Echoes of the past in Waipori to Nelson journey

Ashley Blair rides his 1914 Humber motorcycle on Lammerlaw Rd, Waipori, yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Ashley Blair rides his 1914 Humber motorcycle on Lammerlaw Rd, Waipori, yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Ashley Blair is celebrating the birthday of his 100-year-old motorcycle by re-creating the journey his grandfather made a century ago.

Mr Blair (67), of Pukerua Bay, near Wellington, said he decided on the 877km journey when his uncle Jack Knight (88), of Owaka, sent him a photo of his grandfather Eric Knight and his friend Frank Russell on a trip from Waipori to Nelson on Humbers in 1914.

''I thought: Oh, I'd like to re-create his journey,'' Mr Blair said.

His grandfather, aged 19, made the journey on his 1912 Humber motorcycle in eight days.

Mr Blair set off on his 1914 Humber motorcycle from Waipori at 9.30am yesterday and stopped in Waikouaiti for the night at 3.30pm.

Eric Knight and Frank Russell on Humber motorcycles in 1914. Photo supplied.
Eric Knight and Frank Russell on Humber motorcycles in 1914. Photo supplied.
The bike went well and used half a tank for the 111km leg, he said.

The top speed yesterday was 55kmh and the average speed was 35kmh.

The gravel road from Waipori was ''violent'' to ride on, Mr Blair said.

He has postcards his grandfather sent during his trip. They talk of navigating uneven riverbeds and roads littered with horseshoe nails.

Mr Blair said the three-speed belt-driven motorcycle had a wooden brake, a foot clutch and a hand-operated gear change.

Ashley Blair
Ashley Blair
The bike's weaknesses were being poor at travelling downhill and stopping suddenly.

''Brakes on veteran bikes have nothing to do with stopping - they have got a little bit to do with slowing down - and you need a big pair of boots for the braking system.''

The hills of Dunedin were challenging and he was looking forward to the easy riding of the Canterbury Plains.


1914 Humber
Engine:
500cc single cylinder
Gears: Sturmey-Archer three-speed in rear hub

Journey: 877km in six days
• Waipori to Waikouaiti: 111km
• Waikouaiti to Timaru: 157km
• Timaru to Christchurch: 165km
• Christchurch to Kaikoura: 199km
• Kaikoura to Blenheim: 135km
• Blenheim to Nelson: 110km


- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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