Jeepers! It's been so damn long I don't even know where to begin! Basically, between fighting off the lasting effects of the Welli Winter Plague, doing family stuff, working my sorry arse off and sporadically riding, the last few weeks have been madcore busy so blogging has been way down the list. Y'all know what that means though, right? Yep, she's going to be an Epic...
Which becomes the segue that gives me my opening. Poor John Randal (Roadworks Elite Racing Division) was smashing the PNP MTB series opener on Makara Peak when he broke the chain on his Specialized Epic (see what I did there?)...twice!
He brought it to me to get that sorted, as well as to do a bar swap between it and his carbon hardtail Giant XTC-0 - the Giant just didn't feel right, so the riser bars off the Epic were being moved over and some blingage Easton Monkeylite SLs being fitted to replace them. As well as the bars, I mended the chain, straightened the derailleur hanger (the culprit!) and gave the rest of his steed a jolly good dose of Oli-loving. Nice, yeah.
The swap become less simple once I began the XTC. A combination of sweat, mud and water had corroded the stem, spacers and headset into a frozen mess.
Some ultra-violence, cursing, gritted teeth and liberal application of various lubricious substances eventually freed it all up and I cleaned and serviced it before fitting the old Speshy bars. I was very happy with the end result - the riser bars will definitely suit John better, and improve the handling of this skittish XC creature...
Unfortunately, the job went badly pear-shaped (a bit like me!) after this. I was going to fit Simon Kennett's old XTR front derailleur when to my horror and John's consternation I discovered a massive crack in the frame above the bottom bracket shell. Hopefully warranty is taking care of this very soon, but it's very sad to see nonetheless.
Back to the Epic, John raced the final of the Wellington MTBO series Sunday just gone on it - in his own words he "had a shit race" but still managed to take out the series win overall, so good work bro! And great to see John spending the time giving his rig a nice post-race clean - if everyone was as diligent as him they would save themselves hundreds of dollars a year in repairs, as well as saving their poor mechanic from going apoplectic and getting old before their time!
While on the subject of Elite Athletes, two weeks ago the MTB World Championships were held in the Home Of The Crocodile Shoes, Canberra's Mt Stromlo. I had several friends racing and working in this prestigious event, but I was proudest of Wellington's Samara Sheppard who was racing the U23 Women's race on a pair of XTR/Stans Olympics wheels I built her. I hope I don't get in trouble using this great picture that I ripped from CanadianCyclist.com of Samara racing them to a fine 23rd place in the world, even after a nasty first lap crash...
I gave Anna's trusty Kona Kula a drive transplant and a fork service in advance of another year's hard riding - I'll be waiting for her to smash past me on Missing Link again in this year's Creek to Peak race!
As I may have mentioned once or twice, I'm fortunate enough to be kept in free coffee by my great friends at Havana Coffee Works, and this week it was time to pay the piper by fettling the delivery bike. It was in dire need of some tender ministrations, as well as needing a touch up or ten.
Before long it was back up to scratch (I'm on fire!) and ready to roll...
Mat needed his cool carbon GT Zaskar sorted - just a gear and brake tune really, but of course I checked the whole bike over to make sure it is purring as he builds up for the gruelling Whaka 100.
My mate Ben has been hankering after a decent huck bike to make the step up (!) from his trusty Giant Reign, so he bought a modified Turner frame (word of authority from previous owner Dean is that it's a 2006 Turner 5.5Pack, which is apparently a hybrid of an RFX front triangle and a Spot rear end with 5.5 inch "new" spot rockers) and I swapped the parts over.
Big thanks to the fine chaps at Burkes for the help sorting out a low stack Tioga headset to allow Ben's too short Trade Me forks to fit - I was stumped at short notice, but Ricky was on the case. Thanks too for supplying the rim and 20mm hub for me to build in time for the weekend...
I began by stripping the parts I needed off the Reign, which will either be sold or one day built back up as a spare rig.
All that remained...
After spending some time cleaning up the old parts, as well as the "new" frame and fork I laid it all out.
Then I carefully built it up...
Et voila! It Turnered out to be a mean machine, and Ben tells me he's been having a great time on it already. Good stuff, but don't forget the shinpads!
Sarah Dee is an old friend, and a stalwart Cycle Services Hell Rider who scored the shops only ever World Championship medal when she won bronze in Masters Women at the 1996 Cairns Worlds. She's brought me her cool Specialized Enduro to work on, with a view to getting back into more riding now her daughter is at school.
Matt's Opera has recently been upgraded with the new Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting, so I was stoked to have my first play with this innovative set-up when he brought the bike in for me to find a creak.
The levers look much the same as the 7900 DA ones, but the shifting is done with buttons on the side of the levers rather than by the lever itself moving.
The shifting was super slick, especially the front shifting with it's auto-trim! The servo noise the front mech generates was a bit disconcerting though, but I imagine you get used to it pretty quick. Like belt drives and hub gears the whole electronic shifting thing leaves me a bit cold, but I was nevertheless impressed by the superb function of this amazing gruppo. Funnily, the creak turned out to be the front derailleur bracket which was loose.
In terms of bling there's nowhere really to go from there but down, which brings me to my latest bicycle acquisition. Tim Wilding and I discovered this dusty specimen on the footpath outside my neighbour's house, awaiting collection by the scrap metal merchants. I walked past it two or three times before succumbing to the irresistible lure of it's purple ano, so I snaffled it up under my duffle coat and scurried back to my grotto with it.
I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with it, but once I was able to examine it more closely I realised that apart from the rusty chain, the paint on the Rock Shox Mag 21 degenerating and a few cobwebs, it is in remarkably good condition! The badly misnamed Extreme frames were never really anything much, but the unworn full XT groupset and mint Pulstar/Araya wheels would be worthy of any mid-90s retro MTB build...I look forward to seeing what I come up with!
Jonty at Revolution Bicycles asked me to build up some wheels for Ian's new BMC cyclo-cross bike, and he handed me some of the ubiquitous Ultegra hubs and Mavic Open Pro rims that seem to have become almost my signature build! I guess this is because they are the perfect combo for an easily affordable, sweet riding, very tough, yet fairly light road or 'cross wheelset, weighing in at 1800 grams built up with DT Competition spokes and brass nipples.
When I dropped them off at Revolution I took a crafty spy photo of the cool carbon/aluminium BMC CX01 frame they were destined for...
I had to do an insurance quote on a lovely steel framed Cervelo Super Prodigy - the poor owner had done what everyone with a roof-rack dreads doing, by driving into his garage before the door was fully up. It caught the bike on the handlebars shearing the forks off at the crown, luckily without any further damage. Of course I checked it out from stem to stern, doing several alignment checks to ensure the frame itself wasn't damaged - luckily not.
I hopefully made him feel better by pointing out I have one customer who has done the same thing three times! We're waiting for the fairly rare 1" carbon forks to turn up from the UK before I get onto restoring it to its former glory. Lovely bike...
On the last few rides with my eldest boy Kester it's become apparent that the slightly too large GT LTS I built up for him 11 months ago is now way too small for him - no one told me teenagers grow this bloody fast! Luckily I had hung onto my old '02 GT I-Drive frame for just this eventuality.
So I pulled down the LTS...
And in between jobs and after "hours" I used those parts plus a few I've collected along the way to build up his latest boike, complete with DX pedals so he can learn the noble art of clipping in. And he'll have to grow a LOT to outgrow this machine - by then he'll hopefully be buying his own bikes!
This week has begun as busy as the last, as Richard brought his lovely Pegoretti Duende in for a new chain to be fitted.
I helped Richard buy and build up his frame back in 2002, and in 2004 as a true aficionado Richard was lucky enough to meet and be graciously hosted by legendary frame builder Dario Pegoretti on a trip to Italy at his factory in Caldonazzo, near Trento in the heart of the Dolomite Mountains. While there Richard got this great pic (that I have probably blogged before?) of the two of them with one of my jerseys - Richard on the right.
I faced the bottom bracket and head tube of Josh Barley's old Santa Cruz Superlight, as well as also facing the disc mounts and re-tapping the derailleur hanger in preparation for him building it back up as this talented rider makes a comeback from a lingering back injury.
So I leave the repair side of things with a Giant pile of bikes awaiting my attention, that I will attempt to wade through over the coming days - no doubt you'll hear all about it.
As I said at the top of the blog, I've been struggling with a lurg that I gather I'm not alone in suffering from. It's pernicious in that some of the time you feel fine, but in the space of a few hours you can suddenly start coughing, aching and generally feeling grotty. Sickness isn't going to stop me on my Quest For Fitness however, although my slowly burgeoning form has been jumping alarmingly up and down seemingly without rhyme or reason...
Fathers Day weekend came at the end of a week where I basically just worked and rested, in the hope that I would recover enough to begin training again by the following week. My oldest son Kester joined my mate Alex and I as we took advantage of a nice day on the Saturday to do a quick afternoon lap of the lower loop of Makara Peak.
As we rode up Koru I had the strangest feeling that I was jumping out of my skin - I was thinking I was riding slowly, but the middle ring/middle block seemed effortlessly easy and despite thinking I was soft-pedalling I kept inadvertantly pulling ahead. Realising poor Ket was struggling (he had been ill as well in the week prior) I managed to curb my energy enough to really enjoy cruising along behind my boy as he did a great job of getting us to the end of Koru.
Al had gone ahead and carried on up Sally Alley, but Ket felt he'd be happier riding up the Snakecharmer, so after some confusion, shouting and a text exchange we regrouped at the entrance to Ridgeline Extension.
Once Kester had recovered his equilibrium...
I took point down RE, for a super plow of the ruffiez (lol Wachy!). I waited for the boys at the picnic table, to be unexpectedly met by top chap Kah who had followed them down. He joined us as we set off down the AMP Connector, only to temporarily lose us as we carried on out onto Allington Road for some unknown reason. We did a quick turnaround on the street then set off back down Rimu Trail where at the bottom a slightly bemused Kah was waiting patiently, no doubt marvelling at how long it could take someone to ride down this less than technical track!
Back up the Snakecharmer to Big Tom's Wheelie, before yet another regroup at the start of Lazy Fern. I set off thinking Kah was hard on my tail, and consequently had one of my best runs down this fast open singletrack - I had my mojo flow on bro! Of course, it transpired Kah wasn't actually behind me, and I was racing shadows. He was following Ket and Alex, then peeled off for another run up the Peak as we headed home for well deserved ice creams. All ride I felt like I was on fire - I couldn't believe how great I felt after being crook, so went to bed a very happy boy...
Sunday was Fathers Day, and I was blessed to have my three sons make me pancakes and coffee, which they brought to me in bed along with some lovely presents. It was another stunning spring day, but I thought rather than ride it would be nice for us all to head out for a walk in the sun - it's easier to chat and goof around when you're ambling along, and no one is goofier than the Brooke-Whites!
We drove out to Broadmeadows and parked the car on Sirsi Terrace...
...then we began our assault on the feared Mt Kaukau, or Mt Chickenchicken, as Bodhi dubbed it.
Bodhi was impressed by the efforts of two MTBers climbing one of the steep pitches, but decided he could do better so set off to run them down - he nearly did too!
To the north we could see right up to the Porirua Harbour, and all over the Hutt Valley as the sun beat down.
The boys took the time for a well earned lie down atop the summit, as Jacq and I drank in more spectacular views of Wellington...
Harry suggested he and Jacq go back the way we came and retrieve the car, while Ket, Bo and I took the steps down to Khandallah Park where could all meet up. Bodhi set off at Warp Factor 8, but only fell over five or six times down the steep, rooty steps.
Once we reached the bridges at the bottom of the trail we had a few choice rounds of Pooh Sticks - the Fathers Day Force was strong with this one as I took out every race.
I AM YOUR FATHER!
We finished off the walk with some awesome flying fox action, and some of Harry's superb comedy prat-falling, before heading home for a slap-up meal.
I woke the next morning still feeling blissed out from this lovely weekend, so as soon as the trusty couriers had passed through I took my various boxes and bags up to the workshop, along with my Bianchi. After getting a few small jobs out of the way I got down to the serious work. One of the effects of my slowly emerging fitness and flexibility is that all of a sudden I am starting to feel a bit cramped up on my bike, so I had ordered a spanky new FSA OS99 stem of the fine folk at Wide Open 10mm longer than my old 100mm ITM one. Despite the extra length it is lighter, plus it would have the benefit of being stiffer too with it's more up to date four-bolt faceplate.
I'm sure my Bianchi looks better with it fitted too, but you know I'll take any chance I can to post shots of my own bikes whatever...
I then raced home and got changed before jumping aboard and heading out into what was a blustery Wellington wind. Positionally I felt great, but riding through town and around Oriental Bay the rest of me felt terrible - far from feeling like I did on Saturday, I couldn't get out of my own way. I thought I should just push on and ride through it, but by the time I got to Miramar Wharves I was feeling so shady I decided to pull the pin and grovel home. Very odd. Once I got home I had a huge lunch and disconsolately headed back into work, hoping like Hell I wasn't getting sick again.
I took it easy the next couple of days, but after an irritating Thursday morning I'd had enough - I was angry at the world and spoiling for a fight, so the only cure had to be to head for the hills. I dragged the Commencal out of the basement and chucked my Camelbak and helmet on and rode out of Waripori Street not really knowing where I was heading.
I did something I never do and took my iPod along too. I slowly cruised up Farnham Street and down to Brooklyn listening to some of my favourite music as the rage and frustration rapidly dissipated. Up the ferocious Todman St climb, then up to Polhill and onto the Rollercoaster. Amazingly, in light of Monday's debacle, I was feeling great - so good I managed to ride the Rollercoaster all the way to the windmill. The three steepest pitches hurt like blazes, but I turned off my sounds, dropped into the 22 x 32 and focussed on one pedal stroke at a time until I hit the (marginally) easier gradients, where I was able to recover just enough to get me to the next heinous slope. I was definitely feeling good legs, but I think I was just mentally determined (or just mental) to not be beaten, after my frustrating start to the day.
I stopped at the windmill and had a stretch and a pause to work out where next...
...I thought maybe I'd take my first trip along the new Carparts Extension, which I could see parts of as they tantalisingly snaked around the hillside in front of me, but then I decided to head over to Wrights Hill. I climbed back over the gate and rode along the Rollercoaster, then a sketchy ride down Fenceline, where the hideous though luckily dry ruts almost took me out - an inadvertant stab at the hard ground with my foot somehow cannoned me back on track, and I rode the rest of the way down to the Glade (or Pine Needle Clearing as the CS Nihilists used to call it) with my heart in my mouth.
Up the steep climb to the Wrights Hill Parade Ground, then onwards to Salvation. I briefly flirted with the idea of riding Deliverance, but decided discretion was the better part of valour - I don't want to die alone in the bush!
In the end Salvation appealed more anyway - I'm not the most technically proficient mountainbiker in the world, but I relish flowy trails full of twists and turns, which sums up this primarily uphill designed trail nicely.
As soon as the trail headed into the trees and into the birdsong I felt energised and, always with a view to any possible walkers, I got my flow steez on and carved up Salvation like a Christmas ham...
All too soon I emerged into the bright sunlight of the deepest 'burbs of South Karori. I still felt I had some riding in my legs, so I headed down Hazlewood Ave and into Makara MTB Park via the lovely Koru once more.
A good fang up there, then onto Sally Alley, onto the awesome fun Missing Link. By the time I began the long climb up Aratihi I was finally starting to feel a bit ragged, struggling with the gradient in places and, like a TVNZ newsreader, fluffing my lines a few times. I made it to the top and, again opting for safety over bravado, rolled down the Snakecharmer until I hit Ridgeline Extension. I rode as much of this without pedaling as I could, just trying to flow down using my momentum and it's cool how much of it you can roll and how fast you can go without pedaling!
Onto Big Tom's Wheelie, where I was forced to work a bit, then after a quick stop for a natural break I zipped down Lazy Fern for yet another rocking roll down this superb trail that was just built for flow.
I hit the Carpark absolutely shattered, so headed for sanctuary, and I don't mean Zealandia! Of course I mean the comfy chair at Revolution Bicycles, where the ever gracious Jonty plied me with coffee and chocolate sufficient to repower me enough to contemplate the ride home...
I made it home okay; tired but very, very happy. I'm really starting to feel the mojo returning - this was a three hour plus ride that I couldn't have contemplated a couple of months ago, and the best thing was that I didn't relapse afterwards! Woohoo!
Friday night I went back up to Revolution Bicycles - not on the coffee bludge this time, but to lend my Campagnolo chain tool and assist in sorting out the broken chain on this lovely Serotta Ottrott. It's possible a beer or two was quaffed.
Jonty was busy working on Ian's CX01 that I took spy shots of earlier, but he authorised me to take a shot of it with my proper camera - done bar the bar tape!
Saturday I wasn't able to ride, but had a hilarious and great fun parents versus kids indoor soccer game to celebrate the end of Kester's division winning season. A couple of people took it pretty seriously, but on the whole it was played in very good spirits. The kids rightly took it out 9-7, although I'm pretty sure the score flattered us! It was 30 minutes each way (?!) so after a terrible start I spent most of the game like a deer in the headlights, as my utter lack of ball skills and inability to read the play meant I was next to useless - although I cut an imposing enough figure that when the ball did come my way the boys would hesitate before tackling me. That didn't matter though, as I'd invariably pass the ball straight to them by mistake anyway. The only cool move I pulled was a header onto a roundhouse kick, but the header was supposed to go the other way entirely and the kick was pure fluke. The game was followed by a damn fine bunfight and some presentations to the coaches and manager. Good stuff indeed.
The big boys had gone to their Mum's for the rest of the weekend, and Bo and Jacq were busy so it was time to ride. It was a beautiful day, so I asked Jacq if she would be my shuttle driver and she kindly agreed. We swung by Alex's place to grab him then drove out to Johnsonville, and Jacq dumped us out at the start of the Old Coach Road. Never having ridden this before we were delighted by it.
Mainly gentle gradients with a couple of steeper sections to get the blood pumping, and some lovely views getting better the higher we got.
We rode along until we joined the Sirsi Terrace track I had walked up the weekend before with my family, then onwards again to the summit of Chickenchicken - easier on bikes than on foot, I reckon!
After a quick break in the sun, we set off along the Skyline Trail heading roughly south in the direction of Karori.
Skyline heads up and down for quite a while, but again I was on a good day - the ups seemed less uppish and the downs didn't bring me down. I found I had enough pace on all terrain to feel fresh enough at the top of the climbs to really open the taps on the way down, unlike usual up there!
Alex was in sensible cruise mode, on the other hand, and spent time communing with nature rather than rushing about like an idiot.
After several adventures we reached the turn off to Cemetery Trail, where we decided to turn off. The thought of heading all the way along to Wahine didn't really appeal for some reason, plus we both love CT and felt like a shralve down thurr anyway.
After I blasted the early sections of this trail through the pines, Alex again reigned me in as we entered the native bush, and we both enjoyed meandering down the track. At different times we both had a close up view of a Kereru, so it truly was a nature commune.
A stop for a chaff on the corner of Chaytor Street was followed by a blast down, then up to Highbury and George Denton Park, before a hilarious squirt down Squatters and onto Holloway Road. A slow pass through town and a lap or two of the summery Oriental Bay, then home for a cold beer, the thought of which had sustained me throughout our travails.
So a superb ride finished off a lovely weekend, that topped off an up and down week or two. No one needs to read anything on the net this long, so I'll try not to let two weeks of bullshit build up in my head again but, as ever, thanks so much for reading. CU next time, Oli