The weeks leading up to Wattyl Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge are always intense in the bike trade; this and the pre-Karapoti/Ironman double-header weekend are by far the busiest times of the year for me at least.
I always put a fair bit of pressure on myself to do my best to assist people's chances of pulling off a PB or a good result whenever they race, but the fact that Taupo is often a rider's main goal of the year puts just that little bit more pressure on. Hopefully everyone had a fantastic day up there.
Feedback for me so far has been great. I got a text from John Randal who had done a fine 4.22 and had thoroughly enjoyed his efforts, and then Tim Wilding (Santa Cruz-Pearl Izumi-Roadworks-Maxxis) also texted me to tell me he'd beaten Mikey Northcott and National Champion Stu Houltham to win the inaugural 70km Huka XL MTB race, run in conjunction with the Round The Lake...I got a few more texts from happy competitors yesterday and hopefully through the coming weeks I get to hear of other successes.
Tim on podium (pic Karyn McQueen)
So I write this blog early on Sunday morning (after having watched the 3.30am rugby with Ket and Har), as it's the first chance I've had the time or energy to write in a couple of weeks. Bodhi will be up soon wanting breakfast, so there's not much point in heading back to bed - let's just get into the bike stuff.
Here's a selection of what I found most memorable (or remembered to take photos of!) over the last fortnight...
A 650c Mavic CXP21 that needed a respoke.
DH Legend and Kapiti MTB Park instigator Rod Bardsley had some Hayes branded DT 36 hole hubs lying around so I built them into some NOS Mavic X618 anodised rims using my favourite DT Competition spokes. Bombproof XC wheelset for a guy who goes big on the smallest trails.
A pair of frames were brought to me for building up - both with lovely paintjobs by the redoubtable Ross Bee in Stokes Valley. Ross does some of the finest work in New Zealand, and I always love seeing what he's come up with next!
I was tasked with getting this beautiful Schwinn Homegrown back on track for Robert, who very kindly sent me this text after he'd ridden it.
Hey, Schwinn rides/brakes perfectly. Thank you. Feels like I have a new bicycle all over again. Bliss.I live for this sort of feedback.
I am stoked to have a really good relationship with Jonty at Revolution Bicycles who uses me to build wheels from time to time, as well as generously hosting me in his cool shop whenever I can escape my own. This pair of wheels was built for Jonty's fine offsider Alex to his spec. A pair of Stan's NoTubes ZTR Olympics (240g f and 260 g r) were laced to an XT front hub and an XTR rear using DT Revolution and Competition spokes respectively to create a sturdy but lightweight XC racing wheelset (690g f 850g r = 1540g).
Here's one of the bikes that hit Taupo this weekend. Konrad is an old mate and CS customer who's spent a few years overseas, so when I bumped into him at Revolution I couldn't help but shamelessly (not true!) poach him. He brought me his Cannondale R800 for a touch-up. His was one of the texts I got yesterday and he was stoked to have done a fine 5:16 for a PB. Good stuff!
Nick brought me this old Humber ladies frame that had been powdercoated. It needed the b/b and headtube faced. Nick will build it back up as a get-around bike for his partner Jude.
I thought I'd taken a picture of Tim's Genius road bike but all I have is this pic of the carbon/aluminium headtube. I like the almost old school lug effect of this design. The bike needed a complete new drivetrain but came out purring.
Aaron brought me his bike for a service. This used to be the 4X bike of multiple NZ DH Champion and 2x NORBA DH Champion, John Kirkaldie. When he initially sold it to Aaron a couple of years ago I had to modify a front derailleur cable route out of zip-ties, electrical tape and a v-brake pipe, so I was stoked to see that was still working perfectly! :D A quick fork service/brake bleed/gear adjust and it was ready for the weekend.
Over the week I had bought some s/s specific wheels off VORB for my singlespeed - wheels I had originally built up for Craig in the Bay of Plenty a couple of years ago. He has now made the jump to 29ers and had broken up his 26" s/s for sale. I saw his listing and couldn't resist grabbing the wheels back - it meant I could now go disc front and rear, and I did trust the wheelbuilder...
Mavic XC717 rims on Surly New Disc hubs (at Craig's request I had converted the front to q/r using an XT axle) laced up with DT Comp in black. I was please to see how well Craig had looked after them - they didn't need a thing done before I whacked them on my Cove.
Friday afternoons are ones I look forward to if everything is on track. I am usually just finishing off the last few jobs of the week and giving serviced bikes back to folk. This Friday had gone particularly smoothly, so I took the opportunity to fit the wheels and a front disc to my bike, before finding myself drinking beer and shooting the shit for an hour or so with shop sifters Waitie, Wheels and Michael...
The perfect thing to do after getting a bike sorted is to take it for a maiden voyage. My plan for this was always to head up to Revolution for some Friday night libations, although I'm not sure the surprise pre-ride beers made the climb up to Northland any easier!
I set off on a warm evening through the Basin Reserve then onto the waterfront, where things took a slight turn for the absurd. As I ambled my way slowly around I found myself swimming against a tide of lemmings, but it wasn't the usual after-work foot traffic that was funny; it was the swarm of day-glo clad cyclists careering towards me with mad clenched-teeth expressions and wild staring eyes! I chuckled wryly to myself as I observed them carving up the walkers and each other with utter impunity, while determinedly striving to win their daily commuter-race...
I was capable of no such feats of pure speed as I struggled manfully up the hill. This was my first ride of any kind in the best part of a week, and my knees were complaining loudly by the time I was halfway up Bowen Street - the 32 x 18 gear might have been a factor in the nasty grinding sensations I was experiencing! But I managed to make it up to Revolution before passing out with the exertion and despite feeling a tad light-headed. A few more ales with Jonty and his stream of visitors was the answer to that it seemed, along with a grouse Wisconsin cheeseburger to fill the hungry gap. After Jonty booted us out, I carefully night-rode home the way I'd come with my little LED light leading me back to the safe bosom of my beloved family...
A lovely weekend followed that contained zero riding but happily no work, and was topped off by a nice walk with the kids in Otari bush. This set me up happily for the Big Week. The days passed in a blur but it all came together fine in the end.
I started by building this touring wheel for Jane. Arie from the late-lamented Arie's Cyclery in Newtown had built her a wheel that had provided sterling service for many years but needed a new rim, so she charged me with speccing and building a similar wheel onto her much beloved and still mint 1970s 36 hole Miche hub. I chose Mavic's burly A319 rim and built it in a 4-cross pattern using stainless DT Champion plain-gauge spokes for a wheel that should easily handle any touring load Jane can throw at it.
I put together Andrew's interesting street fixie - very cool, especially with the Surly Fixxer-ed Spinergy wheels I converted back in August.
Another wheel - a Hope Pro2 front re-built into a new DT Swiss XR 4.20 after Shane had an unfortunate potato-chip incident on a recent ride.
The wheels keep coming - here a pile of rims and hubs await construction.
Pete's lovely 20th Anniversary Rocky Mountain Blizzard needed some tender ministrations after much hard use. Nothing quite like a classically styled steel hardtail! Pete too was kind enough to send me a message about how well his bike was going after he took it away from the shop. Choice.
Makara Peak Supporters stalwart, Malcolm Gunn, asked me to build up his Ross Bee repainted Raleigh Competition using it's original old late 80s Shimano 600 running gear.
It originally came with Ambrosio tubular rims but for practical daily use Malcolm opted for me to re-use the 600 hubs in some 36 hole Mavic Open Sport rims.
Here she is all done apart from tyres, saddle and handlebar tape.
As well as the hands-on mechanicing I do, I often receive emails asking for help or general bike-related advice. My old friend Fraser currently lives in his wife's homeland of Finland and he emailed this week asking for my input on his old Norwegian commuter bike's rear wheel - his local bike shop had told him he needed a new one, as the Sachs hub was poked. Fraser was after my thoughts on him building his own wheel, as he wanted to re-use the original white rim and his LBS don't build wheels. I directed him to the late Sheldon Brown's superb tech site for all he needs to know about building a wheel, or as I suggested perhaps simply servicing his hub -I wasn't that keen on the advice his shop was giving him...
Here's a shot of the rim and hub in question, along with the studded tyres Fraser uses when riding around in the Finnish snows...
Here too is a very cool Schwinn Cruiser SS Fraser picked up for lighter duties. You don't see minters like this every day!
Finally Friday rolled around. I finished off a few more jobs and then built some more wheels on behalf of Jonty. A Stan's Arch rim on an XT rear hub and a lighter Stan's 355/Hope Pro2 on the front should be an awesome wheelset for his friend James.
After that, I swept the shop and closed the doors on another huge Taupo season. All that remained was to take advantage of the summery heat of a beautiful Wellington weekend, which I did by doing some work on our back yard with my two big boys, then taking them for a ride up Makara Peak on Saturday afternoon. On the way there we grabbed my buddy Alex who is always great company, and having him along also means that one or other of us can accompany Ket or Harry no matter who is riding what pace.
We rode up Koru, had a quick stop at the Skills Area and then rocked hard down SWIGG/Starfish. The boys blow me away with their skills, especially considering they ride even less than I do! After that we decided to ride over to Karori Park to check out the nascent Karori Park Beginners' Trail Project. We found some trails alright, and also discovered the pump track that's under construction. Nice to see this sort of initiative under way for learner and junior MTBers - great stuff!
Speaking of Alex, in late September I blogged a ride we did where he inadvertently lost his prized Smith Buzzsaw glasses. I'm delighted to say that another friend of mine found the glasses last weekend. Mark posted on VORB advertising finding a pair of mystery sunnies at the top of Aratihi, and I immediately realised whose glasses they were and so was able to reunite Alex with the shades that have have shared the last 10 or 11 years of hard-out MTBing with him. Cheers, Mark!
Here's Al in September in the process of losing them - it was blowing a heinous gale that day so it's quite likely they blew away from where he put them down as he sat waiting for me to puff my way up!
The last thing I have to share this week is a cool momento that has immediately ended up in the pool room, er...I mean on the wall above my tool board! On my first trip with the NZ road team in March 07 I was privileged to work and be tutored in the Dark Arts of the Race Mechanic by BikeNZ's full-time Limoux based spannerman Kris Withington, who went on to be asked to work for Julian Dean's Pro Team Garmin-Chipotle. Kris was kind enough to score me the frame number that 5th place overall Christian Vandevelde had attached to his Felt bicycle throughout this year's Tour de France! Cheers heaps, Grom...
CVV rolling it during his stellar Tour...
Well I started this blog at 5.30am and it's now 11 o'clock so I'm out. As ever, thanks for reading. Pedal on, Oli