Sunday, July 8, 2012

Trooping The Colours


Il Commendatore

As you may be aware, I've recently done a big run of Roadworks kit thanks to the incredible work of Deputy John Randal. I wanted to publicly thank John again, as well as the good folk at Ultimo who made the gear and gave great service the whole way through the process. Most importantly I want to thank all of you who like the kit enough to actually lay out your hard-earned coin and wear some. It was very proud-making and humbling to see who and where the orders came from, and I hope to see you out there rocking the kit on the roads or trails, photos of you wearing it in your far-flung locales, or perhaps even stopping by to visit me at the shop. Thanks so much for your fantastic support, it means a great deal more than I can say.

When I first set up Roadworks in the old Holloway Road garage it wasn't long at all before people were asking me if I'd do some kit, and I must admit it didn't seem quite right for me to still be wearing my beloved Cycle Services kit two years after we shut the doors on the infamous purple and green Cuba Street shop.



Having helped Wheels and Henry in the designing of that final iteration of the Mighty Purpleness I felt reasonably confident I could come up with something without recourse to professional assistance, so I sat down with my pencils and pens to figure out what I'd like to wear. I knew I wanted to pay small homage to my love of things Italian, so the Italian stripes that already surrounded my logo were always going to end up on the cuffs and collars, but what was the rest going to look like? At the time - around 2002 - the Bonjour team of Thomas Voeckler had what I thought was a pretty sharp strip, and I wanted to tip my casquette at the French too, so I pretty much started from there.




Here are my first sketches, which were already pretty close to how the jersey turned out even though the colours have long faded and the details were still obviously being worked out.




Not being very able on a computer or having any access to scanning technology meant I had to find the logos I wished to use and send them to Cima (as they were called before Ultimo took them over) in hard copy for them to somehow transcribe - this is most evident in my URL on the jerseys, which I wanted to be close to the Bonjour ones in feel, and is to this day exactly as I drew it with Vivid marker pens for Cima to scan!




Using the Havana logo was essential, as my close friends Geoff and Tim were already looking after me with as much free coffee as I could drink, along with t-shirts for the all the family once or twice a year. In return I look after their bicycles and try and spread their good word far and wide.




Being an avowed Campyphile, I wanted to put the Campagnolo logo somewhere on the jersey. To hopefully avoid any unpleasantness I opted to use a long out-of-date logo that used to be ubiquitous on Campag-equipped machines on the '70s. I figured the jersey was essentially for me, but that any Shimano or Sram users would at least not mind me plugging the Old Masters even if it wasn't their choice of componentry.




So once the poor folk at Cima had figured all this out they sent me a printing sample/mock-up to approve, which I promptly did.




Before long a box of kit turned up that was distributed around only a faithful few at that stage, but I was proud to see my name emblazoned on the bodies of some of my favourite people. Afraid I haven't got too many photos of that era - again, my computer literacy was sorely lacking at that stage - but I'm proud to say that great guys like John Randal, Dave Hicks, Martin Lewington, Mark Wright and Richard Tait were among the first to fly the colours.


John Randal, whose results and adventures are too numerous to mention, but always inspire


Martin Lewington


Richard Tait (r) with Italian framebuilder extraordinaire Dario Pegoretti

Mark Wright

Dave Hicks

The next lot of jerseys went to a new wave of riders, which included two guys in particular who would go on to become not just pivotal Roadworks riders, but two of my very best friends;  Paul Larkin, and then Tim Wilding. Paul came to me for a bike fit on the recommendation of my friends Nic and Karl and we hit it off immediately, and he would go on to also pull Tim into the fold a year or so later. In those early days Tim was fully sponsored and couldn't wear my kit, but we nonetheless also struck up a great working relationship and friendship - a friendship that has carried the three of us in various combinations through many fun adventures. That led him to eventually share my jersey race to race with that of his other main supporter, Mike Stylianou, the NZ distributor of Santa Cruz and Ibis bikes. While many riders in the Colours have ridden to wins and podiums in varied events far and wide, Tim is definitely my Pro-Elite star with victories in the Karapoti, X-Terra, NZ and Australian Singlepeed Championships, NZ National Hillclimb titles, etc., etc. 


Tim Wilding

Paul Larkin (in my short-lived actual shop!) 

It goes without saying that I was wearing the kit from the start (Hello-o, have you not seen my relentless self-portraiture?), but also I made sure my family got tooled up.


Me racing the Karapoti Classic in 2004


Me post-Karapoti with Harry (left) and Kester in 2004


My eldest son Kester and I racing the Makara Peak Relay

By 2006 the youngest BW was also RW, although in his own custom Kirby kit


My darling wife, Jacq

My good buddy Alex "The Instigator" Tashkoff racing Karapoti in 2005

Another shot of John, this one with his beautiful daughter, Kaitlyn

And here's one of my favourite photos of the kit ever. Katy in race mode

As Roadworks lurched from success to failure, from crisis to drama, from premises to cave to workshop, I still somehow managed to do enough work to keep people interested in supporting me. I didn't do many runs of clothing, but Ultimo helped me out with a few small orders over the years. Sadly I don't have photos of all those who raced or rode in the jersey, but here are a few more of the cool cats I'm lucky enough to have known and/or worked with over the years.

My great friend (and ex-boss) Henry Chlebowicz racing the 2009 Taupo Half Ironman


Daryl Bloomfield


Grant Perry


Peter Moore


Daniel Coe


Dave Livesey

Ben Wilde

Joel Healy

The jersey has been spied in all sorts of places...


Hanging on the wall of fame in legendary Rotorua bike shop Bike Vegas

Even though it wasn't actually my jersey, I was very proud to have my logo on the shoulders of John and Megan Dimozantos when they raced the fearsome Cape Epic in South Africa earlier this year.




I always look forward to Paul's latest cyclo-cross exploits in Australia, and he's sure had a few...


Paul up to Dirty Deeds

When I did the last order of clothing from Ultimo a few years ago, I ordered myself some special kit in black that I dubbed the "Il Commendatore" gear. This was done to give myself a bit of a morale boost, as well as for the slimming effect of black on a portly gent. At first I felt good about being the only one wearing this unique strip, but it wasn't long before I realised I'd like to widen the scope a tiny bit to include just a few others. The first non-Oli to wear the newly renamed Black Ops jersey was my dear friend John. Ever since Cycle Services days John has been a great friend to me, extending to so many kind acts of friendship I choke up when I think of them. Whether things go well or bad for me or my family he is always among the first to reach out emotionally, supportively and, on occasion, even financially, and as I seem unable to reciprocate in such tangible ways I gave him my spare jersey. Oddly it fitted him a lot better than it fitted me - that will teach me for being over-optimistic about potential weight loss!


John racing with the Big Guns on lap two of his Taupo Enduro ride last year

Once John had a Black Ops jersey the clamour for more really began - it got so that I was feeling so much pressure to black folk up I almost flagged doing any more clothing just to avoid the issue! In the end, I decided that I still had a couple more guys I wanted to hook up and that everyone else would just have to deal with not making the cut. For those of you who do feel they have missed out, I'm truly sorry. There are many people who I could have (perhaps even should have) added to the list, but the wider the net the more chance of missing someone out, and then it would get into the territory of choosing one over another or just letting everyone have one, in which case the Black Ops would be just another jersey and I didn't want that. This small gesture is a small way for me to thank these two guys who, like John, have done so much more for me over the last decade than I can ever say publicly. If it's any consolation, away from the meaning behind the blackness I actually prefer the blue jersey, which is still the beloved original Colours I envisaged ten years ago, and it's the jersey I generally reach for first when I'm heading out for a ride. Once John had offered to help we put the call out and to our delight and amazement the orders flooded in and we put in the order, including the new gilets, caps and armwarmers, along with warm-up jackets for a lucky few...




The two riders who would join John and I in the Elite Black Ops Squad are Paul and Tim, and I know and they know exactly why this is so.


Black Ops Warrant Officer Paul Larkin (shot taken from Fyxomatosis Melburn-Roobaix photoset)


Tim enjoying hitting up the infamous rockgarden at the Oceania Championships in Rotorua

The two shots above were taken after the clothing was organised by John and while I was in the terrible throes of The Interregnum. Thanks to Ultimo this large pile of goodness very soon arrived and John sorted, mailed out (to those overseas or out of town), and then literally hand delivered to all but a few of the Wellington orderers the day before he took Kaitlyn to London to visit his sister! Above and beyond, bro, above and beyond. Grateful thanks also go to the lovely Jo Goudie for delivering the remainder.


Kit destined for all parts of NZ, as well as Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, UK and the US.

So now the photos are trickling in of riders wearing the kit and riding the gear all over the show. I'm keen as to see (and blog) more, so send 'em in please! Here are a couple to get the ball rolling...


Owen riding up a Wellington hill in his new jersey and his fetching striped armwarmers.


Australian National U15 Sprint Champion Tahlay Christie in action in Western Australia


John Randal out for a ride around London...


...and shralving some good old Kiwi trails 


Black Ops rider Tim Wilding giving cyclo-cross a nudge on my monster-cross bike


Australian-based WO Larkin holds court to an adoring crowd at the Melburn Roobaix...



 ...and Paul steams the gnar on Rata Ridge during a recent hop over the ditch

So that's the Trooping of the Colours. Of course I've not mentioned heaps of names I should have, and I've barely scratched the surface of the tales of derring-do that have been created in the Roadworks strip, but hopefully the gist of it is there. I hope you enjoyed it, and keep your eyes on the blog if you're keen to grab some yourself - we'll be doing a follow-up order fairly soon, and any requests will be most welcome. Just not in black.

Until then, thanks for reading and thanks again to all who wear The Colours for the great support. 

Cheers, Oli







6 comments:

Paul said...

It has been, and continues to be an honour to serve with you, il Commandatore.

sifter said...

What a great tale! We're very lucky to have kit to wear that means something (and is uber-cool to boot). You've helped us all love our sport, and that has immeasurable value bro.

ROADWORKS 4 LIFE

sifter said...

Oh, and I should add that Jo Goudie kindly sorted out clothing delivery to the last few folk after I'd headed off on holiday!

Oli said...

Thank you all for the kind words, and credit to the lovely Jo added, John!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous to be a part of the ROADWORKS familia.
Look forward to hitting them trails with you very soon, Oli !!

"The Instigator"

Martin said...

As always your blog is such a great read. i'm sure there are many stories Roadworks' kit can tell. Mine introduced me to woman who is now my lovely wife!