Planning and Preparation
This year was a special year for the TT2000. It marked the tenth running of the event and was also to be my eighth attempt.
For the tenth running the organisers did a neat thing. They based all of the fifty checkpoints on chapters from Mike Hyde's book: "Twisting Throttle New Zealand". This meant that there were checkpoints in both islands and riders could either pick an island or do a mixture of both (very keen) and there were also a lot of checkpoints out on gravel roads which instantly appealed to me.
Planning for me started not long after the list of checkpoints was made available and I planned about 13 different routes with some in the North Island but most in the South as that was my preference as it also means I get to stay down a bit longer and do some exploring. I eventually settled on a route that would give me 59,000 points (50,000 required) and about 2,200km (2,000 required). I booked my accommodation around this but also came up with a few variations that dropped checkpoints if I got behind schedule.
Bike preparation consisted of a new rear tyre and some fresh oil and that was about it...
My only issues were damaging a fork seal riding the Molesworth on the way down to Christchurch - damn!
Day One - Christchurch to Balclutha, 608, no make that 730km
Friday morning and I was raring to go so was one of the first to the Yaldhurst Tavern where a cooked brekkie was on offer to keep me going through the day.
Eventually 11:45 rolled around and we got a quick briefing, including some warnings about road closures following the recent bad weather and then we were finally let off the leash.
Other riders had local knowledge/better GPS routes as they got away on me a bit as most riders headed for Banks Peninsula for their first checkpoint. This would be the last time that there were so many of us in the same location at the same time.
In the end I had the first of a few GPS issues when my GPS failed to tell me to stop at the checkpoint - luckily there were so many others there and I quickly doubled back and nabbed my first 2,000 points.
On the way out I managed to catch Team Triumph and sat behind them for a bit before they waved me through.
And now for my next bit of GPS related fun...
Somewhere on Dansey's Pass the GPS did an automatic recalculate (even though I have this feature turned off) and screwed up my route right-royally...
Instead of hooking left at Kyeburn it told me to go straight ahead and onto some mint gravel. It was so mint that the Toyota Previa I was following for a bit was speeding (my a reasonable margin).
Relieved to finally have found the checkpoint and nabbed the most (well, in my opinion) hard earned 3,000 points it was nice to settle into a fast cruise towards Mosgiel. Along the way I was overtaken by an R1 out for a wee strop - he was not pootling...
From Mosgiel it was just a short hop to my next (and last for the day) checkpoint on the Otago Peninsula. It was a nice evening in Dunedin!
After hooking a left on Gebbies Pass I took a few more back roads before being dumped onto boring old SH1.
I settled down a bit and cruised South in the traffic until my first scheduled fuel stop in Glenavy.
Crossing the bridge out of town the GPS told me to take a right and I ended up on my first gravel road of the TT. I think that the GPS intended this as a bit of a shortcut but the gravel was reasonably fresh so I didn't break any speed records as the road took me through to SH83.
Not far up the Road I had my next turn to take me up to my 2nd checkpoint at the Dansey's Pass Holiday Park.
During my planning I'd worked out that crossing Dansey's Pass would save me 60km over returning the way I'd come and using better roads to get to my next checkpoint. Also, Dansey's Pass is a great ride - so no question on which way I was going to go...
I even got to crash a wedding reception...
As fun as it was I soon worked out that there was something wrong with the route and begun fiddling with the GPS...I abandoned the route and told it to take me directly to the next checkpoint at Old Dunstan Road. It then told me to keep going the way I was...
When I got to a road that was "less formed" and had grass growing up the middle of it I finally decided that I was well lost so I turned off the route I was on and let the GPS "recalculate".
The new purple line took me onto a track that got a bit rougher and then through a rough ford which had water coming up over me as I had to nail it to get a bit of control on the nasty little rocks. Great, lost and now wet...
Eventually I had done a big loop (ignoring another grassy looking track) and got back onto the first road I'd been sent down. I abandoned the purple line and took this road at pace back to Kyeburn and then plugged in the Old Dunstan Road checkpoint again. This time the purple line looked a lot better...
By now, I'd done around an extra 120km and was starting to do fuel calculations in my head. I probably would have made it into Mosgiel but instead I stopped in at Middlemarch for some expensive 91 which the Tenere didn't seem to like much - my normally excellent economy went West...
Nearing the Old Dunstan Road checkpoint some of the roads were damp and it was a little cooler so at the checkpoint I dithered long enough to put on my wets.
Leaving the checkpoint the little purple line took me on a nice little route back to the main highway and I pointed the bike South towards my night's accommodation. I made just one more stop at Milton to fuel up for the morning and to finally grab a filled roll for my dinner. It'd been a reasonably interesting (or perhaps frustrating) start to the TT but I'd eaten up the kms easily and was in Balclutha by 9:05. I went to sleep hoping the GPS would behave better on my big day...