Monday, December 27, 2010

As we know it.

The end of the year is nigh. The winter solstice was marked by a lunar eclipse - with light refraction turning the moon red briefly....spooky, and it must have been great for all the Twilight fans....

So now we have the slow ascension of the sun into the northern hemisphere. Ha! always amazes me how long this takes....january truly is a razor blade season....dark, wet, cold and the light at the end of the tunnel seems very far away.

Still, it is a time to take stock, look back over the year and perhaps formulate some sort of a plan for the year ahead. My personal goals for this year were to do a couple of mid to long distance races and get results that i was happy with (a second at Bristol 12 was good. The DNF at Kirroughtree 10 not so much and the Kielder 100 was , well, interesting!).

I also wanted to do some new routes here and abroad - notably in Europe (where i have ridden surprisingly little compared to the USA) and explore the capabilities of a very special bike that, unusually for me, has both gears and suspension (my Vertigo Cycles B.A). I uncorked some amazing routes in Scotland, taking passes and paths through the Cairngorm that opened a new door far my riding and i also spent a good deal of time carrying my bike through some pretty gnarly peat-bog. I had my arse handed to me in Switzerland - riding in the Alps is a different beast altogether - but one that might need to be repeated soon.

Clearly, all this is small fry compared to the major life change that was embodied by the arrival of our daughter, Daisy. Last week she smiled in response to me smiling at her for the first time. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise - the first few weeks with a baby is HARD work (trina has worked particularly hard) but with just a small smile the world seems to melt around you....its pretty emotional...

So to next year.

Participating in Daisy's development is going to be the big thing. The last thing in the universe i want to do is have a calendar with expected developmental milestones ready to be ticked off. But i also recognise the type A (if there is such a thing), achievement orientated, aspects of my character. So we'll see how we go. Within minutes of holding her, it was perfectly clear that she is the very best part of me (and a bit of trina too - hopefully quite a lot!) and the part that i will work to nurture, grow, keep safe and happy and to make smile as much as i possibly can.

What else? I still feel that my best racing is ahead of me. Maybe that is just wishful thinking, but i feel that with the correct blend of experience, preparation and, yes, training, i can get results that i will be truly happy with. It dawned on me this year, as i was absolutely breaking myself riding the 12 hour race at Bristol on my jones (after finishing up at work, driving for 8 hours overnight to a race, then getting a few hours sleep before riding on a brutal, baked-hard course on a rigid forked singlespeed bike) that i wasnt exactly making life easy for myself. The same was true at Shenandoah in 2009.

I finished up a hard run at work, then did the driving/flying/driving boogie and within 48 hrs lined up for a technical, back country, 100 mile mtb race. i was woefully under prepared, physically, but I enjoyed it and there was never any question of not finishing, but my time was embarrassing and a huge blow to my self confidence.

Winning is mostly desire, but there is also an element of not ham-stringling yourself: physically, mentally or technically. You could argue that riding a singlespeed is a major part of this but i would disagree. Often times, geared riders end up working harder - simply because they can - there is no enforced rest on the downhills or flats.....

For this reason, i have asked Sean at Vertigo Cycles to make me a race bike. No compromises. The jones is best as a singlespeed (though it worked very well as a 5 speed at kielder 100) and is all about fun and enjoyment - not 10 or 12 hours in the pain cave. It is super responsive with fast handling and a tight wheelbase. It is also incredibly rigid at the front - wonderful for handling and steering precision - but after 10 hrs of racing (not riding, mind you, *racing* - as hard and as fast as you can go) you need the opposite. Slightly 'slower' handling (though slow and fast handling are really misnomers for the perception of variations in weight distribution and leverage ratios) with a more forgiving geometry that will not punish slowed reaction times.

It is also the case that gears and suspension can not only make you go faster, they can increase your enjoyment in certain situations. Yeah i know - Ding, ding! wake up jon! Please note, however, that i am NOT saying they make life easier!...with suspension and gears, i will be expecting to finish a LOT faster or go a lot further than without. B.A has taught me this...yes he is a big, strapping lad, and 120mm of soft travel with heavy duty components and a very relaxed attitude is also not ideal for racing ( and i really want to keep this bike ready for the rough stuff and big mountain routes), but as Kirroughtree 10 showed, on that kind of bike i could ride where others walked, and catch fellow racers on the descents and hold them on the flats and hills. This is very different to the yo-yo-ing i have previously experienced with a singlespeed.

Thus was born the concept for 'The Maul'.

A Vertigo Cycles ti framed 29er. It will utilise Sean's signature 44 headtube, allowing for a tapered steerer fork. Once you have used a tapered steerer on a 29er, you will not want to go back. In this case, it will primarily have a Niner carbon tapered steerer fork in place and i will swap on a yet-to-be-decided suspension fork for those occasions where i might need one. I've been enjoying the fox terralogic talas on B.A a lot, so a shorter travel version may be appropriate, but i may wait for the one piece tapered ti steerer/crown that fox showed and had stolen at interbike.

The frame will sport a slightly longer front centre than the jones and even B.A, in an effort to provide some respite at the tail end of a race. Nevertheless, it will have the same short stays to keep the ride and handling sweet. It will be lower and slightly steeper than B.A but retain the same crouched, ready for anything position over the bottom bracket for attacking technical terrain.

The rear end will be 150 wide, because i'm struggling to see any disadvantages, and have experienced a LOT of advantages with this format. The bb will be slightly narrower to use a lighter XC crank - in this case new XTR. At most i will run 9 (or perhaps in the future 10) speeds. The Saint mech on B.A can be clattered into rocks and still shifts with authority and coming off 10 years of singlespeed riding, 9 speeds with a 35 toother at the front will provide me with all the gear i have ever needed from Switzerland to Colorado via Australia, New Zealand and of course the UK. Eriksen will provide the seat post. Wheels are going to be light, stiff and strong (yes K.B's maxim will hold true) with DT swiss hubs, DT aerolite spokes, and Enve composite XC rims. The stem will also be Enve.

Pedals, shifters, cables, hose and brakes will be XTR. In the case of the brakes, i will be using the Trail xtr - My usual Selle San Marco Zoncolan and Jones Loop bars (in ti, despite the increased weight over the Aluminium versions) and i've been using aluminium and ti bolts as often a sensible recently with no disadvantage.

Tyres will be frequently changed, depending on the conditions and aim for the day. This year has seen me using 2.4 knobblies or 1.8 (marked as 2.0) semi slicks. Tubless doesnt help this pursuit, so i will be going back to light tubes with 20-30 mls of sealant with pvc shavings for clotting despite the fact that the new Enve rims will be tubeless ready.

I think that covers it. It would be fair to say i'm pretty excited about racing next season....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Ain' that the truth...

The slide into winter-proper, as the light fades and the days shorten, is always something i find a little tough. I think i was designed to it happens, i'm doing a bit of street wandering later in the evening, with the grommet tucked into a papoose. I've decided to explore some of the streets in the area i have never been along. Quite interesting: lots of converted buildings and mews houses that seem jammed between the more visible rows of houses and flats. It also helps the grom sleep, so its all good. Everything is crunchy and icy still: i cannot remember such a prolonged cold snap in the city.

I've also had the chance to get a couple of rides in, local, and relatively short, but it keeps the legs rolling and the ice has made for some pretty interesting terrain. Last night saw dave chops options and myself literally pin-balling sideways and slipping out with zero warning. Ace fun!

What with one thing and another, there has been some componentry changes that have been fun to evaluate. The Vertigo got some terralogic/talas forks (once i tracked down 15mm thru/qr end cap adaptors for the DT 440 hub). Very limited time on this, but i think i'm going to like the terra logic. The fork can be set up soft and pliant, with the terralogic meaning minimal wallowing when climbing etc...Much more time needs to be spent on it before i form any valid opinions. Looks are kind of good, too.

I've now ridden the XTR M988 brakes (trail version) on the jones and even with non-ICE rotors the performance is like nothing else i've experienced. Light action, excellent modulation with real-life working bite point and lever position adjustment and off the charts power. The only brakes they compare to in this regard (though ive not spent any time on Hayes) are the Saints. But the lever feel is so much sweeter. Downsides? the levers are short. So far i have not needed (and cant see myself ever needing) more than 1 finger so its not an issue for me.

I also picked up a set of the new XTR cranks for the upcoming Vertigo build. They are a real piece of work - its a crying shame to ditch the rings, but the bike will be 1x9 and so its getting a higher tooth count (hopefully ti) ring. Sweet cranks, though.

To top it off, i can recommend Kraken rum. It is very smooth, either en las rocas, or as a dark and stormy...

A fairly significant dampener has been applied with the Milo case in the states and the virtual hand slap for the killer of a cyclist in the UK. It is always hard to make sense of the legal issues involved, but these cases do seem to highlight a growing concern that hitting and killing cyclists is not taken seriously enough in some quarters. When a perpetrator can escape with such leniency, the legal process is not seen in a great light.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The day to day...

Days are becoming a blur. The night time is a blur, too. The ice that was so thick yesterday started to melt but has now frozen again. Winter is tightening its grip: perhaps a countdown has begun. Who knows?

Even my dreams have started to move out of focus. I feel like i have dropped into a funnel and i wait to be spat out the other side.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


Seven cardinal sins. Envy is definitely one of them.

I've been using Edge (now Enve composites) all mountain rims for a while now. If you read a few posts previously, you'll see that i've not exactly been overjoyed with tubeless conversions of my favourite tyres using No Tubes rims. Given that with 70+ mls of sealant, rim strips, valves and tape, I'm damn close to the weight of a light 26" tube (with 20ml of sealant in it) and light rim tape - which so far have only punctured (non-catastrophically i might add) twice on the Edge rims - the Vertigo is going to get a set of Edge/Enve AM rims on DT 440 hubs. Then i can finally get rid of the vague, flexy, aluminium rimmed wheels that have been oh-so apparent since i began using carbon rims. Yes i could use something like sun-ringle MTX 33's, or even Velocity P35's to get a robust rim, but at a huge weight penalty. As it stands, the Edge/Enve AM should weigh less than the Stans Flows i have currently, but be both wider and stiffer. What's not to like?

This set of wheels was previously ear marked for 'Project Maul' - more on this soon - but i have taken the decision to change tack with the Maul wheels. It is going to be a xc and endurance race bike. It will flip between rigid 1x9 (or maybe 10), singlespeed or a suspension fork. As such it would be handy if it could use qr, 9mm thru, 15mm or 20mm maxle (which is possible with DT swiss, and it will have a 150mm rear end (really, why are mountain bikes still being made with 135mm rear ends ? ).

The new Maul wheels will be DT 240 Oversize and 150mm rear hubs with either 28 or 32 DT revolution spokes with Edge/Enve composites xc 29er rim. It has taken a while to settle on this - i was originally thinking of using the 290g Enve tubular rims but Singular Cycles racer Gareth Michael Jones managed to overturn that decision single handedly!

All aboard the night train....

SSWC '11

Taking a quick break from baby duties to bring you this news-not-quite-flash-anymore. SSWC '11, Ireland.

Facebook page here.


On a personal front, its been scream, puke, eat, poo, scream, puke, eat, poo repeated...

So. Tired.

It reminds me of when i used to work in hospitals, 70-100 hour weeks, paged at all hours, you felt like your life wasn't your own - i s'pose thats because it wasnt. She's lovely, but she certainly demands attention!...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bike component entropy.

Dammit. You'd think what with owning a few bikes i'd be able to keep one of them in working order. Not so much!...

After a stunning ride on friday in the Trossachs, i decided to pull the tubeless system i had been trying to use. I'm not a massive fan of nasty chemicals, so for a while i had resisted using the ammonia based sealants. Instead, i have been using Effetto Mariposa cafe latex with some ground up PVC and stuff in it to act as clotting/matting agent. For the most part it has worked well, though i have still punctured (which at times has been pretty exciting - at this years 10 at Kirroughtree, where a blow out due to a split side wall nearly spat me off the trail).

However, i had been getting fed up with surfing all over the trail due to the panaracer and maxxis tyres i had been using clogging up as we came into winter. So it was time to slot on a pair of Conti Mountain Kings. But it was clear that sealing them was going to be an issue due to porous sidewalls. Nevertheless, a touch of superglue here and some judicious shoogling there got em good to go.

Until half an hour into the ride, when the rear tyre lost pressure. Then again on the homeward bound end, the front lost pressure several times and required a tube (fortunately i had 2 with me). Yes i could fouter around with it a bit longer, or use a different sealant, but i decided to just stick a tube in there. New technology 1, old technology 2.

So i got home and washed out the tyres, talc'ed it all up and slotted in some mid thickness 26" tubes and pumped 'em up. While doing so, i was holding the spokes and BAM! one of the nipples shattered across the 'shoulder' section. Normally with aluminium nipples this is a sign that the spoke is too short: not supporting the full length of the threaded section of the nipple. But on inspection the spokes were the correct length and all was otherwise well. No corrosion found, alignment good. Hmm...

So i replaced the nipple, trued the wheel up and BAM! another went. I know a lot of folk have negative opinions of aluminium nipples, but having used them for many years now in all sorts of conditions i have never had any problems. Indeed, a certain wheel fanatyk, whose opinion i hold in high regard, would back this faith up.

Anyways, with another potential ride on the horizon, and no other working off road bike, i needed to rebuild the wheel quick sharp to get it in order. No worries! i tend to keep an array of spokes and nipples kicking around, so i rebuilt it with dt comps (it did have supercomps - i wonder whether the narrower gauge spoke or perhaps the stan's non eyeletted rim with the massive distance between flanges on that wheel were partly to blame?) and prolock brass nips. Gaining some weight, but also longevity. Old technology 3, new technology 1.

When i popped it back on the bike i realised something was up wit the fork. It looked like the bike was straining at the leash. On closer inspection i had no available travel - it was essentially locked out. I had noticed that the spring rate was increased on the last ride, but put it down to the cold weather. Clearly this wasnt the reason!....The negative spring chamber had lost all pressure. The valve core was tight and i could see no other reason for this. On pumping it up, it drained in minutes. Hmm!...

I then emptied both +ve and -ve chambers and again pumped it up...still no benefit. Ok, i think, maybe there is a micro leak in the i let the +ve chamber out, pump up the -ve chamber and dribble some water over the valve. No bubbles, but POP! out comes the stanchion seal and wiper. Thats not right is it? I reckon it is an internal seal, something Rebas have a bit of a rep for, so the fork needs to go to a professional for a look-see.

So. After all this i'm thinking i need a simple bike to act as a back up. A singlespeed, basic components, you know the drill....except i have 3 and they are all in need of work to get 'em rideable....Dammit! New technology 1, old technology 1.

Are my bikes seeking solace in entropy? You just cant win can you...

Friday, November 26, 2010

So sweet...

In the hills today. Unbelievable light, views and the trail wasnt bad either.

I also spotted an extension i need to take sometime soon....but back to the ladies and some well deserved nachos and a beer or two. Yo.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


So, i've been here for 37 years. With the birth of Daisy, my birthday snuck up on me quietly. Really, what better present could you have than a loving family? It gave me a big smile to read all the well wishes, facebook messages and read all the ace cards i was sent. THANK YOU! Before you all burst into tears, grab the nearest significant other and hug, i'm going to offer you wednesdays cocktail: the Dark and Stormy.

Now i'm a sucker for carribean rhum, so Chairman's for me. Lime, squidged, lots of ice and what ever ginger beer (i like fever tree). It is ever so easy. Mix all the above in the desired quantities. Recommendation from me? 1/3 rhum, rest ice and ginger beer. Drink. Ahhhhhhh!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Who's scamming whom?

(Get the Objective Pronoun: so Stephen Fry).

Anyway, i picked up a Tummy Tub today. A Tummy Tub is a revolutionary new bath designed in Norway (unless you have kids, you will probably never know how much stuff that seems sensible and useful is designed in Scandinavia) for infants, that allows them to sit in the foetal position in water and reduces the risk of them inhaling it. All good. But it is a bucket, no?

Go on! enlarge that bugger! tell me if you think that is a bucket?

So: scam? maybe not so much. It is rounded internally and on the rim and is very secure. It also has a rubber ring to prevent slippage, and it is a pretty cheap, even compared to buckets.

Compare and contrast to this:

Again,clicky to make biggy. What you see there is a whole mess of ti tubing, alloy drilled and un-drilled washers and ti bolt 'upgrades' to an already stupidly expensive disc brake. Do i need it? nope. Is the cost/performance/weight gain even vaguely worthwhile? debatable.

Was i scammed? or just stupid? Hmm! good question!

But i think you'll agree the whole is pretty sweet (well, *nearly* whole!).

Friday, November 19, 2010


I hoover relevant information. Always have. Maybe not relative to others, but if it could or does make a difference to me, in it goes.

When i was a student, my brah Chris taught me a valuable lesson. On returning home from the pub one night, instead of picking up a poke of chips, or a 'bab, he made us a fantastic bitter green leaf, bacon and tomato salad, with bread and a red wine vinegar/dijon mustard dressing. You need to look after yourself. It may take an extra 5 or 10 minutes, but if you need food put some decent fuel in - you will reap the rewards!

Take this evo for example. Up at the hospital until 9. Bathed the grommet, got her dry skin olive-oiled and wrapped her up in a sleep suit, then got a few bits and bobs sorted out for trina and headed home. Aware she will have a busy night, whereas i'm heading home to a quiet time. It would be easy to just eat some crap, or pick up a pizza, and click on the interweb or watch a movie. But sometimes you need to make the effort to cook proper, wholesome food for yourself - even if it is *just* you alone.

So it was, i rubbed some chicken thigh fillets in salt & pepper and olive oil. Got them to room temp. Meanwhile, mixed a pot of corn and baked beans and popped them in the microwave. While they vibrated themselves hot, i fried up some red pepper and green onions. In a bowl i whisked up some molasses, chipotle, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and horseraddish and a dash of olive oil. Combined all the latter and chopped up some romaine leaves. When the thighs were golden on the griddle, i let them sit and dug out some commercial bbq sauce. Sit down: pop beer and eat. Awesome. Spoiling yourself and fuelling yourself at the same time works wonders for the soul.


It will be a few days until Daisy and Trina get home. Several reasons, none major. Its super fun seeing the little changes that occur even in the space of 24 hours: i suspect that will be the way of things for a while, eh? And as you may guess, she is going to have plenty of choice in the clothing department when she does get out and about...

Its odd going up to hospital and then home, sorting stuff out, then back up. Its odd not to be at work and its now been a week since i did any exercise. But thats fine...i'll break out the K-bells today and maybe get a bit of skip-rope to burn off some calories.

Although i havent been out much on the bike, VC Moulin have been hitting the podiums left right and centre. All good!...i hope to don the colours soon, and get a bit of competitive blood pumping.

Another DVD hit the post box recently and i'm sure it will keep things ticking over until i get muddy again - the cyclocross meeting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Epic from the sofa...

I havent watched a snowboard vid since terje hakonsen. I reckon this one might be worth a view...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today, at 3.45pm, our daughter Daisy Grace Meredith, somewhat reluctantly, made her way into the bright, shiny world. She promptly fell asleep after an oh-so brief spell dazzling grandparents and taking a tot of milk.

I'm breathless. Speechless. Happy beyond anything i could ever explain.

Trina is amazing I've finally been kicked out of the ward. Here. We. Go.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Try not to repost.

There is enough internet without repetition. But this made me laugh enough to ignore that rule...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carbon fibre.

Lets just say you dint your carbon fibre frame. Game over? Not so quick! there are companies that will repair carbon fibre frames for you. One of these companies is Ruckus Components. But repair isnt the only thing going on....

The picture is from Ruckus Components flickr. It shows a 15 tooth lower jockey wheel. Take a deep breath and read the link posted on that photo. I've seen a few of these larger jockey wheels kicking about and had wondered about the proposed benefits. They are championed by Berner, All i could find was deepest, darkest germanic weight weenie stuff, or the odd mention on cycling news, so i hadnt really worked out what they were all about. But it would seem to make even *more* sense for bikes used in the dirt. Pretty interesting...carbon fibre caged saint mech with 15 tooth lower jockey? Maybe...

pic from cycling news

Tooled up.

Sometimes, it isn't the more complex, expensive or unusual tools that give you the most pleasure. Sometimes, its the simple lines, agreeable heft and good fit of a quality ring spanner.

This 7mm open and ring, 15 degree offset spanner by Britool will allow me to remove the bleed nipples, if i desire to do so, on the new xtr brakes. It turns out i dodn't have a 7mm spanner in the tool box - at least 3 8mm's but no 7mm. There you go.

And yes, about those xtr brakes...i'll colect some words together very shortly but suffice to say, Shimano havent just rebadged and utilised bold new graphics here. No, sir.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Admittedly not far all...

Pic is from bikedaily, which i would check out on a daily basis.

The point? thats the first belt drive piece that has me actually seriously considering getting involved. I rode with a guy called Ollie in rotorua - a very strong rider, just back from the Annapurna trail. He has a lot of miles on one and has had zero slip or breakage issues. Is it better than a chain? i dont really think so....the weight lost by the belt is gained in the parts. Also the clearance is reduced by the necessity of the bigger ring AND you need a splittable frame. But this part is pretty sweet looking...

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Here we are. Remember, remembered the 5th of November but there were no baby fireworks. To be honest, didnt expect any, most often first babies will go over term....

In other news, spent today fitting the M988 shimano xtr brakes to the jones....i also stripped off the 5 speeds and put it back to being a singlespeed. It was ace riding singlespeed in Rotorua again: i hadnt ridden the uni-cog in a while. It felt really good, so i'm happy to get the jones sorted. A new bike will fill in the (9 or 10 speed) geared race bike 'hole' that is left. More on that soon.

I decided to do a bit of tuning, replacing steel bolts with ti and aluminium drilled washers. Sweet as. The only problem is i seem to have sprung a leak between the hose and the banjo fixing nut, which seems to be factory fitted, so i might need to delay a first ride until i get that sorted. Dayum, these are nice brakes though....

Monday, November 01, 2010


Sometimes, sometimes i think about ditching the car. Yes, its convenient. But yesterday i spent 3 hours pulling bits out the engine compartment to un-bung some drain holes, that by a weird design issue mean the back of the car floods with water when it rains. Not only that but where the water collects (back near-side passenger footwell) is where the computer unit is that controls all the electrics of the car. Course it is! where else would you put it out of harms way? And yes, the central locking is screwed....Sheesh!

Word is, if its corroded, thats a £700+labour fix. Back under the carpets today to try and pull out the CCU and take it from there....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sweet as...the SSWC'10 New Zealand report.

With daylight saving and jet lag conspiring to have me awake at 5am this morn', i thought i would use the time to put a few words down on SSWC 2010 in Rotorua, New Zealand.

The first thing you need to know about New Zealand is that it is a long way away. Unless you live in Australia, you're going to have to be in transit for quite the long time before you set foot on its emerald shores. As it happened, i needed a bit of headspace, so 38 hrs of sitting on planes or in airports was ok by me.

Once i rolled my toyota hire car onto Pukuatua Street it took about 2.7 seconds to locate Zippy's coffee place and a further 14 seconds to order a cup of liquid energy. About 4 seconds after that, i bumped into Damo and Libby from Cog Bike Cafe and despite my total lack of personal hygiene it was hugs and smiles all around. At that point i knew i was finally at SSWC 2010.

In short order, food was consumed and i caught up with the local crew of Anja, Tristan, Leif, Ollie and Rossco. Minutes (or so it seemed) later, my bike was together and we were flying along some of Whakarewarewa forest's famous, buff singletrack.

Created over just a few years, Rotorua's riding is extensive and seriously smile inducing. The elevation is not great, the trails are by-and-large flattering and the redwood forest with its myriad ferns is one of the most beautiful places i have ridden.

Of course, local knowledge helped me hit a lot of good trails very quickly, but if you were to visit, trail maps and local group rides seem incredibly easy to access.

After a fine meal with Anja's dad i retired, utterly broken, to bed. 48 hours+ with no sleep and then a good bike ride in fresh air will do that.

Next day we again hit the forest for some uplift action. Basically a big bus with a large bike trailer would haul our lazy asses up the hill, then we would bomb down. My bike repaid the karma by falling off the trailer and being dragged a ways up the hill, but the damage was minimal and i could easily keep riding.

The only issue was my numerous punctures, no doubt caused by removal of the tubeless rimstrips and replacement with minimal light strips that were doing a poor job of covering the spoke holes.

After, we went down to town for more refuelling at Zippy's just as some more of the usual suspects began to trickle into town. Jacquie Phelan was around - somehow remembering everyones name - Dejay, jake and the Ohio crew were around...

... and Chewie was busy cracking smiles and telling story. Billy and Morgan showed up after an urban bivi at the airport.

No doubt a few beers were drunk and then a few more. Then we did some 'bear racing'...dont ask, i cant really remember...

All too soon, there were chalk lines where the few had fallen and after a very late night pedal into the hills with a spattering of rain i again fell deeply unconscious. I could get used to this!

The blighty squad were in attendance and while they removed areas of skin on the street/luge in town or owned the trails, i got my bike back in working order...

Friday was a bit of a blur. I'm sure we rode. I'm sure beer was drunk. I'm sure we attended the pre race briefing and i'm sure we went to the incredibly accommodating Copper Donkey pub after that. Taxis may have mowed Possums down. All too soon it was race day. The course was some 20km ridden twice and after a huge rolling donut race start that saw me and John dead last (at least before some cheeky queue hopping - all in good spirit of course) the 900 or so riders ran for the hills. No doubt having 800 riders in front of you as you hit singletrack will lead to a little walking but the banter was well worth it. The sun was shining and the trails were wicked quick. Just as i began my second lap i heard some marshals talk of the race winner but i was just looking forward to winding through the trees again. As the heat increased, my water bottles ran dry and a couple of energy-beers robbed me of any impetus. I spent some time sitting in the shade watching riders whip by and on remounting to ride nearly had wee-jOn beheaded as i slammed into the back of my saddle due to an inopportune T-bone from a wandering rider. No worries! another few minutes in the shade settled the sicky feeling....

Costumes seem to be integral to singlespeeding in New Zealand...and there were plenty of good ones. However, it was an Aussie that stole the show just as it was a Kiwi (Garth) who pipped Schnell for the tat at the last beer slam. Aussie Heather took the honours for the girls and our Anja took 4th.

After a last minute ride around the end of the sulfur-belching Lake Rotorua...

... and a blissful wend through the redwoods it was time to bid farewell to John and Joni as they took off to tour the South Island and i jumped in the toyota to head back to Aukland for another 38 hour transition back to the rain and cold of Scotland.

Fortunately, my wife hadnt laboured in my absence and so: onto the next adventure...

Reflecting over breakfast in Hong Kong airport, i knew my time in stinky-town had been a most egg-cellent trip...