Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Big Coast - loaded

Last saturday was a chance for us to check out our rigs with a bunch of other like minded Brevet riders and a random sprinkling of adventure racers. The "Big Coast" ride is about 120kms and takes in quite a variety of terrain including about 4 abandoned railway tunnels on the Rimutaka Incline. Unbeknown to myself and Mister Cleetus, we were the only ones riding with full brevet kit! DOH!

We started at Trevs place where we hooked up with Jill, Jerry, Colin, Paul, Dave and Barryn, I think that was it, and headed off into a damp and stiff southerly. Trev has the most elegant stainless steel aero-bar in the world, and it came in handy as we hunkered into the teeth of the southerly near Pencarrow. You are kind of committed to the aeros though... theres no taking your hands off to grab the flats when it gets a bit sideways!

We ground along in our hi-zoot Ground Effect tops, on state of the art full suspension 29er wheeled cad designed machines, sipping on hi-energy Gu's and electrolyte replacement bars, paragons of hi-tech. Then, around the corner came a young guy on a warehouse bike with a pink helmet. Then a few minutes later was a young girl, then another. What were these kids doing out on a day like this in their t-shirts? After about 10 minutes the queue dried up the last one came through. I said hello. And he said "Hi Jeff". It was Leon! Leon is our painter (I fully recommend him) Hes a staunch member of the Mormon church and this little ride was one they did from Ocean Beach each year during the holidays. Awesome.

The bit across the river beds was a bit gnarly and a couple of the guys got punctures. By the time we had got off the coast it had started to rain in earnest. The good news was, it wasnt cold unless you stopped pedalling, so Cleetus on his wagon wheels went to the front and we sat on 40 plus kmh for a very long time along the side of the Lake to Cross Creek. A firm tail wind helped.

After another short food stop at Cross Creek we headed off to the summit. There was a cold wait there for a while as Cleetus had punctured right back at Cross Creek. Watching how these adventure racing guys keep warm was worth seeing first hand and duly noted.

After regrouping we headed back to the Hutt, which was a lot warmer than the other side of the tukkas! Down the Hutt River trail to town, and my brakes exploded about 2kms from home. Well timed. A good ride with lots of really good tips picked up.

The photos are from Paul Chaplow. Thanks Paul.

Friday, January 22, 2010

First loaded ride on Brevet bike

I did my first real ride on the Brevet machine this morning, with its likely payload. Another 16.5 pounds on the bike. (thats Marcos whole bike!) A total of 40 pounds rolling.

I commuted to work via Belmont trig, Baked beans bend and Mill Stream. I was surprised at how the extra weight caused completely different sensations in different places. I can see now how seat comfort could be an issue, where as before, even though my seat is pretty minimal, it never even looked like bothering me. I took a bit less than another 4 mins to get up the trig, and given that the track was quite damp, and it was the first time I had ridden the new freeload rack loaded, I took it pretty easy on the descent.

By the time I got to the end of Mills stream I was feeling pretty comfortable with it, and as I read somewhere else, on steep descents, where you hang off the back, you kinda feel the rack underneath you, and although you dont sit on it, it lets you control the rear of the bike a bit more directly.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Freeload bike rack

My new freeload bike rack arrived today, so armed with the confidence of knowing that I once assembled a kids "Warehouse" swing and slide set, I started to put it all together. Being the geek I am, I had my camera on hand, and a good thing I did.... because, although the assembly of the unit was a complete doddle, when it came to strapping it on my bike I came unstuck. I had been messing with the webbing straps, and they had unravelled from their correct locations : (
I was able to re-thread them by referring to the camera's images.

The top "deck" caused me some grief, I thought I had it installed as per instructions, but noted that I could pull it off the alloy frame quite easily. After some frantic phone calls to Mister Cleetus, we found that he had not installed his correctly either. There are two parts to getting it right. 1. The curved alloy frame's end needs to be bottomed out against the green toe-piece in a horizontal plane. 2. Some downward force needs to be applied to the deck directly above the little green catches, which are underneath it. There is a resounding click when this happens.

As suggested, with bikes running brake lines on the top-side of their "seat-stays" you will need to pull them up, to give some room for the mounting hardware. I had heaps of spare brake-line so it wasn't a problem. I did move the mounts as far as I could down the seat-stay though, so that there was no chance of the rack coming into contact with my seat under full suspension bottoming. This has yet to be tested in the real world. Maybe one day this summer it will stop raining.

So far the contact I have had with the guy at Freeload (Tim) has been very helpful and friendly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How much is too much fun?

The last time I had anything to do with Mount Climie, it was watching the helmet cam video that Ed showed me of himself nearly running over an old lady walking her dog up it! Like all DHers he was in full control and she had nothing to be worried about.

Team "Go vegan's" Mister Cleetus decided that it would be a cool idea to ride up Mt Climie (860 metres) four times... I think he got this twisted idea from reading Sifter's blog about him and Simon's equally crazy adventures involving altitude.

Being gullible and easily led, I too thought it seemed like a really nice way to spend the crappy rainy friday, which I had foolishly swapped for a handful of beans, and probably the best sunny friday we have had in Wellington since I returned from my holiday in Nelson. Anyway, it was a good test for the Singular Gryphon which is Mister Cleetus's new Brevet machine. See some pix of the Mythical Gryphon grinding up and down the hill.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Xmas break report

I am not long back from a pretty awesome holiday in Nelson and Marlborough. I was lucky enough to get shown the amazing trails that the locals have over there.

On boxing day, ex Wellingtonians Gazza and Susie Milbanke-Wood invited me along with a group of their buddies to do an ascent of Fringe Hill. Its about 800 metres in height I think, and seems to be the start of many good rides. At the top it was out with the scorched Almonds, chrissie cake and and all the goodies. Very civilised.

All was going well until my "Cuz" (who we actually met going in the opposite direction and joined our ride) showed me a short-cut down the hill... You remember that big storm that hit Nelson 18 months ago?
It knocked down trees that had been standing for over 100 years. Well those trees are still all over the trails.
To cut a long story short, I ripped off my drop-out and had to free-wheel down the hill minus chain and rear derailer.

Luckily for me I had the direct dial to the Stylianou Mansion on my bat-fone and by the end of the day had the entire NZ supply of Santa Cruz Superlight drop-outs in my hot little hand.

The next day, once again, purely by chance I came across Cuz, this time in the company of "Coppermine Classic" organiser James Hufflet. Where were they going?
To pre-ride the Coppermine of course! As Stylie was at home sick he was spared the job of showing me around the course as earlier promised.

I didnt notice at the start but both Paul (Cuz) and James were riding big-hit bikes with 2.3 wide tyres... I was on my superlight with my Brevet Aero-bars on! DOH!

The first descent of the Coppermine, from the top of the Fringe hill is the best part, ride able rooty drop-offs among the Beech trees, quite beautiful, but I am sure a handful in the wet. The next part was also very nice, taking in parts of the Dun Mountain Walkway. There were lots of new trails being built up there, but the one bit that I didnt care for too much consisted of nasty bowling ball sized boulders in a stream bed. I suspect that this is the "signature" of the Coppermine, but I have heard its being cut from the offical Coppermine course this year. No complaints from me but the local hardcore will not be happy.

The next day I was out again with Paul and James and we took in some pretty amazing trails from the entrance to Hira Forest, Kaka, Rimu, R&R, and supple-jack trails, to name a few of them. All of them real fun and some quite demanding singletrack in my book. They were dropping me easily in the descents as I was lacking in confidence on this style of track. Its not the groomed trails that you get in R-vegas or Makara, and after 3 days on the trot, I was also missing a fair bit of skin.
The weather was very hot in the evenings in Nelson but thankfully it was quite overcast during the days. Under the canopy of the exotic forest it was so dark at times that I nearly needed lights to see.

One day I snuck out to take in a piece of the Brevet course through the Wairoa Gorge road and Pig Valley, probably about 70/30 Tarseal to gravel.

On new years eve I ran into another ex Wellingtonian (Dave) when we stumbled across his bar while waiting for Minuit to play at the Catherdal steps. Dave was up for a ride at 11am the next day, despite only getting home at 4am. We re-rode R&R where I didnt dab, or crash at all, and did a whole bunch more trails.. Chings Highway, Tuckers Road... and many more that I have forgotten. What a blast.

Next up was a trip over the Maungatpu saddle to Pelorus and onto Moetapu Bay where some more Welly friends have a bach (hang a left at Linkwater). I was able to ride some of the Brevet course in reverse. It was very foggy going over the hill with a very light rain. I tried out my new breathable rain jacket which worked well. There were a couple of short walks on the ascent where the surface was steep and loose. I stopped for some photos at Murderers Rock and when I eventually got to Blenheim a few days later I read up all about the murders. It was a pretty gruesome affair in ever way, the murders, the executions etc and would it would be hard to find a similar event in NZ's history that would have had such a profound effect.

No sooner had we got to Moetapu Bay than our host Greg had organised a family ride, and the next day dropped myself, Alan and Ollie off at Punga Cove so that we could ride the Queen Charlotte Walkway to Te Mahia. Awesome! Its not the cruisey family ride I was led to beleive. Lots of straight up and straight down. I am not sure I agree with it being a mixed use track either. Walkers must get pretty annoyed at MTBers barrelling down the track all the time. We got to te Mahia just as it started to rain so it was very well timed.
We later drove into Blenheim and amused ourselves by PYOing 10kgs of cherries...

Marco's new rig

Originally uploaded by boogerbooger

Look ma! No fork!

Originally uploaded by boogerbooger

Green is the theme

Originally uploaded by boogerbooger

Its not easy being green....

Originally uploaded by boogerbooger
Marcos new wheels

Friday, January 08, 2010

Gryphon, Monster-cross!

This is Team "Go Vegan" 's new set of wheels. I had a quick tootle on it yesterday and was very impressed with how fast it rolled. It should be real good on those miles of tar-seal and gravel. Its a road-bar specific machine with "non-shock-ready" geometry.