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Tue, 28 Feb 2006
Jokes only a cyclist could love - 17:02
Earlier today I was searching the web for one of those lists of "You know you are a cyclist when" sort of things. It took a while (my search terms were not returning much for a while) so I thought I should link to them. Especially because I got a huge giggle out of one I had not seen before. I had at some point received an email with the list of things to look out for I think.
You Know You're Addicted to Cycling When... is pretty much what I recall seeing in an email a while back. I found a link to a page of cyclist jokes, on which this list also appeared, however I had not previously seen the list Craig's Beginners Guide to Preparing For a Cycling Trip. Oh so true, we cyclists really can be a disgusting lot in public and there may be some pain involved with lots of cycling.
Mon, 27 Feb 2006
Winning XPD in style - 11:52
If they keep at their current pace I expect Dave and Julie (team Tangerine) will finish sometime tomorrow morning, Randall and Alex (Entropic) are likely another day behind them. There was a pretty good photo of Dave from Day 4 too.
Sat, 25 Feb 2006
Ozlabs and Einstein? - 15:21
Fri, 24 Feb 2006
XPD an exercise in sleep deprivation with a view - 18:08
Right now the biggest Expedition race in Australia is happening down in Tasmania. XPD run by Craig and Louise (ex Canberrans now living in Queensland) of Geocentric Adventure Racing is a Expedition length (600 KM this time) race covering many of the disciplines available and racing through the Tasmanian wilderness for up to 10 days (course cut off). The inaugural XPD race was held in the Australian outback in 2004 near Broken Hill. Team AROC won that edition, and currently are on track to win this edition (though anything can happen in this style of race over such a large time period through such remote areas) just over half way through the race for them. (AROC also run short races in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and other places around the country, between 3 and 5 hours for most teams, held during the day, for anyone who wants to give Adventure racing a go a chance to try it out in a less extreme manner)
A number of my friends are competing, Tom (of Team AROC, though alas his wife Alina, the team captain in races usually is injured so has had to sit a race with the team out for the first time ever), Dave and Julie (on Team Tangerine), Alex and Randall (on Entropic), Matt and Michael (on team Mont Crank) and a number of other people I have met in passing also. So I, along with many other people, have been glued to the online coverage on the Sleep Monsters website. Notably the leaderboard and also the reports and other information that appears on the XPD race page. Some photos, news from marshals and people on the course, reports posted to the website by people down there and race HQ in Hobart (where the race will finish, right now many of the teams are still up in the North West corner of the state) and a forum in which you can write messages to the teams that are handed to them as printouts at transition points during the race.
I am jealous of all these people doing this incredible adventure, though I would prefer to do it at a much slower pace, maybe 2 weeks, and enjoy the scenery and the outdoors more than the pain and suffering. The list of teams entered is up on the XPD site if you wish to know who is in each team by the way.
Wed, 22 Feb 2006
Crossing the streams - 09:21
As a sacrifice to science I will endeavour to research this and learn to the best of my ability what will happen, I may be gone for some time.
Mon, 20 Feb 2006
Commodity mp3 players - 18:18
Today I was in Jaycar and saw a player that satisfies the above requirements, the cost was AUD $31. It uses SD/MMC as media and takes a single AAA battery, mp3 players really are commodity items now days. It comes with earplugs (which cost around AUD $20 miniimum in shops anyway), a AAA battery, a neck strap and a usb connection cable. You can buy 512 MB SD cards for AUD $60 if you know where to shop.
Admittedly this device does not have fm radio or display track names or make navigation easy (ie no folders and directories which the mp3 player my sister has now does allow, though hers does not have a removable battery) so it is somewhat like an Apple Shuffle in this case (the lcd display simply shows track number and time in the track).
Fri, 17 Feb 2006
An organic mouse at work - 15:45
A short while ago I was siting at my desk and glanced at the sandwiches I had next to my computer thinking about eating lunch. Strange I do not remember there being large holes in he sandwich bags when I made those sandwiches. I did not eat my lunch from home yesterday as I went out to a farewell lunch, thus I left my sandwiches, some fruit and a muesli bar on my desk overnight.
Then it twigged, the holes in the sandwich bag are round and slightly serrated, not simple tears in the plastic as I often see after they wear out. The mouse is indeed loose and it got into my lunch overnight. Maybe we should think about trapping this mouse, ahh well it is a bit of variety from the inorganic mice we plug into computers on a regular basis I suppose. For me now I think I will wander somewhere and purchase some hot chips.
Mon, 13 Feb 2006
Connected once more. - 20:18
My guess eventually was that the ADSL modem had died, however I could not do anything much about it until I got home. Today I purchased a new ADSL modem (D-LINK DSL-502T) and what do you know, everything works again now.
My latest NZ trip photos are now up. - 17:33
As I may have mentioned somewhere, Crash has 550 or so photos somewhere, so you may want to consider the 76 photos here a bit of a warm up. I will post a link to them when they appear online.
Wed, 08 Feb 2006
Sweet flowing Rotorua single track - 20:39
Gaz said there was rain forecast for the afternoon so we would be best to head out in the morning. We rode over to the N-ZO offices around 10:30am to have a look around before starting. Gaz has a huge steel ring in the garden that is taller than Mike fashioned to look exactly like a disc rotor, very cool. They also have all their design capability, materials and sewing gear there to make mock ups or initial examples of new designs to test out before they get manufactured. Also the offices are almost as close to the mtb park as they could be on the edge of town near there.
The three of us hopped on and headed over to the park via the campsite and start finish area of the race. At a bbq in Wellington the night we arrived there last week Ahnadoo (who I had ridden with a bit last May and was at the bbq) said there were three tracks that were fairly new that were a must ride in the park and that they would not be in the race course. The three tracks were "Gunna Gotta", "Hot Cross Buns" and "Roller Coaster". As we started climbing up to the first single track Gaz explained the main objective of the ride was to ride the three tracks Ahnadoo had told us were so good.
I had a crash riding down "Gunna Gotta", following Gaz over a jump and missing the landing a bit, however do not let that detract from this beautifully sculpted flowing piece of amazing track. At the bottom Mike Metz rolled up to meet us and ride with us again. We then headed through "A-Trail" and "The Tickle" an on to the base of "Hot Cross Buns" (which is also where "Be Rude Not To" starts). The climb up to the top of "Hot Cross Buns" takes 10 to 15 minutes lots of it in the granny ring and on open fire road. Once more do not let this detract from the experience. At the top are some great views out over Lake Rotorua and some other mountains all around, then you have a 10 minute descent down yet another sculpted and amazing piece of single track.
After this we headed over to the climb up to the top of "Roller Coaster", although all three of these signature tracks we rode today required some fairly steady climbing to get to I can guarantee the effort has a huge reward when coming back down. "Roller Coaster" lives up to its names with sculpted berms and sections where you are going up and down over tummy drop sort of ridges at 30 KMh or faster. We stopped at one point to wait for Crash and he appeared giggling his head of enjoying the track like nothing else he had ridden in years. Next we rode a slightly sloping up hill trail ha was still a lot of fun to link us back up to the top of "Be Rude Not To". This link track and the last two thirds of "Roller Coaster" were about 2 KM in length and had been cut in about three weeks. They had hired a small earth moving machine on which one man stands, with a compressing mechanism at the back, it had been able to bench cut and compress this track fast during construction.
At the top of "Be Rude Not To" we were met by Morgan, the guy who owns Zippys cafe who was out for a ride, so we finished off the ride down "Be Rude Not To" and the two tracks that follow directly on from there, and then out through "Exit Trail" at the bottom. I have a lot more to write, maybe sometime next week, about the track construction and track ownership stuff they do here in Rotorua, some of which I hope CORC can adopt or encourage in Canberra. However all I can say is I can not properly describe how good all these tracks are, all I can do is strongly suggest you all hop on a plane and go spend a week or two in Rotorua, you really will be glad you did.
Just as we finished the ride the heavens opened up and monsoonal seeming rain dumped down on us, Gaz offered us a lift into town for lunch at Zippys which was a great finish to the day of kick arse riding. Thanks again to Gaz and the others for some great rides in the region.
Mon, 06 Feb 2006
Taupo and Kawakawa Bay rides - 20:18
Getting a local or a group of locals to show you trails is always going to be a good idea if it can be arranged as you get to see the best riding terrain and trails that way, this definitely turned out to be the case here. Alan Vogt and Garrett Macdonald who had also flown across from Canberra for the race joined us for the morning riding. Gaz had a friend along named Jonno from Planet Cycles bike shop in Auckland, riding a rather sweet looking Santa Cruz Nomad (according to Jim, quite rare in Australia still) and we met up with Mike Metz out there who was riding a stupidly light (9.5 KG) Turner Duallie (tricked out to the max with light parts).
We parked at the sports centre in Taupo where the 100 KM Rotorua to Taupo road ride finishes and headed for the trail out past Huka Falls. There has been a lot of work on this trail in the last 6 months according to Gaz and it was pretty damn good. Fun techy riding all the way out to the mountain bike park in the forest. Some impressive bench cutting and supports to keep the trail there in both directions and safe next to the river and other fun things such as a tunnel under the highway.
Once we got to the lower trails in the park, with Gaz in the lead we really started hooking in. I stayed on Jonno's wheel and with Gaz in the lead, Gaz, Mike, Jonno and I tended to drop the others fairly regularly. I have to say, one of the resounding points in favour of N-ZO clothing I think is that the owner and designer rides a lot and is also a damn good rider, out there testing his product all the time and he rides with a lot of people who give him good feedback from a lot of riding in the gear. I was having to work to keep up which for me was a heap of fun, it is really good to ride with people who can ride faster than you as it helps your skills a lot.
During all my laps of the 24 hour race on the weekend I noticed my middle chain ring skipping and when I looked at it I found it was indeed worn almost smooth, it is almost surprising anything was able to grab the chain at all. By this point in the ride today I was slipping on every pedal stroke, so I had to stop using the middle chain ring, and use only granny or large chain ring. Due to this when we headed into town for lunch, we found a bike shop open (it was a public holiday today) who were able to provide and fit a new middle chain ring to my bike. Fortunately it was not the Corner Store who I had such a negative experience with last time I was in Taupo, if you wish to go to a bike shop in Taupo do not go to "The Corner Store" they are no good.
After lunch we drove around to the town of Kinloch about 20 KM around the lake shore from Taupo to ride to a place called Kawakawa Bay. The Queen Charlotte Track is a 76 KM single track maintained for both walkers and mountain bikers by the Department of Conservation, this track is a 6 KM out (and 6KM return) in the same manner, for use by mountain bikers and walkers, and it is similar in nature, however it is a hell of a lot more fun. This is saying something considering the Queen Charlotte track is one of the most enjoyable mountain bike rides around. This 6 KM of tight twisty climbing, descending, ridgelines, rain forest, beech style forest and all manner of terrain and obstacles is a must ride if you are in the area I suggest. I am amazed the Kennett brothers book (Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides) only mentions it as another ride in the area and does not dedicate a full entry to it, this is an incredible single track, some amazing views, a lovely campsite by sparkling clear fresh water at one end of it, all in all a fantastic place.
Unfortunately for Jim he had come down with a virus and though he got through the 24 hour race he was not feeling too good so decided to give the afternoon ride a miss in favour of returning to Rotorua and collapsing into bed. The rest of us loved it, Jonno had never ridden the track before and really hooked in on some of the descents. Thanks to Gary for a fantastic day of riding and I am really looking forward to some of the treasures he says he will show us in Rotorua on the bike on Wednesday.
Sun, 05 Feb 2006
N-ZO N-Duro 24 Hour mtb race, Rotorua - 19:20
Heidi, Lisa, Mike and I had driven up from Wellington on Friday evening, Jim had flown in from Australia on Friday and we all hooked up at the race site setting up the camp on Saturday morning. Rather bizarrely for us (Jim, Mike and I) more used to the Mont and other large races in Australia the camping was almost empty 3 hours before the race and we had prime choice of spot. After putting up a few tents and prepping stuff Jim, Mike and I wandered into the Fat Dog cafe in town for breakfast (2 hours before the race start).
I personally was amazed at the small turn out for the race, I competed solo in the Moonride 12 hour last May here in Rotorua, with a 24 hour race tacked on to the same course at the same time there were around 2000 people there that weekend, admittedly most of them were competing in the 12 hour rather than the 24 hour race. Thus the race format and forest itself can attract higher numbers. Thus to rock up to the N-Duro and find only 300 or so competitors when I would expect around 1000 was a shock. Gary Sullivan from N-ZO suspects the event may be just a bit early in the year, too soon after Christmas, people return from holiday and do not have enough time to fit it into the calendar and organise teams and travel for the race.
Heidi and Lisa competed in a team last year at this event and when we rode some of the extra trails in the area that were not in the Moonride course back in May, trails such as "A-Trail" and "Be Rude Not To", Heidi said they were part of the lap in the N-Duro 24 Hour course. This made my mind up then and there, any 24 hour race that included such incredibly good single track has to be on my calendar to compete in. I suppose I should not be surprised the Moonride did not include some of the better tracks in the park. Speaking with Gary about this last year and again this week, he sets the course for the Moonride, however the event organiser does not let him include more technical or challenging parts in the Moonride, thinking he caters better to beginners and average punters by keeping the course simpler. Fortunately for all of us there are events such as the N-Duro that can include some of the most amazing single track anywhere in the lap.
Anyway the race started at midday, and unlike most Australian races it was the most laps you could do in 24 hours which meant you last lap to count was before 12pm Sunday, if you returned from a final lap at 12:01pm it would not count. We decided on the running order with me starting for the team on the first lap, followed by Heidi, Mike, Jim and then Lisa who wanted to do a double lap. Held up in traffic for a lot of the first lap, and including the run I got around in a fairly respectable 49 minutes. Heidi knocked off a good 46 minute lap and we were underway reasonably well. My next lap was around 44 minutes which I was happy with. Come night time and we had been pulling into first place, however the rain also started falling fairly heavily.
Due to the nature of some of the tracks, and possible damage to both tracks and riders in heavy rain, at midnight the race organisers decided to stop the race until 6am, due to how heavily the rain was falling this was probably a good thing to do. We all bedded down as best we could in the tents as it continued to rain. The organisers also modified the course slightly and removed A-Trail. I headed out for the 6am lap, which would end up being my final lap of the race, followed by Heidi and then Lisa on a double. Mike and Jim finished off the race for us at around 11:35am on Sunday, too late for any of us to fit another lap in before midday.
In the end we each had completed 4 laps, for a total of 20, we won first place in the mixed teams of 5 category (the race had Solos, Pairs, Fives, and Tens), the prize for which was a free entry next year. I wonder who will be keen to fly across for this race next year? It was fun to watch near the end of the race some of the really fast riders pulling out laps around 36 minutes and one rider who had done a 36:18 a few hours earlier heading out at 11:24:05 in the hopes of getting in before 12pm in order to secure over all first place. (he came in about 30 seconds too late and damn was he moving)
The race being small and the nature of presentations and the people there was great to compete in, far more laid back than many races back in Australia, I definitely recommend anyone who can that they should enter this race, if only for some of the single track in it, I really can not describe how good some of these tracks are, Maybe Mike or Jim will be better with the superlatives.
Thu, 02 Feb 2006
In Wellington - 10:06
I have photos but wont do much with them until I am back in Australia. Crash has been taking even more photos so I can link to his site when we get back also. Right now I have some of my less geeky friends wanting to stop the Internet thing and go do other stuff in Wellington so I had better stop for now.