Showing posts with label Pugsley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pugsley. Show all posts

Friday, January 15, 2010

America's Next Top Biggest Loser

I've always been curious what the Pugsley weighed but have been a little shy to ask down at the the bike-shop to use their scales. I mean, it's like a public weigh-in for the poor girl and she's always going to be the heaviest one in the room. 

I managed to jury-rig something on the bike-rack with some bathroom scales, a kitchen chopping board, a towel and some duct-tape (much to my wife's amusement) and was pleasantly surprised with the fat girl's results. She's a positively svelte 34.4lbs (15.6kg). 

Getting ready to catch Mum's scales when everything collapses

I've spent the last four years telling everyone she was 36lbs, a total guess from figures I had seen on the internet. Apart from the Syntace stem and magnesium pedals there are no lightweight parts on there, it was specced for strength and longevity after all. With a normal seatpost and some 29er tubes I could get her down to 34lbs, but I like her just the way she is. "Warmth in winter, shade in summer" as my father used to say.

All I've had to replace in four years is a couple of sets of brakepads and a chain. A very reliable bike!

I ride singlespeeds cause they're lighter

As I had the Cross-Check all set-up with knobblies and a suspension seatpost for mountainbiking tomorrow, a shakedown for the upcoming DUAL, I chucked that up on the scales too and got 26.4lbs (12kg). 

I'm pretty happy with that weight. She's built strong with 36-spoke wheels, MTB hubs and wearing a Thudbuster seatpost that weighs half a kilo on it's own. As I've been jumping steps and bunnyhopping ditches of late I'm happy with those build decisions. Tough components for trail-riding and loaded-touring was the idea.

Friday, October 30, 2009

29 inches, 36 Spokes... That's how I roll!


I'm riding 26 inch/36 spokes

or the 16 inch/28 spoke - 14 inch/20 spoke combo

and not forgetting the 6 inch/spokeless monstrosity.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The 350 Big Bike Ride

"You don't look at the camera and I'll eat a sandwich, 
that'll make a good photo."
Waiting around for the start in Betty Winsdor Square.

On Saturday I packed the Midget Assassin, Pugsley and bike-trailer into the car and we headed over to downtown Auckland for The 350 Big Bike Ride. Kind of ironic that I had to drive to a climate change rally but it highlights the woeful situation bike commuters face living on the North Shore. I'm denied access to the only harbour crossing, there is no provision for bikes on the bus network and the ferry is a long way away, sails infrequently in the weekend and is expensive. I also doubt I could maneuver our road-train down the gang-plank successfully. 

Any initiative to start cleaning up the planet has got to be good, right? But for me it was more an opportunity to ride around the city in safety and show my support for urban cycling. Cycling has been getting more than enough bad publicity lately in NZ and there is lots of bad will among the general public towards cyclists in New Zealand at present. 

The ride started in Queen Elizabeth II Square at the bottom of town and the group of two or three hundred (best guess) sailed off up Queen Street on a beautiful spring day. What a different experience it is to ride in a group. I certainly felt the safety in numbers phenomenon as we cruised along soaking up the vibe of the city. 

The riders were a real cross-section of society but maybe biased a little towards the save the whales and university student end of things. There were lots of families with children of all ages and the most fixed-gear riders I have seen in one place. It was also pleasing to see the Lycra-Cowboys that attended smiling and having a good time as I had always assumed the constrictive shorts prevented those facial expressions. 

We left the procession near the end of the route and headed back to Ponsonby for a well-earned beer with friends as the ride carried on to the 350 festival at Mt Eden. The Midget-Assassin had been very well behaved to this point and I didn't want to push my luck. It was a great afternoon to be on a bike!

Heading up Queen Street, Auckland's main road.

Unity Finesmith of Auckland Cycle Chic frocking it in style.

The Midget-Assassin cruising back down Queen Street.

Mundo, Mundo, Mundo!!!
I so want a cargo-bike.

"What you look'n at mista?"

Every conceivable accessory including the family pooch.

Older guy, singlespeed (fixie?), elegant steel frame with fenders. Got my vote for cool-bike-of-the-day but was harassed with a few no-helmet comments from pedestrians.

Classic cars in the viaduct. They looked great but it amuses me how very average cars become "classics" if they make it to retirement. 

"Shush, Lycra-Cowboys on the waterfront."

I just love seeing kids on bikes.

Sorry about the shirt.

Ponsonby Road.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fact: Mountainbiking is more fun than working.

I had a day off work on Thursday as it's school holiday time and after shipping The Midget Assassin off to daycare the boys and I headed out to Woodhill for a ride in the forest. Spring in Auckland has been very wet and I was determined to make the best of an overcast but dry day. 

We normally ride with other families in our street but it was nice for a change just having the three of us. It would be better still if the girls could join us but at three The Midget Assassin is still on training wheels. As it happened we met up with some friends at one of the trail-heads and rode with them for a while.

Someone needs a bigger bike

Thing-One led the way on the structures

I managed not to hurt myself...

but the youngest rider preferred dancing.

When I mail-ordered the last parts for the Cross-Check I got some flat BMX pedals for the Pugsley. Most of my riding is around the neighbourhood or along the beach and I don't need to be clipped-in. It's nice just jumping on wearing whatever footwear you happen to have on at the time. The Crank Brothers Mallets I had on there are a platform style with the "eggbeater" mechanism in the middle, but they were never comfortable with casual shoes as the eggbeater sat proud and you could feel it through the sole of your shoe. The new ones are Magnesium Wellgo MG-1s and they are very light and comfortable. Not so good on the fast and bumpy stuff but it was nice not being clipped-in when riding the structures.

There's always a groan when I say we're going cycling. I live in hope that with dad being such a fanatic the habit would catch-on but the boy's bikes sit in the garage for weeks at a time until I bribe them into a ride. Once we actually get going however they never fail to have a good time so they might pick-up the habit when they get a bit older. 

When I was their age my bike and skateboard were tickets to freedom and I couldn't wait to hit the streets. I would ride just for the sake of it with no particular destination in mind - I still do!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"My name is Pugsley and I am an alcoholic."

Pugsley was getting a little jealous with all the fussing over the new Surly in the family so I included a Niner YAWYD top-cap with the final mail-order of parts for the Cross-Check. 

The casual observer will now be more convinced than ever that I have a drinking problem. 

Y.A.W.Y.D. (You Are What You Drink). Until I can find a half-Danish, half-English beer brewed in NZ with a purple cap this will have to do.

Ahearne Spaceman Flask Holster. Got this for the NZ Singlespeed Champs last year.

Surly "Tuggnut" chain-tug and bottle opener was part of the original build. Heavy but works well. 


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Illegal Bicycle Activity in the City of Sails

Well, it was a logistical nightmare for someone as organised as myself, but we did it, we rode across the Auckland Harbour Bridge!

I had the bikes already mounted on the car when we awoke to beautiful winter's morning. Cold, but fine and sunny. The scheduled ferry services from the two closest wharfs were very spread-out on a Sunday so we drove down to Devonport to catch the 8.30am ferry to downtown. 
Thing-One and Thing-Two enjoyed the harbour crossing and it was a little unique to have the boat full of cyclists. The bike racks onboard filled-up instantly and there were bicycles and lycra-clad weirdo's strewn all over the place. I took a chance and purchased one-way tickets ($12!!!) for the 10-minute sailing to the city. Some folks were buying return fares as we weren't sure if they would let us across the bridge or not. 
After a quick 10-minute ride through an empty city we arrived at the rallying point at the foot of the bridge. 

A quick family portrait before joining the crowd of two or three thousand. 

I was getting excited at this point in anticipation of riding over this thing for the first time in my 43 years. The bridge is 50 years old this week and it's still only available to cars, trucks and buses (buses with no bike racks!). The original design had provision for pedestrians and rail but the budget was slashed before construction began. Typically small-minded thinking from those in charge of New Zealand's largest city.

The crowd listened to the speeches and then started to get a little agitated as we were told by the organisers that we would not be allowed  to cross. The police were willing to provide safe passage but Transit New Zealand were refusing permission. 

Thing-One hangin' with some unicyclists as we were waiting for the go-ahead. 

As negotiations continued a roar went up as a bunch of roadies appeared over the guard rail and sprinted straight up the left hand lane of the bridge. This caught the police napping and they took off in hot pursuit after them. 
Word then filtered through the crowd that it was all go and we slowly shuffled around the (hastily erected) barrier-fence to gain access to the bridge on-ramp. 
At this stage I had assumed, as most of the crowd would have, that permission had been given for the crossing. We found out later that night that the police had been forced to shut down all the Northbound lanes when the lead-riders ignored the police road-block and broke through it. 
It's a great feeling being surrounded by a large crowd of people with a combined purpose. You feed off each-other's energy and there was real party-atmosphere up there on the bridge that morning. 

The crowd was a real cross-section of society. Everyone from babies in strollers and on the back of bikes to walking seniors. Lots of children were out strolling with their families and plenty of young cyclists were having fun zipping in and out of the masses. 
On the TV news that night, and in the paper the next day you would have thought we were a riotous rabble of anarchists. The media really put a negative spin on the whole event when in-fact it was just everyday Aucklanders getting out and enjoying the access we should have to our only harbour crossing. 

It didn't look like many people when we were all standing around waiting, but by the time we all got up on the bridge we filled the whole thing up, all 1.2 kilometres of it. It was an impressive sight and the Waitemata Harbour was just stunning from up there. 

You tend to stand out in a crowd when riding a Pug and a lot of my friends from the cycling community, local bike shops and even contacts from the internet came up and said hello. 
Jakob was there on another Pugsley, or should I say "the" other Pugsley and he was singing the praises of running the Endomorph's tubeless. You save half a kilo on each wheel but I'm not sure I can be bothered changing at this point, I've only had one flat in three years after all. 

Before we knew it, it was all over and we had reached Northcote Point on the other side. I did a few wheelies in front of the advancing police line for the cameras and then it was time to head full-circle back to Devonport. 

The protest had delayed the traffic for 1.5 hours and there were a lot of pissed-off drivers stuck in the jam. I sympathize with them but you have to stand up for what you believe in and it's only by actions such as this that opinions change and things actually get done. 

The motorist traveling in the opposite direction gave us lots of support and there were no end of waves and tooting horns as we made our way across. 

On the way home we rode over the new pedestrian overbridge to the Akoranga Bus Station...
Across the long bridge to the O'Neill's Point Cemetery...

With a quick candy-break amongst the headstones...

And a detour past the Devonport Labyrinth...

...Before arriving back at the Ferry terminal to collect the car. We also had two bakery stops to fuel those eight and ten year old legs and stop-offs at two playgrounds. When you're riding anywhere with kids it takes you twice as long and costs you twice as much!

What a fun day we had and I'm looking forward to the "next" bridge-ride, although I suspect the police will take a much harder line in the future.

(I seem to have stuffed-up the links when I was rearranging the photos. If you want to see them big they are all on my Flickr photostream.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The DUAL - Race Report

It was the start of a very long day! My alarm went off at 4.45am and I gulped down a quick breakfast of muesli washed down with a cup of tea before my ride turned up at 5.15am. We got to the ferry terminal in Devonport in plenty of time and the excitement slowly built as more and more competitors arrived. Eventually the ferry made its way across the harbour from downtown Auckland and we clambered aboard to join the rest of the racers. 

The trip over to the islands took less than half an hour on a very calm sea and after disembarking we wandered off in near darkness to find our bikes and prepare for the 8 o'clock start. 

I am not competitive by nature but was a bag of nerves before the start. I have been having so much pain in my ankle since the operation (especially after riding on bumpy terrain) that I wondered if I had 50km in me. 

The start was very slow as 600? mountainbikers of varying abilities climbed up a long and winding farm road heading over toward Rangitoto. Most riders were in their granny-gear and I was barely turning the pedals on the Pugsley as overtaking was nigh impossible. 

This procession continued up to the summit of Rangitoto where the cautious riders slowed down even more and the skilled and impatient (me) finally had some room to move and took off like madmen down the other side. 

My new Barbie racing mojo did the trick. 
No cramp, no crashes and no flats.

The Rangitoto part of the race was over very quickly and we then crossed over a bridge to Motutapu again for the remainder of the race. At this stage we were mostly on farm roads (double-track) and without the impressive views the riding would have been a bit boring. I was feeling really good up to the 35km mark and would power past geared riders uphill only to be overtaken again when we reached the flat parts. 

Motutapu and Rangitoto islands could not be more different. Motutapu is now mostly covered in farm pasture but 800 years ago it was minding its own business when a volcano erupted out of the sea right next door to it. They are almost touching and while one is covered in grass on top of rich soil, the other is a mass of volcanic rock covered in native bush.

The last 15km was a real grind as the terrain changed to riding the ridge-lines of farm paddocks. At least the grass was dry, but it was still energy-sucking to ride on up endless hills. I was walking a lot of the steeper sections by now as I didn't have anything left in my legs, but I was not alone. The sides of the track were littered with cramped-up riders doubled-over in pain or rolling around in agony. I must have also passed 15-20 people fixing punctures. 

With a light bike and a granny-gear 99% of the course was ridable. I might put two chain-rings on the Pug next year and double my gearing options. A slightly lower gear to make the hills and something a little higher so I don't lose so much time on the flat sections.

It was with great relief when I crested the final hill and looked down on the finish line far below me. One last burst and a wheelie over the line and the pain was over. 

I was mainly aiming to finish and hoping to get under 5 hours if I did, so I was really pleased with my time of 3:54. If I get a bit fitter, alter my gearing and don't take any photos I reckon I could break 3:30.

As soon as the race was over I hobbled into the cool sea to stop my ankle from swelling too much. At this stage I was thinking the last thing on earth I ever wanted to do again was a 50km mountainbike race on a volcano, but after a sit down, something to eat and a cool beer with my new riding buddies I was making plans for the next one...

Why wouldn't you?

When we got to Motutapu it was well before 7am and we had to walk from the wharf to the start-line in near darkness. This was the view looking back east to the ferry as the the sun was coming up. 

I borrowed a set of friends for the day from my mate Dale. A good bunch of guys and I enjoyed their company both on and off the race-course. I'm the tall old one at the back.

The race briefing. I should have been listening properly instead of taking photos.

This was taken on Rangitoto half an hour or so into the race. You can see the jagged volcanic rock to the right, much like parts of Kona in Hawaii. 

I was flying downhill from the summit of the volcano as the Pug's tyres were ideally suited to the fine loose gravel. I passed a ton of riders on full-suspension bikes and was even catching some air on the bumps. 

When we reached sea-level and the road flattened out a singlespeed was not the ideal mount to have and I thought I may as well stop and take some photos. If I passed 50 riders on the way down I swear 100 rode past me as I was taking this shot!

About halfway through the race on Motutapu I saw a guy ahead taking a photo of the view so I pulled over and we did the camera-swap-bike-portrait thing. My home is in the distance somewhere in the East Coast Bays.

The run to the finish line was down that hill in the background (steeper than it looks) and through this chute. By that stage the marathon runners were sharing the same track and it was really rather dangerous but the pug just loves downhills and I was scything through runners like a slalom skier. Great fun!

Bike and rider resting after the finish. I was so exhausted I actually felt a little light-headed.

We had to wash our bikes after the race and they came back on separate boats the next day for collection in downtown Auckland.

It was a long line for a locally bred lamb-burger but well worth it.

The event was very well organized but there was a bit of a wait for the ferries as lots of people were leaving at the same time. We just missed out on this one and had to wait 45 minutes on the wharf for the next but everyone was still buzzing from the race and the time went quickly.

A last look at Rangitoto sitting on the back of the ferry enjoying a another well-deserved cold beer.