Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bearing My Soul

In the immortal words of Andy Williams, where do I begin? As you may have noticed, I have been somewhat reticent in my posting of late. Hopefully you've enjoyed the recent historical based fill-in posts, but people have been clamouring (okay, one person asked...) for a return to my more traditional musings so I'll try and do my best to accede - grab a cup or glass of your favourite beverage and settle in for a loooong one.

The balance between work and home is hard for any of us to achieve at the best of times, but lately I've been really struggling to find any. On top of the usual battles I have been dealing with a fairly serious health issue of late that has been impacting in a variety of ways on all aspects of my life, not least my riding. During my mid-winter meltdown I developed a hernia. This has caused several months of low-level nausea and discomfort and lately a debilitating and ride-preventing ongoing pain in the gut. At 183cm and a worrying 108kg I have also been diagnosed with high blood pressure, which may be the cause of or the result of the hernia. To add to my litany of woe, last week I nearly severed one of my fingers mercy-killing a mouse, and to top it all off this weekend I developed an abscess under my molars so as I type this I am in excruciating agony! So to sum up, I'm royally fucked and feeling somewhat dark.

After seeing the specialist last week at least I can now count out the tumours and other fatal diseases I was beginning to imagine, but I'm still feeling pretty average and now have up to six months to wait before an operation. In the meantime I will continue to work and I now have clearance to ride (easy) again so hopefully things take a turn for the better - I'm sure going to be doing my best to turn this appalling run of luck around, start riding and get healthy again. I hope you'll bear with me, even if I'm a bit like a bear with a sore tooth...

Anyway, in between all this I have been flat out in the shop. Lots of interesting projects both small and large have been coming my way, such as this cool pair of XT/Flow 29er wheels for a client of Jonty's.

Joel is playing around with his TT position so using only a hacksaw, a file and some Humbrol enamel I cunningly and cheaply adapted some 25mm spacers into 10mm ones. I'd love to have the tools and training to do more fabrication-style work, as I find it really rewarding - the ultimate would of course be frame building. One day, Roger Fitz, one day...

A pair of Reynolds tubular wheels with a few broken spokes needed some non-standard and non-available length spokes so I cut down and re-threaded some DT Revolutions to the correct lengths using my venerable Cyclo tool.

As good as new...

Keewee is a New Zealand brand better known for their iconic burly DH frames, but they also briefly tapped into the road market via the TBG (Taiwanese Buyers Guide).

Andrew wanted a burly road wheel that can handle loaded action and/or gravel/mild off-road riding. A Mavic Open Pro rim on his old Shimano 600 hub should do the job nicely.

I had a Giant Trance in with some major shifting issues. A broken barrel adjuster needed removing and replacing, which involved drilling out the corroded remains of the old one and retapping the damaged thread...

...and the top pivot was also jammed by corrosion and muck so required disassembly, some filing and sanding, then reassembly with some good Dura-Ace grease. After this and some of the usual fettling the gears worked perfectly.

Some months ago I built Driller a rear wheel for his upcoming Independent Fabrications cyclo-cross build - recently he got me to build the matching front wheel using a Hope ProII hub and another Salsa Delgado rim. Bombproof.

And here's the IF bike, snapped in all it's glory on a Friday night beer visit to Revolution Bicycles.

Talking of Revolution, sometimes as well as just free-loading and swilling all his beer I've been known to butt in and bore Jonty by showing off some of the more arcane aspects of the trade I've picked up over 30-odd years in the biz. Apropos of this, he has an old Pertini frame that needed the dropouts spread and realigned. First I did a string test to ensure I don't spread the stays more on one side than the other, then I cold-set the hell out of it.

Then it's out with my VAR tools to correctly align the faces of the dropouts, remeasuring and checking all the way until it was perfectly spaced and aligned for the modern 130mm hub.

I'll take a break for a ride now. Despite the heinous hernia (or HH as I will refer to it in future) I did get out for some easy spins on the bike in the early stages - so long as I didn't go too hard and/or recruit my core I was able to ride without issue...this was a flit out to Eastbourne on a lovely warm spring day (where have those gone??).

My Bianchi in post-ride repose, with Mooki the cat lurking.

One Sunday in early October, I acted as a timekeeper for the inaugural Nine Peaks race run by my friend Asher, and starting at Revolution. Early that morning I loaded up my bike and set off, figuring I could go for a quick ride while the riders were out and about. I was greeted by Nick handing me a fresh espresso and a rapidly growing group of riders on an incredible variety of machines from roadbikes to singlespeeds to CX rigs and a myriad of mountainbikes. Roadworks was represented by two of my star athletes in John Randal and Tim Wilding...

After some healthy banter, several more espressos and a quick briefing from Asher it was time for the off.

Left in charge of the shop I soon realised that neither Nick nor I had been left with any keys! So much for a ride, I was stuck there now. Once Nick had left I made good use of my idle time by reading a few of Jonty's fine collection of cycling books that I haven't yet made it to, and before long the first rider was back - sadly a mechanical DNF. In a ride with a cut-off of 6 hours and an expectation of the fastest time being around the 4-4 1/2 hour mark I was caught by surprise by the sudden arrival after only 3.37 of T-Rex! At first I thought he must have had a problem or missed a climb, but of course he had won!

Second was sports scientist Dave Rowlands then Revolution's Alex Revell - the rest of the early afternoon was a steady trickle of riders both solo and in little groups as they finished this gruelling event. Jonty finished in 7th place with John just behind in 8th...more results and discussion on Vorb if you're interested.

The lovely afternoon (that later turned into a freezing southerly storm!) created the perfect conditions for a mass debrief on the Northland footpath.

Back to work now. Darryl's BMC Streetfire is a trick aluminium bike - it needed a new chain and cassette, as well as a jolly good going over.

Pug's Litespeed Unicoi needed some new parts chucked on and the rear shock serviced. A worn shaft will need replacing at some point but for now a clean and grease gets it working like new.

I've been privileged to have done work on some classic bicycles over the years, but I'm also slowly reviving a couple of projects of my own. Several years ago my friend Greg gave me his old Team Raleigh that I'm slowly going to restore to mechanical perfection, if not aesthetic. Due to the old galvo spokes rotting out I pulled the wheels down ages ago, but I've always intended to rebuild them even if only for display. Fiamme Hard Silver rims and Campagnolo Super Record high-flange hubs (with custom red highlights!) are the components...

Laced up with Sapim Race double-butted stainless spokes they morphed into a lovely 1600 gram wheelset. The rims are slightly rough and I had to hammer out a major flat-spot on the rear one, but after some close attention they're now sound as a pound. The 1970s hubs have the original Campag grease from new, but despite years of schoolboy racing and being ridden well into the 90s the races are still smooth and the bearings round. The wheels spin forever in the stand, returning to rest with the heaviest spot down every time...even if I never use these they are things of rare beauty. Note my Regina America 6sp "corn cob" 13-18 cluster.

Another of my own projects is my lovely Casati, which I was greatly enjoying riding until HH took me down. However, when I built it up I didn't have a correct matching Campag left-hand crank, so had to use a Triomphe one from the late 80s cringing at my fashion faux-pas all the while.

Luckily my man Jonty came to the rescue with the right left crank - saved from ignominy!

Et voila!

I am generally not big on indoor riding, preferring the sights, smells and sounds of the outdoors, but the frantic days combined with some vile weather meant I simply wasn't getting in any riding so, with new crank in place, I decided to try some indoor rides...

Knowing what a sweaty activity it is I decided to use some old shorts that Wheels had recently given me among a pile of other bits and pieces - I should never have gone back on my no second-hand shorts policy, as after one pleasant hour pedaling while watching Lance Armstrong the shorts disintegrated under me! Seriously, they went on like all good Santini shorts do - toight loike a toiger, but after 60 minutes they were baggy as Granny's stockings, had shed a blizzard of black dust and were now entirely see through!

The indoor experiment ended once the HH got it's claws into me, but the fettling continues unabated - here is the Casati with correct crank in place, after swapping out the 25s for 28s, and finally adding white cable housing to really pimp it out in theme with the logos, bars and saddle. The fatter tyres are to better facilitate the off-road/road riding I've been enjoying and that I'm keen to pursue once I'm well again. The next logical step is, of course, a cyclo-cross bike but in the meantime this bike is very cool to ride...

The work keeps pouring in. A Neuvation wheel needed another custom-cut spoke.

Joel (of the afore-mentioned tri-bar customisation) has a new HED tri-spoke front wheel we are going to glue a new tubular on for his TT bike. However, the old glue was so built up and rough I need to strip it back before starting again. This is after 30 minutes of hard labour scrubbing and solventing, and only quarter of the way around!

Mike's Scott Addict needed a new drivetrain and a service.

Jonty has a client with a Specialized Big Hit that needed a new 24" rear wheel. An Atomlab hub and a Pimplite rim sorted that out quick-smart.

My mate Steve was off to do the tough Whaka 100 race, so needed his tired drivetrain replaced.

Seeing as the chainrings and b/b were gone it was decided that the chainset would be replaced lock, stock and barrel with a spanky new XT version. Along with an XT cassette and XTR chain he was set for a great ride...

One of the most crushing disappointments I've faced of late is being forced by the HH to cancel my trip to Rotorua for the Singlespeed World Championships. After weeks of little to no "training", an ill-advised attempt to ride up Wellington's feared Tip Track pushed the hernia from being a mildly discomforting inconvenience into a painful and debilitating game-stopper, and my GP advised me that I could go from my "semi-acute" status to acute in a very short time.

Not wanting to end up in Rotorua hospital far from my family it was decided that riding Worlds was a stupid idea and - seeing my beer consumption has also been dramatically curtailed by this cursed ailment - the Party Animal in me wouldn't be able to cut loose, making the trip both risky and a full-on fun-fail. Instead I stayed home and sulked, before seeing the many pictures of this cool event online brought something approximating a smile to my glum's a classic shot of Tim "T-Rex" Wilding on his way to 8th place behind winner and Rotorua local legend Garth Weinberg.

Even though I wasn't there in person, I was delighted to get this photo of my jersey hanging up in Bike Vegas. Very cool.

In the lead up to Worlds I did a fair bit of work for riders lucky enough to make it. Sam needed a pair of wheels for the Kona Explosif that Jonty was helping her build up. White Industries hub and NoTubes ZTR355 rims.

My man Dave Livesey flew the Roadworks colours, along with another great friend Pete Burt. Dave does a lot of work on his own bike, but needed me to do a couple of quick adjustments to his home-built Worlds machine.

Here is a cool shot of Dave with his game face on during the race and in between beer stops...

As well as Singlespeed Worlds there was another event I would have loved to have attended - the southern hemisphere has recently hosted for the very first time the UCI Road World Championships in Geelong, Victoria. Many of my friends were in Australia either competing, working or attending as spectators. Roadworks Aussie-based operative Paul Larkin has landed a dream job working for Cycling Edge and he was instrumental in helping assemble Bridie O'Donnell's new custom Parlee Z5 so she could perform sterling service for her Australian team during the road race.

My bro Henry took some great pics over there; here's one of NZ legend Gordy MacCauley about to start the TT.

And another of the bunch chasing the early break...I'll blog the rest later on in a dedicated update.

Bride and Paul had earlier teamed up as rider and mechanic respectively for the winning team in the Giro Donne, Team Valdarno. The slightly larcenous Larkin liberated this sign for me, and also got me this great gilet from Worlds, brought down from Rotorua by Dave. The beer is from the aforementioned Steve of Whaka 100 fame...thanks all!

I built a pair of wheels for a friend of a friend in New Plymouth recently. Richard wanted a set of handbuilts for his lovely Serotta so he supplied me with some Hope Pro3 hubs and a pair of Mavic Open Pro rims to lace up.

He sent me a picture of his cool bike with the wheels fitted after their first ride...

Tracey recently scored herself some sweet Zipp 404 wheels as she builds up towards Ironman in March. I fitted them and ensured that she could interchange between them and her training wheels without having to muck around with readjusting her gears at all.

Time for another ride. When I think about it, these are practically all the rides I've been on since I last blogged! On a still and hot (!?) spring day some time in September as the blossoms bloomed...

...I set off for a regulation Bays ride on my Casati.

I stopped to make an arty movie on a wharf in Karaka Bay.

Back to the coal face to give Diarmaid's old Gary Fisher a tweak or two after he shipped it home from his last posting in India.

Kriston bought himself a spanky new Niner M.C.R. frame in Reynolds 853 steel and asked me to build it up...

I built the wheels first - some used NoTubes Arch rims, a Hope ProII rear hub and a Stan's ZTR 20mm front hub laced up with silver DT Comp spokes did the business fo sho.

And here is the finished bike, bar some minor positional tweakage. Hopefully Kriston got out for a shakedown this weekend!

The blogosphere is full of great cycling websites, and I was stoked to be asked to build a pair of wheels for the NZ based co-editor of one of my favourite sites, Velominati. Brett provided me with some Record hubs and some Ambrosio Excellence rims to construct. Sadly, and to my great chagrin and embarrassment, the build didn't go quite as smoothly as I (or I'm sure he!) would have liked. Due in part to the HH and some severe school holiday-related time pressures, combined with the delayed arrival of some of the spokes I needed, I inadvertently used Competition spokes and brass nipples for the front wheel instead of the specced Revolution/aluminium combo. I also fitted the cassette to the rear wheel out of sequence, so one cog butted up against another and a spacer was mistakenly stuck behind the cassette!! Shame-faced I rebuilt the front wheel correctly, hoping that the Velominatus don't pillory me for my transgressions. The wheels turned out beautifully in the end, so hopefully all's well that ends well, and they will grace his Bosomworth project very nicely indeed...sorry for the uncharacteristic stuff-ups, and I hope you enjoy the wheels Bretto!

While I'm outing myself, here's another job that didn't quite go to plan. Andrew had been given a used Record gruppo that he wanted me to replace the stock 105 kit with on his lovely Orbea Orca. The job went well, I thought, but my test ride wasn't good or hard enough to discern that the old cassette didn't want to deal with the new Campag chain joining links. As I didn't get the bike back to him until the Friday afternoon, the problem wasn't discovered until he was climbing hills on a ride around the Makara Loop. As he basically couldn't use his climbing gears the ride wasn't very pleasant for him, to put it mildly. Here's the lovely bike once we'd thrown more money at it by replacing the worn chain and cassette with new ones...

In situations like this all I can do is take ownership of the mistakes and apologise profusely. Of course no one is perfect, but these sort of errors are not like me, and the sinking feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when thinking about them hopefully ensures I'll be back on my game from now on. Also, it just confirms that the way my life is (un)structured means I shouldn't be taking on jobs that require quick turn arounds. Working only two or three hours a day means that even a minor hold up can cause unbelievable stress and pressure and potentially result in these sort of problems - if there's one thing I've always prided myself on it's the care I take with each and every job I take on, so if deadlines mean that care is compromised I will just refuse to take on work with too short time limits...

On a happier note, I was able to give an old friend's 1997 Bianchi Super GL downhill bike some love after a few years of sporadic activity. Here is a picture from that years Bianchi catalogue.

Mike, the owner and a thoroughly top chap, is infamous for one of the most spectacular crashes by a Cycle Services rider ever caught on camera, surpassed only by Wheels' Mt Fyffe crash on network TV. As I have neither film of Wheels' catastrophic endo nor the actual photo of Mike coming to grief during the Tip Track DH, I'll show it rendered in cartoon form in the equally infamous CS Newsletter.

The Bianchi came to me needing a fork service and new cables, as well as a full mechanical going-over. Mike has discovered, as many of us have, that the fashion for unfeasibly long tillers is long past (and good riddance!) so I also fitted a shorter stem. I would have built the wheels (XT hubs/Ambrosio CC24 rims) to replace the stock ones. Here it is as it came to me...

The old Cycle Services sticker is still in place...ah, good days.

The White Brothers DC110 forks, state of the art in their day and a good replacement for the Judy DH forks the bike came with.

And here she is ready to roll in all her Celeste awesomeness!

Another famed Italian marque is the reknowned De Rosa brand, ridden by many of the great champions of cycling such as Eddy Merckx. Rob got me to build up his custom King 3 earlier this year and it was back to have some new handlebars fitted to replace the ITM Sword ones initially installed. Fine bars, but the carbon shaping just didn't agree with Rob and also they are too harsh on a bike already pretty stiff.

So I fitted some Cinelli Rams and, as the old cables weren't quite long enough now, replaced the grey gear housings with some nice white ones.

As well as cannibalising an old Jazz Apples sticker to get a Union Jack for Rob's nameplate. This bike is seriously the hottness.

Talking of The Hottness, T-Rex has finally joined the 29er movement and I'll be building up his new rig next week. I built the wheels last week - 2011 XTR hubs and NoTubes Arch 29er rims, laced up with black DT Comp spokes and black brass nipples.

And the frame they'll be going on is this stunning carbon Santa Cruz Tallboy, through his sponsor Count Stylie at Hyperformance Hardware.

A full 2011 Shimano XTR 10 speed groupset and some Fox F29 forks will be finished off with Thomson stem and seatpost, Easton handlebars, ESI grips, Fizik saddle and shod with Maxxis tyres.

As well as the easy road rides I've tried to keep my hand into the old MTB scene somewhat, especially as I was still hoping to make it to SS Worlds until the very last minute. One weekend ride a couple of good mates and I had a short but fun squirt on some new (to us) trails between Island Bay and Happy Valley. It was a windy but lovely day and I'd woken up feeling great, so I rendezvoused with Al and Matt and we rode carefully past all the walkers down Sifty to Houghton Bay, then around the South Coast to Owhiro Bay...

...up Happy Valley Road to Murchison Road, then up and onto the nascent Frobisher Street trails for a quick loop or two before a fun blast down Severn Street and back home.

The following weekend we took a look at the rapidly growing Aro Valley/Polhill network. We parked at the bottom of Holloway Road...

..rode up the lovely Transient as far as Karepa Street, where I was forced to walk as my intestines tried to evacuate my stomach and my heart tried to escape through my throat. After a suitable period of recovery, we made our way up to check out Highbury Fling - a lovely trail with great flow in both directions, and another great testament to the incredible unsung work put in by Wellington's small but dedicated bunch of trail-builders.

Talking of trailbuilders, it's been way too long since I was able to make it up to Makara Peak for a blast. The new trails are going in thick and fast, with workparties every Tuesday evening and most weekends - check the Makara Peak Supporters forum for more details on these. If you're unable to make it along to dig parties but want to put something towards the hard work that goes into this award-winning resource pony up for a membership - it's a small cost ($30 for a family membership) but a big help.

My most recent road ride was on my 1997 Gewiss-Playbus period Bianchi.

Another loop of the Bays so I won't clog up this already way too long post with more scenery, but I figure some of you may enjoy the pictures of my bicycle on one of it's rare outings from the Bianchi Wing.

And the money shot...

My last MTB ride was the ill-fated Tipper mission I spoke of earlier. Down Sifty and around the coast I felt fine, but as soon as we hit the climb and I needed what used to pass for my stomach muscles I was in trouble - pain and nausea are usual for me up there but not to this degree. I should have turned back but you can't be this pretty and smart, so I shuffled slowly up keeping Wayne and Al waiting for ages at the top. Rolling down the road wasn't too bad, but Car Parts Extension and Car Parts itself were more difficult as fatigue and pain-stress stopped me approaching anything like my usual admittedly poor form. After struggling along Highbury Fling and riding like a total spaz n00b down Transient I pulled the pin and left Al and Wayne to continue back up the hill while I grovelled home, nearly having to walk up Rintoul Street! The intense pain lasted several days, causing the re-evaluation of the viability of SS Worlds...

However, it's not all doom and gloom! To cheer me up Bodhi autographed his old Roadworks jersey;
Bodhi Brooke-White, I love you Papa!
If anything lends perspective to a sorry old sadsack it's the support and love my wife and children have always given me - to misquote Lance Armstrong, it reminds me that pain is temporary but family is forever. Thank you for reading, Oli


sifter said...

so sorry you've been having a rough patch bro. Here's to a speedy resolution, and a summer filled with fun. Kia kaha

Bretto said...

Hope you get well soon mate... thanks for the wheel build, and no worries on the minor glitches; they rock!

Check out the almost-completed build here...


Oli said...

Cheers lads, I really appreciate both messages.

Anonymous said...

I'm seriously impressed that you achieve all you do, despite the temporary setbacks. Big ups to you, Oli!

kia kaha
Bill B