Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mike's Maiden Voyage...

...On his new bike. Yep, Mini-Me has bought his third bike since starting working with us in August, this time a sweet new 08 Stumpy Expert to go with his Roubaix and Langster.
There she is (the bike, not Mike). The orange looks pretty cool in the flesh, especially when it's dirty (which Mike doesn't let happen often with his cleaning obsession).

We headed up to Belmont again, this time taking a different route up to the top of 'Danzig', with some cool views over the rural dwellings back to the harbour and city.

We could see over the valley to the Trig climb, 2.5 kms of granny gear grunt to the top.

It was pretty hot on the climb up in the areas shelterd from the breeze but exposed to the sun, so I needed a bit of a kip under a tree at the top... maybe I shouldn't have layed next to a stinging nettle bush though, as I discovered when I got home and found my arms covered in tiny blisters.

The last pinch up to the Trig.

The ride back down to Korokoro creek (river? looks too small...) is pretty cool, mixing steep, rutted sheep tracks with some rainforesty winding singletrack bits.

The ride along the Baked Beans Bend trail is littered with technical creek crossings, big rocks and rooty sections, which make for some challenging, fun riding.

There's actually a pretty wide creek crossing under that log to the left, but I couldn't coax Mike into riding it for the camera. "Ooh, my new bike might get damaged."

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's just not cricket/On the road again

The weekend weather was fantastic, with warm, sunny days conducive to riding bikes, drinking beer and watching cricket.

Sunday I headed out around the bays (which I hadn't done for a few weeks) with Mike, Grant and Kevin, for a nice 50km of singlespeedin (I thought that condsidering they were all on geared bikes, I was entitled to wuss out and run the freewheel rather that fixed).

Karen had scored Mike some free tickets to the cricket, so a couple of warm up Grolsch's preceeded an arvo in the sun on the hill. It's been beer of the week before and remains a preferred drop.

The game was a Twenty20 match, and abbreviated version of the short form of the sport, between Wellington Firebirds and Central Districts at the Basin Reserve, a grand old cricket ground. The CD's batted first, and with Black Caps players Ross Taylor and Jamie How belting them all over and out of the park, they amassed a big total of 225-odd. Me and Kevin, meanwhile, where amassing a huge total of beers consumed, and our eyeballs were getting sunburnt looking at all the fine talent on display off the pitch. Oh yeah, Wellington batted like crap and fell well short of the total, and I got a good dose of sunburn that I didn't notice for some reason.

Monday was a public holiday for Wellington Day or something like that, so I hit the road again, this time with Josh, and I had a real-proper geared bike, courtesy of the Big Kahuna Nigel... what a great boss, loaning me his bike like that (cheque's in the mail). A sweet ride it is too, an 08 Roubaix. We headed over Makara hill, around the backroads to J'Ville and back through town to finish up with a short ride around the Eastern bays. I think it's time to get my Tarmac sent over.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Short but sweet

With Josh and the crew slogging it out around Karapoti, Mike, Rich and myself headed up to Wainui to do a bit more exploration of the new singletrack network under construction. The weather looked dodgier the closer we got to the hill, and by the time we got on the bikes it was drizzling.
We climbed up the fire road, a nasty way to fire the legs into action. I nearly fell off just after taking this shot and trying to turn around to snap a pic of Rich. The track traversed the ridgeline for a little way, then we took what we thought was probably a wrong turn, and doubled back.

After some more uninspiring fireroad, I finally recognised where we were, and we rode the tight, gravel-topped singletrack of Labyrinth, then onto Jungle Gym.

With the drizzle just enough to piss us off, and spat out back at the bottom of the hill, we decided against the tchnical rooty trails on the other side of the hill and headed back to Welly to hot food, cold beer and an arvo of TV. I wonder how the others are going miles from civilisation....

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The neglected 'B's

While the title of this blog states that it's content consists of bikes, beer and beats, it has been mostly devoid of the latter two ingredients of late, so I thought it was time to right the wrongs and give heed to said neglected 'B's. And in an act of redemption for those 'B's, this week I have been mostly neglecting the bike, taking the soft option of the car to work while the rain has come down and the wind has blown. Having said that, I did get out for a good ride last Sunday with Mike and Grant up at Belmont, another nice B. We managed to work out a good loop after our debut foray last week, riding all of Danzig and finding a better, more fun way down from the trig. But since then it's been all beer and a lot of beats. Here's a brief rundown of what I've been imbibing orally and aurally.
This one I got hold of while Andrea was over. Pretty bland for a 'premium' beer, but it did have a 6% kick which redeemed it after a couple of bottles. Probably won't buy again.

A mixed trio this one. Stella is still one of my favourite beers, not in the James Squire Pilsener or Little Creatures class, but with those two beauties as rare as rocking horse shit over here, it's my staple brew when there is nothing else to tempt me.

The Hoegaarden was a little treat I had before Xmas, a nice whitbier from a brewer who does some wicked real Belgian ales that are way too expensive and potent to drink on any sort of regular basis. But nice nonetheless.

Oranjeboom, well, the less said about it the better. Actually it's not that bad, after taking a week to get through the first six bottles I started to warm to it a bit, especially if I drank a Stella after it to flush out the citrusy taste. Won't spend my money on it again, although Richard seemed to like it at the Xmas day lunch, so I left the rest of them with him. Cheers, Richard!

Calsberg is another beer touted as one of the 'best in the world' that always underwelms me. Not that there's anything wrong with it, it is crisp and easy to drink, but it just doesn't have that extra pizzaz that could put it up there with the great brews. But hey, when you've been riding the best trails around, and you're kicking back on a secluded lake beach, life is still good.

Now this one impressed me a bit more. A nice pilsener from a top NZ brewer, though Macs Hop Rocker still has the edge on this nonetheless hoppy offering from Monteiths. And when it's been donated by a customer, it tastes even better.

Now for some beats...

Last night I went to the Opera House to see Swedish singer/songwriter Jose Gonzalez perform. (That's right, Swedish... Hey, there must be heaps of people in Mexico called Bjorn.) I'd won a ticket from RadioActive just before Xmas, and so off I trudged, not being able to convince anyone to go halves in a $60 ticket to come along. I'm pretty glad that I didn't pay sixty big ones though...
Not because he sucked, far from it, he was pretty damn impressive I must say. But after 45 minutes, when he announced that he'd be doing 'one more', I bet a few people felt a little short-changed. He did return to round out an hour, and most of his songs are fairly short so it seemed like you got more than you actually did. And the crowd didn't seem to mind a bit, lapping it up in awed silence as he showed his virtuoso guitar skills and unique voice. He was joined for the majority of the set by a female vocalist and a male percussionist/voclaist, giving extra depth to the vast, open soundscapes he laid down. A big sound from a small ensemble in a grandoise setting. And anyone who can pull off covers of Massive Attack and Kylie in one set is OK by me. Have a look and listen here.

But this is what's really been doing it for me recently. The legend, the enigma, the man... Nick Cave. He's just brought out a new album, but this one from 04 has been on high rotation in my earphones. A 2 CD set of the highest quality, the depth of his lyrics and the musicianship of the Bad Seeds is second to none. A artist truly deserving of such a title. People who don't really listen to him often say he's depressing, or dark, or dire, but if you really listen, get amonst the layers, disect the lyrics and absorb yourself in the music, it's one of the most uplifting experiences in any musical landscape. Check out his new video and stylin' moustache here.
*hint, let it load up first.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy new trails

Rather than stay with the masses in Welly and spend hundreds on a hangover, Josh and I trekked north to Vegas to see in the New Year with some sweet singletrack. We loaded the Starship Laser to the gills and left early-ish Sunday morning, full of caffiene and anticipation.

Mt. Ruapehu still has a lot of snow on it for January.

Mt. Ngaruahoe looked like it was erupting, but it was just a cloud positioned perfectly. I imagined what it would've been like to witness it forming, spewing lava out of the ground all those hundreds of years ago. Josh summised that we would've been dead if were were this close.

First stop Taupo, and the Craters of the Moon trails.

Fun, but less fun each time I ride them. But a good pre-cursor to the riding ahead.

Our first day in Vegas, we met up with Welly mate Karl (not Carl) and put together a good loop of some of the best on offer. Karl is great to ride with, we are all roughly the same fitness and ability levels, and he's a good laugh to boot.

We were having way too much fun to stop and take many photos. This is on Exit trail, nearing the end of day one.

Josh on the drop on Tickler. We hit up Billy T on the first day, and then our first taste of Split Enz, a new trail which had us in raptures with it's long, fast, smooth, bermed traction-fest.

Karl drops in on Tickler, day 2. We checked out another new trail, Tuhoto Ariki, which was awesome, all techy roots and twisty and a hoot, followed again by Split Enz, a great combination.

A good way to relax after a hard day's riding. Blue Lake. On New Years Eve we took it pretty easy, not wanting to ruin ourselves for riding the next day, so we hung out with our Welly friends at their campsite.

Josh looks on in disgust at some guys who are too lazy to ride uphill, and too stupid to ride any other trail except the same one over and over.

Karl on the drop on Old Chevy, yet another new trail that has popped up this year. The amount of quality trails in the forest is amazing, just a pity the town is un-livable. But a great place for riding, I'll be back up there in April for the NZ singlespeed titles, though I'm thinking leave the SS at home and just enjoy the trails without having to race them.