Sunday, June 28, 2009

Deflated but not Defeated!

As a complete counter to last week I only managed one ride of any kind over the last seven days - granted it was a Glorious Solo Win in one of the Monuments of Cycling, but as far as other riding goes the rest of the week was decidedly less glorious...

After seven consecutive days of riding I thought it would be best to take a couple of days off, so last Sunday was spent relaxing with the family and taking a lovely walk in Wellington's beautiful Mechanical Gardens (Kester's pre-school name for the Botanical Gardens).

When Monday rolled around the grim reality of the bike fixin' business leaped up and slapped me sideways around my chubby chops with a deluge of bookings - great for the bank account, but not so much for the riding ambitions!

I started the week by giving the Wall of Fame a bit of a tickle-up.

Then got stuck into building lots of wheels - always a fun and relatively clean way of getting busy.

I started with the pleasurable task of finishing off Trevor's track wheel set. Built on lovely 80's Campagnolo Record Pista hubs...

...the pair turned out beautifully. NOS Nisis rims laced front radial, rear two-cross. Stiff and light wheels for the Benotto track bike he is slowly restoring.

Alex wanted some hardcore trail wheels built, so a pair of de-stickered Mavic 823 rims were built around red Hope Pro2 hubs using black DT Comp spokes.

After much tyre choice agonising, I finally tubelessed Jono's Hadley/Stan's Arch wheels I built him in May...

And here is Jono's sweet Turner 5 Spot in for a quick gear tune after his first ride with the new wheels.

In between appointments I continued fettling Jacq's Eddy Merckx, now just requiring the rear derailleur, chain, gear cables and pedals. Luckily her wrist injury wasn't as bad as we initially feared, so hopefully she'll be riding her new road bike in a week or two. Also since I took this pic I've added a dedicated women's saddle that I got through one of my favourite bike industry reps and ex-Wholly Bagels teammate, Nicola Johnson.

Talking of Nic, she dropped off her Giant XTC carbon hardtail for me to swap out the crankset and check over in advance of her sending it away to it's new owner in Christchurch. This very cool rig was in great shape of course, just requiring a mild tune and some new brake pads.

The chainset swap was so that she could keep her cool Rotor Agilis cranks for her next bike (more about that once it's declassified!). She got me to install a pretty decent substitute in a pair of XTR cranks...

And here it is all ready to go to it's new home...

Podge needed his Giant TCR fondled, and I'm just the type of guy to do it. When he picked it up he gave me a big chunk of venison that I can't wait to attack - cheers, Podge!

Quentin had an annoying creak emanating from his pedals which I tracked down to a dry and loose b/b. I also lubed the cables, straightened the derailleur hanger and gave the rest of this sturdy commuter a good going over.

Dave is very kindly lending his Cervelo R3 to a foreign international rider (whose name I'm not yet at liberty to divulge) who is spending some time in New Zealand as part of their preparation for the World Championship time trial. I will be boxing it up on Monday to send it on to them...

After a busy morning doing repairs and organising the rest of the week, Tuesday mid-morning gave me the opportunity to head out for a decent ride before heading back into the shop for the late shift.

My plan was a long-awaited ride out to Eastbourne, but plans are just disasters that haven't happened to me yet. The main reason I spend most of my life flying by the seat of my pants is due to this exact phenomenon - if you don't make plans you can't screw them up!

To whit, I dressed for what appeared to be looming Belgian Hardman conditions and set off on my ride feeling great and fully charged to get some moiles in. Yet, despite doing my best to set my bike up with "training" wheels/tyres, virtually the minute I set out I got a pinch-flat on some left-over rubble from the lame coarse chip the council strews everywhere. Grrr.

After realising I'd used up the last of my puncture kit last week I fitted my only replacement tube - practice makes perfect, as it was sorted a lot faster than last time. Feeling strangely vulnerable without any spares, I decided the best course of action was naturally to head up to my favourite LBS, Revolution Bicycles in Northland, to grab a spare tube and continue my "training". I scuttled through town and up Glenmore Street in the rapidly improving weather, snapping precarious and pointless photos one-handed the whole way...

I ambled up through Northland periodically stuffing yet another layer of redundant clothing into my jersey pockets while admiring the winsome web of cables that charmingly adorn every square inch of Wellington's skyline.

I parked my bike oh so casually and took full advantage of Jonty's habitual kind hospitality, as he plied me with a cup of fresh hot espresso and a gratis spare tube.

Eventually I dragged myself away from our fine conversation and back onto my bike, re-donning all my discarded clothing for what I knew would be a very cold descent back down to sea level. I zipped down through Kelburn, onto Salamanca Road scattering ovine students left and right, then tested my Chorus brakes hard out with a mad tuck down the super steep Bolton Street onto The Terrace.

By now of course I had mucked around so long that I no longer had time to head out to Eastbourne, so I headed around Wellington's waterfront instead. Far from deteriorating as it had seemed it would, the day had slowly cleared into a sunny but very cold one, as the northerly pushed the clouds away to the south.

The site of my earlier deflating experience looked much nicer in the sun.

Since my earliest days on a road bike many of my rides have been accompanied by non-existent cheering crowds, imaginary helicopters and ghostly press motorcycles, as I use my pretend incredible natural cycling abilities to grind Merckx, Hinault, de Vlaeminck and that young upstart LeMond into the dust under my cleated Sidis. In what I laughingly refer to as my mind I've won World Championships, Tours, Giri, and all of the five Monuments of Cycling, to name just some of my countless other hard-fought virtual victories. It's a kind of unsought escapism that seems to help push me along on the hardest parts of my rides, and it has the fun side effect of turning some of Wellington's roads into the storied roads of Cycling Lore.

So today I smashed my 50 x 16 over Seatoun's Pass of Branda as it morphed into the famed Turchino from the great one day Classic, Milan-San Remo. The slopes of this feared Pass was where I managed to shed the (sadly non-existent) peloton and establish a classy solo break. Determined to stay away at least until the Poggio (Pines) I punched a big gear into the increasing head wind along the Ligurian Coast (Airport Straight), before disrupting my rhythm (and my fantasy!) by bumping into a (non-cycling) friend in Lyall Bay and being forced to stop for a chat about real things.

The gulls flocked, wanting to steal my muesli bar...

The unscheduled halt had seemingly blown my race to bits, but I'm no quitter - you don't get to not win as many races as I haven't won by being soft. Underneath this slightly flabby exterior lurks a heart of iron and sinews of steel. One more short stop to pose my bike for the umpteenth time and take strength from my Totem and I'd be ready to throw down.

As I chased on the approach to the Poggio and caught the powerful break (a woman riding a postie bike) that had taken advantage of my pause, I counter-attacked brutally and crested the hill once again in the lead of La Primavera. I drove hard down the tortuous descent and into San Remo...

I sensed the non-existent chasers gaining on me, so I dug deep into my suitcase of courage and pulled out a wrinkled shirt of valour and some cufflinks of sheer guts and pushed onto the Via Roma (Trent Street sounds so mundane...) and crossed the finish line of this Great Race Cipollini-style with both hands spread high in the air, basking in the warm acclaim of a vast crowd - or the bemusement of three random pedestrians and a sleepy cat on a fence, I'm not really sure.

Then, being a shy man not seeking the limelight or the bright lights of the podium, it was a matter of escaping the media throng by carrying on up Island Bay Parade and home.

At the age of 46 my fading powers might not be up the demands of a record 9th Tour de France win, but nice to see I could still pull off a Glorious Victory in one of the longest and toughest single day races on the world calendar.

Jacq didn't seem to marvel at my majesty as much as mutter something about me being clinically insane...oh well, when you have my palmares the sceptical scorn of some sections of the population matters not a jot - just ask my friend Lance...

Until next time, thanks for reading.


Blah said...

Hey Oli,
Love this blog. I know not much about bikes, but your enthusiasm is infectious. Keep up the great work.

Mark said...

Ola Oli,
I've been suffering from the 'flu for 3 weeks now and your ride report was like some kind of bitter-sweet medicine. I now so badly want to get out on the bike and tackle the ascent to Hautacam (Hawkins Hill), but my lungs won't allow it.