Thursday, February 7, 2013

Masters Games Motorcycle Event

Racecourse start venue, Day 1
Big thanks to local Ulysses men Roger and Dave for organising this year's games 3 days eventing, the glorious weather helping show-case the top scenery and rides available in this lower west North Island.
Day 1 took us up the Parapara, now a much improved hill-country road loved by local riders, with the first stop at the Railway Cafe at National Park.
Gotta say at the outset that this event has a sort of 3 face value to it, part cafe crawl, part scenic tour, part set your own comfort pace burn-up.
National Park Railway Cafe, in the old station, does a good menu and has a nice cabinet if you're a bit shorter on time.
Then up to near Taumarunui turning right over Waituhi Saddle to Turangi. Have done this a couple of times on a push bike in the old Tour de Trout, 25 km grind up hill, and a 25km fly down the other side where you can give yourself the cramp in the braking hands, or the sphincter if you dont.
Lunch and refuel at Z/BK Turangi, then home via Waiouru and Karioi, across the Whangaehu to Fields Track/Parapara, then home, nice ride in late afternoon hues.
Rangitikei Valley, near Apiti

Day 2 out to Hunterville via Fordell and Turakina Valley, for morning coffee at the old BNZ, now sporting a bike museum, then up to Ohingaiti and a particularly pretty stretch of hill country curves to Apiti Hotel for a cooked lunch menu under umbrellas in the back court-yard. Another over the hill to Pohangina Valley, down to Ashhurst and up over the Saddle Road, with a quick stop at the Windfarm, before pm coffee at Cafe 88, Woodville. Through the Manawatu Gorge, now repaired of the massive slip, and home via Colyton and Makirikiri Rd.
The group at the Wind Farm, Saddle Rd
Day 3 had a few apprehensive after the rainstorm the 24 hours prior, but no problem with a fresh morning ride up to Stratford, quick fuel top-up, then onto the Forgotten World Highway 43 to Whangamomona, prefaced by a big take care sign, "High Motorcycle Accident Route". Not surprised, its as small and windy a road as you could ever find left in NZ these days, and a first for me on the bike. Fantastic scenery up and over 3 saddles, not particularly high, but as winding as anything you'd encounter in the French Alps.

Republic of Whangamomona
It was a proper little tourist industry going on at the Whangamomona Hotel lunch stop, aside from our 30 strong group there were several overseas tourists and local daytrippers enjoying the pea, pie and pud, or burger lunches.
A couple more saddles to crest before the Tangarakau Gorge, a river wending its way through a bushed gorge to join the Whanganui. This part of the road is unsealed, but has an excellent surface. If it was sealed it'd be the equal of any scenic road on the South Island's west coast, but would hardly be a Forgotten World anymore.
Closer to Taumarunui
On to Taumarunui for the next quick fuel stop, National Park Railway Cafe again for another coffee and cake, then home through the Parapara, which after the days bush enclosed highway 43, seemed like a super highway by comparison.
Each day's conclusion, Roger had arranged a group entry into the Games hospitality enclosure for the medal presentation ceremony, placings determined by poker run basis with a draw from a card deck at 5 check points each day, with somewhat hilarious result, but emphasising the social aspect of participation.
Roger concluded a successful round of events by saying it all went free of 'incident', we all got home safe and sound, but we did pass a prang in another group going the opposite direction, which was a timely sober.
Only got a few pics, as time didnt allow for the camera stops I would have liked through the winding and scenic bits.

Movie: Hansel and Gretel

Yet another case of one should never place too much value on press reviewer's comments, the Dompost bloke only gave this one a 2/5, but both AJ and I got a good enough buzz from this kiddult variation of the Grimm fairy tale. Kiddult it has to be too, the violence is a bit too graphic, if not comedic, but....., when you think about it, there is quite a violent thread in most fairy tales.
The movie featured Jeremy Renner, ex Hurt Locker and recently taken over as the next Jason Bourne, and Gemma Arterton as a credible Gretel. Famke Janssen, with some previous from Star Trek and Bond movie credit did the bad witch that AJ particularly enjoyed, ditto for the two blokes who did the ogre, Edward.
Not a long move at 88 mins so you'll be home early, and one of the better 3D productions you'll come across, 5/5.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Spice Guru

Have to make a quick comment about this place, the more I go there the more impressed I am.
It got an award last year for top restaurant, or something similar.
I've found the service outstanding.
A while back mate Peter and I went in after a movie across the street at Embassy 3. It was late enough, the place was empty with the last two patrons mopping up their plates, but the m'de, after a quick check with the kitchen let us in.
Just the other night AJ and I thought we'd have a curry before the movies, but were a bit alarmed to find the place full. On mentioning our concern to the m'de about getting out in time, he gave the no problem gesture, and hola, our orders came pretty much straight out, beef korma for me, a medium/hot lamb something for AJ, a couple of lasi's and a basket of naan.
I dont think we upset anyone by appearing to horn in out of turn, they all appeared to be settling in for the evening's dining.
Top shelf.