Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Shining...



All housework and no play makes Oli a dull boy. All housework and no play makes Oli a dull boy. All housework and no play makes Oli a dull boy...

Like most of us experience in a Wellington winter, the brief opportunities to ride rarely correspond to the occasional glimpses of nice weather - this winter has seemed particularly cruel with southerly front after southerly front battering us with incessant rain and cold winds, and at times I've been feeling like I'm trapped in a wintery prison.



I have been riding when I can despite the unpleasantness, but I was delighted to wake on my birthday to both a beautiful day and some time to really enjoy it. Jacq and the boys gave me a sleep-in, then she took care of my morning chores. Once I eventually surfaced I had a leisurely toast and coffee before heading out for a gentle cruise around the Bays on the best day seemingly for months, relishing the fine crisp weather, relaxed solitude and happily pondering my ponders...



My main ponder for some time now has been about work. "Retirement" isn't what it's cracked up to be and it didn't take too long after the onset of the New Regime before I realised I miss the non-family human contact as well as the actual repairs, not to mention that some income would be helpful...

Jacq's first lot of exams are over and she is well settled into her studies, and I am fully on top of my duties, so we both think it should be good to ease me back into some sort of work capacity. I'm looking forward to firing up the Service Course again, and my new time management skills have even led me to making the radical decision to have regular shop hours!

Yep, I will be in the shop every Monday morning between 1000 and 1200, Wednesdays 1500 to 1700 and every Friday afternoon from 1200 to 1430. Bookings are still essential but this gives you three fixed opportunities to pick up or drop off your machine, and eliminates the annoying for me and you alike ad hoc nature of trying to find other times that suit us both, as well as allowing me the ability to do the work around my other duties on an, if you'll forgive all the Latin, impromptu basis.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and continues to do so; it's truly appreciated and I look forward to catching up at some point soon.



As I may have alluded to previously, my home job has been keeping me pretty busy. The recent extended period of rain meant many of the household appliances have been getting a good work out. Sadly, like me, many of them are old and past their prime, and the working out resulted in a toll of mysteriously destroyed equipment over the last three weeks that reads like this; two DVD/AVI players, one TV, the dryer and, most critically, the washing machine.

I never understood how much washing can dominate one's life, but twelve consecutive days of no sun combined with sports clothing and the general laundry requirements of a family of five meant that I was spending literally hours a day loading the machine, hanging the clothes, rotating the hanging clothes, folding and putting away the dry stuff.

When the NWer blows the dryer isn't vital, so when it shuddered, smoked and died on day 5 I shrugged and kept going, assuming the southerlies couldn't last forever, but when the washing machine crapped out the very next day it was the final straw - my life disintegrated around me as I was buried by an avalanche of smelly socks and undies.

Deciding a tradesman would cost more than the old thing was worth, I grabbed my tool box and set to work myself. I pulled the back off...



I was delighted to find that the problem was no more than a blown shock - I service shocks, how hard could it be to service this one? I removed the good one and the seized dud and took them up to the workshop to diagnose fully.



With no oil, air, seal or anything major to deal with it appeared it was just a matter of replacing a nylon bushing and a sponge ring that had destroyed themselves, greasing and reinstalling them to allow me to recommence my role as domestic goddess. I rummaged around my box of useless old fork and shock parts...



...where, by some miracle, I found a bush the exact diameter (OD and ID!) that simply needed trimming to length - perfect, and along with old sponge ring from some fork or other the shock was functioning like new!



Sadly, the rest of the story wasn't so good. I fitted the machine back together, only for it to jam in the middle of the cycle. I took the back off again and tried to diagnose what had now obviously become an electrical fault - bad idea, and the massive electrical shock I got and the subsequent flames shooting out of the wiring loom told me I wasn't really cut out to be a sparky, and that most likely the machine's days were done. Oh well, that's what credit cards and the Warehouse are for, and soon I was happily unsoiling my smalls once again...



But I don't want to give the impression home is all drudgery; quite apart from the joy and laughter my darling wife and beautiful boys provide, there is also the wonder and majesty of Sky TV. With the Tour de France rapidly approaching I find myself in my annual position of trying to get some form in time for le Grand Boucle in spite of the climatic vagaries of Wellington in June.

Usually I have to resort to late-night internet banter and post-midnight race dvds to get my mind and body into the sleep deprivation-induced autopilot that enables me to function in a kind of half-life state for the three weeks of the Tour, but this year I decided with the help of Sky to change my lead up to July by including the Criterium du Dauphine event.



Won by Radioshack's Janez Brajkovic from an ominous Alberto Contador (Astana), the race lasted only eight days but it felt like eight weeks to me. I tried every trick in the book (thanks for the rum, Mr Hicks!) to make it through to the wee smalls (hours not undies), but it wasn't a great display - if my form doesn't come up fast I am really going to struggle to make it through the opening stages of le Tour in the Netherlands, let alone get through the mountains and onto Paris...



Talking of that far away romantic life in the pro peloton, my mate Kris Withington is at the very sharp end of things in his capacity as a mechanic to Team Garmin-Transitions. As well as being a star wrench to guys like Julian Dean, David Millar and Tyler Farrar, he is rapidly becoming a media star in his own right. This is thanks to his skills of course, but also his relaxed and approachable nature. Of late he features online on the cool Pez website, as well as in print in the latest issue of the lush and very hip Rouleur magazine. Great to see him getting some props, and if you're at all interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff from the ProTour keep an eye on his entertaining blog on RideRotorua.com...



The reason I discovered the Rouleur article on Grom was that for my birthday I was lucky enough to be given a subscription to this cool magazine, so thanks heaps to Dave and Paul for their kind and generous gift. All the best too to Dave for his upcoming nuptials with the lovely Laura!

Talking of Paul, as I mentioned last time he is in Italy doing work for various Teams in his multi-faceted role as CEO of Coherent Race Logistics. As well as working, he has been able to personally collect his new dream bike. He has sent me some cool pictures of his beautiful new Casati Laser. Lovingly and expertly assembled in Cortona by Paul himself it is apparently a fantastic ride, despite the best attentions of old Tuscan farmers on quad bikes...













Paul has added his perspective on the European women's race scene at the Trofeo Vanucci, a round of the prestigious Italian National Series, also on the excellent Ride Rotorua website...



Having contacts in the pro scene is cool in many ways, not least of which is getting juicy tech info before even the accredited media get it (my early scoop on DA 7900 springs to mind). Also these contacts are useful for debunking some of the drivel that the mainstream media passes off as "news" these days. The latest example of this poor reporting is the current brouhaha on the possibility that Fabian Cancellara used a motor concealed within his frame to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix:



I arrived at the conclusion that this was bollocks myself, but nice to hear that my friends at Ground Zero were laughing at the whole sorry story. The complexities of fitting a motor that won't torque and tear the frame apart are much greater than the stories make it sound. For a start the bracing required would be easily visible externally. Plus the amount of mechanics and support staff required to carry off the subterfuge would be massive, not to mention that the media took about a zillion photos of the bikes Cancellara rode without even a hint of anything dodgy emanating from the bottom bracket area. The explanations on the video of his shifting are patently untrue, and the way he rolled off the front of the Paris-Roubaix bunch is easily explicable when you realise that it was a lull in hostilities and everyone else was watching Boonen - Cancellara drifts off then drops the hammer...I would hesitate to say it was easy for him, but it certainly didn't require an engine.



While not being able quite yet to flee NZ to work the Euro circuit I take pleasure in work with non-motorised pro-level kit from time to time. Leonard had got a fantastic deal on a new BMC SLX01 from Capital Cycles in town, but for his peace of mind he asked me to cast my eye over the bike before he got to know it. While not to George Hincapie's level of bling, a good mix of Dura-Ace and Ultegra parts give him all the ride but with half the cost. Lovely machine...



I had to repair Marcus' Ultegra 6700 wheel after someone chucked their pedal into it on his first event aboard it, the Graperide sadly being ruined for him on good form. Getting the spokes was the hard part but we got there in the end.



Like me, my man Tim Wilding is slowly building up towards October's World Singlespeed Championships - he recently repurchased his Ibis Tranny and has been thrashing it on various wet rides such as the Bridge to Nowhere so it needed a jolly good Oli-ing.



I am blessed to have the friendship and support of my good friend Jonty Ritchie from Revolution Bicycles who, knowing times are tight in the BW household, has been supplying me with plenty of wheels to build.

An Alex XC-Lite rim on an XT makes for a sturdy rim-brake compatible wheel for Nick...



...and Tor's new wheel should be able to handle his mad hucking styles with aplomb. A 36h Mavic TM719i Disc 29er rim on a sweet blue Hope Pro2 hub.



He also has a client who is obviously doing up some old bikes. This rim was in pretty bad shape and the chap had built it up wrong, so I stripped in down, panelbeated the rim as best as I could, then rebuilt it. While by no means perfect, it will be strong and, as it's a coaster brake, perfection isn't absolutely required.



Another one of his projects, this time a 24 x 1.75 rim. Even more pretzelled than the previous wheel this took quite some persuasion to run true - nothing pounding it with a block of 4 x 2 couldn't cure though! Amazingly, I had the right DT Champion spokes in stock for this less than common size.



To save some petrol and assuage the guilt I feel for driving too much, I have been trying to do as many short missions by bike as I can. Trips to the supermarket, post office and bank in Newtown have always been easy enough, but I wanted to experiment with longer range utilitarian use of the bicycle so I thought I'd drop a couple of the wheels off to Jonty by bicycle for a change. I used zip-ties to lash the wheels to my Cactus Henry pack and set off in my best impression of a non-racing poseur.



The pack seemed to work well in the shop, but I wouldn't know for sure until I was riding so off I went.



I rode my old Raleigh Gran Tour at a gentle clip through the mean streets of Newtown, then ambled around the waterfront whistling a cheery tune and ensuring I didn't frighten the pedestrians. I then wended my way up to Northland via the scenic route...



To enjoy my smugness over a hot cup of Jonty's finest java. The unladen ride home down Glenmore Street and around the Bays wasn't quite as fun as it might have been on the Bianchi, but instead of the stress and expense of driving across town I'd de-stressed and had a lovely cruisy ride! Superb.



It's not all ironic delivery rides and sunny Bays loops though, and despite some incredulity in certain quarters, I still like to get dirty every now and then and ride my MTB as often as I am able. As I milked Jacq's largesse on my birthday weekend I got out for a blat up Parkvale onto Skyline with The Commander (recently field promoted from Maniac 1st Class)...



We descended from Skyline down a surprisingly dry Cemetery Trail - here The Commander navigates one of the tight bridge corners.



A fortnight later we took advantage of a relatively decent day in Welli to hook up with Matt for a long overdue ride at Makara Peak Mountainbike Park. The carpark was full of good keen types so we parked up on Hazlewood Ave and unsaddled the steeds, being briefly bushwhacked by a friend feigning surprise that I actually ride a bike - "NOT AS F***ING OFTEN AS I'D LIKE!!" I shouted not at all defensively, before setting off for a lovely trundle up Koru, stopping only to wee on my sunglasses and pass the time of day with various friends appearing just as I tried with great difficulty to wrestle my sword back into it's sheath.

We continued up onto Sally Alley, finding considerably more mud than last time we rode here - enough at times to clog tread and cause occasional unplanned excursions off piste, though nothing catastrophic luckily. A quick pause on the seat at the start of Missing Link followed by a great run down to the creek, then up to Pylon 16 for an exasperating encounter with a complete stranger.

Now I know I can be a bit over-sensitive at times, and I am also well aware I've bitterly ranted on this subject before, but when someone who is clearly judging you with a condescending air of superiority says with a sneer, "Hur hur, looks like your nice white bike is getting a bit muddy hur hur" like I've never ridden it, my hackles go up. I brought my not inconsiderable powers of scathing wit to bear on this fellow and retorted by delicately pointing out that he was clearly an idiot.

Quite apart from the fact that this impolite fellow was out riding with (presumably) his wife but was doing the macho-bullshit thing of leaving her clearly struggling about 500 metres behind, his new looking red and black bike was in much the same state as mine! Apparently I shouldn't have ever bought a white frame, as it clearly screams non-rider blingwhore to anyone who is stupid enough to think that cleanliness somehow equals time in the saddle or value as a mountainbiker.

Of course it's on the record that I don't ride as much as I would like, but I get out every chance I get and my Commençal and I have done many, many kilometres together (some of which I may not have even blogged!). Anyway, I wouldn't dream of haranguing a complete stranger about such a thing. I try to be a believer in live and let live, but I almost didn't let him...



Anyway, as a general rule we mountainbikers are not concerned with such sensitive pabulum, so I put it (mostly) behind me and we carried on our merry way, and by "merry" I mean we grovelled up Aratihi to the summit. Alex was climbing well - the perfect pace for me to sit behind him but not so fast my poor wheezing lungs and screaming legs couldn't cope. Matty has been able to ride even less than Al and I of late, but was keeping up superbly. The boys kindly refrained from calling up the Westpac chopper as I coughed up a lung at the top, and in only a few minutes of evacuating phlegm and bursting blood vessels I was ready to begin the descent down Zac's and Varleys (scattering startled walkers left and right!), then across the road for a wicked run down Wahine to Karori Park and back to the cars to load my Commençal, sadly still looking disappointingly clean due to the fact that it's WHITE!!



Note how The Commander's bike looks dirtier, despite being ridden on identical trails at exactly the same time. This appearance of dirtierness-ness is because it clearly is not WHITE!!



Once home, I used my guru powers to come up with this radical new process designed to thwart the build up of mud and filth on my bike - I call it "cleaning", and amazingly it removed all evidence of the privations I'd just put it through. I suppose I'm asking for it...



Until next time, thanks for putting up with my slightly bitter and always deluded ravings. Heeeeeeere's Oli!

5 comments:

sifter said...

I've never enjoyed a cleaning story more! And, it's obviously time for me to start training again. I've been holding off lest I break something ;)

Oli Brooke-White said...

Silly rabbit! I would ALWAYS be there if you broke something...

Great to hear you're keen to get back into it bro.

Anonymous said...

Oli,
It is a real shame that plonkers (deluded individuals who make brainless, unsolicited, nasty comments) like that exist, but if there wasn't such individuals in this world, then you wouldn't appreciate the genuine, decent people !!

Always a pleasure to hit the muddy trails with U, Mr Brooke-White :)


Commander out...

Bill O'Byrne said...

The Commander not only rides, but give him a stack of bikes and he will power lift the hell out of them.

Sous Chef Bill

Hey, my word verification was unrooto.
Sounds like a hogwarts spell to thwart my sex life.

Davo said...

I'm very impressed with the shock work on the washing machine, mate. Bad luck on the shock though. A cruel end to what should have been a complete triumph.

Great to know you are doing a little trade again. You shall be my wrench of choice next time I require some advanced fettling. Since the Nishiki got into your blog I have become obsessed with getting the rest of the stable in there.

Rearguards.
Dave

NB. My Word Verification is 'Mincie'