April 11, 2022

Yamaha Adventure Ride 2022

Yamaha Adventure Ride 2022

The Yamaha Adventure Ride 2022 was booked for the 30th of March to the 2nd of April 2022 and promised close to 1000km of amazing roads and trails from Napier down the east coast to Wellington. As COVID-19 has decimated our events calendar this year, when I was invited to join the event, I immediately said yes. I was very excited to explore some tracks that are usually closed to the public. Especially the coastline from Wainuiomata around to Lake Ferry in Wairarapa, and on from Nawi and around to White Rock. The event was 3 days on the bike, with an additional day to get to Napier, and a day to ride home.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 had not finished with my family, and my son tested positive 7 days out, meaning I was in isolation with him as a household contact. This meant I was forced to miss the first 2 days of the ride, but fortunately, I continued to test negative and was allowed to join the ride for the final day, which just happened to be in my backyard (the Wellington Region).

Saturday morning, I geared up and was sitting on the side of the road, on State Highway 2, near the bottom of Rimutaka Hill, waiting on a convoy of Yamaha Adventure bikes, around 7:30 am. It was cool and incredibly foggy when out of the gloom came a snake of mainly Tenere 700s. I would estimate there were about 40 T7s and maybe 6 WR450s.

I joined the convoy, and we made our way south to Totara Park, turning off the motorway, someone jumped off the bike and opened what is usually a locked gate. We waited for everyone to come through the gate, and locking it again behind us, headed up the gravel track into the hills, soon to be swallowed up by the low cloud. I had a rough idea of where we were. It was a logging road, which wound up and over the hill, coming out at the other end at another locked gate beside the Kapi-Mana Motocross track. I'd seen this road on the map and attempted to ride it before, but the locked gate had always stopped me. One more local road ticked off the list.

From here we headed out long Bulls Run Road towards SH57, turning right at Judgeford, and down to Belmont road, turning left, we made our way up into the Belmont Regional Park, Another road people don't usually get to ride motorcycles through. We broke out of the low cloud and found ourselves riding through lush green paddocks between historic ammunition bunkers, before dripping back down again into the suburb of Belmont, and into Lower Hutt.

We crossed Lower Hutt, leaving the low cloud and fog behind, and made a beeline for Wainuiomata, heading for the coast. We got to the end of the road, where most people are forced to stop and were let through the locked gate. For me, this is where the real adventure began. The plan was to make our way around the coastline from Wainuiomata, cross the Orongorongo river and arrive in Wairarapa at Lake Ferry. This terrain was wild, there was soft sand, massive boulders, lush green grass, with the surf crashing on our right, and a steep rocky cliff on our left. I don't really feel I can do justice to the landscape here with words alone, so here are a few photos of the area.

Most of the riding through here was easy, as we took in the natural beauty of the landscape we were being treated to. Though there were a couple of gulleys where the rain cad carved away big sections of land, the team from Sargent Motorcycles in Wairarapa had sent out an advance party who had done some amazing work reconstructing a trail through these areas, and we needed to summon up a bit of courage and skill to point the bikes through. Here we were skirting near-fatal drops, picking our way through swift-flowing rivers, and employing the "just sent it" mentality to get up some loose banks. I was proud of myself that I managed to get through all of these obstacles with no help from anyone else, and kept the bike upright the whole time.

Passing through the locked gate on the Wairarapa side, we then made our way around Lake Ferry towards Nawi. At Pirinoa, we got off the main road and cut through a few farms, This was when I started to feel a little out of my element. I was still running the Pirelli Scorpian STR rear tyre, most other riders on T7s were running a Mitas E07 or other such off-road bias tyre. On this damp green grass, I was able to spin up the rear very easily indeed. It took quite a bit of concentration to read the grip levels and maintain traction while moving the bike forward.

Up and over the hill once again and we rejoined the main road around to Nawi, through and on to another locked gate at hen head out around the next part of the coastline through Nawi, through another locked gate below the Cape Palliser lighthouse. This was much the same as the previous section of the coastline, however, it was much wetter and the obstacles were more serious. There was a river that had been dry the previous day when the advance party came through, but when we got to it it was close to waist-deep. there was a steam of 6 Sargent Motorcycles staff standing in the river guiding the way for us riders, and ready to catch up. I watched someone else ride through and they made it look kinda easy, so in a went, instantly the water poured over the top of my boots and filled them. I made it to the middle unassisted, but then the current grabbed the bike and I found I was moving sideways at an alarming pace. the airbox must have only been a few centimetres above the water level. My bike was grabbed by a couple of the team in the water already, they pointed me upstream slightly and told me to "Send It!" so I did, and I made it through. It might have been all over without their help.

Time to ride through what could have been a lunar landscape, soft and deep, grab a second and wind it on. keep the power-up, and keep moving forward, once up on the plane, move the weight back and keep the front wheel light. Another section saw the train wind down the side of a washout, pick through the boulders, over the river and employ some commitment to get up the other side, I was among the first few bikes to come upon this, and was feeling a bit confident, so I passed the bikes parked up in front of me, and thinking this could quite possibly be where my confidence outweighs my skill lever, made my way down the side of the washout. crossed over, paused, then pinned it and made it up the other side with ease. I was stoked. I carried on around the coast, passing White rock. and heading inland. from here we had some farmland to traverse, find the gravel road and we were home and hosed.

I was starting to feel the energy levels dropping. it has been a big day already. most of what we had left was gravel roads and farm tracks but we soon found ourselves on some more slippery terrain. I was standing at the foot of a massive hill climb, it was grass tussock or mud, those were the 3 options I had to ride on, and with my rear tyre, I was struggling for traction on all 3. I was trying to pull away in 2nd, keep traction, and feather the throttle. I had about 5 attempts, and in the end., dropped the bike due to fatigue. I admitted defeat, gave the bike to a sweep rider and started the 1.5km slog up this hill. I was dark as when I saw the sweep rider ride my bike up the hill as if there were no traction issues at all. Turns out what I needed to do was get the rear wheel spinning faster, up in 3rd gear to it could clear the mud, and then it would bike. get up on the pegs and go for it. just give it hell.

By the time I got to the top of the hill, I was completely wrecked. I dropped the bike another 3 times in the slippery clay and finally made it out to the gravel road. I was done. I nannied it back to Martinborough, said my goodbyes to the rest of the riders while were all staying in Masterton that evening and went home.

All up, from what I saw, the Yamaha Adventure Ride was an incredibly well run event, and a massive thanks to all the people behind the scenes, Ben Townley, 101 Adventures, Sargent Motorcycles, all the sweep riders, and people standing in the river for hours on end.
Thanks for inviting me, I had a blast, and I look forward to the next event in 2023.