Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Literally. The legs are tired after more riding in the last week than we've done in the last month back 'ome. Today we did a slow crawl/push up to the top of Kiriwhakapapa trail,
the one that has some slippy roots and leaf mulch in sections, and some nice smooth straights as well on the way down. Pretty much unrideable going up, but not tooo bad coming down, if you're on the ball. A mistake could be deadly. You don't wanna lose your head. Where is my mind? Keeds was taking it easy on the way down so he didn't risk crashing and re-injuring his knee, so I sent him ahead with the camera so he could get some snaps of me in full sick root mode.
We did the little loop at the bottom, which is quite nice, small rolling climbs, but our legs were giving up at the slightest hint of a grade. Having said that, we are getting stronger and fitter, so Freemo et al you'd better watch out when you get here, we might be able to keep up for a bit.

**How about some comments? What's goin on back there? Don't be shy now...

Monday, January 29, 2007


The sound of heavy rain on the tin roof during the night didn't bode well for today's riding plans, but a clear sunny day was what we got, so we jumped in the Laser and did the sightseeing thing, first stop Waohine Gorge. I wanted to make it across this bridge, which I only got about 20 metres across last time. This time, watched by a group of abseilers and a nice retired couple and their dog, I had to do it. Keeds had first crack, but was soon back on terrafirma. I gritted my teeth and headed across the wildly swing wire structure. Yeah, it was a bit freaky out in the middle, but I got to the other side no problem.

This is the view from the other side. Cool little waterfalls all along the banks.
Then it was a drive up to Mt. Dick lookout. At the top Keeds yelled out "EEEEVVVVAAAAAHHH" but I guess she didn't hear. There were a couple of guys on MTB's halfway up, and we spotted a trail off to the side of the main road. No idea where it went or what it's like, might check it out some other time. After lunch and a nap in the sun, I got the itch to get on the bike, so I woke up kedan and we drove out to Cross Creek to the end of the Rimutaka Incline, the old railway line over the Hill. 45 minutes of steady climbing, in a gale force wind in places almost blowing us back down the hill. Once at the top, we quickly turned around and bombed it back down , through the long tunnel slowly, through the shorter ones flat strap.
This is what it looks like lit up by camera flash... it's nothing like that when you're riding through though. The method I use is look straight ahead at the light at the end, elbows out and keep the pedals turning. Kedan's method was get off the bike, freak out, and try to follow my silhouette.
This is what it really looks like. Concentrate on the dot now. Head up. Elbows ouCH! Scrape. Repeat. Go home. Beer.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blown away

Here's how it should be: no-one descends for free. Downhillers should be made to ride to the top before being allowed to come back down. On a hardtail. The descent is the reward. Ya don't eat ya greens, ya don't get dessert. I thought of this while suffering like a dog again while climbing to the Peak today. I'll approach Parliament about it this week.

Anyway, we had another good day today, did a few tracks we didn't do on Friday, such as Upper and Lower Leaping Lizard, a new track to get back up which is pretty ordinary, which we dubbed "Dying Hedgehog" coz we found a little spiky fella on the trail and he looked a bit worse for wear. From the peak we railed around Zac's Track (the one Christian freaked on) then back up to the peak and across Ridgeline. It was blowing a gale up there, but it's a real fun trail, challenging and flowy with a few little drops and some rough corners. To finish off we did SWIGG/Starfish, which is the perfect way to finish a ride. The pain of the climbing was soon forgotten, and even celebrated, on arrival at the carpark.

We then went for a drive around, out to the Makara cemetery where my Grandad is buried, then down to the harbour for a beer and snack at the Mac's Brewery. Mmmmmmac's! Tried their 'Hop Rocker' Pilsener, a fine beer. The wind on the harbour was nearly blowing us off our feet, and these kids on scooters were getting blown along at about 15kmh! Then it was up to Mt. Victoria Lookout, spectacular views of the city in all directions. I really like Welly. Houses built on the sides of sheer cliffs, steep hills all round, just a good feel to it. If only it wasn't so windy. On the way back home, we passed a backpacker's hostel... I screamed out "EEEVVVVAAAAAAAAAA", but she mustn't have heard. Wind probably.

Tomorrow we'll probably stay closer to home, and do the Rimutaka Incline and MikiMiki trails. If my legs have stopped aching by then.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Augie Marchin' on....

Melbourne stalwarts Augie March have topped the Triple J Hottest 100 for 2006 with their song 'One Crowded Hour'. After the abysmal choice of Bernard Fanning last year, it seems people with actual taste voted this year. Cream always rises to the top, while shit sinks like something really shitty and heavy in a bucket of shit.

Trust House Classic? Sure can...

'Twas a drizzly morning which greeted us today, so a decision was made to get some other stuff done while we had a chance. First stop, Masterton for some computer advice. Kedan hasn't been able to log in to his email account, and I couldn't load mp3's onto my memory stick.
The nice couple at the store soon had us sorted. I was trying to load mp4s, and Kedan had simply forgotten some of his password. Yeah, computer geniuses. $25 later we were happy.

We then headed out to Admiral Hill to catch the last climb of Stage 5 of the Trust House Wellington-Wairarapa Classic, or Tour of Wellington, depending what you read. This race has been going on since we got here, all around the area, but this was our first taste of it.

Aussie David Pell was away solo and I presume he won the stage, such was his lead. It was wet and nasty on the climb, with a few steep pinches, and the peleton was split into 4 or 5 groups, with a large number of riders pulled from the race at the bottom of the climb. Kiwi Hayden Roulston seems to have the GC wrapped up, and Aussie Brett Aitken was leading the Sprint classification. The race finishes in Wellington tomorrow. We might catch the crit after our ride, if we get one in. After lunch we hopped on our bikes and rode around to the local park and showed our formidable frisbee skills. Behind the back, under the leg, between the legs jumper, all the hot catchin moves. I didn't breathe that hard or sweat that much climbing at Makara yesterday, and I've got a sore knee, hip, and a huge graze on my thigh. Shoulda stuck to the bike. There was also a fitness circuit around the edge of the park, and we were trying to ride along the railings and logs. Tomky we ain't, although I did manage to get my front wheel up onto a railing, and balanced there for about 10 seconds. For that 10 seconds, I WAS Tomky! Over yonder was a little skate park, so we tooled around in there until I blew my rear tyre doing a sick thing on a ramp. Boy it was sick. Good fun, a bit of cross training and kept us on the streets. But I belong on the trails, and that's were we're gonna be....

Friday, January 26, 2007

Peakin' at Makara

We finally got on the bikes today, and as a nice intro to NZ riding for the K Man, I took him to Wellington's famous Makara Peak. We hooked up with Christchurchians Brent and June, who we met yesterday at the Dry Creek Trailhead, and started the long (about an hour), steady climb to the top, up Koru, Sally Alley, Missing Link and Aratihi. Halfway up we met up with 5 other riders, who were also from Christchurch. We climbed as a group, a group that was splattered all over the hill as we suffered in silence. At the peak it was the usual cloudy, windy, cold conditions, so we quickly headed back down, via the Ridgeline track. What a cool trail, pretty techy, steep, narrow and on the edge of, surprisingly, the ridgeline. At the bottom of Ridgeline, as I came flying out of the trail, two young fellas about 13 or so were watching us come down and were lovin it. They followed us down to the Skills Area, where we proved once and for all that we don't have any! But it was fun trying. We rode off drops, jumped table-tops, see-sawed and North-Shored some shit. After about an hour of that, it was time for the final drop down to the carpark, via Livewires. What a hoot. Tight, twisty sections mixed with steep fast chutes and some nasty corners. How nasty? You'll have to ask Kedan about that. We didn't cover half of what I wanted to, but tomorrow we hit it again, taking in the stuff we missed today. After cleaning up in the carpark, we drove into the city via the Botanic Gardens, and had a walk around the CBD, along Lambton Quay. We got sore neck muscles and sunburned eyeballs from all the Kiwi talent wandering about. I thought I saw Eva about a dozen times, and we would yell out the car windows "EEEEVVVVAAAAAHHHHHH." But she never appeared. Sigh. So more Makara next, then Belmont Park and the Wind Turbine, trails I've never done before, but have heard good things about. Wellington rocks.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Made It...

After three days of trying, we are finally in the land of the long white cloud. We set out at 8am, and it was rain rather than fire which we had to deal with this time. After a couple of scares where the traffic was almost stopped and flashing lights relected off the wet tarmac, it was fairly smooth sailing to Sydney.We dropped off the hire car and lugged our bags and bike boxes up to the top floor, where we were told we actually had to be in the Domestic terminal, to get to Brisbane for our connection to Wellington. Now, we were on the top deck, but taxis aren't allowed to pick up fares from there. So a little sweet-talking to the TaxiCop, and we were on our way to the Domestic. It was about this time that I spotted a very attractive young lass, who seemed to be wherever we were... I noticed from her ticket holder that she was Dutch, and she was heading to NZ too. At BrisVegas (WTF is that?) she popped up again, and we all got talking while waiting for the flight. Her name is Eva, but she's a lot better looking than Rob! The flight left a touch early, and I slept most of the three hour trip. We touched down in the Windy City about midnight, and had to go through the unpack bike/check for dirt/re-pack bike routine at Customs. After passing with flying colours, we set about getting to our motel. I was lamenting the fact that I'd missed seeing her before we left, but when we spilled out into the cool night air, there she was, waiting. Me and Kedan screamed out simultaneously "EEEEVVVAAAAAAAAAA!!" Amazingly, she heard us. We grabbed a shuttle bus together, and when we got to our motel (the Comfort, same one me and Christian stayed at last time) I gave her every contact detail for me, Kedan, mum n' dad, email, fax, carrier pigeon and anything else I could think of! I don't expect to be hearing from her..... hehe.
Next morning, we waited for mum n dad to arrive with the car, and then I took Kedoss on a quick tour around Wellington. We stopped in at Dry Creek trail, and met a couple from Christchurch who were both riding Stumpies. We arranged to meet them tomorrow and take them up to Makara Peak, which will also be Kedan's first taste of NZ manna. Should be good, if it doesn't rain, which is predicted. Hoefully it won't and we'll kick start this baby properly.

Monday, January 22, 2007

F3... The 'F' is for F*#K!!

What is it about me and the F3 Freeway?

After spending the last few days in a futile attempt to get loosely organised (and I use the terms 'loosely' and 'organised' in their loosest of loose forms) for our foray to NZ (oh, did I mention that? Yeah I'm off to NZ for a bit. Of riding.) the K-man and myself loaded up the rental and were about to leave when the phone rang. Dad. "Have you heard about the fires blocking the F3? Well, no! Hmmm. Flashbacks to New Year's Day 06 rapidly filled my head with dread. That day was about 44c. No air con in my car. We had to turn around and stay overnight at Richy's. A nightmare, but we saved his dog. Then on our next venture south, we were stuck again on our way home when a major accident blocked the highway. Today was thankfully 'only' around the mid 30s, and we had the luxury of an air-conditioned car, so that wasn't a major concern. What was tough, was the fact that we were pissing in the wind if we thought we were gonna make it to the airport on time. Radio was saying that it was about a 3 hour crawl down the old Pacific Highway, and just as we were detoured onto it the word came through that it was out of action too.

Choppers hovered above, either dropping water on the flames or filming it for the news (we saw our car!) Keeds was walking up the road to see what was going on, and was relaying news back down the line. Well, people were just grabbing him and asking what he knew. A lady even came up to us and said "I was told you're the man to speak to" to Kedan! Then another guy appeared and asked where the race was we were going to do. I looked on in bemusement as Kedan spat out "Ara tara katara ra" or some such drivel. I quietly hoped the guy wasn't a Kiwi and required more information.

Finally we got to move the 400 metres to a point we could turn around and see the turmoil behind. The traffic was backed up from where we had been for about 10km, and people looked like they were settling in for the long haul. Our shouts of "GO BACK YOU FOOLS" fell on dumb ears, but we couldn't give a crap by this stage... we were outa there. So after three hours of sitting still and a slew of calls to airlines later, we were heading back towards home with tails between our legs and rescheduled flights for Wednesday. The chick at Virgin was really good, not like those bastards at Qantas, and even though we have to pay a bit extra for the seats, she waived the changeover fee and was generally really helpful. There are still some good employees of Giant Global Money Laundering Corporations out there after all. So now we'll have another crack at getting across the pond on Wednesday, Acts of Nature permitting. We've done the drill, now it's showtime.

*UPDATE: The 'chick at Virgin' is Tracey, and she called Kedan this morning to say that we don't have to pay anything at all to change our flights, and the same for everyone who was caught in the fires. Nice one Virgin!

Monday, January 08, 2007


Newcastle's latest short, floppy-haired road racing sensation is the man (boy) they (we) call 'Ebo', Ebo!

First up a couple of weeks back he popped up in the break in the Cronulla Criterium, taking 4th behind the likes of Graeme Brown and Matt White, no slouches. It was good to catch up with him on New Year's Eve and have a few beers, showing his commitment (or is it insanity) by trudging off to train at 8 on NY morning after 2 hours sleep. Then two days later he pops up in the break in the first race of the Bay Series in Melbourne. Takes 2nd in a sprint. Gets his name spelled wrong, in several different ways. Ebling. Embling. Eblining. FFS, it's E B E L I N G. Next day he was at it again, getting in the break, winning a sprint against Gerrans, then trying to bridge across to the 3 man break alone, a good way to get exposure if ever there was one. Not content with all that, he also got his mug on SBS's Cycling Central programme, even managing to string a few cliches together for the cameras. Of course Tomalaris and those morons proved once again their ineptitude by using the 'Eblining' spelling. Nice one! Here's hoping he can take the momentum and exposure he's gained and have a good crack at it. I reckon he can.