Back to Basics Rally 2017

I had no idea exactly what the back to basics rally was actually all about. How basic exactly was ‘basic’ meant to be? I knew I needed a tent and sleeping bag so accommodation would be basic. I knew I was going to camp in a paddock and not a nice and comfy motel room somewhere. That was fairly basic. I knew that some of my riding mates would be telling some fairly basic jokes after a few beers in the evening. They are always basic in content. Would I need a trowel to dig a hole in the paddock for the morning constitutional? Did I need to take some tinned tucker or the sort you buy in camp shops that look like cement and upon adding boiling water turn into a roast dinner for three? I had no idea. There was only one way to find out. Get on the bike and go.

So one fine Friday morning in late February a group of Cantabrian Ulyssians gathered in Amberley for the run north to Kaituna near Havelock.


It was a beautiful morning. Warm and sunny. With Sate highway 1 still blocked our route took us through the Lewis Pass to Springs Junction, up the Shenandoah Highway to Murchison for lunch.


From there we passed through the Wairau Valley via St Arnaud and made for Blenheim.

Despite the many roadwork’s and stop/go boards the scenery is superb, the riding easy but exciting and the company was superb. A couple of our party broke off at Hanmer to take the Molesworth road.

Having bought dinner courtesy of Subway Blenheim we arrived at the paddock in Kaituna. Actually it’s on a sheep station and having been held in the same paddock by the river for a number of years the place was well prepared for us. Tents were erected; chairs rigged and cold beers were proffered to clear the road dust of the day. That Friday evening we sat and watched the sun set behind the hills to the west of us, sprays were passed around to keep the sand flies at bay and the stars came out in a crystal clear sky. We sat there in the pitch dark chatting, laughing and listening to the oh so basic jokes. It was as a relaxing evening as you could imagine and I loved it.


Dawn broke. A basic breakfast was taken. Bevan and I decided we were going to take the Queen Charlotte road to Blenheim via Picton to get him a decent camp chair rather than the ridiculous thing he was trying to perch his bum on the previous evening. On hearing our plans the rest of the group decided that was a great idea. Now there is a road worthy of any motorcycle. It twists and turns and snakes its way along the sounds to Picton and offers sublime vantage points to view the scenery for which this place is known. If you have not done it, give it a go if ever you are I the area. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.


Back to the paddock. That evening we had a dinner that was totally unexpected. We gathered in the woolshed with the Marlborough Ulyssians who had organised this whole rally together with a few members from the West Coast. Dinner was outstanding for the farmer and his team had put together a meal that satisfied any hunger. It was hardly basic at all. In fact quite the opposite. The beer and wine flowed, as did the conversation and music from Grumpy on the spoons. Then it was back to the tents to continue the festivities. What a cracking evening it was.


Sunday morning broke. The weather had turned cooler. We packed the bikes ready for the run home. There was one final event that was again totally unexpected for Grumpy had cooked up breakfast for us all in his bus. When facing a long ride home on a cool day that breakfast was highly appreciated.


So, was the rally basic? Yes and no.No need to dig a hole in the paddock! There were toilets and a shower with hot water (the most basic thing about the entire weekend) Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Special thanks must go the Marlborough group for organising the event, the farmer and his team for cooking that amazing dinner and Grumpy for the breakfast. Finally to my riding mates without who none of it would be so much fun.

Mark Dexter 2015