Saturday, June 30, 2012

Winter bike

This is probably my favorite ride right now. (Last week it was the fixie)

It's got no pivots to wear out in the winter filth, a grippy Maxxis Advantage up front and a Crossmax out back so as my mate Edwin says its business out front and party out back.

The swap to a 185mm rotor up front has transformed the old Juicy 7's too to stopping power on par with the elixr's on my Blur.  On the hard tail where rear traction under brakes suffers from the rigidity the brake balance feels more neutral too.

It's also running an e-thirteen xcx guide and single chainring which is just so simple and I'm yet to run out of gears at either end of the cogs - even chasing Steve'O down Karori Rd.  I'm definitely a convert to the 1x9 setup.

Today as you can see it got a wee bit mucky.

The poor old wrx in the background is well long in the tooth in years but as its always come second to the bikes it hardly gets driven. When it does get driven its typically over the Rimutakas where it always brings a grin.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Cycle of Hope

A retro post from 2008 - lest we forget!

Hi folks

I know you're probably all getting tired of my spam (although I think I've left some people off earlier emails) so this will probably be my last e-mail to wrap up the Cycle of Hope 2008. It's a long one though, so if you have the time grab a cuppa before you continue. If at any stage you're overcome by an urge to donate money (or more money) to help people with cancer or help fund education and research to fight cancer, here's a link to my fund raising web site Although Daffodil Day has been and gone for this year there's no time limit on donations.

The Cycling Continues - Around Mt Taranaki (or The Tour de Food!)
After finishing work on Thursday afternoon, Peter Dickinson, another cyclist and work mate from Wellington, drove to Levin to pick me up and we headed north to New Plymouth, arriving about 10:15pm. We hurriedly checked into our motel and set about preparing food, clothing, drinks, bikes and ourselves for an early start the next day. After another 4:30am wake-up we headed off to the National Bank branch in Devon St to start the ride bright and early at 6am.

It was a mild, overcast Friday morning and we had a dozen riders. As we headed south west out of New Plymouth through the pre-dawn gloom towards Okato we traversed the rolling hills on the north west slopes of the mountain. My tired body struggled a bit with some of the rises but there are no really big uphill grunts so I managed to hang on to the bunch which was cruising at a fairly sedate pace. We had drizzle and showers for a while but it cleared up before it got too miserable and we even started getting a few breaks of sunshine.

A Sticky Bun at Manaia, Morning Tea at Hawera
We made stops at Okato, where one rider made a planned return to New Plymouth, and at Manaia, to repair a cut tire, say 'Hi' to the ladies at the local Daffodil Day collection outside Yarrow's Bakery (world famous in the 'Naki') and so one of our riders could sample a Yarrow's sticky bun. We then carried on to Hawera where we arrived at about 10:45am to a rousing welcome from the National Bank staff who laid on a very nice morning tea. At this point we'd covered 95km so the home baked scones, fruit, biscuits and mini chocolate bars were quickly devoured.

After a good scoff we headed out of town, turning left to head north towards Stratford which was to be our lunch stop. We were escorted out of town by some of the Hawera branch staff who'd dusted their bikes off so they could join us - their support was a nice touch. It was amusing at times too as there was at least one chain that came off and quite a lot of squeaking and rattling from bikes and riders alike! A couple of young chaps stayed with us all the way to Stratford which was a great effort.

Ngaere School, Music to Our Ears
The highlight of the day for most of us was when we made a pre-arranged stop at Ngaere Primary School. The entire school roll were lined up on the front steps and sang us a welcoming song, with guitar accompaniment provided by one of the teachers, as we rode in. There were even kids in pyjamas who were (I presume) meant to be at home sick but were allowed to pop into school to be a part of the occasion! An exchange of greetings and a couple of short speeches followed and they handed us a bag full of money they'd raised through Daffodil Day donations. Cool. Then they sang us another couple of songs, one of which was "She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain", and we went on our way after lots of high fives with some of the kids in the front row.

Mobile Donations
An amusing thing happened shortly afterwards when a local farmer, who'd heard the ride being covered on the local radio station, rang Stratford branch to find out when we were due past his place. He then came racing up the road outside us on his 6-wheeler farm buggy, crossed over onto the road shoulder just in front of us and slowed down. We were a little concerned about this activity in such close proximity to our cycling bunch, however, all became clear when he flicked his arm out and handed one of our lead riders a donation as we went past!

Lunch at Stratford
After a very tasty and plentiful lunch at Stratford we headed on up the road, turning off at Inglewood to divert to Waitara, arriving a bit before 3pm, for a final branch visit. Although this meant extra distance we got more food - a great afternoon tea was laid on for us - so I was happy! While we were there a customer walked in wondering what all the bikes and oddly dressed, smelly people were doing. When she found out we were raising money for Daffodil Day she made an impromptu $50 donation saying her mother had cancer so she would like to support our efforts. Hopefully her mother will benefit from some of the money raised in Taranaki.

Beer and Chips at New Plymouth
Having covered over 195km we arrived back at National Bank New Plymouth just before 4pm as planned, and were welcomed by some of the staff along with a bag of hot potato wedges and a cold beer - very nice they were too! We spent an hour or so chin-wagging and telling lies about how we all felt fresh as a daisy right to the end of the ride, then went our separate ways. Peter Dickinson and I argued light-heartedly about who should go and get our vehicle as it was parked a couple of kilometres away and we were feeling that we'd done enough exercise for the day. After agreeing a taxi was a really good idea I managed to score a lift with one of the Rural guys from the branch who was going home in that direction. Whew! We scored a shower at the branch then headed off on the long drive home.

This had been a great days riding. The scenery was nice, good roads, no big hills, generally good traffic (very light on the western side of the mountain, moderate elsewhere), and we had a great bunch of people. I enjoyed the company of everyone on the ride; a number were actually Taranaki customers not Bank staff. It was great to have customers involved and it made for more diverse conversation. Special thanks to Kara for initiating and Selwyn for organising the ride and helping to make sure we all got around safely.

Selwyn also organises the annual Yarrows Taranaki Cycle Challenge so if you're looking for a fun, scenic bike ride to have a go at I'd recommend this one, 24th January 2009 is the next date. It's a great ride, especially the first half which is on quiet, rolling to flat country roads with views of the sea and the mountain - well, on a good day anyway. The mountain had it's beanie on, no doubt due to the gentle but cool southerly breeze so we didn't set eyes on it all day.

Some Stats
The following figures are totals for the three days of riding:
Time on the bike - 25hrs 5mins
Kilometres covered - 705.62
Calories burnt (HRM estimate) - 12,238

After a weekend at home I've had a chance to let the body rebuild a bit. I got the kids to their sports on time all weekend and even managed to limp/crawl around the lawns behind the mower yesterday. Apart from moderately sore leg and hip muscles the main problems are a sore behind (no surprises there really) and sore ribs. This latter injury occurred at the Levin velodrome when I was trying to get on my bike, i.e. when it wasn't even moving! Long story short, to do with clip less pedals and being a bit tired and lacking concentration. Must have looked hilarious but fortunately nobody was looking.

So what have I learnt/achieved from all this cycling silliness?

    I've confirmed my suspicion that riding for hours in circles around a velodrome is INCREDIBLY BORING! A comment accompanying one of the donations on my fundraising web site implied that it was nice that I got to do what I love while raising money. Well, after two days of riding round a velodrome I can tell you I was seeing the irony in that well-meant comment! I was starting to wonder whether I enjoyed cycling at all. Happily though, the Taranaki ride on Friday made up for it and more, despite the fact I was very saddle sore and tired for most of it.
    I've met some nice people and look forward to involvement with them again during the COH 2009.
    Based on that first point I have, to a very small degree, emulated some of the inconvenience, pain, mental and physical challenge (but not the emotional roller coaster) a cancer sufferer has to deal with. It may seem perverse but to suffer a bit was actually a goal and something that I hoped would add credence to the funds I raised. This doesn't make me unusual or special in any way. Anyone setting out in an endurance event has to accept hardship along the way, relying on determination and 'character' to see them through. The difference between an endurance athlete and a cancer sufferer is that an endurance athlete is doing it by choice and can 'pull the pin' at any time if it gets too much. A cancer sufferer has no choice and cannot pull the pin unless accepting defeat. Defeat for an athlete and defeat for a cancer sufferer are two very different things.
    Everyone should act on the advice to eat more fruit and vege, especially greens. They are the best and cheapest protection we have against developing cancer and provide numerous other health benefits.
    Hopefully I've raised the profile of the Cancer Society and the work it does among the people on this distribution list. Please share this information with people you speak to.
    Most importantly, with your help, I've raised nearly $1,200 to help fight a disease that affects one in three people in our country. In this way I know I have made a very small but tangible difference in our community and to the health and happiness of fellow New Zealanders. Thanks for being a part of that.


Monday, June 18, 2012

The Farnsworth effect

You may or may not know that the Tour Divide is on right now. A Bikepacking race/event that goes from Canada to Mexico. Currently a Kiwi is leading it, Ollie Whalley, two times winner of the Kiwi Brevet (which was based on the Tour Divide). Not everyone is a machine like Ollie. Mark Farnsworth isn't for sure, but his 'call-ins' make pretty inspirational listening. He may not be the most well prepared, but he has attitude to burn. His call-ins have developed a bit of a fan-base among the Blue-dot Junkies that follow these events. Have a listen and see why.–-mark-farnsworth-called-in-beyond-butte/

There are many more call-ins from Mark, and the other riders here too:

To follow the riders (Blue dots) go here:

To read more about the Tour Divide go here:

To see what the Blue Dot Junkies are saying on the forum go here:,3854.880.html

Going Road Tubeless.. Again

I've been running road tubeless for a year and a bit now with great success e.g. not getting a single puncture!

It all started when I was looking for a reliable lightweight alloy wheelset that I could use for races where I didn't want to be riding carbon tubulars, namely in the rain and in and around town where punctures abound.  I was heading down the custom build route until I was able to land a set of Dura-ace tubeless compatible wheels for under $700 ex UK.

I thought I'd go tubeless right from the start rather confident I guess after years running both standard and UST tyres as tubeless on various mountain bikes with the Stans No Tubes sealant. I selected the Fusion3 model from Hutchinson which had just been released. It seemed like a good compromise in terms of weight, durability and performance over the lighter Atom model.

The result was a fast rolling, light weight, stiff yet energetic wheelset with fantastic cornering grip from the combination of the lower pressure I could run and the 20.8 mm wider rims.  That lower pressure 90psi (for my 77kg weight) doesn't translate to a soft feeling tubeless tyre like it would on a normal tubed tyre.

By the way this was after my wife had taken over the Ksyrium SL2's I had that were running ceramic bearings from Boca. They made a huge difference compared to the standard Mavic bearings and I've subsequently done the same to a couple of pairs of Zipps. Things might have changed but this was pretty cheap at the time compared to the other more well known ceramic brands and they have a simple tool to find the right bearing for the hubs you are using.

Anyway, last week I was looking to replace the tyres on my training wheels so I thought I'd try going tubeless on these standard wheels. I'd read that Hutchinson had a higher volume (25mm) training tyre the Intensive. I'd also watched this video on the No Tubes website and figured that it couldn't be that hard.

Intensive installed on normal rims
And surprisingly it wasn't! All in all it took 30 minutes to switch them over including cleaning the rims under the base tape and laying down two layers of the No Tubes Yellow Rim Tape as per the video and inserting the valve stem.  Compared to the tubeless specific wheels however which inflated with a hand pump I found the Ambrosio Excellight rims had quite deep wells to the spoke bed and as such I needed to use a shot of air from a canister to blow them onto the rim. Half a 16g MTB canister was all I needed for each.

I rode the wheels both days in the wet over the weekend and despite being brand new tyres their grip in the wet was great. The weird thing is though that in the Ambrosio wheels the supposedly 25mm wheels are more like 21s.  I got the verniers out tonight to measure the difference between the two wheelsets.

So called 25mm Intensives measure 21mm on Std Rims

While the 23mm Fusions on wider rims measure 23mm!
All in all I'd definitely recommend making the switch and they seem to roll fairly well for training tyres with all the benefits of the superb almost tubular feeling ride and confidence inspiring cornering.

Here's what I needed:
1 x Stans No Tubes Stan's Rim Tape 9m x 21mm
1 x Stans No Tubes Universal Valve Stem 44mm 44mm Valve - Pair
2 x Stans No Tubes Tyre Sealant
2 x Hutchinson Intensive Tubeless Road Folding Tyre 700 x 25c Black
It's all about $201 on wiggle incl. free shipping.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sam is on a roll

Last year Voodoo Lounger Greg suggested we support local gal Samara Sheppard in a fund raiser for her first decent stint overseas. Shes back in Europe again this year and doing really really well. World cup podiums and another great result last weekend. Here is some guff.

18 June 2012

Macdonald grabs mountain bike lead; Sheppard, Peters impress

Napier mountain biker Brook Macdonald has gone to the top of the rankings in the IXS European Downhill Cup after a podium finish in latest round in Scotland today.

Macdonald, who crashed on the way to a disappointing 20th in his seeding effort on Sunday (NZ time), had an excellent run in today’s race at Innerleithen in the Scottish Highlands.The MS Mondraker rider was timed at 3:05.527 down the superb course in the Traquair forest to finish 3.4 seconds behind winner Ruaridh Cunningham of Great Britain.

Macdonald was sixth in the opening round at Winterberg, third at Leogang and now second to move to the top of the rankings midway through the championship.

Meanwhile Samara Sheppard and Dirk Peters impressed in elite company in the latest round of the Swiss Cup crosscountry in Granichen.

Sheppard, the Rotorua-based Wellington rider, finished eighth in the elite women’s field and second in the under-23 division today. The 21 year old, racing for the Wheeler IXS team in Switzerland this year, was pleased with another strong showing in the race won by her teammate Ester Suss, who is the Swiss representative in next month’s London Olympics.

Sheppard was hamstrung when she snapped the front cable just before the start of the race, limiting her to riding only in her small chain ring.

“I am happy but it could have been better as I was spinning out on the downhill and flat sections so I couldn’t stick to a wheel in front. I was only 30 seconds behind the under- 23 winner Annie Last who was second in the world last year.

“But the body felt good so overall I am happy,” Sheppard said. “It was good preparation for the world cup next weekend in Canada.”

The action this weekend is across the Atlantic with the next round of the UCI World Cup for both crosscountry and downhill set for Mont Saint Anne in Canada.

Results, IXS European Cup, Innerleithen, Scotland:
Elite men: Ruaridh Cunningham (GBR) 3:02.056, 1; Brook Macdonald (NZL, MS Mondraker) 3:05.527, 2; Lewis Buchanan (BR) 3:06.051, 3.

BMC Racing Cup, Granichen, Switzerland: 
Elite women: Ester Suss (SUI, Wheeler-IXS) 1:29.25, 1; Katrin Leumann (SUI, Ghost) at 23sec, 2; Alexandra Engen (SWE, Ghost) at 1:29, 3. Also: Samara Sheppard (NZL, Wheeler IXS) at 3:46, 8.

Elite men: Nino Schurter (SUI, Scott-Swisspower) 1:40.05, 1; Manual Fumic (GER, Cannondale) at 23s, 2; Marco Fontana (ITA, Cannondale) at 1:28, 3. Also Dirk Peters (NZL) at 8:34. 27.

CAPTION: Samara Sheppard in action in today’s BMC Racing Cup in Switzerland.
The image is free for editorial use only. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Wyder
For further information contact:
Media Liaison, BikeNZ High Performance
Sports Media NZ Ltd
Tel +64 9 2327822
Mob +64 275613181
Skype: kiwiheps

Voodoo Doll Earns her stripes!

We went for a ride today. First one since the Tandem trip. All was going good. Hill Road, Belmont Road, Haywards, then I got notification that I had to pick up my daughter from her work by 3pm. Kay had no cell because her phone was in for servicing : ) I left her at the top of the Haywards hill, while I sprinted home to pick up the car to collect the daughter. I asked if Kay wanted the puncture kit and c02s, tools etc. "No no, I'll be alright". As I disappeared down the hill she looked down and noticed her front wheel was actually flat.....

No tools, no phone. 1.5 hours later at 4pm she turns up, having run the 7 odd kms home with her bike, with only 1.5 hours left to get tea ready for the guests we were entertaining!

Damn nice meal it was too.
Reckon she can have a sleep in tomorrow : )

Saturday, June 16, 2012


It was freezing this morning, and Upper Hutt was even colder.  It's amazing the difference that few hundred feet can make:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Team Voodoo Lounge Training Camp December 2010

Disclaimer:  I have bad memory, I take bad photos and my spelling/grammar is known to crash word processing software.

December 2010, yes, that’s how long ago Team Voodoo Lounge had their inaugural training camp.  I not sure we were Team Voodoo Lounge at the time.  We knew we were part of team, more of a franchise really, as we  train, race or just ride more as individuals rather than a group, heck some of us still don’t know about other members, but I don’t think we all agreed on a name at that stage.  It was just  great to belong, even if ride alone, and its a great excuse for a jersey.  but that’s another story.  
Neil and I decided it was time for training camp, but once push came to shove, only the two of us were left.  everyone else had an excuse….  perhaps the lack of trainers, masseuses and sponsors had something to do with it

first point of call establishing base came at the voodoo lounge substitute, the Wimbledon lodge:
IMG_1656         IMG_1644
and then the bar (we cyclists have our priorities)

we woke up the next morning to howling gale and pouring rain.  so we decided to drive around for a while and look for better weather.  We ended up in Masterton for lunch.  the rain stopped by the time we got back to we dared  a short ride to Herberville. Did I mention it was windy?



The pub was closed


On the was back to camp base, I broke a spoke.  I should have taken a spare wheel, as I was getting too strong (read heavy) for my Neuvation rear wheel with its lightweight spokes as I already had spokes snapped on two previous occasions.   The next morning the wind was still blowing a gale so we decided to relocate.  We drove back to Masterton, got my wheel fixed, and cycled north to Alfredton. Neil just had to ring that school bell ever since he couldn’t participate in the mystery ride few months back that culminated there.


we then drove around the Wairarapa looking for a place to stay the night.  Martinbourough was full, and we eventually found a motel in Greytown that had some vacancies.    we did get some funny looks from the motel proprietors when we enquired about a room.  single room? – two beds? – no, a double bed is not OK, really! – we could see that Tui look in their eyes….. – but we Voodoo Lounge team cyclists are very secure in our tights, leggings and shaved legs (for some)
Next day, Neil suggested we climb Admiral Hill.  Why not I said, we are on a training camp after all.


once we got to the top he said, lets carry on and see what it’s like on the other side…..   hmmm, OK.  we started decending and hit gravel after 50 meters from the top.  did we stop and go back? – Nop, we are Team Voodoo Lounge after all, and beside, by the time we got to our senses, we were too far down the hill (or so we thought).  So we carried on, on the gravel, on rocks the size of rats, two guys on carbon road bike, skinny and smooth 23mm wheels and not a worry in the world (or so we thought).  we even stopped to admire the view

IMG_0189   IMG_0205

It was pretty,the view I mean:



35 kilometres of gravel later, after we got lost and rode couple of extra hills for sake of, well getting lost, we arrived at Hinakura


Hmm..  where to from here Neil?


to the bar, of course, but alas, it was closed Sad smile


and then I broke another spoke.  I was used to it:  Wrap it around another spoke, open the brakes wide and carry on – nothing to see here! -
Now we had to climb again.  we were already knackered from 35 km of bone jarring, tooth filling extracting gravel road riding, and now had to climb the blooming Tararuas (or whatever these mountains are) again!  by the time we descended down the valley and turned right into Longbush road going north, there was nothing left in us.  we were licking the inside of empty gel packets, picking up crumbs of energy bars from the corners of our jerseys pockets and generally feeling sorry for ourselves.  But it was sunny, warm, and we were  riding our bikes!  -  so we couldn't complain too much. – and besides, there was no one around to hear us anyway.
A friendly farmer kindly filled our bottles with water.  The best filtered rain water in the neighbourhood he claimed.  it tasted funny, but it was water, and it was magic.  Well, when I say Magic, I mean rust, cobweb, bird poo filtered magic, but it all that we needed to carry us the last 20 km back to the Gladstone Bar car park where we left the car. That Bar was OPEN.
we returned home that day, exalted, excited  and exhausted.  The Team Voodoo Lounge training camp of 2010 was a remarkable success.  Pity it was just the two of us.  Maybe next time more people can join us and help me beat Neil up next time he mixes ‘Training Camp’ with ‘Orienteering’, and road cycling with mountain biking. – just kidding, I will follow Neil anywhere.


New (old) edition to the lounge

Officially branded, another bike is now an official and intergral part of Team Voodoo Lounge, ready to mark its teritory with sweat dropplets, snot bombs and (well, I'll let your imagination take over now)


Monday, June 4, 2012


Biwl. Thats Bill in a Kiwi accent. Lost amongst the hoopla of the Queens birthday honours was Bill's acceptance into Team Voodoo Lounge. As one of Oklahoma's proudest exports his only response was: " I am not interested in being a member of any club what would want me as a member".

More background on the celebrity seismologist here.