Anyway, having done none of late I don't have much work to show you, so this will mainly be a bit of a catch up on some other stuff...
Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Simon Kennett on his superb and inspiring completion of his Great Divide Race mission! I'm super proud to have been a small part of this awesome achievement, and I look forward to hearing how Simon's bike treated him - just don't talk about the granny ring falling off!
From the GDR blog:
Simon rolled into Antelope Wells at 5.02 p.m. Wednesday for a fourth-place finishing time of 19 days, five hours and two minutes. "It was a fairly tedious stretch of road riding here, but overall amazing ride. Lots of incredible, beautiful country. Exceedingly difficult riding at times as well." He wanted to thank the race organizers and other riders in the race - "great camaraderie there." He said he would thank his supporters on his blog. "I'm kinda glad it's over. I'm really glad I've done the Great Divide Race. Mission accomplished! Yee-haw!"
And from Simon's own blog:
Just a short note to say 'Hi' and thanks for your interest/support. Sarah let me know that there were people cheering me on and that sure helped during the low times.
I'm still pretty wasted right now. Although I only lost a couple of kilos and suffered no significant injuries, my fingers (and other bits) are a bit numb, and my brain is exhausted, too. The main feeling at the finish was relief, with a fair degree of satisfaction at cracking 20 days. Hopefully there is more satisfaction yet to come once it all sets in. I'm a little dazed. The last four days were very tough. It was a LOT more fun when there were other riders to share the experience with. Everyone I rode with was great company - Fred, David, Geoff, Keith, Carl and Jenn (and Tour Divide riders Stephen, Mary and Felix). And there were several ordinary folk along the way who were a pleasure to meet. That said, most of the best wildlife encounters and fastest days came while riding solo.
It is fantastic to be back with family.
I'll post some photos soon.
Best of luck to the riders still out there.
I received a couple of welcome updates from Chris and Susy regarding the Jazz Apples US Odyssey...
Manhattan Beach Grand Prix
Amidst the salt air of Manhattan Beach, the Jazz Apple Women's Cycling Team opted to lacquer on the race aggression over the sunscreen for the annual Manhattan Beach Grand Prix.
The Team pre-M.B.G.P. - Lauren, Emma, Ruth, Malindi, Ali and Susy
Five laps into the race, only cash and product primes doctored up the pace, that was until Ruth went on the offensive, making a clear break on the rolling wind-swept course. The field responded promptly but was quickly countered by Lauren, the 19 year youngster who promptly demonstrated she is in dangerous form, screeching out of the group with only a single rider able to follow.
Sensing imperilment, the Cheerwine train ventured to the front for their dynamic sprinters, Laura Van Gilder and Kelly Benjamin, and their crew concertedly chased down the attack. But Lauren was on remarkable form, able to respond to the immediate counter, sprinting for the forthcoming prime. Tibco then threw down their 'full house' hand, clambered to the front, pulling back Lauren from her spirited foray. Ruth had no time to tarry, and escaped off the front at the critical moment of the catch sending the Jazz Apple jersey off the front yet again.
Thirty five minutes into the fifty minute event, Ruth was joined by two riders, and the field began to signal their state of lethargy with increasing hesitation in the chase. Only a hefty prime prize instigated a flurry of attacks, which brought back Ruth's lead group before Susy went away with longtime ex-team-mate, Pam Schuster of team Helen's. The duo worked well together and stayed away for the longest surviving break, caught 10 laps before the finish. Ruth countered, signaling that the Jazz Apple contingent were not going to leave anything in the tank by race end, and forced all the major players to bring it back together.
Saving a trump card for the finale, Ali Shanks rocketed from the bunch, going solo with 4 laps to go. The wind was a major factor, and the field flustered to get any organized chase together. Ali moved away establishing a strong gap, demonstrating impressive power before leaving for Europe and the final stages of her Olympic build-up. However, Cheerwine and Tibco burnt up all their rocket fuel to bring her back, and Ali was caught with just under one lap remaining.
Ali's solo attack
It was then that Lauren once again hit the red blast-off button, leaving a trail of smoke up and over the course's short climb. The field panicked for a moment, and it looked like Lauren's move might stick before the experience in Cheerwine organized at the front and clawed Lauren back.
Lauren blasts off!
Into the gallop, Malindi was in excellent position on Tibco's sprinter, Brooke Miller who was the eventual winner but was unluckily swamped into the final turn and shut out of any placing. Emma Petersen, the team's junior racer had had a solid ride at the front of the race, supporting the critical moves.
The young team proved they were a force off the front for the entire race, clearly making the narrative for the prestigious Manhattan beach GP in 2008. Everyone was commended by their fellow race contemporaries for an impressive Jazz Apple display, and collected the fair share of prime prizes for their efforts.
The afternoon spelled a volleyball 'friendly', or as much competitive angst as the girls could muster post-race on the shores of Manhattan Beach.
Jazz Apple Winning Weekend!
Trading in the gentle seaside breezes of last weekend's Manhattan Beach for Northern California's torched, inland furnace the Jazz Apple Team blazed to victory both in the seriously tough, Leesville Gap Road Race and the Northern Californian Criterium Championships in Vacaville over the weekend.
In the 18th annual 108km Leesville Gap epic, every rider is certain to have a tale to tell by the day's end. Ruth ended the day with a crushing victor's account of events but certainly there is no doubt that everyone involved suffered a crusade worthy of mention. Susy joined the first solo attack of the day by ValueAct's Courtney Brown after only four kilometres. With a two minute buffer, the pair hit the 50km stretch of the 'Gap', a vague footprint of an access road now a crater-riddled trail scattered with long gravel road sections. At the first 8km incline, the duo began dodging the strewn remains of the earlier men's groups either repairing punctures in their numbers or resolving to pull over to stretch their weary limbs.
In the group behind, Ruth launched as the ascent steepened quickly joining the breakaway pair mid-way up. Brown could not quite handle the quickened pace as Susy and Ruth pulled away hitting the gravel road sections at speed. That was until Ruth punctured 20km later. With mechanical support caught behind the group, Susy swapped out her rear wheel with Ruth and sent her on her way.
Sidelined in the torching heat pending mechanical support, Susy then watched the chase group of four fly by with Lauren conveniently lodged on the back of the group. Malindi had suffered two punctures at the bottom of the climb and also suffered the wait for support. Meanwhile Ruth continued a colossal effort on her own, her diminutive frame deceptively continuing to gain time on the chase. Into the last 8km, Ruth had assured her win with an impressive 5 minute lead while Lauren was setting up for a three up gallop. Surprisingly there was one final 5km gravel road, with the three jockeying in the graduated gravel, the day almost culminated in disaster. Emerging safely, Lauren began launching only to be shut down approaching the final dash. One final jump, and Lauren crossed the line a dominating second. However, Lauren had inadvertently snuck a few inches over the centre-line in the sprint and was unluckily disqualified on a technicality. Nevertheless it
was an outstanding voyage and aside from being completely destroyed, we all quietly admired the pulverizing strength of Ruth's ride.
Loz and Lindills racing Vacaville
Slipping into our Champion System Jazz Apple threads, the body made every known firm objection to the idea of anaerobic effort for today's 1 hour Northern Californian Criterium Championships. Vying for the title were vast sets of fresh, Leesville Gap Road Race-free legs, calling for a careful plot on the 1.6km technical and rolling course. Staying close to the moves but out of the wind, the Jazz Apple crew launched their first attack with 7 laps to go. Susy was caught after one lap to be countered by Ruth into the course's 200m climb. Malindi patrolled the front and noting the field's muscle clearly faltering, Susy countered again to fly solo. Lap by lap, Susy's lead yo-yo-ed until a concerted chase sucked back the Jazz Apple rider on the final lap. Executing faultless timing, Lauren rocketed past on the opposite side of the road heading up the final climb with Cheerwine's, Sarah Bamberger chasing hard midway between Lauren and the group. Driving over
the climb, Lauren extended a gap and crossed the line in a very thrilling victory. In front of a cheering crowd, Lauren had her first chance to celebrate victory, all the more rewarding after yesterday's unfortunate finish.
Ruth, feeling recovered from her exceptional day yesterday jumped early in the sprint and powerfully held off the remaining field to claim a gutsy third place.
This week spells the last in the Monterey area as the team prepare to leave for BC Superweek in Vancouver on Thursday, a 9 day spell of racing.
Thank you to all our tremendous supporters, we're truly very grateful:
Champion System Clothing
Joe at Forest Hill Bikes in Pacific Grove
And just today I got the very latest update...
Ruth Corset wins Tour de Delta prologue!
Ruth Corset discovered a new found passion for French bubbles over her native Australian favourite, 'Cab Sav' after taking a convincing win in the opening 3km prologue at the Tour de Delta this evening. Upon the starter's final countdown, Ruth struck her 'match' and blazed down the start ramp with her Grammo wheels humming akin to the 'winged-heel messenger of the Gods' in Greek mythology. Darting through the first tight round-a-bout, Ruth proceeded around the square shaped course with uninhibited tenacity, striking each turn with fighting urgency to fly up the finish hill with outspread wings. Finally after the last rider had completed their own odyssey on the course, Ruth was honoured with victory with a one minute thirty second buffer over second place and consequently dubbed "Super-Mum" by the inspired crowd. Ruth took to the stage with her usual modest poise, and upon being awarded the tour leader's jersey and champagne bubbles, Ruth struck a wry smile before showering the stage and whetting her whistle with the delicate French bubbles.
Proving her own spirit and stamina was up for the task, first year senior Lauren Ellis cut her own sharp orbit around the North Delta circuit finishing in 5th place, nano-seconds behind the leaders. Susy finished 11th after snapping her cleat moments into the race, and Malindi followed close behind documenting a sterling team performance leading into tomorrow's second stage in Ladner, Delta.
Ruth on podium
Ruth deals with the media scrum...
Hopefully the Jazz can hold onto the GC lead for the whole Tour de Delta - best of luck! Emma Petersen will be racing at Junior Worlds this week, so good luck to her to her also. And Ali Shanks will be putting the final touches on her Olympic preparations, so I hope that's going well for her...
While I'm on the international racing tip, my good friend Kris "Grom" Withington is working for Garmin-Chipotle at the biggest international cycling event - he is at the Tour de France. I've already seen him on Sky TV's excellent live coverage doing a superb job of sorting out Martijn Maaskant's rear wheel after he got his rain jacket entangled in it!
Here's Grom with British Time Trial Champion, David Millar...
And here's a shot Grom sent me of Garmin-Chipotle's New Zealand National Champion Julian Dean's Felt bike just after he built it pre-Tour.
Thanks to this blog I get lots of cool inquiries and interesting emails from all sorts of people about all sorts of bike related things. I got an email from Tony with a couple of cool projects he's completed/about to complete.
He just finished building this Montagner TT bike up after my friend Ross Bee restored its paintjob.
Montagner were built by Luigi Montagner, whose claim to fame was being builder to the Czech and Polish national teams in the 80s. Apparently, the rumour is that the brand went belly-up after Luigi got busted for importing dope! I couldn't find out how that all ended up...It's a lovely bike, regardless.
Tony is in the process of getting this very cool Chesini restored by Ross Bee as well, including the pantographed Delta brakes and 3TTT stem.
Next up is this excellent ride report from my partner in crime from Rotorua, Paul Larkin. Thanks heaps for the jersey, boys!
Team Roadworks Update From The Oh-Seven
It's long past time we updated our patron and mate Oli on our activities up here, so here's the update from Team Roadworks in the (07) – that's the Bay of Plenty.
Up this way flying the Roadworks flag are big T-Rex (Tim Wilding), as well as Paul Larkin trying grimly to hang on.
This weekend saw a great excuse for a Roadworks adventure: The SingleSpeed Society Poker Run. The event was a fundraiser to send NZL SS Champions Annika Smail and Garth Weinberg to the Singlespeed Worlds in Napa.
A bit of work at the Roadworks satellite station before the event saw a new hanger and derailleur fitted to Tim's bike (gears allowed for this race, but we paid a penalty: I think we both killed chains), and a bit of rapid voodoo performed on the Commençal – a new wheel built late the night before, after a rather exciting ride down the Exit trail sans rim pins or weld the day before. Running short of time, we rode hard over to the race start, chugged a beer and got in to it.
In a nutshell, riders needed to ride as many laps of Old Chevy (or sneaky parts thereof) to collect poker cards. Two bonus cards were available at the final gap jump, while another bonus card could be collected for knocking back a chilly Speight's ale between laps. These cards became important – a game of high stakes poker was run later that night to decide the "race winner".
Being cunning tacticians, a plan became clear: Tim would ride his Ibis Mojo at a rapid clip, collecting cards per lap, while Paul went to town on the Commençal, picking up as many bonus points as possible on the gap jumps. In true team fashion, both Tim and Paul managed to pick up lots of bonus cards drinking mid race beers. Indeed, it was observed we rode better with 2-3 beers in us. After that, Tim swore he saw a tandem out on the course!
The race started cold – with sleet, freezing temperatures and a thick layer of mud making things good fun. With nearly 50 riders, it was decided the "race" would be 2.5 hours, or until the beer ran out. WE beat the clock, and drank all the beer.
The weather was still arctic but for some mad reason we still wanted to ride, so picking up Emma, Tony and Marty, we decided to get another 3 hours in. It promptly started sleeting again, and a hypothermic Marty pulled the pin. Yellow Brick Road, a slippery, slidy jaunt through Pondy, and up to Billy T we four went. Thankfully, the climb to Billy T saw more rain and sleet, and a southerly that fittingly, was Berhampore-esque. Tony hunkered in a fern bivouac with a muesli bar, and slowly we all slogged up.
A slippery descent through the quagmire that was Billy T, G Rock, Chestnut at hair rasing pace saw frozen hands and feet – so much so that shifting and braking was near impossible. We heard today that it was actually snowing after we got in to the singletrack! Twisty goodness brought us to Pondy, before heading back to the carpark and bidding Emma adieu, before big ringing it back to town through rain, sleet, and eventually heavy hail. Frozen extremities and half hour showers prefaced enormous amounts of pasta, Burger Fuel, and a few beers at the Poker Night, where we played our hands.
It was probably as close as I'll ever get to beating T Rex in a "bike race" – but his full house (kings, queens) saw him edge in to second overall, with my own full house placing me third – not a bad night for Team Roadworks.
Next came the auction of donated items ranging from Fabien Barel's unused #1 plate from the 06 Worlds through to Marcello's infamous boxers. Scraping our pennies together, T Rex and I managed to secure a fine addition to the Roadworks Service Course: Julian Dean's signed Credit Agricole NZL Champion's Full Kit. Be sure to drop in (with a Havana Long Black for Oli) and check it out soon.
All in all, an epic day's riding, and nearly $6000 raised to send our SS Champions to Napa. On the back of another Team Roadworks training ride, of course!
Now if only we could get Team Roadworks sponsor Havana to set up with Rum and Coffee.
That's the bi-millenial update from the 07, but word has it a special edition may be due soon, with Oli himself heading up for a pedal.
Crediamo in te, Roadworks!
To finish off, here's Tom's very tricked out Specialized Langster after I fitted new Campagnolo Record brake levers and front caliper. With it's Cinelli RAM bar/stem combo, Record UT crankset and Reynolds/Phil Wood fixie wheels, it's hard to imagine a cooler blinglespeed!
Right, now I'm up to date. All I need to do is stay well enough to actually do some work to take photos of and I'll be back on track...although I do have a few crafty projects up my sleeve.
CU soon, Oli