First cab off the rank was my old flatmate Peter's Healing 10 Speed, which I adapted with flat bars ages ago - it needed a full going over after several years of unserviced heavy duty home-pub-home transportation.
The beauty of these much-maligned machines is that generally they can be covered in rust and crap yet the spokes still turn in the nipples, all the nuts and bolts still work, and usually a spray of lube here and there and a couple of cables do the job to get them running like new. Back in the late 70s when these were being made us wannabe bike-racer shop droids looked down on them - now I'm impressed with their supremely unflashy but super dependable New Zealand engineering.
Peter's 1978 Healing 10 Speed
Then I built this wheel for Wellington's best bag maker/fixer Podge. It's a Salsa rim on a White Industries ENO hub threaded for two freewheels or one freewheel and one fixed cog - a hot wheel for his cool old Avanti singlespeed...
Next up I had Geoffrey Notman's wicked Surly 1x1, which needed a new rear freewheel, chain, brake pads and new hub bearings front and rear. As G texted me after his first post-service ride, it's now "greased lightnin'!" again...
Then I had to swap freehub/axles between a Topolino clincher wheel and this ultra-light carbon tubular. In case you can't read the weight on my scales, it's 680 grams!
Dave Hicks is one of my star Team Roadworks riders - he's made a great racing career out of endurance and adventure racing, and is off to do the XPD in Thredbo, NSW:
XPD - "As much an expedition as a race"
XPD is Australia’s own expedition length adventure race. Up to 80 teams of four competitors from Australia and overseas will trek, mountain bike and kayak in this world renowned expedition. Edition 4 of XPD will span 800km of the Australian High Country and see teams taking in some of Australia's highest mountains; white water paddling on turbulent rivers fed by melting winter snow; navigating through alpine forests of snowgum and tall sub-alpine mountain gums and visiting historic gold rush towns.
XPD is open to mixed, all male or all female teams of four. The exact course is kept secret until 24hrs before the start. Then with much excitement and anticipation, teams are provided a course booklet and their race maps. The course booklet contains the location of each of the race checkpoints. Once teams start, racing is 24 hours per day; teams choose when and where they will sleep. The winning team is expected to complete the course in 4-5 days. All other teams will be permitted up to 10 days to complete the expedition without mid-race cut offs. XPD will be challenging for first time racers and experienced teams alike.
In the spirit of a true expedition, teams will be unsupported with their equipment, pre-packed in plastic trunks, being moved to various points on the course by the race organisers.
Prior to this no doubt gruelling event Dave needed to do a couple of crucial things - first, he needed to cut his hair into a mohawk, and second he needed his trusty Kona King fettled and have its drivetrain replaced. He tells me that in the 8 years I've been looking after him he's never had one mechanical so the pressure is on!
When he came to grab the King he dropped me off this poster advertising a race that Dave has done very well in over past years. It's the ARC Operation Nighthawk, and for the 2009 race poster they chose a great shot of him leaping down the face of a waterfall to grab a checkpoint secreted under a log under the waterfall! Though he's wearing his race bib Dave's Roadworks jersey is clearly visible, so I'm stoked at this viral marketing...Geoff from Havana will be pleased too, no doubt!
Then was Lance's Kona Dawg - another much loved and well used MTB that needed a new drivetrain...
Then came a slightly the worse for wear Kona Kula Deluxe (are you starting to see the theme?) that needed a damn good wash before I could even begin to figure out what was wrong!
Among several other (actually a lot of other!) bikes I've been prepping for Round Taupo I had to get this lovely old Columbus steel Kona Kilauea (!?!) into some sort of road form for Andrea. Several years of unintended neglect meant I had to virtually strip down then reassemble it, along with fitting some roadie-style slick tyres and replacing all the brake shoes and cables, etc...I believe a new saddle is also on the way.
The end of the week was brightened up with a lovely gift from Auckland. My good friend David Benson from top wholesaler W.H. Worralls was kind enough to send me a large stack of the latest Ritchey, Continental and Syncros catalogues, along with three stunning Campagnolo ones. They are already getting dog-eared from heavy use in the shop - cheers, DB!
After doing those bikes, along with some others and a few pairs of wheels, the working week for me is usually finished off nicely with a couple of quiet ales and some great bike shop chat at Jonty Ritchie's cool Northland bike shop, Revolution Bicycles.
This Friday was full as ever with (among other things!?) entertaining chat about singlespeeding - after all, Revolution is Welli's spiritual home of singlespeeding and cyclo-cross - and I was inspired by this chat to finally sort out my Cove Handjob XC as a singlie. For the last few years I've been riding around my much loved old aluminium Marin Palisades Trail as my one gear MTB, but the consensus at Revolution was that the Columbus Niobium steel Cove would be much a better ride.
I had held off on building the Cove (which I bought off Selwyn last year) because I wasn't at all sure if I wanted to build it up as a geared bike or as a singlespeed, and whether it would be rigid or suspended in whatever format. But whenever I thought about it as a potential singlespeed, I couldn't be arsed with the extra work for what I considered would only be trivial differences over the Marin. I found on this ride that the differences were vast. So thanks very much to Selwyn, Jonty and Alex for the enthusiasm and getting me off my arse to build it up the right way.
So with all the weekend chores done and a spare family-free time slot on Saturday arvo I turned this:
Another cool rig to add to my quiver, and the only thing that beats having an afternoon free to work on my own bike is getting the time to ride it once it's built. So I did.
I set out through the Newtown Ghetto and up Constable Street and onto Mt Victoria. The 32 x 18 softies gear still was too much work at times for this fat boy, but I managed to keep rolling up the hill by only riding the least technical trails and/or sticking to the road. I walked up the very last bit of the hill under the lookout, but only because I wanted to not because I had to, I swear...
I then rode the main Ridgeline run as far as the Wellington College top field, then dropped down to the Basin Reserve and headed off for an urban/waterfront sift - not quite the same on a grey and breezy day as it is on a sunny and still one, but at least the weather meant the pedestrian slalom wasn't too intense!
A quick patrol through my old Cuba Street stomping grounds then back home for a well-deserved bath and snooze before the family returned...
This was a great ride that made me mull over a few things;
Firstly, I realised how lucky I was that for years I could work on my own bikes while people paid me - cheers Roland, Bruce, Henry, Wheels, Deb and Rod. It's much more appreciated now I have to justify my own time than perhaps it seemed at the time! :D
Secondly, I realised that steel is real, at least when matched against older cheapish aluminium frames. The difference in resilience of the ride and the springy snap under standing pedalling were streets away from the solid and harsh ride of the poor old Marin, and could even counteract the tractor-like drag of my 2.35 tyres.
Thirdly, I realise that something I really love about what I do is that there is always something you can learn, something that can surprise you, even when it's just rediscovering that a cliche like "steel is real" is almost a truism. It's easy to get jaded and stale so finding things that keep you interested and that tap into the passions that drive you are vital.
Lastly, and most importantly for me, I remembered how immensely satisfying it is to build a new bike for yourself from the ground up then immediately take it out and thrash it. It's what got me started in this bike fixing game and it's a passionate feeling for me to this day...
Me figuring "it" out (eventually) in my prized Revolution Bicycles t-shirt
Cheers for reading, Oli