Monday, April 28, 2008

Fear and loathing in Rotovegas

Post-race muddy Pug

Well, what can I tell you about the First New Zealand Singlespeed Championship experience?

Jeffson Singlespeed 36er
I rode a mountain bike with 36 inch wheels

Half the Pugsleys in New Zealand
Half the Pugsleys in New Zealand were racing (that's Dave the Surly importer on the left)

Singlespeed Pirate Tandem
There were pirates on tandems complete with hats and swords

Pre-race talent
Men had breasts

10 minutes to go to NZSSC1
Men had skin suits

Anika and Garth show off their winner's tattoos at the prizegiving
The male and female winners got tattooed and had to show them at prize giving 

There were also;
  • Fairies
  • Neon orange Boiler-suits
  • Cowgirls
  • Men in tutus
  • and a guy wearing silk boxers (that's all he was wearing!)

It wasn't quite as manic as I was expecting but the organizers did a fantastic job and a field of over 250 racers was impressive for a fringe sport in a little country like ours.

The start was a 200 meter run to your bike followed by 3 laps of a figure-of-eight course. Each half-lap was about 7 kilometers of amazing single-track, most of it ridable, and when you came back into the transition area you had to take the opposite side to the last one you rode on. This was confusing under race conditions and was made even more confusing by the consumption of a can of beer on each lap if you wanted to take a shortcut. I managed to get it right (and drank the beer at every opportunity) but a number of people made a wrong turn and ended up doing the same half of the lap again! It all added to the fun but a simpler format might be better for next year. 

My ankle was painful but held up and I finished the race somewhere down the back. That was OK, I was happy just to finish and the more social competitors pulled out at various times during the race to join the crowd and cheer on those still riding. 

One of the main sponsors was the Pig & Whistle pub so for a NZD$75 entry fee you got a movie the night before the race, vouchers for free beer at the bar, the race-pack, the prize giving party and a cooked breakfast at the pub the morning after the race. It was really good value.

The whole weekend was great fun and with any luck I'll be back next year in better shape for number two.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fairies on 36ers...

This pretty much sums up my weekend. Words to follow when I catch my breath. 

I have a few photos from the event on my Flickr photostream: 

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Singlespeed Shakedown

The big race is this weekend so I rode the Pug to work today to sort out any kinks. I converted it to a true singlespeed (was a dingle) this week and have not had a chance to try it out and see if any bits fall off.

I still get a thrill riding this bike after two years ownership, even with 32/20T gearing on the road. I did wheelies all the way to work in the sunshine and took silly photos like the one above riding home in the dark. You've always got a smile on your face riding a Pug.

The road trip starts tomorrow... wish me luck!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sick Ride Man

Officially Sick

A funny thing happened last week out at Woodhill Mountain Bike Park. I had the Pugsley propped-up outside the shed where you pay before you ride. Two young guys were behind the counter and I was initially asked if it was a "sick ride". I translated this into 42-year-old and informed them it was indeed a lot of fun. 

The other guy then asked me if the fat tyres gave a soft ride like a bike with suspension. You should have seen the looks on their faces when I told them I had never ridden a bike with suspension, so I didn't know. It was priceless. Their young minds could not comprehend that someone had only ever ridden fully rigid mountain bikes. I wish I had my camera that day.

If I knew any other 6' 6" riders I would love to swap bikes and try out something different, but it has never happened. No one but me has ridden the Pug and apart from the odd blast around a car park I have never ridden anyone else's. The seats just don't go up high enough!

Braking Down

The Pugsley is exactly two years old this week and until last month I have not had a single problem with it. I have been running the same chain, brake pads and tyres and I haven't even had a flat tyre yet!

I say "until last month" because I've been tearing out my hair getting my formally bulletproof braking system back on track. First my front pads lose all power with still plenty of wear left on them. I've been told it was probably oil contamination but I'm not entirely convinced. I pay $40 (rip-off) for some Kool-Stop replacements to watch my front fork resonate and shudder back and forth even under moderate braking and then last week when I'm riding under-water trails out in the forest my back brake goes all spongy at the lever and loses all power.

I finally get some XTR after lusting after it since 1993 and it turns out to be EXACTLY the same part as bottom-of-the-range Deore right down to the code number stamped on the back!

Well I spent another $40 (rip-off), on another set of pads (Shimano XTR resin this time) and put those on the front wheel. A HUGE improvement. Almost as much power, less noise, nice modulation and I don't have to watch the fork bouncing back and forth by half an inch as I slow down. 
I took out the original rear pads and they had worn down completely to the metal holder. I am lucky I don't use much rear brake or I would have totaled my rear rotor. The lever had so much travel as one of the pistons had pushed right out and become stuck. I was pleased it wasn't a hydraulic issue as I don't know how to bleed them yet and I hate taking my bike into the shop to get work done on it.

This is what passes for a work-stand in my house

The Kool-Stops behave much better in the back and a ride in the forest today with the neighbourhood crew confirmed everything is working well again. That's a relief as my big singlespeed race is only six days away.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wet, muddy, happy imbiber.

Went for a ride in the forest today in near storm conditions with my friend Murray. A bit of a training ride for the race in two weeks and a chance to test out some of my new gear while riding a lot faster than I normally do. It was bucketing down the whole time and I have never seen the trails so waterlogged out at Woodhill. Large sections of singletrack were under 6 inches of water and it was fun blasting through that with 4 inch wide tyres. The base is sandy so you are doing no real damage.

Most welcome post ride warm-up dram.

  • The Camelbak was great today. I didn't even notice it on my back and I drank a lot more than if I was using bidons and ingested a lot less mud. 
  • It was not however waterproof and I'm glad I didn't take my camera. Everything inside got totally soaked.
  • The carbohydrate "squeezy things" that I purchased for the race tasted like licking a cat's bum, but with a hint of lemon. 
  • They seemed to work however. 
  • My new Kool-Stop brake pads which have been noisy, grabby and annoying on the road worked great in the dirt. 
  • I still need to put on some more weight after the food poisoning as my baggy wet shorts kept slipping off my hips. 
  • My ankle died after 2 hours but I think with a bit of racing adrenaline I could ride through the pain and get 3 or more hours out of it. 
  • My new Ahearne Spaceman Flask Holster retained its contents over some pretty rough terrain. 
  • My riding glasses kept the mud out of my eyes but fogged-up quite badly. I have some anti-fog spray from my motorcycle riding days somewhere that I must dig out and use.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rusty Designer

I designed a logo this past week for my "Flickr friend" Jeff at Bike Carson in Carson City, Nevada. 
They loved it and are going to use it next month for their Bike to Work Week. 

The simple designs usually work best.

It just occurred to me after I just posted this message and saw the logo next to my blog masthead that it kinda looks like a Pugsley! Must be subliminal.

Everything hurts!

Today I went for a 3 hour training ride. My wife had a day off work and could look after my daughter so I had the whole morning to myself - Luxury! My training for the singlespeed race so far has consisted of half hour jaunts on my geared bike lugging Carla around in the trailer. That's all I normally have time for - trips to the playground or the shops etc. It's no way to build up endurance and I planned to be doing these longer rides 3 weeks ago, but food poisoning put an end to that. I have still not put the weight back on that I lost over easter.

I'm a little worried that I won't make it around the course in Rotorua at the end of the month. I am just not race-fit. After 2 hours riding mostly on the road I was feeling pretty stuffed and was going to call it a day, but I chewed up another muesli bar and slogged on for another hour and I didn't feel any worse apart from a sore bum, but that's to be expected. I should probably wear padded cycling shorts. 

On the positive side my recovering ankle didn't hurt much on the bumps, kept working the entire ride and didn't swell too bad afterwards. I didn't even ice it. That is encouraging.

For the race I am hoping that a few of those energy gels and power-bars (that I have never used before) will pull me through. That and shear determination. 

Today was the longest ride I have done with my new Camelbak. I was carrying 3 litres of water and all the stuff I need to have with me in the race; wallet, camera, phone, keys, food, tools and pump. I wasn't really that impressed. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it wasn't comfortable either. It's a lot of weight on you back when your tired, hot and sweaty and it got a little annoying. I still had 1 litre in there when I got home, so I might not fill it up so much for the race.