Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vanilla ain't plain...

Have you noticed how many different flavours of ice cream there are these days? Everything from choc chip to avocado and cinnamon. These flavours are all well and good, but once you've decided on one, that's it, you can't really add any sprinkles, or toppings, or fruit without making a potentially toxic cocktail.
That's why Vanilla is always the best flavour. Top it with chocolate sauce, or Milo, or the fruit of your choice. Much like Vanilla bikes. Start with a beautiful, simple but oh so tasty steel frame, keep it simple if you wish as an SS, or pimp it up with the best toppings you desire. Mmmm....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

All over the world in one city in one night...

Continuing my quest to seek out as many new bars and clubs in Wellington as I can, Saturday night I notched up a couple more for the list. Josh, Yaz and Eleanor invited me out, and we were planning on heading to Tupelo, but when the others arrived they discovered it was closed to the public for a private function. So I met them at the Buena Vista Social Club, where we sat in comfy lounges in a basement setting listening to Cuban rhythms and sipping Mojitos. Alex (she's a Glaciologist!) joined us a bit later, and then we decided to check out the old haunt of Havana, keeping the Cuban theme going. It, too, had been closed for a private function, and the dregs of said party were still in force, including a band playing Oasis covers, among others. Now, when confronted with a band playing Oasis covers, the best defense is to get the hell outa there, so it was back down to Cuba Mall where we decided $5 to get into Mighty Mighty wasn't plausible either, being the poor people we are (well, me anyway). Next door, Matterhorn, a really cool bar tucked away down a corridor, was free and had a band playing who Alex (she's a Glaciologist!) said were pretty damn good. She was right. The Eggs are a bit of a funk supergroup, made up of members of other Wellington heavyweights like Fat Freddy's Drop and the Phoenix Foundation. They had the place packed and jumping, well more like hip-shaking and grooving with their fat basslines, solid backbeat, pinging percussion and howling horn section. We all gave it a good nudge on the dancefloor, before Josh did his usual trick of slinking away unnoticed. Eleanor is really interesting, cool and a good laugh, beside the fact that she rode across South America on her own in 2004, and just brushed it aside as if it was nothing. Check out her amzing images of the trip here. Yaz, Alex and myself were the last ones standing (dancing) at about 2, so it was off home to watch the time trial of le Tour, and to see if Cadel could bring home the yellow. Johnny Klink rang me a couple of times to discuss the race and other topics, finally waking me up as the stage finished with Cadel failing to get the time needed for the yellow.
Second is an awesome effort though, best ever by an Aussie, but I think he really could've been more aggressive in the mountains. Maybe not. There is so much that I could say about this year's Tour, with all the drug scandals again, but what hasn't already been said? There's really no surprises anymore. I still love the sport, yes I hope there can be a more level playing field in future, but that's what makes it so interesting too, the lengths these guys have to go to just to survive three weeks of torture. Hopefully tonight I can survive one more stage and see the magnificent landmarks of Paris, always a highlight of the world's greatest sporting event.
This afternoon I'd planned to finally get back up to Makara with Marty, who just spent up big getting his drivetrain replaced. His rear derailleur need some TLC too, so I rebuilt it and re-fitted it to his bike. By the time we'd done this, the weather had turned to shit again and the rain was coming down just enough to make it undesirable. We drove up there anyway, and the carpark was full of guys and bikes covered in crap, so I pulled the pin but Marty and Mark decided that his new drivetrain should be made old in the quickest time possible. The trails are apparently getting pretty chopped up, and it's against my policy to ride in mud if I can avoid it. So it looks like tomorrow will be another Langster day, I'm really keen to try and crack a century on the fixed gear. That's gotta be good for the soul, if not the knees!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Blowing out the cobwebs

A couple of weeks ago I won two tickets on Radio Active (the JJJ of wellington) to an electro/house night at Sandwichs, Welly's premier house venue. Josh and I headed along, and it was pretty quiet at first, but built up nicely, with some good grooves being dropped. This weekend just gone, our mechanic extrordinaire and yeah na king Big Nath aka Mr T. was dj'ing at Fevah, possibly NZ's biggest dance party. So with my name on the door and another double pass won on the radio for Josh and Bella, we headed along to check it out. Three levels in the club, Imerst, which is actually a gay club on any other night. The two lower levels were hard styles, trance etc, not my cuppa at all, but the top level was the good stuff, prog/electro. Hung out up there most of the night, checked out a bit of Nath's set but couldn't cut it without any glowsticks or ChupaChups! Not a bad night, but the lack of sleep had me struggling a bit on Monday. Of course the best way to blow out the webs is with a ride... Makara is still a mudpit, as evidenced by the bikes that have been coming in for service, so the Langster was in action yet again. Looking across the harbour, to the snow-capped Tararuas (thanks Lindsay) in the north.
Looking across the Cook Strait to the snow-capped mountains-which-I-don't-know-the names-of at the top of the South Island, from Princess Bay. I now know, thanks to my uncle Lindsay, that they are "the Seaward Kaikouras on the left and the Inland Kaikouras on the right. The highest peak visible in the Inland Kaikoura range is Mount Tapuaenuku; at 9465 feet (2885 m) it is higher than anything in the North Island (or even Australia :-) Tapuaenuku is around 120km from Wellington's South Coast." I bet he just got that off the top of his head, too! The Wellington surfers amaze me with their commitment to the waves. The water must be like ice, but there are always a few out at Lyall Bay.
The "wind tunnel" under the airport runway. I always think there will be respite from the ocean wind in here, but it's actually worse sometimes!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

How many bikes is enough?

Just one more! I just realised I don't have a cyclocross bike... Specialized have a new singlespeed TriCross out for 08, and it looks hot.
Also a new range of Langsters, this one is the new colour version of mine, no changes in frame or spec though.
The other models are all themed by cities where messengers are prominent. Check the full line-up over at SSSS.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Seasonal brew

Winter is a great time for a fuller bodied beer, but not being a fan of treacle-like brews like Guinness or Kilkenny, I thought I'd give this one a go... not the least because it was pretty cheap! Speights Old Dark is probably the equivalent of Tooheys Old from Aus, but it says 5 Malt on the label so it must be a bit more upmarket. Or not. But it tastes good, and it has a hoppier flavour than Tooheys. And I like hops. Apparently it goes well with "steamed pudding", but that sounds a bit too adventurous for me. I know it goes well with salt n vinegar crisps, but then again I was very, very drunk...

Here comes the sun

After a week of the worst weather since I've been here, it was back to back sunny days Sunday and Monday. With Makara still soggy from the rain and a few indoor training sessions under the belt, there was only one thing to do; Langster Bayride!
The harbour looks so great when the sun is shining and there's no wind. This end of Oriental Parade was a lot quieter than the city end, where people were out in force. Around near the airport at Lyall Bay. I watched a few planes come and go, and thought about home (my Australian home, not my NZ home). Looking forward to going back for a month in September, then back to NZ for the summer of singletrack (and more sun!). I ended up with 70km of fixed gear goodness on Sunday, and another 40km today. Tomorrow night it's back on the night ride mission, the trails should be just about perfect by then.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

There's a little race going on in France

Ah, that time of the year again, huddled under the blankets in the wee hours of the morning, matchsticks holding the eyelids apart, drinking coffee all day at work to avoid falling asleep while trying to sell a bike. Actually, with SKY now on the box in my shoebox, I don't have to stay up for the flat stages of the first week, as I can catch the last two hours replayed in the morning, finishing conveniently at 8am just as I head out into the wind and rain. Unfortunately the SKY coverage suffers from the same syndrome as SBS in Australia... I like to call it 'the Tomalaris Syndrome'. i.e the presenter of the coverage knows jack-all about cycling, and is incapable of even reading a name of a screen correctly. For the first 5 days of the race he's constantly referred to Cancellara as "Cancerella". This morning though he'd finally been told to get it right, probably after a flood of complaints such as the one I made. He's probably a BMXer...
The highlight for me was "Cancerella's" stage win when he took it upon himself to stomp across the gap to the breakaways and take the win. Awesome. Now, bring on the mountains.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More proof that BMXers are morons

As if any is really needed. Two young guys and a girl came into the shop yesterday and were looking at BMX bikes. Purple hair, leather jackets, Ramones T-shirts (probably didn't even know who they were). They had a look at a Specialized Fuse 4, the top of the line shizzle, $1199. Took it for a ride, then decided "yeah na, I'll take it..." So he puts down $100 on a lay-by, no problem. Off they go.
A BMXer pictured earlier today... he confused a motorcycle for a bicycle.

So today he comes back in and says he wants to make a payment. "how much?" I ask. He'll pay the rest and take the bike. Cool, I run through the EFTPOS and he looks at the machine and says "a fousand bucks? I fort it was $200! My mate said it was 200..."
Oh I'm sorry, if your mate said it was 200, it must be! (edited after copping flak from all quarters...)
Oh yeah, then his mate asked if he could get a job here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It really does always rain in NZ!

Well, no more than back in Aus by the look of it. But it has been pretty dismal here since the end of last week, except for Sunday which was a brilliant clear, sunny Winters day. Bloody cold still, but great for a fixie ride, this time with the Big O(wen) on his beaten Langster, and his mate Ivan. Just a little cruise around the harbour foreshore, along Oriental Parade through the crowds of people enjoying the sun, and around the Bays. I left the guys at Seatoun and turned back for some extra k's, and cruising past the Chocolate Fish cafe I spotted Josh and Yaz who were making a pitstop on their cruisy ride. Yaz generously bought me a hot chocolate and we sat in the warmth (with frozen toes) before heading our seperate ways back to town. There weren't any people doing this on Sunday, despite the sun.

Meanwhile back home, the state of play in the Glenrock trails saga looks a bit worse after the recent storms. It seems that the fallen trees fit in well with the NPWS's plans to close some of the trails affected. If NPWS don't cut up the fallen timber, then it seems there could be some stealth chainsaw missions undertaken, if we want to keep our best riding intact and accessible. Whether it's legal or not. Sadly, that's what it seems to be coming to. Makes me think I'm better off here, where mountain biking is actually encouraged and sustained.
*This just in... some good news.

On the far, far side of the world, Col (The Slug) is on a jaunt through Canada, and sent some pics to make us envious. He titled his email "if a picture paints a thousand words, check these out". Unfortunately, that's all he said, so I don't know where the vista is or the signifigance of the bears. I'll have to draw my own conclusions... Taking advantage of the fact that he was the only rider there, Col actually believed that 'the hills were his'...

Missing the security of home, Col brought his special friends with him, but the voices in his head kept saying "nail the bears to the tree..."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Pushing the envelope (again)

Specialized never sit still. No matter how good their bikes are, they just keep making them better. Their 08 models should cement their reputation and standing at the top of the suspension bike market. Although I must say that I'm not overly keen on the new Stumpy's Enduro styled frame, but it's hard to argue with a 10.5kg (23.5lb) 120mm travel bike. Read about the new carbon model here.
There's also a Stumpy 29er, which I like the look of a little more. Read about it and the new Enduro here.
Then there's the new Tarmac and Roubaix. The Tarmac looks hot.
But the Roubaix will be my next road bike of choice. Not that I have a choice.
Read about the roadies here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Comings and goings

The big fella's gone. Now when customers ask "where's Matt?" the answer is "who's Matt?". Yeah na, he'll be missed, not least for his mechanical pearls of wisdom, and his frame-breaking abilities. On Saturday night there was a good turnout for his send-off drinks at the Southern Cross. The last I saw of him he was being refused another drink, but didn't seem to really mind. At least I think that's what was happening, as I was quite near the end of my tether as well. I imagine the plane ride to Perth the next day would've been nasty if he had even half my hangover.

With Le Tour starting next weekend, I was a bit worried that the lack of TV coverage would drive me crazy, so I suggested to Noeleen, my landlady, that since SKY has a $99 installation deal going on, we might go halves. Next day, she'd signed us up, and now I have a set-top box in the shoebox. Every stage live and highlights every day. Yeah.

Josh and I have started a joint-collaboration singlespeed blog, check it out here. If you ride an SS, and want to contribute, drop a line to the email on the blog.

Rad Ross has been out of action for a few weeks, I'll let him explain....

"I tore my posterior cruciate ligament a couple weeks ago at the National in Deer Valley. I'm going stir crazy right now trying to stay off of it. Its so damn frustrating because I haven't been riding that well up until the last few weeks. I seriously felt like friggin super man at the National race. Flatted 3 times in the XC and was at the front with Kabush and JHK at the time. Was feeling fucking fabulous at the front in the short track and crashed on my knee. It was weird, I got up right away and started running to get back on but my lower leg felt all floppy and disconnected. Turns out it was dislocated. Blah blah blah.... So now I'm just sitting on my thumb waiting for this to heal up. Everyone is in Quebec
right now at the world cup races."