Sunday, April 29, 2012

Clearing the Decks - Part 3

The problem with trying to clear the decks is that you sweep them once, but the very next minute a new wave washes over them, dumping more blog action all over the clear spot. Oh well, all I can do is my best. You'd better get a pot of coffee, six pack of beer, carafe of wine or other tipple of your choice and settle in for a long one. 

I have been doing as much riding as possible lately, and that's both because, as well as the reason I am, feeling better than I have in years.

The Bays are part of my therapy, and my therapy seems to be working well, as I develop increasing feelings of perkiness and vigour, and even some occasional glimpses of some long absent fitness...

As with any rider worth their salt, choosing one's riding kit is a vital preamble to one's ride. At the moment my choices are dictated mainly by fit, so I'm down to just a few options. My Cape Epic jersey is in rotation with my cool new Fyxo one and my two shop jerseys.

The qualities of light and shadow are ever changing; the main reason why I never tire of ogling these views.

Autumn in Wellington has utterly owned the shit as summer for warm, still weather. It's pretty cool to be riding in shorts and short sleeves in the late afternoon in April, and not just out of sheer bloody-mindedness...

As I hinted previously, I got to have a good look at my first Breezer recently. Eric from the French Cancan Cafe in Newtown is a passionate mountainbiker from when he still resided in his native France, and he bought this cool steel hardtail there way back in 1992, although he has been judiciously amending it ever since. As an avowed roadie in that era (not now, surely?), this was one of the few mountainbikes that ever actively appealed to me from the dry pages of the old newsprint Velo-News.

The Mavic wheels are UCI compliant.

If you get the chance to see the movie Klunkers please do - you'll see Joe Breeze racing hard on inappropriate machines down the trails of Marin County's Mt Tamalpais in the 1970s, as he and the other visionaries/stoners began to bring the idea of mountainbiking to the world in the popular sense.

Phew, that's quite enough work! Better get suited up and hit the road...

This day I headed out along SH2 to Petone Foreshore, and I decided ad hoc that a ride up the Hutt River Trail would be the parcours du jour.

My seamlessly-stitched panoramas are highly sought after among the shutter-bug cognoscenti.

At first I thought I'd head up the west bank, but the brilliant day had brought out swarms of rampant golfers to the Shandon course, and several near misses from poorly shot golf balls helped me quickly decide I'd be better off on the other side of the river.

I rode under the bridge past the Estuary...

...loving the little boardwalk.

 These days are to be seized, so I was surprised I was sharing the River Trail with only a few other walkers and cyclists, although it looked for a moment like I was heading towards potential trouble as some Police were busily arresting several of a rowdy bunch of about 20 kids under the first bridge I was about to ride under...luckily they were all so distracted by the melee that I just ghosted past undisturbed and untroubled.

Here is the almost identical but thug-free second bridge.

Ah, the serenity!

Past Avalon's Fraser Park without another bicycle in sight...

...and alongside (but not actually on) the mean streets of Taita. 

It may be a lowly bike path, beneath the attention of "real" riders, but it was such a change from dealing with the traffic I felt no remorse or shame for avoiding the road for once.

Across the river can be seen the quarry that was used in the Lord Of The Rings as Helm's Deep.

Heading towards Stokes Valley. At this point my mind was humming and my legs just wanted to keep going forever. Cycling is at its best, when it almost feels automatic - like you could just ride and ride and ride , and your mind is both clear of thought, yet full of awareness.

Idyllic riverside scene. I can't remember what I was thinking here...

Oh, another idyllic riverside scene!

Good to see the idyllic riverside scenes aren't immune to a spot of tagging.

Despite almost every fibre of my being calling me ever onwards, I somehow managed to access the last remaining sensible part of my brain which told me I was running out of time, and that I'd better turn around for home. Here I'm looking south back down the Hutt River towards Wellington, and home.

The funky sculpture that greets visitors to the Valley of Stoke. I presume at some point as one hurtles around the roundabout the sculpture shows an aspect that means something.

Strange, I've seen that Taita before! Reprazent. 

The Estuary approacheth once more.

By the time I hit the Wellington Waterfront my legs were definitely feeling it, so I hit cruise control for the last leg - I like tapping out tempo, but I have always loved just meandering about.

It's pretty cool to be able to ride through the Basin Reserve while a game is going on. 

And then home again, after what had ended up being a solid three hour ride. I don't usually get much chance to ride long these days, but it's definitely something I love and most definitely something I want to do much more of as time allows. Chance would be a fine thing...

The following day was Easter Sunday, and between Bodhi's cleverly plotted Egg Hunt and other family fun on this Holy Day of Foil and Chocolate I was unable to scuttle out for a ride. But Easter dinner with my in-laws at their home in Johnsonville seemed a good way of combining missions. Clearance was given, and shortly before Jacq drove the boys out I set off on my bike...

Another superb day had turned into a gloriously warm late afternoon, perfect for riding. I set off towards the distant Mt Kaukau, and Elliott Street beyond.

Everyone must be out of town for the holidays - it's pretty rare to have Thorndon Quay to oneself!

I headed up Ngaio Gorge into the setting sun.

I love this little glimpse of the harbour from three quarters of the way up.

I swept down the fast little descent into Ngaio itself.

Long shadows.

I zipped up one of my favourite little detours, Simla Crescent...

...all the better to take a picture of my feet. As you do.

Mt Kaukau is the high point of these 'burbs.

I used to attack this little climb hard out on my Raleigh Arena every morning on my way to school.

Looking from Burma Road over the Ngauranga Gorge towards the harbour, Matiu/Somes Island and the Eastern Bays.

Through the grounds of my Alma Mater, Onslow College, as the sun sinks behind the hill.

I arrived only a couple of minutes behind the family, and only slightly sweatier... 

...which is, of course, nothing that a shower and a cunningly transported set of clothes can't take care of. 

After a delicious meal and some delightful fun times with the rellies, it was home to tuck Bodhi up and get settled in for the Easter Race, Paris-Roubaix. 

Fantastic to get live coverage of this extraordinary race, and most enjoyable to watch the resurgent Belgian three-time winner Tom Boonen join the great Roger de Vlaeminck (above) on a record-equaling four wins, after soloing in for the last 50 kilometres.

Due to school holiday time restraints, and inspired by my beautiful wife Jacq's  regular training of late, I have surprisingly resorted to the windtrainer to attempt to begin to get rid of the Easter Eggs I was stuffing in my face only the night before. 

Not actually riding outside on the road or a trail goes against everything I used to believe in, but needs must where the Devil wants, and my desire to regain some of what I used to have (or more correctly, lose some of what I now have) outweighs my hatred of indoor riding. Bodhi captures my thoughts and feelings exactly in this slightly scary photo...

 After joining his friends and dear family to meet John Randal on arrival back in NZ after his astounding Cape Epic adventures, I was pleaseed to properly catch up with him a few days later and hear some of the stories from the man himself. What a time Megan and he had! I was stoked when he kindly added a precious signed number plate to my Wall of Fame. Thanks, bro.

 As my old boss Roland used to say, "Fun's fun, but tae Hell wi' nonsense!" so it's back to work we go.

My old mate Gary was after pulling down his old tubular wheels and turning them into clinchers. The Dura-Ace 7400 hubs are super-sexy, and still mint on the inside, where it really counts... 

...sadly we wouldn't be able to re-use the Wolber Profil 20 tub rims on any other potential project, as they were both radiating cracks from the nipple holes despite looking hardy used.

Prior to building the new wheels, I gave the hubs a proper polish.

What's that, you couldn't see them properly?

Here are the finished wheels. Sano build, with 3x rear and 2x front DT Competition spokes with brass nipples all around. Solid and reliable as anything, but with a sprightly feel and a lovely ride quality.

The shizz.

The next pair of wheels I was to build were for my friend Graham, a lovely pair of Phil Wood fixed/free hubs...

...were to be laced into Mavic Open Pro rims... create a set of wheels for his boss new Kona Paddy Wagon.

A lovely Brooks B17 leather saddle will provide a lifetime's posterial comfort, as long as it's treated well.

Eric the Chamferer has been at his nefarious work again.

The bottom bracket is of Canadian origin, just like the bike and its owner.

I love it when a bike has a grunty headbadge!

The wheels installed, although sans tyres at this stage.

Brooks manufactured the lovely leather handlebar tape also. Not quite as easy to wrap as most modern tapes, it's well worth the extra effort to get it right.

Old school cork handlebar plugs are a nice touch.

With Graham still waiting for some bits it was as done as it was going to get with me. I await avidly the imminent pics of the finished build.

Talking about wheels (well, we were before!), ever since my mate Jamie generously donated some beautiful Shamal  tubular wheels to me to put on my period Bianchi...

...I've been able to roll out on my classic Ambrosio Giro d'Italia clinchers on a daily basis for the first time in about a decade. Just looking at the beautiful polished Campagnolo Record rear hub brings back very happy memories of working at the great Cycle Services, as it was a birthday present from the crew there in 1995 or '96. Many years ago, as cassettes became harder and harder to obtain,  I converted it from the original eight-speed to nine-speed with the kind help of the estimable David Benson. 

This day those lovely wheels would carry me out to Eastbourne. As my more long-suffering readers will know, this is one of my most favourite old stomping grounds, and one I haven't visited in way too long.

I made my way out along the Hutt Road, the monotony of the constant roar of traffic only broken up by being chased by a dog just before Horokiwi. I don't use the term lightly, but that was one motherfucking quick motherfucking sprint for an old fat boy! Luckily the dog ran past my back wheel and not into it, and even more luckily his dash took him into a temporarily empty lane and not under the wheels of one of the many passing cars or trucks. I stopped at Horokiwi and *555ed him, hoping that he'd be okay until the promised units arrived.

Moody skies above the city, annoyingly corrupted by that sporadic random blurry spot from who knows where in the guts of my $79 camera.

Another view of Mt Kaukau, which seems to be calling me from all directions. Might be time for a cyclocross mission...with Matiu/Somes Island in the foreground, I must be looking in almost a straight line opposite from the photo I took from Burma Road.

 By the time I got to the end of Eastbourne I contemplated carrying on around to Pencarrow but the twin devils of time and lightweight tyres managed to persuade me to leave that for another time...

...after all, there's always plenty of that, innit?

Until I next have some then.

CU, Oli.