Well not so much shirking, actually. The year is off to a start well and truly, so it's full steam ahead into 2009!
I started the week off with a full service (and a bit of a groom!) of Andrew's Kuota Kredo, which had just been doing some long, hard miles in the South Island. I imagine this would be a sweet bike to ride up the Crown Range, if anything could make that tough ride more pleasant! I had to almost completely strip it down, clean and regrease/oil everything, as well as cobble together a pawl spring to replace the one that had disintegrated - miraculously without the hub failing!
I then built up a pair of wheels for Mark's Giant Trance. Lovely Hadley hubs, wrapped up with Mavic XM819 disc rims, and pulled together by Sapim Race double-butted spokes.
A photo of the interesting nipple configuration for Mavic's UST (tubeless compatible) rims, where the nipple is inserted into a spoke bed which are then Loctited and threaded into the rim, before the spokes are attached.
The wheels built up beautifully. Final weight (after converting the hubs from standard quick release to bolt-up)was 1970 grams.
Here are two shots of the wheels fitted on the bike, showing the stunningly machined titanium bolts.
Another wheel build - this time a Salsa Semi rim built up on a White Industries ENO singlespeed hub. These hubs are the best solution to chain tensioning issues on "ghetto" singlespeeds I've seen so far, and I'm gonna get me one soon as...
Accompanying Andrew and his Kredo on his South Island training camp was Tom, the owner of the Colnago I built up in the 39 Steps. It too had had a hard life since I last saw it, and needed a good bit of love. Again I essentially stripped it down and rebuilt it. This bike is equipped with the Power Tap hub I built into a Fulcrum R3 rim and I was very pleased to see that apart from needing to clean and grease the freehub assembly the wheel was as good as when it was built by me. You might say, "So? Shouldn't all your wheels be okay? What the hell am I paying for???" Usually the answer would be yes, but this assembly of expensive and unusual mismatched components was a bit of a gamble on Tom and my part, and all the care and skill in the world can't prevent the possibility of something like this being problematic. Glad to see it wasn't...
First I washed it...wheels separately, naturally.
Then I got on with some other stuff while it dried.
Then took it inside and fettled it to within an inch of it's life, as well as doing a few small touch-ups on the paint. Voila!
Next week I begin this cool project - an early-80s NOS 24 hole Mavic GP4 rim that I'm building around an also NOS jewel-like Campagnolo Record 24 hole hub. I will be building up the matching front one as soon as a suitable hub is sourced. They will be going on a 1982 Benotto that Trevor has had fully restored, which I hope to get pics of once it's all built up.
A Benotto similar to what he is going to end up with, minus the old gentleman...
Also on the restoration tip, I am fizzing to get into James's TI Raleigh project. The late and much missed Ross Bee completed this perfect paintjob shortly before his untimely passing, and I built the wheels up late last year, so I'm looking forward greatly to adding to his fine legacy by turning this frame into a complete bike once James has gathered the last of the bits.
Here's where the lurking comes into it...after that busy week I was looking forward to the weekend, as the Raboplus MTB National Cup Round 3 was being held on Wellington's Mt Victoria on Sunday. During Friday drinks at Revolution Bicycles I was coerced (happily volunteered, really...) into feeding up and coming XC racer, Alex Revell, during his Senior Men's race.
After an insomniac night, I guzzled down a couple of Havana espressos, then staggered out into the rainy morning to rendezvous with Alex at the Hataitai Velodrome race village. I spotted his distinctive Revolution Bicycles kit a mile off, so we caught up and he handed his bottles over. I then spent some time catching up with racers I know from all over the North Island, as well as a few from down South.
The rain was rapidly clearing, and before I knew it it was briefing time...
I set off up the hill to the feed zone, as several riders warmed up by riding up and down the brutal start climb. This is my friend the legendary Wayne Hiskock (Hiskey) who I worked with when I was wrench for BikeNZ at MTB Worlds 06. After retiring from Pro-Elite a couple of years ago he is one of the main contenders for any M1 field.
As the gun was about to go off, I decided to stick around on the start climb for a wee while before scooting up to the top. The Senior Men came steaming up in short order, led by Dave Sharpe (Penny Farthing Cycles) but with my boy Alex looking like he was just getting started.
After the Seniors passed it was the turn of the Master 1 category, led by Hiskey and his old Aunt Betty's teammate Mark "Cabin" Leishman. Time enough in their effort to appreciate a Zimmer Frame joke, which was a bit rich coming from me on consideration!
The M1s were followed by the M2 field headed by two of Wellington's local legends and fierce rivals, Trevor Woodward and Jason McCarty.
Also giving this cruel climb a bit of wellie was my friend Geoffrey on his Surly singlespeed. I can barely climb this with all the gears at my disposal, so I doff my hat to this hard man! Geoff finished a fine 4th in the M2 race...
I spent most of the morning cheering on the athletes from the Alexandra Road junction where the race passed us in two directions. After the initial battle between Hiskey and Cabin in M1 it became clear it was going to be Cabin's day. His training for XTerra in March seemed to have him at another level to the rest of the field. Here's some portly yet roguishly handsome chap cheering him on - cheers Geoff for the cheekily stolen pic!
Chasing furiously but futilely was Hiskey.
Alex was flying as he came past in 3rd or 4th place in his race.
My friend Ben had joined me, firing off question after question about the racing, at which point it became increasingly apparent that I am not the most reliable spectator in the world - my lap counting was only marginally less poor than my ability to work out where in the (admittedly confusingly mixed) fields various riders were. Anyone who asked me what was going on became disillusioned quickly, if not outraged and frustrated by the the misinformation I was spewing...
I was very impressed by the guts and determination showed by my old mate Ricky Pincott (Burkes/Bushlove Racing). Poor Ricky had contracted a nasty bug at the Auckland round of the Nationals that put him into hospital with dehydration, and he still wasn't fully recovered 2 weeks later at this Welli round. His home tracks (that he helped design and build) proved to much of a lure for him to miss so he bravely attempted to race. Unfortunately his usual podium-capable form was no match for the insidious effects of the Lurg, so he was forced to pull the pin after a valiant two laps. Kudos.
Al Crossling, along with his brother Edwin, used to be died-in-the-wool roadies at an Elite level, with Ed even representing NZ on the National U23 team for a season in Europe. After illustrious careers on the road, they were both seeking a new challenge so they bought themselves cheap MTBs and taught themselves how to ride offroad by simply riding every bit of dirt they could find over and over, four or five times a week, until they became MTBers! Now Al is a contender in Senior Men and Ed is Pro-Elite, and rode one of the rough lines smoother than any of the talented MTbers I saw all day. Hard outs!
Here is a shot of Al, who finished 4th in the Seniors.
After giving Alex his bottle on the second of four laps, I knew I could take off my team support hat and just enjoy the racing, so Ben and I wandered off to watch at the Park Bench vert. Here is an arty shot of Wheelworks rider Ian Paintin that I took on the way to my new vantage point.
We turned up just before Alex flew past, treating the slippery vert with disdain.
Also acing this tricky bit of gnar was Celia, who didn't look as if this sort of thing was any trouble at all to a confirmed shralver like her.
After watching these and many more inspiring feats of derring-do we decided to head back down to watch Alex go by for the last time, then head back down to the Velodrome to watch the finish. He came flying past on his final lap well in front of Dave Sharpe, who we thought (erroneously, it turned out) was in the lead prior to that...
...thinking Alex was now race leader we scuttled back down to the race village and watched him come across the line, but it turned out to be in second place as Niall Frost had slipped below my malfunctioning race radar. Great work on your first of many National results, Alex!
The main feature was held in the afternoon, with the Pro-Elite men and women, as well as the U19 men all racing. During the break between races I went and had a lunchtime coffee and croissant at Maranui with John and Kaitlyn Randal, and in the rush to get back on the hill I unfortunately forgot to grab my camera back out of my car! So no pictures sorry, apart from these ones of Josh Barley (Santa Cruz) borrowed from Brucenznz via Vorb. Josh is a good man who I'd love to sponsor, if only my financial resources would allow me to hit the sponsorship level he would need - if anyone out there wants to sponsor a great guy with a ton of talent could do a lot worse than helping out Josh...he finished a fine 4th on the day, behind winner Mikey Northcott.
For those interested in that kind of thing, here are the rest of the results.
Monday in Wellington was Anniversary Day holiday, so I got out for a great ride up Makara Peak. No camera there either sorry - despite some heavy rain over the last couple of nights, there wasn't enough mud on the trails spattering my bike to make taking yet another shot of my Commençal worthwhile, so I'll use this generic one I took last year that may or may not have even been taken on the Peak.
All the best for the week. CU and cheers for reading, Oli