Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mud, Wind and Pixies

Doesn't it frustrate you when you visit a place, and the weather isn't great, and all the locals say "huh huh, must've brought it with you!"? Then you start to think, "shit, maybe I did bring it with me...." Seems like that's what has happened on this trip so far, not that it's been too bad, actually until this morning we've been pretty lucky. Yesterday we hit Wellington for our sojourn to Makara Peak, a jewel in NZ's mountain biking crown. After leaving Carterton in rain, it was sunny skies in the windy city, with the temperature almost bordering on warm! After picking up some new disc pads at Mud Cycles, we were soon winding our way up the buffed singletracks to the summit of Makara. The trails were a bit wet in places after a few days of rain, but still brought wide grins to our faces as we traversed the hillside. Christian was stomping the climbs, but wasn't too keen on the cliffs on the side of the trails on the way down. He still rated it as some of the best riding he'd ever done (especially the climbs!) When we got back to the carpark we were covered in mucho crap, and washed our bikes and bodies in the freezing creek water before heading into town to our motel. After a few pre-dinner beers, we feasted on huge steaks and burgers at an Irish pub, where a singer/guitarist was having a crack. We played 'guess the riff' for awhile, when our ears pricked up as he strummed the opening chords to the Pixies' 'Where Is My Mind'. An apt question as we were being beaten in pool by a couple of young English backpacking lasses who just happened to be from Newcastle (UK of course). They were frustrated with our lack of attention to the game as we coaxed our new hero Saali into playing 'Gouge Away' and 'Monkey Gone to Heaven'. We doubted his ability to replicate the gutteral scream of the famous Frank Black line 'God is 7', but we were blown away by his awesome rendition, and showed our appreciation by buying him a Monteiths Original Ale (our official travelling brew) as reward. We were even so kind as to offer him some of the girls' cigarettes, to which they reluctantly complied. The walk home consisted of a fruitless search for hot chips which we'd seen some guy eating, then walking straight past our motel, and running the gauntlet of the hookers parked on every dark corner.
We were tee'd up to meet up with Col from Vorb.co.nz this morning, but awoke to howling winds (normal for Wellington) and rain, prompting us to play the 'no riding today' card. We still met up with him though for a coffee and he gave us some pointers on where to ride down South. Then it was back up the 'Rapa to clean up our filthy steeds and into town for more Monteiths. Rotorua awaits, hopefully with no rain and the promise of more sweet singletrack.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ups n' Downs in the Land of the Long White Cloud...

Well here we are ...after a last-night 'little drink', it was a 5 30am start for the trip to Sydney airport, complete with hangovers. Cozza did an admiral job of getting us there, I think, as I slept most of the way. The plane trip was like most plane trips, boring and uncomfortable. They played some movie that contained two of the warning signs that a movie is going to suck, namely Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner. And it lived up (down?) to it's promise, sucking badly. The food was fantastic, well it was crap really, but having not eaten since the night before, I would've eaten an old sock in tomato sauce if they'd dished it up. Actually, I think that's maybe what it was. Got the cocaine through NZ customs no problems, and were met by mum and dad (we stashed the coke in their car for safety reasons). And onward through Wellington (dad's scenic route) and up the Wairarapa to the quaint little hamlet of Carterton.

Today we woke to overcast and cool conditions, pretty good for our trip up to the Rimutaka Incline trail. On the way up we stopped in at the Waiohine Gorge, where we were met with the scariest suspension bridge I've ever seen. A few hikers were coming back across it, and gave us some strange looks when they spotted our footwear, me in joggers and Christian in thongs! One of them asked where we were going, as if we were the biggest fools he'd ever encountered. We soon understood his reasons when we gingerly stepped out onto the crude wire rope and chicken mesh creation. I made it about a quarter of the way out, while Christian turned back a little shy of that. Not the most pleasant sensation, bouncing and swinging whilst suspended 100 metres above a torrent of rushing white water and jagged rocks.
We decided we'd feel more at home on our bikes, and headed up to the Rimutaka Incline. A nice little twisty singletrack starts us off at the bottom, then it's a 7.5km climb up the old railway track. Amazing that trains could've gone up and down here. Riding up through the tunnels was a cool, freaky experience, with only pissy little lights for guidance...it was easier just to focus on the light at the end. At the top there was a group of families who were heading back down the way we came up, and it was a blast passing them at speed on the way back down. The singletrack back to the car was a blast too, and it was a great start to our trip. After lunch we drove up to Kiriwhakapapa trail, which I'd also ridden last time I was here. The conditions were a bit too wet to fully appreciate the trail, with slippery roots and rocks hiding under the leaf mulch surface just waiting to send you to your doom down one of the sheer drops off the side of the trail. As I soon found out. Luckily I was climbing at the time, and my fall was broken by the thicket of ferns on the cliffs edge. I made sure Christian got a photo before he hauled me back onto the trail. It was a treacherous descent, but lowering our seats made it a little easier, but what would be an awesome trail in the dry wasn't so great under these conditions. A quick detour around the 'Loop Track' finished things off a little more nicely, and it was back home for dinner and beers. Tomorrow we hit Wellington....stay tuned.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Magnet wins, some others don't...

Mixed fortunes for members of the crumbling 'Acme Wheel Magnet' empire on the weekend. Col (below, modelling the latest in leg warmer fashion) took a win at the club race in C grade, while Dean and Scott could only manage 3rd at the Working Week Series 8 hour at Penrose. Some stiffer competition and a flat tyre helped to thwart their challenge, apparently. Details are sketchy. At least they were all out there racing. I still felt like crap and decided to rest up in front of the telly and the computer. While surfin' around, I happened upon what I think will be my next bike-related purchase, these beautiful road wheels from HED, the 'Bastogne'. Not only are they named after one of the great Spring Classics, but they are light as (1430gms), and the blue stickers match my steed perfectly. And of course, they are black rims, so I won't be breaking the rules

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Flying solo...

I think I might be a loner.... my own company suits me just fine lately. A friend of mine, Andrea, was up from Sydney on the weekend and stayed a few nights so she could ride the 'Loop the Lake' event. It was cool having her here, but even though we get on great and are on the same twisted wavelength, by the end of the weekend I was happy to be on my own again. Nothing to do with you Andrea! Also I've been thinking the best way to race the Working Week Series 8 hour races coming up is 'solamente'. Not that my fitness is probably up to it just yet, so I'm giving the 2nd round in Penrose this weekend a miss too. Seems funny, last year Col and I were travelling all over the state following the series, so far this year it's 2 for 2 (absences!). Next round is at my local track though, so I'll be fired up for that one. Scotty and Deano will be flying the Magnets flag again though, they're primed after their 1st round win for a repeat...go you Magnets!
Still trying to shake the coughing bug I've had for over a week now, have had limited time on the bike, I did 30km on Monday which was a struggle, and this morning was even worse....could only manage 20km, and it felt like I was on the tailend of a 150km ride, so slow was I going. As long as I'm better by next week when we fly out for NZ, then I'll be happy. So no road racing Friday nite, and still tossing up whether to do the MTB club race on Sunday...might be better to rest up rather than push it too soon. Wish I didn't love racing so much. Gotta love a sport that makes you look like this...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I think it's time. Not that I hate my job or anything, it's a pretty good wicket I'm on really, but after 3 (or is it 4?) years, I feel a little stale. I don't want to leave the bike industry, no sirree Bob, I just want to branch out a little. I was discussing this with Levi at work on Friday, and he is feeling the same way. He'd like to start his own shop, I think he'd go great too, but is Newcastle the place, is there room for another shop? And would I cope with the extra stress of running a business? Where's the money coming from? So I was flicking through the Trade magazine put out by Bicycling Australia Magazine, and noticed that there is a position vacant for their Ride Guide and Trade mags. Now this is handy, as I've been writing for their MTB mag Mountain Biking Australia, for a year now, so I have a little heads up. So an email or two later, and my name is in the mix.

Feel like I'm getting some sort of flu or bug today, you know that hot/cold full-body-ache type shit? Hopefully it will go quickly and I'll be set for NZ in just over two weeks. Maybe I just need to get more rest and cut back on the bike a little... yesterday I felt like I was creeping on the road, only managed 30km before I decided I was going nowhere, slowly. There's a lot to be said for getting an early night once in a while, rather than sitting here tapping away at the keys. 11pm? close enough.