Sunday, February 24, 2008

2008 National XC Championships

Saturday dawned with a rare sprinkling of rain to greet competitors and supporters of the 2008 NZ National XC Championships, but as I sat rubbing sleep out of my eyes and drinking my morning coffee the rain stopped falling and the sun emerged to begin it's assault on the clouds, leading to what would become a very hot and humid day to race and spectate in. The rain didn't even begin to dampen down the dust on the trails of the testing Mt Victoria XC course.

I chucked some essential tools in my new Black and Decker canvas tool bag (thanks Peter and Judy!), threw that, my pump and my Ultimate stand in the back of the Roadworks Team wagon and drove over to the Hataitai Velodrome, which made for an excellent race village.

Masters 30+ winner Wayne Hiskock rides through the Village on his Oli-built wheels

After doing a few small emergency tweaks on some bikes for people, I spent the morning's Masters/Juniors/Senior Women races in the feed zone, where I was looking after John Randal (Roadworks) and Jason McCarty (J'ville Cycles). I had a great time in there, although I was really disappointed to be unable to help poor Nicola Johnson (Wholly Bagels) get back into the race after a mechanical, but unfortunately her derailleur had achieved an "interesting" configuration that was beyond my powers to restore...

Nic Johnson riding strongly after the first lap, pre major malfunction

The feeding went well though, and I was delighted to see that Jason got a bronze medal for his efforts, while John got a solid 13th place with next to no specific training. Great to see old-schoolers Jonny Waghorn and Jonty Ritchie fighting for 5th place, with Jonny winning that battle this time, and Jonty coming in sixth.

MTB Legend Jonty Ritchie (Revolution Bicycles)

John Randal chatting with U17 victor, Tom Bradshaw post race

After the morning's excitement there was a bit of a break, which I spent drinking coffee, catching up with old friends and chatting to some of the riders about their races, then it was 2pm and time for the marquee events to begin. I wasn't feeding this time, so was free to wander around Mt Vic with Jonty and Allister Worrall to watch the racing from various vantage points...

After his stellar season so far I had 4-time National Champion Stu Houltham picked as my favourite, as did most probably, and he didn't disappoint. His race was flawless and the rest of the field barely saw him all race as he won by over 4 minutes.

Stu Houltham

Stu was followed by Mikey Northcott, who is on the comeback trail after some health setbacks, then Upper Hutt rider Gav McCarthy (VIC Cycles) pulled out a classy 3rd place. 4th went to 2007 National Series winner Marcus Roy, followed by National Hillclimb Champion Tim Wilding (Santa Cruz/Pearl Izumi/Maxxis/Roadworks) in 5th place. Tim rode a good race and this solid result bodes very well for his defence of his Xterra title in March...

Tim Wilding smacking a downhill

Pre-race, a shot of Tim with sponsor Mike Stylianou

Among the many riders I have been lucky enough to work with over the years who were riding the Champs was Wellingtonian Josh Barley (Santa Cruz) who rode to a great 8th place, after earlier being as high as 6th place. Well done Josh, it's only a matter of time until you are contending for the win.

Josh leading Tim early in the race

It was a really enjoyable day overall, and it just reiterates how much I love being a part of the atmosphere of top level racing, whether road or mountainbike.

Some random highlights of the day for me:

*Seeing Jerry Sheppard (father of classy U19 women's race winner, Samara) racing the 40+ event in his antique Cycle Services jersey.
*Hiskey racing on the Stan's ZTR Olympic wheels I built him for the '06 Nationals series - they've now been raced in 3 national series, 3 national champs, a World Championships, and countless other events, and Wayne tells me they've never even needed a single spoke touched! Stoked!
*Catching up with many of the riders I worked with at Worlds and other events, as well as mates like Commissaire Deluxe and one of my managers on the trip to Oceanias, Ken Bewley.
*Traipsing all over Mt Vic in such glorious weather watching some great racing.
*I LOVE how it feels like Wellington has been taken over by cycling during events like this.
*Being able to help a few riders with technical issues prior to their events. This is balanced by my regret at not being able to keep Nic in the race.
*My friend Lisa Morgan getting a fine 6th place in her first ever Pro-Elite Champs, behind new National Champion Sonia Hill.
*Brenda "Bob" Clapp backing up from her win in the HC with the silver medal in the Women's Pro-Elite XC.
*My beautiful wife Jacq allowing me to forgo a big chunk of our 6th wedding anniversary to hang out with random bikers instead of her...

The National DH Champs are being held at Long Gully as I type this, but I won't be posting a report from there as I am having a much needed family day to recharge my batteries before getting stuck into the road scene on the UCI Women's Tour of NZ next week. If you get a chance to see a stage or two you should take the opportunity, especially the Lambton Quay criterium on Sunday the 2nd of March, and look out for Team Tabak and their portly mechanic!

Thanks for reading, Oli

The women's Pro-Elite race start

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bit of a catch-up...

I've been the busiest I think I've ever been. 9pm, 11pm, 1am finishes have been the standard, and that's even with me starting work at terribly uncivilised hours like 8am - and everyone knows I don't do mornings!!

It's been a combination of the upcoming Karapoti and Ironman races next weekend, National Champs this weekend, the usual wheels and random stuff I deal with, all combined with my being away the bulk of next week on the Women's Tour making me unable to spread work out a bit. My apologies to those of you who I had to refuse, but I'll make sure I catch up once the dust has settled...

Talking of dust, tonight was the National Championships for Dual Slalom and 4x held on the brand new track laid by Hadley from Crankworks, with help from the WCC and many, many volunteers. You'll have to go on Vorb to get the racing results, but Kester, Harry, Bodhi and I enjoyed an hour or so watching the carnage before racing home for tea. Although it was a bit of a shame that the timing of the events was delayed so much, the cool track, good friends to catch up with and the great racing meant it was a fantastic occasion. It was also great to see a big crowd turn up to spectate...

Sam Blenkinsop pinning it

Eddie Masters crosses the line

After yesterdays triumphant and glorious National Hillclimb Champs, I was stoked to realise that in my shop at one point was a current double National Champion (Tim Wilding - Xterra and Hillclimb Champ) and a reigning World Champion in Garry Humpherson, who is 70+ World Individual Pursuit Champion. Tim was converting his bike back to XC trim and Garry was picking up a cool wheel I built for him. Garry wanted a durable fixed/fixed clincher road wheel, so I got him a Surly track hub and built it into a Mavic CXP33 using my favourite DT Competition spokes - note the surreptitious World Championship sticker I fitted for him...

Here's a gratuitous shot of my beloved Park wheelbuilding stand, with a wheel about to be tensioned and trued.

I also had some fun a couple of weeks ago practicing the old Dark Art of cold-setting, which basically just means bending the hell out of old steel frame! My friend Josh Barley (Santa Cruz) is slowly putting together a retro road bike so he needed his lovely Tommaso's rear triangle spread from the old-school 126mm to the current 130mm. Now 4mm isn't a lot, but it has to be exactly 2mm per side and this frame was STIFF, so it took a lot of effort, combined with some finesse. It turned out perfectly...

Here are a few of the Ironman bikes I worked on over the last while...

Nick's beautiful Scott Plasma - check the bling FSA carbon 54t chainwheel I got in for him.

Here's another stunner - David's Cervelo P3. Note the SRM cranks and the new Zipp Sub9 Tubular Disc wheel...

Here is the Lynskey triathlon bike I built up a few months ago, now with it's new Topolino wheels, and the brake levers on the the right way around. D'oh!

I will be on Mt Victoria all day tomorrow feeding and cheering on Tim, John, Nic, Josh, Jonty and all the other riders in the National XC Champs, so I'd better shut up for now. Come up and check it out if you can - it's going to be a great day, and hopefully I'll have more to write about tomorrow night.

I'll close this very long post with a picture I took while out on a ride I took one afternoon to briefly escape the Groundhog Day hell that was my workshop these last few weeks.

We are in the middle of the best summer I can ever remember in my 40 years in Wellington, and sometimes it's just so important to take time to look around and appreciate the beauty of this gorgeous city we love so much...

Thanks for reading, Oli

National Hillclimb Champion!

Sorry for the lack of updates - finishing work at 1 in the morning will do that to ya! When I get a minute I will regale/bore you with a thousand stories from the last couple of weeks, but for now I really want to congratulate Tim Wilding for winning the 2008 National Elite Hillclimb Championship today! A fantastic effort from Tim to sharpen up his legs for Saturday's XC Championship...Cheers to Tim of course, but also to his sponsors - Santa Cruz/Maxxis/Pearl Izumi/NoTubes/Karl Kane Design/Roadworks, and his coach Bryan Hall.

Tim just after his win

Elite HC Podium: l to r Gavin McCarthy, Tim Wilding and Tony Hogg

Also in the medals today in the heat of this stunning Wellington summer was legendary hard man John Randal with his hard-fought Bronze medal in the Masters event. John is also riding the XC on Saturday and the MTB Criterium on Sunday at Long Gully, representing the Roadworks jersey superbly well as always!

John in battle

Masters HC Podium: Ian Paintin 4th (Silver), Jonty Ritchie 2nd, Wayne Hiscock National Champion, Jonny Waghorn 3rd, John Randal 5th (Bronze)

Tim's Championship winning Blur in rigid fork climbing mode

Have heaps of pics and stuff from the last couple of weeks to bang on about, but later for that. Cheers, Oli

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Great Race Result!

Well I didn't think I'd be posting so soon, but I had to follow up the last post by telling you that Tim Wilding got 2nd place at the Palmerston North North Island Cup Finals on the Blur XC I just built up! A huge result for this champion bloke and for his cool new bike!

Also great news was that in third place was Josh Barley, also on a Santa Cruz Blur XC that I look after, albeit less formally than Tim's. I was also delighted to see that my good friend Nic Johnson won Senior women - both round and series - on her Giant XTC-0 that I helped fettle.

I'm really looking forward to the National Championships being held on Mt Victoria in two weeks time...Roadworks Represent!

And, just because I love to read the sound of my own voice, I thought I'd bore you all with my days ride today...

In a beer-fueled fit of insanity a couple of nights ago, I foolishly entered the New Zealand's 1st ever National Singlespeed Championships, being held in Rotorua on Anzac weekend, so I thought I'd better actually ride my s/s a couple of times before April...

It was a warm but sporadically drizzly day in Welli, and I rode from my workshop in Berhampore down into Island Bay via the trail around Wakefield Park, then up Melrose Road where I tried my hardest to catch a woman riding her MTB up the hill. I did catch up to her, but I immediately blew a foo-foo valve, so had to walk for a wee while. Back on the bike and up to Buckley Road. Down the track that my friends and I know as "Sifty", which I managed to clean for the first time - I usually ride it on my 5" travel GT I-Drive with disc brakes and always make an arse of a couple of tight hairpins and a little creek crossing, but two trackstand/hop maneuvers and a bit of body English got me safely through on my fully rigid s/s with v-brakes! Stoked!

Around the South Coast-Te Raikaihau Point-Kilbirnie-Oriental Bay for a curbside crawl, then rode, pushed and staggered up Carlton Gore to the top of Mt Vic, then a blast down the ridgeline trails to the ski-jump at Constable Street. I'd forgotten how much punishment your hands, wrists and arms take on a rigid bike, so I was relieved to get safely over some of the roots and hairier bits of the tracks - I even popped a few small jumps and got inadvertently sideways at one scary point!

Back around the South Coast and home up through Island Bay for a 2 hour ride of an odd mix of siftiness and suffering...

This is me at the end of the ride. Hopefully the man-boobs will be gone by the time Anzac weekend and the Nationals roll around!

School Days

Another monumental week in my life with the youngest of my sons having his first day of school last Thursday. Jacq and I dropped Bodhi off then the tears began - not Bodhi's tears, I hasten to add, just the two of us emotional old fools! He seems to be loving it already, so it's just whether his parents can cope or not...

In bike-related matters, this week I have been working hard to get my man Tim Wilding (Santa Cruz-Pearl Izumi-Maxxis-Roadworks) on board his new Santa Cruz Blur XC in time for the North Island Cup MTB Finals in Palmerston North this weekend. Thanks to RockShox NZ for getting the Reba Team forks to me so I could finish the Blur off in time for Chris Kendall (Wheelworks-Turner) to kindly pick it up and drive it up to Tim at the swanky headquarters of Cabin Racing...

This awesome bike is fully kitted out with 08 Shimano XTR, including the blingy 1520 gram wheelset, for a total weight of 11.17 kg (24.62lb) as measured on my Ultimate scales, and before being tubelessed. Tim's first ride on it impressed him and he says it outclimbs his Superlight. As I type this he will be racing, so I hope both the bike and the race are good to Tim as he races his way into form to defend his NZ XTerra title in March.

Also this week I built up this wheel from a customer supplied blue Hope hub and Mavic EX721 rim. I used black DT Swiss Competition 2.0/1.8 spokes in a 3 cross pattern, but instead of using the usual brass nipples I used a box of blue aluminium nipples I found hidden in a drawer. These matched the hub perfectly and gave the wheel a fully pimp look. I'm sure Pete will enjoy riding his new Santa Cruz Bullitt on it...

Also this week I built up another stunning Lynskey for local up-and-coming triathlete, Jacinda Papps, who Dave from Bike Fixation is sponsoring. The pic shows the bike in a preliminary state using Shimano Ultegra, which will be replaced by the new Sampson Stratics gruppo the second it arrives in New Zealand, and with Mavic training wheels on, which will be replaced by a lovely pair of Topolinos, and sans saddle...The build is to get Jacinda racing on her Lynskey and to nail any positional issues, so that when the Stratics arrive she is fully good to go.

Cheers, Oli

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tour of Wellington

Firstly, I want to let people know I am definitely NOT going to be doing the Geelong Tour and World Cup after all, so I'll be in the shop working apart from during the last week of February when I'll be on the Women's tour of NZ working for the Jazz Apples Team.

I'm not off to Australia because BikeNZ needed a mechanic who could do both the Geelong and NZ Tours, but because I had already committed to working for the JA in NZ and couldn't do both legs BikeNZ decided not to select me for Geelong. Hopefully I'll get to work for New Zealand again later on in the year...

I had a very cool day on Saturday guest wrenching for my friend Paul Larkin, who was managing Team Tabak in the Tour of Wellington. This means I swanned out to the Scorching Bay time trial on a stunning Sunday morning just in time to drink a Havana coffee from the ex-Chocolate Fish Cafe, do some major socialising with old mates like Justin Kerr, Fraser MacMaster, James Williamson and many other riders I have been lucky enough to work with over the last couple of years, then clutch a pair of wheels inside the ProTrain vehicle following Steve Elden as he defended his GC placing in the TT.

Team Tabak was a team full of talent, including Olympian Hayden Godfrey (guesting from Team Subway), Stephen Elden, NZ U23 Road Champion Tom Hanover, Matt Sillars and top Aussie campaigner Bernard Sulzberger, who rode in Europe last year for

Stephen Elden and Paul Larkin in Scorching Bay

We then decamped in convoy to my usual crafty possie by Midland Park for the afternoon criterium, where we were able to grab some lunch and the essential coffee before watching the race around Lambton Quay alongside a very large crowd. The boys rode really well, especially Steve and Bernie, and Tom also showed his huge potential. I was stoked to catch up with NZ's 10 year Worlds and Olympics veteran National Team mechanic Dale Hollows, who all NZ's current National Team wrenches owe a huge debt to. Dale is a legend in the sport and a great guy.

Tabak's Steve Elden cornering alongside Justin Kerr (Delmaine Foods)

The final stage and Tour overall were won by Australia's prodigious talent, classy young rider Travis Meyer, who I am quite sure will go on to do great things in this sport. While I wasn't there for his Admiral's Hill stage win, his victory in the crit was a display of pure class like I haven't seen since watching Sarah Ulmer win the Wellington World Cup round in 2006 - he broke away with Mark Langlands, dropped him, then lapped the field once, attacked them again and almost lapped them twice! Very impressive and well deserved too. I'd already seen Travis race before in Canberra and Murwillimbah on my trip to Oceanias last year, and he was already being tipped then as a future Tour de France winner. I wouldn't be at all surprised...

Travis Meyer in yellow soloing his way to victory

After the racing was done we rolled back to the Tour base at the Angus Inn in Lower Hutt for the final packing up and a couple of quiet beers for Steve, Paul and I before I headed back home. Thanks very much to Paul and Team Tabak for the great day, and thanks to all the Tour crew for such a cool time. I'm not going to miss working on next years Tour no matter what!

Cheers, Oli