So it was coming to the end of the school holidays. Those back to work blues were building in only the way that they can for teachers after an extended summer break. My family had chosen a staycation this year, nobody had been keen on going camping (teenage children, no internet = no fun), we'd looked after a friend's dog for almost 3 weeks, we hadn't got our arses in gear and done anything about getting a pet-sitter organised for our dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits etc., and I needed some 'away' time before I went back to work. I mentioned the thought of a three day ride to my wife and because she's lovely she agreed straight away. A few years ago I'd bought Mike Hyde's excellent book Twisting Throttle NZ, and had combined several of the suggested Central North Island routes into a three day trip. I was keen to do the same again. Note to Mike - I actually bought your book, i.e. paid money for it from a book shop. I didn't borrow it from a library and I recommend it to anyone who wants to ride NZ, North or South. In fact I recommend to everyone full stop. So on Saturday night I went to bed with Mike's book and re-read a few of the North Island routes. I was particularly taken with the East Cape and decided that was where I was going. The next day I checked the weather forecast and was very happy to see that the best three days of the entire summer were predicited Monday to Wednesday that week. Next minute I'm $200 lighter because I've booked a motel for two nights in Opotiki and the plan is hatched. Day 1 - Pukekohe to Opotoki via Waihi Day 2 - Opotoki to Opotoki via the East Cape Day 3 - Opotoki to Pukekoe via Rotorua This is the bike: It's a leftover 2014 (bought new in 2016) Honda CB500x onto which I have slapped the Rally Raid level 3 kit. I bought the bike because I'd read about the kit and wanted something road and trail friendly to replace my aged-but-nothing-wrong-with-it XT600e which was just a bit too unrefined for my middle aged, susceptible-to-numbing-very-quickly-on-a-vinyl-plank bottom. Quick verdict on the bike and the kit - love it, it's awesome. Buy one. I'd also bought some Giant Loop kit which shall be for ever known in my household as Dad's-very-expensive-motobike-luggage. There is a short story behind the puchase of this too, but that is for another day. Monday Morning rolls around and it's departure day. Opotoki is only really a 3.5 hour ride from home so I wasn't rushing. Which is just as well because my wife needed to take one of my daughters to the cinema at the mall, wait (shop) until the film finished, then bring her home. She asked if I could wait until she got back before I left. I dutifully said yes and off they went. I was ready in about an hour, all the usual pre-ride checks done, bag packed and loaded, riding pants on, boots on, visor cleaned, jacket ready, hi viz vest over the jacket, all good. 11 am and ready to roll. 12 noon and still ready. 1pm and very ready. 1.30pm and I might as well have lunch at home instead of on the road. 2.00pm and I get my jacket on to go anyway. Then I discover that the velcro that is supposed to hold the vi-viz together at the front has parted compay with the fabric. Ok - minor set back, there is a work-safety shop 10 mins away so I jump in the ute and go and fetch another one. I bought a 4XL to fit over my 2XL jacket which turned out to be like wearing a marquee, but never mind. Straight back home and they're back from the mall so it's kisses all round and off I go. I always spend the first few kilometers of a long ride running mental checks that I have done everything I should have done, packed everything I intended to, strapped the luggage on, shut the garage, that kind of thing. I ticked everything off in my mind, all present and correct and began to relax. By the time I got to Paeroa a feeling of sheer joy was beginning to creep in. I love that transition that occurs in my thinking, in fact it's almost like I stop thinking and start just doing. Everything becomes fluid and I am completely in the moment, and I can picture the point in the road when I became aware of that.