Friday, October 29, 2010

Petrol Head Friday - QT R300 Wildcat

While I get my schizer together after a bit of a jaunt to the North Island to watch mostly people with beards, minimal suspension, odd sized wheels and one gear (although the correct single gear is still being hotly debated)......you can check out your next shuttle vehicle, once you get a spare 80,000 quid.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Testing a Stigmata... the wrong way!

Flights booked - check
Leave booked - check
Whaka 100 here I come... oh wait, my bike is broken!

A couple emails later my bike for the Whaka 100 would be a Santa Cruz Stigmata cyclocross bike courtesy of Stylie and Bike Culture Rotorua. Only one minor problem: I had never ridden a cyclocross bike and will only get the bike the day before taking on one of the hardest races on the calendar.

Now the bike itself is quite something. It reminded me of my (bad) old days as a roadie, the Stigmata is a twitchy racing machine. When you put your foot down, it goes! However it is a handful when the terrain is better suited to some of the other bikes in Santa Cruz's range.

So after picking up the bike from the good folk at Bike Culture Rotorua, I headed into the forest to learn how to ride a cross bike. Within a few minutes of starting on the easy tracks of the forest, I was struggling to keep the bike under control - it was rodeo style! At the time I was riding with Dave Sharpe who in his wisdom suggested that the best way to learn how to get to grips with this bike was to simply head to the top of the forest and try riding one of the hardest descents I would have to do in the race the next day. Off to Billy T...

Sometimes the best way to learn something is to simply throw yourself into it... this time it worked! While it wasn't the smoothest ride down a Grade 4 trail I have done, it was up there with the hardest things I have ever done on a bike. Nothing quite like launching over some roots trying to catch a berm when you have no suspension and brakes that are really only there for decorative purposes. I got down the long descent of Billy T, G Rock and Rollercoaster cleanly. I even forgot that I was on a cross bike hitting up a table top jump on G Rock (I remembered just as I was about to land... not smooth!). If I could ride this, I could do the Whaka.

So would I recommend you get a Stigmata? Hell yeah! It is a performance machine and can be ridden beyond what it is designed for. I would rather something like a Blur for racing the Whaka because I am a fan of suspension and disc brakes, but the word on the trails is that cyclocross is only going to get bigger in NZ next winter - so this is your weapon of choice!

Now you are probably asking what happened in the Whaka race the next day. Well I was confident I could do it (I even lead the race through the start field - thanks to Cabin for that idea!), but... the limitations of narrow tires and canti brakes is that when things get "rodeo" you have no say in pulling the bike back into line. I got intimate with a tree only 10km into the 100km race, giving my knee the good news - ouch!
Inappropriate kit for an inappropriate "mountain bike"
So while I didn't get the Whaka done on the Stigmata, I do have witnesses to say I got it down Billy T cleanly. However there is a plush Blur XC with my name on it...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Petrol Head Friday

Deep down inside, we're all Petrol Heads.

As lead up to the 2010 Single Speed World Champs, Raceline Karting held a Editors Challange, which had representatives from Spoke Magazine, NZMTBer a Ozzie Mag and oddly enough Hyperformance Hardware.
 The Stig was also there, who's identity is unknown, but all I know is the guy could put together a fast lap.
Chris Burr, seen smiling on the left.....stopped smiling after he found out Rad Ross Schnell beat him by .097274 seconds (or something like that.....less than a whisker).
Bob in action.....this is soooo much fun and addictive....TWO THUMBS UP, next time you're in Roto-Vegas, you need to give Raceline Karting a go......on the back straight, they can hit 100km/h.....well if you know what you were doing......I think I might of hit 100km/h....or was that 35km/h, it was hard to tell.

Bike Culture 16" Wold Champs Dual Slalom 2010 - SSWC 2010 festival week by annika smail

If you weren't there you did miss out on a very exciting as well as hilarious event.

here a few shots of the race: 


Fiona McGaffin in action, taking the hot line on the berm, dodging a few Sheep poops while aiming for the spectators :)




annika smail: " i'll be fine if i just close my eyes" - it was pretty scary on the little bike (it was close to being the right size though :) ).




the winners: DJ could have been it but somehow Casey King goes on to take out the World Championship title.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Like a Bat out of Hell I’ll be gone…


Haha, you have that classic Meatloaf song in your head now! But I’ll spare you, that’s where the singing stops and the racing begins; Vegas was host to another awesome race on Sunday, the Whaka 100. 100km’s, 5 hours and a whole heap of sweet Vegas single-track.

The forecast during the week was pointing to a foul Sunday, but alas the weather played ball and just held up (providing you finished by 1pm). With a decent amount of sunshine in the lead up, as well as some resealing on most of the 4wd’s in the forest, a fast race was on the cards. A few of NZ’s Pro Elite sifters lined up for the 8am start, with a decent contingent of single speeders from around the globe gearing up for this weekends World’s (100km’s on one gear isn’t my cup of tea)! With my big bro having the honour of leading us out around the field on a SantaCruz Stigmata CX bike, it was down to business as we hit the single track.

The first 15km was literally all single-track in the core network part of the forest, allowing Cabin and myself to pull a gap on the rest (always handy sitting behind locals). All the tracks were flowing sweet, bike was riding smooth, legs were pumping; everything was looking good as we headed out for the large out back loop.
After about 20km I felt really strong, setting a rhythm I thought would last me the following 80km; this rhythm was a bit faster then what Cabin had in mind so he happily sent me on my way. Around the lakes, over three big hills (including descents of No Brains and Split Endz), through Old Chevy, everything was still feeling comfortable. Through the feed-zone for a quick refuel, a time check (4mins back to Cabin) and, onwards to the more challenging second sector.

On the way up to Billy T things began to fall apart very quickly. I could feel fatigue starting to set in fast prompting me to slow things down (hard ask when you have a 400m climb ahead). After a brief breather at the top it was time for one of the coolest descents in Vegas, except this time it was a struggle with a body that was refusing to cooperate. Into G-Rock then Rollercoaster, the race caught up quite literally; what was a 4 min lead on Cabin was wiped out in 10km, Cabin was right back on me!

After a quick jaunt across the flat towards Hot X Buns, the penultimate ascent began which would confirm my world of pain. Cabin simply rode away and all I could do was conserve my placing. Down Hot X Buns cleanly and onwards to the final hill of the day (with out dribbling on, managed to get over in one piece and press onto the finish).

At just under 5 hours I crossed the line in 2nd place, some 9mins after Cabin (that sandbagger pulled 14mins on me in 35km)! While I was disappointed to not win I was relieved to finish and improve on last year by a full half hour.

Lessons to be learnt…? Riding like a Bat out of Hell won’t always work. A 5 hour marathon race such as Whaka is a complete different story to the 2 hour XC events I’ve been racing for the past few months, but how can you hold me down when I’m thrown into a race, of course I’ll ride at 110%.
Bit of rest for now, but I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to hopefully defend my PNP series title and win the Huka race at the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge; if I’m right, on Sunday I blew at about the same point as the Huka race finishes, 80km, here’s hoping….

World Solo 24 Hr MTB Champs

“25 Hours of Adrenalin” - World Solo 24 Hour MTB Champs

This race was my reward to myself for missing out on the Alpine Epic after foolishly breaking my ankle in February. I'd been thinking about it for a few months but it was lying on the couch in a plaster cast in a codeine induced stupor, drowning in self-pity that was the final motivation necessary to make me bite the bullet and enter.
So, almost 6 months after that joyous day the cast came off I was adding the finishing touches to my preparations for the World Solo 24 Hour MTB Champs. Writing lists of lists of lists, cleaning and packing bikes and sweating out half my body weight in saunas and Bikram yoga to acclimatise my Dunedin winter-accustomed body to hot, dusty Aussie.
Pushing our combined 60kg luggage allowance to the max, Marc and I departed Earthquake city for Seedney, filled our hired Corolla to the ceiling and pushed on to Canberra.
Our accommodation for the week was a "space efficient" cabin with a double bed, 3 bunks, ensuite and a kitchen. Any smaller and our bedroom would have been in the toilet.

Thursday dawned to the sound of alien birds making noises resembling a small cat being throttled. It was time to head to Mt. Stromlo to pre-ride the course. I admit to having been psyched out by talk of a heinous rock roll-over and an enormous gap jump on an Aussie MTB forum. However, I was relieved to find the course 100% ridable. I was even eyeing up the gap jump for a 3am nac nac!? I was somewhat distracted by ideas of sparking up a fire, hauling a battered couch up the hill and sessioning the jump later on. Thankfully my plans were thwarted by the taping off of the jump and I was able to re-focus on the task at hand.

Thursday evening was spent performing a mammoth shop at Woolworths where tempers began to fray over instant noodles and packet mash.
Friday began with registration at a posh hotel in a hoodie and a baseball cap, some fondling of the World Champs trophy and a team pow-wow with Erin and Willy (fellow NZ affletes and R&R groupies) and their support crews with whom we were sharing a pit. A shuttle to the top of Mt. Stromlo, a free ride down the luge track and a close encounter with Skippy and his mates rounded out the morning.
After another trip across Canberra which again involved us getting hopelessly lost and doing laps of Capital Hill, we arrived at the briefing. Here we were told of brown snakes, black snakes, black red-bellied snakes, deadly spiders, wombats and kangaroos, all representing great hazards to the unwary rider. Hmmm, no pants down in the bushes then.
After briefing we were lost once more trying to get back to Mt. Stromlo. Finally the race site loomed into view: welcome to Woodstock! There were tents, cars and people swarming all over the hill. I sat around lazily watching our pit crews assemble the marquees. Once the pits were in order we headed back to the cabin and I think this was the only time we made it to our destination without any unforeseen detours. Now that Matt had arrived we were even more cosy. We opted to give Matt the double bed as he was by far the tallest. Since (average height) Marc could only just fit in the bunk with his head wedged at one end and his feet at the other this didn't offer much hope for Matt!
Race day at last! After discovering how much gear can be crammed into a Toyota Corolla (quite a lot it seems), getting lost again on the way to Stromlo (damn those pesky slip roads) and spotting 8 Galahs we finally arrived.
Whilst the pit crew fluffed and primped, we racers took a moment to get in the zone before a Le Mans start got us underway. My stubby legs at high cadence did me proud and I was on my bike well before a lot of folk better endowed in the leg department. The lap started with a fairly gentle gradient singletrack climb with lots of switchbacks and a few rocks to keep it interesting. Once up near the Observatory we descended the much hyped "Pork Barrel" - a rough, rocky piece of singletrack containing the infamous rock roll-over (or optional chicken line). A steep fireroad climb returned us to the top of the hill for an awesome bermed luge ride to the finish of the lap (incidentally the hallowed ground of Steve Peat's World Champs win in 2009). Approximately 18km and 430 metres of climbing according to Garmin-Nerd dot com. And repeat.....

The first four hours of riding were dominated by feelings of nausea and chugging vast quantities of water to counteract the heat (about 20 degrees but that's hot for us Dunedinites). Skippy briefly bounced across the track in front of me and I kept well clear on advice from Mullet the gifted course creator (he managed to make two 20km courses from 36 kms of tracks!).

After about 7 hours of sucking down dust in the heat of the day, the light began to fade and the long night began. This was the cue for all the creepy crawlies including large spiders, millipedes and beetles to emerge and await death by MTB wheel on the track.
I continued to lap fairly consistently until about 3am when fuelled by a bottle of warm chocolaty milk drink I felt the overwhelming urge to put in a hot lap. I can't remember why I thought this was a good idea but I certainly surprised my pit crew when I turned up 10 minutes earlier than anticipated. Unfortunately my eagerness on my hot lap was somewhat detrimental to my performance on the subsequent two laps and I grovelled up the climbs wheezing in even more dust. At the pinnacle of Mt. Stomlo were perched two portaloos which I had been using for my pee stops. It was here on one of my go-slow laps that I ditched my bike, waddled across to the loo, slumped down on the toilet seat, leaned my head against the wall and closed my eyes, ahhh bliss... I could really do with a kip right now I thought. The remaining motivating factor to get me up and going again was the thought of the indignity of the discovery of my skeletal remains atop Mt. Stromlo incarcerated in a grotty portaloo. I waddled back to my bike, HTFU I thought.

The laps flowed by in a fashion and I started to crave daylight. Man I hate this pork belly track or whatever the hell it's called, I thought as I forced my battered body once more down this increasingly rough piece of singletrack. My normally incredibly comfortable bike (Santa Cruz Blur XC carbon- plug, plug) with plush (Fox!)forks was starting to feel much like I was sitting on a pneumatic drill. I had strange songs in my head annoying the hell out of me - the wheels on the bus go round and round, all day long...
Dawn finally came and I felt as if I had regressed back to childhood as I was spoon-fed what was essentially pureed pumpkin in the pits. I was informed by my pit crew that I was only 12 minutes down on Rickie, my nemesis from the recent Trans Wales. Right then, better go catch her. It turns out the information was a lap old and I passed her just as we were beginning the first climb of the loop. She greeted me cheerily, I passed and that was it, my revenge for TransWales.

For my final lap the boys knocked me up some "flaming Galah" instant noodles which felt like rocket fuel. My chain by this stage sounded like sheet metal grating in the wind (forgot to tell the boys it needed lube - bugger!). On my final descent of the hill I was groaning out load through gritted teeth as my body was pummelled one last time. I hit the final corner into the crit track flat and fast hoping not to wipe out in front of the crowd. I was well and truly done: 24 hours:51 mins, 18 laps, approx. 320km and 7600m of climbing.
What did I have to show for it at the end? a nose bleed, blistered palms, tendonitis in my wrist, burning tight muscles in my shoulders, a lower back that was no longer capable of standing up straight, swollen knees, rubbed raw toes and a chafed butt. Not to mention a big ding in my rear race wheel. Awesome!
Would I do it again? Hell yes, what a great sense of achievement and so satisfying to feel that I had pushed my body and mind to their limits. But I am a bit of a masochist.
I was 8th in the Elite women - I was pretty chuffed at my first attempt at a 24 hour solo MTB race.
Thanks Marc, Matt, Lucy and Erin's Mum (Jenny) for being the most amazing pit crew and well done to Erin and Willy too, both in the top 10. Nice work team.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dreaming of a White Xmas?

I thought I would beat the rush of retail Xmas shopping advertising.....I will admit I have no idea how many shopping days are left to Xmas.
You don't have to wait for Xmas to get a white frame....you might need something now to complement your iPad.
We'll start off with the Chameleon and just in time for the SSWC's, we've landed some Chameleon frames in white (there might be some black frames too), these will have a 'nice price' of $950.00*. 
So throw away that early 90's singulated bad geometry old hard-tail frame and get yourself a Chameleon.
(* while stocks last and only black or white frames)
From the Ibis range we have the Mojo HD (check out their new bike builder here).
I've been running around on my personal HD for about a month now and it's been hammered down Peaking Ridge a few times now, really loving this bike...will put my thoughts to blogger soon.
Of course there is still the Mojo SL in white (and matte carbon, trans blue and soon Eddy Orange and nuclear pesto).
This frame is silly lite for a 140mm travel bike.....around 5.3lbs for a medium frame. 
Of course there is the Tranny, Hakkalugi and Silk SL from, Ibis, but they aren't available in white, so I will have to think of another theme for them....murdered out rides maybe....or have I done that already?
The LT Carbon will now be available in white too (and lime or matte black), it also gets the new graphics like the Nomad Carbon.....although the Nomad C is matte white as where the LTc is gloss white.
(sorry Max, only got medium and large white LTc's frames, I am sure XL is not far away).

The new Nomad Carbon, in matte white (also available in matte black).  Pictures says it all, so I will stop ranting.....and 'No' I haven't finished building my new one up....still waiting on 2011 parts (none of them white).

Of course most of Santa Cruz's alloy models are available in white....like say the Nickel (which has only had 29 votes as the Coppermine spot prize, take my word for it, this is a bloody cool bike, it's got me thinking about short travel bikes again....so go on vote for the Nickel).

The guys at Straitline are telling me that 'black is the new black', but they still making a  few white components.  Their pedals (which rock), click here to see Straitline's new robot that makes the pedals and stem.
Straitline's Silent Guide (which you really do need on your 1 x 10 setup or new DH bike) and if you are running something else....well, you're not being silent are you?
OK, so I'm stretching it a bit to include the Silent Guide as part of the white line up, but you can get replaceable guides in white.

And to end the White Xmas edition of blog posting, here is something get us in a Xmas mood.
Yeah, it's insane, but it was this or  Elvis, Bing Crosby, Michael Bolton or the Flaming Lips


I supposed I could add something from the White Stipes?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Petrol Head Friday

I haven't posted any pictures of cars for a while, so no time like the present.
If you have just won lotto and trying to decide what exotic sports cars you need to get, I recommend the Ferrari 288 GTO.
This is everything you would want in a car, fast, raw, involving and will probably double in price every 20 minutes.....also since there seems to be an 80's revival at the mo', it was made in the 80's.
Picture borrowed from here, for those of you that need to know.  Google 288 GTO for more info.....or use bing, if you are that way inclined.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2011 Santa Cruz colours are turning up now.


A Nomad in the new clear option.  This frame is spoken for by a Mr. Spanky McMonkey, so better talk to ya dealer if you want your next frame to be clear (not all Santa Cruz frames available in clear).
I got a couple of the new LT carbon frame colours, medium only at the mo.  There is one of these heading to Bike Culture, so you can check it out when you are heading off to do the Waka100.
A Jackal in clear too, doesn't that look nice.....bugger, some ring and order this frame now, otherwise I will be tempted to build it up and ride it.

Thanks again to Mr. Finch for sorting out my shipment and being so handy with a camera.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Short and Sweet

Just like the course used for Sundays third round of the PNP MTB series, I’m going to keep this quick.
Mt Victoria in central Wellington was the setting for the latest PNP race, held on a 6-7km course with heaps of roots, clay and pine needles; when it rains like it did for the 12 hours before the race, Mt Vic can turn into lethal sliding feast even for the Steve Peat’s out there. Us Pro-Elite punters were thrown 4 laps of fun, sending us on our way for 2hrs of pain.
The turn out for PE was fairly down, but I still had Alex Revell keeping me honest through out. For the whole of the first lap Alex was right on my tail, pressuring me to ride full tilt (couple hairy moments but nothing too scary). Come second lap I really put the hammer down, trying to distance Alex as soon as I could; it took over half the lap but I finally pulled a gap.
Even with a fair amount of traffic, my legs happily settled into a steady rhythm, attacking every up-hill and descent. Only one small slip up to mention, landing on my knees which left me with a few cuts, but other then that my SantaCruz was railing everything.
After 1:55 of racing I rolled into the Mt Vic velodrome for my second win of the series; a nice step towards defending my title and a good sign ahead of the Whaka 100 this weekend.




So this weekend it’s the Whaka 100, 100km of sweet Rotovegas trails sandwiched between 5hrs of pain. Forecast is looking sweet so should be a great day!
In the mean time off to Metallica on Wednesday, hopefully the adrenalin will still be pumping come Sunday (and my hearing returned).

Ed.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Chris Burr talks about his new Butcher

Chris Burr talks about his new Butcher, crappy photo by me (who else), influence with cock pit set up and
1 x 10 gearing....I might have had something to do with it.
Chris has owned the last two generations of Hecklers, so I thought his feed back would be worth while.

Any-who, it's a good read.

For years now I’ve loved Hecklers like fat kids love mc’ds. Good price, good weight, well balanced and the no bullshit single pivot made for a dependable all day trail bike.

When I was told that better get a Butcher, I was at first a little sceptical. Why would you mess with a proven design by adding more junk? The Heckler wasn’t a flash looking pop star singing love ballads, it’s Lemmy from motorhead, not pretty but hard rocking and I was worried that I would be changing from a leather jacket to tight jeans and a designer hair cut.
First impression was that she’s portly, because the Butcher has put on some weight compared to the Heckler frame.
I also made a couple of cockpit changes running a short 70mm stem, 710mm bars and going to a SRAM 1x 10 set up with a single 32T front chain-ring.
Worried about running out of gears? - No.
Worried about keeping the front down on the climbs? – Definitely.
On the trail?
It was almost a religious experience, despite what the scales said (30lbs) if peddled light and easy. The extra linkage has stiffened up the rear end resulting in what feels like a very efficient engine room particularly when you hop out of the saddle, improvement over the Heckler – tick. The whole bike feels at home with a short cockpit, never on a climb did it feel cramped or light on the front wheel. I thought that this was a revelation enough to warrant a new design...then I road it downhill.
This was when I fell out of love with Hecklers. No disrespect to the old faithful but it’s a shock smacking noodle next to a Butcher. The APP suspension has given the Butcher the never ending travel feel of the more expensive Nomads. Where you can feel the shock tap out on the single pivot bike when taking some heavy hitters the only indication on the Butcher is when you notice the rubber ring that indicates your travel has been blown off. The Butcher still retains the single pivot characteristic of becoming less active under braking but I found that braking hard and early allows you to enter the corner with the brakes off and the suspension working.
It’s a bike that crosses the threshold into serious all mountain riding. Get the elbows out, get over the front and lean it like you mean it. The Butcher is definitely not just a heavy Heckler; there are enough improvements in the climbing and handling to make it stand out as a serious all mountain contender.


I for one couldn’t imagine ever going back; it’s ruined me for straight single pivot bikes. It hasn’t gone all bloated pop star, it still is Lemmy but now he’s got a bigger amplifier.