Thursday, October 30, 2008

First it's black bar tape, then....


Caleb the Destroyer

Well, he can't be called Conan, because we already have a Conan.... a courier who regularly trashes his steed. But SPOKE's main man is no shrinking violet when it comes to treating a bike badly. Today he trundled in with his Nomad in tow, and related a story of doing a track-stand at some traffic lights (he's a real wannabe fixie goon) and nearly getting ejected over the bars as his chain tried to extricate itself from the rings. This is the shocking evidence we found.... please remove any children from in front of the computer now. I've seen blunter teeth on a White Pointer. It's ok, he says, I've got a new crankset. Better remove the bottom bracket cups then...
Mmmm sludge.... there were tadpoles living in the BB shell, I swear.
Time for a new cassette as well. Of course, it was jammed solid on the freehub body. But where there's Hope... there's beer.
Speaking of SPOKE, the new issue will be out next week, the biggest one yet, with reviews, stories and stuff by Josh and myself amongst all the usual great writing and superb photography. Caleb may hate his bike, but he loves his magazine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rulez iz meantz to be broken (or Boyz in da Hudz)

With the onset of spring (allegedly, haven't had much solid evidence of it as yet) the legs are bared, gloves lose the fingers, jackets are traded for lightweight vests, and bar tape changes colour. What? But didn't I say that "the rules are black and black only"? Ok, you got me there. But, as one Robert Zimmerman professed, the times they are a-changin. And so is my bar tape. And hoods. Or should I say, Hudz. [**Updated pics... I took out the gel pads under the tape and re-wrapped, resulting in less of a "bandaged" look as another sceptic pointed out..... who said mums don't know about cycling style?]
After the failed chrome tape experiment, it was back to black pretty quickly, with a day of white interspersed (it was my original tape, but had sticky crap on it and looked messy). But white is PRO, right? And the Euros swear by it. It's one of their rules.
18. Handlebar tape is required to be cork as well as being WHITE IN COLOUR. Bar tape will be kept in pristine white condition. This state shall be achieved either through daily cleansing or frequent replacement. These jobs will NEVER be performed by the cyclist as you must maintain your image. So, we'll see how long it lasts. I'm digging it so far, but sceptics say it'll be black within weeks. Said sceptics are also purchasing red Hudz as you read this....but staying with the black tape apparently. Now, if I can only get used to the white socks....
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's all about balance

I've forged many a fruitful friendship through cycling, and the benefits of some friendships can be pleasantly serendipitous (is that an oxymoron?). It's not what you know, but who you know sometimes. Magnus (real name Markus) is a German mountain biker and beer drinker who happens to work at the Downstage theatre here. He hooked me up for the amazing Strike show earlier in the year, and on Wednesday he offered me some tickets to the brilliant Adagio-Seriously Sophisticated Circus, and asked me to review it for the theatre's blog. As Mike always says, "it's all about the free stuff [for me]". Not all about it, but it's nice to receive as well as give, so a an hour's work for an hour's entertainment seems ok to me!

Magnus has a crazy accent, and I guess that the ticket office heard my name as this....

Now, I am Fred.

Still making a difference...

The Pixies have always been at the top of my musical appreciation society. Their distinctive style, the forerunner of the soft/loud style, the simplicity of Kim Deal's basslines, the manic chops of Joey Santiago's guitar, and of course the gutteral shrieking and hollering of Black Francis, which still makes the hair on my arms (I'm quite bereft of it anywhere else these days) stand up and where there was once hair on my legs get "chicken skin".

Which is quite apt, after reading the exploits of Mr. Black recently. The man is a legend, and not only because of his huge influence on modern music, but also because he has thrown his weight behind PETA's 'Kentucky Fried Cruelty' campaign. Check out the story, sign the petition and then go listen to Surfer Rosa or Doolittle. You'll feel great on so many levels.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Good bike/bad bike

Travis Brown is a pretty cool guy, from all accounts. He's been around mountain biking for a long time, and has been a driving force behind a lot of Trek's designs. This could be one of his best though, a belt-driven singlespeed 'crosser. Yep.
This, on the other hand, is just a steaming pile....

Monday, October 20, 2008

The beauty of 'cross

Cyclocross would have to be the most photegenic of the cycling disciplines, and there are no better examples of great photography than over at, a site based in Portland Oregon, concentrating mainly on US races and events. The black and white imagery is stunning, and has even the harshest of critics (i.e. Josh) addicted. Bask in the monochrome majesty. *Disclaimer: this pic is not from pdxcross, as the site doesn't allow photos to be copied, so I touched one up from another site. Don't tell anyone...

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond (from the US that is), where 'cross was borne from the mud and snow by road pros who were tough enough to ride their skinny-tyred steeds in the worst of a European winter, the World Cup season has kicked off and there was a familar face at the top of the tree, but pushed all the way by the new star of the show.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meeting my (egg) makers

On our road loop out along the rural roads of Makara through to Johnsonville, I often noticed a sign at an entrance to a property advertising free-range eggs. "I must get some of those" I always thought, but never got around to it. My vegan friend Andrea had told me that the 'free-range' eggs available in supermarkets weren't always so cut and dried free-range, and you couldn't be sure that the chickens were actually leading a good life. I needed to be sure. So a trip was made today to check out the chooks. I met the owner of the property, Viv, who kindly showed me the chickens and how they live. They were some contented birds, letting me pat them and coming up to check me out. And the eggs are big and taste great, and at only $12 for 24, you can't go wrong.

What would you rather, this....

Or this...

Now, back to the bikes...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More Whaka'n photos

Here's a few pics taken by Clare as we suffered our way around the Redwoods last weekend. Carl and Karl recovered well enough to take 1st and 2nd in their respective classes at the PNP race at Mt Vic on Sunday, while I decided bed was a better option.
Me climbing up to the start of the tortuous Direct Road climb. Actually this is not really a 'climb', but anything higher than an ants nest seemed like Ruapehu by this time.

God on the same climb, about 2 minutes ahead according to Clare as I yelled at her (well, puffed at her). Look how comfortable he looks on a bike that's too small and having his first and only ride on it. They don't call him God for nothing.

After the Direct Road climb we got to enjoy the Hot X Buns descent. And by 'enjoy', I mean get beaten to a pulp while hanging on for dear life.

Same corner, different line. Ratas railing it.

Damn, I hate my bike looking untidy. If I'd realised my number plate was crooked, I would've DNFed in shame.

Karl and I look suave and poised, as Carl throws his toys out of the cot and refuses to pose for the photo.... something about not having a cool blue outfit or a decent bike that fits.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fuck the Chinese...

...and any other low-life scum who thinks it's 'entertainment' to abuse animals and make them do shit like this. And this. Seems they don't give a fuck about human or animal rights. And then there's this piece of shit in Honduras.

If these stories make you feel sick to the stomach like they do me, do something about it. Sign the petitions, donate to one of the many great animal welfare organisations like WSPA, PETA or even your local RSPCA. And think about the process your steak or chicken or bacon went through to get to your plate. You wouldn't want your own pets to suffer, why should any other animal?

Now, back to the bikes...

*No cats were harmed in the making of this post. He loves to ride....

Monday, October 06, 2008

More news from Whaka

*I've recovered really well from the pain of Saturday. Carl and I decided to wing it back to Welly after rain set in on Sunday and was forecast to continue Monday. Today was a beautiful day in Wellington, and a nice cruise around the bays on the road bike was just the tonic, for mind and body.

*The results are up. Karl and I equal 7th (Masters) in 6 hours 8 minutes, and God Carl was 15th in Open in 5:51.

*There was $1000 on the line for anyone finishing under 5 hours, and four freaks went under, with Scott Thorne winning the cash in an incredible 4:43! I can't imagine the pain they must've put themselves through to ride that fast for that long.

*There was also a grand for any woman to go under 5:45, and Annika Smail blitzed it with an amazing 5"07!

*Josh said he wouldn't have had any mercy on Karl if he was in my position, but all I would've gained was a few minutes and no places. I'm glad we finished together, but next time you're gone Ratas!

*All the 6am road rides through winter that Karl, Josh and I did really helped, not only with the physical side but mentally... dragging yourself out of bed in the pitch black and freezing cold really toughened us up.

*Karl said he "learnt a lot about himself" during the race. I can't remember what it was, but I learnt that suspension and gears are great inventions.

*Not that those SS freaks care, Garth Weinberg did a 5:03 (with a suspension fork) while Marcello did a 5:22 fully rigid (both on 29ers).

*The course marking arrows were emblazoned with Burger Fuel logos, and by the 80km mark I was craving a big lump of burnt cow. But I got over it.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Pain is temporary

Well that wasn't so bad. The day started out early with a 6am wake up, having slept ok (Carl was happy that Josh's warning about me being a snorer didn't hold true) and we stuffed as much food down our throats as we could handle at that time. A ten minute 'warm-up' ride to the forest helped settle the nerves and then it was time to get it on. Karl and I decided we'd ride together as long as possible, and as we rolled out around the start loop of the field light rain started to fall, but apart from a few more spots a little later, nothing came of it. The race soon sorted itself out in the early singletrack, and no-one was too keen to go hard too early. Carl passed us about 5 km in, and we didn't see him until the feed at 60km. Meanwhile, me and Karl stuck together, riding with a little group around the lake, and keeping a steady pace up the first long climb. Karl got a little ahead of me as we neared the feed, and a slight stomach cramp was giving me a bit of grief as I rolled in, around 3 hours in. I was surprised to see Carl at the feed, he told me he'd only been there about 5 minutes, and Karl was having trouble with the early onset of leg cramps. I tried to eat a sandwich but the dryness defeated me, so it was more gel and a banana, rolling off to chase the other two who had scuppered off without me. Well, I didn't actually chase, sticking to my strategy of riding my own race and keeping a steady pace and finishing in one piece. The second half of the course, while shorter, had most of the climbing, and I was already suffering by the time I got to Frontal Lobotomy, usually easily doable in the middle ring, but this time crawled up in the granny. I was keeping the food and fluid up though, and the downhills and flats were welcome for a bit of a stretch and rest, knowing there were more huge climbs to come. I was dreading the grunt up Direct Road, planning on walking and eating and maybe taking a leak, but as I started it I felt not too bad, and picked off half a dozen riders by the top. Down Hot X Buns, held up by two 50km racers, then B Rude Not 2, when the left knee and right calf started to cramp up. This was about 80 odd km in, and a guy I'd been battling with most of the race passed me again and disappeared. When I got to the bottom of Katore Rd, I knew it was the last big climb, and I could see my nemesis ahead about 400 metres. I got into the granny again and got a good rhythm going, and I was catching him pretty quickly, passing him just before the top... what I didn't know was the trail from there kept climbing, to the highest point of the race at 92km. I put in a big effort in the middle ring over the short, sharp pinches and then kept driving down the other side, with him now out of sight. Coming around a corner on the rolling downhill, Karl was right there in front of me, going very slowly. I rode straight past him, trying to keep my momentum so the other guy wouldn't catch me. I thought "I'm gonna bury Karl too". Not nice, I know. He asked how I was feeling as I passed him, and I gave a short "good" as he told me he was in a bad way. He held onto my wheel as we descended at speed, telling me how glad he was to see me and that he might not have made it if I hadn't come along. A rare moment of compassion came over me, and I asked if he wanted to finish together or sprint it out or should I just drop him (I was feeling pretty good, knowing the end was only 5km away and 6 hours was within reach). We decided that finishing together would be the way to go, but there was still a bit of climbing to go, albeit a short road climb and a few little rollers... but Karl was cramping really badly, and was screaming like a banshee as his legs tried to lock up, much to the amusement/amazement of riders around us. I told him to just ride it out, we were almost there, and gave him my bottle of Cytomax mixed with CrampStop which had helped see off my own cramp attacks, which were still threatening to hit hard at any time. A little downhill, a corner, then there it was, the finish. We rolled across the line together, and I resisted the urge to put in a sneaky sprint! Six hours, give or take (results still not up, but my computer said about 5.58 at the finish, not including a 5ish minute stop.) Carl had finished about ten minutes ahead (and on a bike he'd only picked up the day before for a magazine test, which was the wrong size), so we'd done a bloody good race, and though we were cramping, aching and empty, we were happy with a great effort, and even managed to ride back to the motel, where a spa and beers helped ease the pain. Thanks to Clare for helping us out with the feeding and moral support on the course. More photos to come from Clare later....

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The big mother-Whaka

Off to Vegas tomorrow for the Whaka 100 (say the 'wh' like an 'f'). God will be my co-pilot, and Ratas and Clare are also along for the ride. Well, Clare will be doing the cooking and cleaning, according to Ratas. It's going to be a big, long, painful day on some of the best trails in the country, but somehow I think the enjoyment factor might be overshadowed by basic survival instincts. Hopefully I'll look a bit better than this at the end.... My money says I'll look worse... much, much worse.