The rocky road to becoming an adventure motorcyclist

My fledgling adventure motorcycling career has had a few hiccups recently.
Last weekend (easter) I headed off south on the Suzuki DR650 intending to go to Fairlie, then over Hakataramea Saddle, down the valley, over Dansies Pass to Clyde and then through the Nevis to Kingston, along the Mavora Lakes road to Walter Peak Station and across Lake Wakatipu on the Earnslaw to Queenstown. The weather was looking pretty dodgy and there had been a lot of rain in the days leading up to my departure. But a solid plan regardless.
Got away to Fairlie quite late in the day because it had been raining. Next morning headed up towards Haka Saddle in drizzle. The creeks were up. Got through the first three ok, but dropped the bike in the fourth. Didn’t have a shit show of picking it up, but did manage to drag it into the shallows. All I could do was wait for someone to come along…. which they did, two hours later. A very kind high country station owner stripped down to his undies and bare feet and helped me get the bike to the side. Miraculously bike started first go. Off again.

A few miles on the bike started wobbling all over the place and I realised I had a puncture. Bloody hell! Dropped the bike on its side and managed to get the wheel off, but there was no way I could remove the tyre. Trudged down the road to the nearest farm, knocked on the door and asked “does any one here know how to fix a motorcycle tyre?” Another kind high country farmer put his hand up, got my bike into his workshop and mended tyre. Turned out he had exactly the same bike, a DR, same year and everything. Off again, many hours behind time.Roared (no not really) up Dansies Pass reaching the top just on dark. Rode down the far side at micro-speed. Fortunately found somewhere to stay in Ophir so didn’t have to sleep in wet tent in wet sleeping bag. Went to pub.
Next morning headed off in light rain for the Nevis. Got to the first creek, and in view of yesterdays palaver was a bit hesitant. Walked through it a couple of times- about mid thigh. Decided to wait awhile to see if anyone would come that I could follow. They didn’t so I reasoned [sensibly I thought] the chance of drowning me or the bike or both was too great…..and rode 450km back to Chch. Yay!

The weekend before easter……. Decided to do a solo trip through Lees Valley and Okuku Pass. Had done this route a couple of times before by myself do didn’t think there would be too many dramas. One kilometre out of Oxford I ran out of petrol (forgot to fill up in Chch). No bother, just walked to petrol station, got a can of fuel and someone (another kind person) gave me a ride back. Off up the Ashley Gorge…with all the recent rain the creeks were washed out and someone ( I blame the Selwyn District Council) had dumped piles of deep shingle all over the road. Dropped bike in the middle of a particularly deep dump. Waited around 45mins and some tourists came along whom I coerced into helping me lift bike. Bike wouldn’t start. Pushed it up hill, no mean feat, and freewheeled down and crash started it. Off again, up the gorge across Lees Valley, up towards Okuku Pass, when came to the Okuku River. Usually this runs at about half a cumec and is ankle deep….. but not today- about 15 cumecs and a hundred meters of brown water with gorse bushes tumbling down it. Nothing for it but to turn round and retrace my journey. Still a good day out.

Weekend before that… friend Sheryl and I decided to ride up the Glenfalloch Road, through Lake Stream to Lake Heron and out to Mt Somers. Going up the Glenfalloch Rd I was a bit ahead of Sheryl and stopped to wait for her. After 15 minutes she hadn’t turned up so I turned round and headed back. Found her lying on the side of the road (bike also lying on the side of the road) surrounded by well meaning passers by.A kind high country farmers wife had called for the ambulance, which turned out to be the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, with paramedics who pumped her full of morphine whisked her into the helicopter and she disappeared off to hospital. A very nasty fracture to the tibia and out of action for at least ten weeks. I rode her wonky bike into the farmers barn and headed back to Chch.

So what happened the weekend before that? My beautiful Yamaha WR250 was stolen. I was completely sad…..still am. Having a bit of a wrangle with the insurance company. At least I have another beautiful bike. I will put the insurance payout towards my overseas bike for my trip next year. Looks like I will be buying in the UK because shipping a bike from New Zealand to Europe is turning out to be too much of a mission.
In the meantime it’s a matter of upskilling for my across-Australia trip in September. Cant wait!