Monday, November 22, 2010

They are playing my Tune

It was a very sad moment. My favorite hub had just broken. A slight buckle in the wheel had caused me to grab a handful of spokes to check the tension.... then plunk! A big piece of flange from the non-drive side had pulled away. I was mortified, I'd had that hub since 2003 at a guess, so it had done some hard yards. But it was a Tune Kong, probably the lightest hub available in the world at the time, a feathery 252 grams. It came courtesy of my duties as Kashi Leuch's webmaster.

Between Kashi's tenure on the Rockstar Volvo Cannondale team, and Julian Absalon's Bianchi team, he spent a year as an independant riding for Maxxis and Trek, with fruity-bits supplied by the guys at Tune. The hubs, along with, stem and cranks were all part of my payment for web-munstering duties for Kashi over the years. This was the only way a poor married with children racer like myself could aspire to such fruity kit.

The guys at Tune are serious freaks when it comes to componentry. The weight and visual appeal of some of this stuff is completely off the radar. Hubs with magnetic pawls and carbon fibre axles are not unheard of.

I have also had a Tune hub on my road bike since 2001 (this was my training and racing wheel) , and to this day it still hasn't even had to have its bearings replaced.

Being the geek I am, I thought the guys at Tune might be interested in seeing a picture of the broken hub flange, given that it was on the "non-drive" side so I emailed them one. Imagine my surprise when in a return email they offered their condolences and offered to replace the hub body for the cost of postage! Thats what I call service! Any warranty would have been long expired.

Eventually a new hub body turned up, and with the help of a mallet, a vise and a pair of pliers, I had installed my old axle and bearings. The new hub was a feathery 231 grams, and would be substantially less with an upgraded axle I would guess.

Some people in NZ might go on tours of the Cadburys chocolate factory in Dunedin, or the Tui beer factory in Mangatoinoka, but if I had my choice of tours, it would be the Tune factory in the Black Forest of Germany, as this lucky Weight Weener did.

I am looking forward to rebuilding that wheel and hitting the trails again with it.

Some more links:
Here is my own "how-to" on removing a Tune spider, with the "track-bike-tool".
Check out the images of  the famed alchemist Mr Tune (Uli Fahl's) rocket powered bike.

Be the envy of your friends and download the Tune "ring-tone", in case you can't guess, the sound of a coasting tune hub : )  or if the Mrs asks for suggestions, for a stocking filler for you this year, there is the 20th Anniversary Tune MTB groupset, for a paltry Euro 1500.00. I am not sure if the crank is included. More stingy wives may spring for the lovely Carbon Fibre cup and saucer set !

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Single speed worlds


This photo shamelessly stolen from NZ MTBing
entity Freditor Christiensen's facebook.
Single speeds worlds is done. What a cool event, like the rugby sevens, minus the rugby! Perfect.
Wicked costumes all round and some seriously cool bikes. They managed to get 900 riders tootling around a tiny starting pen in a clockwise direction at 2kmh for about 5 mins, and then, like a game of musical chairs they whipped open the gate, and those who just happened to be at the right place stormed out!

I was one of the first! What a blast. In the top10 ten at the SS worlds, what a dream start. It was about 5mins later that the current world champ (Ross Schnell) finally caught me as I was pushing my bike near the top of the first climb. Probably another 10 minutes later I was on the side of the track with a slow puncture. Bummer. Stuff happens. Hundreds of people must have passed me but it wasn't to be my day anyway. At then end of the first lap I was pretty cooked and still had one long slow lap to go.

At one point I pulled over for a rest and just checked out some of the cool costumes. Chris and Bob rolled by, Bob in her saucy nurses uniform. It was a hard ride, the hardest I have done for a long time. Not sure why. Maybe too much time off with the flu. If the singlespeed worlds ever come back you have to go, if not to ride, then at least to watch!

There were quite a few Welligntonians up there, but to be honest I would have expected a few more, maybe their brownie points were all used, or maybe they didn't realise what a blast it would be.

Photo by Kates friend Emily. Thats a dude in camo just
behind me,  and Hannibal Lecter and a Smurf to the left .
There were some very cool bikes up there, this was one them, but I think at the high end there is an element of being a bit too cool for school. It was almost like if you were out riding and were spotted on a geared bike that you might be jeered at! On the other hand, I am very keen to try some of these bars on my wifes commuter bike...

Thanks to Sepp for the transport and Callum and Kashi for the accommodation at the lovely bach at Lake Okareka. We also ended up sharing rooms with Kiwi Brevet winner Ollie, and I also met fellow Kiwi-Brevet rider Chris Tennent-Brown as we circulated in the "shark-pool" at the start.

More links. Singlespeed Champs Facebook.
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=40071&id=100000003948263&l=2b3f0cfaf5

Singlespeed Worlds site.
http://www.sswc10nz.com

Flickr (some good ones in here)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/79498713@N00/sets/72157625108601455/

Oh yeah, I have just seen the results and it looks like US Superbike Champion Ben Bostrum came 3rd ! (Behind Garth Weinberg -1st, and Ross Schnell - 2nd).

A very good post from Sifter who was up there helping out.
http://sifter-writes-bikes.blogspot.com/2010/10/whaka-100-and-single-speed-worlds-part_24.html

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

These are a few of my favourite things....

These are few of my favourite things...
 A lunch-time lap of Dry Creek now that Danzig is pretty mucky.

Podcasts
Ideal for when you are doing a long ride (yeah right), or gardening, or painting the house.

This is one of my favourites, with US Legend Steve Larson, who passed away unexpectedly last year at the tender age of 39. He is pretty much the Forrest Gump of cycling and has achieved in all disciplines from Road, MTB, Xterra, Ironman. Its a great interview. http://competitorradio.competitor.com/?s=larsen . Competitor radio has masses of inteviews with all sorts of Endurance athletes from Rod Dixon and Lance Armstrong to Dave Scott.

This one is from The American Life. An amazing place for stories about things, some everyday, some completely out there, like this one about how before the US stock market crash, the company Magnetar brought up "toxic" debt and on-sold it, at the same time betting on its imminent failure. All completely legal, if morally corrupt.  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/405/inside-job .

In this one, the Police install a new system for measuring crime stats, and before long they are "reclassifying" their crime to make it look like they are achieving new goals and meeting quota, something which is illegal. A cop disagrees with it, and wears a hidden microphone, right up to the point where they come into his house and have him "committed" to a mental hospital. The whole thing is recorded. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/414/right-to-remain-silent

You can download these for free via itunes, or stream them on the web.

Socks, a top and a multi-tool.
Everyone used to hate it when they got socks for birthdays as kids right? I know I did. I got these socks for the Kiwi Brevet and they are still going strong, I dont think they were cheap, but they are comfy and showing no signs of wear. Lorpen XBTC Multisport is the name.
You dont always have to pay top dollar to get a good product. This Kathmandu multi-tool has everything, including chainbreaker, a torxc and 4 spoke spanners. This Kathmandu "Altica" top is the best Poly-pro I have ever had, it doesn't get smelly, it doesn't get wet and it doesn't get too hot, once again, like the multi-tool, brought and used in the Kiwibrevet. We used the Multi-tool to re-true Sepps busted wheel during the Ride to Erewhon 155km event the other week.

Cupcakes.
Hmmm cup-cakes. Arent they lovely? Good enough to eat. My youngest daughter made these.

Look at thoses jugs!
The Kettle on the right in this picture has the name that was always associated with quality - when I was a youngster. If you had a Russel Hobbs, you were to be envied. They turned themselves off automatically, and they lasted for ever. Shiney steel with an important looking red button. The one on the right in this photo lasted about a week before the "lid activator" broke off. We got a new one. It broke off too. I think we put up with it for another two years, pouring the water in down the spout, then the "start" button broke off, so I managed to whittle down a close peg to do the job.... then it started leaking water all over the electrical parts.... It also made a noise like a 1989 3.7 litre Toyota Land Cruiser idling with the choke out. You had to turn up the TV 2 notches and shut the two doors between the lounge and the kitchen just so you could hear the telly.
And then, after at least two years of putting up with this monstrosity my wife brought home a new one... the one in the left on this picture. A Sunbeam. Well.... she wont tell me what it cost, but I dont' care, you can listen to the radio in the same room ! Right now that Sunbeam kettle is up there with my favourite things.

What should be done with the man that designed my previous kettle

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Its raining... and I dont care.

There is an MTB race on at the Wainui Trail Park on sunday morning.
Its raining. Its been raining off and on all week, all month, all spring, all winter.
Its poo!
But I dont care.
I dont know why.
I used to sit around freaking at the prospect of bad weather before a race.

Maybe its the advent of disc brakes?
Maybe its full supension?
Maybe its contact lenses?
Maybe I have a life now?
Maybe is the awesome trails in Wainui.

Anyway, its gonna be fun : )

Monday, September 06, 2010

Oonce! Oonce! Oonce!

Pre-ride briefing in the Cafe Lembas
How many times do you get to do a cool ride with your buddies and have a tail wind for 154 kilometres?
Not many, if any!

Oonce! Oonce! Oonce!
It was Matt who convinced us it was a good idea to enter in the "Road to Erewhon" event, not that he had ridden his bike at all in the last month, but he is a very determined person, and he never gives up, no matter how crap he feels. He has also done more 160km plus solo rides than anyone I know, so I figure he has to have a bit of the "memory muscle". So with that in mind we set out looking for more likely suckers to join our team. Given that a predicted distance of 170kms was on the cards, Sepp and Ed thought it would be excellent training for the World Single-speed champs in October. Yeeeeeeeeeeesss.
Thats snow on the mountains in the background

The rules were few, 4-man teams, leaving at 5 minute intervals. The start and end points of this event were a well kept secret, and were only divulged at 6pm the friday night before, at about the same time that it was snowing on the Rimutukas. At precisely that time we learned that we were to start at Raumati, and end at Alfredton (inland of Eketahuna). We could go over the Pahiatua track, or the Akatarawas and the Rimutakas. The one of us who had a PHD did his sums and he reckoned the hilly route was the fastest. The clever people with the local knowledge thought otherwise.... Fortunately for us we had a massive tail wind pretty much the whole way. We also had a secret weapon..... a high peformance sound system aero-dynamically mounted to the front of my aero-bars. This enabled us to listen to motivational music at appropriate times in order to get us through the tough bits.
Ed, keen to try his new
position courtesy of Silas


Ed Matt and myself all elected to ride our TT bikes, while Sepp rode his roadie. Everything pretty much went to plan except Sepp had a rear spoke breakage as we came into Carterton. Ed did the mechanicing with my Kathmandu multi-tool while the rest of stocked up on Coke and lollie water. We were spanking along at up to 50kmh at different times on this leg of the ride. Navigationally we probably messed up a bit by taking the heavy traffic bypass too early, but we need not have bothered, Sepp is only about 96kgs these days.
Still friends.... OK?

The last hilly segment over Dreyers Rock was a bit tough but we were sticking together as per the rules and rolled up to Alfredton to be the first team there at about 5 hours ride time, with an actual distance of 154. I think there was at least 1 other team who rode faster, but we got to ring the bell first, nah nee nah nah!

Power-haus Ed's top secret numbers.
( Dont tell Radio shack ).
This was a very cool event to do, with the emphasis being on teamwork, having a good time and beers and BBQ's at the end. Even the start of the event was all class with free coffee and muffins at Cafe Lembas at Raumati. There was a real friendly vibe to this event,  and no one took it too seriously, which is a real good thing. We need to thank the awesome Hutt chicks who ferried us to and from the respective starting and finishing points of the race.  Lets hope there are more events like this to come!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It wasnt that bad!

Crusties 2 race report.
What a bunch of nutters. 170 riders turned out for the 1st round of the PNP MTB series today in Makara, despite the pounding rain. I went for the singlespeed because I figgered it would be less expensive in the wear and tear department. It was a mild uphill start geared perfectly for my 32-18 Wellington gear, but Rob Kilvington's last minute warm-up technique had him executing a u-turn on the start line that Russell Coutts would have been proud of, except he did it right in front of me! I regained my momentum but my shot at stardom (winning the hole-shot) was gone as Angry Clive and a couple of sqids shot up the road. I knew Jonny Waghorn was still behind me as I approached the start of the Rimu track and was just about to look behind and let him through, when he shot past like a rocket!

That was pretty much the last I saw of Jonny. At the very bottom of the hill I must have grabbed a handful of brakes, as I nearly missed the first right turn. I remember noticing that it seemed quite hard pedaling as I made my way through the senior womens class. I got balked by a group and stopped to push the bike. WHAT! The wheels were reluctant to turn. My new uber weight weener brakes I had just borrowed off Marco had locked them selves on....

I ignored it for a while until I could pull over and have a look, sure enuff, the system had come undone, and the left pad was jammed onto the rim. I was pretty gutted. All the chickies passed me back again... Oh crap. Theres just no  passing lanes out there when the blow-torch is on the y-fronts. I stopped again and then decided not to bother with it after that, eventually the pads would wear down and it would get easier. There was a new clunking coming from the front tho, that was a bit worrying, after another 10 mins and the leaping lizard descent I recognised it as a loose front QR!

Jonny back in the day when he was a cool kid
on a Yeti with Manitou bumper forks.

That was the last stop I did until the end. I was glad to have two long sleeve tops on, and a jacket in my back pack. If you had to stop to fix a flat you could easily have ended up with hypothermia. When I finished I noticed my seat post had slid down 5 cms, which probably accounted for me feeling pretty good on the final descent!

Apparently Jonny Waghorn won the crusties class, (on his singlespeed) after Angry Clive added on a bit extra and included the t3 track into his race! What a legend ride by Jonny.

Al and Ash did a great job as MCs and watching Hiskeys little boy try to negotiate the choice of spot-prizes to include lollies was a laugh. The little guy also did an awesome job of hawking his chocolate bars on the door.

Bring on round 2.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Random stuff.

Some cool stuff for the week. Ex Olympian and NZ Yet importer, Kashi Leuchs has unveiled his mount for the singlespeed Worlds in Roto-vegas in october. Its a Big-top 29er. See the photo here by Derek Morrison. He reckons he will have some more in the country for sale soon.

Some more info on the Big-top 29er.
http://www.feedthehabit.com/mountain-biking/yeti-big-top-29er-hardtail/


To see what others are riding at the Singlespeed worlds, go here:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=25481&id=100000003948263&l=121327af21

Kashi puts the bike through its paces down south.




Found this link in CAN's mail-out.
- Cycling is an evil United Nations plot, says US politician
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/co-gov-goper-maes-hickenloopers-bike-love-is-a-un-plot.php

PNP MTB champs round one this weekend. 90 pre-entries already!

But check out this for a wicked adventure ride the following weekend! 170kms adventure ride for you and 3 of your lucky buddies. Ride to Erehwon, http://www.kapiticyclingclub.co.nz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=773&Itemid=109

 VEGAN Bacon! Hmmmmmmmm
http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegan-bacon/

Friday, August 20, 2010

Roto-vegas and placebo braking

A break in the weather
My second single-speed road-trip took place last weekend when we hit the road for Rotorua via Taupo. It pretty much rained continuously the whole weekend. Not Wellington styled horizontal rain, but gentle, not-so-cold vertical rain.

This time it was Sepp and his buddy Kevin, myself, Peter "Magneto" Reynolds and his nephew Dan, who came down from Auckland. Once again the digs were pretty swish, but Peter and Sepp still had to have an arm wrestle over who got the double bed, even though there were two spare.
 
Dans Jefson Rohloff, very tasty.
It was quite a show, and after about 5 mins it was called off in a draw. I think the effort that Sepp put into it reflected in his below par performance on the sunday, and Peter elected not to ride at all, altho he did get out with Dan on the saturday. Sepp and Kevin also got out on the saturday where after a 2 hour ride Sepp decided he would sit in a hot pool by the side of the track and test his cell phone's water proof capabilities. After a couple of hours in front of the fire the phone was back to its original working state. Quite impressive.

Normally when it rains in an MTB race, I am not a very happy person, but in Rotorua the mud is completely different than the rubbish we have down here in Wellington. Everyone was basically riding around on summer tires! People obviously thought I looked a bit strange riding with a medusa mud tire on AND a rear mudguard. Yes, very uncool.

I just thought I'd throw this in...
My choice of a fairly low gear ratio was a good one in my book as I made a good start up the first hill. After about 30 mins my old buddy Susie Wood had caught me in the single track and we rode together for another 30 mins until we hit the first hills. I had to let Susie go at that point as my gear was too tall. (Susie went on to win the womans class). My rear brakes had already mostly gone (vee-brakes) so I was trying to limit my rear braking. I adjusted them 3 times over the race, and then started on the front brakes which were also coming into the bars. At least I was able to adjust them with the big knob on the top of the cyclinder. I was amazed at the "placebo-effect" of rear wheel braking when you dont actually have any brakes. It was teaching me how to ride more adventureously which is always a good thing.

I'd have to say the course was 95% rideable, apart from the walking bits, that only the single-speeders walk.
Another great weekend in Roto-vegas.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

MCM hammer.. Singlespeed version 3

What a minter. In the early 2000's this was the frame to have. Its been hanging up in Franicis's laundry since about then. It did the 2002 Nationals XC season under Rob Scott in Vet 1. Rob was a hard core weight weener and the whole bike was a sub 20 pound hardtail with some very fruity but sometimes dodgy componentry. I remember catching Rob while he was riding this frame, in the first round of the 2002 nationals in Nelson. It was a muddy course and my shimano compatible gripshift stopped working on lap 1 giving me only the front 3 gears. Some how I managed to win the race, against Chris Faithful, but it was my only win of the series that year. My pedal sheared off while I was winning the Hawkesbay round and I was 2nd at the Karapoti and Rotorua Rounds.

Thanks to Francis at Jville Cycles for the loan of this frame. I better look after it. Its spotless.

I am not sure if that seat will stay, I cant believe I rode the Brevet on it. Ouch.
I'd like to thank my sponsors ; )


It really pulls the chicks

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A slow learner

I had a good Single Speed ride in the weekend. Rather than do another CX race I thought I would have a bit more fun and get more familiar with the SSer at Makara Peak with Austrian Pro Sepp Hribar. I was trialing a 32-18 ratio and it was pretty sweet anywhere we went.

By chance we were also both trialing rear mudguards, Sepp's was a Bontrager, and mine was an SKS X3 brand. Mine rocked, Sepps sucked. He reckoned thats it cos he is a big hitter. I reckoned it was cos his was naff and it couldnt be tightened enough on his Joplin seat post.
Sepp's only been riding off road for 1 year and hes already smacking me to bits on the downhills. Kind of annoying when you consider that for the 15 years before I started racing MTBs I was on motorbikes. He did do a Peter Reynolds skills course twice though, so maybe that was the secret.

It was a little bit muddy at Makara, but by the time I had ridden back out to the Hutt Valley the rain had washed most of the mud off my bike. When I was in at Jville Cycles the day before, Francis offered to loan me an old Carbon Giant MCM frame he had lying about for the SS worlds. It should be very light. Watch this space.

Franicis's workshop also appeared to be home to a bevy of classic motocross bikes that he races these days. I reckon I must have met Francis about 23 years ago, while trying to buy parts for my aging 1973 Yamaha RD 350. Francis and Al Heine were running a motor bike shop in Lower Hutt. I think Al is now the Intense, Foes and Fox importer for NZ, among other things. At least Franicis's years on two wheels manifest themselves in good riding skills. Maybe I am just a slow learner, and my best is yet to come : )

A moody shot of Single Speed Ver. 2 on the River Bank
while riding out to the Upper Hutt CX a few weeks ago.

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I once was lost.....

I admit, I had back-slid. I was spending more time on the road, on the track, and on the TT bike than was healthy. I had lost track of my MTBing whakapapa. But I became saved....

I had known my saviour since 1996 when I met him at the Ohau round of the MTB nationals. He was racing this new fangled suspension bike. A Santa Cruz something. I have to admit I was pretty skeptical. I couldnt see full suspension  taking off. I was racing my steel Diamond Back Axis with mag 21 forks and despite Mikes monkey motion bike, I was pretty sure I was faster than him so there was no contest. Hard tails ruled.

Somehow we kept in touch. Mike was always very suspicious and derisive of these hard-tail hold-outs from Wellington, although it was to be expected, he was a hard-core jaffa, and as he later confessed, he had never even experienced a real hill until he moved down to the main-land.

Mike was always saying that full suspension was the way to go, and I would respond with "Yeah when the guys in the world cup start winning on it I will get one". Of course this was a blatant lie. I couldn't afford one and that was that. Not that I was convinced anyway.

We would also debate such blue-sky science topics as the use of bar ends, or riser bars, or double chain rings and such. And Mike would preach me the sermon of Santa Cruz. Now the thing about Santa Cruz riders is, they are a bit like 29er riders, or singlespeeders. Or ex smokers. They are reborn. They are painful. There is even a famous thread on Vorb, "I bought a Santa Cruz to make me a better person".

I told Mike that until my wife won the Lotto, I would never be able to afford a monkey motion bike from Santa Cruz, so save your breath. Then one day it happened, I found $200 behind the sofa, and my wife let me have the rest. It was just one of those moments when the stars lined up. Mike even helped my with lots of old crap he had lying around so I could build up my first bike with real disc brakes. My Litespeed had a disc on the front, but it was pretty crappy, a first generation Hope that was worse than a good set of vees. So I transferred the rest of old stuff off my 1993 Litespeed onto my new (second hand) Santa Cruz Superlight frame.

I'd always regarded myself as a pretty crap rider technically, but with this new frame, I reckon I was coming up to average.  This new bike was amazing, I actually enjoyed being on my MTB again. It rekindled an old flame. It made me realise just how evil handling my old Litespeed was. There was only one problem. It was not really compatible with an 80mm XC fork. In a park like Makara I was pedal-striking constantly. Eventually I sold off one of my children for scientific experiments and used the money to buy a second hand 100mm SID from the Gos-bros crash-test dummies. Overnight I was Greg Herbold. I even passed Al going down the Lizardy track. I learned that forks are meant to go where you point them, not in the vague general direction that I was used to with my old carbon steered SID. The new fork's extra weight struck at my weight weener core, but there was no going back. I was starting to realise how out of control my efforts had been in the past.

As my confidence increased so did the amount of crashing I was doing, but it was fun. I always assumed that the advantage of full suspension was in the descending. I have found this to be the opposite. I still ride downhill like a girl, but I climb with much more authority over gnarly terrain.

For many years I was fortunate enough to be Kashi Leuch's webmaster, so at years end, Kashi would tally up my web-hours and give me first dibs on his surplus team loot. That is how a lot of the kit on my bike came to be the very fruity German "Tune" stuff. So now I have Tune hubs, stems and cranks, which match nicely with the Santa Cruz's black frame. It was pretty light kit at the time, but above all, very robust and well made.

The Superlight is a very adaptable frame. For the 1100km Kiwi Brevert, I made very few changes. I put on a heavier back wheel, the other was only a 28 holer, and put a bit more air in the rear shock. I strapped on a Freeeload Rack. I took off the carbon bars so I could bolt on some aero bars, and bar ends, and I swapped the crank spider so I could runner bigger ratios, old school 24-34-46.There were no complaints from me.... Ok, my butt had some problems, but I thought it was too late to change my seat at the last minute. Better the devil you know?

When I got back from the Brevet I left the Stans Crow on the front, somehow it worked, I dont understand why.The last time I weighed it, it came in at about 23.6 pounds with 500 + gram tryes on it. Since then I have put on Sram Gripshift as I have a tendency to whack the the Sram paddle shifters in a crash. It has an old square taper race Face cromo BB in it with an XT front derailer. The rest is Sram. Oh yeah, one of the things I love about it the most - the shifting. I have Nokon cables with a fully enclosed internal cable housing. This is the single best thing I think you can do for your shifting in my view. Wash the bike down after a muddy ride and its good to go. No more crunchy gears. It doesn't have to be Nokon, Nokon can be a pain, it scratches the frame and it can creak, but the shifting is perfect.

This is my racing and training bike, the only thing that I change are the tires. The shock has pro-pedal, but I very rarely use it. I have to admit its my first and only full suspension bike, but it suits me. Santa Cruz are still cranking them out after all these years so I cant be the only one thats likes them.

Single speed version 2

Okay, I admit it I am soft. My first ride up a muddy danzig on my SSer was horrible. It was also wet and pretty dark. I added a smaller ring to the inside, so now I have a 34-32 on the front and a 19 on the rear. Its easy enuff to swap the chain with fingers while I am learning how to ride this contraption.
A couple of good links for newbie punters like myself here:
http://www.surlybikes.com/blog/spew/3_-_single-speed_drivetrains/
http://www.mtbr.com/ssfaqcrx.aspx#ssConversionsChainTension

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Single speed version 1

Its made up out of bits of junk from my shed... but its pretty light.
I will have to see how it works.... one fine day!













Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Single speed worlds brings out the big guns!

I have my name down to do the Single Speeds Worlds later in the year at Rotorua. I dont actually have a singlespeed yet but I reckon its worth it to make one up for the weekend.... I mean any race where you are encouraged to dress up and drink beer during the race has got to be a good thing eh?

I heard that LA himself cant come as he has another event on. Well, at the moment he has, but I just got this email from the organisers and the quality of the field seems right up there, I mean cripes, you have to be pretty serious if you are coming all the way from Austria!

Over 800 entries from over 25 countries - the most "worldly" Singlespeed Worlds ever...
Tadeas Mejdr from the Czech Republic and Sepp Hribar from Austria entered in the last week - and if our maths is right (not a done deal!) that takes the country count to 27...
 http://www.sswc10nz.com/


I guess I better get onto building my bike. It will most likely be based on my 93' Litespeed Ocoee, altho I believe the winner of the ladies National event last year did it on a full suspension Santa Cruz, so it is possible to go F/S.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

What's that big yellow thing in the sky!

If god had wanted me to sit at home on a saturday watching the morning sun high-light the amount of dirt I needed to clean off the floor, he wouldn't have invented the Wainuiomata Trail Park! I hadn't been there for a while and was impressed that there was hardly any sign of the recent 6 hour MTB race. The trails had held up brilliantly, despite the crap weather. I usually bump into a whole bunch of people I know while there but it wasn't til I left that I came across Sep on his singlespeed. I felt pretty flat the whole time so called in at the Mediterannean Food Warehouse for a coffee to help me on my way home.
Check out my new hat! Its hard to imagine such a light, effective and easy mount lighting system as the Ayups. This is actually light enough to run with, even with the 6 hour battery hanging off the back. It will also be very useful for getting in the wood on these wet and cold nights.