Wednesday, October 10, 2007

9-10-07 TT 29.15. Splits 6.50, 14.17, junct 27.00. Sunny (after heavy rain the day before) and light NW breeze, which was very welcome, actually, as it was hot work! I felt bad in the first quarter – just slow and unfocused (I did the first 30 m from the bottom gate to the first barrier, normally a flat-out belt, particularly badly by not deciding on a line and wiggling from one side to the other).

When you’re not super fit, your mind becomes even more important. Because I do the TT so often, it’s easy fro me to switch off and not push the best line. It’s also easy for me to cruise, especially once my spilts look ordinary. In other words, too often my mind is wondering and I’m just trusting that my body will do the business … when obviously my body needs all the mental help it can get and needs urging on!

I find the first quarter is often the hardest. I’m not warmed up and my mind hasn’t focused on riding. In the second quarter I often spend too long recovering from the steep first quarter. The danger is I can still chug along at an OK rate without having to suffer, so can delude myself that I’m trying my best. The third quarter has the hardest bits, but by then I’m focused and warmed up. And usually if I do a fast final quarter it indicates that I haven’t tried hard enough in the first half, because a fast final quarter should really hurt!

The truth is, if you want to do a fast TT time you need to be able to really push it on the easy stages – ie, the end of the second quarter, beginning of the third and the final quarter. At the moment I’m spending too much of these recovering. It’s hard to really pick up time on the steep bits. The steep loose bits on the third quarter, for example – I’m sure Simon Kennet doesn’t actually go up them a hell of a lot quicker than I do! But as soon as it levels a bit, that’s where he takes off. So that’s the trick to improving your time – ride the steep stuff solidly but instead of using the less steep stuff to recover – push the pace!

Anyway, went up to the GB and sat in the sun! Then down the road to the Sanctuary fenceline (stopped to chat with a guy riding up the road – who turned out to be French!). There is now a gate across the sealed road at its lowest point, just before (coming from the GB to the turbine) the turn off into Long Gully. I came flying round the bend, but was able to stop in time. A few years ago I was hooting down, trying to see how fast I could go, and came flying round that bend and crashed. My usual method of taking it is to check there’s no opposing traffic as I round the bend above, then take the bend on the inside (ie, the wrong side of the road). There’s a slight camber on the inside line that I get into. On the crash occasion I was going so fast I managed to slip out of the camber, which immediately caused me to sail across the road and into a ditch on the other side. I got out off the back of my bike, and buckled the front wheel. Fortunately I was unhurt and the buckle was such that I was able to ride carefully down the road and roller coaster to Jonty’s and get a new wheel.

Back to today’s ride. Went round the fenceline and down Deliverance. I’d been avoiding Deliverance since last summer, but today it felt like summer, even though I new the track would be very wet. It was, and I dabbed about 6 times, but felt I rode it pretty well. There are three places that I typically dab – the root over the track just after the first long rocky descent. I always get my front wheel over, but not the back. I just don’t hit it with enough speed. Then the chute or the stream crossing at the bottom of the chute. Today I did the chute fine and the stream crossing was the easiest I’ve every seen it because the winter rain has silted up the stream and made a smooth crossing, but, like the root, I have trouble suddenly adjusting from a downhill into pedal-hard-over-obstacle mode. Then I usually have trouble with one of the other stream crossings – typically the one with the steep get-out. Today I dabbed in a few other places – the final steep drop-off before the chute – I thought I was going to hit a tree on the run-out, so braked. In fact, I was fine, but I panicked. There were a couple of other roots or rocks that tripped me on easy sections as well – for example, the first rocky section going down. This feels silly, because it’s not that hard, but I’ve been bounced off my hard-tail the last two times I’ve done Deliverance.

Anyway, given the wet, I rode it all, despite the dabs. I’ve cleaned every bit, except the stream crossing after the chute, so now I just need to put together a complete performance. The track was in good nick – no terrifying ruts on the drop-offs – though it could deteriorate as the weather improves and more people start riding it again.

Rode up Redemption, then, at the Parade Ground, followed the road instead of the Sanctuary fenceline. I’ve never been that way before. As the original Long Gully farm approached I was sure I’d be attacked by a dog, but as it was I scooted past and on down the road without any trouble. There’s a tall wire gate there, which I suspect might sometimes by shut. Rode up the road out of Long Gully, then up the sealed road to the GB. Got overtaken by a guy pushing it on a road bike at the bottom of the main climb. He put 50 m on me immediately, then I settled into a stronger rhythm and he put another 50 on me. By the time I reached the top he’d disappeared. I went up to the GB again, didn’t see where he’d gone, then down the TT.

I timed myself and got down in 8.40 – top barrier to bottom gate. I can’t recall my DH PB on the TT, I think it’s about 8.20 – barrier to barrier. There are now more water-bars, so it’s definitely a much slower descent – especially in the second half. Without them I think I’d have been close to 8.20 this time. The water-bars are just too big to take fast (though with good take-offs, DHers could probably jump them) – coming down with Paul Kennett after the TT race earlier this year I almost crashed on the last one. The back wheel flew up as I went over and I became unintentially airborne, landing on my front wheel. Somehow my straight line and forward momentum saved me from going over the bars and serious injury.

Anyway – round road and home. This is the first up-to-the-GB-twice ride I’ve done for a while, having reverted to a bit of 2 hour ride at weekends rider of late. I felt tired but not shattered.

6-10-07 We’ve had gale NWers, and today was also windy, so I headed to Mt Vic via Mt Albert and the Southern Walkway through that house in Melrose. On Mt Vic I just tried to follow the circuit used in the PNP race series. I don’t really like Mt Vic. I get lost and keep having to back-track and none of the climbs or DHs are long enough to settle into a rhythm. Also, you’re poddling along and suddenly there’s a steep slippery bit that you can’t do! I hate not riding the whole ride.

I went up from the Velodrome to the top then across and down from the north end, then along and down and up and down and up … I dunno. I was looking for a particular climb that takes you back up to a grassy knoll below the road facing north at the north end. Eventually I found it. It has a hard right-hand turn and then a short steep bit over tree roots – which I’ve never cleaned. It took me three goes to get it this time, then I huffed and puffed up the slippery grassy track to the knoll and traversed south.

I passed a massive drop-off to the left with a big skid across the track. I still can’t believe people do it – there’s virtually no run out – but someone obviously had. As I proceeded, I passed a DHer in full-face helmet pushing his bike up the other way. After a second, I turned back. If he was the guy who’d just done the drop-off I wanted to see! He was about to disappear over the side of the track and wasn’t very communicative, but said he’d just pushed his bike up – so it can’t have been him who’d done the monster drop. I watched him go down the track – he arsed off on the first berm. I thought, hmmm, that track doesn’t look so hard, I can do that, so I followed him down on my hard-tail. The track had a few berms, then a small drop-off onto a track lower down. It was dry and fairly straightforward. He then dropped over the edge again and headed down further, so I followed. This was even easier, swishing between pine trees before a big rock at the bottom offered a monster jump, which he avoided, as did I. We were now above a park, and he’d whizzed away.

So I climbed up again, saw I was in slightly the wrong place, still too far north, and found a track that dropped down toward the climb I should’ve taken. This was steeper and straighter than the other DHs, and the final drop-off onto the track was a bit bigger. Then I went of the main track again and sidled over to connect with the single track as used in the PNP races. It goes down over some tree roots, then out of the pines and sidles along the side of a hill that is a gay pick-up haunt, out across the soccer park and up to the water tank. I went round the tank (now fenced on top), over the two pipes and straight down on the inside track. Easy in the dry – a different story in the wet. Then I just flowed down the track, crossed the road and headed down on the left side, down the dipper and came to the end of Mt Vic at the roundabout.

I hopped over into Newtown, up the first left, some kids gave me a cup of water from a stall at the bottom of the zigzags, then along the gravel road to the zoo, along the path by the zoo, carried my bike up the steps to Melrose Park, up Mt Albert (tired by now), along Mt Albert, down to Volga St, down off-road through the pines by the golf course. For the first time I found the track proper. There was a guy struggling on it off to the right and I passed him asking if this was the way. I plunged down and up a dipper – not quite making it over the lip, then just followed the track down.

At the bottom there were two kids (aged about 12) with spades working on the jump. They yelled ‘hit it’ as I came down, but after my last jump experience (I went too high and crashed big-time on the jump by the picnic table on the Ridgeline Extension at Makara Peak), I decided to pike out. I stopped because I’d love to be able to jump, and one of the kids went and did it for me no trouble. He hardly had any speed and just seemed to plop up and off the end effortlessly. But the jump is a reasonable size and I figured I’d have to hit with a bit more speed in order to get off the end and I was tired and thought this is where I crash at the end of an OK ride and hurt myself. So after uming and erring, I just followed the track down to the road and went home.

I’d like to know how to jump, but it is harder clipped in on a XC bike with your seat up high. You’ve got to lean back and keep the nose up. Also, the best way to learn is to start small and build up and that jump was just a bit big. If there’d been a smaller one, I’d have had a go on that first. Still, good to know the right way down through those pines now.

1-10-07 Bike to work in gale NWer. Spring weather. I bike to work twice a week, but this one deserved a mention!

29-9-07 TT 29.51. Splits 6.55, 14.25, junct 27.40. Strong NWer. Wind very strong and I was getting a cold. But considering how bad the conditions were and how crap I was feeling, that time between the junct and the road is pretty fast! 2.11! Phew, I suddenly saw that if I pushed it I could make it around 30 – and the wind wasn’t so strong at the top (sheltered) and I had the legs. GB – Sanctuary Fenceline – Car Parts – Planet (passed 2 surely guys with a rottweiller). The Planet was drying out – 1 silly dab after the rooty climb, which I cleaned, so it must have been dry enough. Home direct via town and Berhampore. Hate the traffic.

22-9-07 Makara Peak – drove in B’s car. Up Karori Park – Varley’s – Zac’s – Down LL – Upper Nikau – Possum Bait Line (2 dabs on switchbacks) – LL (2 goes to get up steep bit out of LL before stile) – man, the climb out of LL felt hard! – down final LL descent, over the stream (dabbed) and along road to car park. Felt very unfit climbing out of LL! People avoid the track because of that final climb, but that’s just why I choose it (less people).

21-9-07 Had b’s car so went to Makara Peak. Got there about 4.45pm on Friday. Up Koru (up downhill of Koru) – SA- ML – Aratihi (no dabs and fast). Down Ridgeline – SWIGG – Magic Carpet – Live Wires (see-saw and difficult option) – all cleaned. Dry conditions. Breezy NWer. Good to do some technical single track again. I don’t do enough technical DHs.

16-9-07 TT (cleaned) – no time as there was a gale NWer (but not gusty), so there was no point in timing myself. Cloudy and warm. Down Red Rocks – stuffed up the first easy climb right at the start, so had to repeat it – after that everything cleaned. I say Red Rocks has three climbs to it – the first is right at the start and is short and relatively simple. The second is about halfway down and is the steepest and probably the hardest. The third is the final main climb before the final descent, and is hard because it has a lot of loose gravel and doesn’t have a smooth line, unless you can get onto the grass verge on the right past the gorse bush.

Round coast and home.

11-9-07 TT 28.49. Splits 6.56, 14.14, junct 26.23. Slow start, but picked up the pace! A strong NWer made the first half really hard going, but after the saddle the second half was more sheltered. GB – down Red Rocks – tried to do the whole ride without dabs but came unstuck on the second climb. The strong wind funneled and just caught you as you approached. Took me seven goes to get it! Got last climb first pop – go figure. But slide off at the crux on the final descent. Did it again, the second time following the line hard left on the bend and got down no problem. I had been getting a bit cocky and cutting the corner and going over rough stuff and into bouldered ruts – the outside line is definitely easier.

Round coast and home.

7-9-07 Bike into to Writers and Readers meeting in town. Then up to the IIML. Then to Revolution Cycles – closed due to Jonty hitting a car (it was at night and the car was turning into Adams Tce off Aro St and Jonty had no chance) and breaking three ribs – on to Mud Cycles to get disc brakes checked. They were squealing so badly I wondered if they were worn through. Apparently not. Up Redemption – Sanctuary Fenceline – Road. Down TT and road home. No stopping. Strong Westerly (which of course blew me up the road to the top of the TT!).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

1 Sept/ 31 Aug

1-9-07 The whole family biked round to Lyall Bay (about 5 km) to watch Anna play netball. This is a first because Tessa (7 and a half) can’t ride a bike. So I attached a small pillow to the cross-bar of my XTC 1 (longer top tube) with a stretchy and plonked her on that and away we went. Much to my surprise, because she had nowhere to rest her feet except against the frame, she enjoyed it. We even caught up Catherine and Anna.

Tessa can ride a bike round a field, but isn’t capable enough to ride on the road. More to the point, she doesn’t want to and, sadly, as much as I’m an advocate of cycling (we don’t have a car) and it would be useful to us if she could ride, we’ve been very slack about teaching her. Also, I’m ambivalent about kids on bikes because the sad truth is that cycling in NZ is very dangerous. I also worry, in a stupid liberal parent way, about how essential it is for kids to know how to ride a bike these days. We don’t have a car, but Anna and Tessa can get around well enough by foot or bus. I’d like them to be able to bike, but then they’d have to negotiate the kinds of narrow squeaks I have to every time I cycle into town. The chances of them being injured or killed are quite high.

On a bike, you’ve no seatbelt and no protection. When’s the last time you heard on the news ‘A cyclist and a car collided today: the cyclist is unhurt, while the driver of the car is in hospital recovering from serious injuries’?

Motorists often complain that cyclists break the law, and that’s true, I certainly run red lights and bike on the footpath. But my main reason for doing so is actually to get out of the way of the cars. If I just plonked myself in a crowded lane and rode like a vehicle as I’m entitled to do, someone would simply drive over the top of me. By going on the footpath and ducking through red lights when it’s safe, I avoid holding up traffic on the clogged and narrow roads.

Motorists also complain that cyclists sidle up the inside of traffic queuing at intersections. Yep, we do, and I’ll be happy to stop doing that when motorists sit patiently behind me instead of pushing me into the gutter by sidling past me on the outside. I won’t squeeze past you on the left, if you don’t push past me on the right.

NZ drivers are the worst in the world. They do many things wrong, but there’s one basic mindset behind their many failings: they have no concept that there is anyone else on the road other than themselves. Hence, they may be good rally drivers, but put them with other road users and they are likely to drive into each other. For example, the death of Possum Bourne (or whatever his name was). He collided head-on with another rally driver on a test run – neither having considered the possibility that there might be anyone other than themselves on the road.

So if NZ drivers crash into each other all the time, don’t indicate (there’s no one else on the road to see it, remember?), drive too fast, fail to drive to the conditions (too fast in bad weather and on bad roads), you can imagine how they handle cyclists. They drive into them and, quite often, just keep going. The number of cyclists who are hit from behind is staggering. If you are on a bike and approaching a left-hand corner, it can be terrifying knowing there’s a car behind you because the driver, failing to slow down, will cut onto an inside line and practically take you out. The ones that don’t hit you swerve alarmingly at the last minute and, going too fast, cross the centre line. Head-on collisions are a popular form of accident in NZ.

As a kid on a bike I was hit by a car crossing the centre line while turning at a T-junction. Luckily I went over the bonnet (leaving half my knee on it).

Don’t get me started about the police or confrontations with those drivers who use their cars as weapons.

31-8-07 TT 28.55. Splits 6.30, 13.30, junct 26.23. Strong NWer. If you compare these splits to my personal best on the 24-8-07, you can see how the strong head-wind affected the ride. The quarter and halfway splits are slower, but not too bad, but by the junction the wind has taken its toll. Went up to the GB and decided to head down to the south coast via the Bunkers. I last did this on 19-6-07 and cleaned the final loose descent for the first time but failed to get up the short climb to the bunkers. I decided this was to do with the geometry of the 07 Giant XTC 1 as opposed to my previous bike, an 03 Giant Iguana, the XTC 1 having a longer top tube and a higher front end due to the Reba forks being stuck on 100 mm travel.

Anyway, this time my front wheel slipped out halfway down the final loose descent, just as the gradient was lessening. I hopped on again and coasted down no probs, but that momentary lapse in concentration cost me a clean descent. So I was pissed off about that.

The next test was to see if I could clean the short climb up to the Bunkers, which had never been much of an issue on the Iguana. The main problem is the surface, which is very loose. The only line is hard right on a thin (six inches?) grassy verge. So there’s no wiggle room, you have to hold that front wheel straight and steady. Well, I could get about halfway, even three quarters of the way, up, but then the back wheel would slip. I tried about 7 times before finally changing into my bottom gear – I had been in my second to bottom – and flicked up it without any hassle. So, maybe that was the problem last time – I can’t recall what gear I was using.

Climbing something short and steep is all about getting your weight in the right place so that the front doesn’t start to lift forcing you too shift too much weight forwards, which then causes you to stomp and the back wheel to skid (I’m not sure which occurs first). This climb was complicated by the tight line which allowed no room for front wheel meandering, so you had to sit very steady and control direction simply by leaning – which is hard on a steep up. Obviously I wasn’t quite strong enough to keep the pedals spinning in the second to bottom gear, so at a certain point I’d lean too far forward and the back wheel would lose traction and slip. In the granny gear I could keep spinning and keep the weight on the back wheel without the front end lifting.

I still think my 07 XTC 1 isn’t as good for climbing because of the front end and the longer top tube, though it was great to finally clean the final Bunker climb. I’m now interested to know how the bike would go on a sustained steep climb, such as the first climb on the Karapoti. I don’t mean the warm-up climb (which I’ve cleaned the last 2 times I did it), I mean the first climb proper after you’ve ridden up the river. That’s the hardest climb for me, and the last time I dabbed about 100 metres from the top (on the last really steep section). I expect to clean the warm-up climb and the third climb, and hope to clean the first climb, but haven’t the last couple of times I’ve done the Karapoti. I wonder how much easier or harder it would be on the XTC 1?

Anyway, I like the Bunkers as a place. They’re sheltered from strong northerlies, so I lay in the sun for half an hour before riding down to the stream scramble. I like the ride down to the stream too, it’s tricky, but you’re never going to hurt yourself and it’s fun to see how close you can get to the stream (I get within about 10 metres). The only pain is the scramble itself. I’m not one of those people who likes hiking their bike – to me Mt biking is about riding and if you have to walk or dab, the ride loses its rhythm.

Went round the coast and home.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Sorry I haven't been keeping up this blog regularly. I record all my rides in a notebook because I'm diabetic and exercise is part of the equation, and I only blog when I get the chance and that's why I dump in lots of the rides in at once. Sorry Ben, I know this makes it hard to comment on particular rides. Finally, though, I've better things to do than blog after every ride or week or whatever.

25-8-07 Up Happy Valley Rd at 8 am !!!! and met up with Andrew Johnston (considerable NZ poet – check out his website at the Brooklyn lights and rode up the road to the Golfball. Strong NWer. My legs were toast after yesterday. Then just back down road home. Nice to go with someone for a change. Then biked round to Lyall Bay to watch Anna’s netball. Tired.

24-8-07 TT 27.05 – a new PB! Splits 6.24, 13.12, junct: 24.44. Steady NWer. Wow, this was a surprise – totally blitzed it. At the junction I knew I wouldn’t break 27 min because I was too tired to stand up and shove it. If only there hadn’t been a steady headwind, if only I hadn’t had a backpack, if only the gates had been open ... I’d have gone under 27 no trouble. The world is full of ‘if onlys’.

Down road to Sanctuary, Windmill, Car Parts, Planet – this time got down the first rut and through the mud puddle (man, it’s deep!), but lost my chain just before rooty climb, which I still didn’t get up anyway – too slippery. Up Durham St and down Happy Valley Rd home.

Was using my old watch (not the stop watch), which I hadn’t left at the bottom of Red Rocks some weeks back (1-8-07) after all.

Amazing how much really pushing it on a ride can take it out of you. If I’d done the TT a couple of minutes slower, I’d have felt fine next day. But those extra 2 two minutes really took it out of me.

22-8-07 Up Happy Valley Rd to see The Lives of Others (Very good) at Penthouse, then up road to Castle and down to Red Rocks (cleaned). Managed the descent with more speed and style than usual – I think cleaning the climbs just adds to you momentum. Round coast and home. 1hr15min from Penthouse to home.

15-8-07 TT 30.00. Was using a stop watch that was hanging round my neck swinging and it seemed to knock against the stem and crap out. So I slowed down and only once I reached the top and fiddled with it did I realise it was still going. Stopped it at 30.17, but probably made the top around 30. Sunny, and light SEer.

Down Sanctuary, Windmill, Car Parts, Planet – off 3x – First rut, mud puddle (splot), and rooty climb is currently too slippery. Very wet and muddy. Round waterfront to Lyall Bay and home.

5-8-07 Sunday tree planting at Makara Peak. Got a ride in with Ben Wilde (late this time because he forgot me). Biked in at St Albans Ave and straight up 4WD to top. Good fun planting trees in the sun. There were so many people most of us left after lunch. Down 4WD, lower RL, SWIGG, Starfish and back over via Redemption, Sanctuary, road to GB, down TT and home. Would have liked to have taken Anna, but she would have had to have biked back with me, which would have been too much.

3-8-07 TT 27.25. Splits 6.35, 13.22, junct 25.05. Cloudy, misty, mild southerly. Quite focused – I wanted to prove to myself that Wednesday’s time was not a true reflection of my fitness. Went down Red Rocks again to see if I’d left my watch at the bottom 2 days ago. Was using a stop watch round my neck, which swung alarmingly, but didn’t turn off. Took 3 goes at final climb, which is currently the hardest because it’s loose and my usual line on the grass to the right is hard to reach because of the gorse bush. Cleaned the final descent at speed. Wet helps firm up the loose stuff. Didn’t find watch. Round coast and home.

1-8-07 TT 32.01. Splits 7.15, 15,24, junct 29.04. No wind, wet and misty. What a crap time. Just not there at all. I was still tired from the Montana NZ Book Awards in Auck. The Year of the Bicycle didn’t win, but I never expected it to and C and I had a nice weekend at Waiheke. And the adviser for the poetry category, John Newton, called it ‘the freshest and most inspired writing in the field’. I won’t hear a word against him.

Up to GB and down Red Rocks. Should have cleaned RR, but my front wheel hit a rock just at the top of the hard climb as I was going over the lip – I couldn’t believe it. I got it second go, got last climb and went down the final descent like a bat out of hell! Stopped to eat at the bottom and possibly left watch on a rock. Round coast and home.

25-7-07 To Makara Peak via Happy Valley road. Up Koru to Skills Area. Mucked around – seesaw and ramps or what ever those wooden things are called. Up SA, ML, Aratihi (off 4x! due to tiredness, slipperiness and low b/s). Stopped and ate on Aratihi. Steady NWer. Down RL (1 dab), SWIGG, Starfish. Back on road via Jonty at Revolution Cycles who tuned my gears. I owe you $20 Jonty. About 3 hrs riding all up.

17-7-07 TT 29.10. Splits 6.48, 14.12, junct 26.48 (thought it was 27.48, so took the last bit rather casually – excuses, excuses). Mild easterly. Sanctuary, Windmill, Car Parts, Planet – 2 dabs on first rut, then slipped off on rooty climb. Back via Durham St and Happy Valley Rd.

13-7-07 TT 30.25. Splits 6.50, 14.24, junct 27.53. Perfect conditions – cool with mild southerly. Really gave this everything I had so very disappointing not to break 30 mins. I guess I’m not as fit as I’d like to think. Headed to GB and on south into LG – chased by the bloody dog (it doesn’t bite, but it’s chased me a few times now and I’m getting sick of it). Headed down to the south coast, round over Hell’s Gate and home. No dabs.

12-7-07 This is just to remind people that I bike into town on the road 2-3 times a week. Southerly, rain, freezing.

13-7-07 Bike to Lyall Bay and back – cold, wet, southerly.

8-7-07 Had B’s car, so took advantage of it to take Anna to Makara Peak. Up Koru to Skills Area – helped Anna over the see-saw. Along Koru, Magic Carpet, then back down Koru. Anna’s bike is too big for her and she has trouble using the brakes going down. She does very well otherwise.

This is where not having a car is hard because I can’t take Anna to Makara Peak. Also, getting her bike adjusted is trickier – though we could bike round to Burkes and get charged more than the bike’s worth to get smaller brake levers put on. I guess she’ll just have to grow a bit.

4-7-07 TT 32.40. Splits 7.13, 15.23, junct 29.32. Raining and strong northerly. Didn’t actually want to go up the TT; I wanted a nice solid easing into it Makara Peak-type ride. But I can’t seem to go past it sometimes. The trouble with the TT is I haven’t really warmed up (it’s only 3.9 km on the road from my house) and the first quarter is particularly brutal if you’re trying to push it. Often I think I’d do so much better if I was half an hour into a ride before I started up. Of course, going straight at it does mean you’re totally fresh.

My head was also too full of a frustrating SLANZA Conference that I had a bit part in. There was so much more I think I could have said that would have been useful, but I only had 15 mins. Oh well. I blogged about it on the Montana Poetry Day site.

At least the ride got better as I went on. Went down south to LG, round coast and home.

It’s funny the people you see up round the GB. The weather wasn’t good, raining and blowy, yet I passed 2 people pushing 4WD buggies (covered in those plastic sheets) beyond the sealed road. I think they had driven up the road and left their cars near the top of the TT, but still, of all the crazy places to take your babies for a walk and of all the crazy days!

29-6-07 TT 27.34. Splits 6.37, 13.37, junct 25.23. Mild northerly. Ride felt solid rather than fast, but I really hoofed that last stretched. Cleaned gate. Up to GB, no dabs, and down Red Rocks – cleaned in style, especially hard climb. So, another bottom gate, up to GB, down to RRs with no dabs.

26-6-07 TT 29.24. Splits 7.10, 14.33, junct 27.00. Gale force southerly. Down Sanctuary, Windmill, Car Parts, Planet – wet and slippery. Up Durham St and down Happy Valley Rd home.

25-6-07 Bike to work over Mt Albert (road only) and Mt Vic (up road and down off-road).

24-7-07 Took Anna up to Mt Albert (top), then back down Houghton Valley and round coast home. She’s very game, but I think she liked playing at HV park just as much as the ride.

19-6-07 TT 28.17. Splits 6.37, 13.47, junct 25.53. Beautiful sunny day, mild northerly. Down via the Bunkers. Cleaned the final steep descent toward the Bunkers for the first time, but failed to clean the final climb up to the Bunkers. Tried 7 times and the front wheel just lifted every time.

So there it is – the different effects of the different geometries of my 07 Giant XTC 1 and my 03 Giant Iguana. The longer top tube means the 07 bike descends better, but doesn’t quite climb as well. Mostly the climbing deficiency doesn’t matter, but on something really steep, like the final step up to the Bunkers, the bike can’t do it. On my 03 Iguana with Duke forks wound down to 70 mm, I manage it no problem.

One solution would be to be able to dial down the front suspension, which I could do with the Dukes on my Iguana, but no, the Rebas are fixed in at 100 mm and so that contribute to the overly high front end. I tried to get my 07 XTC fitted with a pair of Rebas with adjustable travel – apparently they did make them in the US, but they never brought any over here. Travel that can be adjusted on the fly is just fantastic for people like me who like to get up things as well as down them. I’d worried I’d find it harder to climb on the XTC 1, and so it has finally come to pass. It really pisses me off that the twits who design bikes can’t see that the U-Turn system is actually perfectly suitable because it’s simple to use. You can adjust Rebas, but only after arsing about in your shed for a weekend, not on the fly. Now I’m concerned that the other steep climbs I like to clean, like the Karapoti climbs, are going to prove too difficult with the lifting front end.

Hmmph! Anyway, went down the scramble to the south coast and home.

16-6-07 Road ride round the Miramar Peninsula and home. Raining and southerly. Cold.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

12-6-07 TT 28.57. Splits 6.30, 13.47, junct 26.07. Southerly, cold. It was sunny with a mild southerly while I climbed, but the wind picked up and a front of cloud and drizzle came in as I reached the Golfball.

This was an odd ride because I rode the first quarter very fast (6.30) and then ran out of oomph. I think I was motivated by the previous ride and wanted to see if I could get under 28 mins. But I was perhaps riding a little too soon after it, not because I wasn’t recovered, but because of the boredom factor. The splits tell the tale – I had my 15 seconds in the first quarter, which meant all I had to do was maintain the pace, which I couldn’t do. By halfway I was a couple of seconds down on my previous time, and I actually dabbed (once on the left foot, probably only cost a couple of seconds) on the 3rd test, which indicates tiredness and lack of focus while recovering from the hard 2nd test. By the junction I was 14 seconds down rather than 15 seconds up, which is still pretty good considering how crap the second half went, but, because I knew there was no way I’d get anywhere near going under 28 mins, I somehow suffered a major form slump. In the end I was lucky to make it under 29 mins, given I got stuck on the top barrier. My time from the junction (26.07) to the sealed road (28.57) was particularly disappointing – I should have been in at least 28.45, if not 28.30 if I’d really hammered it and done a clean gate.

Went up to the Golfball and was promptly engulfed in southerly cloud and drizzle, so headed north to the Sanctuary, then to the Turbine. There was another mt biker coming up the road who was heading down Car Parts, so I waited to let him go because I’m a slow downhiller, but he was stuffing around so I went up and chatted to him. He was heading down Car Parts and the Rollercoaster and I told him I was heading down the illegal Planet Track. I let him go first, then found him waiting for me at the turn-off to Pol Hill on the Rollercoaster. So I took him down the Planet Track, which he loved. It is a great single track because it’s not too hard but not easy either – especially in the wet (it was dry). We parted at the bottom and I headed home via Durham St and Happy Valley Road. Southerly strong, but those Ground Effect hats are great for cold weather riding.

This was one of the many days when I wished I lived nearer Makara Peak. I didn’t really need to go up the TT. In bad weather Makara Peak offers shelter and allows you to warm up before hitting the exposed bits. On the 5-6 it would also have been good to go up Makara Peak. You warm up, then can really attack Aratihi if you feel like it. And going down there are plenty of options for challenging single track. I sometimes find the TT too hard (remember I’m going as fast as possible – it’s not hard to just ride up) at the beginning when I’ve only been riding for 10 minutes on the road. It’s also exposed to any northerly wind. Then, once you’ve made the top, there isn’t a great choice of single track descents. You’ve either got Red Rocks, which is great on a good day, but just fast 4WD with only the last 100 metres providing any technical challenge. The Bunkers track is the same, with one very tough loose 4WD descent. The track south into Long Gully is easy 4WD. The best option is north to Car Parts and Planet. Or further over to the Scout Hall or Deliverance (which is too hard for me in the wet). There’s also the Bird Street Track further round the Sanctuary, but that’s largely an exercise in impossible switchbacks, which I know some people can do, but you need to have trials skills to get round them, and I don’t. And once you’re over into south Karori, you’ve got to get back, and ride can become more an exercise in time and endurance than descent practise.

I really like cleaning rides. I’m not a fast downhiller, but I don’t like dabbing, and there just aren’t enough technical single track options from the Golfball.

8-6-07 A first-time TT-Red Rocks no dabs!!! TT 28.15. Splits 6.45, 13.45, junct, 25.53. Steady NWer that increased with altitude so that it wasn’t a problem in the first half but hit in the second. Sunny. The best time I’ve done since the Tip Track race (14/4/07) when I probably went between 27 and 28 minutes. I wonder how I might have gone without a full load of water and with a favourable southerly wind?

I think part of the trick, apart from just feeling strong, is not to go out too hard at the beginning so that you can maintain your pace or get stronger. The first quarter is actually quite steep and it’s easy to go too hard and have to spend the next quarter recovering. I’d actually had a poor night’s sleep the night before, so felt a bit tired, but my head wasn’t full of to-dos. It also helps not to have done the TT for a week or more – too often and you become a bit bored.

I trundled straight on up to the Golfball, but didn’t stop, as it was too windy at the top, and just carried on back down to the top barrier intending to put on my polypro there. But on the way down it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually put me feet down and that this gave me the opportunity to do something I’ve always been meaning to do: go up the Tip Track and down to Red Rocks without dabbing. Now, I’ve done both many times, but have always stopped at the Golfball or had to dab at the top barrier because you haven’t always been able to squeeze past it on your bike. I’ve always been meaning to turn left at the Junction and not go right to the top, but because I time myself from the bottom barrier to the sealed road, and I always time myself, by the time I reach the Junction I just want to get to the sealed road. But now, here I was, wiggling past the top barrier and heading down without dabbing. I made the first short climb easily, then the steep climb easily, then hopped right onto the grass verge past the gorse bush on the third climb, and, concentrating hard, got down the final descent without incident. So – no dabs from the bottom TT gate until my front wheel hit the barrier at the bottom of Red Rocks – including visiting the Golfball in between. Back round the coast home - well pleased. The whole ride took about an hour and a half.

5-6-07 Went up Happy Valley Rd, this time avoiding the TT because of the poor ascent on 30-5-07, when I went up when I only half felt like it. Also there was a gale NWer, which I was carefully avoiding. Up through Brooklyn and onto the Rollercoaster to the Turbine (the Rollercoaster hurt), round the Sanctuary to Wrights Hill, then down the Scout Track (very smoothly, no dabs), through Karori and up St Albans Ave into Makara Peak and down SWIGG/Starfish. I wasn’t sure about the time and had to be back by 3 for the kids, so this was just a quickest way I could think of to throw some single track downhill into the ride. Ate a sandwich at Makara Peak car park, then whizzed up Redemption (funny how it seems to take me a while to warm up, and now I was in the zone), round the Sanctuary and hopped onto the road out of Long Gully due to gorse cutter on the Sanctuary fence-line. Up the road, taking full advantage of the gale force NWer, and down TT and home via hill rather than coast (quicker). Whole ride took 2 ¾ hours and was much more fun in the second half.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

30-5-07 TT 29.51. Splits 6.58, 14.12, junction 27.19. Warm. Steady NWer. May has been incredibly mild and warm.

This was an odd climb because I actually came off twice, once just after the tough 2nd test and once on the corner leading into the 4th test where I was blown off earlier this year. But neither off this time was because of wind: I just wasn’t concentrating, my wheel slipped and I didn’t have the legs to recover. Odd that even with these two offs (I got on again immediately) I still made the sealed road in under 30 mins. Normally when things start going badly I slack off and finish with a time far worse than I would have got if I’d kept up the pace.

The thing that redeemed this ride was the descent to Red Rocks – no dabs from the Golfball (you can easily get round the gate at the top of the Tip Track) until my front wheel hit the gate at the bottom. Not that this is too much to skite about, but usually I dab somewhere – most recently I’ve had to repeat one of the climbs. I keep meaning to take a saw to that sodding gorse bush on the right at the start of the third climb, but if you can get up enough momentum to scoot across the loose stuff onto the grass verge on the right after it, you’re on firmer ground. That is, until it rains and the grass becomes wet. The final descent is always a little sketchy and this time I did snake about a bit during the last 20 metres, but managed to hold it together. So it was hardly a fast or immaculate descent, but no dabs is no dabs.

Went round the coast to watch Anna in the cross-country southern zone at Houghton Bay. She’d come 3rd in her year at the Island Bay School cross-country. Today she came 11th – same as last year. You need to get in the top 10 to progress to the inter-zone, so I think she was a bit disappointed. But I thought she did well, because she was in the last third to begin with but hauled everyone in on the climb! She doesn’t have a sprint, so gradually hauling people in is her strength and she just ran out of course in which to do it.

29-5-07 Picked up bike from Seatoun and road home via the south coast.

28-5-07 Biked round the Mirimar Peninsular to Seatoun after work to the Hill’s for dinner. A beautiful night – mild southerly. Got to test my new light properly. The flash mode is rather slow, but having it on permanently uses much more power. I can see the fun of night riding – the atmosphere is great – but really good lights would be necessary off-road.

25-5-07 TT 30.30. Splits 7.10, 15.00, junct 27.30. Huh, a bad one. It hurt. I was tired and biking round to see Jonty at Revolution Cycles to pay him for the rigid forks I’ve been using on my commute bike for 6 months now. So I was nearly just going to bike up Happy Valley, but felt guilty about passing up the climb, so up I went when I knew my heart wasn’t in it. The weather was perfect, but far too hot. At the beginning of the 2nd half of the climb I got within 20 metres of a guy walking briskly, but as the tests hit I couldn’t haul him in. He got to the road about 20 metres ahead of me – which indicates how badly I was going.

Went down via the Sanctuary and Rollercoaster to Revolution Cycles, then back via the road and Happy Valley. Bought a better front light off Jonty because commuting at night is getting scary.

24-5-07 In to work over Mt Albert and Mt Vic. Fuck the traffic in Newtown. There I am talking an extra 10 min and going up two unnecessary hills to avoid the main roads, but my life is still endangered by twits in vehicles. New Zealand drivers are the worst in the world.

22-5-07 TT 28.51. Splits 6.48, 14.08, junct 26.30. Steady northerly but not gusty or strong. A good climb – had the stamina to keep up the pace. Felt good to get in under 29 mins – a clean final gate helped. Down Sanctuary, Car Parts, Planet (cleaned). Chatted to girl on a Mt Biker at the windmill who was heading for Red Rocks and asked me the way. Half thought about going back and showing her, but since she was pushing her bike up the road I figured she’d find it tough going and I’d have been waiting for her all the time. Also, I got the vague vibe that she would have been more than happy to team up, so I gave her directions and wished her well.

Went home via the road and Durham St – supposedly a quiet Brooklyn back road, but just when I’m on it clogged by oafs in trucks and vans. One just about backed into me.

13-5-07 Anna’s birthday. Mum was here with her car so got to go for a quick ride away from the TT. Left the car at Karori Park and went up Wahine onto the Skyline track to Mt Kaukau. Trundled along but had to turn back at the bottom of the final climb up to Mt Kaukau due to time constraints. A bit frustrating, but still a good ride. I monstered most of the climbs, only slipping off on one steep wet grassy bit (I recall it being a nemesis before) and a part where I missed that the bike track went left and followed the walking track up a rocky, grassy vertical bit. Amazingly, I got up and only came off where the track levelled and I couldn’t make the turn. There was one bit of a descent I bailed on – again this was on the walking track while the bike track went off round the side. I seem to recall balking at it once before, too.

The weather was overcast with a slight breeze – a great day to do this track. I turned back about one and half hours into the ride: Karori Park to Kaukau is further than you think. It took about an hour and a quarter to get back.

6-5-07 Round south coast and up Long Gully climb. Couldn’t get over Hell’s gate. Tried 10 times! Couldn’t generate enough momentum so was relying on grip and balance, both of which deserted me. Frustrating. Found the Long Gully climb long and hard. A steady NWer head wind, but not gusty. A dog came up behind me and barked at the farm as I was starting the climb from the farm up to Te Kopu, which has never happened to me before. That climb is steep and I found it very hard going. I’m not as fit as I was. Still, I made it (using bottom gear) and then made the Te Kopu trig using the grass between the wheel ruts. I was in cloud and drizzle by now. Surprised five horses on the road to the Golfball. Spooky.

Headed down Red Rocks, as was feeling better. Cleaned hard climb first pop by fluke – my front wheel went onto a bad line at the top and lifted but somehow the back gripped and I got over the lip. By rights I should have come off. Sometimes luck does play a part in Mt Biking – it’s not always ability. The 3rd climb took two goes because of that sodding gorse bush on the right near the bottom. It’s right in the line and trying to go up on the gravel is risky because it’s so loose. Cleaned the descent to the gate – I love the sound of my front wheel hitting the gate! Home round the coast. The whole ride took about two and half hours, which feels long because I recall in the good old days going up the TT down to RR then round the coast and up LG-Te Kopu-Golfball and down the TT in about 3 hours – so I’m really slowing up.

4-5-07 TT 32.04. Splits 7.00, 15.00. Perfect weather – sunny, still – but no breeze so too hot. Blew out. No energy so gave up. Put my hand in a gorse bush at the top gate so made a has of it and came off 3 times after the gate!

Down Sanctuary, Car Parts, Planet (cleaned). Wet and slippery. Back via Happy Valley Road. Cars and trucks managed to spoil it.

1-5-07 Road ride round Mirimar Peninsular via Ben Wilde’s to repay him for paying my medical expenses after I crashed at Makara Peak and smashed my helmet.

30-4-07 Bike in via Mt Albert and Mt Vic. Cold and dark and rain coming home.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

25-4-07 Wednesday and ANZAC Day. Didn’t ride at the weekend due to being full of cold and family commitments. Plus I commute during the week, so sometimes feel I’ve done enough riding. But today I was overdue a ride and the PNP cycling club were holding an informal repeat of the Hawkins Hill race because the roadies feel they have further to go and therefore can’t compete. The idea was for a code swap – roadies to ride MTbikes and go up the TT and MTbikers to ride road bikes and go up the road. But I don’t have a road bike, and the idea of repeating the TT race again didn’t appeal enough, especially as the time was set for 1 pm and there was a strong NWer.

So I set off at 11 am and headed round the coast to Red Rocks and up the descent. This is harder than the TT – steeper in places, and I’ve never cleaned it. I always come off at a steep lose climb near the top. I carry my bike up the first lose rocky section to the second bend and start there. And it’s surprisingly ridable because, although it’s steep, once, you’ve got past the first lose bit, there’s solid rock and good grip. Unfortunately, at the top of the sold rock section there’s a short steep bit which I slipped on. I immediately re-did it – no probs – but then went on to clean the rest of the ascent – finally nailing the final steep climb near the end. So do I say I’ve cleaned it or not? Technically I probably haven’t, but I feel confident that I pretty much did because I immediately repeated the silly slip up. Anyway, I think it’s a harder climb than the TT, and the fun thing for me is not timing myself so just being happy to puddle up in whatever gear and use the bottom cog.

Then went up to the GB, down toward Windmill, down 4WD road into Long Gully, up Sanctuary FL to Wrights Hill, and down Deliverance. Why I decided to give Deliverance another crack, I don’t know. I just didn’t want to do Car Parts and Planet again, I thought it would be dry (still have the crap Hutchinsons on) (it wasn’t really) and I just felt I should take the opportunity before the winter rain made it totally too hard for me.

Deliverance is at the limit of my ability. I’ve never cleaned it, but my recent attempts have only had 3 dabs, so … This time I had a couple of stupid daps on the initial rocky descent, which I usually clean. Those crap Hutchinsons! Then there was one on the bloody tree root – which I’ve never got over without slipping. I got down the chute (yes!) but pushed my bike over the stream crossing at the bottom. After that it was plain sailing. So I was very pleased. Normally my dabs are on the tree root, the chute, the stream crossing at the bottom, and one or two of the other stream crossings. Amazingly, I seem to be able to manage all the drop-offs. But not in the wet.

Then I went up Salvation, back up the Sanctuary FL (passed some guy pushing), back up the road to the GB – and who should I see arriving but Mark Renall – the PNP race guy. He was waiting for the other Hawkins Hill racers (10) to arrive. I had a quick chat to him (he had no idea who I was), then (waited for the 5 MTB climbers to pass) went down the TT, carefully, and home. A good ride with one hard climb and one hard descent, both done pretty well. 3 hours, 1000 m total climbing.

15-4-07 The TT Race. I was OK to race, with just a plaster on my nose and a new helmet bought the previous day. This is the event’s second year and it pits runners, road riders and MTBikers against each other to see who can get up to the Golfball (Hawkins Hill Radar Station: 495 m) fastest. The start is at Owhiro Bay car park, the finish by the GB. The runners usually go up Bata Place (quickest route), the MTBikers up the TT and the Roadies up the road. All the gates are open. Last year I did 35.34 (drizzly, but only a moderate NWer), which was a bit slower than I’d hoped for. This year the weather was sunny and the NWer light. I did 32.46, which I’m happy with. I could have gone a bit faster if I’d had someone pushing me, but I was basically alone for most of the race because the people I overtook didn’t hang on and the guns were way out in front.

This year there were mass age-group starts, so you could draft up the road. Last year it was a time trial with everyone going at 30 second intervals. I liked the time trial because I don’t like being surrounded by other riders, but there wasn’t a large field, so the mass starts were fine. By the time we hit the TT people had pretty much sorted themselves out and the slow battles of attrition began.

The race was won by Wayne Hiscock (MTB) in 24.21 – beating Tim Wilding’s (MTB) time last year of 24.45. Simon was the second MTB in 25.47 – he had a mild cold. Jonty Ritchie was the 3rd MTB in 26.53. Paul did 35.00. Special mention to Patrizio Morganti who ran it in 28.32.

I wonder what my TT time was? Simon reckons he does the road bits in about 4 mins, so they probably take me 5-6 mins. So my TT only time was probably between 27-28 mins. My TT record is 27.10 and I’d love to break 27 mins one day.

Coming back down the TT after Paul K (full suspension) I just about lost it on the last water bar. Somehow the front suspension took the hit, but the back wheel bounced up and I found myself flying through the air and landing on my front wheel. Not good. Given my head injury just tow days ago, I was lucky. Now the TT race is done, I’ll get those light, no-tread Hutchinson tyres off and put them on my old bike for commuting and put the heavy winter 2.?s on the XTC1.

13-4-07 Friday and went for a ride with Ben W at Makara Peak, which proved a disastrous thing to do 2 days before the TT race. Somehow I was feeling very out-of-sorts – not focused at all. We went up Koru, SA, and then up the 4WD track to the summit. Ben – on his new Trance 0 dual suspension rig – pretty much left me in his wake (not that it was to do with the bike – Ben’s fit and a much better downhiller than I am). At the top – it was drizzly and windy – we went down Aratihi, and somewhere I lost it and crashed. It wasn’t even a very good crash – I just kind of lost the front wheel and flopped onto the ground. If I’d been going faster I might have gone harmlessly into a bush off the side of the track. I think my blood-sugar was seriously low. Anyway, I face planted and broke my helmet and there was a bit of blood coming from somewhere. I had a few sugar pills and muddled on to find Ben coming back to look for me. My vision was completely blurred and he said I was slurring my speech.

So, we then headed out of the park via Missing Link. My vision was stuffed, I was getting cold, and I didn’t know much about anything. What I do remember is being totally surprised when each feature of the track came up. I know the park quite well, but I was having difficulty locating myself geographically. We went out the St Albans Ave entrance and Ben went round the road and got the car. By now I was shivering and my vision had become double rather than blurred. But I got to eat. In the car I watched dual white lines and oncoming cars approach and merge into one. Within about 3 metres my vision became OK, then by the time we reached the after hours clinic it had thankfully returned to normal.

Ben was really great, because once my vision corrected I said we should just go home. But he insisted that I get checked out and stayed with me, paid the bill for me, and took me home. I’m very grateful to him. I had mild concussion and ended up with a plaster over a cut on my nose.

11-4-07 TT 29.04. Splits 7.10, 14.26. Junct: 26.56. Gale NWer – blown off once at beginning of 4th test on second half. Not a good day for a fast time. I was surprised how I was only a minute slower than last time, and also how fast I did the junction to sealed road – 2.08 – which is fast for me. Just came back down TT and home.

6-4-07 TT 28.05. Splits 6.45, 13.45. Junct: 25.45. Stronger NWer than 3-4. People with dog cause me to lose a few seconds, but still, no excuses for not getting under 28 mins. Up to GB, then down Sanctuary Fenceline, Windmill, Car Parts, Planet (cleaned), up road, Rollercoaster (in second cog), road to GB again, down TT (8.05 – a new record for me!) and home. 2 and three quarter hours, 1000 m of climbing. Didn’t feel as great as when I did this ride a few weeks back and went home via Red Rocks rather than the TT - but still a good ride.

The TT race is coming up, which is why I’m trying to get in a few ascents. Simon Kennett clocked 20.19 (bottom gate to sealed road – which is where I time myself to and from as well) the other week, which is stonking! Then, last week, he did 19.37, which is a NEW TIP TRACK RECORD (bottom gate to sealed road). Amazing!

3-4-07 TT 28.25. Splits 6.50, 13.50. Junct: 26.00. Steady Nwer – so good time. Up to GB. This is the first time I’ve done the TT on my new bike. Down Red Rocks – clean all the climbs first pop + descent! It’s a while since I’ve totally cleaned Red Rocks, usually I stuff up one of the climbs, so I’m pleased. The XTC1 has crap Hutchinson tyres on it which makes cleaning the descent even more pleasing – but I do have suspension now.

31-3-07 Bike Crazyman Course with Ben’s mate Jono. We leave car outside Paul & Michelle’s in Moera and bike up Wainui Hill on the verge, then head along the 4WD track and hook up with the course. Then down into a valley and up out again – an easy climb. That’s as far as I’ve been before, so Jono leads on down the 4WD and single track above Silver Stream and into Stokes Valley. It’s nice doing something new – but I doubt I could find my way down again. Then along the Hutt River trail back to Moera. 3 hours and about 40 km? A good solid ride in windy, cloudy conditions.

24-3-07 Bike to Makara Peak for a Bike Orienteering event with Paul Kennett. A Rogan – get as many points as possible in 2 hours. We probably don’t pick the best routes, Paul punctures, and we go the wrong way near the end, but all good fun. Come back down an unfinished Lazy Fern at end – seems to go on forever! There are 7 mins left and Paul decides to clock in as you lose 10 points for every minute you’re over the 2 hour limit. I decide to try and whiz back up Koru and down Live Wires to pick up a 30 pointer, but realise immediately I set out that I’m too tired and won’t have enough time. But stuff it! I arrive back five minutes over time, gaining 30 points but losing 50! Bike home – by the time I get back I’m well knackered.

21-3-07 BUY NEW GIANT XTC1 form Penny Farthing Cycles! $2545. Bike back over Mt Vic (water tank) and Mt Albert. Am not convinced by the ridiculously complex Reba forks, but the bike is light and feels OK.

20-3-07 Makara Peak with Ben W. Koru, Skills Area (ride new wooden path thing and see-saw), Sally Ally, Missing Link, Leaping Lizard, Possum Bait Line (crashed into tree), Leaping Lizard – made climb out + descent + river crossing. No suspension!

18-3-07 TT 32.07. Splits 7.20, 15.20. Junction at 28.50. Down Sanctuary Fenceline, Windmill, Car Parts, Planet (cleaned), back round road. Very autumny feel. Dark on Car Parts. B/s 1.9 on return – account for low energy?

12-3-07 Biking to work over Mt Albert and Mt Vic – back rim worn through and cracked. Limp into Penny Farthing Cycles for a replacement. They say I can get home on it. Return two days later and get a new back rim.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

10-3-07 TT 28.33. Splits 6.50, 13.50. Reached junction at 26.07, so 28.33 was a good result (I didn’t get stuck on the top barrier). After blowing out so badly last week, I was keen to see if it was an aberration or whether my fitness really had slumped over the last few weeks what with not riding so much because of excess work commitments. Because the heat was a big factor last week, I set off at 7.45 a.m. There was a light north-wester – a head wind, but the breeze was welcome. I felt good strong all the way. It was a big relief to break 29 mins because the track is in such good nick that my usual 30 min expectation is a bit lazy. Also, if Ben can clock 28.57 on a single speed (ie, pushing for around 2/3rds of the way), then someone riding should manage better. (Ben got rounf the Karapoti in 3 hours 25 mins on a single speed very respectable.) I overtook someone just before the TT eases off about a third of the way up. I wonder how much thinking someone might be right behind me makes me push more? As it was, I left him for dead.

Went straight on up to the Golfball, then down the road to the Sanctuary fence-line, then to the windmill, down Car-Parts and down the Planet Track to Aro St. The Planet track is such a nice single-track descent. It’s average minus in summer and probably average plus in the wet. Today it was easy – I even cleaned the entrance rut – but still great fun. It is of course now illegal for mt bikes, but I pretended not to see the sign, and didn’t see anyone else. I’ve never had a conflict with pedestrians on it – it’s not a big downhill track.

I felt so good in Aro St that, instead of heading home via the road, I went up the road then up the Rollercoaster back to the windmill, along the Sanctuary fence-line and back up the road to the Goldball. I still felt really good, only going into the small front cog for the steep bits of the Rollercoaster. So I decided to head home via Red Rocks. Ran into some people coming up the TT and a couple of girls heading down to Red Rocks. I let them set off first because they had suspension, but caught them before the first short up, that I’d slipped up on last time. No problems this time, however, and I found myself even doing the downhills at a fair clip for no suspension. Made the steep second climb first pop and was looking for a clean ride, but didn’t make the final climb. Having made the hardest climb, I was probably thinking ahead to the descent and just assuming the last climb was a done deal. It took me three attempts. The dry conditions make the surface very loose and you really have to pick your line carefully. Made the final descent right down to the barrier (bit of pedal strike in the final rut) not quite as convincing as last time, but still cleaned, nonetheless. Then rode around the coast home – still feeling pretty good! I half considered going up the TT again, just because I felt so good, but it was now about 11 a.m. and getting hot and I was out of food and water and had the family to consider. The whole ride took about 3 and a half hours - with stops at the Golfball (twice) and at the bottom of the Rollercoaster to eat sandwiches. It was just what I needed.

I felt I did deserve a new bike after all. My poor old suspensionless Giant Iguana is fast crapping out. Last week I took it in to PFC because of the lateral movement in the front wheel, thinking that the cones needed tightening, but it turned out that one of the bearings was shattered. Now Oli (Brooke-White) had replaced the front bearings halfway through Jan – just before I went round the Karapoti. At least that’s what he charged me for. The PFC guys seemed unsure about that because apparently bearings should last longer than 6 weeks! I dunno. Oli seemed honest to me. Maybe I just shattered it somehow? Anyway, the bad bearing would also have contributed to my bad TT ride last week.

Plus, this ride was made with a slightly buckled on-loan front wheel from PFC because PFC was unable to do the bearings on the spot because of the weird size (a Jonty hub) - and I needed to pick up my bike pronto because Anna (9) had somehow managed to break her arm doing the death-drop off the bars at school! So Thursday was a bit of a mad rush from work to the hospital, then Anna had to stay in overnight (C took over) to have an operation to have the bone manipulated because although it was a clean break, it was way out of alignment. She’s gutsy, Anna, and likes doing outdoor stuff, which is nice. When she was asked to rate the pain on a scale of 1-10, she said 6. She said she heard the bone snap - yeech. The school has now banned the death-drop – much to Anna’s annoyance.