Mud

And the league of Clevedon Wheelmen

Was it mud or was that a cow pat? It was neither, it was ‘the Dean’.

We were out west, Puhinui reserve to be exact, tracking down trails and backroads. Not training so much as escaping the consistent rain that was sheeting in from the east. The trek was a mix of gravel and grim. At my 5 o’clock he crashed through the knee high reed and pug like an 18 year old, taking the point at pace and showering me in a brown-green streak of something indescribable.

Onward, he whipped up the bridge between paddocks, lost his footing and ended up on his back in a shambles of man bits and machinery.

The Dean was done for the day. I smirked and sympathised. We moved on, feeling our age.

Introducing the wheelmen

Dean Ogilvie is the chief perpetrator of the League of Clevedon Wheelmen, a small collection of eccentric old fellas with big cycle touring dreams. This is the precursor blog of the pain to come. Yes there is another tour in the planning and ‘the Dean’ being the dean of the League of Wheelmen will be in attendance (acting his age).

Mama will be pleased.

Earthquake!

There’s been a big shake up in more ways than one. The ground moved in November and the damage at the top of the south was severe. It’s closed the coast and inland roads including the Molesworth muster trail.

This was my kick off route for the South Island leg, riding from Blenheim inland to Hanmer Springs. But rather than look for an alternate route I’m cutting the southern leg altogether.

This was my kick off route for the South Island leg, riding from Blenheim inland to Hanmer Springs. But rather than look for an alternate route I’m cutting the southern leg altogether.

Why?

There is an earthquake of another kind on the work front. I have a landslide of community development commitments early in the new year. So the long and short of it is I’ve cut the ride in half and will complete the north island as planned and pick up on the south at a later date (watch this space!)

It’s not ideal and pushes back on my big stretch goal of riding the country in six weeks, but three still qualifies as ‘madness’ in the eyes of most.

Pain in the arse

Trying to find comfort in a world of pain

The saddle is not doing it for me. After wiggling the saddle and my butt around I just couldn’t find any comfort in the brooks after an hour into a ride. I’ve thrown the towel in and purchased a leather saddle, a Selle-Anatomica T Series. I’ve used a Brooks leather on my old Kona so I know what I’m in for.

img_0460Result!

Instant relief. Jumped on rode over a 100km without the pain. It will stretch over time but at least I can comfortably do the distance.

The beginning of the beginning

Three months out

I made the call sometime back that I needed to beginning training in earnest three months out. That rolled around yesterday so this means time to make some changes. Here’s my to do list:

  1. First up, No smoking. I can’t do this crazy thing and smoke at the same time.
  2. Stretching. Something I’ve never really done, but now I’ve crossed that half century threshold I had better take my body seriously. So that means getting rid of a few old crinks and making sure I’m up for this. More on stretching later.
  3. Fluids. Again something I’ve never paid a lot of attention to… well not those non heady types of fluids anyway. So I’ve got to rehydrate now, daily, just not on the bike.
  4. Food. I know my calorie intake is going to be way higher on the road, but I’ve got to start thinking about diet now and getting the balance right. I have a few plan in that department. More on food later.
  5. Riding. I’ve got to get a ride in 6 days out of 7, mostly short one hour rides and one of those my tour average daily distance of 85 km.
  6. Hills. No cheating, the more I look at potential routes, the more I realise hills are endless, so best get angry with them now.
  7. Cross training. This means some form of light body weight-training and definitely swimming. I’ve got to work on a number of things: legs, core work, neck and shoulders (to reduce the load).  Basically everything! More on cross training later.

So todays the 11th of September and I’ve started.

I got a 90km mixed trail ride in yesterday including hill work, wind, rain and a good helping of mud. Today was an hour (more or less) and a good shop to make sure I’m starting to look after my fluids and food.

So far so good.

The ride – Surly ogre

All in the assembly

It started back in January on the way south to Bluff. I tracked down a black Surly ogre  frame from Darren at Bikeinc in Timaru. From there it was a process of researching options (and there are a lot of options), tracking down parts and the slow step by step assembly. This is my second touring bike build in the last three years.

Tough choices

Wheels
I went big on the wheels and had a set of 29’ers hand built by the team at Wheelworks. They are light, sturdy and sleek.

Bars
I’ve used touring ‘butterfly bars’ before on the last build, but this time I wanted something that provided a little more width and control for use off-road.  I trialled two bars; the Soma Clarence bar and the NC-17 Trekking bar.

In terms of comfort they were both superb, but the Soma profile allowed for a number of hand positions and allows me to stretch out to battle the wind.

Brakes
I thought hard about the brake specification. I was pretty tempted by a set of front and rear AVID BB7 Mechanical disc brakes. These appear pretty standard on off-road touring bikes, but in the end went with a set of Shimano SLX hydraulic.

Saddle
I’m a Brooks saddle fan having owned a B17 Imperial in the past. This time I wanted something more waterproof so chose the Cambium C17 Carved. It’s stiff and I’m not yet convinced I will last the distance on a big tour.

Time will tell if these were good choices and the only way to really find out is to get out there and ride.


The full and final specification

Continue reading “The ride – Surly ogre”