Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Three Rs - Riting, Riding and Repairing

After getting a huge amount of great feedback from my last blog I'm guessing that many of you relate to my Quest For Fitness, either actively or vicariously. You may be pleased to know that it's been going very well for me so far - so well I even managed to squeeze into my XL Fidels gilet for the first time since I got it over a year ago!

I've been absolutely loving riding lately. It's not that I didn't always love to ride, but somehow with my busy life it often seemed easiest to put off a ride - now it's just getting easier and easier to put off the busy and get out on my bike instead.

I'm finding already that the more I'm riding the easier it gets, and the easier it gets to ride the easier it is to withstand my over-eating urges too. The peripheral fitness work is also making me feel more centred and strong both on and off the bike...

Since I last put virtual pen to electronic paper I've managed to get out for some very cool rides. Last Friday week Wellington was in the thralls of a gloriously warm wind-free day - so spring-like I took the opportunity to leave my leg warmers at home and head out to Eastbourne on my first shorts ride of the season!

For some OCD reason I always have to ride all the way out to the Pencarrow gates before turning and heading back to town, but I'm always rewarded with a great view of the Kaikouras framed by the Heads...

I then tempo'd at a decent clip back into the city for a meander around Oriental Bay in the 18 degree warmth, then home after what was a decent 2 1/2 hour ride.

Saturday was not in the same league weather-wise, but after Saturday sports I was still keen to slip out for a ride. I had pretty sore legs from my previous days exertions, so I thought the best answer was to just head out for a sift on my rigid MTB and simply follow my front wheel.

I headed up Mt Albert first, then along Buckley Road...

...with it's awesome views of Houghton Bay and the Heads.

Then onto the trail appropriately known as Sifty, which was surprisingly dry considering the time of year - a dry week or two and you'd think the trails had never been rained on.

Once at the bottom of Sifty I headed around the South Coast, taking the off-road options as often as possible...

...through Kilbirnie and along the trail alongside Cobham Drive (surprisingly hard on a fully rigid machine!), then up Maupuia Rd...

...towards Mt Crawford Prison.

Then I headed into the new trails being built - first along Bootleg.

Followed by the great fun descent of Conviction into Miramar proper.

Back along Cobham Drive then around to Oriental Bay again. I knew it was heaps colder than Friday, but I didn't think it was cold enough for icebergs wtf!?

I then grovelled up the road to the summit of Mt Victoria and rattled and banged my way down the Ridgeline, before scuttling down to Pirie Street and home via the Basin Reserve for a well deserved beer and a long hot bath after what had turned into another good 2 1/2 hour ride...

On Sunday my best buddy Al and I had planned to head out for a mountainbike ride, so I pulled out our bikes (Al is storing his Enduro at mine at the moment) and gave them a tyre check and a chain lube before loading them onto the Sex Wagon and heading off to collect the Mainiac himself. I sit them upside down for a bit to get the oil in the forks up to the seals...

The day was blowing a very cold gale force Northerly, and was alternately sunny,cloudy and/or spitting, and Al and I weren't really sure where or how far we wanted to ride. In the end we decided to ride somewhere we hadn't been for years, so I parked the car on Northland Road and we unloaded the rigs and made our way up the fiendishly steep road that leads to the top of Tinakori Hill, before threading down through the many walkers enjoying the breeze along the Ridgeline. We headed down the recently legal trails that sidle along the hill, having a blast on these legendary flowing tracks that are still recovering from the 2004 storms.

After ending up at the bottom of the hill it seemed a shame to just head back up, so we decided to scoot along and check out the trail through Trellisick Park, not realising until we got there that it's a walking only trail. Not wanting to poach illegal tracks we decided to head up Ngaio Gorge and Chartwell Drive, before braving the ascent onto Skyline that I did last week.

We passed several bemused walkers who openly wondered why exactly we were heading up into the increasingly foul conditions, but we mountainbikers aren't concerned with such sensitive pabulum and we continued unphased into the teeth of the gale, consoled by the thought of the excellent singletrack that awaited us.

Unbeknownst to us, however, the wind was so powerful that we could barely stand in places, let alone ride! We stumbled and pushed our way along as best we could, sporadic rest and food stops only possible when lying down completely flat in the damp grass.

A few jet planes and on we pushed past ghostly macrocarpas looming through the 80kph wind-driven mist.

By now slightly disgruntled by the difficulty of the conditions and the lack of actual riding we were capable of...

...we began to enjoy the ride once we hit some vague lee and were able to blast the remaining track with our bikes remaining roughly on the ground. We then veered off Skyline and had a fantastic fang down the superb Cemetery Trail, which was enjoyably wind-free albeit wet, rooty and very, very sketchy.

Back out into the 'burbs, we moseyed back up to the car to close out a hardcore three hour plus ride in tough conditions. As night fell I dropped Al at home after dumping our filthy bikes at my shop ready for a good strop-up on Monday.

This closed out a great week of riding for me - as I had decided to take Monday off the bike I was able to ponder what had been an incredible and almost unprecedented 12 hour riding week! This HAS to pay off down the road...

While I was exerting myself in a sifty manner, my great mate John Randal was showing he was swiftly returning to the height of his prodigious powers by taking out the Waiterere MTBO round in his Roadworks kit - good stuff John!

Wrenching myself into the reality of the working week was hard when my head was filled with desire to pedal, but there was plenty of work waiting in Roadworks Reparto Corse to bring me back to reality.

Before getting into the paying work I first had to clean Al's Enduro and my Commencal, in a continuance of my reputation for anal and obsessive bike cleanliness.

A quick hose off of the worst of the grime, being careful not to direct water towards the bottom bracket, headset and hub bearings.

Then up into the stand to wash it properly. I favour a warm water and Dynamo washing liquid solution, and I start at the top of the bike and wash down, using one sponge for the bulk of the bike and another for the drivetrain.

Once it's essentially clean I remove the wheels and thoroughly clean them, using an old dish brush to clean the cassette.

Then I use the sponge again to get into the rest of the nooks and grannies of the bike that I couldn't reach with the wheels fitted.

I then carefully rinse the bike and wheels off with fresh water before propping it up to drip dry inside so the B-Pore crims don't flog it while I'm beavering away inside the shop.

Once I'd got rid of some other more lucrative work I whacked them up in the stand (you'll have to take my word for it that I was duplicating this all with Al's rig...) and finished drying them off, before lightly lubing the chains and pivots and moving parts.

Once I have run through the gears and checked the brakes the bikes are gleaming clean ready to go again, as well as being primed for the inevitable and inane "your bike is so clean you must never ride it" comments.

Some of the paid work I have done over the past week or so included Leonard's Condor training bike which needed a new drivetrain and a bloody good going over after more than a year of hard use.

My old friend Anna's Kona Lisa RD needed almost exactly the same treatment after many hours of commuting in all weathers...

Tracey's ex-Rachel Mercer Giant Trinity had been to another shop to locate a noise, but some offhand treatment from their mechanic combined with a less than thorough attempt at locating the noise brought her to me - I'm glad to say I managed to nail the offending noise, as well as giving the rest of Tracey's bike my loving touch to make sure her training is smooth and utterly free of irritating resonance.

My favourite 24 hour rider Jude needed a fork service, and on advice from NZ Fox Supremo Big Al Heine we decided Jude would be better off with lighter weight fork oil to ensure the fork was more responsive to her very light weight so I replaced the wiper seals and added some Spectro 5wt oil to assist her through a demanding season of hardcore endurance racing. Good luck, Jude!

Another bit of unpaid (in fact at my cost!) work was adding a new Dura-Ace chainset to Jacq's bike - there was nothing wrong with the Campagnolo cranks I'd initially fitted, but I thought Jacq would be better off with 170mm cranks rather than the 172.5 Campy ones and a hot deal via Jonty on these NOS Octalink cranks was too good to turn down. They're not quite period, but close enough...

I now declare this Eddy Merckx complete, shipshape and Bristol fashion!

I also finished off Deano's Pedalforce tri rig in advance of his trip to Maui for the demanding and iconic Ironman event. Props to Bodyworks, New Balance, Fitness Goals and BlueSeventy wetsuits for helping Deano out too.

My test ride up and down Waripori Street tells me this bike will be FAST, and Deano tells me he loves it!

Some weeks ago Bill dropped off his classic Scott Endorphin singlespeed for me to strip down ahead of a revivication:

And here it is after Bill got it repainted and I rebuilt it, adding the White Bros forks (among some other parts) that he had obtained. I think it turned out stunning and it was great to see Bill heading out for a shakedown ride this Saturday as I headed out myself...

Among all this work I still managed to slip out for some great mid-week rides in some good weather. Tuesday was a time-constrained gentle roll around the Bays in the small ring to just warm up the old gams.

Wednesday morning I headed back around the Makara Loop, but this time (to avoid controversy) in the opposite direction. A fierce southerly made the trip through the valley a delight, but Ngauranga much less so. A timed effort down Makara Hill made things interesting as well, although I'll keep that time to myself for now.

Thursday I rode out to Eastbourne again on yet another lovely day - a bit too cold for shorts though! I rode out fairly hard, but absolutely smashed it from the turnaround at Pencarrow back to Thorndon to average a respectable 33kph for the 25 kilometres. I must say I did enjoy the pain a bit - I am loving feeling occasional glimpses of strength and power and it gives me hope I might even be on the right track!

Friday I rode anti-clockwise around the Bays fartlek-styles, just enjoying the sheer act of riding my bicycle and feeling at one with the world. Cool.

The weekend dawned to yet another perfect day and loomed full of fun cycling stuff to do - I really wanted to czech out round 2 of the awesome Crosstafarian cyclo-cross events, but Kester's football team had their semi-final to play so I proudly strode the sideline as his Wellington High School team thumped Rongotai College 12-0 instead. After dropping Ket home, I ducked into a phone booth and leaped into my super-hero suit to ride around the Bays...

...and take my mandatory promenade along the footpath in Oriental Bay.

Before rendezvousing with about 150 other like-minded cyclists making a stand against man-made climate change on the 350 ride. I had been put onto this worthy event through the blog of Kashi Leuchs, 3 time Olympian and all-round NZ MTB legend.

I was privileged enough to be Kashi's mechanic at the 06 Rotorua MTB Worlds, and have followed his career avidly from his early days in the junior ranks, through to his pro career and until his recent retirement - it's great to see him finding such a positive focus for his post-professional life, and I am stoked to have been pointed towards the 350riders event by his efforts...

We milled around collecting our number plates and chatting until we were herded carefully into the shape of the number 350.

While the photos were being set up I ran into Dan, Malcolm (with his very rare 1" pitch Campag equipped H.E.G. Ferris) and Anton...

...who have been burning the midnight oil to create this amazing bamboo and hemp "Narcoti"* frame! I was privileged to be shown one of the seatstays of this as they were honing the design, and I'm delighted to say that the frame is even more stunning than that preview hinted at. Very, very cool, and to my eye much prettier than Craig Calfee's version of the bamboo bicycle. The bike was literally built up the night before, and is winging it's way to the UK with Anton as I write this...

(*Narcoti = predictive text for Maranui, which burned down the night the frame was completed)

Once the photo had been taken and the speeches made...

...we rolled out onto Cable Street to begin a parade through town.

The ride was supposed to bring positive attention to the issue rather than alienating motorists so traffic rules were obeyed at all times.

We headed up Kent Terrace.

Past the assorted media preserving the ride for posterity.

And around the Basin Reserve, ensuring we never took up more than one lane.

We headed back along Cambridge Terrace, then up Courtenay Place...

...and back to the Waterfront for a quick debrief. A great day and a great event to be a part of. I wish the 350 movement all the success in the world, and I'll continue riding my bikes as much as possible to reduce the amount of CO2 I dump into the atmosphere...

Following this, my friend (and Pegoretti owner!) Paul and I repaired to Deluxe Cafe for the obligatory coffee with some other good folk, before Paul realised he was close to missing out on signing on to race the final round of PNP's Balfour Pennington series, so I put on my domestique's chapeau and did my feeble best Popovych impersonation to drag him around the Bays to the start at Miramar wharf. Thanks mainly to the laps he took we did make it, just.

I left Paul to sign on and I managed to catch up with many friends, including my mechanical mentor Henry, infamous 5-time BP series winner and Robbie McEwen beater Antosh Kowalewski with his partner Linda and, lurking in the background, Alex Revell (Revolution Bicycles) bravely fronting while still recovering from a dislocated shoulder.

John Randal arrived after racing to a top 10 placing in the aforementioned CX earlier in the day, ready to go on his flat-bar Giant CRX complete with knobby tyres.

Before long the banter ended and the big bunches were rolling out. Break 2 including John heads off...

MeoGP rider Brent Backhouse (Backy) and MTB National Champion Stu Houltham (Specialized) lead out as scratch begins their day - in the end they would go straight through the rest of the field, with Subway pro Joe Cooper taking the win from local legend Backy with Alex Revell taking a fine third place despite his injuries.

After they had begun racing I hung around with Henry for a while, before heading over to Awa Rd to oh so casually dump my bike...

..while I watched the field climb this short hill three times. Here is Roadworks rider Geoff McDonnell mixing it up in the peloton.

Poor John found his legs really didn't like backing up for the second hard race of the day, especially with the added handicap of his massively unsuited bike and tyres, but no quitter he made sure he didn't DNF. I'm proud as anything that John chooses to wear my colours.

I had run out of time to watch the race finish up Mt Crawford, but had just enough to take the slightly longer way home so I finished my day and my cycling week by riding around through Lyall Bay then up Houghton Valley Road to get some climbing k's in the old legs. I think my exertions in dragging Paul to the race (not that he probably needed it!) on top of some hard riding during the week had taken their toll, as I wasn't exactly climbing like Pantani!

The climb seemed to stretch away ahead of me forever!

But eventually I made it to the top... time to make the most of the wicked descent past the National Hockey Stadium on Mt Albert.

A ride with the kids on Sunday was supposed to be on the cards, but they were all busy with other activities so I took advantage of a quiet day to catch up with some chores around the house instead, not to mention pen this epic! Hopefully writing it during the day will give me time to recover sufficiently so that I can throw down again this doubt you'll hear all about it!

Until then thanks for reading, Oli


Angry said...

Top post Oli!, (Cost my employer 30 mins).
Its been a great couple of weeks for riding & racing.

Graham Singer said...

Oli, another great post,you are making me homesick for good old Welly, great stuff.

Oli said...

Cheers, lads!

Hope all is going well in Blighty, Graham!