Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A waste of money?

Over the last few years I've taken no small amount of satisfaction in spending a ridiculous amount of money on bike parts I didn't really need.
I've swapped handlebars, grips, stems, shifters, saddles, seat posts and so on and so on and so on.
All in the name of having lighter, stronger and prettier parts. Now I have almost completed my dream mountain bike. I've really only changed the handlebars and that was a performance thing. Oh, I changed the chain rings from 2 to 1 chain ring set up.
And now this has happened.... I actually need to replace worn out parts. I have to replace a chain, a cassette and possibly chain rings on not just my mountain bike but also my road bike.
Normally, I would just upgrade one part at a time. That is a controllable expense.
This is the kind of spending on bikes that I find hardest to justify. I know, it doesn't make sense. These parts that have allowed me to ride for all these years without any problems or complaints. The parts that haven't been replaced "just because" and now that they have shown themselves to be at the end of their life I now need to decide what to replace them with.
Example A. I run 1x9 on my mountain bike. I have been thinking about putting on a 10 speed cassette to give me a better gear for the hills. However, it's not as simple as that. I would need a new shifter, a chain a cassette and a derailleur. But that's not where the problem is. I then need to decide wether I want SRAM XO, Shimano XTR or the Daddy Mack SRAM XX. Cost is as much a factor as it usually is. I worry about it up until I've made my decision.
Example B. My road bike also needs a new drive train and as I have not upgraded any of my road bike bits, apart from bars, stem and brakes that I got a great deal on, I feel it would now be a good time to up grade to the next level and realistically, this is not such a large expenditure if I didn't have to do the other bike as well. What would really top off the rebuild would be a new set of wheels.
So you can see my dilemma. I have to spend money on the bikes. It's just how much and when. Given it's a month from Christmas which means gifts and a holiday and our car just blew up I certainly have better things to spend money on. But we also ride our bikes 3, 4 or 5 times a week so this has come at a bad time.
What to do??? Buying these bits will not be as much fun as it should be.

Friday, 10 September 2010

A New Bike

Is it absolutely necessary? No. Have we got better things to spend our money on? Most definately yes. So why do it? Here's why.... I had a nice bike before I got a new one. A really nice bike in fact. So nice, it's the sort of bike not many people would own gererally because it's not necessary. However, there is a special satisfaction in picking your frame and hand picking the parts that you're going to bolt to it and that is why I did it. When I bought my first quite nice bike I immediately went about deciding what upgrades to put on it. Was that necessary? No it wasn't. But I did it anyway. Seat post, seat, handlebars, grips and if I could have afforded it I would have got wheels. Now you're wondering why didn't I just by a better bike? And the answer is I couldn't. Generally, the parts you want to put on your bike don't come on just one bike. Although I did get close with this... This was going to be my "forever" bike. Until I came home one day with the notion of building another forever bike. This wasn't some random idea I just cane up with. Oh no, I put a lot of thought in to this. Years of reading mountain bike magazines, looking at websites, reading reviews and talking to friends. This bike was going to have just the right amount of bling and practicality. Was this build easy? No. Did I have to wait for people to return emails, come back from overseas, discuss prices and eventually send parts? Yes I did. Was it worth it? F**k Yeah. You can see our house from here. I went straight out after I had cleaned the bike for these photos and got it filthy again.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Motivate me

Yeah, I'm coming back. Some days I think nothing has happened and then I sit back and say "are you kidding?" I did Karapoti (cough), went on a cool road trip (WOO HOO!), we went to Queen Charlotte for a bike ride (nice), lost motivation for riding and writing (mental block), we sold our house (stress), we bought a house (more stress), I got promoted (the money's not worth it but it means I get a new bike) and probably a bunch of other stuff. I'm not sure how much detail I'll put in to those stories but you'll get the main points. Much like a Readers Digest version.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Karapoti 7/2/10

It finally worked. You only need to click on the "date import" part. Great toy. r=7db350b2f833bfa5eb20eb445150ce54&u=m&t=ride" height="700px" width="100%" frameborder="0">2010/02/06 Import
Find more Others in Upper Hutt, New Zealand

Friday, 8 January 2010

Testing, Testing 2 and 3

Who woulda thunk we're over a week into the new year? Santa came and went, New Year came and went and Karen went and came back. Myself, I had a few days off here and there but generally filled my time with a bit of work and, strangely, a bit of bike riding. I went through a bit of a flat period prior to Christmas where road riding wasn't quite doing it for me so after talking to Silas it was decided to flag the road and it the Tip Track on the mountain bike. This would be a good opportunity to see if I could get up there with the 9x2 and maybe snap me out of the slump I was in. Josh, at OYB, said he would come and keep me company so I arranged to meet him after work. Just as we headed off I got a text from Brett who, from his elevated position near Mt Victoria, could see the ominous clouds rolling in from the south. I could see them too but I was going anyway. Sometimes you just have to. As we headed towards Happy Valley the weather turned to shit but there was no turning back. The wind had picked up and you could see the rain coming across the hills towards us. Oh well. I had a quick look at the time and we started up the hill. I stayed in the lowest gear I had and from the get go. Josh pulled ahead as expected but he was never miles ahead and long story short, I managed to ride the whole thing and take about 30 seconds off my previous personal best. Mentally for me that was the turn around I needed. I proved to myself I was getting stronger and that the work I had done so far was heading me in the right direction. Which was just what I needed as I had a 5 hour workout around the hills of Wellington coming up in a few days and with the weather forecast looking grim I was going to need all the motivation I could get. As it turned out the wind hit gale force that Sunday and although it rained a bit I was mostly secluded from the wind until the 4 1/2 hour mark, where I got blown across 2 lanes of road going up Alexander Road towards the end of my ride so I called it quits in the name of reason. But I was glad I got out and trained, it put me in good stead for this week. My first roll around the Karapoti course since March last year. With the weather pretty much perfect for a ride around that place we call hell I crawled out of bed before 6am, packed my gear, then packed the car and headed off to pick up Silas. The plan was to be on the track at 8am. With no traffic to speak of at that hour of the morning we were at the start area of the ride by quarter to and on the bikes at exactly 8. This was Silas' first time around the course and he was looking forward to seeing what it was all about. And it didn't take long. Half way up Deadwood he punctured. Unfortunately, as he slowed down he just said he was putting more air in his tyre so I rode on. As it turned out he had a big hole in his tyre and the sealant wouldn't stop the air flowing out. Add to that his pump not working and he had a long walk to the top of Deadwood where I waited about 15-20 minutes for him to turn up and fit a tube and get ready to ride again. He also had pretty bad chain suck. He quickly found out the Karapoti will expose any weakness in you or your equipment. He was fine, it was his equipment that was worn out. I managed to get up most of Deadwood without stopping. I constantly forget how long and hard that first climb is. The track is pretty loose at the moment and I skidded the rear tyre a couple of times and just lost momentum a couple of times but I didn't feel too bad about that. I was happy with the ride so far. As this was a training ride we were riding with urgency but not at race pace. If we slowed a bit to chat or catch our breath it didn't matter but we put the effort in where needed. The Rock Garden was its usual gnarly piece of slippery, rocky hell. I rode a couple of the first drops that I normally struggle on and then went over the handlebars in one of the easier parts. Typical. No major damage done to body or bike. Silas had his own little spill but once again he was unscathed. The Devils Staircase was not as bad as I remember it and with only 2 people going up it was no worries. Race day is a different story. There are people dragging their arses up there and passing them is hard work. You can lose a lot of time there if you get stuck in traffic. There were big puddles and the usual bogs that we have come to know and love on the Classic course. Big Ring Boulevard was sweet. But for me getting to the bottom of the last hill climb (Dopers) is acknowledgment that I'm nearly home. If you still have some go juice in your legs, this is a very rideable hill. There are a few false tops but if you know they're there then that doesn't matter too much. Just make the most of them. At the top it's about 12km to the finish and it's all down hill. I managed to ride Dopers all the way. Although there were a couple of pinch climbs that almost had me walking, but I just put my head down and pushed harder. It was very satisfying getting to the top. I cruised at about 80% down the other side and got to the river crossing just in time to see Silas pedal out of the water. With the hard part over we picked up the pace and got back to the car after being gone for about 3hours 35min. With a ride time of around 3:05. A good result for the day. Before we had started I showed Silas the actual start of the race at rivers edge and just so he could get a feel for the event he insisted on carrying his bike through the river. I watched in disbelief as he went up to his waist in the river and I was still standing there watching as he emerged on to the river bank on the other side. There was nothing for me to do but follow. Peer pressure is a bitch. On our return I said I was going to wash down my bike before I put it in the car so we decided to go back across the river to finish the ride. In the end it was the prefect end to the ride. Test 3 was over and I'm confident that I've made the right choice for the drive train. Which in it's own way is a bit of a shame because now I have to save up for the carbon crank version.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Aye Aye Captain

With not a drop of water in sight, apart from the rain storm on the Rimutaka Hill road, we set off for Admirals Hill. If I had any interest at all I could probably find out why the hill nowhere near water is called that but that was irrelevant to me yesterday. No, Saturday was a day of riding hard around some hills just east of Carterton, Wairarapa, finishing on a hill (with a reputation) called Admirals Hill. It's reputation? It's a bitch. Part of my Karapoti training required/suggested I do this race. I had only heard about this event from a friend and the info received appeared to be all bad. Lots of hills with a big hill to finish. Right. Having looked at the map prior to the race I was surprised to find we turned left instead of right out of Gladstone road. Ultimately, as I hadn't ridden out here before it really made no difference to me, so I happily rode on with the bunch. I don't want to go on about this so soon in the post ..... but......I'm learning quickly that there are a few people out there who are not really interested in working as a group when it comes to bunch riding. Actually, I already knew this but I'm occasionally optimistic about such things. But I learnt my lesson again today. So, off we go. I had entered C Grade, which, I thought, because I didn't read the entry properly, was a 56km race. In reality it was listed as a 59km race. Trust me when I say that when you are expecting to finish a race at the 56km mark and you are then informed that you only have about 4 or 5 km to go that that can knock any sort of wind you might be carrying in your sails right out of you and you think to yourself...... Bugger. Meanwhile, back at the start we appeared to have a completely disorganized bunch. From the get go, there were about a half dozen guys that could be bothered to do any work up front and when anyone else jumped in the pace slowed down considerably. I was feeling good and getting fairly fed up within 10km from the start. There were what appeared to be experienced older guys riding and younger guys that you couldn't really peg down. Grant had warned me about a couple of wheel magnets that he had encountered on previous rides but it wasn't until later in the race that I experienced them for myself. To be honest, that could be how they have been taught that's how races are won. Maybe they've been watching Lance Armstrong riding recently, who knows? All I can say is, there are a few real lazy little shits out there. Alright, I said it. F*** it. The tempo was quite erratic. As I mentioned, I was feeling good and just wanted to ride my own race and having spoken to Grant later I did come to the conclusion that I had only entered because it was a training ride for me. Therefore I wasn't going for the win. That explained my mind set at the time. I wanted to ride harder than the bunch was going. At about the 37km mark I had really had a gutsful of the waltz pace of the race and decided to attack. Now, to some this looked like the perfect place to do it. To me it was just the point where I said "I've had enough". So off I went. A sweeping right hander that developed in to the steepest hill of the race. Man, I wish I'd known that was there earlier. But it was too late to moan about it now. I had no idea what was going on behind me but apparently 2 guys came with me and 2 more managed to catch us on the climb. The rest seemed to scatter. Some were closer than others. I pedalled hard to the top, leading all the way. I was hurting real bad but as I had lead off I felt like I had to commit to the attack. I had nothing to lose. So I pushed. I was breathing hard and I could hear the guys behind me gasping for air too. I was hoping that maybe I'd lose a couple of them but that didn't happen. Over the crest and we were in for some sweet downhill. I was still leading and again, in the back of my mind I prayed that someone would drop off. Na. We hit the flat and the breeze picked up. I was starting to feel like I was working hard and I sat up, pulled right to let someone take the front and to my astonishment they all came right and stayed on my tail. I had no idea how far we were in front of the guys behind our group and I didn't want to find out so I put the pace back on and rode on. after a couple more kms I did the same thing, sat up and pulled right. The same result.... F***kers. The last hill was coming up and I still thought it was about a 56km race. This was where my inexperience, my lack of "win at all costs", and my tired legs all came in to play. After dragging those 4 guys for 15 km in to the wind they pulled out and slowly dropped me. Ultimately there was only, in my mind 4 km to go but I had only enough in me to press on at my own pace. Three riders drifted off ahead of me and I pulled away from the 5th. I still felt okay but I had nothing left to attack with. At the 55km mark, Karen, who had been following the race with Grants' partner Alex, said there was only 4 or 5 to go. This was not good news. I replied "4 or 5 meters??" Bit I already knew the answer. Crap. I enjoyed the short downhill/flattish run and rounded a left hand bend to another climb. I had been watching the 3 riders in front of me slowly get further ahead but I had nothing in the tank. That's okay though, I had had a good race. At the finish, I was greeted with "here's our work horse". It was meant as a complement and it was nice to be acknowledged but I have to say I was disappointed by the lack of sportsmanship during the last 20 odd kilometers. If it's only about the win, then fuck it. The roadies can have it. I still have my self respect and the knowledge that I worked for my result. A real nice bonus at the end was finding out that I had won a prize for 4th place in my category. $75. Awesome. Thanks to PNP and Alan Rice for all the work and effort that goes in to putting that event together. Yay, Finished. Strangely, the best photos Karen took all day were of Grant. Here's a photo of Grants arse with me next to it.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Testing Testing 1.....

2 and 3 will come later. Yesterday saw me knock off work at 4pm (a bit late for me) and head up to Makara Peak for the first time in what seemed like months. Any mountain biking I've been doing lately has been on Mt Victoria but the last time I rode there I didn't feel like I got anything from the ride and Makara is way more fun. This time though, I had the first chance of riding the Stumpy with the upgraded forks and rear shock, the new 2x9 crank set and the XO twist grips. Ultimately, this ride was either going to fly or fail. The first thing I noticed when I pulled the bike out of the wagon was the front brake lever almost came down to the grip. Awesome, great start. As I started up Koru I immediately noticed the different gear ratios. I stayed in the 40t and made full use of the rear cassette. I can't put my finger on why but I felt like I was riding more efficiently. I had my hand on the left hand shifter ready to change down each time I came to a pinch climb yet never got around to using it. I managed to get to the top of Makara using the one chain ring. By this stage I was feeling pretty good about the ride so far. Everything seemed to be coming together. So now I'm at the top. I hadn't been to Makara for ages and I always enjoy Ridgeline. Sometimes I fly down it and other times it's a nightmare. It's not like it's the hardest track to ride, I just somehow manage to lose my zen on a couple of parts and then I'm screwed for the rest of it. Today was the former. I frigging owned it. I had one of the best rides ever down there and then smashed it the whole way down. The bike handled real nice. Maybe 5-10 psi to much in the fork as I had used the same settings that I used before the cartridge was replaced but other than that I felt like I was on a new bike. I had a bit of a chat in the car park with Ratas and then headed back in to the park. This time I turned off at the top of Sally Alley to go up the 4wd road. This is steeper than the single track and I wanted to have a bit more of a workout and see how I handled the crank set on something a bit harder. As it turned out it was no worries. I got to the top again and headed down Ridgeline to relive my previous run earlier. Well that didn't happen. It was an ok run but I had a couple of "those moments" that gave me enough of a fright to slow me down and once more acknowledge my mortality. The rest of the trails down were sweet and I got back to the car happy as a pig in s***. So all in all I got to the top a couple of times 2 different ways and the crank set was awesome. There are some real advantages with this set up. It helps if you are reasonably fit going up hill and the type of terrain you ride on will make a difference. Other than a couple of places around Wellington most of the places we ride would suit the 2x9. It helped that I am riding a bit stronger that a couple of months ago and that would have contributed to my enjoyment and the smoothness of the transition from a triple to a double. The brake thing was a bit of a pain but on closer inspection I think they always came down close to the grip but because the cable comes out of the shifter closer to the brake lever it was rubbing a bit. A quick lube of the pistons and some new pads gave me the feel I was looking for. The real test will be how I handle the Tip Track and Karapoti. I've kept the XTR triple in readiness for a worst case scenario.