Monday, March 28, 2011

Sickbed Stories and Tramadol Tales

Those glorious Ten Hours seem like a very long time ago now, as I lie here in bed on this gorgeous autumn day pining for my bicycle. As you may be aware if you've read my blog before, I've been struggling for the last eight or nine months with a debilitating para-umbilical hernia. This has manifested itself most of the time as a kind of sometimes mild, sometimes extreme, recently kicked in the balls feeling, but if I rode easy and tried not to push my core into working I have been lucky enough to have been able to ride most of the time.

After that purple patch in early February though, I only managed to get out for a couple more rides before the hernia ended up shutting me down for good. Just as I was plumbing the depths of despair and wondering if I would ever top the waiting list, I was saved a week ago last Friday when I heard I'd finally be being operated on the following (last) Wednesday. I spent the next few days tidying up the final work in the shop and postponing and/or cancelling bookings, expecting to be back on deck in a week or so. The surgery was initially put to me as being laproscopic, meaning small incisions and keyhole surgery with a swift recovery - the first surgeon I saw even said I'd be riding my bike again in only three days!

Feeling positive and dead keen to get on with it, Jacq took me into hospital on the day, where I underwent much quizzing and signed many consents. I was momentarily taken aback when the surgeon came to introduce himself, as he turned out to be a client of mine! At first I didn't place Simon, but I put that down to nerves and the unusual (for me) context of the situation. I quickly got it though, and was really pleased that I was in the hands of someone who I already had a good relationship with. Like all the amazing staff I dealt with that day he was both professional and empathetic, and allayed my fears without a shred of condescension. He told me though that the surgery would be open, so would have a more drastic effect and a much longer rehabilitation period, but that it would be a much sounder repair...Let's go, I said.

I was walked into theatre at 2.30pm and woke up from the general anaesthetic in the recovery room at 5pm, with Jacq and the boys at hand. All had gone well and Simon and the nurse said I could go home as soon as I peed, so about an hour later I was being gingerly bundled into the car and driven to the Brooke-White Ward, where I could get a first glimpse of things...

So long story short, I'm a bit of a mess. Simon and his team did a great job but the simple fact is that open stomach surgery takes some getting over, so I will be chilling out at home for a week or three. I look forward to getting back to work, but I look forward more to easing back into riding my bikes. The thought of riding sans hernia is positively inspiring, and I can't wait to get stuck into turning this appalling run of health issues around, losing some major weight and hopefully recapturing something of the Old Oli.

In the meantime I'll keep trying to catch up on bloggage...

My illness meant I was unable to work on any races this summer, so sadly I missed the Women's Tour of NZ for the first time since 2006. Timing means I usually am unable to work the Men's Tour anyway, but this year that was particularly irksome as I could have been a part of John Lee's Cardno team that successfully defended the 2010 title of Michael Torkler through the talented George Bennett. Despite my absence I was still represented by my my friend Grant, who did his best to publicise the Roadworks colours through some Elite-level start line sifting, captured here by Sarah and Ben of Great to see this vital NZ cycling news website back up and running!

Daryl Bloomfield is one of my enduring (long-suffering?) customers, and he brought me his Kuota K-Factor for a pre-Ironman fettle.

He went on to pull out a stunning PB of 12:48, whacking a massive 66 minutes off his old time. Great stuff, Daryl! He is pictured here in this ace shot doing a good pre-IM race at the Challenge Wanaka...

Another of my mates doing Ironman was Dean Gaskin, whose bike I checked over a couple of weeks before the race. The following week he brought in his wife Nat's cool Look Aero 576 for me to look at too. Deano would go on to grab a storming 8th place overall and first in age group, to book himself another trip to Kona. Nat also had a great race, taking an impressive 4th in her age group in her first ever Ironman! Top work, guys!

While I'm talking about far away races, my old school chum Mark sent me this great shot of him competing in the Motatapu MTB race near Wanaka recently. Amazing scenery, and I really have to get down there to experience it sometime soon.

Congratulations to my dear friend Bridie O'Donnell for her great silver medals in both the TT and the RR of the Oceania Championships. Here is her custom Parlee TT rig after getting the Paul Larkin touch.

Richard is a fierce age group competitor in triathlon, and before the Tri Nationals held recently in Wellington he brought his venerable Cannondale in for a squizz.

In my recent Karapoti post I showed the havoc this unruly event can have on the innards of even the best maintained machine. Amongst the other grim survivors was my man Tim Wilding's cool Santa Cruz Tallboy. Like John Randal, he'd done a great job of cleaning it up but we still needed to service the gear cables, brake pads, headset, bottom bracket and hubs...

...also one of the rear shock mount DU bushings was flogged out, so I got to use my cool new Wheels Manufacturing bushing tool set.

And another shot of T-Rex's lovely carbon wonder bike.

The other Wheels Manufacturing tool I grabbed at the same time has already made dealing with Shimano cranks much easier. A nice knurled end cap tool helps with precise pre-load torque.

To save Sifter from committing the controversial faux pas of doing a Buysman by riding around with a race number when you're not racing, I added his plate to my Wall. I'll get his autograph next time he's in the shop, assuming he doesn't object to my theft.

Still on the K-tip, I spoke in that blog of my bro Brent who flew from Melbourne to be at one with The Purple, but whose bike got damaged in transit by those heartless brutes known ironically as baggage "handlers". Here is his sweet Yeti AS-Rc, which I hope by now has been restored to new condition.

The nature of my work means I am usually ensconced in the Batcave alone, and sometimes I yearn for the chaotic days of working in a busy Cuba Street shop with sifters and munters lurking underfoot. The Friday before Karapoti I had a cool taste of those long-gone days, with pre-eminent CS sifters Spooks and Bugle hanging out, and also Matt using my workshop to perform finishing touches on his new Turner 5-Spot. Good times, and cheers for the company lads!

I built up a neat pair of fixie wheels - Surly track hubs on Mavic Open Sport rims.

On the back of the Ten Hour week, and before the wheels came off, I did have a nice ride out to Eastbourne. A lovely day, considerate traffic and good legs made for a very therapeutic outing, and these pictures are a nice reminder of fun rides and the rapidly fading summer...

Point Howard.

Looking out from Pt Howard towards The Heads.

Eastbourne, looking west at Wellington itself.

A yacht makes it's merry way across the briny.

Makaro/Ward Island and the City.

Hey, what do you expect from me?


The Wahine Memorial never fails to make me emotional.

Heading back into Days Bay.

Boatsheds at the mouth of the glamorously named Hutt River.

That same evening I took My Three Sons to the circus, and we ended up sitting underneath the other of the ill-fated Wahine's masts.

The circus was great fun, and a neat way to celebrate the evening of the boys first day back at school of the year.

Neil is back from a year in the UK to work on the avidly-awaited Peter Jackson Tintin movie - after much commuting use his Salsa was in dire need of a major clean up and service.

But a bit of elbow grease knocked off the grease, and some new cables and brake pads took care of the rest.

I love the Salsa headbadge.

And I love his cool Campy commuter/tourer.

My buddy CJ scored himself a bike with some serious retro-cred. A pending frame repair to a cracked dropout and a fresh non-yellow paintjob then we'll be getting stuck into turning this old Eddy Merckx into a modern/old school hybrid weapon for Chris to cherish.

And here is King Eddy Merckx himself, here riding the 1971 Tour of Lombardy resplendent in the colours of the rainbow jersey of World Champion.

On the recent night that the Moon was the closest to Earth it had been in 18 years, superstitious folks were warning of all manner of natural disasters to befall a world already scarred by the recent earthquakes in China, Christchurch and Japan and flooding in Australia...

...and some of my good friends and I decided that if we were going to go out we wouldn't go out like suckers, so we put on our party hats and got down to sharing our vinyl memories at one last Vinyl Club meeting.

Of course our fears weren't realised, and the next day the sun shone as normal on us all. Bodhi and I headed up to Makara Peak to try and catch some of the Rally, and the Super D in particular.

With a busy morning under our belts and no time to linger we parked in Allington Road and headed in on foot via Rimu and the AMP Connector as far as the picnic table on Ridgeline Extension, where Bodhi set up his bazooka for an ambush.

The start was delayed, but soon came the unmistakeable sounds of a mountainbiker approaching at high speed. Davo of Bushlove fame was the first face I recognised.

Followed by the smooth rollin' Tim Wilding.

Revolution Bicycles Alex Revell had his game face on...

Bodhi had called a unilateral cease-fire and was now drawing up plans for the reconstruction of the war-torn Peak.

Tryphan from cool clothing company Floe was carving.

Francis from Johnsonville Cycles always enjoys himself when he's racing.

When no riders were in view there was always the view.

"Hey, I'm reading here!!"

More wheels. This one an XTR hub on a Mavic XC717.

And an Alfine geared hub build for a customer of Jonty's, utilising a burly Mavic A719 rim.

Another client of Jonty's I recently built a wheel for is confirmed and passionate cyclist Simon Morton, of National Radio's "This Way Up" fame.

The first build I'm going to do when I'm back in the shop is for my man Ol' Maximillian, using this sweet Joytech sealed bearing track hub. I look forward to it.

The last job I did before the op was for young Connor, who had an unfortunate crash on his Colnago when a fellow bunch rider failed to point out the nasty pothole that sent Connor shorts over booties, and sadly broke his wrist. Luckily, apart from a bent derailleur hanger and damaged handlebar tape, the only real damage was to the brake lever hoods... I ordered some new ones in...

...and with no small hernia-related difficulties and effort installed them .

3T handlebars and stem.

Slightly garked but still flawlessly functional Campagnolo Record 11sp rear derailleur.

SLR Team Issue saddle.

One of the most evocative names in cycling...

...created by the great and eponymous Ernesto Colnago.

With his iconic logo to the fore.

I was very glad to put a cap on that repair before being rendered incapable!

Now I'm stuck at home watching dvds, reading and blogging my endless drug-fuelled ramblings, and the only indulgence left is to drag the credit card out of mothballs and spend up large. Of course this is hard with no money, but I did end up buying three cool (and very affordable) t-shirts off Velo-Retro.

Firstly a Cinelli one, seen here with a stem from my mate Brad in Auckland that is destined for some as yet unknown future project.

Spanish brand Zues was always regarded as somewhat of a Campag rip-off, but many of their components were the equal to the very finest products from Vincenza. Plus the logo is one of the coolest going.

But my favourite of the three is this old Campagnolo logo...

Coincidentally, I was lucky enough to receive some more goodies in the mail. A few weeks back I sent away for some Drunkcyclist stickers...

...and my good friends at the Rotorua Single Speed Society and NZO kindly sent me a bunch of super swag to heal my broken heart after I was forced out of last years Singlespeed World Championships. I may not be much of a singlespeeder but I was still terribly sad to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime chance to race in a World Championships race on NZ soil, so thanks heaps dudes!

Because the sun is still burning down while I type this from the crumby confines of my bed, I'll finish this off with the happy memories of the last ride I did before going under the knife. I felt quite sluggish but not too bad, although by the following day I was in quite some discomfort and was realising that riding might have to be shelved in the meantime...

The weather was fine but a tad chilly - good opportunity to slip on the oversocks for some classic Classics posing.

Laughing at myself laughing as I take a shot of myself laughing.

The Harbour.

Across the water to Mount Kaukau and Skyline, a trail I look forward to riding again soon.

That's right, I took a detour to Mediaeval England.

It's well known that I am a narcissist who is constantly searching for new ways to take pictures of myself riding - one day I hope this blog will make me enough money that I can afford a permanent photographic accompanist.

Mahanga Bay.

Breaker Bay looking towards Pencarrow and Baring Head.

Breaker Bay and the terrifying descent of the Pass Of Branda.

Moa Point looking towards the South Island and the Kaikoura Mountains.

My left leg up On The Boardwalk, Te Raikaihau Point. This shot has shot to stratospheric heights of interwebular fame, through the recent publication as Pic Of The Day on popular website Bikerumor.

And home again through the picturesque fishing village of Island Bay.

So that's one more day of recovery out of the way. Forgive me for this disjointed effort, and I hope there was something in this post for you to enjoy. I will no doubt return soon with more vaguely cycling-related scribblings in the not too distant future. Until then, thanks very much for reading, and thanks too for the wonderful support. Pedal on, Oli