Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birthday Week!

Not mine, avid readers, but those of two of My Three Sons. As regular customers will be only too aware, I have always tried to do my best to be as available to my kids as I can - sometimes even to the detriment of my business I'm afraid. But I have always figured that I only have one shot at spending time with them while they're still kids, whereas bikes will always be there needing fixing. My customers are certainly important to me, but not nearly as important as my beautiful children...All three of my boys are so different, yet I am proud as hell of them all.

So as well as Wellington Anniversary Day preventing me from putting in a full week's work last week, there was my youngest son Bodhi's 6th birthday on Wednesday which, after a fun morning of presents and laughter, involved ferrying a large amount of random kids to Junglerama then feeding and entertaining them all afternoon.

After a couple of days with my head down and bum up in the shop the weekend arrived. On Sunday was my eldest son Kester's 15th birthday. Ket, Harry, my mate Alex and I had had a wicked ride up Makara Peak on Saturday, and on Ket's b-day we had a great time with a family gathering at Staglands, followed by bowling and a BBQ with some friends to finish off.

Here's the card I drew for Ketto...

In between these auspicious days I had to bury myself in a futile attempt to pay for it all. I was to busy/forgetful to take pictures of every job but here's a full rack of bikes to give you an idea of some of the workload.

On Thursday my friend James dropped in his stunning Ross Bee painted Team Raleigh frame, along with the fruitiest collection of NOS and barely used Campagnolo Super Record parts I've seen since I built up my own 753 Raleigh in 1982! Some of it is even still in it's original boxes. Once I'd rolled my tongue back up I managed to stop shaking long enough to take a couple of shots of his incredible collection of fruit, including the SR wheels I built for this project late last year.

Obviously, this job is special. I will be doing it with the doors firmly closed and the phone off the hook, so as to give it my lingering and full attention. I am looking forward to this job greatly...could you tell? :D

Here are my friends Nick and Bruce about to race the Palmy-Wellington in 1982, with me on the left holding onto my Dura-Ace EX equipped 531 TI Raleigh, the forerunner to my custom 753 which I don't have images of...

Also awaiting my attention (and the arrival of spokes!) are these cool Tune hubs. I'm building them for Hayden, who has specced Stan's NoTubes ZTR Olympic rims and DT Revolution spokes with aluminium nipples - I'm looking forward to seeing them on the scales!

My Jazz Apples Tour of Duty is rapidly approaching, and I thought you might like this great shot of my boss, the legendary Susy Pryde. I just stumbled on this while trawling through the photo archives of NZ's number 1 cycling website, VORB, and I have no idea what race it is, apart from it must be a big one if she's rocking the National colours. I'll try and find out where and when it was taken when I'm on Tour...very cool. (Edit: Susy tells me this was the Oceanias in Aussie 2004)

With all these birthdays and things going on, I keep being reminded of my advanced decrepitude, and am continually being faced with the long history I've accidentally created for myself in the bike game. This year marks the 9th year of Roadworks, which is as long as the great Cycle Services existed, but more importantly it marks 30 years since I began in the bicycle trade! It's hard for me to get my head around that at all...Good God, I'm so OLD!

Those early shop experiences went hand in hand with my earliest racing days, in which I rode alongside many folk who are still firm friends to this day. One who I haven't seen since the mid 80s but am in touch with again thanks to this blog and the wonders of the Interwebby is my mate Eoin, who is now domiciled in Western Australia. Here are some great shots he sent me of his daughter Tahlay following in his cleat steps. These were taken on the Perth SpeedDome, which looks like an incredible facility. I've yet to make it down to the much lauded Invercargill Velodrome, but I believe it's on a par with this stunning Ron Webb designed facility.


The SpeedDome

A selection of the bikes the lucky kids have access to

Note the cool Hillbricks, made by Paul Hillbrick who also built my road frame (gratuitous photo)

Another example of my being confronted by my chequered past is that I have recently received an email from Eoin's sister Jenny, asking if I could do some work for her. In 1984 - yes, 1984 - I had built her this unusual Alan Tourist and, after years of use, followed by some neglect due to the onset of children, she has asked me to set it up as a more practical bike for her to accompany her son Matt as he learns to ride his own bike. I'll be fitting some riser bars and appropriate brake levers to enable her to ride upright, instead of hunched over the drops. Great to see Jenny after all these years, and very, very cool to see this bike I still remember building 25 years ago...

My good mate John Randal just got back from a very cool trip around the East Cape of the North Island. Check out his great story on Vorb...Here he is rocking his new Roadworks kit.

As regular readers will know, hardly a blog entry goes by without my mentioning John, and this is quite deliberate. It's a small way to show him how much I appreciate the fact that he is such a good buddy and such a staunch supporter of my family and I, as well as being one of my Star Athletes. I know John is going to be smashing his way at warp speed around the tough 50km Karapoti Classic on March the 7th, and I'm stoked my Jazz Apples commitments don't conflict this year so I can be there to support him.

Here John does his best to give his sponsor good value on the results booklet from the 2007 Karapoti, rocking a mean beard and with cunningly photoshopped Roadworks shoulder logos, but still easily recogniseable/marketable. Cheers John!

Finally, when I bought myself my beautiful Commençal Meta 5.5 in September last year, I knew it needed the 140mm forks it's geometry was based around to really do it justice, rather than the otherwise awesome '07 130mm Fox TALAS I transferred off my old GT, but finances always prevented me from upgrading. So when I was talking to Fox importer Al Heine about another matter and he made me yet another offer I couldn't refuse, I said YES PLEASE. The very next morning the courier dropped off my new 2009 Fox TALAS 32s. My only ride so far was my ride with the boys before Ket's birthday, but my initial impressions are great. I still have some setting up to do but they are noticeably plusher than the already plush 130s, as well as lots more tunable being RLCs rather than just Rs. I like the lockout too, as it prevents me from flopping around like a landed trout when I'm standing climbing. They also seem stiffer to me, plus I liked how it raked back the bike by a degree - it seemed to carve nicely down Lazy Fern without wanting to tuck under under hard cornering.

So here's yet another gratuitous Oli bike pic - Hey, it's my damn blog! :D

Well, there goes the bloody phone again - I'll be back in a wee while with the results of the Raleigh build, the Tune wheels, as well as some other goodies...thanks again for reading, Oli ;)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lurking and Shirking...

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Holiday Snapshots

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great break and got some riding in to stave off the effects of Christmas over-consumption - I certainly did my best. Like most of you I'm back at work now though, and slowly easing my way back into the routine. I am looking forward to a few choice bike repair/restore projects coming up, as well as to some upcoming events such as the Wellington round of the MTB National Series this weekend. I'm looking forward to catching up with Tim Wilding, who makes his first foray into this years series, as well as just soaking in the atmosphere of an elite bike race on Mt Victoria.

Coming up for me as well is the start of the 2009 Jazz Apples programme - I'm going to be lucky to be again working with them from mid-February until early March on a training camp, the Women's Tour of Wellington and the new UCI race around Miramar Peninsular. The Team roster is very strong with returning riders Susy Pryde (NZL), Ruth Corset (AUS), Lauren Ellis (NZL) and Malindi Maclean (NZL), along with talented newcomers Dotsie Bausch (USA) and Steph Roorda (CAN). The line up is completed by the return of dual MTB and road international, Rosara Joseph (NZL) for a Team that will be able to compete in all areas. Choice! I'm really looking forward to my annual foray into the glamorous world of women's pro racing...

Lauren Ellis wins in the USA last year - more of this please!

Anyway, after being slightly burned out by the end of last year (bet you couldn't tell!) I took full advantage of the days before Christmas to de-stress with some grouse rides. The first couple were lovely ambles around Makara Peak, but then things got weird - my friend Alex and I decided to ride UP the Tip Track wtf?! A ride that's not usually high on my list of fun things to do, this trail climbs about 400 vertical metres quite rapidly. The legend that is Simon Kennett holds the known record with just over 19 1/2 minutes, with anything around 30 minutes regarded as a good solid time. Al and I managed it in just over 40 minutes, though my timing wasn't exact as I dropped my calendar at the top...

I'm not sure if I'm starting to get a wee glimpse of something approximating fitness, or if the superb traction afforded by my Commençal was helping, but I was riding bits I have always struggled with in the past. Not riding fast, you understand, but riding. Whatever the outcome, the effort must have been worthy as I threw up twice at the summit, though I managed to keep the evidence out of these grainy cellphone pix.

The Corral.

The top of the Tipper, known to Cycle Services Faithful as "CU".

After cleaning myself up and recovering (quicker than I thought!) we rode past the castle atop Hawkins and it's rabid guard dogs, then down the road to Carparts where much hilarious shralving ensued as the light began to fade from the evening sky.

Then we rode the Rollercoaster at warp speed...

Before hitting Denton Park trail down to Holloway Road then a cruise through town to home.

This pic I took as I climbed out of a bush after an unscheduled diversion into some bushes...

Before I was absorbed into the hideous melee that is Christmas shopping I also found some time to head out on a road ride around the Bays with my good buddy John Randal. It's so rare that our schedules allow us to ride together, so it was much enjoyed. No pics of the ride but here's a cool one Alex Revell sent me of John getting ready for his impressive Taupo ride last year - czech that equally impressive mo!

Christmas was awesome, with the usual family, feast and full-on inebriation - not to mention a redeculous amount of gifts for the kids! One of the most prized was Bodhi's new bike that Father Christmas brought for him - his face when he saw it will go into my most cherished memories vault. He already had a bike of course, but it was a too-small one of Harry's cast-offs - this is his first New Bike, complete with the dinosaur stickers he had requested of Santa.

Once we had tidied up the debris on Boxing Day it was a given that we would take Bo for a blat on his new rig. Father Christmas had deliberately left off the training wheels, so Bo was going to be forced to deal with two-wheeled action for the first time. We loaded his bike and his brothers BMXs onto the back of my wagon (along with various kites and balls, etc., etc...) and traipsed up to Karori BMX track.

Bo initially made a bit of a fuss as he wobbled along with my hand on his back, but suddenly he just got a determined look on his face and said, "I'm ready!" then he was off!

The first wobbly attempts gave way to confident riding in no time.

A proud and elated Bodhi lets out a victory roar!

After what must have been a good four minutes of hard riding, Bo was keen for a rest so we wandered over to watch his big bros do their thing. The BMXs don't often get dragged out by these two died in the wool MTBers, and it's even rarer that we make it up to actually ride the track, so the boys were going off!

Harry grabs some air.

Kester rolls a jump (he did grab air too, just no pic!)

Because it's hard for us all to go on a proper ride together, given our varied cycling abilities, we often walk together. As regular readers will know, I have been loving what I used to call the Cemetery Trail that heads off Skyline and ends up in Karori Cemetery. I now believe it to be called Pilot Track (though I'm open to correction on that!) and after raving to the family about it for weeks we decided we would walk it on yet another glorious day. We made it nearly all the way up to Skyline before Bo hit the wall and demanded a shoulder ride...

Skyline looking roughly north.

On New Years Day the family headed up to the family bach at Te Horo for a few days away from computers, TVs and phones. We had a great time doing lots of swimming, backyard cricket and rugby, cards, Monopoly and Cluedo, as well as some of the most fun bike riding I've done in ages. Just the ticket.

Mine, Jacq's and Bodhi's bikes at the bach.

Te Horo beach.

My beautiful wife Jacq astounded me recently by announcing that was going into training to do a 40km leg of Round the Lake Taupo race this year, so this was also something of an impromptu training camp as she dusted off her cycling togs and got some saddle time for the first time since Bo was born. Jacq never competed but was a keen cyclist when I met her, so it's neat to see her getting her mojo back.

Jacq wondering if saddles are meant to be quite so hurty.

While Jacq was putting in the big miles...

...Bodhi and I were putting in our own.

The beauty of the country is that the boys can safely ride on the road, although the lack of helmets was not part of the plan.

While we were away Roadworks riders all over the country - well, Wellington mainly - were preparing in their own way for the year ahead. Here is my latest road race team member Joel Healy with John Randal in the middle of inflicting all kinds of pain on each other. Let's hope they turn their sado-masochistic attentions to the other members of the peloton when the flag drops!

Lastly, to appease all of you who aren't as enamoured of my family photos as I am, I'll finish up with a proper bike shot to set the tone for the rest of the year. Late last year I built some wheels for my friend and 2006 NZ MTB team compadre Pete to go on this wicked Eddy Merckx...

Back very soon with more of this sort of thing and more wrenching tales...

Cheers for reading, Oli