Friday, October 8, 2010

Just Moments Away

Good to see the ozy’s are been modest in their build up with an article in the Australian mountain Biker that portrays all riders competing this weekend as time wasters and pretenders. Well done on the sportsman ship front. This only adds to the motivation to rustle the feathers that are placed so high and bright.

The course is half similar to that of the Scott that I did in 2007. Climbing up Mt Stromlo twice in a figure of eight like pattern. A technical rocky decent makes up the back face of the mountain followed by a long four wheel drive climb that will make the best feed opportunity. The home run decent is just lovely and fast, jumps galore and berms big enough to keep a truck on track. Definitely section that will keep you going out to have another run at it.

The weather seems to be holding up in the mainly fine a hot margin with steady winds to keep u sane. Not nearly as dry as last time a popped over for spin. Although it ‘rained’ last night but you would not dream that it did seeing the track by time I got out on my morning ride at around noon.

The transit was a bit of a series of surprises and hassles. First been told it was going to cost $360 to get my bikes there then $410, then $585. In the end I paid and the expected $175 for two bike boxes on AirNZ and bluffed then rest in a manor not fit for publication. Having to rush though a crawdad Sydney airport to make a connecting internal flight was a great time with a trolley stacked high and wide with bikes. After offending and bumping into numinous faceless feigners it became clear that it was fruitless and I was going t miss it anyway. Got on a later one and all my bikes and bags arrived safely despite the check in ladies warning that potential only one would make it on the plane because it was a small propeller one. It turns out that small is anything less than a full blown jet liner.

I managed to get myself a brand spanker of a new bike for this attempt, a shiny white and glorious Jet from Niner. Designed as fast, stiff race and trail bike it’s making mince meat of the fast and at times rough and rocky Mt Stromlo. I had new light wheels built fresh for it to add to the speed factor. But what are really making the k’s fly by are the new ultra light low tread tires. A choice that was aroused some questions from locals as there are thousands of sharp rocks, although in practice there are been no problems. Botrager XR1’s are not likely to make the picks for many New Zealand races but here in the dust and the crave for speed and efficiency I am going with them. Last time I was running even skinner tires and it went swimmingly.

By chance I dropped in on the one shop that stocks Niners in ACT and also the biggest seller of them in Australia. Been in a couple of times just tuning up the Jet and the Sir ready for some steady punishment on the mountain. So a plug for Mel.Adgusted in Dixon, Canberra, cheers guys.

So registration and briefing tomorrow along with my final crack at the course. Ready? Well who knows really is all a guessing game even at this level. I can but turn up having done all that I have with the will to race.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Closing In

All the mornings, days and long evenings of hours in the zones. Honeing my body, refining the rough edges. All the in-between is now stretching behind me and all that’s left is the small few steps towards the goal. In which there is only opportunities to make mistakes. Recovery has become the watch word. The hazy drifts down country lanes will be missed for a while the ride become legit.

Yeah soon it is to the time for yet plane food and rigorous custom searches. Bikes in boxes and plathinths of worries and last minute rushes. Every time it seeks up like a cousin’s birthday you never mark on the calendar. Hell I only booked the flights a matter of weeks ago. This time though there is not 30 hours of dealing with un-helpful strangers in a transit to a far off land.

Prep is going well. Bike sessions are been dominated by the mountain bike, making a lovely change from staring a tarmac for more hours a week than I spend in paid employment. My road machine is principally become a commuting work horse and my Niner Sir is pretty well always dirty. But oh is it good to be hitting the dirt.

The mojo is creeping on back in. Further and further I have been pushing passed that point of comfort braking. Giving Dorothy (Niner Sir) the treatment it is built for. Although a hard tail it may be, it still gets down from them peaks with a whippet like style that makes some duel sus’s blush.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Air-Conditioned Whiskey

Wrap up and stay inside, keep warm by the fire with a whiskey to dull the noise of the winter at the window. Shut the blinds and sleep in, like them bears, they have the idea, just sleep thought the rough stuff. It’s all numb feet and sharp wind out there. No glimmers, no real salvation. Just endless roads significantly coated with water barely holding off freezing itself. Layers of wool and technical shells help but you are still out there battling in a sweaty ball of wishing for summer days.

Most bikes take after the bears of the north and hide in dark holes while the rain and marginal mornings creep by. Some brave the notion of the cold wet and trudge out the door and instantly regret it. Soaked in seconds as the first few meters grind out.

Mountain bikes take the worst with the pasty soil sandblasting every component driving the whole to an early grave. The simple survive here. Years of trails have proved this. Gears and suspension work great on the summer all days but in the slushy bowls of May and June things are less friendly to the bits conceived on a dry air-conditioned desk in California.

Road bikes drown in the archaic spray. Grit marks from the environment encroaching on the road space. Rotting from the inside out they pound out the hours of the hard shit. Group therapy dose not even make things easy. Just more spay in the face really, maybe kick some shit about titanium bottle cage bolts. All avoiding the point that what is really just a bit of a bad time.

Till one day the madness comes down and it all becomes absurdly clear. A back road somewhere near that turn off where you take the left to get to that road with the barn. A square sky and bent trees. Gears click over for a while with lucid pedalling. No real motivation, a lapis in purpose one free moment. The rain still comes down but hell your wet anyway. Over the hill and onto the next valley. Further, more, plus, multiple, away from the comforts, the fires, the whiskey and rug and arm chair.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crash the Old and Start a New

Been Easter it is clearly time to get serious about training and started eyeing up the worlds start line. Summer now slipping though too harsh mornings and good old dreary plods though the hours of damp back road wonders. Wonders of why you did pick a sport like squash or figure staking. They don’t require thousands of hours of ignoring the logic of staying inside on when the southerly kicks in. But out there I am and will be repeatedly for the next six months.

But to set these hopeful predictions for now as I have a new coach in Andy Patterson. With an impressive list of credentials he brings so much experience and knowledge to the table that I have already been swamped by new ideas and I am sure that I have barely scrapped the surface.

In the last few rides I have been fighting my heart rate down against much of the thinking I have been coming up with. Trying to knock out two, three or more hour rides around the region known for hills and wind without getting your heart rate much above idle is something of challenge.

I have now joined the ranks of the real side of the cycle industry with my first job in two years. Now during some business hours I can be found playing with bikes in the Porirua Avanti Plus. Having sent a large amount of my time in bike shops as well as most of my income it is familiar domain. But with this comes the very real risk that I will spend my pay at work. The temptation has so far been restricted to some long overdue brake pads for my road bike which I now ride the 40km return to the shop most work days.

Recently I felt it was time to throw myself down some trails of technical nature. But first to deserve this there are some rules. First one must ride up some steep technical sections that will require riding to finish and pushing to start. Then one has to gain the fearless bravado style that will intimidate anyone in sight. Then after making sure the seat post is all but hidden by the frame and there is enough squishiness in your suspension you are ready to hurl yourself to gravities will. So long as you despair from the sight of all riders that saw you drop into the trail you are safe and have are now a peg high in the descending status game.

Thankfully there was no one anywhere I went on my technical exploration. So I lost out on the visual based status gain and have to rely on the respect won by telling tales of my conquests. Which should go something like this; ‘yeah I went down trickle falls the other day, great track. Reminded me of all those runs I did on the north shore but just allot easier. Probably have to hit it with some real pace next time, I was just going easy.’ It’s always good to make a caparison to a more difficult track or tracks, this maximises the emphasis that even though it was expert track that for you it was easy.

However what happen to me after trickle falls was something that should be left out of any bravado. I went for a run down a familiar track that is rated intermediate but amped by my recent conquest I wound up the speed. This meant when I drove the Niner into a slight left hand curve I failed to bring my 720mm handle bars inside a tree. What followed was brief and violent disperse of energy that left all involved unhappy.

For a long time I maintained a record of only injuring myself in crashes. I broke this last year at the 24 hours of N-Duro when I went down in lame crash and tarcoed my front wheel. And again in this much more vigorous and spectacular crash I also pulverised my front wheel. Tragedy. Oh and not that I matters but I writhed in agony for a good few minutes before limping home bruised, felling sick, tail between my legs and knowing that I had been done over by nature and my own miss judgment.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Wellington Scale

God must have very angry when he created the Wellington region. Maybe he foresaw it would be a hangout for wasters and degenerates and tried to punish them with an unavailability of flat land. But what has really been created is a dangerously interesting place that attracts the best young people to land of magnificence’s.

When going anyway in this city you bound for a rough time. There is normally a gale on the loose and a few hills to climb. This, it would seem, explains the apparent lack of the old set and there certified know hangouts suspiciously called ‘rest homes’. This leaves one of major cities in NZ and indeed the capital in the soft and adventurous hands of the youth to the bravely middle aged.

Along with the steep drives and terraced houses comes the landscape feature that makes riding bikes worthwhile, the hills. So taking to them you will to find a different scale than that found other corners of world. On the roads the small hill that you leave out of route guides when describing to friends go from a few decent pedal strokes to solid 5 minute slogs. And the hills that you leave out when route telling to strangers are the same as the ones that you point out with warning in other regions.

When you depart the road and take the dirt things get more interesting. It is always clear cut here, just up or down. And like on the road hills they are jacked up. With trails smashed out of the hill side which consist of rocks and giant worms at great respect for three things arise. First the good souls who put in the hundreds of hours they could have been sitting at home polishing furniture in to creating a strip of winding track down or up a hill side. Second and more immediately is the need for focus on not ditching in the rough rock strewn surface that is bound act as an effective skin/flesh remover on contact. The third is something unrelated and vastly absurd.

So with this platherinth of intimidating terrain one can only adapt. And the rewards are great for those who open the front door to a northerly howler and lock themselves in for an adventure with the snap of the helmet strap clip.