Monday, January 26, 2009

In Command, flat out

Sliced bread was undoubtedly a great invention, but as I reported a little while back, adjustable seatposts are just that little bit better. A few weeks after initially running/rocking a Joplin, we got word that the Specialized Command Post was about to hit our shores (which considering the diminutive size of this country, is no mean feat). There's nothing at all wrong with the Joplin, but the blurb on the Command Post said it was a bit lighter, and of course that's all I need to base an outlandishly expensive purchase on. Everyone else in the country must've had the same idea, or believed the hype, as the whole huge shipment of fifteen (!) posts sold out in a matter of hours. The due date for the next lot was late March. I could wait, but could Mike? Of course not, so armed with a tip-off from Fraser, he tracked one down at another store in Levin of all places. (If you are unfamiliar with Levin, it's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.) But they ended up selling it before he could get his grubby little hands on it. Then, out of the blue, the two that we had put on backorder turned up. I promptly sold my Joplin to Magnus, and took command. So Sunday was the test ride, and it works as advertised. It has three positions rather than the infinite adjustment of the Joplin, but the 'Cruiser' position (30mm drop) is awesome for technical but not-too-steep-stuff, like on Deliverance. Also new on the Stumpy is a Ritchey Carbon flat bar that is on test for SPOKE. It's got a 10 degree back sweep, similar to most riser bars, but without the rise (obviously). I thought it might be a bit too XC for my bike, but I'm impressed how good it feels. It kicks forward from the stem, so the sweep doesn't put you too far back like some other bars. The test ride of choice was up Rollercoaster, down Deliverance, then to the summit of Makara and down into Wahine. I don't know if it was the post, the great condition the trail is in, or my superior bike-handling skills, but I cleaned Deliverance for only the second time ever. There was a German invasion along too, with Magnus rocking his Joplin and Jan on the comeback trail after his attempt to have two elbows on the one arm. As he screamed like a baby when he got some leg cramps, I can only imagine the shrieking that must've occured when he snapped his arm in half. After the ride and a quick coffee it was down to Lambton Quay for the Tour of Welly criterium. On Yer Bike's own Michael "Hammerin" Naylor was getting spat out of the bunch after getting tangled up in a crash, and he looked resplendent in his new/my old helmet. The weekend was nicely topped off with a few beers at Macs with Claire, Magnus and Rob.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


It's inevitable that in the lead-up to Karapoti that you're gonna have to do a reconaissance ride. Weeks ago, Mike had decided the time, and last Sunday would be it. As the day drew closer, all eyes were on the Wind Guru with trepidation as the winds were to be howling and the rain to be pouring. Mike kept his optimism high, as did JJ, while I was my realistic (read: pessimistic) self, predicting that the day could be a wet and muddy hell. Only time would tell. Rain heavy enough to wake me up fell during the night, and text tennis was being played between all in the morning. Mike and his crew (JJ, Jamie, Roger, Grant and his dad) were packed and going, while my crew (Magnus, Paul and Marty) were still debating the merits of risking drowning in an infamous Karapoti boghole. Paul, being the mental case that he is, predicted that the rain would be lighter in the mountains... Marty, Magnus and I derided him, with good reason. Paul should leave the comedy to his brother. As we got closer to the Akatarawas, it was teeming. But we were there, and with every chance that race day could be the same, we headed off up the gorge. It wasn't long, about fifty metres in fact, before we were covered from head to toe in mud. Now Karapoti isn't exactly know as a fun ride, it's pretty much all fireroad, and most of that is granny-gear climbs that seem to go on forever. Magnus got a flat at the bottom of the Warm-Up climb, and waiting for him at the top we were anything but warmed up. Next up was the Deadwood climb, longer and steeper in places, and at the top the rain was getting heavier, and we weren't even close to halfway. We decided to cut our losses and turned around and pinned it back downhill to the carpark, tails between our legs. Mike and his crew had decided the same thing and were already packing up by the time we got back, after returning via a shortcut. By the time we drove back to Welly, the sun was shining but the wind was nasty, so we weren't too unhappy about our decision. Well, I wasn't anyway, and somehow felt like saying "I told you so"... but I'd never do that. The plan is to go and have another crack this weekend, but with the Tour of Wellington winding up with a criterium in Lambton Quay on Sunday, it seems like watching others suffer might be the better option.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Xmas in January is a concept that's new to me. But last Sunday the Big (and Lady) Kahuna hosted our work xmas get together at his house up on the Kapiti coast. Both our stores got together for a barby in the afternoon, but first Simon from the Paraparaumu store took us on a ride around his local stomping ground. The Welly crew was represented by myself, Josh, Mike and JJ (Josh Junior) while Simon was the only Pram man. Ex-roadie sandwich-eating beautiful men were represented by Fraser.
While I like riding, what I really wanted to see was the eels being fed just up the road at Ngarara, and I petitioned hard for us to abandon the mountains in favour of morays, but I was duly ignored. Natalie, Karen and Keisha got to enjoy the spectacle though, and by all accounts, it is a show not to be missed (or was it witnessed?) a second time.

It was good to get out and ride some different trails though, even if most of the 'trails' were either road or fireroad. There were a lot of long climbs, and the views of Kapiti Island were pretty damn impressive.

Everyone had a go at getting up this short, snotty rock face, well everyone except me (bad knee/taking photos...) and Fraser (too pretty/roady...). No one made it.

Josh was riding the shop test Enduro, and took on the persona of a rad all-mountain rider... well, at least the face of one.

We got to ride for about three hours, and when we got back to Kamp Kahuna it was a quick dip in the sea (brrrr) and jet ski-ing for the brave/stupid. The spa seemed like a better option.
The rest of the OYB team and hangers on turned up during the afternoon, and as usual the Big Kahuna put on a great spread, some beers were consumed, and a good day was had by all.

Monday, January 12, 2009

You're never too old to learn...

Every other Tuesday night, I put on my tweed jacket with the leather elbow patches, fill a Thermos with Earl Grey and drive the Rover 3500 to the designated home of one of my fellow members of our esteemed Book Group. As a big fan of the brilliant British television show of the same name, I was hoping that the participants and scenarios would be of the same ilk (i.e Dutch and Swedish footballer's girlfriends, transplanted Americans and frustrated housewives) but sadly instead it's more the domain of 70 year old widows, accountants, drama students and science teachers (who also choose the Rover as their preferred mode of transport). And much to my chagrin, most of them are there to actually read books and then discuss them. We each get to pick a book, so I was somewhat shocked yet pleasantly surprised when Doris (God bless her hand-darned socks) picked the 'Whizzkids [guide to] Bikes'. As we each need to have a copy of the designated tome to peruse at our leisure over the impending fortnight, and suspecting that Doris had dug up her copy from beneath dozens of Dominion Posts and English Womens Weeklys circa 1956, I knew I (and the rest of the group) would have a difficult task to procure our very own 'bibles of bike advice'. Luckily for me, I happen to be befriended by tight-fisted, unimaginitive and lazy friends, and it was to this end that Josh came up with a completely serendipitous Festivus gift for me. Yes, he had managed to find the Whizzkids manual! Actually, he didn't so much as find it, but had it thrust upon him by a flatmate, who in turn had stumbled upon it in one of Wellington's many second-hand thrift stores, no doubt buried beneath a pile of New Ideas of much the same era as Doris'. Displaying a similar gift-giving torpor as I myself am wont to employ (I'd given him the copy of 'Death Cults' that K-Man had left behind back in 07, and which had been buried not under old newspapers, but old free Real Estate guides from the previous two years) he had simply passed it on to me while passing it off as something he had actively sought-out and put a lot of thought into. Ok, he did tell me the true circumstances of it's aquisition and admitted to it being a "shit gift". But I saw it differently. In fact, I thought it was one of the best gifts I'd received in recent Festivus memory; much better than the tighty-whitey underwear from Mike, or the wind-up kangaroo that Josh had bestowed upon me last Festivus, which promptly broke after only one trip off the edge of the table. Plus I'd probably be the only member of my Book Group (besides Doris, of course) who would actually have had the good fortune to read it and would be able to critique its many helpful tips. After all, the WhizzKids professed that after reading their book, that I'd be able to "beat the experts at their own game". And as I am supposed to be one of these so-called 'experts', I look forward to beating myself at my own game, something I've miserably failed to achieve despite decades of trying. I can't wait to peruse some of the other titles in the series too, as I've always harboured a burning desire to be a detective or a magician. Maybe Doris has them buried somewhere....

Belgian Cyclocross National Championship 09