Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ups and Downs

My recent rich vein of form has been mined, and sadly I am left depleted and tapped out. What started as a great week on my Quest has ended up with me being immobilised by a hefty dose of Cold, so I sit here typing this feeling slightly sorry for myself after four days off the bike, and desperately hoping I won't have lost too much of my hard-earned and much treasured new fitness because of it...

On the upside, the working week was full of some interesting projects - great to see that the recent nice weather is having the spin-off of getting everyone keen on their bikes again as they gear up towards a season of fun riding and racing.

Jacinta had picked up this battered but cool old Garry Buys built Vincolo Reynolds 501 framed bike to turn into a fixie. She had grabbed some pre-built track wheels and a Sakae chainset off TradeMe, so I was charged with fitting the bits together to give her an idea of whether fixie riding suited her before she goes to town repainting and blinging it up. Some cold-setting of the rear triangle was required to space it to 120mm and I couldn't get the chainline absolutely perfect, but I was still quite happy with the end result - hopefully Jacinta is too!

This Genius had been stolen from Pete's garage in Karori, then amazingly recovered after being dumped in the bush of Makara Peak! Pete bought it back from the insurance company and onsold it to Konrad, who eventually brought it to me. Here I'm in the process of cleaning it up in advance of working on it.

Konrad had bought a new Ultegra SL compact gruppo which he wanted fitted to his Cannondale R800, so the old parts off that were moved over onto the Genius to give him a training bike to ride in inclement weather.

The Cannondale prior to being stripped with it's original parts on, including the wheels I built Konrad last year.

Stripped and being cleaned up.

The Genius complete.

And the R800 in its new incarnation...

Murray is gearing up towards his first assault on the gruelling and very hilly K2 event, so before beginning his 9 week training plan leading up to it he wanted me to fettle his Trek Madone - some new cables and drivetrain components and it is now fully ready to rock.

Tom is off next week to compete in the ITU Triathlon World Championships hoping to improve on his fine 9th place from last year, so I gave his beautiful Wilier Cento Uno a pre-race check over...

As well as gluing some new Schwalbe Stelvio tubulars onto his lustful Campagnolo Bora wheels.

Tom's rig ready to throw down - best of luck mate!

Another day another new groupset - this time it was a brand new just released Ultegra 6700 gruppo to be fitted to Adrian's Specialized Tarmac.

This was my first chance to have a nosy at these components which take many of the features of the new Dura-Ace 7900 group such as the hidden cables and lighter and stiffer chainset, but in a much more affordable context. It was easy to set up and seemed very precise on the stand - no doubt Adrian will let me know how it goes long-term but my first impressions were very positive...

Last week I wrote about the super Crosstafarian CX series and during the week I sussed (read stole) some cool photos from this event. Firstly lots from the
Revolution Bicycles album, including this one of the start, with my man John Randal bracketed by eventual first and second place riders Nick "The Hinge" Kennedy and Dave "Davo" Aldred of the famed Team Bushlove.

Thanks to Craig Madsen for this neat shot of John mid-hurdle on his way to a fine top 10 finish.

Also ripped from the Revolution pics are these shots of John climbing the pinch climb...

And a wicked shot of John chasing Revolution Bicycles rider Mike Thompson who finished 5th (I believe?).

As well as John I was represented by Daryl Bloomfield, shown here displaying fine form as he takes time out from his usual triathlon training to give CX a bash.

As I related last week, John backed up this hard effort with racing a road race on the same bike - I was just there for the posing. Here we are at the start shooting the breeze with Oliver. Always nice to meet Vorb friends in person!

As is becoming increasingly obvious, this blog is really just a glorified training diary for me now. The riding week started off well enough with a lap of the Bays on a nice day with a gentle NWer, where I took the unusual for me option of riding up Owhiro Rd - I spent several years being forced to commute up there in usually nasty NW head winds and being mentally broken by being overtaken daily by Joseph on his old Diamondback MTB, so ever since I've had a mental block about riding up it.

I take it as a good sign of my rediscovered keen morale that it seemed mentally and physically easy this day - climbing up Clarence St and bombing down Farnham St were ample reward anyway. The only downside was that my legs felt a bit flat, which I took at the time as a sign that my hard work in recent weeks was paying off. Very nice to get home and see that an astounding 333 people had read my previous night's blog entry too!

Tuesday was a chance to get out on the Commencal - I only had a short window for riding, so chucked the bike on the back of my wagon and combined the mission with some deliveries. I headed up to Makara Peak Mountainbike Park and unloaded in the carpark in what was a very strong NWer with occasional sporadic spots of rain. Despite some heavy rain in previous nights the tracks I rode were in primo almost dry condition - a testament to the superb work done by the legions of designers and trail pixies who have put in countless hours of their time to create this amazing network of trails.

I rode up Koru and Sally Alley then down Missing Link feeling pretty strong, before starting to die a bit as I scaled the lovely Aratihi to the summit.

The wind was really howling and the rain coming in harder, as I passed on riding down my two-time concussion causing nemesis Ridgeline and took the safe option of the Snakecharmer instead for some old-school fire road descending...I veered off and onto one of my favourite bits of trail, Ridgeline Extension before shralving down the awesome SWIGG (blowing past one of the afore-mentioned trail pixies - cheers, Don!) and Starfish to hit the carpark exactly one hour and one minute after leaving it. My legs felt quite hurty after my exertions but I was very happy with my ride, and felt reasonably on my game technically. I do love so much riding these fantastic tracks...

Due to various reasons I wasn't able to get on the bike on Wednesday apart from a ten minute cruise to the bank in Newtown and back, but Thursday I had earmarked for my longest ride so far of my Glorious Comeback.

After getting the morning chores out of the way I set out in fine but very windy conditions with the intention of possibly riding around Haywards, but as I had woken feeling a bit shady sneezing and coughing I thought I would decide on the road how far I would actually go. Negotiating town with all its annoying stops and starts I felt I had good legs, so decided I'd make the final call at the Petone roundabout.

I made it there without any problems, so decided it was a go for Haywards. Not wanting to navigate the confusion of the new Dowse Interchange I decided to head up the Hutt Road rather than SH2. I crossed onto SH2 at Melling Bridge at just the wrong time, forgetting that there are several pinch points after this where cyclists have no verge to keep them apart from the trucks that seem to delight in seeing how close they can pass. I took the option of using the poorly named and maintained "bike path" alongside it after one too many close calls, before taking the option of the lightly trafficked Liverton Road as soon as I could.

The headwind grew increasingly strong as I rode up the tough Haywards climb in my 39 x 21 and 23.

But I was climbing freely and much better than I thought, as can be clearly seen in my relaxed and impassive expression...

Reaching the summit with the thought of the long descent down to Pauatahanui Inlet I was mildly perturbed to realise that the NWer was so strong I'd have to pedal hard the whole way down.

The wind was by now so powerful it was physically bullying me and shoving me around - my rising feelings of fear and frustration weren't helped one bit by the concrete mixer that passed literally 10cm away from my right shoulder just where there was no verge to speak of, sucking me in it's wash a half metre out into the road just in time for the following truck to give me a huge blast on it's airhorn as it too passed way too close.

I do wonder what goes through the mind of some motorists as they approach cyclists on the road - I know sometimes we're guilty of running the odd red light, or holding traffic up for a few seconds here and there, but should these offences be worthy of a death sentence? I don't want to leave my wife a widow and my children fatherless for the sake of riding my bike, but I don't want to be forced off the road by the possibility of an accident either.

The resentment, anger and sometimes deliberate dangerous driving directed at cyclists seems all out of proportion to the crime to me, but I guess I just have to ascribe it to the general "fuck you, it's all about me" ethos that unfortunately pervades some sectors of society - luckily the many motorists who gave me plenty of room and friendly waves as they passed or gave way to me give me hope that the majority of folk are actually caring and compassionate people who are happy to live and let live...

Before long I hit the Pauatahanui Inlet, scene of some of my earliest racing experiences riding the Balfour Pennington series held on many a freezing winter morning. We used to race three laps of the Inlet, including over Grays Road and down SH1 Mana Esplanade - impossible to imagine these days with the vast increase in traffic volumes!

After battling the wind all the way around the Inlet I hit the blessed relief of the tailwind down the motorway alongside Porirua Harbour, and I had the 53 x 17 humming as I got the tempo up again.

I reminisced happily as I passed the scene of my first ever road victory, the Aotea Lagoon circuit.

This 1981 race was part of a long-gone summer series of short (16km!) but brutal races that PNP used to hold. I was riding scratch for only my second or third time ever that day. We had worked our scrawny arses off to catch break just before the second to last corner, and I was absolutely stoked to out-kick then Club Captain and noted sprinter Doug Barrett for the win on what was my father's birthday. Here I'm diving to get on Doug's wheel as we come into that penultimate corner, before pipping him just on the line after the final bend.

As the mists of time parted again for a moment I made my way through Porirua...

Before they descended again as I pedalled through Tawa past the Bray family's old place and I remembered their garage filled with hanging bikes and myriad cool bike esoterica. I recalled also the many happy times parked up in the kitchen mid-training ride being topped up with tea and biscuits while dissecting the race of the weekend before from the results printed on delicious smelling cyclostyled (how appropriate!) paper.

Onwards towards Middleton Road, or Glenside as it was always known by us.

Glenside too is full of distant memories - I remember like it was yesterday the humiliation of being dropped at the start of the Gold Coast 80 starting in Johnsonville. I was in good form but simply couldn't get my Detto into my toe clip, and I flailed away with my left foot and watched with despair as the field rode away from me over the crest into Glenside, beginning what would be a long chase for me and some other stragglers that wouldn't end until we finally got back on at Otaki as the peloton slowed after recapturing a break - the whole time the field would have been no more than 200 metres ahead of us, but it might as well have been 2000 metres! As it turned out, I was dropped again the minute we hit Paekakariki Hill to finish about 20 minutes behind the winner.

The crest was also where we used to sit as young kids to watch the Dulux field fight out the final climb of this tough six day Tour, before they plummeted down Ngauranga Gorge into the finish on Thorndon Quay...not quite the Mighty Galabier, but good enough for us back then...

As I climbed the final pitch of the climb I was still feeling relatively good, but just tired enough that I opted for the 26.

After navigating the madness of the J'ville traffic I did my own plummeting down the Gorge, super fast and with a feeling of release from having put all the climbs behind me now. I then happily scooted with the by now very strong tailwind along the bike path alongside the Hutt Road before finishing my loop at Wellington Railway Station.

And the ride was complete once I had scaled the giddy heights of Rintoul Street and made it home safely, tired but very happy to have put about 75 kilometres of riding in my legs in exactly three hours - by far the longest ride I've done in the last few years.

Unfortunately, the wheels fell off shortly afterwards. After changing and having lunch I went to work coughing and with the unmistakeable signs of an impending sore throat. I finished my repairs and headed home feeling considerably worse, and by bedtime I knew that all the little signs I'd been ignoring all week had been the harbingers of doom - or of a decent dose of man-flu at any rate...

I worked on Friday but spent the rest of the weekend hoping the vitamins and water I was taking in copious quantities would do the business so I might continue the Quest soon...fingers crossed the slight improvement I feel today bodes well!

One ray of sunshine amid the gloom was on Saturday - my eldest son Kester's soccer team had made the 15th Grade Division 2 Finals after a tough season. Sadly poor Ket was suffering from the same lurg as me, but no damn cold was going to keep him (or me!) from missing this important game, and he did sterling work at the back defending against what was an extremely good attacking team - I was very proud of him, as I always am.

In the end the many parents and friends who turned out to support the Team were delighted to watch them come from 1-0 down to beat a very skilled St Bernards Team 5-2 in a dogged display of determination, and Ket's tough defence was a critical factor in preventing St Bernards scoring more goals and stealing the win. Congratulations boys!

Kester's courage helps keep me inspired, so as soon as I've shaken off the worst of this cold I'll be back out there trying to smash it. I'll keep you all posted - until then thanks for reading, Oli

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Three Rs - Riting, Riding and Repairing

After getting a huge amount of great feedback from my last blog I'm guessing that many of you relate to my Quest For Fitness, either actively or vicariously. You may be pleased to know that it's been going very well for me so far - so well I even managed to squeeze into my XL Fidels gilet for the first time since I got it over a year ago!

I've been absolutely loving riding lately. It's not that I didn't always love to ride, but somehow with my busy life it often seemed easiest to put off a ride - now it's just getting easier and easier to put off the busy and get out on my bike instead.

I'm finding already that the more I'm riding the easier it gets, and the easier it gets to ride the easier it is to withstand my over-eating urges too. The peripheral fitness work is also making me feel more centred and strong both on and off the bike...

Since I last put virtual pen to electronic paper I've managed to get out for some very cool rides. Last Friday week Wellington was in the thralls of a gloriously warm wind-free day - so spring-like I took the opportunity to leave my leg warmers at home and head out to Eastbourne on my first shorts ride of the season!

For some OCD reason I always have to ride all the way out to the Pencarrow gates before turning and heading back to town, but I'm always rewarded with a great view of the Kaikouras framed by the Heads...

I then tempo'd at a decent clip back into the city for a meander around Oriental Bay in the 18 degree warmth, then home after what was a decent 2 1/2 hour ride.

Saturday was not in the same league weather-wise, but after Saturday sports I was still keen to slip out for a ride. I had pretty sore legs from my previous days exertions, so I thought the best answer was to just head out for a sift on my rigid MTB and simply follow my front wheel.

I headed up Mt Albert first, then along Buckley Road...

...with it's awesome views of Houghton Bay and the Heads.

Then onto the trail appropriately known as Sifty, which was surprisingly dry considering the time of year - a dry week or two and you'd think the trails had never been rained on.

Once at the bottom of Sifty I headed around the South Coast, taking the off-road options as often as possible...

...through Kilbirnie and along the trail alongside Cobham Drive (surprisingly hard on a fully rigid machine!), then up Maupuia Rd...

...towards Mt Crawford Prison.

Then I headed into the new trails being built - first along Bootleg.

Followed by the great fun descent of Conviction into Miramar proper.

Back along Cobham Drive then around to Oriental Bay again. I knew it was heaps colder than Friday, but I didn't think it was cold enough for icebergs wtf!?

I then grovelled up the road to the summit of Mt Victoria and rattled and banged my way down the Ridgeline, before scuttling down to Pirie Street and home via the Basin Reserve for a well deserved beer and a long hot bath after what had turned into another good 2 1/2 hour ride...

On Sunday my best buddy Al and I had planned to head out for a mountainbike ride, so I pulled out our bikes (Al is storing his Enduro at mine at the moment) and gave them a tyre check and a chain lube before loading them onto the Sex Wagon and heading off to collect the Mainiac himself. I sit them upside down for a bit to get the oil in the forks up to the seals...

The day was blowing a very cold gale force Northerly, and was alternately sunny,cloudy and/or spitting, and Al and I weren't really sure where or how far we wanted to ride. In the end we decided to ride somewhere we hadn't been for years, so I parked the car on Northland Road and we unloaded the rigs and made our way up the fiendishly steep road that leads to the top of Tinakori Hill, before threading down through the many walkers enjoying the breeze along the Ridgeline. We headed down the recently legal trails that sidle along the hill, having a blast on these legendary flowing tracks that are still recovering from the 2004 storms.

After ending up at the bottom of the hill it seemed a shame to just head back up, so we decided to scoot along and check out the trail through Trellisick Park, not realising until we got there that it's a walking only trail. Not wanting to poach illegal tracks we decided to head up Ngaio Gorge and Chartwell Drive, before braving the ascent onto Skyline that I did last week.

We passed several bemused walkers who openly wondered why exactly we were heading up into the increasingly foul conditions, but we mountainbikers aren't concerned with such sensitive pabulum and we continued unphased into the teeth of the gale, consoled by the thought of the excellent singletrack that awaited us.

Unbeknownst to us, however, the wind was so powerful that we could barely stand in places, let alone ride! We stumbled and pushed our way along as best we could, sporadic rest and food stops only possible when lying down completely flat in the damp grass.

A few jet planes and on we pushed past ghostly macrocarpas looming through the 80kph wind-driven mist.

By now slightly disgruntled by the difficulty of the conditions and the lack of actual riding we were capable of...

...we began to enjoy the ride once we hit some vague lee and were able to blast the remaining track with our bikes remaining roughly on the ground. We then veered off Skyline and had a fantastic fang down the superb Cemetery Trail, which was enjoyably wind-free albeit wet, rooty and very, very sketchy.

Back out into the 'burbs, we moseyed back up to the car to close out a hardcore three hour plus ride in tough conditions. As night fell I dropped Al at home after dumping our filthy bikes at my shop ready for a good strop-up on Monday.

This closed out a great week of riding for me - as I had decided to take Monday off the bike I was able to ponder what had been an incredible and almost unprecedented 12 hour riding week! This HAS to pay off down the road...

While I was exerting myself in a sifty manner, my great mate John Randal was showing he was swiftly returning to the height of his prodigious powers by taking out the Waiterere MTBO round in his Roadworks kit - good stuff John!

Wrenching myself into the reality of the working week was hard when my head was filled with desire to pedal, but there was plenty of work waiting in Roadworks Reparto Corse to bring me back to reality.

Before getting into the paying work I first had to clean Al's Enduro and my Commencal, in a continuance of my reputation for anal and obsessive bike cleanliness.

A quick hose off of the worst of the grime, being careful not to direct water towards the bottom bracket, headset and hub bearings.

Then up into the stand to wash it properly. I favour a warm water and Dynamo washing liquid solution, and I start at the top of the bike and wash down, using one sponge for the bulk of the bike and another for the drivetrain.

Once it's essentially clean I remove the wheels and thoroughly clean them, using an old dish brush to clean the cassette.

Then I use the sponge again to get into the rest of the nooks and grannies of the bike that I couldn't reach with the wheels fitted.

I then carefully rinse the bike and wheels off with fresh water before propping it up to drip dry inside so the B-Pore crims don't flog it while I'm beavering away inside the shop.

Once I'd got rid of some other more lucrative work I whacked them up in the stand (you'll have to take my word for it that I was duplicating this all with Al's rig...) and finished drying them off, before lightly lubing the chains and pivots and moving parts.

Once I have run through the gears and checked the brakes the bikes are gleaming clean ready to go again, as well as being primed for the inevitable and inane "your bike is so clean you must never ride it" comments.

Some of the paid work I have done over the past week or so included Leonard's Condor training bike which needed a new drivetrain and a bloody good going over after more than a year of hard use.

My old friend Anna's Kona Lisa RD needed almost exactly the same treatment after many hours of commuting in all weathers...

Tracey's ex-Rachel Mercer Giant Trinity had been to another shop to locate a noise, but some offhand treatment from their mechanic combined with a less than thorough attempt at locating the noise brought her to me - I'm glad to say I managed to nail the offending noise, as well as giving the rest of Tracey's bike my loving touch to make sure her training is smooth and utterly free of irritating resonance.

My favourite 24 hour rider Jude needed a fork service, and on advice from NZ Fox Supremo Big Al Heine we decided Jude would be better off with lighter weight fork oil to ensure the fork was more responsive to her very light weight so I replaced the wiper seals and added some Spectro 5wt oil to assist her through a demanding season of hardcore endurance racing. Good luck, Jude!

Another bit of unpaid (in fact at my cost!) work was adding a new Dura-Ace chainset to Jacq's bike - there was nothing wrong with the Campagnolo cranks I'd initially fitted, but I thought Jacq would be better off with 170mm cranks rather than the 172.5 Campy ones and a hot deal via Jonty on these NOS Octalink cranks was too good to turn down. They're not quite period, but close enough...

I now declare this Eddy Merckx complete, shipshape and Bristol fashion!

I also finished off Deano's Pedalforce tri rig in advance of his trip to Maui for the demanding and iconic Ironman event. Props to Bodyworks, New Balance, Fitness Goals and BlueSeventy wetsuits for helping Deano out too.

My test ride up and down Waripori Street tells me this bike will be FAST, and Deano tells me he loves it!

Some weeks ago Bill dropped off his classic Scott Endorphin singlespeed for me to strip down ahead of a revivication:

And here it is after Bill got it repainted and I rebuilt it, adding the White Bros forks (among some other parts) that he had obtained. I think it turned out stunning and it was great to see Bill heading out for a shakedown ride this Saturday as I headed out myself...

Among all this work I still managed to slip out for some great mid-week rides in some good weather. Tuesday was a time-constrained gentle roll around the Bays in the small ring to just warm up the old gams.

Wednesday morning I headed back around the Makara Loop, but this time (to avoid controversy) in the opposite direction. A fierce southerly made the trip through the valley a delight, but Ngauranga much less so. A timed effort down Makara Hill made things interesting as well, although I'll keep that time to myself for now.

Thursday I rode out to Eastbourne again on yet another lovely day - a bit too cold for shorts though! I rode out fairly hard, but absolutely smashed it from the turnaround at Pencarrow back to Thorndon to average a respectable 33kph for the 25 kilometres. I must say I did enjoy the pain a bit - I am loving feeling occasional glimpses of strength and power and it gives me hope I might even be on the right track!

Friday I rode anti-clockwise around the Bays fartlek-styles, just enjoying the sheer act of riding my bicycle and feeling at one with the world. Cool.

The weekend dawned to yet another perfect day and loomed full of fun cycling stuff to do - I really wanted to czech out round 2 of the awesome Crosstafarian cyclo-cross events, but Kester's football team had their semi-final to play so I proudly strode the sideline as his Wellington High School team thumped Rongotai College 12-0 instead. After dropping Ket home, I ducked into a phone booth and leaped into my super-hero suit to ride around the Bays...

...and take my mandatory promenade along the footpath in Oriental Bay.

Before rendezvousing with about 150 other like-minded cyclists making a stand against man-made climate change on the 350 ride. I had been put onto this worthy event through the blog of Kashi Leuchs, 3 time Olympian and all-round NZ MTB legend.

I was privileged enough to be Kashi's mechanic at the 06 Rotorua MTB Worlds, and have followed his career avidly from his early days in the junior ranks, through to his pro career and until his recent retirement - it's great to see him finding such a positive focus for his post-professional life, and I am stoked to have been pointed towards the 350riders event by his efforts...

We milled around collecting our number plates and chatting until we were herded carefully into the shape of the number 350.

While the photos were being set up I ran into Dan, Malcolm (with his very rare 1" pitch Campag equipped H.E.G. Ferris) and Anton...

...who have been burning the midnight oil to create this amazing bamboo and hemp "Narcoti"* frame! I was privileged to be shown one of the seatstays of this as they were honing the design, and I'm delighted to say that the frame is even more stunning than that preview hinted at. Very, very cool, and to my eye much prettier than Craig Calfee's version of the bamboo bicycle. The bike was literally built up the night before, and is winging it's way to the UK with Anton as I write this...

(*Narcoti = predictive text for Maranui, which burned down the night the frame was completed)

Once the photo had been taken and the speeches made...

...we rolled out onto Cable Street to begin a parade through town.

The ride was supposed to bring positive attention to the issue rather than alienating motorists so traffic rules were obeyed at all times.

We headed up Kent Terrace.

Past the assorted media preserving the ride for posterity.

And around the Basin Reserve, ensuring we never took up more than one lane.

We headed back along Cambridge Terrace, then up Courtenay Place...

...and back to the Waterfront for a quick debrief. A great day and a great event to be a part of. I wish the 350 movement all the success in the world, and I'll continue riding my bikes as much as possible to reduce the amount of CO2 I dump into the atmosphere...

Following this, my friend (and Pegoretti owner!) Paul and I repaired to Deluxe Cafe for the obligatory coffee with some other good folk, before Paul realised he was close to missing out on signing on to race the final round of PNP's Balfour Pennington series, so I put on my domestique's chapeau and did my feeble best Popovych impersonation to drag him around the Bays to the start at Miramar wharf. Thanks mainly to the laps he took we did make it, just.

I left Paul to sign on and I managed to catch up with many friends, including my mechanical mentor Henry, infamous 5-time BP series winner and Robbie McEwen beater Antosh Kowalewski with his partner Linda and, lurking in the background, Alex Revell (Revolution Bicycles) bravely fronting while still recovering from a dislocated shoulder.

John Randal arrived after racing to a top 10 placing in the aforementioned CX earlier in the day, ready to go on his flat-bar Giant CRX complete with knobby tyres.

Before long the banter ended and the big bunches were rolling out. Break 2 including John heads off...

MeoGP rider Brent Backhouse (Backy) and MTB National Champion Stu Houltham (Specialized) lead out as scratch begins their day - in the end they would go straight through the rest of the field, with Subway pro Joe Cooper taking the win from local legend Backy with Alex Revell taking a fine third place despite his injuries.

After they had begun racing I hung around with Henry for a while, before heading over to Awa Rd to oh so casually dump my bike...

..while I watched the field climb this short hill three times. Here is Roadworks rider Geoff McDonnell mixing it up in the peloton.

Poor John found his legs really didn't like backing up for the second hard race of the day, especially with the added handicap of his massively unsuited bike and tyres, but no quitter he made sure he didn't DNF. I'm proud as anything that John chooses to wear my colours.

I had run out of time to watch the race finish up Mt Crawford, but had just enough to take the slightly longer way home so I finished my day and my cycling week by riding around through Lyall Bay then up Houghton Valley Road to get some climbing k's in the old legs. I think my exertions in dragging Paul to the race (not that he probably needed it!) on top of some hard riding during the week had taken their toll, as I wasn't exactly climbing like Pantani!

The climb seemed to stretch away ahead of me forever!

But eventually I made it to the top... time to make the most of the wicked descent past the National Hockey Stadium on Mt Albert.

A ride with the kids on Sunday was supposed to be on the cards, but they were all busy with other activities so I took advantage of a quiet day to catch up with some chores around the house instead, not to mention pen this epic! Hopefully writing it during the day will give me time to recover sufficiently so that I can throw down again this doubt you'll hear all about it!

Until then thanks for reading, Oli