was a pretty good plan.

South of Auckland, I wanted to avoid going through the Cambridge area again, and instead thought we’d head out towards the East. I really wanted to avoid as much as possible of SH2 towards Tauranga too since it’s heavily speed-reduced (retarded) and is pretty much always busy with heavy traffic as a result. There’s a thin zone around Paeroa and Te Aroha where it’s flowing and pretty interesting riding.

We’ve never gone south of Te Aroha before, we’ve only ever headed from there, back towards Hamilton. This time we had planned to continue south, then head up through the Kaimai range, towards Tauranga. Just before entering into the proper urban area in Tauranga, we were able to turn right, and then head back down towards Rotoura (through two gorges which we’ve never been through). Then down to Taupo, round the lake and into Turangi just before dark.

The return trip from Turangi, north is one which we’ve done the majority of, a heap of times in the dark (when we used to regularly go skiing this used to be the journey home). There was only a little bit of that route between Turangi and Taumaruni which I haven’t done much. We felt that that segment would be good practice for the coming NZDR NI rides, as they are based in Turangi, and this is one of about four routes out from there.

The rest of the route was simply a return back home, as quickly and simply as possible.

Our plan had us returning back into Warkworth at ~2231hrs – almost spot on 19hrs later. If we ride to our plan then this will be a fast and flowing SS1600K. But it also provides for 5 spare hours to use if needed.

The Ride

Here we are at home, preparing to leave at 0245hrs. We’re looking surprisingly happy for that time of day! I had a terrible night’s sleep. We went to bed early enough but I had too much ride stuff running through my head. I actually woke before the alarm at 0200hrs.

We’d had beans on toast for breakfast. πŸ™‚

We got to Warkworth by 0310hrs. Plenty of time to settle in, make sure we’ve got everything in order before heading out. We had so much time I had to go and speak to the attendant to tell her what we were doing so that she didn’t get concerned with us just loitering at the pump without filling up. I told her I wanted to pay, as close to 0330hrs as possible, she understood and was fine. We may have scared her with our horns..??

Here’s our official starting ODO reading and our receipt, 0325hrs. We were riding out at 0329hrs. It’s worth noting that the ODO on my bike reads about 2.5% LOW.

I run a 55 profile tyre on the rear instead of the standard 50 profile, so I go further per revolution than the bike otherwise ‘thinks’. We’ll come back to this at the very end of the ride. START ODO: 60195

And we’re off…

First stop Cooper’s Beach GAS station @245km – 24 hour pay at the pump.

Second stop – Northern most point of NZ, Cape Reinga @375km

And there’s the famous lighthouse, it’s a bit of a walk, probably 25-30mins return… We neither had the time or inclination to do that walk. We did look to see if we could get the bike down there, but there were some major bollards there (for some odd reason)…

Yeah, Stel didn’t look too convinced about that idea…

So, a quick muesli bar, a snake, a drink and we’re good to go…

Yup, this was just before 8am.

Next stop: Kaitaia BP for fuel @485km.

Heading south from the cape, Stella jumped off the bike to remove a small bolder from the road.

Just south of Kaitaia are the Mangamukas (hills).

Here’s an 8min clip of riding through there, we were having fun…

Wellsford @720km – We’d arranged to meet up with our good friends Luke and Tania Mitchell. They rode with us from Wellsford, through SH16, down to Auckland where we split. It was great to have their company for the ride. Thanks for coming out! πŸ™‚

We didn’t expect much in the way of decent food from Caltex, Te Aroha, I remembered the station there being reasonably basic, but they’ve revamped it and it’s actually pretty impressive now. We had an unplanned longer than expected stop, and grabbed a pretty decent feed from here. @962km.

The ride from Te Aroha down to Turangi took us up to Tauranga, then down to Rotorua, then on to Taupo, and round the lake.

Turangi Z service station @1,220km. We had stopped longer than expected earlier on in Te Aroha, and as a result we were running about 35 minutes late into Turangi.

Up, through Taumaruni, Te Kuiti, Waitomo, Otorohanga and a stop at Whatawhata’s GAS station (pay at the pump) @1,442km

And finally returning up through the Waikato, through Auckland again, and up to Warkworth to finish.

GPS distance and time shows 1,627km in 19:44hrs. – We finished our ride at 2309hrs, 38 mins behind our planned schedule.

START ODO: 60,195km
END ODO: 61,785km
BIKE ODO distance: 1,590km (it reads ~ 2.5% low).

We were delighted to find that the McD’s right next door is 24 hours, and the lovely lady managing it was willing to open up to let us in. We were grateful but we opted to sit outside so that we didn’t overheat in all of our gear. πŸ™‚ We just needed to stop, rest and recover a little before riding those final 23km home… πŸ™‚

Here’s what we looked like on the other side of it all. πŸ™‚ – Back at home.

We had great fun, and a spectacular ride. We really enjoyed seeing those parts which we hadn’t been to for a while. Cape Reinga, and the roads around Northland, those new roads heading into and away from Tauranga.

We aced it with the weather. It turned to rubbish on the Tuesday for a couple of days. We had very limited wet roads (down towards Turangi, and only a few short showers heading back up through the Waikato area.

SpotWalla routing summary:

It’s possible to turn a SpotWalla trip back into a routed trip, so rather than being just a series of points, we can get this back into a proper distance, provided by one of the larger mapping and routing services online. The summary from this type of approach is shown in the attached file here:Β PDF Summary: SpringEquinoxSS1600K

It confirms 1,627km in 19:43hrs.

We could not have done this route without the use of SpotWalla. The IBA trust and regard SpotWalla obtained tracks as a faithful representation of the journey taken, and it’s because of this that we can do odd shaped routes without having to get a receipt every time we change direction. Some of the shapes of this route would render it unverifiable using just their older ride verification methods (ride log and business receipts).

So, I’ll get my ride submission off to the IBA shortly, until then it’s still pending verification. I’ll update this page with a photo of the certificate (if it’s awarded, I’m hopeful, there’s no reason I can see that we shouldn’t get this). πŸ™‚