North Island 800 (NI800)

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Covid tried to put a dent in the 2020 running of the NI800 and while it may have put a damper on things the ride went ahead. This was going to another sore ride with a bad case of tennis elbow on my left arm. Luckily the BMW has a shift assist so doesn’t need the use of the clutch for perfect shifts.

The number of riders was limited but there was still a good number who turned up and had a good ride. The ride was on Saturday 3rd October 2020. I had to get someone to work for me and got the route emailed to me due to working late Friday. The route was a simple one with only three check points.

Start was at Turangi and we left at 10am on the dot for myself. My GPS was telling me I would be back at 19:13. I had already passed one camera car and a mobile car on the way up. While we had the briefing a few drops of rain came down but this was the only rain for the whole day.

I was first away and soon making my way up to Taupo. Traffic was quite heavy and not moving that fast. Again I had decided to only go to 108kph due to still having 55 demerit points. Was soon at Taupo and continuing up SH5 to Rotorua. Been on this road many times so bit boring. Then took the turn at Hells Gate on SH30 and followed this. Can’t remember doing this road before and it was nice. So far I had been passed by no other motorbikes. Coming up to the turn right at Awakeri onto SH2 I spied 3 others in front of me and I still don’t know how they got ahead of me.

Soon another three bikes passed me and I decided I needed a pit stop and pulled over at a likely looking spot. A few more went past. Away again only to be stopped by a red light on the one way bridge over the Whakatane river. It is certainly a rattly old bridge with the planks making a lot of noise.

Opotiki soon arrived and this was the first checkpoint at the Caltex station. Already a number of bikes there. I took my photo, had about half a moro bar and some water which had warmed up quite a bit in my top box.

Checkpoint #1 – Opotiki Caltex Station

No time to dilly dally so it was back on the bike and away. Was soon in the gorge and making quite good time. GPS time at Turangi was slowly coming down. After about another 45 minutes I had about fives bikes pass me so decided to speed up a little and stay with them. About a dozen corners and two long straights later I found a camera van very well hidden behind the bushes. I am guessing that he got the lot of us but unfortunately for him we had no number plates on the front. Checking my speed later I was only doing 105kph anyway but still would have got a letter.

Well hidden Camera Van/Revenue gatherer. Sorry No number plate on the front

My next stop was Gisborne for a fuel stop at a Mobil station. I could do this trip on just one fuel stop but I always like to keep 100-200kms reserve. Traffic was quite slow into Gisborne so I took the liberty of using the extra bits of road to get past them. Soon though I could hear a siren and looking in the mirror could see red/blue lights in the distance and yes I thought he was coming for me. Once he got closer I pulled over to let him past and pass he did and carried on his way. Refilled to the top my GPS then decided to try and send me a different way than I knew it should so I cancelled it and restarted the route to the next checkpoint. It then said I had lost 45 minutes and wouldn’t be back until 19:50.

It was a lovely day over here and 22 degrees. Quite a bit of wind though. Next checkpoint stop was Wairoa Z station and it soon came up. There were a couple of others already here and a group heading out the way I came. Maybe they decided to do the route in reverse? Anyway photo taken, some more moro bar for energy and some more tepid water to keep the dehydration headache away.

Checkpoint #2 Wairoa Z Station

One more checkpoint to go and then on the home stretch. GPS was again trending towards the 19:13 finish time. My next stop was the Mobil station at Bayview. Didn’t need it but nice and cheap (at least 20 cents a litre less than Taranaki) and would leave me plenty when I got back at Turangi.

By-passed Napier and soon came up on the turn off to the Gentle Annie. Stopped here and cleaned the Go pro’s lens as I had forgotten at the fuel stop. Sun was starting to go down and was hard to see some of the corners. Also it was extremely windy across the top making the corners harder. Only had a couple of over shoots though and came up to the final checkpoint of Springvale Suspension Bridge. However before I got there I came up behind a Porsche SUV that was being driven like he belonged in the USA. No painted lines but no excuse though.

What the Hell you doing man!!!

This was a blind corner. Once I could pass him he even pulled over towards me going even further to the right. Gave him the one finger salute. The bridge came up after a while and took the last photo.

Checkpoint #3, Springvale Suspension Bridge

A few bikes pulled up just as I left and I was on the home stretch. The dude in the Porsche had not gone past so did not have to contend with him again. Back on SH1 and sun was getting way down now. Desert road and on the lookout for the gatherers. The mountain was looking awesome to the left and I had increased speed a bit. Not long out of Waioru I could see a car in the far distance of the long straight. My radar light went on and when I checked it had 2 bars of the Ka band. Braked a bit back to just under the limit and sure enough. I got the finger wave as the cop went past the other way. The rest of the trip went very quickly and I pulled into the finish at Turangi at 19:10. Three minutes earlier than the GPS predicted at the start.

It was a good ride and many thanks to the organisers and volunteers that make it happen.

I will have a timelapse video of the ride once I have done editing it.

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