Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Brass Monkey Rally, Central Otago New Zealand

Finally time to move on and head to the north of the South Island.  But not without a proper motorcycle send off by attending the famous Brass Monkey Rally.

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 arrived the Brass Monkey camp soaking wet, a bit late, but happy to be here.    


As soon as I got in, there were people waiting for me, expecting me.. ME???  The newspaper wanted to do an interview as it seems I might be the most foreign and farthest traveled bike.  Plus they wanted to enter me into the show and contest.  Heck!  Let's get to work!


Bill found me and asked, "Where have you been?  I found your bike and your tent, but not you!" Sorry Bill,  I've been meeting so many people since the moment I arrived.  He said, "we need your bike in the contest.. Go back and get it!"  I did..

Where have you been Sherri Jo? 


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.



Whew, got my bike up to the contest area just in time!

What sort of lights are those, Sherri Jo?

Chainsaw bike on the run!

Mmmmmm... me wants... ;-)))  KTM 1190 Adventure


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...


This man was so sweet.  Do you remember I have a photo of him in only 2 posts back?  We met him riding along the coast in the Catlins and he was traveling by motorhome with his wife. Here he is again?  He comes up to me and asks, "Do you remember me?"  Of course!


Some real Kiwi characters at the gate!



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.


Now this guy is a different story.  Dude!  You're drinking radiator fluid!  He said, "Yeah, it stops the leaks!"  OMG... what a character!


I had to go see that bonfire again.. wow..


It was nice to stand by the fire and listen to good ol' live music.  The party was definitely going with lots of drinking and dancing!!

The band was really rockin' it at the Brass Monkey!

Sometime after midnight the wind kicked up.. and then it really kicked up.  I parked the bike the best I could without having a tree to lean it against like I did in the strong winds down at Ushuaia.  I hardly slept.  Not only was it a late night in general, but I kept worrying about the bike.  I'm still not convinced that laying it down with fuel and oil is a good solution, but that's exactly how I found it on one of my worried peeks out my tent door. Around 2:30 AM, the Fire brigade came out with the big hoses to put the big bonfire out because the wind was over 100 km/hr.  (62 mph).  Volunteers were going around to everyone's campfire to make triple sure they were out too.  While they were at ours, we managed to prop my bike up with the remaining firewood and it lasted the rest of the night.  The winds got stronger and stronger. It was total dejavu with my camping in the Patagonian Argentina winds.

I decided to pack up in the dark around 6 AM... and I waited in my tent for that time.  I wanted to get going earlier!  When I came out with my head torch on, I had a look around and nearly everyone's tents were destroyed by the wind.  I've got my black bag on the bike, everything tucked away and you can see the mess the others have to deal with in the photo below.



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!


Radiator man is still smiling!

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..!


As I was talking to this guy about the wind warnings he wasn't fussed at all, so I asked him if I could take a photo. He said, "Sure, whatever turns you on!"  I hate to say, but turn-on is not how I would describe why I wanted to take a photo! ;-)



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.


I made it to Omarama a bit grumpy, where I found a very warm and cheerful Ross and Carole.  They were well worth the hassle I can tell you.  The fire was going, I had a nice warm shower and lots of laughs.  Carole is showing me a photo in a local history book with her Grandfather in it for inventing.. the flat bottom paper grocery bag!!


They keep telling me how beautiful it is here and that it rarely ever rains.. Well lucky me!!


It was still pouring a heavy rain the next morning and they need to head back to Mosgiel. I'm due to go up north of Christchurch to my next house sitting assignment for another month.. woo hoo!  I don't NEED to be there today but I do need to be tomorrow.

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!!

It rained most of the day but near sunset the clouds lifted a bit.. Have a look at the view!!!



Georgie and Tim have retired, sold the family dairy farm and built this gorgeous eco-friendly house right here.  I was so excited to see the view and the sunset and I found them in the lounge room watching television.  I said, "You gotta have a look at this colorful sunset, it's unreal!!"  Georgie looked at me and agreed but said, "Sherri Jo, these beautiful sunsets are just normal, nearly every day.."  Right, of course!!  I'm definitely the tourist here.. ha!


Thanks again to Ross, Carole, Georgie and Tim, for a super warm and cozy weekend in Omarama!!

Now I can ride north to Christchurch.. I was hoping the rain last night was stopped for good, but today is not meant to be.  So it's a rain day for Sherri Jo.. No worries. I can always count on my Rukka Gear keeping me dry. At least there's no crazy wind!


See you in Christchurch!

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