The Plan The plan was formed months earlier when my mate Peter (noob rider) finally bought a bike after years of saying he would. “Let’s go riding somewhere for a few days in the summer holidays” I said, “we could go up North”. “Sounds like a plan” said Peter, and that was that for the next six months. Christmas came and went and we were each busy doing various different family related things here and overseas and then I received a text. “Are you still keen on a ride up North?” I shot back a quick reply - “Yup”. A few seconds later - “How about Thu to Sun?” “Yup” went back the reply again. It was Tuesday and it was game on. I broke the news to my wife the following day and she was totally fine with it just like I knew she would be - love ya Rach. It had been three years since my last trip away and I was overdue some extended helmet time. Day 0 Peter and I sat down for half an hour on Weds morning with two smartphones, one coffee (me), one tea (Peter), and Google Mapped a loose plan. “What about accommodation?” I asked. “Leave it to me” said Peter. And that was the planning done. “See you at Z at 0900 tomorrow” [Z is a brand of NZ gas stations]. This is what we came up with: Day 1 - Pukekohe to Opononi Day 2 - Opononi to Cape Reinga to Mangonui Day 3 - Mangonui to Mangawhai Day 4 - Mangawhai to Pukekohe The weather forecast for the 4 days was superb and the 300 km or so planned for each day gave us time for as many stops and diversions as we fancied along the way. Peter must have left my house thinking pretty hard. I’d asked him how he was going to carry his gear. He’d said no problem, he had a backpack. I questioned this because my memory of riding extended distances with a backpack was of sore wrists from supporting the extra weight. A couple of hours later Peter texts to say that he’s been up to Auckland and bought a set of throw over panniers. He pops over to my house again and we work out how best to fix them to his bike. We also fit a heat shield to stop the right hand pannier from melting where it touches the silencer. That done, Peter leaves and I finish getting my own stuff together, lubing the chain, checking tyre pressures etc. I end up going to Pak n Save and Warehouse [two giants in NZ retail] to pick up some extra stuff like a new toothbrush, batteries for my head torch and baseball cap. By 2200 I only have my cell phone and charger left to pack and I go to bed full of excitement and anticipation like a five year old on Christmas Eve.