Sunday, October 19, 2008
The Neutron Dance
Another week goes by on this rollercoaster we call life. I had a fair bit of bike-fixin' to do as usual, but the week was dominated for me by a second appearance as a witness at the trial of a woman accused of hitting and killing a young girl in Whitemans Valley in December 2006.
After the accident, in early 2007, I was asked to do a kind of forensic exam of the bike Ayla was riding when hit to try and determine the mechanical state of the bike prior to impact, as well as to ascertain an idea of exactly how the damage had occurred.
The initial trial ended up with a hung jury, so this retrial presumably had to cover more ground, although my short appearance was almost a word-for-word repeat of my last time in the witness box. The whole experience is extremely confronting - in terms of observing the obvious terrible and life-changing impact the loss of a child has on a family, as well as forcing one to give rise to the fears and dread of anything similar happening to one of one's own children...lastly, and selfishly, being in court for any reason is stressful and something I could well do without.
I just hope Ayla's family get some closure at the end of this drawn-out process. Kia kaha and maximum respect.
The Taupo rush is in full effect, with a myriad of bikes being dragged out of winter storage to have the cobwebs dusted off and a drop of lube applied to their rusty chains - great to see how this iconic and enduring event continues to galvanise people to ride, even those who barely touch their bikes for any other reason.
Other than that though, I performed the final touches on Kriston's Rocky Mountain Altitude singlespeed. He had located a 34 tooth Surly stainless steel chainring, and I found a 17 tooth rear cog for a 2:1 gear to push. Happily for aesthetic reasons we ended up not needing to use the chain tensioner...
Among the Taupo checks was a Scott belonging to Jules. I'd built Jules a pair of Ultegra/Mavic Open Pro race wheels a year or so ago and I was pleased to see that he'd been riding them hard the whole time but that they were still in near-perfect shape. One spoke on the rear wheel needed an 1/8 of a turn to restore them to full perfection.
Note the darkness outside in the photo above; many people think I am a hopeless morning sifter (and they're partially right!), but what many people don't realise is that I'm often doing repairs and/or answering emails late into the night, yet still have to wrangle kids to school and stuff the following morning. Not an excuse, just an explanation.
My pal Malcolm had cased a jump last weekend and needed a new front wheel for his Specialized Enduro. I was glad to see he wasn't badly hurt, but his wheel wasn't so lucky. He wanted a burly 28mm wide rim so I got him a DT Swiss 5.1D and built it up onto his existing 20mm Speshy front disc hub using black DT Comp spokes. Burly and fly.
Anton has been looking to upgrade his mid 90s mtb for a very long time, and finally settled on a Cotic Soul steel hardtail. He needed me to face the b/b shell, install the cranks and headset/forks. This will be a beautiful bike when he's finished it.
While I drink coffee and write this up, my top Roadworks Team rider John Randal is hammering his way around the 2008 Maungakotukutuku Super Sprint. His Specialized Epic needed a good check over, but also John wanted to upgrade from mechanical discs to hydraulics, so I got him some Avid Elixir brakes and installed them too. Very cool brakes with a revolutionary new design, and they felt super powerful with great modulation. Hopefully, the faster he can stop means the faster he can go!
One of the perks of my job is getting offered great deals by some of my lovely suppliers, and the last few weeks have been a bonanza as far as that goes! My latest acquisition is this beautiful pair of Campagnolo Neutron Ultra wheels for my Hillbrick road bike. Very blinging and carboniferous...
As followers of this blog will be aware, I am the world's heftiest weight-weenie. I have now got the Hillbrick down to a feathery 8.76kg/19.31lb, which of course means I am allowed to retain the extra 20kg around my waist...
After my day in court, and before I got into work mode again, I needed a mountainbike ride to clear the mind. As I promised last blog, I wanted to just ride out my door rather than drive to ride, so I suited up and rode my Meta 5 out of the workshop. I had big ambitions to ride up to the Polhill Windmill, then around the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary and all the way to Makara Peak via Deliverance, but a deluge of morning phonecalls and emails had severely curtailed my time meaning I'd just have to see how far I got...
Up Britomart and Farnham Streets
Down to Ohiro Road, then up Todman Street onto Mitchell St
To Aston Fitchett Drive and the entrance to the Hawkins Hill road
Bugger the road, I thought, I've ridden enough tarmac already today - I'm heading onto the Rollercoaster to ride the dirt
After some huffing and puffing I came to a familiar spot - this corner was where I had my first ever MTB crash in 1992. I was being shown the Rollercoaster in the more usual downhill direction by Wheels and Mad Al McIntyre, and it was late afternoon on a grey and misty day. Wheels had set off at warp speed and I was falsely and foolishly confident my roadie descending skills could easily keep me in touch with him. Al was drawing up the rear, keeping an eye on the noob. Wheels had the good line and fired into this corner fast, but I wasn't in the least used to the loose and dusty ruts, so next thing my front wheel washed out and I went down in a sliding heap...poor Al couldn't avoid my bike and went flying over his 'bars - I'll never forget the surreality of our eyes meeting as I was sliding to a stop on my back and he went sailing through the air over me, only to smash into the ground on his chest in a bad Superman impression. Despite declaring that it was his worst crash ever, we were both fine apart from some grazing. This of course was just the first of many, many crashes on the dirt I've since inflicted upon myself, but this particular corner will remain timeless and historic to me...
Staring up at the wall confronting me, as well as a walker and his stupid dog I would have to navigate, I decided that I would soft out and ride the road the rest of the way to the windmill after all
After a few minutes to take in the incredible views from this superb vantage point, I realised I had totally misguesstimated the time I had left to ride in so I decided to ride down a trail called Carparts that runs parallel to the road I'd just ridden up
This trail was built by some hard-out legends of local mountainbiking, many of whom I have done work for over the years, and it's a superb little track that is full of fun. Not too many pics in here as I was too busy pinning it to want to stop. This one doesn't begin to convey the bermy, flowy nature of the trail, but it's always cool to be in the trees
After having a great run down Carparts I scuttled onto the Rollercoaster again to do the last section of it down to Denton Park. I even did a couple of the small jumps that have been built down here - although I'm generally not very confident in the air, the Commençal handled things with aplomb, making me look okay and soaking up the landings as if they didn't exist
I then rolled over to Revolution Bicycles to bludge a quick coffee from Jonty and Alex
Then I realised I had 20 minutes to get from Northland to the workshop to meet a client, so I scooted back through town as fast as I could getting to the workshop door in 22 minutes. Of course it took another 22 minutes for the red mist of over-exertion to lift and for the power of speech to return - luckily my client was late!
I had a couple of other rides during the week, but my favourite was a simple ride around the neighbourhood with my boy Bodhi. He wanted to ride his scooter and I dragged out my singlespeed to accompany him. We went to a park and zoomed up and down the Bergs of Berhampore with only a few near crashes to deal with...this was a very cool ride.
Lastly for this week, Josh Barley just got back from a jaunt through the USA racing his MTB, as well as representing New Zealand as an U23 at MTB Worlds in Val di Sole in Italy. Very kindly he gave me a number from the Team Relay to add to my collection. Cheers, Josh!
Oh, one more thing before I go. If you have ever ridden or dug on Makara Peak, or even if you haven't but are interested in checking it out and meeting some like-minded folk, the 10th Birthday of the Makara Peak Supporters is coming up on Saturday the 1st of November. The more the merrier so please come along!
I'm off for a ride in the sun with my two big boys now. Thanks for reading, Oli
[STOP PRESS - 11:30PM]Great late news - John Randal won the previously mentioned 2008 Maungakotukutuku Super Sprint by over three minutes from Carparts prime instigator Craig Starnes! Awesome work, John, and thanks for the lovely comments...