Saturday, August 30, 2008

You should see the other guy!

I'll start today's blog with the usual pictures of bikes, and I'll finish with a brief description of my ill-advised attempt to ride a trail that has always freaked me out a bit. First the bikes...

I gave this 90s Trek 8500 belonging to my good friend Pip a service. Pip was a successful Cycle Services team rider - adept at both road and MTB races, with a few triathlons thrown in for good measure. Pip also helped design my Roadworks logos, so I owe her a great debt. Of late Pip has been kept busy with her beautiful baby daughter Lauren, but has been making noises about getting out on a bike again so her husband Jimmy Bottles brought her steed in for a bloody good going over...I stripped the bike right down, rebuilt and repacked everything, fitted a whole new drivetrain and some cables and generally tweaked it up for her. Great to hear she got out for a blast out to Pencarrow, though I was sorry to hear she almost immediately got a puncture!

My next job was to strip down this Avanti Pista so Andrew could take the frame away for a Ross Bee custom paintjob. While I have the parts left in the shop I'm rebuilding the stock wheels also, as the old spokes had corroded and begun randomly snapping - you can see some broken spokes in the pic of the Pista in the stand...

Andrew also brought me an old Spinergy carbon road wheel which I converted to a fixed wheel using this cool Surly Fixxer, designed to replace the freehub. Due to the unusual axle configuration of the Spinergy it wasn't quite as simple as just fitting the supplied axle - I had to do some cunning work to get it all to fit. I'll have to wait until the wheel is back from getting it's graphics applied before I take some pics, but here's the Fixxer. Very cool device indeed if you want to convert any Shimano type wheel to a fixed...

Next up was a cool revisit of The 39 Steps. Tom has finally received his correctly sized Colnago Master Saronni, so I was lucky enough to get a second shot at this building one of these delicious bikes...luckily for us all it turned out to fit him perfectly this time! (The seat went down after these shots were taken - I never put a post down until I'm sure it's at the right height just in case it gets garked)

Cheers, Tom!

Tom has another interesting task for me - I'm building a Cycleops Powertap SL 2.4 wireless hub into a Fulcrum R3 rim. As the rim is a 14 spoke drive side/7 spoke non-drive, I got Tom to get a 28 hole hub and I'm going to build it up with aero spokes in the same pattern as the Fulcrum original. The rim hasn't arrived yet, but the hub is very cool.

Next up was this Scott CR1 in for a bit of general maintenance.

Followed up by a new cassette and a bit of love for this T-Mobile edition Giant TCR-Advanced. It's equipped with Shimano 7800 Dura-Ace and, interestingly, Campagnolo Neutron wheels with a Shimano freehub! Udo is set for a great summer riding this wicked bike.

I was able to finish this big week off with another cool build - the first Lynskey Helix in New Zealand. This is going to be the personal ride of Dave from Bike Fixation, as well as a demo tool. Czech out the fascinating torsionally twisted top, down and seatstay tubes. The workmanship that has gone into it is amazing. Built up with 08 Campagnolo Record and Topolino wheels the 1350g 'L' frame built up into a 7.130g/15.71lb complete bike...

Amongst all this fruit and also the other jobs I did this week I was rapt to get a rare visit from my old friend Tallbeast, who was down from Auckland for the week. We decided that Thursday afternoon would be the day for a ride together - something we haven't done since last century! I arranged to meet him and two of my other friends Al and Rod at Makara Peak carpark, so I loaded the GT onto the Roadworks Service Van and set off...

The ride started out innocuously enough, with a huff and a puff up Koru and Sally Alley to the Snakecharmer, where I stopped to have a minor coronary - I'm a couple of kilos over my ideal weight and I'm starting to feel it! ;)

Rod and Tallbeast waiting patiently...

After a suitable time for recovery we rode up the Snakecharmer to the summit of Makara Peak. I actually didn't feel too bad riding up here - slow but steady was my mantra and I made it fine to partake of the splendid views on this spring-like day.

Clockwise from looking northeast...

At the top we debated our options for getting back down - on such a great day we ruled out descending Aratihi in case of riders coming up. Zacs/Varleys/Wahine was my choice, but Ridgeline was the final verdict. Despite my well-founded wariness of this difficult trail the allure of Ridgeline Extension and Lazy Fern meant it seemed the logical choice.

If only I had listened to my initial instincts...

Ridgeline begins

After riding most of the first oddly rhythmed sections, including a couple of slippery downs, I had already had one small over the bars incident on a flat bit of trail where my front wheel dropped off the edge. Luckily I ended up in soft bushes and did no damage at all.

Setting off again



Just after taking those last few pictures I had somehow ended up in the lead. A rush of blood to what I loosely describe as my "brain" meant that I was feeling like John Kirkaldie as I steamed down the trail, only to be confronted with my limitations in an abrupt and very painful way.

I decided I would try to repeat my earlier OTB, but this time on a steep and rocky hairpin - for the second time today my front wheel dropped off the outside of a left-hand corner, and again I must have grabbed a big handful of front Avid Juicy brake, as the next thing I recall was watching a large and pointy rock arrowing straight towards my eye as I slammed onto the side of the track with considerable force...

As I picked myself up to the mixture of concern and laughter from the boys, I began to realise that I was hurt but lucky to not be hurt worse - the damage was a sore face and wrist, and some minor grazing on my knees and knuckles. My helmet peak was pushed askew, and I had crap all over my shoulder, but my face was the worst off. My old Oakleys had a big scratch across one lens, directly over my eye, and my cheek already felt like I'd gone one on one with Mike Tyson.

After cleaning up - swelling came later!

After several minutes of ascertaining whether or not I was okay I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, so I gingerly walked my bike down the rest of Ridgeline to meet the boys at the head of Ridgeline Extension. I will admit to feeling somewhat discombobulated by this stage, but still keen to enjoy some tracks I know well and am comfortable to shralve.

After Rod and Tallbeast took off I minced my way down RE in a slightly more cautious than usual way, then we rode Magic Carpet to the Skills Area so Rod, Tall and Alex could do some mad hucks and shit. I sat on a log and chatted to another spectator while the boys went big, as witnessed in this superb Spoke quality picture I took of Rod jumping...

After a while the thrill of sitting watching got too much for me, and I was feeling much less rattled, so we saddled up for a blast back down Lazy Fern. While not technical at all (it's the DH part of the beginners loop of the MTB Park) LF is a great track to ride fast, as it has superb flow and bermed corners that just beg to be railed at speed, as long as exit visibility is clear. At last a bit of track that I know and love - what little mojo I possess was back so I took the lead and blasted down in the lead of the awesome run!

Al exits Lazy Fern

Back to the carpark to use the superb bike washing facilities, then we dispersed to meet later on for a curry and a lager...Nice to have the afternoon clear to hang with some old friends, and despite my nasty slam this was a very cool day indeed.

I sit here typing this blog on another lovely Wellington day, but am not allowed to take a bike out as I have ended up with a light concussion, a very sore face and hand. The desire to ride again as soon as possible is strong though - maybe just not Ridgeline!

And to finish off, here's my great mate Henry with Olympic BMX Champion Anne-Caroline Chausson at MTB Worlds in Cairns, 1996. Henry was my boss at Cycle Services and was the first of us all to represent NZ as a mechanic. He met Anne-Caroline as she was on an upward trajectory that would lead to 17 World Championship titles in Downhill before retiring only to reappear as France's main BMX contender - rightly as it happened! I just thought it was very cool that he was clairvoyant enough to have his photo taken with her for just this sort of event...

Until next time, thanks for reading. Keep the rubber side down, Oli

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Week That Was...

On Sunday my son Bodhi and I joined many others in attending Simon Kennett's post Great Divide Race slideshow and auction. We sat down up the back of the Rongotai College theatre and absorbed all of Simon's fascinating anecdotes about his incredible exploits, then laughed at the antics of the bidders in the auction. Good to see that he raised some money, but several items went unsold so check out his blog for details on bidding for the remainder...

Terrible quality pic of Simon's slideshow

The week didn't work very smoothly as far as work went, with a myriad of other things such as a root canal keeping me occupied and out of the shop, but I did get to work on my friend Grant's Trek in readiness for the upcoming final Balfour Pennington series road race run by my club PNP. To give Grant every possible advantage we replaced the drivetrain and gave it a good clean and service - the clean alone gave Grant a clear 20% more performance. ;)

Talking about clean bikes, I confiscated John Randal's Specialized Roubaix from him to give it some love. John is a machine as a rider but maintenance is low on his list of priorities with his busy work life and solo dad duties, so his bike gets thrashed race after race and ridden in all weathers without getting much attention. I gave the bike a full-on pro clean and service so that he could really throw down in the Balfour Pennington, as he was sitting reasonably high in the series overall and this was to be his first outing as a scratch rider after working his way back up the handicaps following a lengthy recovery from a nasty crash descending Hawkins Hill in May...

Wednesday dawned fine for what seemed like the first time in several months, so I took advantage of a morning cancellation to take up on John's kind offer of taking his Roubaix for a proper ride.

I am very lucky that many of my customers offer me the opportunity to take their bikes for a ride, but it's rare that any of them are actually big enough for me to ride more than a few hundred metres without killing my knees! Despite being only 183cm tall I have very long legs and I take a 61cm frame in standard geometry, where it seems the average size of my client's bikes would be around 56-58cm or smaller...

Anyway, I whacked the seat up a few centimetres and chucked my Campagnolo Pro-Fit pedals on and trundled around the Bays on this lovely, still winters day. The Roubaix was interesting to ride, especially in light of my recent experience with the similar concept of the Avanti Cadent. The Roubaix was a very nice ride, although I have to say that the Cadent definitely suited me better.

I've done this sort of photo series before, but I never tire of the Bays and I figure John's bike makes a bit of a difference...

Palmer Head

Seatoun Wharf


A quick stop at the Havana Boatshed

On Saturday I was a marshal for the afore-mentioned PNP Balfour Pennington race 4, which was three circuits of the Miramar Peninsular, followed by an ascent of Maupuia Road towards the Wellington Prison to the finish. The weather forecast wasn't great, but the day turned out sunny and warm so I rode my Casati to Miramar wharf to get my safety vest and to catch up with the riders before they set off. Great to see a few old faces from my own racing days, although I couldn't help noticing that they all seemed a lot less hefty that I am these days - maybe now my kids are older and more self-sufficient I'll have the time and inclination to do the odd race again!

I got given what I thought would be a quiet corner to look after, but it seemed like the entire population of Miramar was doing laps in their SUVs, which made for some three-way confusion at times! Luckily I was joined by my good mate Henry, who rode his bike down from his home on the finishing climb to hang out and help control the chaos.

My corner (poor phone pic)

The race was hard fought, with the handicap gaps quite small causing the bunches to come together quite quickly. After the riders had all passed on their third and final lap, I said CU to Henry and rode my bike to watch them start the climb (as I knew I'd never be able to muscle my singlespeed up the hill!), but I was fortunate to get a lift to the finish with Simon Kennett in plenty of time to watch Roadworks rider John Randal finish a fine 5th over the line, for a great 3rd place in the prestigious Balfour Pennington series...

John and I post-race finish

A quick blast down the hill with the racers returning to the start at Miramar wharf, then I scooted home around the Bays just before the rain came in to complete a week with an almost unprecedented four days of riding! As I alluded to earlier, watching the race helped me remember that I used to really love the road scene no matter where I finished, so I am hoping to turn this small beginning into an imminent return to racing. I'll just have to get myself into a position where I can ride for more than an hour without being reduced to a crumbling ruin! I'm working on it... :D

I thought I'd finish up with a photo series of my workshop for those of you who haven't been in to czech it out. As you may know I'm not there any regular hours to speak of, but am always glad to show people around so feel free to contact me to bowl in and say hi. Even if I'm busy with a client or a repair there are magazines dating from today back to the late 70s to read, as well as lots of memorabilia to suss at your leisure.

The series goes around the whole shop in a clockwise direction

My young Padawan Bodhi gives the workshop the Big Thumb of Approval

With that I'll sign off for today. Cheers for reading, Oli