Monday, July 19, 2010

Cyclo-cross number 2, bike number 2.

Another Cyclo-cross race, another single-speed build! I converted my trusty 1996 Diamond back Apex using the singulator that Mike Thomson gave me.
I worked out that with a 16/18 sprocket range on the back, and the 32-34 on the front, I could get a big enough spread to cover just about any conditions, all I needed was a chainwhip, a spanner, a cassette tool and a couple of allen keys to set it up before the race... Hence, I rode out to the event on a 34-16, and raced on a 32-16.
32x18   47.47
34x18   50.43
32x16   53.40
34x16   56.74
All the gears in the world are for nought if you are riding like rubbish tho. CX is a funny thing, and I certainly found this course much harder than the previous one, with its couple of gutty little climbs. Gary Moller seemed to be having a blinder, especially for a guy well into his 50's. Liz Roberston was there too ramping up (starting) her training for the Single Speed worlds. Ed Crossling on his Carbon Santa Cruz Blur was the winner with I think Revolution Cycles Alex Revell 2nd on his Salsa cross bike, with Johnny Appleseed 3rd on his Single speed. How varied is that? Johnny was riding the "gear-that--it-came-with" ratio!

It was a big foggy on the way out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Taupo (pronounced /ˈtoʊpɔː/, TOE-paw) Rotorua Single-speeding weekend

I am not sure whose idea the trip was? Sepps or mine, but before long we had a full van and a professional driver (Peter Reynolds) and youngster (Ed Banks) for company. The BS flowed freely, Ed said nothing the whole trip, but took it all in, to be used against us all down the track at some later date I am sure.

Despite having lived in Taupo for a few years, I had forgotten just how bloody cold it is up there. At least this time I was sleeping in a modern house in the burbs, and not a forestry hut built after the war. Sepp is a master organiser and a very forceful person, and wasted no time in convincing us all that carbs were evil and that every morning we should have 3 eggs and lashings of bacon for brekky. We were powerless to refuse. The plan was to base ourselves in Taupo and hit the local trails there, and race in Rotorua the next day.

 The last race I did in Rotorua was the national series finals in 2002. I suffered from my usual lack of riding skills, and time on the trails that even the good Wellington riders suffer on. The flowy BMX styled courses favour riders who can pump out smooth power without the inefficient grunt and brake style of riding I had learnt.

I dont know how relevant the style of track there is to racing on the world cup circuit, but it sure as hell is fun to ride on, and the MTBing public vote on it with their wheels. There are heaps more trails there now than there were back in 02, and some of them you could just play on all day long.

On day 1 we checked out Taupo's Craters of the Moon course on our single-speeds. This whole trip was about trying out our single-speeds and dicking about with gearing and such. Sepp had his dedicated SS Cannodale 29er and Ed and I had our old crapper bikes that had been converted. We did a bit of bike swapping and sledging and we were very impressed with Sepp's. It seemed to roll beautifully over all the terrain we encountered.

The night before, Ed and I recounted the last road-trip we did together. The Ohau and Naseby rounds of the nationals in 1996. Ed was a junior DHer with the Specialised team. I was finally a new vet (35 years old in those days). The day before the Naseby race we watched as a promising junior lake-jumped his BMXer all day. Kashi Leuchs was his name. That night in the camp ground we met up with another rising talent. John Kirkcaldie. He had this completely horn Cannondale with upside down forks. There was nothing else like it in the country at the time. The writing was on the wall for the many times National DH champ, Darren Henderson. JK eventually went on to win the American NORBA DH series twice.

After a couple of hours wrecking our single-speed legs in the Craters of the Moon Park we took off to the Cafe for a coffee. None us was that hungry as there were still partly digested eggs and bacon in our gut. Imagine our surprise when we realised that the guy we had just sat down next to at the cafe was John Kirkcaldie, out for his first ride in 4 months. What a coincidence.

That night Ed was in charge of nutrition and he built the largest lasagne in the world known to be consumed by four people. We dropped Sepp and Pete off at a bar in town to watch the Rugby while Ed-san and I went to at least 5 liqour stores looking for the peculiar brand of Japanese beer Ed always uses for Carbo loading.

The next morning, for some reason, my ribs were really bad. I had had a prang the week before at the Wainuiomata trail park, but thought nothing of it. On the sunday when I did the Cyclo cross at Upper Hutt they were sweet. A week later I was struggling to put my socks on. Sepp came to the rescue with 150mgs of diclofenac.

We got to Rotorua in plenty of time. It was bloody cold but the trails were frosty and firm as. I positioned myself for a good start in my first ever real single-speed race. The trails were awesome. We were all running standard gearing but had to wonder how much easier it would have been to be one tooth lower given the lack of flat or downhill riding. Everyone got a sore back but I noticed myself electing to jump off and run a bit rather than blow my legs completely in the first hour.

When Ed is invloved there is always a wager for a can of coke for the first rider home. He collected big-time again. I can see why so many people from Wellington go up to Rotorua to ride now, and when people talk about Pondys and Split Enz and the A-trail, I now know what they mean. The only problem was, I needed a good bike to make the most of these trails... the Litespeed just didnt cut it.... what to do. Maybe some experimentation with a single-speed fully.....

Sunday, July 04, 2010

If a man takes a nap on the couch......

.... and nobody sees it - did it really happen?

After getting home from the BikeHutt Cyclocross race today, hanging out a load of washing, and letting out the chickens, the chickens started to taunt me by prostrating themselves in the sun.

It was too much. I was severely blown and I took that "nap" option. Thats only the 3rd CX I had done, and it was a lot of fun, but with about 2 laps to go, when I had just caught Nick Blair, I started to see stars.Maybe it was the extra 15 mins we did over the previous events?

The course was a goodie and I didn't feel at any disadvantage to be using my single speed on only its 3rd ride. It held up better than I did. There were heaps of old school riders there, Marco, Ed Banks, Ken Feist, Nick Blair, Jonty and his Revolution crew and Geoff Notman with a shiny new Yet CX bike. Nice! The Bushlovers were out there in big numbers too, despite a lack of bush.
Bring on the next one, I think !

Results - and justice, (Upper Hutt styles).

Photos by Craig Madsen
Hedgehog Photography Ltd
0064 45269579