Monday, September 28, 2009

I've Got The Spirit, But Lose The Feeling

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec for Dave Hicks, the only one to get my appalling title pun last week...

Well, this week didn't really go to plan as far as riding goes. It certainly started out well enough with a cool ride to pick up Bodhi from school on World Car Free Day - he didn't know I was coming so was stoked when I turned up on the trailer bike with his helmet and gloves.

We had a wicked fang down Clarence Street (or Cut Corners, as Bo dubbed it) then down through Central Park (massive brake pump in the forearms!) and onto Karo Drive, then down through the Basin Reserve and onto Adelaide Road, where we picked up a huge sliver of aluminium and a swift puncture. Perfect time for Bo to have his lunch while Papa plied his trade.

While I was sorting the new tube, Bo decided it was time for a badly posed shot of the two of us, then I chucked the wheel back in the Cove and it was off again to beat the afternoon rush home. Even with the pung it was great fun - hard workout too, dragging the trailerbike up Farnham St, and Bo everywhere else!

Tuesday night was a long one, as I watched the World Championships Women's TT online. Great to see many of my friends racing and a couple in particular. Perhaps not the results they were quite after, but good stuff indeed and it all bodes well for the future.

Because of my late night, Wednesday morning was screwed for riding so I sculled a couple of coffees, hit the tools...

...and started spannering.

The forks and headset had arrived for Warrick's lovely Cervelo SuperProdigy, so it was out with the old broken ones...

And in with a new pair of aluminium steered Deda Black Force forks, along with a slick new Campagnolo Record 1" threadless headset. Once the rear wheel was trued (one of mine used to set bike up) and the rest of the bike checked and tuned it was out into the sun for a quick snap of this beautiful machine restored to its full glory.

Kerry wanted his Scott Addict tickled up - a couple of wee creaks and groans sorted out and a fettle of the gears and brakes and this impressively light (7.15kg/15.76lb!) machine should be rolling sweetly beneath him again in his upcoming races.

Dan needed his road bike rebuilt after the parts had been temporarily stolen to build up the very cool Narcoti bamboo prototype I showed a few blogs ago...

Now the Narcoti MkI is in the UK being test-ridden on the mean streets of London Town, Dan wants to get back on the road. No problem.

Ironically, in light of poor Warrick's forks, I have been looking for a pair of Columbus Muscle forks in 1" for myself for some time. The reasons are threefold; firstly, I wanted the ability to raise my bars higher than I can currently; secondly, so my man Paul can have his ITM ones back for his own bike! Is two years too long to "borrow" something? Does it become theft after that long? He assures me no, but I remain unsure...and thirdly, they're Columbus for God's sake!

Regardless, long hours searching TradeMe eventually culminated in a ding-dong battle (auction) that I eventually won. After all, money is no object to me - I'm a bike mechanic. Soon I had in my hot little hands a much prized set of of NOS Muscles, so while waiting for the next work to turn up I set about doing what I love most (well, second most...) - working on my own bike.

Grouse. Lighter than the ITMs by over 100 grams too - woohoo!

And the mandatory shot of my Bianchi complete with new forks and good wheels. Hotness. The only downside is that time, weather, work and mountainbiking have conspired to prevent me actually riding it since these shots were taken, dammit.

Next up was the start of what has proved to be one long ass job. Nic has bought a new BMC as a parts donor bike... use to build up this cool Felt Virtue Team.

With it's interesting "Equilink" strut.

I then had to put the build aside, as we waited for some parts to arrive.

Doctor Oli then moved on from one transplant to another as he began to operate on the first Ti patients for a few weeks...I had sitting in front of me one of Dave from Bike Fixation's lovely Litespeed Siena frames, this one a custom job with a 61cm top tube befitting the new owner's 2 metre plus height.

Before the Litespeed could be built, I first had to strip down the donor bicycle, this beautiful Lynskey.

Once the parts were removed from the Lynskey, I unwrapped the Siena and fitted the seatpost/saddle before carefully chucking it up in my trusty workstand (Head by Park Tools, sturdy steel legs by Dave Fitter-Welder, stickers by Kester, Harry and Bodhi) to begin prepping it.

I loved the shaped and worked stays...

And finished. Amazingly, despite my being 7 inches shorter than the intended owner, his seat height is only 10mm higher than mine so I was able to give this beautiful bike a short strop around the 'hood - very nice indeed on first impressions, although more race-oriented wheels would definitely add a lot to the whole ride.

And a view from front on, complete with Acros headset.

That brought me nicely to the end of the working week, which happily meant it was time for my ritual visit to the Shrine of Ritchie.

I had one quick beer in those salubrious surroundings before rendezvousing with other friends for a most anti-salubrious "Death" themed Vinyl Club, which proved not to be for the faint-hearted - i.e. me. I draw a curtain over the rest of the night; suffice to say Saturday was a write-off for me as far as any riding, talking or even being awake was concerned - somewhere I haven't been for years, and hopefully won't go again.

At least someone was out riding on Saturday - here's John Randal's washing line after a hard week repping my colours to the four (?) corners of the Wellington region, culminating in his being my rolling billboard on an Epic Ride of a sort I hope to one day join him on - cheers, bro!

Luckily, the start of the school holidays had meant that the Boys were away for the weekend and Jacq was taking advantage of the clear decks to get on with her own life, so at least my self-inflicted suffering was only solo suffering. This also meant that, despite starting somewhat confusingly with daylight saving coming in, Sunday was free and clear for a rare leisurely start over a big breakfast and gallons of coffee, followed by an afternoon of just following front wheels on a ride with the Fabulous Mr X.

The day was cold (where oh where has the spring warmth of August gone?!?) and blowing a strong NWer that was driving low clouds and the odd shower in front of it, but Alex and I were fizzing to ride, so we met at the shop for a quick tune up of his bike, before setting off up through Macalister Park to Mornington, down Cut Corners, then up Todman St and onto Sawmill.

We scuttled up the short bit of the Rollercoaster before ducking back off and onto Carparts, for our first ever try of riding it uphill, despite many runs in the downhill direction. Even though I felt I was climbing strongly, I struggled a few times with the steep uphill pitches - traction and technical mongishness being the issues rather than strength. Both aspects improved dramatically when I realised most of the way I still had my forks locked out and my ProPedal full on. Durr.

Al, however, had no such problems and consequently climbed with aplomb.

At the same time as we began our maiden voyage (in either direction!) up the new Carparts Extension, my bloody phone decided it's memory was full. This meant that sadly for you I couldn't take any more grainy cellphone pictures to document the magnificence of any of this absolutely beautiful bit of flowing singletrack. I can't believe I haven't ridden Carparts Extension before now, it seems wrong even though it's still relatively new. To say Al and I enjoyed this trail is to do it a disservice; we were enraptured and can't wait to ride it again and again. Good stuff all you Legends of Local Trailbuilding for creating this incredible network of awesome tracky goodness for us to shralve. Sincerely, thanks.

Anyway, we managed to drag ourselves away and headed off down Fenceline, and up to Wrights Hill. Once we recovered from the brutal climb up from Pine Needle Clearing we had a super smooth run down Salvation (again, I didn't dare enter the moist and malevolent maw of Deliverance...) before deciding time was getting tight enough to forgo a lower loop of the Park. We washed our bikes off at the Makara Peak carpark facilities, then sifted siftily through the darkest depths of the K-Ghetto and through town to home to complete what was for us another long ride with plenty of climbing, to go along with the superb Welli-track.

This had proved to be only my second ride all week, but it was long and hard enough to at least partially assuage my feelings of missing out, and had the side-effect of hurting my muscles enough for them to give me pleasant reminders all evening of the work they'd been doing...I do like that feeling.

Sunday night I would have liked to have watched the Pro Men's Road Worlds, but sensibly (for once) my tired legs and I decided sleep was more important...

So I woke to a wet and cold Monday. The positive thing about the rain was that at least I could focus on beginning the working week without feeling I was missing out on a ride. I drank my morning coffee as I read the news that Australia had its first ever Pro Mens Road World Champion in the slightly surprising form of Cadel "Cuddles" Evans!

This win was great for next year's Worlds venue Australia, but also of course for the embattled Evans himself after quite a few no doubt frustrating years of almost but not quite. In Mendrisio he won a hard race very well, so bloody good on him.

Some of you may not know that Evans started out as a talented young XC MTB racer, bursting into the international scene at the 1996 Cairns MTB Worlds. And our fair city Wellington went down in history as the scene of the Wunderkind's first ever World Cup round win back in 1997. Winning several more rounds over the next few seasons meant that Cadel went on to win two consecutive World Cup competitions overall, despite unfortunately never being able to claim the MTB World Champions rainbow jersey.

His career since has been littered with close results both off and onroad, but the Welli WC was the first big win for him on the International stage. Here he is atop the podium in the Hataitai Velodrome, flanked by (from left) 4th place Ludovic Dubau, 2nd place Christophe Dupouay, the 1996 World Champion Jerome Chiotti (who eventually voluntarily confessed to EPO use and presented his ill-gotten jersey to Thomas Frishknecht) and (obscured) 5th place Kirk Molday.

Once I had digested this startling result, I shambled up to the shop to ease into the week. As I slowly cleaned and lubed the chain on my Commencal several bikes were dropped off, and so it began. Among other bits and pieces I spent part of the day tinkering with Nic's Felt, but I was having some compatibility issues so couldn't quite nail the whole job. At least I managed to find enough time to build her some nice wheels - Mavic XM819s on XTR hubs with black DT spokes.

Nic was clearly sensing my building frustration, so what better way for her to head the aggro off at the pass? You guessed it, beer. Thanks Nic! It wasn't just any beer either - to be precise it was a delicious bottle of Epic Armageddon I.P.A. with the appropriate slogan - "The Answer To Everything"

Tonight, it certainly was. Cheers, Oli

Monday, September 21, 2009

Too Loose, Long Trek...

Photo - Bodhi Brooke-White

This week I have written a more concise blog entry, he said hopefully but not very truthfully. It's been very busy in the shop, but also on the Home Front so not as much riding as I'd like dammat, but hopefully there's still something or other to write about...

After last Monday night's marathon blogging effort until the wee small hours, I woke Tuesday morning in quite a sorry state. I stumbled around the house helping get the kids out the door, then eventually woke up enough to get the usual start of the day avalanche of emails and cycling news out of the way as I slurped down several strong coffees. Once that was done I suited up and hit the road.

As I was working on the computer the front door of Chez Brooke-White was wide open to let in the balmy warmth of spring, and the morning sun had been streaming in the windows, but as I blasted down Island Bay Parade the clouds rolled in and it went from no wind in B-Pore to a very strong sou'easterly by the time I hit the South Coast a few minutes later, complete with wind-driven spatters of rain. Never mind, we road riders aren't concerned with such sensitive pabulum, so I knuckled down to the task and started to crank anti-clockwise around the Bays.

As I rode around Breaker Bay about 25 minutes into my ride, I was pondering how my hard night's blogging had a similar effect on me to a hard training ride. That combined with my morning email interval session and a stiff wind a-blowin' to boot was causing me to feel mighty sluggish and a tad out-of-sorts, when I slowly began to realise it wasn't just a sore computer back, but that my stem was actually slightly off-kilter!

My first thought was that I'd just got distracted and not checked the alignment properly when I fitted my lovely new stem last week, so I stopped and rummaged around for a 4mm allen key. Naturally I only had a 5mm one for some unknown reason, so I tried to use brute force to re-align it only for it to rotate around the steerer way too easily - I figured I'd completely forgotten to torque it up, but without an allen key had no way to check. Now, anyone who knows me and has been forced to listen to my horror stories of shops failing to tighten stems or handlebars properly knows this would utterly mortify me, and it sure did that.

I was furious at myself, as well as very, very grateful I hadn't had the 'bars spin around as I negotiated the roundabouts and corners on the way, not to mention on the other couple of rides I'd done on it - the thought of the possible consequences made me shudder. I did something I've only ever done once before (broken spoke causing a jammed wheel) and called Jacq to come and get me. I knew she was a long way away, so to prevent chilling out and possibly getting sick in the cold wind I arranged to meet her between Shelly Bay and Miramar Wharves, and I set off again gingerly, spinning to keep warm.

I've probably ridden over the Pass of Branda slower, but certainly not deliberately, and the descent never. I was mentally kicking myself for my careless stupidity the whole way around until I met up with Jacq, even having to refuse the wheel of my passing friend Robbo in case I took us both down. When Jacq pulled up at the wharf, I all but threw the bike in the car and she drove a very grumpy and frustrated amateur bike mechanic home...

Once I was changed, I dragged my poor Bianchi up to the shop to rectify my shoddy workmanship but, to my surprise, the torque values on my FSA stem bolts were the correct 6nm! At least I hadn't failed to tighten them up. I then removed the stem to suss what was going on, and realised the 1" to 1 1/8" adaptor I had chosen to fit my new stem to my 1" carbon steer was bevelled - usually this wouldn't have been an issue (and I had used it for months without a problem on my old ITM stem) but the FSA stem had much closer tolerances so it wouldn't allow the stem to fully clamp even if I'd tripled the torque values! When fitting my new stem it never occurred to me to haul side to side on the 'bars, as usually tightening to spec is all one needs to do - although I didn't feel so bad once I realised I'd done everything else right, I certainly won't forget to check for that side to side movement again!

So, what to do. I needed an adaptor and everything I had in my drawer wasn't quite right, so I cast around for something else to use. I decided on using a steerer offcut from a pair of Alpha Q forks I had fitted some months ago, which I trimmed to length and cut a slot in, then I filed it all off and tried it out. Perfect, and no movement at all at 6nm. Lighter than that aluminium one too.

So, even though I'm always super careful in my work, I was reminded very clearly that whenever I work on a bike someone's safety and personal well-being is on the line - I was just glad that on this occasion it was mine, and it was easily rectified before a disaster had occurred.

I serviced my mate Steve's Giant Trance X1 after some great work at the Taupo Day-Nighter. The wiper seals were leaking, so a new set plus some fresh oil and a good clean up and they were sweet. If I could say I enjoy servicing any forks, I'd say I enjoy Fox the most; simple, durable, logical engineering done well. The rest of the bike also needed a good tickle up, so I blessed it with a new XT cassette, XTR chain and a fresh set of RaceFace chainrings. I also serviced the pivots and replaced the DU bushing on the Fox shock. Sorted for a hard summer's riding and racing.

Jen needed her front brake bled, as well as a quick gear tune...I go against the habits of a lifetime and show the non-drive side of her Trance purely to show off the BDA sticker - those that know will know.

Chief protagonist of the BDA Daniel had added some nifty tips ("Shift with your thumbs woman!") to assist Jen in learning how to shift her smicko new XT shifters!

Simon's Anthem needed a new bottom bracket.

It seems like I've been on the Giant tip for weeks now - rest assured this is because so many people I know have wisely chosen these great bikes, not because of any fault of theirs! Still on the theme, I had to replace a broken spoke on Nick's rear Ksyrium wheel, as well as give his bike a full service and strop-up. Purring once more...

Just to show I didn't only work on Giants all week, I had to finish off my dear friend John's Jamis Komodo singlespeed. John had essentially built it up but needed me to sort the rear cog/chainrings/chainline stuff, as well as sort out his brakes and headset/stem (!). It turned out nice, and luckily the 32 x 17 was a magic combination for chainlength, bypassing the need for funky chain tensioners once I'd fitted a half-link.

After having to forgo riding all week since my abortive stem-shortened Monday effort, I managed to eventually slip out on Thursday afternoon for a quick spin to Eastbourne and back. I carefully navigated the perils of town, then was delighted to average 31kph for the 50km from the Railway Station to Pencarrow gate return without any difficulty at all - slowly I am feeling more and more fit, and am feeling more at one with my bike every ride I do. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, even though the lingering slight SE wind carried a distinct chilly bite. I made it home in time for tea, still in the sunlight - the days are definitely getting longer!

Friday I spent the morning running around dropping things off and picking things up, before spending a manic afternoon in the shop working on (among several other things!) Brent's venerable old Avanti Corsa that has provided him much sterling service training and racing for some years now. Time for a new cassette, Dura-Ace chain and a damn good clean up.

After a lovely Friday night up at Revolution Bicycles bantering and drinking a beer or two, Saturday was spent doing a massive Spring Clean at home and riding was foregone in the cause of harmonious family relations...

Sunday, however, was set aside purely for riding. My Three Sons and I loaded up the Sex Wagon and headed for Eastbourne. We braved the Sunday traffic and eventually made it to Pencarrow Gate, where we parked up and unloaded the bikes and bodies. We set off into a slight SE headwind, with Kester and Harry on their MTBs and Bodhi stoking me on the trailer bike, while snapping a couple of random photos.

My fat arse.

Arty shot that was actually meant to be of a sheep and her lambs.

After he took the superb shadow shot I opened this blog with, I jealously snatched the camera out of his hands and took command of the imagery.

Bodhi cheerfully mocking me for my poor photography "skills"...

Harry rode very well considering he hadn't been near a bike in weeks.

While Ket, who has been riding a fair bit of late, just cruised along enjoying the sun.

From time to time Bodhi and I put a dig in to keep the big boys on their toes, but 44 x 11 headwind trailer-bike sprints aren't as easy as they sound! We did manage to drop them a couple of times, but they didn't look too worried...

As we continued along the road dodging the many other cyclists and walkers taking advantage of the stunning day and the opulent scenery, we were startled to see heading towards us Simon Kennett, out for a quick Sunday lap of the North Island in early preparation for the incredible sounding epic inaugural Kiwi Brevet he has dreamed up in a moment of inspirational genius - a quick "hallooo!" and he was gone in a blur of Ground Effect white, as if he'd never been there...coincidentally, I'd also met his partner Sarah heading the opposite way when I did my road ride on Thursday arvo! I should also take this chance to give deserved props to Simon for the great job he's done on the just released and fantastically useful Journey Planner he's been working so hard on with the Greater Wellington Regional Council team.

Please note Simon is not in this shot, as he appeared and disappeared before I could extricate the camera from my pocket.

The boys decided climbing up to the old lighthouse atop the hill was too much like hard work, so we continued around to the first of the Pencarrow Lakes. Unfortunately, a recent sewage problem had rendered it somewhat stagnant and very stinky, so we admired the view of Baring Head...

...then we turned around and headed back past the caves and mysterious structures that litter the point - naturally Bodhi had to check everything out.

After that we repaired to the lighthouse on the beach, where we stopped for a picnic of energy bars and jelly dinosaurs.

Harry took advantage of the rocks to escape his brothers for a minute or two.

Before we headed back along the road, pausing briefly to remember the 51 people who lost their lives in this stretch of water during the Wahine disaster. On that tragic day in 1968 I was on this beach in the back of our Holden station-wagon with my best friend Luke, looking on in fascinated horror while our volunteer firefighter fathers helped drag survivors and bodies ashore - terrible.

Hard to believe it could have ever happened when it's a day like this...

We made it back to the car safely, with Harry taking advantage of a good leadout from Bo and I to catch Kester and pass him to take the final sprint to the Gate, Ket claiming the peds balked him of course. The post ride de-briefing starting the minute we got to the car, continuing until we hit the park for a distracting game of rugby...

...before grabbing an ice cream and heading home for tea. Lovely day that all four of us enjoyed almost as much as Jacq enjoyed her peaceful afternoon, and with the odd effort chucked in my legs certainly felt it afterwards even though it was only around 16km!

While on the ride we discovered that swerving violently around puddles and trying to sprint against two determined teenagers could yank the shackle that connects Bo's trailer-bike to my Cove to one side or another forcing Bo to end up on an awkward lean, so I took the time before the week's work began to re-shim the mount and hopefully prevent this happening again - no doubt we'll find out tomorrow when I pick him up from school on Car Free Day...

I had to rebuild the front wheel of Ben's ExtraCycle due to rotten spoke syndrome, as well as service the rear hub before the crunched bearings could shred the cups and cones. A drop or three hundred of oil on the unfeasibly long chain, and a brake bleed for the rear brake and Ben is able to carry his three sons again on this cleverly adapted cargo hauler.

After taking a few bikes in to keep me busy for the rest of the week, I finished the day off by giving this Cannondale the full gamut of alignment checks to make sure the frame was sound after a minor crash, before the owner sells it. Perfect, and almost my size - if I needed another frame I'd buy it! Get in touch with Jonty if you're interested...

I'll finish up with a shot behind last week's Jersey Of the Week, Greg Henderson's Points jersey from the 1998 Tour Of Wellington...I put this jersey up in honour of Greg's fine victory in stage 3 of the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) - the first individual win by a Kiwi in a Grand Tour since Paul Jesson won (also in the Vuelta) over quarter of a century ago!

Here he is getting pipped by Graeme Miller on the final stage on the waterfront by Frank Kitts Park in what was a cracking sprint in a Tour won by Australia's Hayden Bradbury.

That's it for now - CU next week, all going well. Cheers, Oli