Tuesday, January 31, 2012


The riding has been sporadic, but my cunning new tactic of only blogging my rides every couple of months pays dividends by making it look like I'm out all the time. The clue is the good weather in all the rides - with Wellington's quota of only one good day for every three to four rides (assuming a ride usually only occurs once a week) it's easy to see that I'm making the most of summer...

I had a lovely 5km ride around and around the Hataitai Velodrome with Bodhi one Saturday afternoon.

After a nasty near-crash pedal strike early on, Bo understandably shied away from the banking - huge platform pedals, a low b/b and not really that much momentum made the vertiginous slopes très difficile. He attacked lap after lap with gusto, nonetheless...

...including a couple of timed laps...

...and a match sprint against his Old Man in which he gave his all, emerging victorious.

We spent a bit of time post-race just chilling out, reflecting on our results and going over a few tactics - a bit of track craft now could stand me in good stead one day.

Nine isn't quite the milestone that eighteen is, so Bodhi doesn't get his own blog post, but last week was his birthday so here's as good a place as any to mark it thus. Happy 9th Birthday, my lovely boy! x

One thing that has been sorely missed from these Tales of mine in recent times have been adventures with my old mate The Commander - a combination of the usual chaos at my end and a nasty knee injury to Alex have meant it's been months and months since we last ate dirt together. The Christmas holidays were a good time to renew the gift of friendship awheel, with a ride with Nick, Steve and Wayne planned. Despite some initial text-created confusion on my part about whether we were riding Rimu or Rimu(taka Incline) and some nearly running out of gas issues, we made it out to the rendezvous point in plenty of time...well okay, half an hour late then. This technically undemanding ride was perfect for both Al and I to ease back into some riding, I foolishly thought, and for us all to ride side-by-side and socialise. Which admittedly we did, albeit somewhat briefly. We set off in mellow convoy with Al setting the early pace and Nick and I chatting to Steve on his flash new Singular Swift. Alex's knee was clearly fine now, and I was starting to suspect he'd been doing some secret training as he rapidly shot off into the distance.

Steve and Nick cruise one of the old rail bridges as the gradient starts to gently kick in, as I begin fumbling with my camera as an excuse for lagging behind.

After Wayne had effortlessly bridged up to Al, Steve eventually got sick of me lollygagging about with my camera and took off in hot pursuit. Nick too saw his opportunity and dropped the Big O.

Despite my glacial pace and the gnawing feelings of abandonment I was barely dealing with, I put my best pedal forwards, got on with the job and made damn sure I found time to take a cheery self-pic.

Oh, okay. They've gone. Choice.

Oh well, at least I'm not as much of a has-been as these poor remnants.

Phew! They are still there! I really need glasses...

After a bit of debate (captured appositely in this picture of my bicycle) we decided that the gale-force northerlies made heading down to Siberia unwise at best, and downright dangerous at worst. The three racing sardines opted to ride the Back Road diversion on the way back to the carpark, while Nick and I simply retraced our tracks figuring we were going to be having a hard enough time punching into the NWer without adding hills into the mix.

The wind, of course, wasn't as bad as we feared so we meandered down. I stopped to take a photo from a bridge.

Here is a waterfall.

The tunnels are an iconic part of this great ride, even though we'd skipped the big one atop the summit through our wind-borne softness.

Despite my lamentable lack of verve, it was a neat afternoon. Catching up with Al and the boys was very cool, and the riding was fun.

I reconciled my less than stellar fitness by putting it down to all the Christmas excesses and a general holiday malaise, but determined I'd hit the road regularly to make inroads on getting some semblance of basic Oli-level fitness at least. I went so far as building up a new bike to give me that new toy enthusiasm (more on this another time), but sadly after only a few kilometres the 20mm less setback to usual bit me badly on the knee, making me gingerly pedal straight back home in quite some pain. Grr.

So, after a suitable period of inactivity/recovery, Al once again galvanised me into action with a plan to ride out at Meridian Energy's West Wind trails one fine evening.

As can be clearly seen in the photo above, we didn't actually end up riding at West Wind at all. As disorganised as ever, by the time we had got our collective shit together and driven all the way out to Makara we had missed the closing of the rather stout gates by over half an hour (are you seeing a common theme here?). After a panicked and pointless text to a bemused John Randal failed to help Al and I work out if running the gauntlet of the prominently advertised security firm was worth the risk, we quickly formulated a Plan B. We drove back over the Makara Hill to the MTB Park, rapidly unloaded the car and kitted up...

...then rode in through the AMP Connector and up to the picnic table on Ridgeline Extention.

We reacquainted ourselves with our long-missed and much loved Makara Peak with a fantastic run down RE and Big Tom's Wheelie, before flowing like water down the sinuous Lazy Fern.

We then rode up Koru and Rimu, where I discovered my knee was still a bit tender from the road ride. I suggested to Al he get another run down the hill while I grabbed the car to meet him down in the main carpark - he got a shuttle run in, as it were. We got home in time for some Scottish food and a refreshing ale as the sun set spectacularly, sending stunning striated sunbeams of every shade shooting into the solid sky.

I'll dwell on this irritatingly alliterative scene, if I may...

Did we make it back to West Wind? Why, yes we did as a matter of fact! But that is a story for another time, so I'll ride off into the sunset now. As ever, thanks so much for taking your time to read my blog. Cheers, Oli

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I find myself at times somewhat non-plussed by the balance between work, home duties and play, with play sadly usually the loser if it come down to a "choice". Sometimes this balance gets pretty freaking tricky, and the non-plussitude can turn rapidly into stress and agitation, especially if I haven't been able to squeeze in a ride. My sincere apologies to those of you who may recently have borne the brunt of any of my inconvenience, irritation and/or ire. I certainly can't please everyone, but I can try and do a better job of being pleasant.

This is some of the work I've been doing since returning to the spanners after a bit of a summer flu induced delay to the start of the working year...

For Christmas my lovely sis-in-law gave me a matching pair of 'Bici in Italia' knick-knack holders, one of which is in use at home while the other has been utilised in the workshop.

My friend Kath was off to a tri in Wanaka so I gave her Quintana Roo a race service.

Long-time Roadworker Udo has moved on his old Giant TCR and replaced it with a new bike...

...this lovely BMC Roadracer SL01.

Beijing Olympian, Rabobank XC pro and ex-Jazz Apples teammate Rosara Joseph had a quick emergency brake repair needing doing before she headed down to the Dunedin Nationals round.

I sorted the brake but, in the course of giving the gears a quick check (force of habit!), I was stoked to find two disintegrating chain links before they pulled apart potentially mid-race. She went on to finish a fine second despite this being her off-season.

It must be the season for new rigs, as Konrad also has a flash upgrade.

On the other hand, my generous sponsor Geoff from Havana is getting his old Bianchi cyclo-cross bike repainted in the correct Celeste. I stripped it down for him to take to his paint guy.

It's in a bad way after being stored outside in the Houghton Bay salt repository, but hopefully it's not beyond redemption...

Cool lug action.

When Geoff originally got the bike it was built up by Henry at the late, lamented Cycle Services, which was right next to Geoff and Tim's ground-breaking Midnight Espresso coffee house.

While at work one day I spent an hour or so catching up with my old friend and racing buddy Chris, when he dropped off the cool Campagnolo gear bag I scored off him on Trade Me.

Another cool score was this mean calendar sent to me by my man Dr Pete in Dunedin - cheers, bro!

Udo's teenage son Jonas is already a seasoned ride, having done Round Taupo several times and given his Dad plenty of grief on the climbs. Having outgrown his old bike, his Dad stumped up for a great deal in this fine Argon 18 to help Jonas further his cycling ambitions.

Neil's Salsa needed some love in the drivetrain department. He got a Veloce cassette, Record chain and entire Centaur chainset with rings in from the UK for me to swap for his worn ones.

William's classic Merlin Extralight was equipped with some slightly tired old Dura-Ace 9sp kit...

...which made way...

For a new Ultegra 6700 10sp gruppo. This stuff is light, cheap and strong while shifting and braking like a dream.

Two high-priority jobs helped kick the year off. First was legendary endurance mountainbiker Megan Dimozantos' Ninja build. John Randal had asked me last year if I could build his teammate Megan's new ABSA Cape Epic weapon so, on her behalf, Yeti's storied NZ head honcho Kashi Leuchs sent me up a rather lovely piece of kit.

Which I slowly built up...

...resulting in this fine Yeti ARS-5c bicycle.

I was feeling bad that due to my flu and an array of other baffling timing issues I couldn't make Megan's hoped deadline for the Tour de Whaka in Rotorua, but she put my mind at ease when we finally met to hand the bike over a week later. She's a patient and lovely woman to whom I wish every success, and I'm sure her and John will have a fantastic time in South Africa! Just this weekend the Dynamic Duo have been racing at Kashi's invitation in the St James Epic, in which Megan finished 2nd woman and John 3rd man.

The last one is a special one. During our long association stretching back over the last seven or eight years, my friend Tim Wilding has been winner of lots of big races including (among others) Karapoti, NZ Marathon Championships, Xterra Championships, NZ Singlespeed Championships, Australian Singlespeed Championships, NZ Hillclimb Championships, etc., etc. It's always an honour to build Tim up his bikes and/or wheels, and this latest project has been plotted for some months now.

Once Tim had decided on another Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er frame (as opposed to another choice from his awesome sponsor Mike Stylianou of Hyperformance Hardware) and some ENVE carbon rims and put in his orders, the brief was to have the new bike built up last week so that I had time to build his new wheels this week in time for the National Championships being raced in Nelson this weekend...the best laid plans of mice and men go often askew.

The frame arrived in plenty of time.

Then while we waited for the new parts to arrive I stripped down his old Tallboy frame and replaced a couple of mildly tired bearings, allowing me to wallow in carbony goodness.

This is where it all went a bit wrong; spokes proved hard to come by, with the local DT distributor out of stock of the sizes we needed. I cast around the other brands available in NZ only to discover that no one could supply all of the three sizes we needed, and I'm loth to mix brands in the one wheel. In the end the interweb came to the rescue again, and Tim ordered some from the UK by four day delivery. The rims turned up from Wide Open exactly as promised months earlier, so great job there thanks guys!

To compound the problems this week was Wellington Anniversary week, meaning that Monday was a public holiday and, hence, no courier deliveries would occur. I picked up the rest of the kit (bar the spokes, which didn't finally arrive until Wednesday - six days after being ordered!) from Tim's place on Tuesday afternoon while Bodhi and I were out shopping for Kester's 18th birthday on Wednesday. As a huge milestone in our family's life, Ket's birthday would of course be the main priority for the day, and no work was able to be done among all the fun. I figured I could build up the bike on Thursday using the old wheels, making a start on the wheels and finishing them off on Friday in time for him to fly down to Nelson. I'm quite sure that Tim had told me he was flying down at 8am, but in all the confusion I still thought I had all day to work...now time really was getting tight!

I got up, made Bodhi's breakfast, grabbed a coffee and headed in to the shop. By (late) lunchtime I was happy to have fully built up the bike with only a few minor complications, none of which were mission critical.

A quick sandwich and an apple and it was back to work. Having built Hamish's 26" ENVE wheels just before Christmas meant at least I had my systems sorted. I greased all the nipples first.

Then about 90 minutes later the first of these beautiful wheels emerged from my trusty truing stand.

Of course this is where I discovered that somehow my spoke calculations were out, and one of the three sizes I'd got Tim to order from the UK was wrong! Luckily he had only been able to order the spokes in lots of 36, meaning that we fortunately had enough of the size I needed to finish the job...phew. Another 90-odd minutes and the pair were done and ready to rock. I'm really enjoying building these wheels - they are incredibly round (not as common as you might think...), light, strong and build up relatively easily, with end results that are incredible.

I swapped the cassette and rotors off the old wheels and onto the carbons, then set the bike up with the new wheels, minus tyres obviously. Using XTR hubs on both wheels meant no adjustments were necessary, which was just as well as I was now out of time!

As soon as I was done I texted Tim, who dropped everything and raced over to collect it. A quick rundown and a hearty handshake and it was done to deadline, despite all the chaos and conniptions.

Luckily Tim was happy to do the tubelessing at home, and by the time I'd made the evening meal and sat down at the computer he had already posted a pic of the finished machine looking hot in the evening sunshine.

As I dealt with slightly less time-constrained repairs on Friday arvo I was delighted to get a text from Tim, now down in Nelson getting ready to race on Saturday,
Well. The legs need all the help they can get right now and the wheels deliver. Acceleration is great as is tracking. All up, the bike feels excellent. Chur bro!

Despite Tim's training not going quite to plan so far this year, I was even more delighted to get this text yesterday afternoon, immediately following the National Champs.
7th bro! Pretty happy with the race. Bike was a dream.
With those words all the stress and worry washed away, and I was once more able to bask in the reflected glory of another race success. Cheers, Tim!

Photo courtesy of Mike Stylianou

As ever, thanks so much for reading. Pedal on, Oli