Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The things you see on the side of the road...

Dan's Singular Peregrine
Its been another busy month. Everyone is building new bikes. Ben has built up his Ibis Hakkalugi cross bike, waiting only on a head-set and Dan has finally finished his very classic looking Singular Peregrine.

Marco and Dave have gone to XX1, the crazy new 1 x 11 drive chain that has a rear cluster ranging from 42 to 10 teeth, the bottom 9 sprockets being engineered from a solid billet of steel.

The Bike Tech crew, Dave, Simon and myself, teamed up with Voodoo Lounger Ran for a cross bike ride a couple of weeks ago, the high-light of which was Simon falling off (NOVICE) while Dave proceeded to ride over his bald head. Lucky Dave was the only one not on a CX bike and his patented VPP suspension meant that he didn't feel a thing. Neither did Simon, but he could be head injured, who could tell ; )

Daves Ibis Mojo with XX1
Previous to that there was a weekend away where a bunch of us, Marco, Ash and Peter went up to Taupo to do the Huka Challenge. Marco had some issues with a wheel that would barely freewheel and his crank almost fell off within minutes of the finish line. The 85km course was a continuous single-track blast and the race seemed to be over in no time at all. I snuck home 1st in my age group, (as did my roomy Peter Reynolds), and caught all but two of the age-group riders that started 5 mins in front of us in the Huka XL race. Pete is 61 and finished less than 2 minutes behind me. Lucky he sconed himself at the start or I would have been "crustied!" We did the Huka Challenge which is for people without race licences.

Marcos 17 pound Cannondale Flash with XX1
After talking about racing my Cyclo Cross bike I chickened out at the last minute and rode my trusty Santa Cruz Superlight fully. I didn't regret it. I finished with almost two spare full water bottles so I'll know not to take so much water next time. I could have done with another bottle of coke though for the last hour, nutrition was great up until then as I had a bit of a bonk after catching up to Ant Bradshaw and Samara Sheppard. I got stuck behind a pretty fit guy on a 26 inch Cannondale Flash earlier on in the race but it was only a matter of time before he face-planted and I could get past. Those bikes are dangerous with anything less than a 650B wheel on the front, especially in the hands of your typical weight weener.
Ran, Dave and Simon

Apparently numbers were down quite a bit on previous years, (only 8 thousand)  maybe some people are wondering if 100$ is too much for a free water bottle?  I have only just learned that the sponsors actually have to pay to put their product in the "swag-bags".You couldn't fault the marshalling or course marking but it would have been good to know that there was a prize giving so we could have heard what happened at the front end of the MTB race. Taupo was certainly jam-packed with cyclists and we managed to sneak in two parties before the night was done and all good crusties hit the hay at 10pm. First up was the Bushlove pool-party and then later on the Roadies party with Ray, Barney and Hendi. A very nice way to spend the remainder of the day.

Paddy and I at the 09 Karapoti
Classic, his ability to live every
 day to the fullest is something
we can all aspire to. Anton Cooper
Nobody was ready for the shock of Paddy Avery's death in a short race in Rotorua last week, but it brought up the question of just how much good, or harm racing at intense levels is doing us. While Paddy was only young, there is an increasing list of people in their 50's being diagnosed with various variations on heart arrhythmia's. How much of it is genetic and how much is long term abuse? The Avery family are one of the most well known families in NZ MTBing with Clinton the "Tank" Avery being one of the first wave of Rotorua youngsters to follow their cycling passion onto the world stage. I met his equally passionate mother Mary Anne once at a coaching clinic, she was a bit bummed that the roadies had stolen Clinton away from his MTB roots, despite the response that Clinton could one day win Paris Roubaix. The Avery's all live for cycling and as the second tragedy to hit Rotorua biking this year it just seemed too much. See attached a tweet from NZ's junior world champion Anton Cooper. What an amazing photo. RIP Paddy.

I went for a ride with Peter Reynolds on Sunday on the cross bikes, me on my Singular Kite and Peter on his BMC. Poor Pete was hampered with the most debilitating fork shudder I had ever seen. There is some work to do to make that bike safe! Last night I took off my rear XTR cantis which were effectively useless, and replaced them with some very old-school over-length cantis which were ex Marco's spare parts bin. What a revelation. Pad clearance is still massive and they really work. This what they look like, on the right.

Peter Reynolds
I tested the new rear brakes out on my Belmont Road Moonshine River Trail commute this morning and they rocked. I was listening to a podcast at the time from Kim Hill's interview with Kathleen Sharp on her new book "Blood Medicine" which talks about the drug EPO and the corrupt ways it was pushed by the companies that sold it and the many deaths it caused.

The author commented how she thought it was ironic that while watching some Tour de France coverage she saw an advert for Johnson and Johnson's version of EPO, Procrit. What would she have thought if she knew that Amgen sponsored the biggest race in the US, the Tour of California, and knew that the UCI, effectively the world franchise for cycling wouldn't allow USADA full control of the drug testing process for the event? How many elephants can you fit in the one room?

On a weirder note, a couple of weeks back, on my morning commute via Belmont road, I came across this guy in the middle of the trail. At first I thought I was hallucinating, he waved his one good arm at me agressively so he still had plenty of fight in him. What the hell a 6 inch Koura (freshwater crayfish) was doing in the middle of a gravel road was beyond me, so I stuck him in my backpack and liberated him a couple of hundred metres up the road in a stream I knew of in the Kilmeister Block. He seemed pretty happy at that point.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Flying Kite at Wainuiomata Trail Park

I have had an inkling to do Taupo's 85km Huka Challenge on my CX bike next weekend, but before I commit to it I thought I better get out onto the most similar terrain I can find on my own back yard. That would be the WTP (Wainuiomata Trail Park). Taking the "long way home" was the plan, and although the direct route of going straight up Summit road was the closest to  my work, it would have been a bit of a push with only 34-25 gearing. Its usually granny-granny on my MTB. WTP has some great smooth trails, and I'd heard a lot of work had been done on their most recent one "Towai ". The last time I rode it was in a race (before I got lost) on my rigid Karate Monkey, and although it was a handful, it was a fun but demanding trail.

The Towai track
The recent work had taken a lot of the rough edges off the trail and made it 99% rideable on my Singular Kite. There were just a few bits that had me stepping off for a pace or two. The Kite continues to amaze me with its forgiving nature. I have got into a few slides on it, but never crashed, and the lightness, compared to a fully or heavier 29er really starts to be noticed after a couple of hours.

I was happy to be using an overbuilt Thomson stem when I whacked into a hole at the bottom of the Snail Trail but that was about the only moment I had. Jungle Gym and Labyrinth were all sweet as was the wetlands track. I wasn't going to hit 491 just yet : )

I noticed something else which was completely unexpected. While riding at WTP I am often skidding my rear wheel when riding my drop-barred Karate Monkey or Santa Cruz Superlight. The relative "ineffectiveness" of rear cantis put paid to that! I am convinced that the mini-vees on the front though are the best thing next to discs and I was very impressed with how well they handled the Summit road descent, up to 23% in places, according to Strava. I only had to get off once at the very bottom where the deep rain ruts directed me into the bush. I am still not sure whether to ride it at the Huka at the moment. I might head out to WTP one more time.

The view from the Pylon road across the Harbour
Coming down Summit road, 23% in places, according to Strava.

Another view of the ride, going to WTP via the Wainuiomata Hill, and back down Summit road.
A screen grab of WTP with Towai high-lighted.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekend Warrior Spring update 2012

PNP MTB round 5 November 11th 2012
Its been a good while since I've posted on my blog so I have a bit of catching up to do. Last sunday we had the final race in the PNP MTB series calendar and it was a goodie. Very old school with a rocky downhill (Red Rocks) and a 25 minute granny gear climb (Tip track). My plan to ride into Wellington and back for a bit of extra training was put on hold as the light rain didn't really look like abating, so I headed to the train station. I felt like Alex Revell, riding to a Cyclo-cross race somewhere in Belgium, using the public transport system. Unfortunately while on the train I had forgotten to turn off my Strava App, and upon upload, 7.5 hours later, I got a Strava comment from Joe Cooper commending me on smashing the 51kmh KOM along the motorway with a 68kmh ! Who would have known the trains were that fast.

Upon arrival at race HQ we were told that because of poor visibility and rough conditions we wouldn't be doing the Tip track and Red rocks. Bummer. That was the main reason I came in. I wanted a longer tougher ride in preparation for the Huka 80km race in Taupo on the 28th. A compromise was met and the Elite riders were allowed to race the full course as long as they took a jacket. The choice of what class to race in was made for me! In the end it wasn't cold, or overly windy, but it was a bit misty, so it was probably the best call to make, given the diversity of abilities at the race.

This course had a particularly brutal start on tar-seal and gained a lot of elevation through the depths of suburbia very quickly. Thankfully we were spared the sight from the weekend before while pre-riding the course where a person of non-determinable gender wearing no underpants flashed us several times as they bent over to move boxes around their garage. Hiskey said he had trouble sleeping all week and the rest of us marvelled over how the brain can blank out things that it thinks are harmful to us.

In a race similar to last years, I ended up dicing with my 50+ age-group compatriot Geoff Notman on his singlespeed as we hit the top of the Red-rocks descent. Lack of local knowledge and generally poor skills had me braking when I should have been pedaling down to the coast and by the time I got to the bottom Geoff had a good 200 metres on me, and Trevor Woodward had just caught me from behind. I really felt my 26 inch wheels bogging down the deep sand a few times as Trev seemed to float past on his 29er. We hit the Tip track and I gave it a nudge as I knew I would catch Geoff pretty soon pushing his singlespeed Niner up the granny gear climb. I got a bit of a gap on Trev in the first half, and as is usually the case, my over exuberant pace caught up with me in the second part of the climb and Trev passed me as my wheels spun on some loose stuff and I had a short dismount.

I did the timed Super-D segment with Trev, better to be behind him watching his line than slowing him down from in front! It was very foggy at this point with only about 20 metres visibility. I managed to hold onto him for the whole segment and he only started to fade as we headed back over to Wrights Hill.

I had a little gap as I came into the part of the course where Elite were to go down the Deliverance track, and everyone else was to go down Salvation. I don't know when I last rode Deliverance, maybe 10 years ago. I wasn't even sure I had ridden it until I recognised a few bits of it. I knew Trev would catch me, but there was a chance I could hold off Geoff if I kept my head down. Within in a minute I had crashed twice. Once a small one, the second time my undercarriage took a full impact from the back of my seat, and I was reduced to a hobbling gasping wreck. Trev turned up a short while later and had a good laugh. Ian Paintin tells me he stayed clipped in the whole way. Impressive. It will take me more than 1 ride a decade before I approach that level of competence. I alternated between running and riding through the slippery root infested creek-bed and eventually made it through to the finish. My fitness felt good. I had no real speed to speak of but considering it was my first race since Karapoti that's to be expected.

A big thanks to the organisers and marshalls that stand out there in the weather so we can have our fun. More details on the PNP site.

Martinborough Fun Ride, 115km October 28th 2012

I finally hooked up with my Voodoo Lounge buddy Neil for our first event in the team strip. The 115km Martinborough fun ride. The ladies had a free pass to hit the shops while we valiantly did battle on the country roads of the "rappa". Despite a crappy day in Welly, it was all good over the hill and was in fact great weather for racing. What I wasn't prepared for was the old start-stop nature of road racing. Luckily my wednesday worlds rides had meant that I could at least fake sucking a wheel for a while. I don't think I had done a "road race" since around 2009, so it was hard at first. On the first lap I foolishly did a few turns and found myself cashing cheques my body wouldn't honour as I went out the arse on the last climb of the first lap. Luckily I was not alone and the group managed to work together and catch the front bunch. Phew. That was close. How the hell was I going to keep in touch for the next longer lap and its extra hills!

I have no idea who owns this photo, I just borrowed it off Facebook !
Fun rides seem to be made up of two sorts of people. 3% good riders who can take a turn, and 97% of the rest of us who are faking it, sucking wheel and hanging on by the skin of our teeth. On the last hill I tried to stand up to throw in a little sprint to stay in touch, but my legs were cramping so badly I had to stay seated and spin like crazy. I was still moving through the bunch, and hanging in there.

Voodoo Lounge Teamsters in first team outing
With 20kms to go, Pro rider Joe Cooper and crusty Craig Lawn rode away as the shagged remainder of the bunch were powerless to do anything. We tried to form a paceline and bring them back but most of the riders were in a similar state to me. I thought I was being clever sucking the wheel of this giant of a guy in a Roadworks Jersey, but he went to the front for a turn, down a very big hill, at a very high speed, and I was next in line to come through. Just holding his wheel was putting me in the red. I managed a short turn then pulled over, sure I was gonna float out the bum again, but somehow I hung on.

 I finished with the front 25 strong bunch, Lawny and Joe 2 mins up the road, and waited for Neil's arrival. He had had some problems, a slow puncture and stopping to help another ride in distress. The ladies had not managed to max out the cards so it was a successful mission all round !

Image courtesy of Owen.
Revolution Bicycles 11 Peaks October the 6th 2012
The Revolution Bicycles 11 Peaks event was something I had been meaning to do for a while, so I had to turn down a chance to ride with Voodoo Lounge member Neil for the Vets  fun ride in the Wairarapa. The main problem I faced was not knowing where the hell any of the "Peaks" in the Peaks race were, or how to best get to them. I accosted Brevet buddy Owen Hughes online the night before and managed to cadge a ride with him. I didn't realise that he was actually riding with Voo Doo Lounger Andy King and UK MTBer Callum Chamberlain. All of these guys were showing recent good form which was a bit of a worry.

The plan wasn't to do the fastest time, but to ride the funnest way, and that was cool by me. I was on my 29er drop-barred Karate Monkey, Owen (and I think Callum) were on 26er hardtails and Andy a 29er fully. We went off at a crazy pace and shot straight to the top of Makara and then along the Skyline trail, to where ever the Skyline finishes. I'd only been along there once, and in the opposite direction, so it was a great new ride for me. The only other time I rode it was with Cleetus and it was so windy I had no inclination to ever do it again. Taking this route probably cost us a hell of a lot of time, but it was new trail as far as I was concerned.

Callum, Andy, myself, Pat Hogan and Owen Hughes taking photo at the end of Skyline?
We criss-crossed Wellington for the next 5 or so hours and the only other peaks that I had been up before were Hawkins Hill, Wrights Hill, Mt Albert and Mt Crawford. Awesome. There were some amazing views on what was a lovely day with a slight southerly. Coming through Mt Vic Callum got a puncture. Being as always, over-prepared, I had a spare 26inch tube in my back-pack. I'm not sure why, maybe because I know you can make one fit a 29inch wheel if need be. I told Callum to make sure he changed it as soon as he got home. He didn't, and punctured the next weekend in the PNP race : (

We carried on through Mt Crawford and came down the Jail-break track, once again, probably not the quickest way off the hill, but definitely the coolest way down! I had a bit of an off when I rode a bit high on one of the banked turns. We stopped at Hataitai and debated whether or not to have a sit down meal or just grab some buns and run. We ran.

I couldn't tell you where we went next but it was steep, and hot, and I was getting tired. We popped out at the bottom of the tip-track which by now I was not looking forward too. Callum was forced to attacked it hard as his single front ring didnt give him much of a gear spread. Andy's form was showing through and he let it rip, never to be seen again.

I had a granny gear of a 22 on the front and a 36 on the back, which is absurdly low, by anyone's standards, but I actually used it. I could have sworn it took me 50 minutes to get up that climb, but Strava tells me it was only 30. I had a small lead on Owen at the 2/3rds mark but he came back at me just before the top. We carried on and took in some cool trail that came out by the entrance to Zealandia and in my blithering state I clipped my bar on the bank and only a nearby "safety-tree" stopped me from dropping into a rather unfriendly looking gorge.

The finish at Revolution Bicycles was welcoming with a burger and ginger beer outside the shop and very friendly debrief. Heaps of our old Brevet buddies were there. There were a wide range of bikes being used and for the serious people, a CX bike or a hard tail 29er seemed a good option. With his current bike shortage Dave Sharpe chose the duathlon option of road-bike/running and wasn't too far off the pace. A really fun event and its quite impressive that you can jam 2650 metres of climbing into just 69kms !
Thomas Lindup took out the honours on his shiney new High Ball and the next 3 riders were also Revolution teamsters!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Hinakura 100 Mile Gravel Grinder

Mike tells us the way its gonna be.
Mike at the Bike Hutt had been talking about a Gravel Grinder for a while now, and so it came to pass. The Hinakura 100 was a 160km ride on a secret course in the Wairarapa. As we had all guessed, it would take in the back end of Admirals Hill, and possibly head out along the Pahaoa River to the coast and back. A beautiful piece of gravelly road that flanks a normally emerald green river down below.

 We collected our laminated map and course notes and rolled out of Martinborough Square at more or less 8am. It was a beautiful crisp and sunny day with the potential to get very hot. The action started almost immediately when the first turn was missed, and a rider went down when his front wheel was clipped. He banged his head a beauty at quite a low speed. Unfortunately it was game over for him 5 mins into the ride.

Punters ready to rip
We carried on, sniffing out the elusive gravel that was going to justify the usage of our knobbly tires and shiny Cyclo-cross bikes. Dave Sharpe was already up the road by now, getting some run-up for the first hill on the fixed gear single-speed bike he likes to call the "Death-machine".

I tried to take a photo and then struggled to get my camera back in its bag as we started the first of our gravelly ascents, which just happened to coincide with the first real move from the riders at the front.

The Hinakura 100. A 100 mile romp in the gravel. 1558 metres, or 5111 foot climbing for the old school imperilists. There was also a 100km version for those with more sense. The shorter event still crammed in 1100 metres of elevation.

I found myself in a little group with Ken Feist, Dave, Nick Kennedy and the NZ women's Cyclo-cross champ Kim Hurst. By the time we crested the hill there was a bit of a gap to the more sensible riders and as we concentrated on pulling back Dave we must have increased it a bit more.

Dave, Nick, Barryn, Kim (hidden) and Ken.
The problem with Dave's death-machine was its inability to descend at speed, due to it not having a coasting hub, so as Dave continued to smash us up all the Hills we would eventually pick him up going down the other side. Ken must have decided to be more sociable and drop back to the next group behind.

The next big Hill was the one approaching Hinakura, while not gravel, it was still a beauty. Somewhere up there we lost Dr Nick and despite seeing no sign of Dave up ahead, we soon pulled him in again down the other side. Kim and I, making the most of the tail-wind and down hill, pushed on, at a very sociable conversation pace down to the coast for the turnaround.

This part was fun, because it was out and back, and we could see who was closest to us. Dave, Nick and then the group with Trevor Barryn and Ken. A spot of rain in the hills that week had the normally pretty river flowing a muddy brown. The upside was that the gravel roads were not putting up any dust. More of a concern to me though was the head wind, the return elevation, and how long Kim would put up with me sucking her wheel !

A short section of tar seal lead us up to the turn at the Hinakura Hall and it was into the farmland proper. These were farm roads. The domain of tractors, Big Reds and Hiluxes. This was the high-light for me. It could have been anywhere in rural New Zealand, but here we were grovelling away, trying to ward off the cramp. With no sign of Kim up ahead I stopped at the top to take a photo. And and as I was about to leave, Dave and the death-machine turned up. This was a contentious spot, as Map-my-ride had omitted the road name in the course maps it had generated. I had been up here once before, and so had Dave. Gut feeling was that left was right. A bit of downhill followed then the big one. Admirals hill.

At the top of the farm track before the infamous fork. Kim was long gone. Dave turned up on the Death Machine a few minutes later and we spanked it down some nice gravelly descents.

Admirals hill is the Queen stage of the Tour of Wellington each year. It's the big one, but the mostly untraveled "back side" of it is gravel. This was our route. It was getting hot. Not Wairarapa hot, but hot enough that riding through the short patches of shade made you want slow down and linger a while.

If you were a Magpie would you be scared?
I was really suffering by now, hoping for the gravel to abate. Looking for signs of civilization. Seeing a school bus sign always does it for me. Children live nearby, therefore it cant be more than 50kms to the nearest country school. Unbeknown to me Dave was a long way up the road getting dive-bombed by magpies. I wasn't, either my slow progress wasn't deemed to be threatening enough to them, or the big white eyes I stuck on the back of my helmet were doing their job. More aerodynamic than the zip-tied porcupine look.

Good news bad news. The gravel stopped but the tar seal got steeper. This was particularly testing for riders like Dave, Mike Anderson and Ben Knight on their single speed Cross bikes. I think there were single speeders in the Metric hundred as well. They also took in this part of the course. I stuck my head down, spat the "milk bottle" lollies out of my mouth as there was obviously not enough saliva left in my glands to swallow them.

I crested the hill and enjoyed the long descent and as it flattened out who should appear beside me but Kim. She'd taken the right instead of the left at the top gate and reckoned she added about 10kms to her journey! We rode on and a few minutes later picked up Dave suffering from his usual gear shortage on the long flat section back to Martinborough. I think The hill on Millars road was the last time we were all together, and as Kim legged it off down the other side I only gave a half hearted chase as I knew my goose was crispy on the outside.

Dave caught me up again and must have a photographic memory or something as he seemed to know exactly where to go without looking at the notes. I was in reptilian mode and all ability for cognitive thought had long gone. I would like to say that we rolled into the Martinborough Square to the adulation of our peers, but we didn't. They were still out there. Anyone that respected anyone else silly enough to do a 100 mile Gravel Grinder was out there participating.

Tom was out there, having not been on a bike in about 7 months. Thomas was there having left home at 2am in the morning to ride over the hill from Wellington. Owen borrowed a bike because his brand new one broke a week after he built it up. I'd be surprised if anyone of them regretted it.

For me it was a chance to test my new bike, and it came through nicely. A steel frame on a long ride like this was perfect. Not one scary moment and no sore bits anywhere. I'm not sure how much of the smooth ride was due to my carbon rimmed wheels but it may have helped. Although I had several periods of bad cramping I was still able to stand up and move my position about on the bike. Riding more than twice a week would probably be the best way to address the cramp issue in future I would think.

On the day around 30 hardy soles entered the inaugural Hinakura 100's. About 20 in the Imperial, and 10 in the Metric. Thanks to Mike Anderson and his team from the Bike Hutt for organising it and giving us another reason to go out and play in the gravel. I am sure we are all looking forward to the next one.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

An alternative to the latest Iphone

World hunger, Global warming and conflict around the world took a back seat in the media this week, as the latest Iphone was launched. Should I replace my 2 year old entry level Android phone with a brand new Iphone that is still inferior to it in many ways ? Not that I was seriously considering it, but my contemplation was interrupted by the tinkle of a bell. It was the cafeteria staff at my work place who had launched a new 10:30 trolley-run, pimping their goods, healthy sandwiches, buns, and ... Ginger Crunch! Hmmm Ginger Crunch. The second I wrapped my lips around that Ginger Crunch, any thought of Apples was gone.

10 reasons why Ginger crunch is better than an Iphone  5.

1. A piece of Ginger crunch is more intuitive to use. Nom nom nom
2. You don't have to line up for a day to buy the latest Ginger crunch.
3. Like the Iphone, a piece of Ginger crunch doesn't have NFC, Swype, a removable battery or SD card either, but who cares.
4. You don't have to buy a new adaptor for your Ginger crunch to make it compatible.
5. If you drop your piece of Ginger crunch on the ground it wont shatter.
6. No matter how you hold your Ginger crunch, it will never drop a call.
7. No jury (even in Cupertino) is going to convict your Granny for baking Ginger crunch with rounded corners.
8. In three years time 60% of the Ginger crunch made today wont be emitting toxic waste at the bottom of your local landfill.
9. No one actually cares what model your Ginger Crunch is.
10. Ginger crunch is open source. Anyone can make it.

Here is the recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/edmonds-ginger-crunch-152535

Make some Ginger crunch, stimulate the local market and save the planet.

A relevant link here from the Oatmeal.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Flying a kite.

This is my first real ride on my Singular Kite cyclo-cross bike. I am loving it so far. It was hard taking it out into the wild where it might get muddy, but that day had to come. Its all been good so far, except for one thing. The elephant in the "CX room ".Cantilever brakes. Life is too short and brakes have come too far for me to put up with them. Tradition be damned. My good buddy Marco kindly donated some pristine XTR canti "stoppers" for the back, and while they may score highly in retro points I can only tell they are activated when I hear a slight howling sound from the back. On the other hand, the standard v-brakes I have on the front feel very similar in feel to the Avid mechanical discs I have on my drop-barred karate monkey. There will be some mini-vees making it onto this bike as soon as I can afford it!

I am loving the Salsa Bell lap handlebars at the moment too, 44 cms wide. The ride is smooth and the handling very predictable. Not a hint of a twitch anywhere. I will have to wait til I get some dedicated wheels before I can tell how much of the ride feel is because of these carbon rimmed wheels currently on it.

 Getting pinkified

Still lots of bits to come, has only travelled 2.2 kms to date. Felt very very smooth.
Heres the frame. The drop-outs on it are very pretty. Better pictures later.

 Hopefully will have one of these built up soon. A bit late for CX season though.
This sure is a purty one. Singular Kite.

Image borrowed from the "interweb".

Sunday, August 26, 2012

To each his own

I see the endurance cycling guru and former Tour Divide record holder Jay Petervary  is having another crack at the event. It was pretty obvious by his comments during the official running of the event this year that he was "ill at ease" with the "purity" of how the race was unfolding (riders riding in the vicinity of others). While the event itself has probably not changed a lot in the last few years, the introduction of spot trackers has meant that, like yacht racing and many other inherently boring sports, multi-day endurance bike racing has now become great viewing.

Kiwi Brevet 2012
With great viewing comes popularity (relatively speaking) and this year when around 100 riders fronted up for the 4400km ride, the chances of anyone riding completely alone for 100% of the time was going to be very unlikely. Especially with the new level of athleticism that increased popularity ultimately brought.

I was very impressed at the way the top riders like Ollie Whalley and Craig Stapler rode this years Tour Divide, with good sleeping patterns and relatively high average speeds on the trail. To me this is racing. Riding along through the night in a sleep deprived stupor is not the kind of thing that impresses me personally. "Learning about yourself" by digging really deep sort of reminds me a bit of Steve Jobs trying to reach a new level of enlightenment by fasting. Tales of the hallucinatory experiences people have sound very  interesting in the telling, but I am not sure I want to go there.

I have brought into the world two kids so I've done my fair share of sleep deprivation, and I can say it never did a lot for my athleticism. Family is also a great way of ensuring you have some kind of a balance in your life. I never thought I'd say it, but I am really thankful to have people around me who help me put my obsessions into perspective with respect to the big picture.

For me, bikepacking is about a couple of things. Getting out there into the wilds, good company and an element of being self sufficient. I often wonder if I could be bothered doing these efforts by myself. I suspect I would get very bored with my own company after about a day. Luckily everyone is motivated by different things.

Anyway, JP is putting his money where his mouth is, foregoing the Grand Depart  and riding the 4400km completely by himself.  JP's spot tracker should turn up here. Check out his rig here. A very nice Ti Salsa Fargo with Woodchippers.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Welcome to WELLYMUD !

I was keen to see how I was going to go in my first CX of the year. I have been doing a fair bit of gnarly hill running, but have been not quite averaging 1 ride a week for the last couple of months.

I remember last year at the end of the CX season feeling like I needed like a rest, right when I should have been stepping up my training ! I was determined not to do to that again this year, even though I wanted to support my Kiwi Brevet buddies Owen and Andy's new series.

Despite the turgid weather it was quite warm at California Park, with the friendly atmosphere that always accompanies Mike's events. A couple of people had really lifted their game from where they were when I last raced them (even taking my form into account).

Last year I could beat, or keep pace with Kim Hammer-Hurst, but now she is at the new level that saw her crowned NZ elite women's Cyclo Cross champ a few weekends back. She looks awesome in her new kit! Andy King was at another level as well. Jonny Waghorn was going really good on his singlespeed but I think the SSers found it a bit hard as the course got increasingly cut up for our race.

Pretty sure this is the exact moment
where I tweaked my back, the only time I
nailed this particular piece.
I had a wicked duel with Ken Feist and Mike Thomson for a while, eating each others dirt. Me on my Karate Monkey, Mike on his Masi SSer, and Ken on his Di2 Felt !  I had already used my last lap effort on my first lap, so there was no responding when Ken finally woke up and put the hammer down on the last couple of laps. I did manage to hold off a hard charging Mike though, and narrowly avoid getting lapped by 2nd placed Andy. I felt like I had a bit of an advantage with my big-big 34-36 granny gear combo that let me ride all the little climbs while most of the pure CXers and SSers had to dismount.

Alex Revell was in a league of his own, and he needs to be, given that he is heading off to Belgium for a CX season in a couple of weeks. What an adventure! I wonder what Belgian mud is like?

Oh yeah, I took Kens advice, which KFC gave him, on air pressures. It helped heaps.

Results from Mike:http://blog.thebikehutt.co.nz/2012/07/2012-cx-round-1.html

.. and some pix from the better half : http://www.melhamerhurst.blogspot.co.nz/2012/07/bike-hutt-cyclox-round-1.html

Rumour is that there will be a weigh-off next time, Marco's MTB vs Kens CX bike!

Thanks to Ed Banks for these pix ! Go check out his blog to see his retro Downhill bike!  http://edsironmanblog.blogspot.co.nz/

Ed Banks in the "grip".

A very clean Humpy !

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What happened to quality?

Dodgy Jugs, Sunbeam left, Russell Hobbs right
In September 2010 I wrote a post about some of my favourite things; at the time one of these was the new Sunbeam Electric Kettle that replaced the dodgy Russell Hobbs Kettle that we persevered with for over a year.

Less than 2 years later the $189 Sunbeam Kettle has crapped itself as well. What price do you have to pay for quality today?

Is there such a thing as quality anymore? We paid top dollar for our European Miele dishwasher, which 4 years down the track is blowing water out its drying vent.

New jug on the block, a Zip - $40 12/07/12
The 500$ Asus netbook I brought from Playtech lasted for 1 month outside of its warranty. Not that Asus is a high end product but you'd still expect more.

The last decent watch I bought lasted a year before the strap broke off. Now I just buy Warehouse watches. These days I think my plan will just be to buy crap stuff. Your expectations are low and you can probably get 3 to 4 "crap" products for the price of one "good" one.

All of my buddies high-end Litespeed road bikes have failed. None of my cheap crappers have.

Unless my Surly Karate Monkey gets run over by a bulldozer I know its still going to be a going concern in 10 years time.