Had a good break over Christmas?" people have been prone to asking us lately.
Well, NO we haven’t - we’ve been busy, too busy in fact to write newsletters, too busy to ride bicycles, too busy to frolic amongst the flowers, too busy to listen to the new Pearl Jam album. We have, however, been going off, doing all the usual cycle shop stuff, only more, much more, of it than usual.
This newsletter could be really dross - we could describe every bottom bracket job we did, how much water came out of every pair of Manitous, the look on the face of every punter who had to have a chain, cluster and chainrings replacement job and asked how much it would cost, and so on.
But, fortunately, we have imaginations - we can make up wild and exotic adventures, pretend that we are really loose, going off wildmen who spent Xmas and New Year cruising round the country in a V8 powered Fiat Bambina with half a dozen Titanium dual suspension bikes chucked in the back, blowing away the locals in Kamikaze downhill runs, then smoking a few bales of prime sticky bud hellweed and washing it down with a keg of Blotto Strong Ale. Who wants realism anyway.
We started the year in good form with a whole full page colour article in the Evening Post (1/1/94), with a totally stylee pic of Al & Sam in purple CS gear, getting air off the top of Mt Vic. (Yeah, there was another dude in the photo, wearing some other kind of jersey - "SID’S Bait Shop" or something, but his head was not really in the photo so nobody would have noticed him much.) Sadly, Sam has a broken leg at the moment, so another one of our pro riders is off the circuit for a while.
Name : Ian Gregson
Nickname : Wheels
Suburb : Kilbirnie
Age : 26
Occupation : Playing with bikes & collecting bike bits
Bikes : Marin Pine Mountain with Manitous, Vetta Heart Rate computer, BLT lightset, SPDs, and everything else required to make a Marin weigh 35lbs. (pump, tools, bottles, bar ends, heavy duty rims, extra stickers).
Also a Marin Eldridge Grade, two road bikes I’m not supposed to tell anybody about, a unicycle that gets thrown into Manners Mall fountain at Christmas, and a Yamaha YZ250 that’s too scary to ride.
Most awesome ride/race : Karipoti Classic (I hate it awesomely)
Other favourite rides : Mt Vic (downhill) Hawkins Tip Track (downhill) Mt Climie (downhill) Colonial Knob (downhill)
Favourite food : Bananas, spirulina, vitamin pills, chocolate, fish & chips and pizza
Favourite Music : Beastie Boys, Cult, Jane’s Addiction, Faith No More, Headless Chickens, Doors, Led Zep, Pixies, Electronic, Cure, Zodiac Mindwarp, PIL, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, U2, INXS, Soundgarden, Who, Hoodoo Gurus, Cramps.
Favourite Films : Vampires Kiss, Terminator II, Blues Brothers, Wayne’s World, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Taxi Driver, Supercross (on Sky)
Favourite Books & Mags : CS Newsletter, MBA Mag, Catch 22, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, On the Road, Furry Freak Brothers, Far Side.
Write something fully marginal in a CS newsletter
Blow past Bugle when he’s spun out his 54 x 11 downhill
Run the most styling, going off, hot action, shralve out, thrasher shop in the business
Hot Comment Action :
Why be normal?
Do it to them before they do it to you
Look where you want to go
You’re not going too fast unless you’re out of control. You’re not out of control unless you have crashed. You haven’t crashed if you can stand up.
Queenstown MTB Guide & All Round Hell Chick
The state of it! Early Saturday morn - first day off in decades - hell-bent hangover trying to keel me over - but no way. Mad Marvin hammers on the door, 40km MTB race - get up - get ready. Get outta here! But there’s no stopping progress.
Praise Jesus for Good Time Go Fast glasses. Sun cranks out MegaKilowatts of mind numbing brightness. Choice of uphill, downhill or the full on thing. Before I can tick the obvious, Marvin jumps in and registers me in for the 40ker - Sado Masochists need only apply. I start to rant, but it hurts my head - the winds of predestination blow shit in my face again.
Resigned I prepare : Lycras - check - Polypros - check - Gatorade infested water - check - Smack hat - check - Lenses - check - Gloves - check - Hooter - check - fully tuned and on the start line. Amping for the gun, thirty other Bike Betties (Betty Bike Heads) champing at the bit. The gun blasts - my head aches - thighs contract - rubber grinds for grip - charging towards the first bend and straight into a bottle necked uphill grade. Estrogen overland - bikes all over the show. Luckily I’m near the front and fully fucked off by the whole scenario. I charge my way through - ignoring the abuse I’m attracting. Reminds me of queue jumping at Turoa - I’m impervious. I get through, and there it is - a steep GRAND-DADDY sucker of sheer uphill - far as the eye can make out. Chonk it down and spin the crank - Is this going to take long? Quarter hour later - nothing’s changed - feel I haven’t moved anywhere - chest exploding - white haze in my eyes - arse aching - tunnel hearing - I’m copping abuse as my fellow bikers grind past : "All’s fair in love & war" is gasped breathless, but it sounds more like "Get fucked, you whore". I grasp breast-less. I’m making friends by the minute. Tactical intimidation? It’s not helping. I’m sweating pure alcohol - it hurts on the way out. I should have stuck to the Gissy Golds and left the Hookers to the hookers and Penny.
Round the bend and whatdayaknow - more sickening steep slope. It’s all too much - I ditch the bike - lie down and die - lungs imploding - white blazing in my brain - a strong urge to chuck God amongst all this suffering and pain - the most poignant of all philosophical questions crawls out of the mud of my brain - Why am I here? White brightens - blocks everything - I lose consciousness. I’m awoken by the splash of Gatorade against my face. Are these women hell-bent on revenge? She asks if I’m alright. I tell her to stop pouring Gatorade on me. She apologises. Fruit loops, honey.
Saturated, I’m back on the bike - a wee tad more refreshed. Hare Krishna! The top is ahead. Summit. Graunch into a suitable gear - skillfully manipulate the seat into dragster position while still riding. I miscalculate my medulla’s sobriety - and end up looking like Pee Wee Herman pedalling Barbie’s bike. Get off - readjust - fucked off by a few people going past - jump on - go off. Hyped and amped, power pedalling up to speed. The track’s smooth and fast forest floor action. Freak scene speeds - up to first corner - foot down - tail sliding - cranking big time. Bike’s working beautifully beneath me - floating over the bumps - the speed smoothing everything out, the corners blast towards me surprisingly quickly. I’m not quite ready for the next one - a wee bit out of shape. A tad out of control. More like a passenger than a pilot. I’m careering toward a tree. it looms large and inevitable - I tense for the impact ..... .....to be continued?
We do get some hell out there questions, asked by some strictly looping shralvers, but of those pertaining to bicycles (as opposed to say, takeaways, concrete, tattoos, fishing wire or Hillman Minx carburetors) there are few things more commonly asked about than wheels. Here are answers to some of the more common questions :
Q : What’s the difference between different brands & prices of rims?
A : Better rims are heat treated, a process that makes the aluminium stronger for the same weight. Rims that are treated are usually black or grey. Expect to pay $100 - $140 each. Many cheaper black rims are just standard aluminium with a black paint job. A good heat treated rim will often withstand an impact that would dent or flat spot a standard rim.
Reinforcing eyelets are fully frot. These are where the spoke nipples go - a double brass one is totally jizz, a single eyelet will still do the business, while no eyelets are not the go if you are out there. Eyelets allow firmer spoke tension, and don’t crack round the nipple.
Good rims are made by Ambrosio (Italy), Mavic (France) and F.I.R. (Italy), but are all in hopelessly short supply in this country at present. The rims that come on new bikes are almost always untreated and without eyelets, because these are lighter and cheaper. That’s why they all get munted. Never mind.
Q : Why are the spokes on the cluster side tighter than the other side?
A : This is what’s known as dishing. In order to fit a monstrously wide 7 or 8 speed cluster in one side, the wheel has to be built offset, and this is done by using 2mm shorter spokes on the cluster side, and cranking them up. Yes, they are more likely to break on that side, but would you want a one speed cluster?
Q : My spokes keep breaking. Why?
A : Common reasons include :
A badly drilled hub, with sharp edged holes that cause the spokes to break right at the hub.
A bent rim that is held straight by overtightening a group of spokes to pull it into line. These overstressed spokes will tend to break, making the rim spring badly out.
Cheap Taiwanese spokes - low quality steel soon snaps - this is common on junk warehouse bikes.
Corrosion - old corroded spokes lose their strength.
Very light gauge spokes - in an effort to save weight, some bikes have thinner spokes than std. Hard/heavy riders will snap them.
Masses of grunt uphill - really strong riders will break spokes on the cluster side because of the torque they create, which twists the hub in relation to the rim, and snaps spokes.
Q : What tyre pressure should I run?
A : For off-road mountain biking, a good starting point would be 40lbs front & rear. Softer pressures will give more traction, but are more prone to snake bite punctures. 25lbs is the minimum - any softer and the tyres flex badly on corners. 55lbs would be the maximum for off-road, not much danger of a puncture, but the tyre is starting to "round out" in profile, and will feel skittery and harsh, sliding over the surface rather than digging in. A softer front tyre than rear will help the bike to turn in tight corners. I have found 30lbs front, 35lbs rear to be a going off combo (but no guarantees on puncture resistance!). Tyres lose some pressure every few days, so you have to keep checking them.
Q : Why are most new bikes fitted with 32H rims rather than the old 36H?
A : This is purely for weight saving - 4 less spokes, and 4 less nipples. It saves even less weight than you might think, because each of the 32 spokes has to be longer. If the wheel is built well, it causes no reliability problems, but a 36H wheel is theoretically a bit stronger. Americans (& therefore NZ) use 32H, while Europeans use 36H. The only problem is that Europeans make all the good rims, which is why there is such a shortage of good 32H rims at the moment.
Q : Why do some MTBs have Presta (French/High Pressure) valves?
A : Again weight saving - this a dumb idea, causing problems where none previously existed. Presta valves are better for pressures over 75lbs, but as MTBs run low pressure tyres, this is irrelevant. Disadvantages incl :
The valve core is prone to bending or snapping if abused
They don’t fit service station pumps without an adapter
Other peoples spare tubes won’t fit your rim unless you have drilled it out.
Other peoples pumps won’t fit your tubes (and vice versa)
As over 95% of mountain bikes in NZ have car valves, (not to mention cars!), it’s sort of like using a Beta video recorder - why bother?
Q : Can you straighten my wheel?
A: We can only really fix side to side buckles - not up & down (flat spots). A rim bent out to about 1 or 2 cm (still goes round in the frame but hits brakes) can usually be straightened by tightening & loosening spokes. Any more than this and we are into rim bending, followed by spoke tensioning. Really major bends - "figure 8" and fold over bends are not a good prospect, as the rim will be fatigued even if we could get it straight. If it’s bent but you don’t need it perfect, we are usually willing to give straightening it a go. For perfection, a new rim & spokes are usually recommended.
Write a 200 word story about mountain biking, incorporating all of the following 40 words, in correct context. Best story gets in next newsletter and wins a free trip for two to Midnight Espresso (refreshments not included)
A dozen or so Km from Hamilton lies Ngaurawhahia, home of the Maori Queen, past site of some dodgy music festivals and venue for Round #1 of the NZ Downhill champs.
DFW and I arrived Fri, 4th Feb around 3pm and driving down the twisty gravel road to the race area I became anxious at not seeing a towering 2000m peak rearing into the horizon before me. The race was held on a mound about the size of Mt Vic and with very similar terrain.
The course measured 3.1km, 65% twisty rooty single track in 3 sections, dissected by slightly downhill gravel access road.
Let’s go down : 1st corner 90° right hander a bit off camber (several people were in full disaster mode here only 10m from the start) power down over sharp, fist shaped rocks (lots of deflation action) to the fast ‘S’ bend, power down again over the stones. Full hell death braking down into middle ring to get around the right hand hairpin.
Power out back into big ring for the fastest bit of the track - long sweeping corners and straights. Start to wind up to the 50 tooth to about 60kph. Brake most heartily then into the pylon corner (or through it, over it, under it or eat it, a very heinous corner) Power down to the first single track section (watch the drainage trench that spits you into the bank) middle ring grind & twist to the single track exit.
Brief stretch of fire break then into the next single track. Blast through the styley dirt slalom section, then catch some air on the exit. Back into 50 tooth and power down some more flat straight fire break. Into middle ring, up the small hump onto the last single track section.
Blast bump bounce over the root section into the tight steep "S" with the big rut in the middle (BMX heads just use it as another berm) out over the ever-present drainage trench (this one was the scene of some ballistic swandive endos) then the big sprint to the line. Collapse totally knackered, heart rate about 300bpm.
Unfortunately, a small excursion into the grass beside the pylon (!) lost me 10secs, 5 of which cost me a place in the top 25 for another run, Hendi won in about 3.45.
Overall, a good race but having to wait 4 hours for first run times and a start for the second was a major toss (the fat woman selling coke & pies was stoked)
Strictly rating 7.0 out of 10
Go down fast CU
S i t e B y F R O T D E S I G N