Sunday, June 29, 2008

Memorial Ride - Aftermath

On Thursday the 26th of June at 3.45pm around 300 of Wellington's cyclists gathered in the sunny afternoon at Parliament to mark two awful cycling fatalities from the previous Thursday on our streets. Police Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, 57, was killed on Petone Roundabout when hit by an articulated truck, and Desmond Eyre, 61, of Silverstream was killed when an opening car door hit him and sent him flying under the wheels of a passing lorry.

As well as being a Memorial to Des and Steve, the ride helped to mark the huge surge of despair and outrage cyclists everywhere are feeling at the careless use of 1000s of kilograms of steel in the hands of people who often don't seem to know or even care that we are perfectly entitled to share the roads with them, and also at the dire road planning that brings cars and cyclists into conflict - conflict which is inevitably more dangerous to cyclists than motorists...

We listened to some speeches from Pat Morgan and Robert Ibell of cycling advocates group CAN , then from Labour MP and keen MTBer Trevor Mallard, then finally ride organiser John Randal briefed us and we rolled out en masse under Police escort to ride out to Petone.

John and Pat

Despite the sober reason for the ride, it was great to see the usually car-stricken streets of Wellington being taken over by bikes for an hour or so, and great as well to see the widely variant cross-section of cyclists out riding. There were choppers, recumbents, Dutch commuters, DH and XC rigs, BMXs, road bikes, cyclo-cross bikes, fixies, singlespeeds and everything else you can think of, under all sorts of people...

We headed out along Thorndon Quay - one of Wellington's worst cycling Black Spots - and out along the Hutt Road and onto State Highway 2.

Even though we no doubt delayed some motorists from getting home for a moment or two, we reached Petone with only some minor abuse dealt out towards us. I think we all felt quite empowered by the large number of us that turned up, as well as by the safety of the Police escort, so the vibe was really positive, though definitely emotional.

At a convenient roadside park beside the roundabout where Supt. Fitzgerald was killed we gathered for some judicious words from John again, and also from the Police Officer charged with assisting us. John led us in a poignant moment of silence, then in small groups we rolled back to our various destinations unescorted.

I rode back to town with John and Kah feeling good but pensive - I wondered if what we had done would have any impact at all, but I felt that we had definitely done something positive to make a statement that cyclist's lives are damned important, that we are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and that we are vulnerable on the roads. When a car or truck hits us we die. When someone opens their door without looking for us we die. When someone is in such a hurry they can't wait a second or ten to safely pass us we die.

Check out this thread on Vorb, this story on Stuff or the CAN website for more info on this event. Here's a link towards a YouTube video of this ride too.

I ripped the photos straight off Vorb, so thanks to Celia and JungleJim who I probably should have asked...

Stay safe out there, Oli

The 39 Steps - Building the Master

I've done this to a limited degree a few times, but this time I thought I'd do a complete step-by-step build log - especially as I'm inspired by this stunning frame. I'm sure this stuff doesn't interest everybody, but I know it will keep some of you happy for a wee while! Building up a fine Italian steel frame from scratch is one of the jobs I most enjoy, so thanks to Tom for the work...

The famed Italian builder Ernesto Colnago made frames for many of the greatest riders and champions the world of cycling has ever seen. This particular frame is a modern take on his iconic deep red bikes famed for being ridden by the old Soviet Teams of the 70s, and also by 1982 World Champion Guiseppe Saronni.

Saronni wins the 1982 Worlds at Goodwood, England

I'd seen that Colnago were putting out this "replica" frame earlier this year, but it hadn't really occurred to me I'd get a chance to build one, so I was delighted when I pulled the mystery frame out of the box!

Tom has selected Campagnolo Record components, as well as some superb ITM Sword semi-integrated stem and bars and a Colnago carbon seat post and Fizik Arione full carbon saddle. While not exactly a traditional build for a steel frame 80s/90s style bike, I think it's a very cool parts selection. Built up with Tom's training wheels it comes in at just a hair over 8 kilos - not bad at all for a steel road bike!

Building a nice bike from the frame up isn't just a matter of bolting on the bits - it requires a fair bit of prep to ensure that when I do bolt on the bits all the threads are nice and clean. This means the interface between parts and frame is optimum and assists in a clean assembly, but also means that the parts are aligned correctly and are easier to remove for maintenance later on...

Before I did anything, I gave it a quick coat of Pedro's Bike Lust to protect the finish as I move around it with greasy hands. I filed and sanded the seattube to prevent any nasty burrs from catching the carbon post and creating a stress-riser. I then used some Tacx Dynamic Compound and installed the Colnago carbon seatpost and loosely fitted the saddle.

Then I tapped the threads on the bottle cage mounts.

And the gear bosses.

And the drop-out adjusters.

Then the derailleur hanger.

Next it was time to chase the threads of the Italian threaded bottom bracket shell.

And face the b/b shell to ensure the faces are precisely parallel for the Ultra-Torque bottom bracket cups.

Shiny and faced...

Now for the headtube. It's also vital that the headtube be parallel so that the headset doesn't bind. This makes the steering more exact, as well as reducing stress on the bearings and prolonging the life of the headset itself.

I cleaned off all the cutting oil, shavings and dust from the frame, then added another coat of Bike Lust to keep protecting it as I went...

Now, after dabbing some Campag grease into all the available threads and orifices, I started fitting the frame extras. First the downtube cable adjusters.

Then the titanium bottle cage bolts.

The dropout adjusting screws.

The bottom bracket cable guide (self-tapper!).

Now comes the fun stuff! I get to fit beautiful Campagnolo Record parts...I whacked some grease in the threads and installed the UT b/b cups to torque.

I pressed in the Record headset cups - don't worry, I straightened up that top one before I wound my VAR press in!

I fitted the crown race.

I then installed the complete headset and the maximum amount of spacers I might need, factored in the stem clamp dimensions then determined how much of the steerer I needed to cut off. I scribed a line in the steerer to give me a visual aid for cutting.

Next I used my Park Tools steerer cutting guide to give a precise cut. The hacksaw needs replacing, as it isn't Park blue.

I filed the steerer to make sure there were no rough burrs and that the top was as square as possible. After that I drove in the star nut, using my favourite knockrometer.

Next it's the stem. As you can probably see, there are more spacers than aesthetics require but, as I am known to say, you can always cut something down, but you can't cut it back up...We'll lop some length off it once Tom has determined his fit.

I fitted the wheels into the frame, then it was the turn of the semi-integrated ITM Sword handlebars.

I preloaded the headset bearings, aligned the stem with the front wheel, then tightened the stem's steerer clamp.

The stunning Record UT cranks went on next...

Then I set the front derailleur at the right height and set the limit screws as well as I could at this point.

It was the turn of the sexy Record rear mech next, again setting the limits roughly...

Then I sorted out the chain length, shortened it appropriately and joined it using my very cool but soon to be obsolescent (with the recently announced advent of 11 speed...) Campag chain tool.

I fitted the Team CSC Edition Speedplay pedals.

I fitted the brake calipers, front and rear.

Next came the delightfully frustrating and time-consuming task of feeding both brake and gear cable housings through the 'bars. The roughness of the carbon inside the 'bars made simply pushing them through nearly impossible, so I had to use all my Jedi powers to manage it without garking up the housings terribly. And without blowing a gasket! Sussing out the respective lengths of the housings can also be onerous, but over time you start to work out how to assess them correctly without them even having to be fully connected.

Now the cables are all correctly installed, they have been trimmed and capped, and the Ergolevers have been positioned and tightened.

Then I double-check the derailleur limit screws are correctly set, and that the chain won't jump into the spokes, into the seatstay, onto the outside of the cranks or onto the bottom bracket shell.

I then adjusted and indexed the gears properly, doing my best to "pre-stretch" the cables - actually, that should be compress the housings and ferrules, as cable stretch is actually a misnomer...

I then took the bike down out of the stand and aligned and tightened up the saddle. Lastly, I taped the handlebars. Thanks to Capital Cycles for the red Colnago tape!

And here it is in all it's glory. The seat and 'bars will come down once those dimensions are worked out...

Well there you go. I hope some of you managed to read the whole thing! :D A job like this is immensely satisfying, as you get to create a performance machine out of a bunch of boxes of random parts. A build like this usually takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours (not including taking photos!), depending on how long the frame prep takes and what components are fitted, so I usually set aside a complete working day to account for any unforeseen events.

I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed building it.

Cheers, Oli

Monday, June 23, 2008

Memorial Ride

Wellington cyclists are planning a memorial ride as a mark of respect
for the two riders killed this week.

Cyclists are invited to gather at Parliament on Thursday 26 June at 3:45pm.

After a brief opportunity to speak, we will depart Parliament at 4pm,
and ride along Thorndon Quay and Hutt Road to Petone Roundabout. We will
pause there, then ride back to Wellington.

The ride will commemorate and honour the lives of the two riders killed on
19 June.

Hopefully, this ride will also bring some general awareness of cyclists and cycling to the fore in this car-ocentric society we live in, where the inconvenience of being held up for a second or three can be worth a cyclist's life.

Please show up to show your support for this important cause...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

International Race News

I thought I'd let everyone know that Simon Kennett has now commenced his epic ride from Canada to Mexico in the Great Divide Race! So far he seems to be going well - he's lying in 5th place as I write this post - so keep your eye on the blog or the website for up the minute info. A huge shout out from me to Simon!

Simon before the start with the bike I helped him build.

Meanwhile, also in the U.S.A., the Jazz Apples Cycling Team are well into the swing of their Tour of Duty from one end of America to the other. I'll let Susy and Chris tell the tale in their own words...
It's been nothing short of a three week thrill ride for the Jazz Apple Women's Cycling Team who've crunched their way through a fair slice of the 50 States in their recent US racing adventures. Only a slice by slice re-telling could do it justice:

The Tulsa Tough; Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Being in tornado country, we were hoping to be swept away to a magical land of endless race wins, a la Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. In fact it looked like Belinda had veritably slipped on Dorothy's red shoes, even dubbed her the wizard of oz (we'll forgive her for being Australian) with her electric sprint and dashing around the group to make all the vital breaks. But it wasn't without the lieutenant-like assistance of Emma Petersen, who zipped across to several breaks to be on hand. In the final laps, Susy and Lauren drove the front for the lead-out, and while Lauren was almost taken out by a lapped rider, Susy closed the gap on one lone and dangerous looking escapee off the front. Belinda jumped on the Cheerwine train in the dying stages but was unluckily pinched in the final turn finishing 5th. However, as Belinda had been snagged in more than one of a plethora of pile-ups forcing two visits to the wheel pit for buckled wheels, the commissaire deemed
her second visit superfluous, and was unluckily given a placing at the rear of the lead group.
But that wasn't the end to an evening that was turning more prickly than perfect. After a determined and impressive effort by our junior rider, Emma, the sweltering Tulsa heat proved too tough for her thermostat. Emma suffered a serious blow with heat exhaustion. Susy and Emma spent the evening in the hospitality of St Joseph's Accident and Emergency; a Friday night no-less. That meant an IV of electrolytes spaced out over a period of eight hours, and we finally managed to check out at 7 in the morning. Just in time to get ready for:

Race Two.
No sleep never waylaid the best of them, so it was the mantra to be adopted to be on hand for another day's sweltering conditions. While Emma had to rest and stay out of the heat, Ali, Lauren, Belinda, Malindi and Susy headed out for retribution. After several laps of settling in to the technical eight corner, wind swept course, Ali jumped clear with two riders in tow. Sensing danger behind, Pro-Man's Shelley Olds jumped across, and Belinda glued to her wheel and was towed across. With two Jazz Apple riders in the break, Ali drove the pace but unfortunately no-one else was keen to give her a hand. Ali picked up several cash primes but the Cheerwine train proved too much, bringing the group back. In the dying stages Susy covered the last minute flurries but an impressive attack by Olds and Cheerwine's Kelly Benjamin in the last 600m meant Belinda had to cover and battled the windy final straight closing the gap. It was a massive effort, and Belinda
finished fourth.

Race Three:
With Emma still recovering, the same crew hit the final day's hilly circuit race determined to crack the race. After several nervous laps with an off-camber hairpin, a break of three escaped including Susy. It seemed like the perfect break, with Cheerwine represented, the trio's gap extended steadily. Susy picked up the large cash prime of the day and it was starting to look like the break was going to stick. However with 8 laps remaining, Advil's Jen McRae starting an onslaught of attacks, which enticed the field to chase and weld the group back together. Despite Lauren's work at the front, it was gruppo-compacto and a Cheerwine counter ensued. Ali and Belinda unfortunately missed the counter, and the field seemed broken. Belinda tried to bridge but was caught, and Susy countered again and was also reeled back in. In the final sprint, Belinda finished third, placing her fourth again in the race.

Ali caught a flight back to Monterey to spend some hours on the San Jose track, while the team caught a late evening departure from Tulsa that put us in Philadelphia's city of brotherly love at half past the midnight hour. A mistaken cancellation by the rental car company meant our crew arrived in Allentown at 3:30am. Oh the joys of travel. A few hours later, Susy and Malindi lined up for the first of the very exciting, very thrilling Triple Crown races...

Allentown, PA.
From the gun, the pace was nothing short of hurtling, and the field splintered. Susy made the front split before a barrage of attacks by the Cervelo Life-Force team. Eventaully a group of five escaped, and only Ina Teutenberg managed to escape across in an impressive display. Ina took the line honours, and Susy finished 18th in a field that looked like TNT had been exploded amongst it.

Reading: PA
Race two of the Triple Crown involved a 2km circuit of Reading's most scabrous streets that made more for an obstacle course than speed affair. This was Emma's first race back after burying herself with heat exhaustion, and she proved to be finding her race legs again with excellent positioning at the front. Lauren (now affectionately known as Loz, after explaining that the more we shorten your name, the more we like you) got caught behind some early spills and lost contact with the leaders on the patchy course. Susy finished in the main group, which was several seconds behind a break away group, which was once again won by the on form Highroad rider, Ina Teutenberg.
Meanwhile, Belinda had been suffering a constant barrage of headaches and migraines, possibly related to a major head injury 8 months prior, and we decided it was best to take steps to have Belinda seen thoroughly at home at the AIS. It spelled a disappointing end to her racing with us, and we began missing her even before she left us a few days later.

Philadelphia's Liberty Classic (The biggie)
With Belinda unable to race and Susy falling under the weather, it became a Jazz Apple squad with an average of 18. Those pupils being Malindi, Emma and Lauren. The Liberty Classic never disappoints. It is ensconced in fanfare, media, elaborate decorations along the course and an atmosphere of excitement unparalleled. Flitting in and out of the start tents is a who's who of cycling. Admirably, the youngsters handled the huge atmosphere like budding pros, focussing on the event without being overwhelmed. Lauren(Loz) proved to have one of those days you dream of. Like there was no pressure on the pedals and was in the first 15 up the harrowed 'Manyunk Wall' every lap. Emma also managed to position herself well but lost contact with leaders on the third lap of four. She was in good company though, and was yet another encouraging sign she was building back again after her trist with heat exhaustion.
Lauren finished with the very select front group of 25 but while sprinting for a top ten finish, a crash in the sprint meant Lauren had to swerve, amazingly didn't crash but divert her course to the line through the stands to cross the line. It was truly a breakthrough day for Lauren, an outstanding ride. It was unlucky to be foiled by the crash but she was the true professional and realized that the day was insight to her potential on the road.
After a stop at the Jazz Apple tent to meet and greet many spectators, the team headed for an overnight stop in New York on the way to the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

Nature valley Grand Prix: Stage One
Thrashed by storms, the Minneapolis/ St Paul criterium was under serious threat of cancellation. One minute it was on, next it was off. Finally it was on, and everyone emerged from their team cars without warm up to take to the storm drenched streets. When the gun went it was as if Kristin Armstrong got a shot of adrenaline and smoked from the line like the lightening that was striking close by. In the huge field of 145 riders, the course was almost end to end riders from lap one, and immediately riders were being pulled from the race by the officials. Finally Armstrong lapped the field, but the race was annulled amongst the mayhem of lapped and pulled riders.

Cannon Falls Road Race:
The 5:30pm start for the 110km started with a slight hiccup as the neutral lead car took the bunch in completely the wrong direction. In a squeal of brakes the field was promptly turned around, and Armstrong drove it in the other direction, forcing riders to be dropped immediately. That included our own Malindi Maclean while Susy and Ruth got the front as quickly as possible for the first QOM sprint looming. Ruth took second on the line and we all settled into a wind swept stage in the gutter and avoiding pile-ups. Emma had an outstanding ride leading Ruth out for the third QOM and helping her move around the group with pro-like finesse. Meanwhile Lauren, who'd been dropped by the Armstrong attack chased back on in an impressive display but was edged of the back in the final 15km after a short dirt road section that lead to a heavily pock-marked nasty descent. Ruth finished an impressive 6th in the stage, with Emma and Susy tucked in the group.

Day Three: Individual TT and Minneapolis downtown Criterium
With Susy suffering laryngitus, Emma, Lauren, Malindi and Ruth lined up for the morning's 10.2km Individual Time Trial. Running alongside the Mississippi River, Armstrong would prove to be all to powerful for the field executing a blistering performance that exposed nearly half the field to the 20% time cut. After much deliberation, the officials decided to extend it but it still meant that Emma, riding Junior gears fell victim the cut, as did Malindi. After a lengthy discussion with the Chief Commissaire submitting that Emma, who on restricted gears should be considered against a relative time cut discretion, our submission was rejected, which unluckily meant Emma was out. In a senior race, Emma was deemed to be subject to the same rules as senior riders, so we just have to live by the rules. Ruth and Lauren faired relatively respectably given they were on their ordinary road bikes.

Minneapolis downtown Criterium:
The field had no plans to take things easy as each lap was an end on end single file affair. It was a good thing that Ruth and Lauren had first dibs on the line putting them in pole position for the early moves. For Lauren, the few days were catching up on her and she lost contact with 11 laps to go but Ruth had another sterling ride, comfortably crossing the line with the leaders.

Mankato Road Race
145km of wind-swept rollers, with three punishing finish circuits with an average 20% incline for 400m each lap. Even looking at the finishing circuits, the legs were in spasms, and that was without factoring the 130km before that! Lauren and Ruth became a powerful duo, with Lauren leading Ruth out for the first QOM at 120km. It was an impressive display by Loz, stringing the field out and forcing riders to be dropped in the final 600m. Ruth was barely rolled on the line, and then kept going forcing a break with Aaron's rider, Felicia Gomez. The two had a handy gap, and it was only Armstrong who reacted forcing the field to chase. The two wre caught after 5km, just as they entered the tough finishing circuits. That was when Armstrong decided to put down her coffee mug and blast away in an impressive solo effort. Ruth attacked on the last circuit going away on her own. Unluckily her tiny frame was not particularly aerodynamic on the descent and she was
caught 200m from the line, finishing 8th.

Stillwater Circuit race
It's rather a cruel way to finish the tour, as this stage is a 1.5mile circuit punctuated with a 400m hill with an average 24%. If the legs weren't already punctured, this stage ensures they're deflated by the end of 12 laps. Riding a wave of optimism, the plan was for Ruth to go on the attack, aiming for a stage win, and possibly leap-frog to the top three on GC. Ruth already was clearly in the top three on QOM points, and possibly if all went according to plan, she'd make a move up there. However, despite being called to the line, Ruth was to have a bit of a shocker. From the gun, Felicia Gomez from Aaron's attacked, and the pace was cracking. Ruth managed to move into the top 5 before the hammer dropped. Her legs seized, and she could just barely go through the motions. It was just a bad day, and unfortunately for us, it wasn't the sort of course that you could hide on, or get any recovery on. It was clearly frustrating for Ruth, who on any ordinary
day would have been fizzing on this type of topography. But bad days happen to the best of us and so she had to just ride it out. Lauren managed to join Ruth and they could ride together, and Lauren has just seemed to get stronger and stronger as this campaign has progressed, which is very encouraging.

We head to Monterey this evening, and we're all looking forward to some recovery days and being settled at 'home'. After a week at home we're off to Southern California for the Manhatten Beach Grand Prix.
A massive Thank you thus far to our wonderful host family, the Garbers here in Wayzata, Minnesota. And ofcourse all our fabulous supporters over the past few weeks;
-Larry Martin (Lazza)-absolutely tip-top bloke and quite handy at mechanics too
-Bob Biese -always generous
-The Linder Family -our Monterey mother-ship of support!
-Paul Skorpinski and the Hawkes bay Apple Growers here in Minnesota
-Brooke Kennedy -For the 'saviour' GU sachets that have fuelled our race food food supplies since Philly's Liberty Classic

Here are some pictures from the various races...

Emma Petersen at Philly

Jazz Girls at Philadelphia

Susy doing promo at Philly

Malindi getting her number pinned

Before the start at Reading

Lauren climbs in the bunch at Stillwater

Ruth Corset scales the 24% climb at Stillwater

And finally for today, here are a couple of shots of Delmaine rider Matt Sillars riding in France. I am posting these because I will be working for Delmaine at the Tour of Southland this year, as well as being one of the Delmaine riders in the sifty team at the Taupo Day Night Thriller on September 13th. There will be a top team comprising Mark "Cabin" Leishman, as well as some other serious types, but I think us fatties will be a bit more convivial then that, and will be out just to enjoy ourselves and make some noise in the Delmaine green...I'm really looking forward to this experience. It will be cool to be at a race as a rider, rather than as staff.

Matt wearing the King of the Mountains jersey he won at the recent Tour of Taranaki

I'd like to congratulate local Santa Cruz rider Josh Barley on his first ever time representing New Zealand at the MTB World Championships in Italy. Josh rode the Teams Relay with Kashi Leuchs, Rosara Joseph and George Bennett, finishing 17th, and then 71st in the U23 XC race. Good work, Josh.

More congratulations to my friend and fellow Jazz Apple Ruth Corset, who finished a fine 21st in the Montreal World Cup in her first outing as part of the Australian National Team, helping get Olympic Champion Sara Carrigan up to 4th place behind winner Judith Arndt (Ger) High Road.

Lastly, my sympathy goes out to my Tabak Team International teammate Sharon Laws, who has sustained a bad injury after a training crash. All the very best for a speedy recovery, Shazza!

British rider Sharon Laws, tipped to join team-mate Nicole Cooke in the Great Britain women's road race team in Beijing, is to see a specialist to assess the implications of an ankle injury sustained this week after a heavy fall while training with her Halfords-Bikehut team near Abergavenny in Wales.

The former mountain biker and adventure racer has risen to the verge of Olympic selection at the age of 34 in her first season of road racing, which has included a sixth place in the Tour de l'Aude. Halfords-Bikehut team manager Julian Winn said it was too early to speculate on the implications of the injury, adding "We'll know more once we've seen a sports injury specialist."

Well, that's been a LOT of writing - I hope not too much! As always, thanks for reading. Thanks also for the wicked feedback you give me - it's really cool to think that two or three people are reading these bike related rants! Cheers, Oli