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Must be Global Warming

Photos and Text by Graeme Lowen

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Editor’s Note: This just in from the New Zealand Winter. They must spell hoar frost differently in New Zealand. I couldn't change the photo captions. Enjoy. 

Day 1

Friday afternoon Maree and Graeme Lowen ride the Goldwing to Dunedin. This Ice Run is organized by the Deep South Chapter of the Patriots
Motorcycle Club of which Graeme is in the throes of becoming a member. You must attend three meetings, three of their organized runs and lead an
organized run.

It was a great fine calm day for a ride with dry roads and little traffic, until we hit SH 1 at Clinton and then it became a slow ride to Dunedin. Keep in mind that winter runs from June to August.

This is the first of the Patriot organized runs for 2021.

Day 2

Saturday dawned a bit cold and foggy with a smattering of a frost around as well. We figured that by the time we got started there would have been enough traffic to clear the roads and remove slippery areas.

It proved to be true as we made our way at about 90 kph (55 mph) over the motor way and into Killmog. There were some ten bikes and a backup van with a trailer. It was nonstop from Dunedin to Oamaru, something that I am not used to but
I did manage.

The pace was slower than what I would have liked, but I learned later it was the lead rider’s call.
Apparently, he rides like this all the time. Not good pace when with a group.

Some riders needed to refuel in Oamaru by which time it started to warm up a bit. My handlebar mitts were a boon for me. Oamaru is the largest town in North Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand, it is the main town in the Waitaki District. It is 80 kilometers south of Timaru and 120 kilometers north of Dunedin on the Pacific coast.

Then it was onto Timaru at the same frustrating pace. It’s not often I am in a group being passed by four-wheelers, because we are going so slow.

It was into Timaru, and I refueled there but it was the entry into the Robert Harris Café on the east side of SH 1 in Washdyke that caused a bit of
confusion amongst some of us riders that had stopped to refuel.

We could see all the bikes parked up on the south side of the café but without obvious entry
into it? It never occurred to our leader that the entrance was on the north side. I rode into a large parking area of the building down from the café, did a U turn and rode up the footpath, across bit of a
rock garden and into the carpark on the north side.

About four others followed me. We also met up with some riders from Christchurch and had lunch.

After lunch, Keith took over as the lead rider and picked up the pace as we rode through Fairlie (I did not stop for a pork pie) and on up over Burkes Pass. As we entered the straights around Dog Kennel Corner there were a few police cars out stopping speeding motorists.

We hauled in for a break at Tekapo for refueling. The afternoon started a bit cool. But it
was soon to get a whole lot cooler, as we rolled Out west to the Balmoral Military Camp and headed south and over the Tekapo Canal.

We could see all the fog hanging around the top end of Lake Benmore. When we turned west again, we could see a dense fog bank at the gap known as Simons Pass. Jacko warned us about fog and a hoar frost in Twizel, but it started at Simons
Pass. As soon as you were into the fog, the hoar frost gripped the area as well!

Hoar frost is a type of feathery frost that forms because of specific climatic conditions. The word 'hoar' comes from old English and refers to the old age appearance of the frost: the way the ice crystals form makes it look like white hair or a beard.

The density of the fog varied from here on and offered different layers of fog over Lake Pukaki. They appeared rather picturesque if the dense clouds remained in the distance. It was crossing the
dam where the thick fog started to mess with our vision, in addition to the hoar frost all the way
into Twizel.

Keith led us into the township and to the gas station but seemed a bit lost after that. We couldn’t see much in front of us. Another rider with his cell phone acting as a GPS took over and three of us
followed. Only he led us to the wrong camp ground.

When he dismounted, he had a light layer of frosty ice on the front of his jacket. He wasn’t the only one. However, as we were the only ones in the wrong campground. The GPS was reset and we all
followed him around in very dense fog. We could only see about 25 meters. Even then, we had to stop and reset the GPS before arriving at Lake Ruataniwha campground.

We knew we were at the right place when we saw bikes inside the fence. That must have been the bunk block. We went to the main entrance and checked in.

Maree is not fussed about sharing a room with a whole lot of guys, but we got a Motel unit as did several others. It was an hour or so later that we
got a ride in a van to the local RSA for our evening meal. There must have been some 30 of us.

Day 3

Sunday just sort of dawned much in the same condition as the previous day. I wandered around taking photos as hoar frost is not something most of us get to experience.

Up at the bunk house bikes were in various stages of being started, some more reluctant than others. Riders aimed a kerosene blast-heater at a bike to try to thaw out the carburetor. I returned to my bike and although the engine turned over rapidly it wouldn’t fire. I could smell an excess of fuel and the battery began to decline.

I got a jump start from a car, and it fired into life with no trouble. I was not game to turn the engine off as it did not appear to be happy, but at least it did not die on me. A cold ride as well as fogy followed all the other riders out to the main road to head south to Omarama.

Out on the road side young buff guys stripped to the waist taking brave photos with hoar frost background—no girls.

The fog did rise a bit, and we simply rode out of it just around the bend past the turn off to lake Ohau. Then into Omarama and we refueled
and made our way to the Wrinkly Ram for Brunch.

Having eaten some brunch, it was time to hit the road. One of the riders made comment about me not really needing the handlebar mitts any longer. They would look good on his bike. However, they still looked good on mine and away we rode towards the Lindis Pass.

My fears of there being ice over the pass were unfounded and the road was dry. It was the stop at Tarras that provide us with chilly clues. I got talking to a lady who drove from Tekapo in the morning. She told us that the first club group ran into dense hoar frost and thick fog all the way from Tekapo to the Ohau turnoff. The guys who left 20 minutes later missed most of it.

She saw a classic truck and caravan that slid off the road and another 4-wheel mishap.

We were indeed lucky that the Christchurch guys headed south with us. From there on it was a warm ride until we reached Lumsden where, even though we were only half-an-hour from home, I still felt cold enough to put my jersey back on that I took off in Frankton.

Home safe!

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Reader Comments

Hoar frost is a type of feathery frost that forms as a result of specific climatic conditions. The word ‘hoar’ comes from old English and refers to the old age appearance of the frost: the way the ice crystals form makes it look like white hair or a beard.

Thursday, August 19, 2021
Editor Response Reminds you of someone?
Seems it spelled both ways...hore or hoar old word


Thursday, August 19, 2021
Editor Response Thanks.

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