Well-a, well-a, well-a, I should have known that writing my blog until 2am Wednesday morning wasn't wise. I just thought I'd have an early night that night and I'd be set for the rest of the week. Bad idea. Wednesday night just as I settled in to watch Heroes (whaaaaat?) our hot water cylinder decided to spring a leak. By the time that was sorted enough to prevent the kitchen flooding it was again about two in the morning. Kids and work intruded on my sleep way too early, so I struggled through the first couple of coffees then got stuck into it.
I built this Stans NoTubes ZTR 29er up on an XT disc hub for Jonathan Kennett's imminent Niner frame. JK did some of the research for the recent 7th Edition "Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides" on John Randal's Raleigh XXIX 29er and fully caught the bug of the big wheel, so it will be cool to how his tricked out new Niner will turn out!
I had to fit some new forks and handlebars to this crash-damaged Avanti Blade belonging to my friend Jed Thian. Jed does the hilarious and erudite Alternative Commentaries on All Black matches which are well worth checking out at www.arcrugby.co.nz, among many other things...Jed's intro speech when Julian Dean spoke in town a couple of years ago was brilliant.
And some YouTube links of his work:
I then finally was able to devote some time to some wheels that I knew needed my full attention, and so it proved. German made Tune hubs onto Stans ZTR Olympic built with DT Revolution lightweight spokes and alloy nipples. I had wanted to go with silver spokes, but Hayden was adamant that black would look better. He was right.
The hubs are super light as are the rims, so they built up to be 710 grams rear and 620 g front for a total of 1330 grams! Race only wheels, I'd suggest.
Because this wheelset was a bit finicky, I resorted to bringing out my rarely used Park Tools tension gauge. It didn't help, but it did reassure.
I got some cool pics in my email box this week. First some great shots from my bro Henry's trip to last weeks Tour Down Under in and around Adelaide, arranged by his choice and long-suffering wife Rachel. The TDU was this year notable for being the historic first race back for the recently un-retired Lance Armstrong. Adelaide may seem a long way away from the Champs Elysees, but the 7 time Tour victor was being mobbed by huge crowds from all over the world as he eased his way smoothly back into the pro peloton.
Lance rolls up to the start.
After a 2 1/2 hour wait in the sun with no water, Hen and Rach were THIS close to the Great Man before a media scrum overtook them for his attentions. Lance signs on while the world watches.
Some not inconsiderable consolation must have taken from Rach meeting the Voice of Cycling, Mr Phil Liggett.
As well as getting up close to the legendary George Hincapie.
Here's Lance's successor to the Tour de France throne - 2006 victor, Oscar Pereiro, signing autographs.
Ex-pro and TV commentator Paul Sherwen sharing a laugh with the mastermind behind LA's 7 Tour wins, as well as the architect of the victories of Alberto Contador in the 2007 Tour, 2008 Giro d'Italia and Vuelta d'Espagna, Johan Bruyneel.
Aussie hard man and 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner Stuey O'Grady queues behind Lance to sign on.
Of course Henry, as an ex-NZ Team mechanic, was interested in the REAL story - the bikes. Here is one of the Colombia-High Road Scotts getting serviced. Apparently I'm off the pace unless I immediately adopt compressed air cleaning techniques...although if you read the last edit at the bottom of this blog you'll see that my memory has failed me and that Paul Larkin and I actually perfected this technique as early as the 2006 MTB Worlds.
The last shot from the TDU is this shot of Lance's custom Trek Madone in his Livestrong livery. Very cool. Cheers for the pics, Hen!
Also in my inbox were some pics from Paul Larkin of his new Commençal Meta 5 - he's been riding and loving the 4" travel models but decided his needs required moar plushness, so made a wise upgrade to both frame and fork. Hot, even though I wasn't able to build the front wheel due to time constraints and rim availability...
Frotting over pictures of Paul's rig was the perfect impetus to forgo dinner and head out for a long-awaited ride. After the last repair had been collected I dragged myself up Mt Albert, hooked up with Alex and rode down Sifty...
Now this is where the fatigue from my late night blogging and plumbing escapades started to catch up with me - the last couple of times I've been down this wicked little trail I've been on fire, but not tonight! I muffed a corner here, steamed out of control towards a drop there, and nearly jettisoned myself into some trees over there. It was much more by good luck than good management that I eventually spat safely out into the Houghton Valley playground, but I felt most discombuberated and was physically shaking! By now I'm reasonably certain you could describe my attitude as "negative", or perhaps "piss poor".
Next up was a grovel up Houghton Valley Road. I was seriously thinking I should probably have stayed at home on the couch, especially when I almost nodded off while riding up the hill. Before long though the summit of Mt Albert was reached. I took Alex's wheel as he expertly carved his way down towards the baboon enclosure and Melrose Park. I felt heaps better with wide open spaces and not much pedalling, and was almost awake by the time we got to Truby King House.
Alex sessioned the jumps while I became increasingly more apoplectic at my utter inability to catch a shot of him in mid-flight with my shitty cellphone camera. Al was pulling some truly massive air and this is the best I could do...if you do spot him in the photo somewhere please point him out to me.
We then rolled down the gravel road and on to the zoo, scattering unwitting pedestrians left and right, then up to Russell Terrace.
By now I had really perked up (perhaps I operate best when the sun goes down?) so suggested we take the steepest route back up the hill. We took the rooty trail up behind the basketball courts, then wended our way back up the hill to the top of Mt Albert again as the setting sun splashed lurid colours all over the sky.
Hillary/Tensing style, Al and I take grainy shots of each other after we "knock the bastard off".
It's very cool how a ride can wash away all sorts of life's problems. I came away from this ride with a much better headspace than I went into it with, which set me up in a great mood for Friday.
First I had to find a mystery noise emanating from a carbon race bike. All mechanics get tasked with performing this amateur detective work periodically, and it's not always simple to locate the source of a noise - especially with aluminium or carbon frames, as the noise is often transmitted all over the bike but the actual place it's coming from!
I eventually tracked this particular noise down to the innermost bearing of the Tune rear hub. As the bearing is peculiar to this hub I couldn't readily obtain a replacement, so I tried popping the seals, cleaning the bearings out, then repacking them with clean Chris King Ringdrive grease. This did the job admirably, and the noise is gone.
Next up was another wheelbuild, this time a front wheel for Tim's fixie to match the rear one I built him in December. The satin finish of the Gran Compe hub is hard to convey in a digital pic, but it's gorgeous!
I was able to finish the day off nicely with the finishing touches on this Lynskey I built over the week. This is a demo bike for Bike Fixation so if you like the look of it get in touch with Dave and take it out for a blat - I heartily recommend taking any chance to get a ride on one of these superb machines.
Friday night I had to drop Mr Kennett's wheel up to him at Revolution Bicycles, where I surprisingly and coincidentally was able to partake of a couple of fine ales. Jonty was fettling his cool roadie singlespeed Chas King. As often happens when two bike mechanics get together, a violent argument broke out with spanners and allen keys being brandished - Jonty is keen to do his bike up and I reckon it's better in a state of "beausage", needing nowt more than a bit of elbow grease and a strop-up with a bit of steel wool. I suppose as it's Jonty's bike I have to back down, but damn it grates...
Saturday dawned to one of the hottest and sunniest days of the summer, so naturally I was busy with chores. After finally and successfully repairing my plumbing disaster - $50 of pipes, ballcocks, washers and taps, plus a bit of my time ended up lots cheaper and more satisfying than calling a plumber - and mowing the lawns, etc, meant at about 3pm I was able to slip out for a ride. I thought my poor old neglected Bianchi deserved her first outing since summer '08 so I wheeled her out, pumped up her tyres and dusted the cobwebs off her wheels, then trundled happily around the Bays, being sure to keep the beaches firmly on my left hip at all times. A glorious day for a pose and working on a bit of a cycling tan.
Another shot of my favourite road bike. She still rides better than most bikes, despite being almost an antique in terms of modern machines.
Sunday was all organised for riding too. Alex and I had planned with the best of intentions to turn up at about midday to help the Makara Peak Supporters do some work on a new feature on the bizarre and hilarious T3 track. But more chores had badly delayed our departure, so at 1pm I raced up to grab Al and we drove to Makara Peak. We parked up and rode in from St Albans and puffed up the Snakecharmer to the summit, where we bumped into a couple of mates one of whom hooked up and led us down T3 to where we found the workers.
T3 is a testing trail designed primarily as an uphill, but we've only ever ridden it downhill. It is still testing and I won't pretend for an instant that I cleaned everything, but I did clean lots including the Skink which made my day! When I describe it as hilarious and bizarre, it's because this trail is a succession of tricky features seemingly designed to upset your equilibrium just in time for the next one, causing much laughter and merriment as you stumble and fumble your way down, around, over and through each bizarre stunt.
Being by now fashionably late, we arrived at the nominal time they were supposed to be packing up, but the keeners were still hard at it so we managed to smack out a bit of work with advice from the helpful overseers Muzz, Jonathan, Andrew, Stu and Sasha. Unfortunately, we were sworn to secrecy so I didn't even take any pics of our handiwork, but suffice it to say we felt very proud to have helped build on this cool trail.
Looking over Karori towards Wellington Harbour from T3.
Back up to the Peak from T3.
Home then for tea with the family and relaxing with the smug self-satisfaction that comes from a weekend of well-balanced work and play.
As well as all these adventures I made a very good start on the TI Raleigh this week, but I'm going to save that for it's own blog once it's complete. Look for that in the very near feature, as it's turning out to be a very nice bicycle indeed...
Cheers for reading, Oli
P.S. Well done to John Randal and Simon Kennett for their fine defense of their 2008 8 hour Akatarawa Attack title - they narrowly missed a repeat victory (by a mere 16 points out of a possible 2270 on offer) to eventual winners Ian Paintin and Matt Farrar, so congratulations to Matt and Ian. Read John's account of the race here.
Here are John and Simon regrouping after this gruelling event.
EDIT! I received these corrections to my blog this morning which I print in full mainly to point out how appalling my memory is:
I is correcting your blog mutha****a.
1) You WERE allowed to build my wheel, but they didn't have any Flow's in stock remember? BC had 4 under the bench...
2) Compressed Air cleaning techniques have been adopted by the great Oli, when he was known as the Python. If you recall, we had a compressor at the Worlds which was used to get all the Elite's bikes shiny as they went to the start line. The German mechs were very jealous.
Technique dates to Paris Roubaix / Saunier Duval 2004 I think - their mech's truck had built in compressor and hoses specifically for cleaning bikes.
You have been served.