Have you ever lost luggage off the back of your bike? It’s a shattering feeling and we experienced it on only our second of 14 days on a Hobbit Odyssey motorcycle tour of New Zealand.
We rode into smelly RotoVegas (how the locals refer to Rotorua), marvelling at the geysers and steaming hot sulphur springs and pulled up by Lake Rotorua to take in the idyllic scenery. That’s when Mrs MBW discovered the right pannier was missing!
Our world seemed to come crashing down in seconds. What was missing? We did a quick inventory and realised it was mainly shoes, wet gear and toiletries.
Quickly, we remounted the Harley Road King Classic and retraced our steps, scouring the sides of the road, hoping an honest Kiwi had found it and left it for us.
While I’m riding, I’m recounting the morning’s packing. When I put the shoes and gear in the right pannier, I found one of the two interior locking bolts had fallen off. The bike is brand new, so maybe it hadn’t been anchored properly.
I put the bolt back in and thought I’d screwed it in just right. Obviously I hadn’t, even though I gave the pannier a good solid pull to see if it was secure. Or maybe the shoes jostled around and dislodged it.
Our odyssey wasn’t ruined, but it did suffer a setback and an extra 150km for the day. I was shattered and feeling down despite glorious scenery and swooping roads.
But Mrs MBW is a glass-half-full kinda lady and she was in my ear (thanks Sena bluetooth) with positive thoughts. We were soon sharing a laugh and feeling more positive when we came to a line of traffic north of Lake Taupo that was stopped for a traffic accident.
We don’t know any details except that the emergency services helicopter was in attendance and we wish the best to the victim or victims. It made us realise just how petty our problem was.
So we backtracked again and found a fantastic road that did a vigorous Haka through the hills to Highway 1 and on to Taupo.
The popular tourist destination with the famous Huka Falls was very busy and we lunched in the sun by the lake where some of the tourists posed next to our lopsided Road King – still a crowd favourite even missing one pannier!
After a quick look around, we hit route 5 toward the seaside art deco town of Napier about 150km away across timber plantations and virtual nothingness.
About 30km along, I realised I should have fuelled up as there are no towns or services along the route and the tank was running low.
However, the Road King comes into its own here. With the range counting down in line with the kilometres to destination, I’m in fuel-conservation mode and the Road King is complying nicely.
The last 60km is up and down and through steep valleys and canyons with stunning views. However, my sweated brow is concentrating more on the range meter.
By keeping it in sixth gear, we’re doing well for economy and the Road King is miraculously pulling strongly up hills, past cars and neither labouring nor chugging. This is a super-refined and eminently torquey mill.
As we pull into a service station on the edge of the quaint art deco town, I’m patting the tank and thanking the bike for getting us through. All is forgiven for the lost luggage. After all, that’s what travel insurance is for.
The only problem now is that Mrs MBW has no spare room for any shopping. Swings and roundabouts!