Monday, January 18, 2010

The End Of The Road - Ten Years After

I started Roadworks in May 2000 and more by good luck than good management I've somehow made it to the tenth year. The ten years have flown by via four different premises, an acrimonious divorce to the mother of my two eldest sons, a wedding, an extremely difficulty birth, a debilitating accident, depression and too many other ups and downs to mention.

It's certainly been an amazing time for me and my family, but change is a constant and the time for change is now. I've been agonising for months about how 2010 will play out, but the truth is that something has to give and I'm afraid that's Roadworks in its current iteration...

I'm always busy and in general it is working okay, but the hours I can put in and the financial recompense I can glean as a one-man show are starting to be far outweighed by the time and stress involved in running the operation and realistically it's never going to get the Brooke-Whites ahead of the game.

Luckily for the future of our family Jacq is starting her training to be a nurse at the end of February, so after much putting our heads together we've decided I will take on the role of home executive for the next three years to give her a long-awaited chance to follow her dream without having to deal with the minutiae of daily household life at the same time - Eddy knows that after a decade of her dealing with the rollercoaster ride of Roadworks she deserves to be released from the shackles of domestic drudgery to taste the outside world once more! Jacq has a need to put something back into the neo-natal unit that we were so lucky to have help us after Bodhi's arrival, and that in itself means she deserves a shot...

The plan is that Jacq's passion will give her a steady and stable career that will later allow me to return to my passion on a more full time basis too, hopefully reaching a point where we are finally sharing the household and financial load between us both.

For my many, many friends and customers I'm not quite sure yet what this all means, but for now the end of February spells the end of the Roadworks Era.

I'll be keeping the workshop space and if I do continue in some shape or form it will be trimmed down to a Service Course doing wheelbuilding, new bike building and race tuning only - my days as a general repair shop are definitely over for the foreseeable future. I'll also keep the blog going and I'll still be working on selected races too, as well as riding my own bicycles of course, so keep an eye here for further updates, inane ride reports and general bicycle related (loosely) goss.

In the meantime I'd like to thank all of you cool customers past and present who have supported me and allowed me to ply my trade on so many beautiful bicycles from the bottom of my heart. I've had a blast, and hopefully so have you on the bicycles I've fettled for you. Cheers, Oli

Now, back to the usual programme!

Firstly I'd like to congratulate some ex-teammates on some big results - ex-Jazz Apple (now Tibco) rider Ruth Corset won her first Australian Road title over my good friend and Oceania Road Champion Bridie O'Donnell. A hilly course meant I wasn't too surprised at Ruth's deserved victory, but the course shouldn't really have been Bridie's sort of thing so I was delighted to hear that she blew away all bar one of Australia's finest climbers to grab her silver - good stuff!

Honorable mentions to the Kiwi National Champions too - I worked with young Jack Bauer at the '06 MTB Worlds in Rotorua and was stoked to see his classy win at NZ Road Nationals on a testing Christchurch course over top pros Hayden Roulston and Julian Dean. Similarly, Rushlee Buchanan's solo victory over the top women's field was great to see - I worked with Rush in both the NZ and JA Teams. Meshy Holt's third win in a row win in the women's TT was also a class ride, as was old campaigner Gordon MacCauley's win for his third title...I worked with Meshy on the '07 National squad - I haven't actually officially had the pleasure of working with Gordy apart from being in Service 1 when he won silver in the 1996 Road Champs behind the legendary Ric Reid, but I couldn't leave out his amazing ride.

Bird in full flight!

And Ruth solos to her crushing victory - chapeau, Ruthie!

Talking of road bikes, before Christmas I took 1h 45m to build myself a Trek - well on the 6th of January after only three rides it took me exactly 1h 11m to reverse the process! Two shortish rides on the flat started to tell me what I already knew, and a third hilly test loop confirmed, for me at least, the truism that steel is real.

Now, I'm not blaming the Trek - it's a fine bike, and way better than I require - but to me the Bianchi sings where the Trek hums. The final straw was taking the OCLV up a climb we used to call the Alpe d'Huez - I know that climb like the back of my hand, and it's a favourite test ride. I could definitely feel the kilogram I'd saved when seated climbing, but when I stood up to give it some welly the Trek felt stiff and light and good, but for some deeply inherent tactile reasons I really missed the springy flex of Columbus steel.

The same day I stripped the Trek back down I sold it to Henry for what I paid for it - I'll miss the lightness, but man it's good to look down and see the Celeste again...

Not that it's been that easy to enjoy it - not sure if you've noticed, but sunny days have been somewhat scarce around Wellington this so-called "summer". If it hasn't been pissing down with rain it's been blowing a freaking gale, and usually both. Still one day last week I managed to time work/family/daylight sufficiently to dash out the door for a quick Bays loop. I dashed out a bit too quick though, and realised at Princess Bay I'd forgotten my helmet!

With the time limit I faced I decided to just continue with my ride - it would probably be snowing the next time I could get out. Despite being a habitual helmet wearer usually I have to say I did enjoy the feeling of the wind blowing through what's left of my hair! I only felt vulnerable (more subconscious really) when busybodies hassled me for not wearing one and when I passed police cars, but I made it home safely without being either killed or ticketed to complete what had been an all-too-rare taste of summer sifting.

Most of what little other riding I've managed lately has been on the mountain bike - not that that's a bad thing! My bro Alex and I had some great fun up Skyline on a fine but bitingly cold windy day...

...and yesterday he and I went for a mudfest up Makara Peak in the tail-end of a southerly storm that lashed Welli with single-digit temperatured rain on his hot new 1800g wheels I built last week.

NoTubes Flow rims on Saint hubs, DT Competition spokes and Intense System 4 tyres tubeless, saving him nearly a kilogram over his old wheelset and imbued with all my powers for a long and happy ride.

Here's the always dapper Alex prior to his first ride on his pristine Oli wheels.

We scooted up Koru and Sally Alley as far as Missing Link...

...before having the BEST run down a sketchy slippery Ridgeline Extension and a seven-air session of the lovely Lazy Fern.

This isn't right - it's not July, dammat!

Never mind, the weather was a big part of why this ride was so fun - as always it looks a lot worse from behind glass than it does from behind handlebars!

Back in the workshop I haven't just been agonising over my future or mucking around with my bikes - I do occasionally work, usually to an alarmingly old school soundtrack.

Here are a pair of wheels I built for my friend Jono. Atomlab rims on Hadley hubs, for a bombproof combo to go on his Santa Cruz Driver 8.

Dave's Commen├žal needed a full strip down/rebuild - once the damn brake pads turn up he can actually ride it again!

Garth's cool Look KG 381 Team needed a full service.

As did my man Daryl's Kuota Khan.

Last Tuesday evening I was lucky enough to be invited by Worralls rep, NZ MTB legend and all-round top chap Alex Chronis to attend a launch for the new NZ distributor of Zipp Speed Weaponry - often product launches are a full-on snoozefest of non-stop marketing blather that a chimp could see through, but I found David to be well-versed, passionate and interesting; his geek speak spoke to me, and I think he liked it that I loved the handlebars it turned out he'd designed. I've always rated Zipp wheels - many years ago I was "Zipp Accredited" as an authorised wheelbuilder - but the new stuff is just stunning and I'm looking forward to having closer access to these most bling products.

Closely related to Zipp wheels, I had to rebuild a SRAM S60 wheel for Dean. His old one was damaged by US Customs as he left Hawaii after doing a great job competing in the Ironman World Championships, but the insurance replacement had the wrong colour spokes. With no silver spoked wheels available and not wanting a mismatched wheelset I was asked to rebuild the old hub and spokes into the new rim...

..which turned out to be quite a mission, mainly due to the impossibility of extracting the hidden nipples from within the rim and the onerous and tricky task of evenly threading the nipples onto the spokes before tensioning the wheels! Three hours later Dean's wheel is once again ready to race as soon as he is after tomorrow's knee operation - best of luck for a speedy recovery Deano.

Jim's Condor was in need of some loving, so love it I did. New brake pads, cables and handlebar tape (along with some small paint touch-ups) gave this lovely UK/Italian hybrid a whole new lease of life.

Finally this blog, I just today gave my dear friend John's Kiwi Brevet steed a cut and trim. The cables needed shortening, as did the steerer tube. Also, I had to rebuild the rear wheel which was loaned off Simon Kennett - obviously one little ride down the Continental Divide was too much for the poor aluminium nipples, so brass was what I replaced them with. Lastly I had to fit the new front wheel I built for John late last year. All together, this shaved off a full pound, bringing this fine 69er machine down to a svelte 20.65lb. Nice.

Until next time - and there will be a next time - thanks for reading. Pedal on, Oli


Anonymous said...

You gotta do what is best for the family. No doubt about that.

Three years will whizz by and hopefully the pendulum will swing back to give you both the balance you require.

Don't think for a moment that you will be forgotten. Or that we won't pester you to give us that bit extra that we can't get from the common LBS.

All the best and many thanks, Oli.


ps. I'll get all my bikes to you before the end of February. They'll need to be bullet proofed for the next 3 years!

Bridie O'Donnell said...


what an extraordinary decade you've had - trials, tribulations, rum, excellence and more than a small part in the great results and experiences of many riders.

A huge congratulations for the landmark work (and commiserations for all those who never got to see your artistry!)

See you soon for some great stories and reflection with the Gran Reserva from Guatemala!


Bridie O'Donnell

Anonymous said...

wings!!!!!! that's not a soundtrack, it's the death of the memory of the beatles :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great work you have done on my bikes.

Best wishes for the next chapters of the Brooke-White family story. I look forward to reading about it.


PS I really do want to replace that missing Roadworks sticker on I bike. I 'wear' it with pride. I'll be in touch.

Oliver said...

Neo-natal nursing is a hell of an excellent career, congrats to you for supporting Jacq into it. I'm married to a midwife and can see that despite the stress and hurt that comes with the job there's sometimes a huge reward. Nurses are valuable people, look after yours.

Allen O'Leary said...

Hey Oli, another change is not a bad thing - you've done it all pretty much so a change of pace in looking after the family will be great (and I guess the pace will go UP!!!). And concentrating on the high end for fun is a good plan, you don't want to lose your magic touch man...

Cracked up when I read about the Trek. You know I don't think it was the carbon, I reckon it was the brand! I reckon if it had been a De Rosa you might have felt differently.

All the best and here's to more riding!