Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Wasted Days and Wasted Nights?
My tyres hummed on the coarse chip seal while the northwest wind whistled through my helmet straps, and my chain hissed snappily up and down the cogs as I clicked through my gears. I rode jauntily yet ponderously around the Bays admiring the silver shafts of sunlight piercing the pregnant clouds, bridging the gaps between sky and sea as I thought ten thousand thoughts of thoughtfulness.
Among other things I reflected on my Tour de France performance this year; while realistically I know I was not in the super form I had in 2008, I feel I should be justifiably proud of my efforts in safely reaching Paris this year. By safely I mean without my wife leaving me, without my children hating me and without going completely broke, although I definitely suffered the odd hallucination in my weaker moments.
The many bemused comments and arch looks I get when I tell folk I've been watching the Tour in it's live entirety show me people think I'm quite mad, and it's hard to argue that point when you have just spent three weeks watching TV and bantering on the interweb all night long while the rest of sane, non-cycling freak NZ sleeps.
In the end I only missed most of one stage all Tour, but I don't count that as a DNF because I still dragged myself out of bed and did the hard yards in the live last 20km on the way to Perpignan in time to watch plucky Voeckler's solo win just in front of the thundering bunch.
As I said last blog, there were definite ebbs and flows in my energy levels, but I kept the beer and rum consumption to a bare minimum, ensured the coffee and jet planes were in steady supply, and took all bar one of my carefully plotted evening naps. These strategies worked out with my Directeur Sportif/Wife and combined with some superb teamwork from my friends on the web kept me in both the family and Tour games, so this Tour and these school holidays were some of the most fun I've had in recent times...if this be madness, bring on the loony bin.
This powerful grip the Tour has on me was a gradually occurring obsession - in the late 1970s it began with me and my equally infatuated cycling friends poring over grainy black and white photos in International Cycle Sport and Cycling Weekly, magazines that didn't get to New Zealand until about three months after the Tour was over. The info gleaned in these worthy journals was helped along with the occasional highly sought after colour pics from rarely imported French papers like Velo that always went straight onto our bedroom walls beside the pictures of Vern Hanaray and Jack Swart torn out of the Evening Post...
Scrabbling for results in out of date magazines was eventually augmented in the mid 80s with (still out of date) one hour highlights packages of the Greg Lemond/Bernard Hinault battles on Sunday Grandstand, all set to the excruciating sounds of John Tesh's electronica and made in a hideously jingoistic style, but we few true believers relished the moving images that truly brought the Tour to life, and felt we were smart enough to see through the Americentric bullshit and enjoy seeing the world's best cyclists doing battle among some of the most incredible scenery you could ever imagine.
In 1991 the Indurain reign began, and with it came Sky TV's 30 minute highlight packages on the same day the Tour was raced! This was intense, and after work at Cycle Services we'd sprint around the Bays to get home in time for the 7pm show - missing a stage meant missing vital banter the following day, and there's no way I could let Sam or Henry pick up on some trivial detail about Rolf Sorenson's Colnago or Bugno's Bianchi that I might have missed...
The late 90s the Armstrong Era commenced and hardcore NZ roadies were delighted when Avanti started picking up the tab for the odd live stage - so began the sleepless nights. After years of deprivation and delay it seemed mandatory to watch the live coverage - perhaps if we didn't it would all go back to how it was before! Plus it was easy to recover when it only four or five stages over the three weeks...
Then as Lance continued to dominate all comers on his way to an unprecedented seven consecutive Tour victories Avanti upped the ante by beginning to show every stage live, with four or five shown from roll out until the podium was packed away! By now I was so firmly hooked on watching the whole thing I couldn't have stopped watching if I'd wanted to - I couldn't even miss the so-called boring flat stages in case something vital happened that could shape the face of the Tour, and sometimes it even did and I was there to see it!
So that brings me to Alberto Contador's powerful 2009 victory and my obsession continues. Friends of mine ask me why I don't just watch the two hour morning highlights, but I'm definitely no morning person and it just makes more sense for me to just adapt my night owl habits slightly, add a sleep-in, and get on with my day - the advantages of being self employed!
This year's Tour was made all the more enjoyable by the usual few nights spent watching stages with various friends, and this year even an unprecedented four live stages watched with my two eldest sons! Harry in particular really got into the whole thing, and his trenchant observations made me think hard about the race on more than one occasion. Great fun indeed...
So if this blog I write has shown anything over the months, I hope it has shown that I'm passionate about and addicted to cycling - passion is just madness by another name, and a bit of mid-winter sleep deprivation seems a small cost towards feeding my habit. I'm quite sure it seems very odd to many, but cycling is my life and my life can accommodate my slightly insane foibles so why not? Roll on 2010, I'll be ready!
Since I last blogged lots has happened but no super exciting projects - winter has been less than salubrious, and things have (luckily for me!) been a bit quiet. A few jobs have passed through the shop, so I'll show you some of them whether you like it or not.
I finally finished my good friend Pete's 29er wheels he's going to be putting on his Soulcraft when it arrives later this year. NoTubes Arch 29er rims built up on Hadley hubs using DT Comp spokes makes for a light but durable and super-bling wheelset.
I built up this cool pair of retro-style wheels for one of Jonty's customers - new Mavic Open Sport rims around a pair of mint Normandy hubs, respaced for singlespeed action.
Talking of singlespeeds, I donated this 1987 Cannondale frame that Wheels gave me to a worthy cause on the condition that I didn't wear any responsibility for the obviously corroded aluminium collapsing under Marty's weight. He wants to build it up himself entirely out of tip shop recycled parts, so I'll be quite interested in the final result. I'll post pics once he's finished it fo sho.
I had the great honour of being asked to build a pair of race wheels for up and coming MTB legend Samara Sheppard to ride at the upcoming UCI MTB World Championships in Canberra. I've had the pleasure of dealing with Samara's Dad for years, and Jerry wanted her to be on a set of light but strong wheels, befitting her hard-charging powerful riding style learned on the infamous Wednesday Night Rides.
We chose NoTubes Olympic rims, DT Revolution spokes with aluminium nipples, laced up to Shimano XTR hubs. We could have sourced lighter hubs, but the superb Shimano spares availability and cost to weight ratio of the XTRs was hard to beat, so we erred slightly on the conservative side. 750 grams for the rear wheel and 610 g front makes for a 1360 gram wheelset that will be eminently capable of absorbing any punishment the rocky Mt Stromlo trails can dish out...
My old Chas King Prendero track bike has been stuck for years collecting dust in my bike rack with a converted road wheel, as it's old Mavic Argent rim had split at they eyelet and I'd never bothered to rebuild the old hub into a new rim. Anyway, the road wheel That was propping the back end of the Chas King up was perfect for an upcoming project, so I took it off the bike and at last got off my arse to build a new (semi) dedicated track wheel for it.
The old Suntour Sprint hub was laced into an equally old Campagnolo Record Strada (I know, it should be a Pista really...) tubular rim.
Apart from purchasing myself some decent non-rotten tubulars my track iron is now ready to rock the velodrome. If I ever decide to race again, that is...regardless, it's certainly a nice bicycle to have in my quiver; beausage personified.
Speaking of track bikes, Trevor sent me some pics of the Benotto he is restoring that I built wheels for. Francesco Moser would be proud of Trevor's efforts.
My friend Grant had a disaster on his Trek road bike - the chain somehow bounced off and wrapped around the inside of the cassette, tearing the rear derailleur and hanger apart. I suspect that simple but fiendish problem of the hanger getting inadvertantly bent in transit, or perhaps the bike fell over on the drive side - it's very common and easy to miss, and it doesn't take much before the derailleur can shift over the big cog at the back and into the spokes. Anyway, whatever the cause might have been I pulled the wreckage apart and worked out that the damage wasn't as bad as it might have been.
First I ordered a new Wheels Manufacturing hanger off the esteemed David Whittam at Cycle Supplies to replace the munted one...
And a new inner plate in place of the equally munted one on Grant's 105 derailleur.
The new hanger wouldn't quite fit the frame, as the derailleur jamming had caused some carnage and twisted the dropout - a bit of judicious spannering and filing and it was perfect.
Once the hanger was installed and the wheel fitted, I checked the alignment with my frotty Campag alignment checker...
A new rear cable housing and a careful run through of the gears to ensure there'd be no repeat of this horror and Grant's race machine is ready to rock the first race of the PNP season this Saturday. Best of luck, bro!
Away from the fixin' and back to the racin' now, the Tour de France wasn't the only race going on in the Northern Hemisphere while we were sat here freezing our babollos off - the Jazz Apples have been doing incredibly well in North America, and I've been lucky enough to have been getting the odd race report from Susy and Chris, along with photos and more...check out the great website Roadcycling.co.nz for the full rundown on the Jazz Apples domination of Superweek in British Columbia.
Here's a pic of Dotsie winning the brutal 700 metre 16% Tour de Whiterock hillclimb.
And Susy, showing the fiendish gradient...
And here is the entire Team (minus Ruth Corset who is on National duty for Australia in Europe) on the podium of the Tour de Delta as Team GC winners, to go along with Lauren Ellis's overall victory, Marina's stage win and QOM title, Malindi Maclean's sprint title and Steph Roorda's sterling teamwork and podium finishes. Quite a powerful team performance, I'm sure you'll agree, but no surprise to me after seeing how superbly they gelled on the training camp and Tour of NZ earlier this year...
One rainy morning last week I went out to the letter box and found a parcel addressed to "le grimpeur Oli Brooke-White" from the Jazz Apples. Now I'm nothing if not a top hillclimber, but it's always nice to be acknowledged as such by my superiors. It's also super nice to get such thoughtful gifts from so far away - another prized addition to the Wall of Fame, so thanks heaps Jazz Girls and Chris!
One fine day I went on a very special road ride of a Saturday morn. In town for a fleeting visit was my great mate Paul Larkin (Roadworks Rotorua Ltd) with a good friend, and they had rendezvoused with another buddy Dave Livesey and my man Tim Wilding (now a Welli resident, so watch out!) at Freyberg. I was roused from the sleep of the dead by a call from Paul so I gulped down a quick coffee then somehow managed to get dressed and out the door. I headed south to see how far around the Bays I could make it before meeting them all head on - it turned out not very far, as we met just after Moa Point.
I swung around and joined them, setting a cracking pace from behind. We rolled around attacking each other relentlessly (this is a lie) before I took out the hard fought Wakefield Park prime from Dave, with Paul doing a fine job as sweeper for me, while Tim and our other friend clearly struggled with the searing speed I showed. We then went for a coffee at my local coffee shop slash dojo, before having a post-ride debrief in the Batcave. They then rolled off (no doubt cowed by my fearsome physical prowess) before we caught up later that evening...
Part two of our get together was for that night's stage of the Tour (Colmar-Besancon) at Dave's mansion overlooking Island Bay, where we had a great fun night bantering as we consumed rum and dissected the racing, while poor Paul alternately blurted out apposite aphorisms and snored on the floor.
While on the subject of international cycling stars, a few blogs ago I posted some great shots my friend Mike took on his pilgrimage to the Hallowed Climbs of France. Mike had joined us for the evening's frivolities and he very kindly gave me a super cool momento of his smashing of the mighty Alpe d'Huez in Roadworks strip (and I do mean strip!) which will have pride of place on the shop wall. Cheers, Mike!
As well as the ride described above, the Tour inspired me to get out on the bike almost every day. I went for a few good dirt and road rides over the three weeks, including a vital mercy mission to prop my Bianchi casually against the wall of my generous sponsors Havana, where I collected as much X Blend as I could carry to get me through the long stages...I'm pretty sure the sight of me dressed in lurid lycra may have jeopardised my future coffee supply - I'm sure hoping not.
Unfortunately, my poor bike hadn't had a clean in at least three rides so it was getting quite filthy, as can be clearly seen in this shot of its beautiful head tube.
Talking of tubes, I was forwarded this great shot of a Bianchi Pista which I felt it was my duty as a fanatical Celeste passionista to show you.
As well as it being Tour time, did I mention it was also the school holidays? The sheer pleasure of being surrounded day and night by a never ending onslaught of childish squabbling, ridiculously expensive visits to the movies, and juggling several conflicting teen and kid-oriented outings never paled. But these holidays were luckily also a fantastic excuse for us to do a few great rides together. I won't regale you with endless repetitive descriptions of them all, but this one I'm about to describe was unanimously regarded as the best one, and crucially it was the only one that all four BW boys rode together.
So after forcing the boys at large amounts of money point to spend a morning in the shop clearing out rubbish and ferrying a sex wagon-full of crap bike detritus up to the recycling centre...
...we got organised and headed out for a blat. Here's my carload of monkeys on the drive to Makara Peak; Bodhi ready for action natch.
Then after about an hour of slightly frustrating monkey and bike wrangling in the carpark...
...we set off up Koru. Bodhi did his usual superb job of stoking - he doesn't need any direction from me at all now, he knows the drill and his determined little bursts of power helped us get around all the hairpins with remarkable aplomb. His cheerful chatter makes the riding seem almost effortless as well, the lovely boy.
We had the mandatory (according to Bo) stop at the Chainring Tree, where Harry points out the old Black Spire chainring we nailed to the tree the first time the two bigger boys rode with me up Makara 5 or 6 years ago...
After the Tree the two big boys took point, but it wasn't long before Bodhi had whipped up our pace so much that they were forced to step off the track or be steamrolled off it. Here Bo and I wait for them to catch the hell up.
We trundled happily up Koru, with a freaky fast blast on the little downhill bit before the exit to Swigg/Lazy Fern that really showed me how much strength it takes to control a bike when it has a large child hitched to it. We then decided to head up Magic Carpet, before discovering it was actually a bit wet and sketchy for Bo so safely retracing our steps.
We continued on down Lazy Fern, where Ket and Harry charged off while Bo and I followed behind riding carefully but gassing it when it seemed safe...
We made it safely down to the carpark, where the two boys were patiently waiting. Ket slightly the worse for wear after a couple of offs, including a mean OTB apparently. Lucky he has always been able to take a beating...
I too was tired and sore, but not from crashing. The considerable difficulty of holding Bo and I onto the trail at speed down LF was surprisingly exhausting, and I had majorly pumped forearms from the sheer effort of hauling on the bars as Bo zigged while I zagged - it took so much body English I had to pull out my body French, Spanish and German just to stay on the trail at times!
We cleaned the filthy boikes using the awesome hoses in the carpark.
But it would take a lot more to clean up the filthy monkeys and their clothes...
We loaded up the official Roadworks Team vehicle and headed off to grab banana milkshakes, then home and the shower ran for hours...
So that's all I have. Well, not really. I have a bunch of other photos to blog but COME ON, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME??? CAN'T YOU SEE I'M TIRED? If you're very good I might do another blog this weekend, but not if you DON'T TIDY YOUR ROOM THIS INSTANT!
Whoops, sorry about that. Until next time CU and thanks for reading, Oli