Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Settling Dust

Because, essentially I have been next to useless of late, I will merely offer up a pictorial essay of various activities and places that have filled moments in my recent past.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Far too much!

Sometimes I am deprived of various life fulfilling moments through the twists and turns of life, but generally it all balances out in the end.

Recently that balance was addressed somewhat with some superb roads that were new to me, and the others I rode them with. The area I am refer to is out the south and back of Kawhia, and boasts scenery, traffic and glass free kilometres that are the equal of anywhere in New Zealand.

Highlights include a ripping descent down to Waitomo for several kilometres, a long rolling section of road through several valleys, complete with cheering tourists, a small town that has cattle stops on all the side streets and a hill that beats anything on offer in the K2 for sheer misery.

I can not recommend the area highly enough.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gary Gilmore

Well, I have been absent from the ether for far too long. Much has come to pass since I unloaded my anger on the long suffering Junior. Since then I have visited The Village of the Damned, Christchurch. I have fished with limited success, both fresh and briny. I have ridden my velocipede infrequently. I have had a grown man thrust his testicles in my face. I have had a crowd roar with appreciation as a flaming car jumped me. And I appeared as a page five boy in a national newspaper.

The return to Christchurch was most enjoyable, but the brief visit to some of the damaged areas was, at risk of using a hackneyed phrase, overwhelming. I am still trying to digest what I have seen, the sheer destruction of infrastructure and society is enormous, and I am short of adequate words to convey this.

It's easy to grasp the images of iconic buildings that have been wrecked and rent asunder, but much harder to gain a meaningful impression of the lumpy and beaten roads, the sunken land, the suburbs rendered dirty and deserted. Below is a picture care of Google of Locksley Ave from before the destructive quakes.

View Larger Map

This is what it looked like last Wednesday.

And there are kilometres of deserted and destroyed streets like this.

The jovial parts of my journey involved many things, but foremost was a trip to the busker festival, and the chance opportunity to be publicly shamed as part of a buskers performance. I shall leave the recounting of this until later in the week, as I am still recovering from having a stranger's testicles thrust in my face.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Junior, I owe you an apology.

Last night, on short notice, I went out for a ride with Junior into the Waitakeres. I was fearful, as I have been intermittent in my riding of the past month, had a cold of sorts post Christmas, did the usual seasonal ingestion of excess and then was out of two for a few days. Add in sore legs from a tramp that resembled a forced march with sensational views and damned fine company, and I was expecting a session of handlebar chewing. But it wasn't to be.

Instead, early in the ride, as part of my debrief to Junior on recent events, I felt a surge of anger, and that meant that I had legs, and then some. I know now, I was a regular pain in the posterior to ride with last night, and I am sorry.

Our route was a bit of a buffet of hills, not of my choice. For a change I was the follower, and did as I was told. Hillsborough Road, Godley Road, Konini Road, Carter Road, et al. The conditions were magnificent, and with the holiday still in swing, no traffic. I was still pummeled on the world champs sprint, but then somethings never change. Overall it was a great ride, and an excellent way to open the ledger for 2012.

My evil plotting brain is now fully engaged upon the task of plotting the race route for the next Race of Six Friends. I do have something quite fiendish in mind. Rest assured, I haven't found another Klondyke Road, but I do have some new tricks to make people question the sanity of the race organisation, and give them a sense of satisfaction when they finish the big day, March 4th 2012. Over the next few weeks, I shall be checking the route, and hopefully this current weather pattern continues, meaning all metal roads will be usable.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Tomorrow is to be the last ride in with The Croc as a regular part of my riding landscape. I am looking forward to it, in as much it is a celebration as anything else. The Croc, Mrs Crocodile and his tribe are returning from whence they came.

I shall report post ride as to how the last outing went, and where we traipsed, but it is nice to ride for a different purpose than usual.

Good luck, and keep the faith Mike!

I went to The Kings Arms last night to see Explosions in the Sky, a band from Austin, Texas, who I have liked immensely for several years. They are, to a degree, standard bearers for American Post Rock, and are more influential than you may think. Their music is entirely instrumental, and has been well picked over for soundtrack use in a surprising number of mainstream movies.

The show was sensational, intense and dynamic, it exceeded expectations. Even though their songs are long, and they played for a decent length of time, it passed far too quickly.
The following song was played, in all it's glory, intense, loud and epic.

Oh, and for what it is worth, I listen to this when I am on the windtrainer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Donkey Punch

So, on Sunday I was a surgeon. Not some half-baked pocket knife wielder, I was a fully qualified, scalpel artist for the morning.
How did this come to pass?

I was offered the chance to step into his shoes midway through last week, due to an unfortunate accident on his behalf. I was judged as being a safe pair of hands to complete the task he had signed up for. But before we proceed any further let me clear up one small error in your thinking right now, I was not going into theatre as his proxy, I was merely filling his place at the Clipon Challenge funride.

My run up to the big day saw me in less than ideal form to make the most of an apparent purple patch of form, but even without that, I had decided that I would ride it as a fun ride and just cruise it. No chewing handlebars, no gurning, no suffering misery.

Where my run up to the event went reefward was on Friday, due to helping a little with the Northshore Grand Prix. As always it was a sterling event with excellent racing, much kudos to Peter Ulmer for organising yet another edition. To that end I do hope that BikeNZ takes notice of the vital role that private event organisers play in running elite racing in this country, as well as the many dollars that are poured in as sponsorship for these races.

I could climb on my pulpit here and preach a long and lengthy sermon on the above subject, but I will refrain, maybe that is an entirely separate post, but what I will state is that from my own observations BikeNZ seem to be more of a hinderance and boat anchor to these events and their organisers, than supporter and champion, let alone positive partner. For the good of the sport of cycling, but in particular racing, this needs to change.

Even just thinking of this makes my blood seethe, and there is a lengthy diatribe that lurks close to the surface, so rather than detract from the spectacle and success of Friday night's racing in Takapuna, and Sunday's race and funride, I will post my thoughts separately.

So, back to my getting knackered prior to Sunday, I assisted on Friday night, one real bonus from that was that I learnt to drive the crane arm on a truck. I was like a kid in the sandpit at kindergarten again, it was both fun and terror in equal parts.

Forward to Sunday, and I made my way to Shelly Beach Road and rolled up at Five Forty am. Not the most civilised hour, but there were already a a number of other souls there. I was fortunate to spot Matt Gilbert near the front, and rolled up to join him and a couple of others for some pleasant banter. Instead of pleasant banter Matt informed me that the start was now Six Forty Five am! Wahoo! An hour of standing about getting cold, and get cold I did. Before long The Croc had appeared also, so together we stood, as the press of cyclists grew, and waited patiently. Time passed, shivering increased.

Finally at Seven am we were under way, the ride over the Harbour Bridge was to be neutralised, and it was, at race pace. My time over the bridge, instead of being spent pleasantly admiring the vista was instead spent watching the wheel in front of me, and avoiding the odd bus that was parked slightly wide, as I stayed on the leeward side of the bunch.

From there it was a fantastic roll up the bus lane, and then out through the Albany industrial estate, and then into the hills. Lots of hills, those short, nasty little leg sappers. Thankfully I was in cruise mode, and it served me well. Horseshoe Bush Road and it's metal was a pleasure, bringing back memories of Race of Six Friends, after that, the delayed start started having an effect and a separate issue - a full bladder!
I was debating as to when to stop and shed the excess ballast when I was passed by Adam Smith, the proverbial locomotive, with half a dozen riders in tow. Unfortunately thoughts of pristine white porcelain and running water scuppered any hope of staying in that lovely little train.

A pit stop mid way up a climb provided the much needed relief, and it was off rolling again. The nature of the course was such that there was much splintering of bunches and much riding in twos and threes, I just rolled along, on very familiar roads, until a larger group picked me up on the climb out of Riverhead forest. Excellent I thought, the group to take me through from here.

But it wasn't to be, as I climbed the wall up to Taupaki School my phone rang, I used this an excuse to leave the safety of the group, and rolled along for a gentle gasbag. Done and dusted I resumed riding properly, not too long to go, and I was picked up by another couple of riders, who then decided that my pace on the hills was too hot for them and let me go, ahead. This was a novelty for me. At this stage the hard roads, the aggravating and unpleasant wind and the Rodney District special seal were having an effect on many, and I passed several of the living dead as I rolled to the finish.

After handing in my timing chip, and receiving my medal, it was off to somewhere special. Not the post race festivities, not Sione and his sisters with their Saturday morning special, it was the Kumeu bakehouse. There a couple of custard twists, some pleasant company, and I was fortified for the ride home. The ride home was a trifle unpleasant, with a foul headwind on the bike path that was the nadir of my ride.

Will I do that fun ride again? No, not in it's present structure. Was it enjoyable, yes. Was it safe? Yes, the marshalling and directions on course were excellent and easily the best I have experienced. Did I enjoy riding over the Harbour Bridge? No, I would rate it as one of the more unpleasant moments I have endured on a bike in eons, that whole being frigid, then making damn cold muscles work hard, it just plain hurt. I would love to go back and cruise over, but that ain't going to happen.

Anyway, by lunchtime I was back to me, the ascerbic nogooder, and my surgical career was over.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel

On Saturday night I witnessed a number of men,of similar advanced age to myself, showing feverish behaviour after they went to see Cold Chisel in concert.

Given that I always viewed Cold Chisel with disdain, and felt they had a use by date a few decades ago, and that I am not a great one for returning to past crimes to try and make them current, I fail to see the attraction of going to see a band like this.

Maybe I am being churlish, either way it got me thinking about the various songs that have come out of Australia, and that have taken my fancy at times. I avoided including Nick Cave in this list for a whole variety of reasons, but realised that there have been a fair swag of Australian bands I have enjoyed since I was first able to choose my music. Everything from The Saints, Hunters and Collectors, Paul Kelly to  Kasey Chambers and Spiderbait.

So here are three that have tickled my fancy at times.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Deep in the pavilion of the clown

Saturday, glorious day, felt like summer had finally slipped in the door. It was to be the first ride this season where I headed out the door with no undershirt, no arm warmers, just the essentials.

Setting off with a small select group for a gentle roll over to Piha, then Karekare and Lone Kauri Road. We travelled easily, climbing up Forest Hill Road, then over to Piha, a light easterly wind made for pleasant traverse of Piha Road, and the day lent itself to it beautifully. It was to be The Croc's last outing over into that neck of the woods before he defects.

Coming over the hill into Piha, the sea and sky showed promise of summer, a deep blue, the waves were clear in definition, and the bush was verdant, hard not to be a happy man. Our descent was easy, and included a small stop to admire the view.

After we restarted I was number three in the line, and Wayne and The Croc were ahead of me, with a car towing a boat slowing our progress a fraction. This was to turn out to be a blessing. We descended comfortably, and I was thinking of the climb back up, and relishing the thought of rolling up it like we rolled up Forest Hill Road. As I entered a right hand corner there was a very loud bang, and suddenly my back wheel was lacking both comfort and traction. Leaning the bike over to get around the corner was now not an option, I started braking and looking for somewhere to run out and get off the road. Luckily there was a nice grassy verge, with no metal between it and the asphalt, and that was where I came to stop, upright. 

Serge, who was following was in pole position to watch my panic stop. The others heard the retort of the escaping air and had also slowed quickly.

The tyre was cut through the side wall, but worse, the wheel was buckled, so a bit of gentle force to straighten it enough to rotate through the chainstays was required, along with a boot in the side wall (I did decline Wayne's smutty patch offer) and a new tube, and then I was able to roll down to the cafe with the others.

There, the service vehicle was summonsed to collect me, the others had a quick coffee and set off on their homeward journey. I had another coffee, chewed the fat with a German surfer who was spending his winter here in New Zealand chasing waves and awaited the arrival of the extraction vehicle.

I was annoyed that I suffered the mechanical, and was unable to ride home, as I was having a day of good legs, but it was tempered by the fact that I stayed upright during an event that can often result in a brief introduction to the art of flight.

Suffice to say, I am now itching to repeat and complete the ride.

Now, something for someone who knows.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rat on a rope

It's been a wee while, and life has been a bit stressful and chaotic.

On the positive side of the ledger, I went for a decent ride with the Croc. He is returning to the Lucky Country at the end of the year, and is engaging in a box ticking exercise of sorts before he goes, of rides that he hasn't done, and rides to revisit.

One of the rides he wanted to tackle was the loop through Muriwai and Woodhill Forest. Last time I rode this loop, it was a bit of a mudfest and cemented the quality of the loop. The Croc hadn't been there that day, but recently felt the urge to tackle the loop. So we did, just the two of us, on a weekday. It turned into a tough ride, we had a headwind there, it drizzled a little in places, I suffered two pinchflat punctures in the depths of the forest, and when we emerged out on SH16 at Woodhill, our anticipated tailwind had gone, and was replaced with a cross/headwind for most of the way home. Additionally my much hoped for shower of rain didn't eventuate, so I carried the forest crud all the way back home.

It was a damn good outing, and as always, confirmation of how much fun some of those roads off the beaten track are.

Also in the news this week, Te Araroa finally opened. The walkway from the Cape to the Bluff, it has been a longtime in the making and shaping, but it is finally here. It does pull fairly hard on me to go and tackle it from top to tail, but that would require a length of time that I just don't have at the moment. Maybe when I am closer to twilight I shall indulge.

In the meantime I shall tackle sections close to home, and dream of grander walking plans.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Honeyeater

The above, equals happiness for the below.

I have been extraordinarily lucky this weekend. 

On Saturday morning I rode out through Bethalls Quarry and Scenic Drive with Wayne, The Croc, Warren and Serge. The pace over, like the company was pleasant and easy. Up the quarry I lit the blue touch paper, and for a change my own fireworks were less than a damp squib. Onto Scenic Drive I eased, but some of the others from our company charged on. I was saving my legs for the expedition I had planned that afternoon on foot.

After we reached the top of Scenic Drive, and I had a fossick in the roadside gorse for the bottle of scotch that I placed there in June, I did come away empty handed, Serge and Warren rolled back the way they had come, and the Croc, Wayne and I snaked down the descent of Forest Hill Road, and then back to town by the very pleasant bike path, all the way in from Henderson. No traffic issues for us, it is a truly 
benign way to snake in from the outer west. 

My return expedition into the Waitakeres on Saturday afternoon was a delight, the highlight being the brief visitation of a Kaka while I was on a spur between steep grunts. It was wonderful to see and hear one of these chaps in the Waitakeres. I have had a mob around me before, like unruly schoolboys, but that was on the Eastern Coromandel. Several years ago, at dawn, I saw a pair on Sandringham Road, by Gribblehurst Park, but this is the first time in a while I have seen one out west. I was delighted.

The final stanza of unexpected joy was on Sunday afternoon, while I waited up a valley out of Piha for my scion to finish up his camp. As I sat, I had camera in hand, with a decent long lens, nearby was flax flowering, and I waited. Soon the territory master, a Tui appeared. Initially to chase the brace of Starlings from the prime food source, the flowering flax and it's nectar. On returning from that sortie, the Tui discovered a Myna was trying it's luck, so more whirring action required.

Rivals dispensed with, the Tui returned to start feeding, and I got lucky with the camera. It maybe a box ticking exercise, as I sure ain't a twitcher, but I have long wanted to snap a Tui on a Flax infloresence. Today was the day, a little longer lens would have been a nice luxury, but I'm happy anyway.

That done, and I looked up to see a Kereru swoop through, across the sky, I turned and nailed a Don Binney moment.

Sometimes, it just is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Junior decided that he would join me for my of my early morning rides, there was a small concession and we started at a time when it was still dark, but it wasn't completely anti-social.
The route was Carter Road, and home before 7:15. Easy peasy.

When we met he commented on the rain radar and that it looked like it might be a little damp, "Moist" I sniggered. So we rode out, the roads became damp alright, I took him through my little secret detour to avoid the plunge of death down past the Waikumete Cemetery.  I asked him what he thought of it, his only comment was that I had found the wettest road in Auckland.

The precipitation increased, and it was raining properly, we rolled up Carter Road with no urgency. It was now  more than moist. After Titirangi, I was, once again, throughly trounced on the Godley Road sprint, and then we rolled back into town, starting to feel a little cold by the end. Both of us thoroughly soaked by the end. Nothing a hot shower doesn't fix.

The vagaries of Spring.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Because I am feeling a trifle lazy, but have also had a couple of little gems appear, I will post them instead.
First up, a video that is just breath-taking.
Did you know that a group of starlings is a murmuration?
Here, witness a murmuration of starlings, play it full screen and grin.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Then, a contrast, here is Mikeal, ripping around the Totara Park MTB trail on his 'cross bike.
Top trails for an urban environment, and well worth a roll around.

Lastly, the man who put this up on youtube, he is worthy of a public service award. Here is Andre Tchmil's 1994 Paris Roubaix win, well, the last One Hour and Forty Nine Minutes of it. Watch it and be awed, watch Tchmil bunny hop a round about at pace, watch Museuw and Tchmil drag race on the cobbles, watch the mud, watch the drama as Ballerini gets left in no mans land. It was one of Lottos defining moments!