As mentioned before, Bill Veitch from McIver & Veitch KTM, whom also happens to be one of the founding members of the BMR 33 years ago, invited me to what is usually the coldest place on the south island to ride your motorcycle, camp, drink and be merry around the largest bonfire in the world. Anyone who has attended has told me their stories of surviving the snow and cold at the Brass. Now to see if I have what it takes! ;-)
The road takes me into Central Otago, where there are cute little outback towns and scenery to boot!
I noticed early on that the road had a very slippery brown "layer" on my side sometimes. It looks like diluted manure. Well I found out that is exactly what it was! I passed an animal hauler that was spraying the lovely mixture of poo and urine and hoped that was the end of it, but there was plenty ahead of him so he wasn't the only problem truck. As you can see the road is nice, smooth with plenty of twists and turns and on one of my turns, I was going up hill in the curve when around the corner came another animal hauler coming down hill. I had seen enough for the last 2 hours and knew to keep as left as I could. Never mind! He totally sprayed me with the disgusting mix. Both me and the bike were covered head to toe in shit!!!
I was so ticked off. I kept riding and wiped my visor clear with my gloves. Thank goodness the visor was right down! The more I thought about it, and smelled it, the more ticked off I got. At the first fuel station I came to in Ranfurly, one very pathetic looking Sherri Jo went inside and asked if they had a hose I could use. The super nice lady did. You could see in her eyes how sorry she felt for me, and I went to spraying down everything I own. I was so mad, I didn't think to take a picture until now, after everything was clean again.
I'm clearly behind.. I need a drink to try to start catching up!! ;-)
When I arrived and set up my tent, there was nobody here in this particular patch of grass. Now it seems a little group is forming and by the time I return a second time, you wouldn't be able to see my tent as I got completely and thoroughly surrounded. I had to walk over plenty of tent lines and dirt bikes to just get to my own. There's 500 acres here to camp on do they really need to be so close? This is one very tight community! It was actually quite cool. I mostly got surrounded by heaps of 20 year old guys who had just ridden the Dunstan Track to get here. Really nice kids and super passionate about their motorcycles.
I love being here. Every where I look there is somebody or something interesting to look at and talk to. I needed to go back to my tent to change a camera battery, and I found the young guys had started the campfire, but nobody was in sight. There was only a slight wind, but enough to blow the embers close to my tent and I didn't want either burn holes or to loose my little house for the night completely. So I moved a burning fire.. Yes! It can be done, to relocate a burning fire. (very quickly and with minimal damage to my riding boots! ;-) The boys wandered back with beers in hand and asked what I was doing, and I told them the fire is too close and down wind for me. They were cool and that was that. During the night, the wind picked up, I heard them talking around the fire. They said, "We need to move this fire out even more, I think our tents could catch fire too!" I had a little grin...
Well, it looks like the bike show is over, the bonfire is definitely started.. let's get this party started! ;-)
Wowee, I've heard about this bonfire from tales of past years, but it's so much better in person! That is IMPRESSIVE!!
I wandered down to the front gate and they ask me again, "Sherri Jo where have you been?" What? Walking around meeting and talking to people. "Didn't you hear your name called out on the stage?" No, why did they call my name?! "You've won an award!" Really??? From the bike show they have given me the first ever "Longest Distance Traveled" Award. Awwww, that is very cool! Why didn't they tell me to stay within ears distance!?? I didn't hear it at all! Never mind, the award is very very cool. I got a plaque and and a gift certificate to use at the sales trailer. THANK YOU again Otago Motorcycle Club!!
Inside the volunteers tent I see Nigel making a little teeny tiny coffee. I'm sorry, not coffee, espresso.
It's so little and easy to take along on your world adventure! I don't drink coffee, but even so, I'm quite impressed with the little gadget.
I had to go see that bonfire again.. wow..
I rode my bike through the dark and slippery little track to the make-shift office and asked if there is anything I can help with. Turns out there is!
A lot of the riders come from as far as the top of the north island for this event and they are well known to leave super early to make the ferry and the journey back home on Sunday. I'm up there thinking I'd be one of the first, but some have left already. The police have come in to tell us some bikes have been blown off the road. The first one was a man on a Honda Goldwing.
The wind is at 120 km/hr (75 mph), and I know we rode through this strength in Argentina. I hated it and it was difficult but knock on wood never got blown off the road while in motion (while stopped, yes!) I wonder what made these guys go down. Could be some freak gusts? Or the size of the bikes? Not sure. Anyway the police asked us to have all bikes stay put until at least 10 AM. The managers made a couple big signs and I walked around to all the campsites making sure the riders understood the weather before they go.
The sign was upgraded to... Road Closed!
It didn't matter much, there were plenty of riders who left anyway.
I took some photos as I went to warn everybody.. I hadn't seen the chainsaw motorcycle up close yesterday and it sure gave me a chuckle this morning!
Very distinct remnants of a wild child on alcohol! I hope he didn't burn his toes..!
Regardless of the wind, it's such a beautiful place to be. I am so in love with this event, I'm sure I will come back someday. To be out in the middle of nowhere gorgeous South Island New Zealand with a HUGE group of people that are "my people".. I absolutely loved it.
Bill Veitch asked me to ride with him as we left the event that he created with his buddies 33 years ago. It's technically the event of the Otago Motorcycle Club, who have made me a lifetime member.. So you know I'll be back now!!! ;-)
Bill rode with me to the east coast where he headed home to Dunedin and I turned north. I'm riding up to another historic town in the center to stay with Ross and Carole again in Omarama. I would have continued to use central roads but they were all closed due to the wind. It was a rough ride for a bit, but the closer we got to the ocean, winds died down and were nearly non-existent at the water. Usually it's the other way around!
Bill suggested I stop in for lunch at this scenic little spot, Moeraki Boulders. They are these perfect round spherical rocks on the beach. I've never seen that before. They say it's natural erosion.
Once I turned inland, the wind started getting quite strong about 60 km from the shore. Then it got super strong, and then I was cursing at it! I knew it was going to be windy when I rode toward the center, but I knew I could handle it. It was never as bad as the wind this morning, but it's all a mental thing really, isn't it? When it feels like somebody keeps shoving and pushing you over and over? I stopped here for a moment behind this tree line for a moment.
They keep telling me how beautiful it is here and that it rarely ever rains.. Well lucky me!!
Ross and Carole's close friend Georgie rang up and asked how I will be able to travel in the rain today and if I didn't need to I was welcome to come and stay at her house. Wow, and yes! Perfect solution!! It was so kind of her to think of it and ring!!
Thanks again to Ross, Carole, Georgie and Tim, for a super warm and cozy weekend in Omarama!!