For those of us who played a part in getting the inaugural Shiny Side Up Bike Fest over the line, having everything set for the day was a big relief. With folk like Brittany Morrow and others in Wellington for the weekend, what better way could there be to celebrate than get out and enjoy the region’s spectacular roads?
In charge of proceedings was Carey Griffiths, who heads up injury prevention for motorcyclists at ACC. Carey is ex-National Manager of Road Policing with NZ Police and President of IAM, so he knows a thing or two about organising group rides. With our detailed notes in hand, an original list of 14 ended up as 10 starters in the bike park outside TSS Red Baron at 9.30am on Friday. A film crew was in attendance from Stuff.co.nz, to , which allowed the rest of us to have a yarn.
The weather was wild the night before and through into the early morning, but we didn't have to wait long for the sun to come out. With Dave Moss in attendance, it was inevitable that the set up of people’s bikes came under scrutiny. Dave's eagle eye can spot worrying tyre wear or a bike’s odd stance at twenty paces. So out came the tape measure, C-spanner and screwdrivers.
First to get attention was the Z750 of Cat Merrick from IAM. Slightly bent handlebars and a quick adjustment of the rear shock preload were easy fixes, and showed how even highly trained riders can over time adapt to bikes no longer appropriately adjusted for them. After a few more tweaks and adjustments for her riding position, plus advice on greater flexibility when selecting tyre pressures, she pronounced the bike utterly transformed and massively more enjoyable to ride.
Dave attended to a few others before we set off, heading for–where else?–the Rimutaka hill. We were operating a ‘second rider drop-off’ system, where the second rider stops in a safe place at junctions or turn-offs to direct others, before slipping in just ahead of the ‘Tail End Charlie’. It wasn’t much needed until out of town, but it’s a handy way to keep a group together and avoid anyone getting lost.
The Rimutakas, as usual, were a joy. Stopping at the top gave Brittany her first view of the terrain, and she was duly impressed. Cat and Kate, who had their bikes fettled by Dave before the start, were very happy with the changes.
Down the other side, we met up with Yvonne Forest from MSAC then headed for Martinborough and a lunch stop. It’s not only a pretty town and full of nice places to eat, the quiet streets are also handy for getting the bikes parked.
After lunch, it was the back road to Masterton, then a long loop via Eketahuna, Woodville and Linton to Shannon, where we hooked up with Ride Forever instructor Chris Smith, who had ridden down from Auckland. Next stop: Lower Hutt and a chance to thank Stew at TSS Red Baron for all his help, including providing a GSR750 for Brittany and the impressive new GSX-1000F for yours truly.
It was a great day’s ride and the start of an auspicious weekend for the first ever Shiny Side Up Bike Fest.