Friday, August 29, 2008

WOWFOB 2 - Locked and loaded

Todays Words Of Wisdom From Other Blogs is courtesy of

"14 scheduled repairs at 10am. Walk in, try to take it in stride. First custy I help shows the dim bulb response. After minutes of contemplation over combos or keyed locks, he brings up the key version and asks, can you open this so I can test it out?”

I knew the day was on the downhill from there.

11am, 15 repairs. One snuck in from behind. Lucky me, shop hack, and the only one on for the day. I snapped the lock out of its package with a blank stare and slid it over the counter. I walked into the back of the shop where I just stood for a moment in an attempt to regain my Zen. Things aren’t hard here. U-locks, cables, keys or combos. You need to make a choice. Need education? OK, here it is:

Combos have numbers. Keys have keys. Which one are you most likely to remember?
U-locks are stronger. Heavier. Limited on what they can lock to.
Cables. lighter. Easier to cut, but lock to almost anything reasonable.
What bling factor does your bike have? How much do you love it?

It’s not a hard choice. All seems obvious. Maybe I’m too close to the fire though. I Walked back out, and sure enough, the “test” worked. The lock opened when he turned the key. Sold."

I think anyone who has worked in a bike shop has had their own version of this very customer. And when you get one, you just want to demonstrate the locks by tightly securing it around their necks and saying "pretty secure eh? Can you open that? No?"
Then there's the YJA 'buyer'. "I need a high-visibility jacket." Oh, a YJA! "Huh?" Nevermind. We have several brands, styles and prices. Vest or sleeves. They try on every one. "Ok, I'll have a think about it." What's there to think about? It's a YJA! Use your A and buy the damn YJ! And you just know they're repeating the whole procedure at the next shop, and the next. Maybe we can introduce YJA testing, where we put them on a bike and drive a car at them to see if they really are visible...


It stands for 'Words Of Wisdom From Other Blogs.' The first instalment comes from SlowYourRoll...

1. Thou shall not refer to your bike as "she", "he", or any other mortal name.

2. Thou shall not repaint or intentionally mar, befoul, or abominate any bicycle. ("Thus triathletes are resigned to a fate of eternal suffering and gnashing of teeth" - Gino Bartali)

3. Thou shall only lift your bicycle over your head for the purpose of storage or to throw it. Posing for pictures, or cheesing it up with tacky exhibitions of exhilaration are forbidden.

4. Thou shall not buy a wonder bike and brag about it at parties while it sits in a perpetual state of immobility.

5. Thou shall not bother thy mechanic or frame builder with lame, inept, uninformed, obnoxious, absurd, and depraved ideas on how to do his job.

6. Thou shall not seriously compare any rider to Eddy Merckx or Fausto Coppi.

7. Thou shall learn to fix thine own flats, oil thy chain, and learn to accept some dirt under thy fingernails.

8. Thou shall know when to replace thy steed and retire thy parts.

9. Thou shall tow the line of respect and not give in to the primordial wonts of lust and worship of exquisite bicycle frames and parts.

10. Thou shall not invest more time into reading, writing, buying, talking about, tinkering with, and otherwise stroking the bicycle than actually riding it.

Gee, the last one's a tough one.... If one has total bike addiction, then it's almost impossible to honour such a creed. One may ride for three or four hours, then spend another five surfing the net, reading a mag, writing articles for magazines, blogging, and cleaning/adjusting/maintaining. What if you work in the industry? You'd have to ride a hell of a lot, or not do any of the other things at all for number 10 to be feasible. I'm calling 'no dice' on the last one.

While I'm feeling bookish....

It's great how words can inspire. If the words are pertaining to inspirational people, events or actions, then the inspirometer can sometimes go off the scale. Some may be inspired to levels that could be seen as biting off more than they can chew, or at least finding whatever it is they are chewing quite difficult to swallow. Like eating a dry SAO biscuit; you know it can be done, it looks easy on paper, but once you get started the little bugger starts resisting, and what should've been over without incident is suddenly a struggle against a much tougher opponent than you'd bargained for. The story of Harry Watson, a.k.a. The Mile Eater has potentially caused the 'D.S.E.' (Dry SAO Effect) in the one they call Mini Me. Well I call him that, others aren't so kind. You see, old Harry was a pioneer of road cycling in Aotearoa in the 20's and 30's, when men were men and derailleurs were, well, they weren't. Harry thought nothing of riding his fixie, usually in a gear that Mike couldn't even count to, let alone push up Brooklyn Hill, for hundreds of kilometres on nasty dirt roads over hideous passes, and became the first Kiwi to ride in Le Tour, when the drugs of choice were more social than performance-enhancing. So 160km around Lake Taupo on a fixie (with the luxury of brakes, no less) should be a doddle, right? Cue the sound of teeth gnashing and lips smacking over a claggy paste while hands grasp desperately for a full bidon, legs spinning uncontrollably, begging for the motion to cease for at least one descent. Good luck Mikey.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reading, writing, riding

It's all I seem to do. I get up, sometimes at ridiculous hours a couple of days of the week, go riding in the cold, come home and have breakfast, get on another bike and ride to work, where I fix, build and sell bikes all day, usually reading about bike news on the internet at lunchtime, ride home, eat, watch a little TV (hopefully something bike-related; hell, I've even been known to watch triathlons, though that's not really cycling, is it?), surf my favourite bike sites, then crawl into bed with a magazine and/or book (and you guessed it, not the Women's Weekly or a spy novel). What the hell is wrong with me? Oh, just a little matter of BIKE ADDICTION! When I've ridden the ride, thought about the ride and read about the ride, I'll write about it, either here or for a magazine. I've found myself kissing girlfriends and looking over their shoulder to admire my road bike sitting in the corner of the room. And I don't think it's abnormal in any way. I've found my passion, well I think it probably found me (at an early age) and damned if I'm gonna let this love die. What's this got to do with this book? Not that much really, but it's been the object of my nightcap readings for the last couple of weeks. I've tried to read it once before, back in Aus, but didn't get through it before I moved to NZ. A friend here loaned me a copy that someone had loaned to them, and now I've finally got to the finish line, along with messrs Krabbe, Reilhan, Lebusque et al. And I feel like I've covered every kilometre of the Tour de Mont Aigoual, a fly on the handlebar, if you will. I'll leave the last word to Donald Antrim.

"To say that the race is the metaphor for life is to miss the point. The race is everything. It obliterates whatever isn't racing. Life is the metaphor for the race."

Another Tim Krabbe gem of writing....

Beer of the season

I recently wrote in my SPOKE magazine column the joys of riding in a New Zealand winter. While I employed a fair bit of 'artistic licence', most of what I wrote was from the heart, or at least the mind. One of the plusses I extolled was "a warm drink and a tot of rum" after returning from a winter night ride. I can't remember the last time, if ever, I've enjoyed a tot of rum after a ride. What I do like though, is a beer. And this one is made for such an occasion. Monteiths released this little beauty a couple of months ago now, with free pints being passed out at the Occidental Hotel in Welly. Unfortunately I arrived too late to sample it without handing over my coin, but I liked what I imbibed. I never gave the Doppelbock Winter Ale another thought until Saturday afternoon, when offered one by my champion landlady Noeline while her champion partner Roman kindly set up my new laptop's internet connection. As a gesture of thanks, I sought out a sixer for him the next day. Imagine my serendipitous delight when I found the last two sixers at Woolworths, for ten bucks each! After downing a couple while watching another frustrating performance by the Phoenix, I felt somewhat lightheaded and not overly concerned that the team contains the world's only Brazillian with absolutely no football skills whatsoever. Glancing at the bottle, I saw the explanation, albeit in a blurred font; 6%. I think I had another one after that. Mmmmmmalty.


Flandrian. While it's real definition is a lot more complex than I'd ever imagined, it's a word that is bandied about frequently here in relation to weather matters far less serious. If it's bucketing down, a stiff breeze blowing or the air has that frosty bite to it, we are inclined to state "it's a bit Flandrian out there". Of course the image of 'Flandrian' we conjure in our minds is something like this: The hardmen of Belgium, from the region of Flanders in particular, slogging it out for hours on end in the harsh northern climes, eating mouthfuls of mud mixed with animal waste from the ancient farm 'roads', surfaces which were never intended for fragile bicycle wheels to traverse, but rather wooden cart wheels to be dragged along by cloven hooves. We wish we could be as resilient as the Flemish, but concede that if the weather is any more inclement than which we rode in last weekend, when only a light rain jacket is required, the roads get no bumpier than a layer of gravel on top of the hot-mix and the tips of our ears are easily warmed by a cotton cap, alas the spirit of Tchmil, De Vlaeminck or Van Petegem will not be invoked. To paraphrase Fugazi, Flandrian is just a word, but I use it.

*While you may say "but Tchmil was Russian", he embraced the Spring Classics and extolled the Belgian hardman ethos so passionately that he became one of them. "People are cynical when I talk about Belgium. They think I'm only Belgian on paper. That is not true. Yes, I was a Russian, even a proud one.... Now I am proud to be Belgian."

Monday, August 25, 2008


Last week Josh and I plus Simon and Matt from our Paraparaumu store got to fly up to Auckland for the day to check out the 2009 Avanti and Specialized ranges. After sitting through some interesting and then sleep-inducing presentations we got to check out the new bikes and bits. With the NZ dollar suffering and the world economy not much better, the trend is for higher prices for all bikes, from the low-end right up to the stuff we all love to drool over. Roubaix SL2. Inspired by Boonen's win in the Queen Of The Classics this year, it's lighter, stiffer and will require you to sell your first-born to be able to afford it. Handy if you're a doctor, you could sell someone else's baby or maybe just offload some kidneys.
Tarmac SL2. As with the Roubaix, comes with your choice of Shimano, SRAM or Campy groupset (in un-necessary 11 speed no less!). And no chain and a really poorly adjusted saddle by the look of it.
S-Works Epic, already a World Championship winner but lost a lot of cred with a paltry 4th place at the Olympics. No-one will want one now.
DT Swiss carbon fork and wheelset. So light that you can't actually ride them at all, but when they look that good, who cares?
S-Works Stumpy. There's more carbon Stumpys than there are alloy models this year, proving that aluminium is the steel of the 00's.... destined for the history books and small boutique framebuilders. Yeah right.
My favourite bike of the show. Good old Tricross Singlecross. Unchanged except for the paintjob, it is simplicity and a super-niche portion of the market that only 16 people in the world will appreciate. More singlespeed goodies over at SSSS.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Spot the difference

Somewhere on my Roubaix, I've carefully hidden a new bit of bike-bling. Can you find it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Join the fight

Bike Snob NYC is on a mission; to rid the streets (of NYC, and now the world) of mobile phone-weilding drivers. We're not averse to this scourge here in NZ either, but maybe instead of Patrick Bateman-types, the offenders might look more like this...

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Cable Guy and a return to dirt...

Latest bling for the Roubaix: Nokon cables. Lighter, smoother, sexier. And you can do this funky shifter cable routing. * OH yeah, thanks to Josh for planting the idea, ordering them and installing them... he's a habitual idea-planter that one. Next up: chrome bar tape.

Yesterday the rain finally cleared and the mountain bikes were set free. The trails are in surprisingly good shape considering the amount of precipitation we've endured. Myself, Karl (Rata's), Josh and Michael "Hammerin" Naylor set out up the S-Bends, over to Deliverance and then reconoitered the course at Makara for the first PNP race in a couple of weeks. Lots of climbing and cool singletrack. It's going to be a tough one. About three hours later we were done, well and truly toasted but loving the MTB's again. There's no way I could be a full-time roadie, the dirt is just too much fun...
even if it's mud.... Not too bad for 40km of trails, mainly little patches and bogs, otherwise the trails were amazing, just check out these happy campers...

Friday, August 15, 2008

So graceful...

The Olympic gymnasts are certainly the most graceful of all the athletes. And this performance would have to be the pick of the bunch.... be inspired and amazed as Suzanne Uppingham dazzles with her floor routine.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hairy legs, The Shaman, a Dead Chef and a Dirty Sanchez

A lot going on over the weekend. Saturday was one of the coldest days of the year, hitting a high of 7C! Good day to be working, which I was, and for watching the mens road race at the Olympics. TVNZ's coverage was, as expected, pathetic. So The Minion and I sat in the bowels of work with beer and biscuits and watched it on the interweb. Cancellara is the man as far as I'm concerned. The way he came across to the break in the last km was awesome, but I reckon he should've just kept powering past rather than backing off and getting involved in the sprint. Samuel "dirty" Sanchez was a deserving winner though, Schleck is a class act and Rebellin is a legend who rode a great race too. Oh yeah, even Cadel had a dig on the final climb, but fell back when he stopped to drop his pants and moon a policeman on the side of the road who looked at him funny. Speaking of arsehole roadies, The Shaman had a crack at the Leadville 100 mile mtb race in Colorado, just as another doper did last year, and came away with the same result; first loser. The hairy-legged saviour, Dave Weins took his sixth win in the high-altitude suffer-fest, with The Shaman dropping back when he spotted a scrawny blonde singer/actress clone of his mother on the side of the road. Maybe he is this mystery lover?
Meanwhile, a real ladies man, Isaac Hayes aka The Chef died on the weekend. In his honour "I'm gonna make love to ya woman"...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Brew, haha

Some random bits and pieces here... A couple of 'beers of the week', one pretty average, one (as rated on the Josh-ometer) f#*@in awesome! And a couple of weird sightings in the shop.
New Zealand Lager. Well, it's not anywhere as good as it's namesake, but it's not as bad as some others either.

Josh brought back a couple of these little beauties from his dirty weekend in Auckland last week, and I wish he'd brought a slab or two now. It's from a local micro-brewery up there called Sawmill, at a place called Leigh. Never been there myself, but apparently it's a great venue for a dirty weekend, right Josh? (He's so tight-lipped his teeth are showing through the skin.) This is their 12 Gauge Strong Ale, and like a 12 Gauge shotgun, it will blow your head clean orf if not handled carefully. 6.5% of Magnum-like force. Now, did I drink 6, or only 5? Just one actually. Luv-a-leigh.

And then there's the strange things you see in the shop. Can't decide whether you want to ride or play tennis? Why not do both, and carry some other shit while you're at it?

How big is your cycle-computer? ASSIZE! This came with an exercise bike, which are usually ridden by people with asses too big to be shown in lycra in public, so I guess it's an appropriate brand. Gotta love those Asian-English translations.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


My one-time NZ road-trip buddy Rad Ross took a major win a few weeks back at the Downieville Classic, smashing up the XC and DH races to claim the overall title of "All-Mountain World Champion". Now while some may say that this title is probably akin to being the World Series champion in baseball (which only features USA teams), it is a great win nonetheless, taking out the 7-time champion and magazine poster boy Mark Weir. Beating a downhill field which not only included Weir but also former DH World Champions and gurus such as Myles Rockwell, Brian Lopes, Greg Herbold, and freeride legend Wade Simmons all while wearing a skinsuit, proves that abundant skill on a bike and lack of taste and dress sense aren't mutually exclusive...
In the XC the field was no less impressive with Canadian guns Andreas Hestler and Chris Sheppard amongst the vanquished.
Not bad for a guy who could drink like a fish all night, smoke a cig or two and still kick my arse solidly, even while crashing hard down the Exit Trail at RotoVegas. Nice work Radness!

Friday, August 01, 2008

First Loser

Le Tour is over for another year, and *yawn* oh excuse me I was just nodding off there....

So there were a couple of drug busts. And, surprise surprise, one of them was yet another former teammate of the sport's biggest shaman. Hmmmm....

Drugs aren't ruining the sport though. The lack of drugs is ruining it. The most exciting stages where the one's Ricco (and Piepoli) won, he was the only rider with enough balls (or enough go-juice coursing through his veins) to actually attack.

The only things Cadel attacked were policemen on motorbikes, journalists and cameramen. The guy didn't do himself any favours in the eyes of the fans with his petulant, bordering on plain weird, behaviour. And he rode like a dolt.
He apparently had a strange obsession with the sponsor's toy lions... here he loses it when someone touches his lion...

Here he tells someone he'll "cut your head off" if they stand on his dog.... should get a proper dog that you can actually see.

Pushes over someone with a bike (can't quite see who)then head-butts a cameraman....

And generally comes across like a twat...

But hey, he was still First Loser, for the second time....