Thursday, October 30, 2014

Framing Up A New Ride

A few months back I made mention of retiring my faithful old Giant XTC29er from racing duties. 

Well, that was done and she was relegated to general riding duties. Now it is almost time to retire her from that task as well. I have acquired a new frame from a local distributor at a significant discount, so good in fact that it trumped the usual on-line bike discount specialists and I couldn't not buy it! 

My intention was to simply transfer over all of the components from the Giant and ride on. But 9 speed drivetrains are so passe' you say? I still have quite a few spare parts for 9 speed in my stockpile so "old skool" it will be until I wear them out.

I discovered a wrinkle in my plan as I pondered the other components on the Giant. Namely the seat, seatpost, stem and handlebars. Three out of these four components were Giant branded items and it simply would not do to adorn the new steed with these items so it was back to the interwebs to source the required parts. 

I am pleased to say that black hole of bike shops revealed several components at competetive prices from local (read Aussie) stores. I have had to resort to the large online UK company for a few bits but was pleased to source so much stuff locally. Boggo Rd Bicycle Centre supplied the seat which I was able to pick up in person! A novel experience for someone who doesn't physically visit many stores of any kind if I can avoid it.

I am still awaiting a nice Chris King headset to arrive before I begin the build but that can't be too far away now. I am getting keen to turn the pedals and see how Titanium rides....I might start loitering by the mail box......


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Yakima Sunshine Series Wrap Up

Here is a great video put together by the guys who brought us the Yakima Sunshine Series this year. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the races that I managed to line up for this year and clearly the kids did too! Yep, my kids get their mugs on camera and the redheaded one even remebered to thank Mum and Dad!

Thanks to Aido for pulling the whole series together and the sponsors that pitched in dollars and product. Awesome effort mate and hugely appreciated by a lot of people.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Have We Been Up To...?

Well, if you must know, we have been making new trail happen right here on the South Side of Brisbane. It has taken much hard work and trust between the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), Brisbane South MTB Club (BSMC) and the riders of Brisbane but the results speak for themselves. 

Andrew has put together some footage of our Mega Trail Care Day from last Saturday and did a bang-up job of it too. You might see some familiar faces in there, with the kids hitting the completed trails and the BBQ.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Flight Centre Epic - The 2014 Version

This post is a tad late with the race being held back in mid September but keeping with my general theme of "can't be arsed" the timing feels about right for a write-up.

I had my obligatory bout of man flu a bit earlier this year so I was about 4 weeks post flu by the time the race came around. Excellent. However, work was uber busy and the training had tapered off weeks ago. This was going to hurt but hey, it always does anyway so bring it on!

The kids couldn't race this year as one was sick and the other playing in her soccer finals so there was no need to camp out at OHV and I took a very relaxed approach to attending this year. I left home about 1.5 hours later than I had on previous years for the hour-ish drive out to OHV.

I arrived about 45 minutes before race start and calmly got my gear together. I wasn't really feeling very motivated for up to 7 hours of hurt on a mountain bike. Did I mention it had rained last night? Not much, but enough to settle the damn dust that chokes you for the first 5km or so. Or so I thought.

Anyway, I managed to bash the left pedal into my shin as I tried to mount my bike and drew first blood. Today wasn't shaping up to be a great day....

I soon managed to find my colleagues in pain and their pit setup, where they kindly let me drop my esky of cold water and poor man's energy bars(Snickers). With all of the kids wandering around I wondered to myself how many might be left by the time I came by at the 50km(31mi) mark?

As start time approached we moseyed down to the start line. This year instead of hauling our bikes over the high wooden fence and jostling for position we simply rode down to the front gate and did a 180 back into the main start straight, joining right at the rear of the crowd of about 1500. No stress!

By doing so we bumped into one of the old "regulars" from when I was a newb to the scene, Nic. Nic has done every Flight Centre Epic since it's inception 12 years ago. He is one of the few to hold the honour in fact. With Nic was Dave, so hellos were exchanged as I hadn't seen these guys for at least 2 years, well since we went to Rotorua together a few years back.

In very short order we were off! That was the shortest line up time ever, a matter of experience I guess.

We rolled along as The Regular Daisy Hill Wednesday Morning Ride group for the first few kilometres. Very social.

The first fire road downhill came into view and this is normally a bit of a free-for-all with the risk averse riding the brakes like they own stock in brake pad companies and the rest of us whooping our way at top speed down the drop. But not this year! The rain, combined with recent earth works had turned the road into brown soup in places and it was as slippery as an Eskimo's slipper. Bugger!!

Surviving the potential carnage we began the task of negotiating the soft bits, the mud and the cursing riders that would be our existence for the next 6 hours(yes, I am slow).

Black soil. Now I am pretty sure the black soil of Russia stopped the German army in it's tracks. Literally(yeah, yeah, plus a few million Russians). How was it going to effect 1500 mountain bikes today?

Well, it was going to stick like shit to a blanket. By the time we had ridden to the point on Epic trail where you turn right and head for the road to Mulgowie I had seen and heard many riders cursing and asking which way back to OHV? 

WTF? We were less than 10km in and these powder puffs were chucking in the Kleenex? 

I am definitely not a front runner, merely a "finisher" and I will admit the one race I have not finished was a muddy Mebbin Marathon a few years back. All the pushing/carrying had broken my spirit. I have been somewhat haunted by the knowledge that I gave up, wimped out and ever since I have been determined to finish every race I start, even if I crawl across the line on my lips. No quitting. Quitting is for pussies. 

It pissed me off that all these "riders" were swearing and carrying on like 2 year olds. We were all suffering the same pain, enduring the same shitty conditions. It made me more determined to get away from the hordes of bitching soft {ocks.

Dr Geoff can bee seen in the following photo showing gritty determination. His training had been impeccable in the lead up to the race and he looked to be doing it soo easily. Bastard! :-)

The run down the other side of these energy sucking climbs was it's usual fun, interspersed with moments of sheer terror as one hit a slippery section and wished one had fitted more mud-appropriate tyres last night.

The road section through the tiny hamlet of Mulgowie was a bit tougher this year. Normally you can get into a train of riders and take turns pulling along the road at 35-40km/h. This year there were far less riders, either through attrition or perhaps slower progress and finding a train was much more difficult. Instead of a high speed rest I was forced to work hard for the speed. No problem though as I would just take it very easy on the climb this year.

Turning onto the dirt I found myself riding next to Sarah, another of the BSMC crew. We chatted while we climbed. Well until Sarah reached for a lower gear and had her chain drop off the chainwheel. Knowing it was a 10 second fix, I kept pedalling upward. 

Shortly after I saw a guy break his chain through brute strength and ignorance. Like all of us, his drivetrain was full of mud and gunk. Instead of backing off the power to change down a gear he just forced it and "ping" went his chain. Much swearing ensued. Now, we were racing for 863rd place at the time and I can understand his need to keep the power on but how long did it take him to rejoin it? Chill people.

The next section is a series of ever increasing climbs. I have cooked my legs a few times on these climbs so that by the 35km mark I was cramping. This year I just hopped off and walked like most others. There were a few whose pride wouldn't let them walk and rode the pinches. We would see them again soon enough though, clutching at spasming legs by the trail side. Once you get to this point it is very hard to come back to even ride, let alone race.

The sweet single track section that ends the misery of stupidly steep climbs and descents soon homed into view and this year it was surprisingly empty! Woo hoo!. It was a bit wet and slippery in places but it wasn't the walking conga line of tired, sweaty racers that it normally is. There was much rejoicing!

As I made my way back through the Epic single track again I noticed how much my bike was beating me up. It is a new carbon hardtail Merida thingy. Very stiff and only ridden 3 times so my body hadn't adapted to the ride position or aggressiveness. I would pay for this later in the race.

Approaching the 50km mark, I was looking forward to a cool drink and a short break before taking on the back 37km of the race.

As I was about to cross the finish line my back wheel jammed solid. WTF? I jumped off and soon saw the problem. The rear skewer had come loose and unscrewed itself. Lucky it didn't do it 10 minutes earlier when I was ploughing downhill at 45km/h! I torqued it with my right torque wrench and soft pedalled to the waiting esky.

Pulling into our pit I was surprised to see Floody pull in just in front of me. He should have been 20km in front of me. We both began swapping out water bottles, eating, applying more sunscreen, chipping mud out of cleats etc as the kids milled around, asking questions. 

Now, I was in a small world of hurt and was struggling to just carry out my restock functions when one of the little tikes began telling me about his Dad and what a champion rider he was. At the TOP of his lungs. 1 foot from my pounding head. "MY DAD IS RACING" "MY DAD IS REALLY FAST" "MY DAD......... and he totally drowned out the other kids I was trying to chat to and he was the smallest kid there! I couldn't think. This was a form of torture that should have been outlawed by the UNHCR! Geez, I must have just been standing there with a grimace on my face, mute, as his mother called to him to leave me alone! Please? God yes!

As I rode off and for the next 5 minutes all I could hear reverberating inside my head was "MY DAD....THIS/THAT/ THE OTHER". Wow, he had a set of lungs on him!

(Disclaimer: I have no idea who he was, who his Dad is or who his mother was and I am sure under normal circumstances I would have coped with all the inquiries but at that exact point I was close to the edge! I later had a lot of laughs recounting the story to my kids, so all is forgiven.)

The race turned into a hurt-fest from here. The combination of stiff bike and rocky single track made for some voluntary torture. I was hoping that the section of trail through Western Creek would be cut out this year but no, not to be. I actually rode all of the climb out of Western Creek this year. I was determined. But for the rest of the race I was pretty much just a passenger on my bike, plowing into stuff I normally float over. All my contact points were screaming for me to stop. NOW.

But I wasn't going to. I may not be fast or stylish. However I can be a stubborn b@stard and this bixy track wasn't going to break me. I finally began passing riders through Epic Trail for the last time.

 I was passed by some riders crossing the flat paddock, but as we pointed up Escalator for the last time, something in them went "pop". I managed to climb strongly and passed a few more riders. I even managed a bunny-hop across the line to finish. 


Another Epic done and dusted and I managed to finish in about the same time as last year. I had zero mechanical issues(well, apart from the rear axle falling out) and my bike shifted sweetly all day in spite of the mud. Perhaps it was the Ride Mechanic Bike Milk I was running? My only gripe was that I had not put in enough saddle time on it to be used to it's stiffness. Rooky mistake and one that I sucked up - just.

The other guys all finished as well, which was great to see. Chris hung in there to complete his first full Epic. Well done mate and welcome to the hurt-fest that is The Epic finishers lot!

I must admit, I was struggling with motivation leading up to the race and really only entered because the kids are always so keen to race. I was thinking as I grimaced my way around the track that this would be my last Epic. I may not be fast but I have finished it enough times now to put that demon to the sword. However, a little birdy tells me that World Trail are about to cut approximately 40km of single track on the property soon. This may see the Epic being totally contained in the Old Hidden Vale property and the whole race being on single track.

Worthy of another look perhaps...?


Monday, October 6, 2014

Just Never Giving Up Is The Secret

The lack of posting here lately is a symptom of the disease I seem to currently be suffering from. Lackius et Timeitus is an insidious disease that sneaks up on you and fills in every waking moment you posess. Untreated, you will find yourself looking at a wrinkled, ancient reflection in any mirror, if you have the available blink in time to glance.

Apart from work getting busier than ever before, I blame that social media timesuk, BookFace. Yes, I did succum to joining it a few months back as a method to keep up with the kids sporting arrangements and mates riding schedules. Then I discovered the second hand bike forums and the bikepacking forums get the picture. This handy "tool" had become the master....of my spare time, but I vow to wrestle myself off of it and post some of the real things that I have been doing, for there has been a not so insignificant amount of stuff going on.

Anyhoo, getting to the point in a round about way, please humour me one more video post. This time it is a funny look at mid life motorbicycling and the fact that you should never let it go because you are a long time dead.

A lot of this is shot in Queensland and I have ridden these spots either on pedal power or horsepower.

Please enjoy! 


Friday, October 3, 2014

Danny Macaskill - The Ridge

Danny MacaSKILL is back with another amazing display of riding.

Scotland never looked so good.