Monday, March 31, 2008

I'd do this too...

...if I had to ride a Scott.

Photo ©: Roberto Bettini/

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Going up

The annual Hawkins Hill Climb Challenge was on this morning, and like any good riders, Josh and I didn't do it. Well, it had been raining all night, was a little bit cold and Josh has a cough.
The premise of the event is MTBers vs roadies vs runners, with the roadies going up Happy Valley road then up to the wind turbine, while the runners and mountain bikers turn off up the Tip Track and suffer that way instead. We had the luxury and hill-climbing power of the Laser. Wellington was blocked out of view by a thick fog, and the runners and MTBers outnumbered the roadies easily.

You know when you get to this gate that the physical pain and mental anguish is almost at an end.

Rob K was one of only three roadies we saw on the way up.

This young fella was going pretty well trying to hold onto Rob, and looked somewhat PRO in the process.

This guy probably could've passed her, but stayed where the view was good.

There's always a Kennett to be found at any Welly MTB event, and this time it was Jonathon representing.

Ant from my 12 hour team with his distinctive but effective upright style.

Jonty stomped his rigid Stumpy up the Tip for second MTBer. Gavin McCarthy took out the overall, getting one up for the off-roaders.

Paul was putting his new Epic Carbon to good use.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Back on the radar

We hadn't heard much from Matt for a while, but the big fella is alive and kicking butt in Perth in some crits. We'd hoped he'd given up the triathlon scene, but apparently he's making a return in Ironman Japan soon. Check out how 'PRO' the Pom is on the bike, right down to the British-themed kit. But he doesn't drink black coffee. About the only thing he and I have in common when it comes to being 'PRO'.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Premature adjudication

Seems like my prophecy of the change of seasons was somewhat off, as the brilliant weather is said to be continuing to April or May! Plenty more riding to be done then.
Summerset at the Basin was good fun on Saturday night, especially avoiding the $110 ticket price thanks to James' crew who were working there. I've decided that Drum n Bass is just too frenetic to dance to, and while I like Shapeshifter to listen to, I took the progressive sounds of Dave Seaman over them for the end of the night boogie. Tom Middleton played a great segue set between LTJ Bukem and Seaman, mixing DnB into prog for a smooth transition of sounds and styles. Earlier, Crazy Penis delivered their always smooth, always classy and always floor-filling grooves on the main stage as the sun set on the Basin.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sore points of contention

The whole PRO thing marches on unabated. First, Josh insisted that coffee only be consumed black and with no sugar, but I'm too soft for that and succumbed to the creamy, sweet additives this morning. So (minion) Nigel made sure that no-one would get confused as to what was in the cups... guess who is 'baby pro'...

Saddle sores are surely PRO... so it's been the trainer only, hoefully tomorrow will bring a sunny day and some singletrack or black-top relief.

Milan-San Remo is on tonight, the first of the big Classics, my tip is Pozzato, while the minion has gone for "Ballan or Boonen if the weather's fine, Cancellara if it rains, and Freire for sentimental pick". Pushed for just one tip, he opted for Freire. Talk about a bet each way!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Chickens, calves, cows

Things are getting weird around here... pictures of men's legs? After the slightly disparaging comments from Josh and the K-man (who's legs have probably atrophied through NO RIDING!) Josh and I had a 'calf-off' and came up with these disturbing images.

<< That's not a calf, that's a whole freakin' cow! Needs a shave too.

What came first, the chicken or the calf? Shaved and tanned at least. >>

The cow and half of Welly's MTB community are in Vegas for Easter, while I'm stuck here with a saddle sore the size of a golf ball and unable to ride.... looks like I'll be heading to Summerset instead.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Warms the cockles of your knees!

I've been spending way too much time reading a blog I discovered by way of Bike Snob NYC (which is the pinnacle of the bike-blogosphere). It's called Belgium Knee Warmers and is a celebration of all things road, and PRO road in particular. Since I got my new Roubaix, it's been all about the black-top for me, and this site has helped no end with inspiration.... especially at this time of year, with the Euro road season getting into full swing and the Spring Classics just around the corner. And with our winter imminent, the embrocation will be deployed PRO style.

Not yet though... the last of the summer wine is hanging around, with some brilliant days of sunshine on Saturday (after-work 40k smash-fest in the wind with Josh on the front) and today (100km solo) helping to keep the tan-lines topped up.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Last of the summer wine

I love the changes of seasons. Maybe from winter to spring more so than summer/autumn, but the feeling that you get when the air smells and tastes a little different holds a certain amount of anticipation, or maybe apprehension.

I experienced such feelings during the week. And I liked it.

My uncle Lindsay has a motto which he espoused to me at dinner last Sunday, as the southerly dropped the temperature and blew cold rain in sideways against the windows. "Wellington doesn't have a climate, it has weather..." The night gave me a reminder of last winter, which wasn't anywhere near as bad as I'd been warned by the locals. In fact, I rode more in the 'bad' weather here than I ever did in the Aussie winters. Necessity maybe? If you don't ride in the wind here, then you're never riding at all.

The summer here has been brilliant (Mike reckons "best in 20 years") for riding, with long, sunny days, and temperatures that don't cause heatstroke just by walking out the door. So after two days of some "weather", the sun reappeared for the working week, just right for taking the long way home from work. The southerly was still stiff, a little cool, but no need for the Belgium knee warmers just yet. The surfers at Lyall Bay were sporting wetsuits, though no full steamers and skull caps should be required for another month or so maybe.

No matter how good or bad the weather is, the locals always seem to find a way to bitch about it, but after they've finished bitching they'll still get out there and do what they like to, or have to do. At least as cyclists here we don't have to be this hard...

Monday, March 03, 2008

The 'K' Word...

(Don't panic K-Man, this is not about you!)

No, the "k" word refers to that most unpleasant, but inexplicably popular race, the Karapoti Classic.

What is it about this slog through the Akatarawas that gives it it's mystical aura? What makes mountain bikers, both experienced and those a little greener, pay for the priviledge of carrying their bikes up slippery, heinously steep grades, through ankle-deep slop, down rock-infested descents and with barely any singletrack in sight?

In the weeks leading up to the race, the K word is bandied about with sickening regularity in the local MTB scene, with every second patron in the shop adding the K word to every request for a new part or service. "I need a new tyre because I'M DOING KARAPOTI." How much is a service, I need to get my bike READY FOR KARAPOTI." Will these socks be OK to wear at KARAPOTI?" And that's how they say it, with the tone and emphasis on the K word.

It's like some rite of passage for regular people to enter some perceived exclusive sect of mountain biking cultdom.

The fact is, it's a shit day out. But having said that, as I sit here two days after the event, having not raced, but having lots of friends/colleagues/customers who did, I have this strange urge to do it again next year (I rode it in 07).

But why? Well I'll tell ya. It's the three hour club. To get around in that time puts you in a small percentage of riders who have broke the mark over the 22 years the race has been running. And if it wasn't for a flat tyre last year, I wouldn't have to bother going near the god-forsaken place ever again.

While I was at work on Saturday, I was thinking about my workmates Mike and Josh, out there with different goals in mind, but sharing the same piece of earth with differing experiences and ultimately, results. Josh had been psyched up for a big day, with a sub-3 well within reach. Mike just wanted to improve on his 4 hours for last year, with no real expectations of superhuman proportions.

But bike racing has a way of messing up your day, or surprising you pleasantly. Josh had one of those bad days when the body might be working fine, but your head just can't get in the game. I've had them before, and they can f#@k you up for days or weeks afterwards as you replay what could've been. But I'm sure he'll bounce back, in fact he's already talking about doing it singlespeed style next year! As for Mikey, well he had a blinder, finishing in 3.08, almost an hour quicker than last year! Hearing how stoked he was with his ride got me revved up too. Other notable ride amongst my cronies were Carl first in Vets and 17th outright, Ian 2nd in Masters, Karl with a 2.40-something, and Josh's brother Paul with a 2.55. (Oh and the German contingent Jan and Magnus did sub-4's as well, after a few Friday Brews with us.) All awesome rides, all inspiring me to return to utter the K word one more time.