Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Double Century

Jeepers, how did that happen? Somehow it's my 200th action-packed blog extravaganza! From my first short try out of this blogging thing in 2007 to the sprawling leviathan posts I now semi-regularly inflict on my readers, writing and taking the pictures for them has been a real journey in any sense of the word. I suppose I'd better make this a long one...

As a heart-on-my-sleeve type of guy I appreciate you've put up with me through some ups and downs. I hope there haven't been so many downs you've got the droop, and that there have been enough of the ups to keep you mildly interested. It goes without saying that I also hope you'll stick around as I keep moving forward to who knows where...

Of course the most important part of what I do is you, my famiglia bicicletta. My Team stars have been playing some fun bicycle games of late, so I just wanted to quickly acknowledge their feats. First, I'd like to congratulate Joel Healy on his fine 4th place in the M1 Club Nationals Time Trial in early May. Despite being nearly killed in a nasty hit and run on the Haywards Hill just weeks before, Joel manned up and smashed his new TT rig (pics to come) around the course to finish just off the medals in the event won by the evergreen People's Champion, Gordon McCauley. Great stuff, Joel, and here's to 2012 and a crash-free build up! Here he is racing the Rice Mountain Classic a couple of years ago in lieu of an actual TT picture...

My man Tim Wilding has been having a heap of adventures, but just this weekend gone he teamed up with his partner Tamsin to race as Team TimTam and win the Mixed Teams category in the Wainuiomata 6 Hour Wurldz. This event sounded like a heap of fun, but sadly I wasn't able to make it along to heckle...er, support my riders.

Photo: Jono Baddiley

No mention of my Team stars would be complete without mentioning the redoubtable John Randal, who has also been partaking of a plethora of pulsating pursuits lately. He too raced in the W6W, but in a team with his usual accomplice Simon Kennett. Simon dressed as Robin Hood and, appropriately, John was attired as Little John, complete with a 5kg staff! Check out John's superb blog for the full story, as well as the exciting announcement that he will be riding next year's Cape Epic as teammate to 24hr ace Megan Dimozantos. In the meantime, here is John (st)riding through Sherwood Forest on the way to third place in the Men's Teams category.

Photo: Jono Baddiley

My last note today regarding Roadworks Team riders (of which there are Legion...) is a belated but heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS! to my extreme adventure racing rep Dave Hicks, who has just got married to the lovely Olympian Robyn Wong. May your lives together be joyous, long and smoothly paved! Here's Dave racing in this years Karapoti with eldest son Tom stoking...

Anyway, enough about those sifters! This is MY blog, dammat! This epic anniversary deserves some kind of epic ride report or a rare bike fettle that is worthy, but I've only just worked my way up to riding about 90 minutes, and I don't have much rare Italian steel to proffer just yet. This is not to say I haven't been doing some fun work, and I have to say the 90 minute rides I've managed have felt a metric shitload better than the rides I was doing before The Op!

To keep up the rehab mindset I've been working out on the Swiss Ball...

...and going for gentle rides in clement conditions. So far I've been restricting myself to the stress-free flatness of the Bays, but I'm planning on hitting the hills and even the dirt again very soon.

The best thing about recent weeks has been being back in the shop - it's not exactly a busy retail hub, but it's great fun to be working and have people popping in and out dropping work off and picking it up, or simply stopping by and saying hi. How things are in my stupidly organised life mean I'm often beavering away on my own, so it's really nice to have company from time to time. Here's a shot that hopefully signifies how busy I am getting, while at the same time gratuitously showing off a lovely bunch of Bianchis, two of which, of course, are mine...

Just as an aside, you might have noticed that since the second to last pic my TSX has had a wee cosmetic nip and tuck, with the sudden reappearance of my Celeste Arione saddle and some crisp new Deda handlebar tape...

Still lingering on the Celeste, when the owner of the other two Bianchis in the pile came by to grab them I was surprised and delighted to find he'd brought me the very generous gift of an awesome Bianchi mechanics shirt - cheers heaps, mate!

A detail of the cool panel featuring Bianchi riding stars from the ages, Coppi on the left and Gimondi on the right.

Another kind gift was from Kerrin, who is just back from a work trip to Vietnam. He's never brought a bicycle to me before, but knowing me online he wisely knew the way to my heart was through my tastebuds, and he brought me this beautiful big bag of beans that he had picked up on his travels. Thanks Kerrin, they taste as good as they look!

Kerrin wasn't just supplying me with the Stuff Of Life, he was also bringing me his new commuter bike to tune. He wanted me to assess it for internal corrosion, sort some pesky creaks and generally do the voodoo that I do do, so well.

That's right, my train-spotting compadres, it's a Colnago. And a Colnago Super at that!

He bought it off another online friend of mine based in Auckland, and it's a bike I'd long admired since Brad originally posted online pics of the refurbishment he'd undertaken on it. I love the deep red accents on the silver finish...

Colnago branded drop-outs with working adjusters are fun.

The lug work is jolly nice too.

I didn't just take a couple of photos, I also fulfilled my brief by giving her a stem to stern going over that went as far as checking and rust-inhibiting inside the frame tubes. I found that were in remarkably great shape; I'm not sure if Brad had already cleaned them up, but it could also be attributed to the large cloverleaf cut-out under the bottom bracket shell. Any water that gets in - and it gets into all frames - is easily able to drain and/or evaporate. Those Italians didn't come up the Hutt River on a rusty Raleigh 20, no signor!

As I put it back together I cleaned and serviced the headset, bottom bracket, drive train, pulley wheels, wheels and cables...

...then gave it the Oli Seal of Approval.


Leonard bought these fly Boyd 38mm carbon clinchers for me to check out and fit tyres and cassette to. Weighing only a few grams above their advertised weight (a rare thing!) and beautifully true and tensioned out of the box, I will be interested to see how the first pair of these cool looking wheels sold to New Zealand (to the best of Boyd's knowledge) will go.

His carbon PedalForce is his training bike, as the Boyds go onto his BMC SLX01 to turn the slightly heavier aluminium/carbon rig into his race steed. Not bad for a beater, eh?

Super Surgeon Simon's Cervelo R3 needed a squizz over before he and Sally head over to the Pyrenees to ride some of the fabled climbs of the Tour. Bon voyage, guys!

I'll finish off the work stuff with a teaser for a long-awaited and very cool imminent wheelbuild project.

Because I can't usually ride in the early mornings, evenings or even weekends, and with the scatter-fire nature of my working "arrangements", I find it frustrating and difficult to organise riding partners. I usually have to slip out for mid-week rides as the chance takes me and without preamble. Mostly that's okay though, as riding solo is usually my first choice anyway - feeling something like a cross between a slow-moving cyclist and a low-flying dirigible, I generally prefer my own riding rhythm, my own speed and the chance to interrupt the ride at my whim. After all, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to take a look around once in a while, you could miss it.

In saying that, however, don't think I'm a total social reject - some of the best rides I ever do are the ones with good company, and I do love those too. Just this week I've had several inadvertent rides with friends and was stoked to bump into them all....Being a loner that loves company is a confusing way to be, and I can only ascribe that to my Gemini nature...

This ride started out with me firmly in solo mode. I'd had one of those days and hadn't managed to get out until Ket was at home to look after Bodhi but, as it was for Yehuda, the clouds soon lifted once I was awheel. The lowering sun sparkled on the lustrous sheen of my bella Bianchi.

And cast long shadows on the road...

Whilst a gentle breeze wafted over the harbour on this unseasonably warm but typically beautiful evening.

Just after I clicked back into my pedals and rolled off down the road and into the old Shelly Bay Air Force Base, I was greeted by the cheery smile of a rider approaching from the opposite direction, and I was delighted to see Stu turn around to join me. Usually I'd find a 6-time XC National Champion a daunting ride partner, but luckily he was as polite as ever and slowed to what for him must have been a glacial pace, as I lifted my intensity to my anaerobic threshold to match him. It was great catching up with Stu, and fun too to be feeling good enough to ride and talk at the same time! As we approached Seatoun I realised we were catching up on an old friend also taking an evening ride so (just as my lungs exploded and my legs died) I said goodbye to Stu and slowed down to say hi to Arie. Arie was the workshop manager of the original Wellington Penny Farthing Cycles when I was the racing department manager 25-odd years ago, and because it doesn't happen enough it's always great to see him.

(Arie on my left with the mo)

As quickly as I'd flicked Stu for Arie, Arie flicked me for his own direction so I turned around in the village and reverted to doing what I do best - plodding along happily thinking my funny silly thoughts and taking the occasional picture along the way.

It truly was a lovely May evening. The shadows were chilly, but the sunlight still warm.

It's not the hard light of summer, either. It's a diffuse glow that permeates everything it touches...

...and reveals a sleeping giant. I've never noticed him in more than 30 years of riding past his scenic rest.

Even though there isn't one in this shot, I was by now being passed in the opposite direction by various bemused cyclists, mainly of the increasingly prevalent Mamil persuasion. After all the good work by Stu and Arie, this one short stretch of road gave me a disappointing Waveback index of -160 for the ride.

Luckily, and as we have ascertained at length, I am happy to be master of my own domain.

The low sun was still rolling it's way slowly west along Skyline as I made my way back around Evans Bay...

Out of time to head either around Oriental Bay or Island Bay, I opted for the urbs and the Constable Street route home.

The "summit" was another chance to ease the wheeze by taking the 200th career shot of my Bianchi, as it leaned provocatively basking in the warm caress of the golden light.

Okay, that about wraps it up for the Double Ton. If you're still here, thanks heaps for the support. Reading the stats is an incredible eye-opener as to the amount of people who are now reading this bombastic blog I write, and it's very cool to see some of the far-flung places you are from. Whether you enjoy my ramblings or you're only flicking through the pictures, I'm grateful to you all.

As always, thanks for reading. Cheers, Oli

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back To Life

Back to reality. The last couple of weeks have been great as I ease back into the routines of home/work and a little bit of riding. My First Ride was actually the last ride of that week, as even that low level of exertion seemed to be a bit much to handle. However, after a few more days chafing at the bit off the bike, the next attempts proved much less onerous and didn't seem to result in any marked post-ride discomfort. I feel like it's just a matter of time now until I'm back to winning imaginary races...

...and shralving hardcore.

I've been getting back into the swing of work via some light duties, as sadly the temp I had hired to do the hard work and I had some "creative differences", and I was forced to let Inga go.

I've been very lucky that my clients are a patient (long suffering?) bunch of cool cats, and the ones that didn't have to take their urgent work elsewhere seem happy to give me work that doesn't have deadlines or time pressure. This has meant that I was able to chip away at things as lingering pain and it's associated fatigue would allow. The first job I took on was Max's rear fixie wheel, as he'd already had several weeks of not riding as he waited for me to get back on my feet. His perfectly good rim had been let down by a stripped cheapy fixed hub, so I had got him a new Joytech hub and built it into his existing rim.

Next up was Connor's new Trek Madone with Sram Red components. At this stage I was still having difficulty even lifting a bike into the stand, but no such problems with this frame!

Steadily adding parts over the next few days, it was ready for the new owner to ride the following weekend. Hot bike, and I wish Connor many fun hours of riding upon it.

With that as the first bike, it seemed that building wheels was the best way to keep things rolling. I was surprised how much effect this work had on my core, as every wheel took a small toll on me. These were a pair for my good friend Tor - Mavic A719 touring rims on XT hubs made staunch wheels for a powerful man.

I built a pair of wheels for Wellington trailbuilding stalwart and mad huckster Jono Baddiley in June 2009, but sadly he had exceeded the design parameters of the rear wheel and put a massive flat spot in his Arch rim, as well as riding it sans tyre for a few kilometres by the look of it!

Soon enough it was back to full strength thanks to a rim transplant and a handful of new spokes.

On behalf of Jonty at Revolution Bicycles I built up my first pair of NoTubes ZTR MTB hubs onto a pair of the awesome 29er Arch rims. I was very impressed by these hubs, and will be keen to see how they hold up over the long haul.

Graham is building up a new Cove and wanted me to sort him some pimp hoops for it. He gave me a sweet pair of pink Chris King hubs to lace into a brace of Mavic Xc717 rims.

I've always hankered after a pair of these pink hubs, but building them up will have to suffice for now. Hot.

Also rolling on King is this nice Crest front wheel for Barb, this time in Gunmetal...

Instead of Inga, I should have reached deep into my pockets to hire Dave away from his poorly paying IT work. He is building up an old Saronni frame as a fashion fixie and had decided to build his own wheels for it, so he came and hung out in the Batcave to get the rear wheel nailed. For a first attempt I was very impressed indeed - his grasp of tension seemed instinctive, and he hardly needed any help from me, which is good, because I'm a terrible teacher. Judging by the finished product, I expect the wheels to give him little if any trouble at all on the road. Great to have the company for the day, and I enjoyed the fringe pie benefits. Good effort, Dave!

While Dave was plying my trade, and as I had done all I could do for paid work for the day, I spent the time fettling my own bikes. I pulled the Open Pro/Campag Mirage wheels off my Casati...

...and replaced them with my Fiamme Hard Silver/Campag Super Record wheels.

I also fitted some Cinelli Campione Del Mondo handlebars, kindly donated to the cause by Alex Revell to replace the hideously clashing 3ttt 'bars I posted previously.

With the gearing a bit too tall for my enfeebled self right now the Casati has been temporarily reduced to the status of a mere prop, but a very pretty prop nonetheless.

The purpose of snatching the wheels was to give the Bianchi a set of better wheels than the somewhat inert Ksyrium Elites. The 28mm tyres are a close clearance fit, but they work and make for a comfortable and lively ride. Plus the look of three-cross Open Pros with beefy tyres is very cool, and really I'm all about the looks.

Taking a spin on a still day was a great way to both test out my "new" wheels and my poor tortured body. I headed out north via the Newtown craziness up to Oriental Bay, then back south through Kilbirnie, Lyall Bay and home up Island Bay, stopping for a brief time at Greta Point to drink in the delightful day.

Feeling tons more stable in my core relative to the week before and seemingly suffering no ill effects at all meant that the next morning couldn't come fast enough. I decided to reverse the previous day's loop, and after dropping Bo to school and doing my morning chores I suited up and headed down the Bay on the damp roads of a slightly morose morning...

The fishing boats and my Bianchi were the only splashes of colour offsetting the steel grey sea, and a clammy mist clung stubbornly to the low hills.

Suitably buoyed by my much improved condition and the joy of the simple act of riding my bicycle, I was primed and ready for the busy week to come. The shop rapidly filled up as I got on with continuing to clear the backlog of work.

Leonard's Pedalforce needed a new chain and cassette.

Andrew had treated himself to a New Blue that needed a post-purchase Oli-ing to sort out some shifting issues and give it a general going over.

Sally is off to ride the climbs of the Pyrenees in June so her Scott Addict needed some bigger cassette sprockets and a new chain, to go along with a pre-Europe checking over.

Next up was some parts swappage between Greg's two lovely Bianchis.

I took some heavy old cranks off his 9.2.8. Carbon...

...and installed the Ultegras off his other machine instead, as well as giving it a wee tune-up.

The other bike in Greg's Bianchi brace is a cool carbon Sempre he picked up for a song.

I love how this machine is specced with homologous parts reminiscent of the old days of pantographing, for instance the FSA brake calipers:


And handlebars:

To replace the Ultegra chainset I fitted a BB30 Sram Force one, then I sorted out some errant cables, swapped the too long stem for a shorter Deda one, and gave the bike a thorough strop-up before giving it the Oli Seal Of Approval.


Full rack still, but the bikes are done and I'm up to date at last. It's a grouse feeling.

Hopefully I'll be back soon to regale you with tales of more rides and pretty bikes from my own Reparto Corse. Until then, thanks for reading.