Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holiday Hills Hurt Horribly

My events of the season are now only about a month away - the Akatarawa Attack on the 31st of January, an 8 hour MTB rogaine, and the Kiwi Brevet, an 1100km randonee, starting on Saturday 6 February. Both will involve plenty of climbing, and both will test my endurance. Consequently, when Simon invited me up to Rangataua (near Ohakune) for a few days with the possibility of some reps on the Turoa skifield road, I was keen as!

Simon had done three reps in preparation for the Great Divide Race back in 2008, and our plan was to repeat this session. I'd admitted to my generous sponsor, Oli Brooke-White of Roadworks fame, that I was pretty keen to have a crack at four. I'm not at all sure why. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the number three. Perhaps I thought that with company, such a silly notion could be put into action. It wasn't to be...

I drove north from Wellington on the evening of Boxing Day. Sarah, Simon's wife had left Rangataua earlier in the afternoon, and was riding to Hunterville on some of the back roads and I was to meet her there. There was bugger all traffic on the roads, so I had time for a coffee and a browse at the 4 Square before meeting Sarah and loading her bike on the back of the car. It was good to have her company on the rest of the drive, and she was pleased for the sandwich and coke I had waiting for her.

The next morning Simon and I were ready to hit the road just after 8am. We cruised down Dreadnought Rd which runs parallel with the highway and connects Rangataua to Ohakune. Simon stashed a second bottle in the bushes near the ranger's station, and we rationalised our clothing for the climb. We started at a pace we'd hope to continue, and rode steadily along, sometimes side by side, sometimes in single file. Unlike our Mt Vic sessions, conversation was minimal - this was business, not pleasure.

The road kicks up nastily after a few kilometres before easing again. Something like a third of the 1000m climb comes in the first half distance-wise, with about 500m gained in the last few kilometres of the 16km road. There wasn't much traffic, and we enjoyed the bush - the tall trees disappeared someway up the climb, and further on the bush vanished too to leave tussock. At the top, I stopped the timer at 68.46 and with the cumulative ascent on exactly 1000m. We put jackets on and then bombed down the hill. On a steep straight section I rocketed away from Simon, using my mass and a good tuck to excellent effect. He got his own back and dropped me on a flatter section which he was able to ride on his aero bars.

After a quick loo stop at the bottom, we were into it again. As with the first climb, the hour passed reasonably quickly. The (rapid) passing of time is one thing I've really noticed has changed for me with all this riding - particularly useful on long drives or plane trips...!

Simon had wagered on a climb of 69:30, while I'd gone with 68:30. With the benefit of the time on my stem and not his, I did a go-slow through the top carpark, and miraculously pressed the lap button at exactly 68:30. We were a few dozen metres short of the top though, and when we finally reached that, the next lap read 17 seconds - the second climb had been a whopping two seconds longer than the first! Photography is always an excellent recovery tactic, and so amongst muesli bars and water from the bottle, I managed to snatch this wee beauty!

I was a bit more proactive with my tuck, and held it longer on the second descent and managed a high-speed of 81.95km/h. Even these were taking us a good 20 minutes, hammering home how long this climb really is. The third started off very well, and we ticked along nicely for the first half. Once the road really kicked up though, my legs started to complain. By the end of the second ascent, we climbed the equivalent of 11 times up Mt Vic, and we'd be at a little over 16 by this final summit. So, it was no surprise really. It was hard to stay out of the small chainring on the MTBs, but this unspoken restriction was adhered to! By the really steep stuff, I was uttering obscenities and was zig-zagging all over the road. At one point, Simon slipped on some gravel, and I heard him unclip behind me as his bike stalled. At the top, I felt really really sick, and was relieved to have stopped. My lungs were fine, but my legs had really struggled for power in those last few kilometres. Our final time was 72:28, 3:40 slower than the second.

It's hard to spot exactly where that time was lost, but I bet it was in the last bit! We rolled back down the hill, and met Sarah, Miro and Shona who were just at the end of their picnic. We gladly accepted their offer of a lift home (note the steady descent from Rangataua at the start of the altitude graph). We had a quiet afternoon, though were both up for a walk the next day.

The ride was very hard, although up until 12km up the third ascent it had been very manageable. The last bit made a huge difference to my overall impression of it though. A fourth ascent didn't even cross my mind! In total, the ride was just over 102km, with total ascent of just over 3000m. A tough ride in anyone's language.

For all the gory details, and animations, check out

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Makara Peak Rally, 2009 edition

The 2009 Makara Peak Rally was held on its traditional date - the first Sunday of December.  It is the Makara Peak Supporters' major annual fundraiser, with significant proceeds coming from entries, donations, memberships, and Zac's BBQ.  This year was the 9th, with Simon Kennett organising the first back in 2001.  As per his original format, the morning featured the Creek to Peak Relay and the afternoon the Tour de Peak.

Today's C2P relay is run on a slightly different course since much of the current track was not built back in 2001.  Only a little of Sally Alley was in place, and while Missing Link was there, Aratihi was not, and nor were Ridgeline Extension, or Big Tom's Wheelie.  Having been the organiser in 2003-6 and a co-organiser in 2007-8, it was great to have Pete Mora take the reins for this year's event, and I was free to race without constraint.  With a play on the vorb thread "Simon and Sifter Ride Around the Block", Simon and I paired up as the relay team "Simon and Sifter Ride to the Top and Back".  I was allocated the first lap, due to my "fast start".   Within less than 10 minutes of the start, I was in last place...

Pete had us line up in the carpark, and we began with a road lap.  Among great names like Jonty Ritchie, Clive Bennett, Al Crossling, Jordan Blake, Alex Revell, and the star-studded Roadworks Cycle Repairs riders Tim Wilding, Alex Tashkoff and Oli Brooke-White himself, I was going to have my work cut out for me.  I was on my Kiwi Brevet race bike sporting a brand new Stan's Raven rear tyre, not yet in tubeless format.  The start was brisk, and I found myself dangling off the back of the lead bunch.  Rather than bury myself, I gambled on congestion on Koru slowing them down, and made my way down South Karori Road about 20m back, neither cool nor calm, but collected.

I almost came a cropper on the new Koru bridge, which last year's Rally proceeds and a 75% contribution from the fantastic Wellington City Council had made possible, but managed stay rubber side down.  No more than 200m up Koru, I had Jordan's wheel in sight, but there was a detectable shimmy in my rear.  Another 100m up the track, I dismounted, cursing my luck, and commenced repairs...  By the time I got going again, I'd been passed by the entire field, or at least those that I'd managed to stay ahead of.   I managed to re-pass all but three of these riders, on what was a pretty unmemorable lap of the park.  Simon was good humoured enough when I finally tagged off to him back at the carpark.  

In the afternoon, things were better, but not much.  Simon had paired up with ace Jonty Ritchie leaving me to fend for myself.  Seeing as I don't often ride in Makara Peak, I opted for the complete tiki-tour, and a hard day out.  Regretably, I have in my possession a fantastic route for this event, but not the skills nor engine to match.  I was not the only one who headed up Lazy Fern to start, followed by the Snakecharmer up to the summit.  Mike Thompson on his single-speed was a sight to behold muscling up the steeper sections while I enjoyed the luxury of several slightly easier ratios.  I had a clumsy ride of T3, and was soon walking my bike down much of Trickle Falls.  I was riding relatively well on Vertigo until I burped my front tyre on a series of steps just before the track dives into the bush.  Luckily the tyre had leapt back onto the bead, so I was able to put more air into it and get going again.  Just above the stream crossing, I grabbed a bit too much front brake on a corner, and peeled the under-inflated tyre off the rim, with no chance of recovering it.  Careful not to get jizz all over my gloves (my Karapoti ones are still sticky), I popped a tube in and got going again.  

The rest of the ride was actually very nice, as I sampled the park's fantastic single-track with very little disruption.   Per attempt, I've crashed more on Leaping Lizard than any other track in the park, and this day was no exception.  Just after the big berm at the end of the ridge, my tyre succumbed to a rut hiding in the long grass, and over I went.  Luckily I didn't impale myself on anything, and was soon "hurtling" down hill again.  After a quick gidday to previous Tour winner Josh lazing in the sun with a book and a first aid kit, I was enjoying the climb up Possum Track.  I was in much better shape than this year, and didn't suffer nearly as much on the long climb through Nikau and Aratihi to the summit.  Ridgeline was reasonably uneventful despite some lousy route choice in places.  I managed to finish in just under 3 hours, about 7 minutes down on the previous year (only the direction of Rimu were different).

The Makara Peak Rally's a great way for the supporters to bolster the coffers, and also to promote their hard work in the park.  Unfortunately the event has never really flourished, despite significant attempts to innovate, and excellent support from the local bike industry. With the recession making life hard in 2009, and the sheer effort needed to organise sponsors, this year's edition was run on a shoestring.  Hopefully someone will take up the reins in the future, and we'll again have an orgy of spot prizes in the South Karori Sun.  With Wellington and the park being mostly raced-out by early December, there's talk of moving the event.  We might well see the 10th as a pre-Karapoti event in mid February 2011, and one which uses "the track whose working title was North Face" for the first time.

Two races, two punctures, and two tired legs.  Cheers Makara Peak Supporters for all your hard work in the park.  And thanks for being something of a leader of track network development in Wellington.  Thanks to your great relationship with WCC, and your responsible approach to track building, there's new riding all over this fine city...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waiotauru River trip

One of the benefits of preparing for an event like the Kiwi Brevet is that it forces you to get very fit. In turn, this forces you to come up with interesting trips to make the huge number of hours on the bike more enjoyable. I'm lucky enough to have Simon Kennett as my training partner, and conspirator. In the last few years we've done some great rides. This trip, a loop from Reikorangi, just behind Waikanae, would take us along the Waiotauru River in the Southern Tararuas through to Otaki Forks, and then back to the car. Rarely for us, we had company on Sunday. While Jonty Ritchie wasn't well enough to join us, Tim Wilding, with the 2009 Singlespeed National Champion's title among his palmarès, was very keen.

For various reasons, we didn't leave Wellington until after 11am, and so by the time we got suited up and were ready to roll, it was after midday. The last time Simon had done this trip, with David Drake about 12 years ago, they'd taken eight hours "riding at a fair clip". It was probably with this in mind that Simon led the charge up Akatarawa Rd "at a fair clip". Tim of course was completely comfortable, while I felt like I was in a race...

We knocked out the road climb in about half an hour. The weather conditions were perfect for climbing really, and while it had been stinking hot in Karori when I'd left home, here it was overcast, and rain seemed highly likely. At the Akatarawa Saddle we had a brief stop, and then headed north up a rather gnarly looking 4WD track. The first 20m were rough as guts - a bog, followed by a very steep couple of steps in worn clay - a condition which had always seemed at odds with the sign posted reading "no 2WD access". I was pleasantly surprised when the track improved dramatically, and we were treated to a very nice climb to just over 800m. There were some very dramatic views down into valleys, and a very enjoyable piece of riding.

The climb was broken up by some fast descents, and for the meantime I was insisting on carrying my bike through bogs. I hate chain suck with a passion, and didn't want to risk clogging up the drivetrain with dirty water at this early stage. We stopped breifly at an intersection, with tracks to Kapakapanui in the north and Renata Hut in the east. The climb since Akatarawa saddle had taken just over an hour, but didn't feel like it! It seems long rides have made me fairly immune to the passing of time...

After a wee bite to eat, we were then treated to the descent down into the Waiotauru. Simon and Tim lead the charge, while I blundered about behind. There were a couple of stream crossings to negotiate, and a very cool culvert passing under the road with a hole in it which gave sight of the water rushing through. There were no incidents, and after quickly checking out Waiotauru Hut...

... we were off down the river. The track had been in great condition to this point, though it was unclear what this section would be like. We had a few kilometres to travel down to the swingbridge, and the last time Simon had done this it was incredibly overgrown and slow-going. We were lucky, and aside from a washout which forced us down into the river bed for a few hundred metres, the going was good.

We had a brief stop for some food before the steep single-track descent to the bridge. I smacked my head very hard on a low branch - while I'd avoided a tree overhanging the track, my focus was on the off camber roots my front wheel was on and didn't see the limb lurking behind. The sound of my neck compressing was a little sickening, but it was immediately apparent that all was well, and within a few seconds I was on the move again.

Crossing a swing bridge is a tricky business at the best of times. With a bike it is even harder...

... and I managed to catch Tim as he fought to maintain his balance.

The next few kilometres downstream of the bridge were barely ridable. In fact, I estimate that the longest section I spent on my bike was about 150m, and many of the shorter sections Tim or Simon rode, I chose to walk. There are some benefits to being tail end charlie - you get more information about what's ahead than the front runners...

Nearing Otaki Forks there were a couple of tricky bits, where the track negotiated its way around slips or other obstacles. We stopped for a few minutes where the track clearly split, and Tim disappeared for a bit of alone time. I'd seen photos of the old machinery at "Otaki Forks", so when we broke out of the bush to see them, I mentally said goodbye to the hike-a-bike section.

After hamming it up with a bit of rodeo riding, we were back on the bikes. About an hour later we were at Otaki Forks proper. We'd gone straight back into the bush, and after a few minutes come across a huge slip. Tim and I scrambled down it to the river bed, while Simon back-tracked and followed the temporary path someone had cut. At the far end of the slip it was clear that the only options were to somehow cross the slip higher up, swim with the bikes, or cross the river and recross it downstream. Tim explored the first option, and eventually I passed his bike up to him. Simon was concerned about the amount of rubble Tim had dislodged, and the risk of plummeting to his death, so chose to cross the river. My preference was to climb, but factoring the bike in, I decided to cross with Simon. Eventually, we were back on the track with Tim, and while I hadn't kept my "plums" dry as Simon had, I'd managed to keep my shirt and bike out of the river.

It was a pleasure to get onto the 4WD track eading away from Otaki Forks. Despite the headwind, I cranked it up for a bit with the boys tucked in behind. Eventually I had to yield and we took turns for a while. We took a couple of left corners before heading back in towards the hills. Some glorious riding later, we were back on the road, with only a few kilometers to go. There was no chance we'd be caught in the dark by this stage, and even when Tim called out that he had a puncture, there was no need to fuss. After repairing what was the only mechanical problem of the ride, we knocked out the last couple of k's and arrived at the car at the end of a nice wee descent.

The entire loop had taken us just over 7 hours, with probably close to 80-90 minutes of stops, and about the same of walking. Nonetheless, we'd had some great riding through some stunning native bush. As always, it was good to get out!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ross's Rouleurs Roll Round Taupo

Back in early September, I posted my training plan through to the Kiwi Brevet (Feb 5+, 2010). This had been devised mainly by my training partner, mentor, coach and friend, Simon Kennett, with various goals in mind. Fitness and all the associated goodies should be well looked after, but the list also accommodated a whole bunch of exciting rides and races which would promise to keep us well entertained.

My last update on vorb took us through to the end of October, culminating in me knocking off a long-term goal - circumnavigating the Tararua Ranges in 1 day.

12/9 MTBO (check, disastrous!))
19/9 120km (check)
26/9 150km (check)
3/10 (WVCC Featherston ride, riding over on Friday evening, riding somewhere nice on Saturday, 80km funride on Sunday, then back over the hill and train from Upper Hutt - check).
10/10 (B grade race Eastbourne - Wainui? - hailed out)
17/10 80km (midnight century earlier in the week, probably Tuesday night after work, 160km finishing around 12) (replaced by Mt Climie ride, no midnight century)
24/10 350km ('s International Day of Action - check!!!!)

Since then, here's what's happened:

31/10 0km (still sleeping - not even ow! Cruisy ride in the Hutt Valley)
7/11 rest
14/11 200km+ (New Plymouth to Ohakune via the Forgotten Highway. Friday evening to Stratford, Saturday as far as we can cope with before calling the Waaambulance... Check!)
21/11 Speedwork? (not quite - 8 ascents of Mt Vic...)
28/11 200km (Taupo with the family. 40km from house at Motuoapa to Taupo, first leg at race pace, 120km with Dad, Sis and Bro back to Taupo). check!
5/12 Makara Peak Rally - check!
12/12 MTBO - check!

Which brings us to the future:

19/12 Mangaone Walkway?
26/12 ?
2/1 ?
9/1 ?
16/1 WVCC 2 Day Tour?
23/1 ?
30/1 Akatarawa Attack (8 hour MTBO)
6/2 Kiwi Brevet

Incredibly, things have gone very much to plan, despite both Simon and I having reasonably hectic and unpredictable lives. We've supplemented the weekend activities with a hill-climb session, and the odd ride around the bays, as well as some secret training, possibly speed burger and ice-cream consumption...

Taupo was an interesting one, which came at me out of the blue this time last year. I'd recently participated for the first time and had had a real blast. I was chilling at my folks' place when Dad said "I think we should do that as a team next year". It wasn't absolutely clear to me what he meant - although I own enough bikes to bring the family's average to more than one per person, my brother Dave is the only one who I could confidently say had ridden a bike this decade. We'd done a fantastic cycle tour early in 2008 but apart from that, I was the only one who'd touched a bike since. It soon became clear that Dad had in mind a team consisting him, my (non-cycling) sister Millie, Dave, and myself. Months later, it was still on the cards, despite no one (except me) touching a bike, so I let my fingers do the walking, and pretty soon Ross's Rouleurs were entered in the relay. Kaitlyn would be there for support in the last 5km as a Heart Rider.

As the big date dawned nearer, Dad got stuck into indoor training - on his exercycle in front of the TV. He'd been building up to an hour's pedalling, at which point I asked him how far he was "travelling". My jaw dropped when he said only 10km, and I made it a priority to get over there to observe. Needless to say, it was lucky he didn't fire his kneecaps across the room. I wound the resistance back to 2 (from about 7 or 8 out of 10) and told him to leave it there!

Various bike-related dramas were overcome in November, and I even got out for a ride or two with Millie. Dave was mostly too busy, but borrowed my bike the week before, and did some sprint training on top of his January 2008 volume base. I failed miserably on the costume front - originally Dad had suggested the team be riding in Roadworks colours, but creative differences put it all in the too hard basket (sitting inside the very expensive basket) and I procrastinated until a solution was no longer possible. Nonetheless, two of us waved the flag...

We made our way up to Taupo in two cars. Mum, Dad, Kaitlyn and I were accompanied by Simon, who'd be captaining the Kennett Brothers' triple tandem. With 5 bikes on the back, and 5 bods in the car, a rather long shuttle trip for a bike ride was at least enjoyed by many! We drove through to Taupo, registered, said goodbye to Simon, and bought provisions for dinner and the morning's breakfast, then headed back South to our accommodation in Motuoapa - at the leg 4 relay transition.

The logistics had been a bit of a challenge - with so many bikes, riders, and hangers-on, I'd almost boiled dry trying to work it all out. In the end it looked something like this:

  • John: ride to Taupo, do first leg for Ross's Rouleurs, continue around back to Taupo in support of others
  • Ross: drive (early) to Taupo, catch bus to leg 2 transition, ride leg 2, catch bus back to Taupo
  • Dave: drive (early) to Taupo, catch bus to leg 3 transition, ride leg 3, and either bus back to Taupo, or ride
  • Millie: sleep in, wake up, cross road, ride leg 4 to Taupo
  • Kaitlyn: drive (later) to Taupo, ride 5km
  • Carly: (as per Millie)
  • Suze: driver (later)
  • Brigette: soigneur (later)
Dad and Dave's bikes had been left at Taupo the night before. Carly had entered for the Solo, so as to legitimately take part, but was keen just to do the last leg. Unfortunately, this landed Dad and Dave with a bit of waiting around, but apart from that it didn't rely too heavily on event transport or Mum hurtling around ferrying people.

I woke sometime before 6, ate, kitted up, and headed off towards Taupo. I hadn't had a long sleep, but did sleep well, after spending much of the evening prepping various bikes, helmets and jerseys for the event, and making sure people would have clothes waiting for them when they finished, and that my food would be replenished with each new rider. I cruised along enjoying the early morning fresh air. Around Hatepe Hill I caught up with a few Enduro riders. But for Dad's suggestion, there was no doubt in my mind I would have been competing with them, against the lake and the clock. I took advantage of the portaloos at the top of the hill, confusing Dad and Dave who'd passed me in the car, and doubled back to see if I wanted a ride. Far from vanishing into thin air, when I emerged from the loo, they looked fairly relieved (to go with my literal relief).

When I arrived in Taupo, the Solo riders were setting off. I bumped into at least one vorber (shmoodiver), and Richard Arnold, a colleague from work. I decided to dump my knee warmers, and popped these into my drop bag before getting into the fastest relay start group, and getting ready to race.

I made sure I wasn't too far back in the start wave, and within 100m or so, was chasing the leaders pretty hard. I spent the next while hammering along in the middle of the road, passing an incredible number of solo riders with my dozen or so "mates". I'd told a few confidants that I wanted to send Dad off at the front of the field, and was keen to work hard to see that happen. Consequently, I worked hard with the small bunch, and pushed the pace on the hills. Eventually, we came to the end of leg one, and I positioned myself to turn off into the paddock to meet Dad. All the others were doing 80km, and I saw one in Taupo, who seemed a little annoyed at me for working them so hard! He got no apology...

I was incredibly proud of Dad. We started too fast, and had to slow down a bit so he could catch his breath. The hills came time and time and time again, and he kept his short little legs ticking over. When his seat clamp loosened, I cursed my lack of preparedness, but managed to borrow an allen key to sort it out, while he kept his short little legs ticking over until I was ready. I'd been taking off my jacket on a climb (was it raining, or not, or was it?) when I spotted an official photographer up the road. I had to sprint after Dad, but it was worth it!

After a couple of hours grovelling, during which we spotted Oli blasting past on the outside, we made it to the transition. Dave was there to meet us, and after a bit of faffing around, we had Dad wrapped up, eating, and safe and sound, and we were set to get out there. After pulling out the great Stickmen quote - "we're not here to fuck spiders", I did Dave's bidding, put my head down, and rode, like the good domestique that I am.

We passed this hot chick on a hot Eddy Merckx on Kuratau Hill, and after asking after her health, we continued our work. Sporadically, I'd look back to see how Dave was getting on. Invariably, he'd be red in the face, hunched over the handlebars with sweat dripping off his chin, and invariably he'd motion me to get back to what I was doing.

I estimate we passed over 500 riders as we blasted along, and it was a pleasure to be out there! I inadvertently dropped him a couple of times on the flat around Turangi, but most of my time he was stuck to my rear wheel like the proverbial to fur (and a couple of others to his rear wheel)!

When we arrived at Motuoapa, it crossed my mind that Millie and Carly were still in bed. They weren't but nor had they received the heads-up phone call from Dad that had been pre-arranged. No matter... Dave and I rode through the transition, and met them on the highway across from the house. They set off towards Taupo, while I scooted back around the block to leave their drop-bag which had been left out of the second car, but would get to Taupo via the organisers.

This leg was a long one - about an hour longer than when I'd done it alone in the morning, but it was great to see Millie out on a bike, pushing herself in a way which she'd probably never imagined! Carly was ticking along nicely, and benefitting from a much more structured build up, and a bit of cycling in her past. By the time we got to the top of Hatepe, my legs were starting to feel pretty shot, particularly as I'd tried to ride alongside Millie up the hill, and give her a helping nudge, To do so had required incredibly low cadence, and after 180km, my knees weren't so keen.

I raced Dave down the hill, and sadly missed the sights and sounds of Millie and Carly hooning and hooting! Near the airport rise, I was over it, and when Dave challenged me to another race, I decided I'd show him who's boss! After cresting the hill, I realised I was moving about as fast as the line of cars, and rode the next few kilometres to where Kaitlyn was waiting in their draft.

Dave, Millie and Carly arrived eventually, and no sooner had we thought departure was imminent then Millie jabbed on the front brake, and was down on the ground. First aid was administered, and Kaitlyn finally got the ride that she'd been waiting for. I was incredibly proud of her, and it was lovely to see her all red in the cheeks after a hard effort. Millie was overcome with energy and soloed away to the finish...

... while the rest of us stayed in a bunch and all recorded the same time!

We'd done it, and everyone had every right to be proud of their achievement. Kaitlyn ended up 6th fastest girl out of about 76 starters, and the rest of us had had a good honest ride. Dave's got an incredible amount of raw power, and as I think I said back in January 08, I'd hate to think what he'd be capable of trained. Carly had an awesome ride, and absolutely nailed the Hatepe climb and descent, despite being very anxious about them. Millie did too, and probably challenged her limits more than any of us. And as for Dad, he was a machine on the hardest leg of all! I had every confidence in him, and he came up trumps. I don't know what on earth put the idea in his mind, but it was inspired.

And, if he ever comes up with such a crazy idea again, he'll be in bloody trouble...

Turning over a new leaf

For a few years now, I've been writing about riding on VORB, a popular New Zealand-based forum for cyclists of all flavours. It's had its ups and downs, as have I, and I'm now ready for a change of scenery... The original thread is at, and while I'll aim to publish all new stuff here, I'll probably cross-post over there too, at least in the meantime. As well, I'm going to try to drag over some of my highlights here, perhaps after some editing. In any case, I'm hoping the might of google will help me put "virtual pen to electronic paper"* more often, and provide friends, family, and unwitting interlopers with relative shelter from the inanity of vorb!

*Blatantly stolen from