Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Am The Mamil You Adore!



In a recent Epic Post I related working on sight-impaired Paralympian Jayne Parsons' tandem prior to her departure to Paracycling Worlds in Canada. I'm majorly chuffed to report that after a tough campaign Jayne and her pilot Sonia Waddell brought home a hard-fought silver medal from the road race. Her husband Brent brought her and her gong around to the shop on the way home from the airport, and it was great to see her and also for me to be able to hold a World's medal for the very first time. Her bike went perfectly so I am very proud to have been a small part of Jayne's great success, and look forward to helping her get the gold next year!



While on the subject of high-performance, my man Joel is gearing up for a season in which he is determined to grab a Masters medal at Nationals. We are slowly tweaking his TT rig in readiness to reprazent Roadworks - the latest visit was to add a carbon FSA/Vision 54t chainring to make his Big Dog even bigger. Thanks to the boys at Wide Open for the help.





Talking of Wide Open, I have been trialling some of their Fork Juice on various forks and shocks, including those of my Commençal. So far I'm very impressed, and as well as being sure I can feel the difference myself, I have unsolicited confirmation of the lubriciousness of this fine product from several of the other riders whose rigs I have used the Juice on. If your forks suffer any sort of stiction despite being serviced, or if you want to just improve their sensitivity, give this stuff a go.



The general pace of life and some lingering effects from my recent annual health meltdown has meant the Commençal hasn't been worked out as often as I would like lately, but I have still made sure I slipped out for a couple of fun slithers in the mud of this most wet of Welli winters. Naturally this necessitates the most laborious cleaning, where I was shocked to find my pristine machine has even suffered a paint chip! This will never do, so I think I will stop riding it offroad to prevent further wear and tear...



After tonguing it clean I fitted a new (used) Arione saddle so that I could chuck the other one back on my Bianchi, saving my Celeste Arione for a future project. Cheers to top chap DB for the cheap dealio.



As well as replacing a front tyre that was deflating with ever-increasing rapidity - who would have thought that a dodgy gaffer tape repair done 8 months ago to a bad sidewall split wouldn't hold forever?



And here she is back in showroom condition.



Singlespeeders from all over the world are excitedly preparing for the upcoming Worlds in Rotorua. My friend Mat is getting his carbon GT Zaskar into race mode and he asked me to give it a quick look over. You'll note it only weighs 10.3kg (22lb) without any real concession to weight savings!



I just had to bleed the brakes and sort out the chainline, as well as run quickly through the gears...



...before using the destination and Mat's promise of a free coffee as fine excuses to personally deliver the bike to him at his work, the lovely Chocolate Fish Cafe in Shelly Bay. What a location, and what a great doppio!



A few weeks ago I got a text that said, "My gears aren't working since you last serviced my bike 6 years ago - when can you fit me in?" I was of course distraught to hear that my shoddy workmanship had let Clive down so badly, and made sure I booked him in as soon as possible. His Avanti needed a full service after the intervening years of riding, as well as a drive train replacement.



Hopefully for his sake it will be 7 or 8 years before poor Clive needs my services again!



Clive also brought me a front wheel to service that I built him in 1992 - it's still in great shape despite being ridden on a succession of his bikes over 18 years. I love seeing work I did way back in the day come back to me, and it's always reassuring to be reminded that even back then I held the high standards I pride myself on today.



John Randal is slowly revivifying his fleet for a summer of distance cycling in various Brevet-style events. Deciding that fork swapping between bikes was annoying and left one of his bikes unrideable at any given time, he splashed out and bought himself a second pair of pimp as White Rock Solid suspension corrected forks...



...to go on his Giant XTC-0 carbon bike, converted to 69er format. We also fitted the new XT discs ordered at the same time.



This means the XTC and his dedicated 29er singlespeed are now both ready to go on some mad excursion at a moment's notice.



My friend Tim (co-owner of Roadworks' sponsor Havana Coffee Works) found this late 90s Dura-Ace equipped Flanders racing bike in a second-hand store for the princely sum of $5!



Why the hell don't I ever stumble over deals like this? The best I have ever done is my venerable 1985 Healing MountainCat, bought at the local recycling centre for $15 and seen here after being raced in the one-off Tip Track Retro DH held in 2007.

From left: Mike, Mike, some idiot, Vorb creator Tama, Dean and race organiser Ricky.



Back to the Flanders, I stripped it completely and spent quite some time cleaning and servicing all the parts. The frame is interesting, in that it uses Vitus tubing very similar in profile to the Gilco tubesets used on Colnago Master Olympics - in fact it's like a Belgian copy of the Italian machines. It's definitely not in perfect shape but is entirely serviceable for Tim's use. I will continue slowly building it back up between paying work over the next week or so...



I have had the privilege of doing several jobs for local cycling legend Trevor Rice. He has a deep love for the Benotto bicycles he used to race in his time in Italy, and I have built wheels and done various fettling of his beautiful road and track Benottos, and now I had the task of tapping the bottom bracket of the time trial machine that completes his stable.



Early aero tubes and fork blades, a rear wheel tucked into a recessed seat tube, internal cable routing and gear levers mounted on top of the downtube are all features that were quite revolutionary in the early 80s. My camera batteries died as I was trying to capture all these details, so unfortunately I only got two shots of this cool bike and these clever features...



Once Trevor has applied some transfers and finished the build it should look something like this, but of course much more TT-ish and chromed.



Now we've got the work out of the way it's time to play. As I said earlier, I am still struggling physically but am very happy to at least be able to ride my bikes again, even if I am slower than Granddad in his Zimmer frame and even if it takes me two days to recover from a one hour ride!

The fact I am not actually able to ride every day is making the work/life balance much easier - it's much less difficult to only have to worry about housework and shopwork without stressing too much about trying to fit so-called "training" in too, so I am just taking the chances when they come rather than trying to cram it all in, and making sure that I savour every ride as much as possible.

The perfectly balanced day for me goes something like this; wake up, brew coffee, eat breakfast and get Bodhi fed and off to school, come back home and do essential chores, have a coffee break while answering emails and the obligatory web sifting, then I'll head to work for a couple of hours. If that all goes smoothly and I have the time, that's when I slip out for a quick ride before picking Bo up again and looking after him before heading into the evening routines.

One particular day last week went exactly according to this template. I had almost all the days work done by lunchtime except preparations for the evening meal, so I sipped my coffee and read my Rouleur while the first stages of dinner were on the stove...



...and once the hearty winter casserole was prepared ready to be popped in the oven with some crusty rolls later on...



...I began to prepare myself for a ride. The day had started out fine but heavy clouds were looming, so I brought the washing in and readied myself for any eventuality. Sorry if I offend anyone of delicate sensibilities, but the first step is to lather up my arse. I don't use chamois cream all the time, but if I am riding for more than a couple of hours (not this time!) or in inclement weather I need the protection of some Sweet Cheeks Butt Butter to guard my sweet cheeks against potential chafing.



Being optimistic about the sunny conditions lasting, yet fearing they mightn't, I opted for Belgian knee warmers over actual ones...



...creating a toasty-warm barrier against the elements for my mighty thewn pistons.



I somehow timed my departure for the exact moment the sun disappeared behind the black and glowering clouds and the drops began to fall, but I smiled to myself and carried on, revelling in the wonderful smell of cold rain on warm tar so redolent of spring rides in my youth. I headed down through Island Bay...



...and eastwards around the South Coast as the rain fell in fits and starts.



I did wonder a couple of times if I would have been happier reading magazines in the dry and warmth of my little whare, but the doubts didn't last long, replaced quickly by the satisfaction and happiness of being out and about on my bike, and the feelings of gratitude that I live in such beautiful and wild surroundings.



Despite the by now freezing rain being blown harder and harder in front of the southerly front that was inexorably marching towards Wellington I was feeling great (in relative terms). Fully warmed up and breathing easy for once, I was making steady progress, slowing only to wrestle my camera in and out of it's waterproof bag to try and capture these images of the foul conditions and the rugged scenery.



As I headed through Seatoun taking cheesy chubby-chopped self-portraits there was a slight lull...



...before a sudden burst of rain and a quick flurry of hail hit me in Worser Bay.



The southerly was still striding up the harbour pushing the sunny spring weather ahead of it, as apocalyptic doom surrounded me in a wild and wintery embrace - despite the clouds looking as if they are on the other side of the harbour I'm in the process of being hailed on as I take this and the following shot...



I love this photo, which for me really epitomises the intensely contrasting conditions of the day. The line of demarcation between the light and the dark is clearly visible as the black clouds are reflected in the sea...



By now the rain was bucketing down, so I put the camera away and concentrated on the road. Heading north the tailwind helped me shift along at a decent clip, but all too soon I rounded Point Halswell and was met by what was now a fierce wind driving the stinging rain into my face. I put it into the small ring and grovelled into the maelstrom at a pace that matched the glacial conditions. Before very long though I was once again being pushed along by the tailwind as I made my way around towards Oriental Bay...



...only to be forced briefly into a bus shelter as the hail fell once more, hitting my helmet and flaying my face.



The hail soon passed and it melted as quickly as it hit the road, leaving scant photographic evidence as I emerged from cover.



The hail had passed, but the rain was getting heavier and heavier. By the time I hit the Basin Reserve I could barely see 10 metres ahead so I decided to take the Adelaide Road footpath option - just as I did I heard behind me the unmistakeable sound of cars skidding and the sickening crunch as metal met metal. I couldn't see where the accident happened but I rode gingerly home feeling every bit as vulnerable as I've ever felt on a bicycle. Newtown traffic is always fraught with latent peril, but the deluge made it feel much, much more perilous.

Nonetheless, I made it home safely and in plenty of time to divest myself of several kilos of soggy cycling kit and have a hot shower before racing to pick Bodhi up from school. And in case you were wondering, my casserole was very well appreciated by all the family that evening, as the incessant rain continued to beat darkly down...



By the weekend the ferocious weather had abated long enough for Bodhi and I to take a very pleasant walk up Frobisher Street, along the ridge between Island and Owhiro Bays. We took in some stunning views of Wellington...



...and even discovered some new (to me) singletrack that looks like an ongoing project, and which warrants future exploration at the soonest opportunity.



On a mid-week mission to the bank I somehow lost my old orange lensed sunnies, so I took advantage of my shop account to by myself some cool new Giro Semis, along with a bonus and very suave Swobo/Giro merino jersey. I love presents.



I'll finish this post off with yet another lap of my beloved Bays, but this time in idyllic warm and wind free conditions. On another superbly organised day I took the first chance I had all week and grabbed my Casati...



...and headed out for a cruise. Work was done for the day, Bodhi's grandparents were picking him up from school, and Kester was cooking tea that night, so for once there were no deadlines looming whatsoever. Bliss.



As I rode along not having to fight the weather or traffic, I did what I love to do on a nice ride - I pondered some ponderables. My thoughts-du-jour turned to my recent unbidden outpourings of a more historical bent, and I realised that they had emerged from a place within me of deep insecurity. I know to people around me I seem confident and self-assured, but like all good sensitive men of the 21st century I have the occasional self-doubt, and I'm really only a careless fat joke away from crumbling into a blubbering mess.



The media is flooded these days with stories of the current boom/craze of middle-aged men buying road bikes, known derisively by the writers of such banalities as "MAMILS" or Middle-Aged Men In Lycra, and I think my recent writings sprung from the need to establish that I am definitely no MAMIL, despite the circumstantial evidence of my actually being a middle-aged man in lycra. My tapping into my history is a way for me to shout from the rooftops that in fact I was here all along, and am no lawyer-come-lately picking up a Colnago last week instead of a new set of titanium golf clubs. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course...



Once I had digested this pathetic personal insight, I turned my thoughts back to bicycles. I love riding my Casati, and am pleasantly surprised by how well the mixed era drivetrain works - a 1982 Campagnolo Super Record derailleur, similar era SR cranks and rings, combined with a (relatively) modern Mirage hub, a Chorus 9sp cassette, Record chain and front derailleur all work in fine harmony as if that was how Tullio intended all along. Even the down tube shifters are amazingly easy to get used to again, even after all this time...



Forgetting I haven't ridden a road bike up a hill for about two months, I decided to finish my ride around the Bays with a climb up to see Jonty at Revolution Bicycles in Northland. It was only as I wrestled the 'bars and laboured to turn the cranks over that I remembered my smallest gear was a 42 x 23, considerably higher than my usual 39 x 26. Despite being under strict doctors orders to not over-exert myself I wheezed and puffed my way to the calm oasis of this fine bicyle shop, collapsed into his comfy armchair and gratefully sipped one of Jonty's great coffees.



After being caffeine replenished and engaging in some fine conversation I had a good blast down Glenmore Street, then ambled slowly along the waterfront...



...and home.




I'll leave you now with one of my silly videos for you to ignore as you see fit. Until next time, thanks for reading. Cheers, Oli



P.S. Thanks to the Phoenix Foundation for the title inspiration.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another fine read, Oli.
Glad to hear that you are getting out on the road bikes - my riding has not been so steady, as of late !!

Look forward to getting out with you soon Maing !!

Cheers,
Commander.

Oli Brooke-White said...

EEEAAAARRRRR!

Looking forward to a sifty baboon with you too, bro.

Adrian Rumney said...

I haven't touched my bike for six weeks and I'm starting to look like the Lampre dude.

You've inspired me though Oli... think I'll ride to work tomorrow.

Oli Brooke-White said...

Good man! Cheers Adrian...

Anonymous said...

i new you'd need that fat guy in lampre pic one day - i've got some other great fatman pics - just let me know what you need

cu wheels

Oli Brooke-White said...

I just bet you have...

Chur bol.