This is my friend Roei. I met him during my South Island ride. He’s near the end of a 64,000km round-the-world adventure.

He’s seen some amazing things and met some very interesting people along the way, to be expected when travelling through six continents and 39 countries on a bicycle.

You can follow his journey on his blog and read my story in The Aucklander here.

Roei is riding the length of New Zealand with his friend Etamar. They arrived in Auckland last week and stayed a couple of nights at mine before making their way up to Cape Reinga.

To talk to them about their home – Israel – is to have an eye-opening insight into how complex Middle Eastern tensions are. These two young men show a wisdom and understanding (although they say they’re no experts on the politics) beyond their age. Speaking to them made me realise how lucky we are to live in the relative peace of New Zealand. I think this is easy to take for granted.

Roei and Etamar seem resigned (perhaps realistic is a better word?) but certainly not cynical that there will be a World War III in their lifetimes and that their country will be involved. Although quite possible, the idea still scares me. Roei recalled an interesting saying that I’ve never heard before:

“We don’t know what weapons will be used in World War III, but we do know World War IV will be fought with sticks.”

Tour de South Island

March 4, 2011

It’s been a week now since I arrived home from my tour of the central north of the South Island.

The trip was fantastic, and the hardest thing I have ever done. I covered 450km in 6 days of riding on my trusty Team Miyata with little more than a backpack. Part challenge, part adventure, part holiday - this trip has taught me a lot about myself in just 12 days.

I met some wonderful people in the places I visited, particularly in and around the several backpackers I stayed at. Without fail each person I met would tell me I was crazy after they realised that I was riding  a track bike and that this meant one gear, no freewheel and no brakes.

Many doubted my ability to complete my trip, some going as far as to say jovially that I was going to kill myself. Thrown into their mix of advice and commentary was also a hearty amount of “good on ya, bro!” sentiment.

Beyond their initial disbelief, many seemed genuinely amazed that someone would do what I was doing, or that anybody would actually come up with such an idea to start with. Hearing all these different things, coupled with the actuality of the challenge I faced, meant I went through the gamut of emotions, from fear, terror and anxiety, to triumph, happiness and fulfillment. All this in little under two weeks.

But on to the riding itself, it was bloody hard, my entire body felt the pains of riding on average 75km each day with a 12kg pack. Some hills were impossibly steep to climb, or descend for that matter. This meant I found myself walking many stretches at a time. This was the case through the steepest sections of Arthur’s Pass and Lewis Pass which meant solid hours of walking to reach ridable hills.

But the pain and sweat was worth it when I reached my planned destinations each day. A strong sense of achievement mixed with a healthy dose of sheer exhaustion. I live in a  beautiful country which feels very untouched when you get out of the main centres, if you can ignore the fact you’re travelling along a winding man-made snake that is our state highways.

Once at altitude I drank water from streams and waterfalls flowing alongside the road. The best water I’ve ever tasted; crisp and refreshingly cool.

Being out in it with nothing but your own will and muscles to carry you along to your destination is an awesome feeling. It’s why I love bicycles and track bikes in particular. It’s just you and the bike in its purest form. There’s simply no better way to see the world in my mind. I’ve lived in Auckland for 10 years now and it’s taken that long to visit the South Island. I like what I see and I’d love to go back and see more of it in the near future.

There’s no point in telling people where they should and shouldn’t go because everyone’s tastes are different, but Arthur’s Pass and the route through to Greymouth and the West Coast narrowly comes in as my favourite area on this trip. I have hundreds of photos to go through. I’ll be posting some up soon which will describe what I saw better than any of my words can.

For the observant wondering how this route doesn’t add up to more than 450km, you’re spot on. The total round trip was 600km but for two stretches I relied on diesel power to get me where I needed to go. I caught the TranzAlpine from Springfield to Arthur’s Pass and a bus from Reefton to Maruia Junction. This meant I had the better part of the whole day to spend in the surroundings of Arthur’s Pass and Maruia. All other legs relied on my own two legs, and a dose of craziness, as they say.

I’ve created a new page where I’ll be keeping a log of all my training rides in preparation for some road races come summer.

You can find it next to the ‘About’ page up top.

In other news, my shiny, chrome high-flange Phil Wood hubs are on their way from the States. In the past I’ve not been a fan of mirror finishes but I admit they’re growing on me, quickly. I bit of well-placed chrome is unbeatable. I’m planning on lacing these hubs to a set of bright silver Deep Vs with silver double butted spokes. They’ll probably live on the Miyata, but will no doubt see some action on the Coltello. Watch this space.

Tall gearing trial

August 8, 2010

I took the Miyata for a 33km training ride this afternoon. Ignoring the brief shower and the gusts – which always seemed to be a damn headwind – the ride went well. My legs feel better for it but the 50/13 ratio’s not for me, thank you very much. Theoretically, this gearing should see me doing 50kph on the flat easy, however, in reality this isn’t quite the case. I usually run the ‘perfect’  48/17 but have found myself spinning out with more left in the tank lately. Admittedly, the 50/13 is a massive jump up, but it was an interesting trial that cost me nothing as the wheelset with the 13t cog was the set that came with the bike.

I’ve done a few calculations and I’m going to give 52/17 a go. This will give me a rollout of 6.4m, according to Sheldon Brown’s useful calculator.

So how does this compare? Well with 48/17 I’m looking at a rollout of 5.9m, whereas today’s 50/13 had me riding with a whopping 8.1m rollout!

I made it through my Tamaki Drive/St Heliers loop but steep Roberta Ave killed me. I was also disappointed to see that my I’ve replaced one problem with another, both leaving me feeling like I could go faster. With 50/13 I found that although my legs could turn faster, I don’t have the power to push the pedals as fast as I’d like. I averaged 26.6kph on today’s ride – pulled down plenty by the hills. There is no point being fast on the flat if it just means I get killed on the climbs.  So everything’s pointed to the 52/17 ratio, so I’ve ordered a 52t chainring from Fyxomatosis. It’ll be sent off tomorrow so I’ll hopefully have my hands on it before next weekend. They’re supposedly awesome. I’ll do a write-up once it arrives to see if they’re worthy of their cred.

The funny thing is before the ride I spoke to a fellow fixed rider who usually cruises on 51/14, dunno how he can do it but he reckons it’s great.

Team Miyata Track

June 26, 2010

My new toy arrived from Christchurch yesterday. A very rare – the only one imported new into New Zealand – pro-model Team Miyata track bike.

I won it for a good price, although it was ramped up a bit during the auction with another keen bloke in the bidding to the end.

I’ve taken it for a spin and it rides amazingly, and that’s with the stale tyres, too-long stem and rock-hard seat!

This frame is exactly what I’ve wanted for while – a proper NJS-style steel steed with aggressive track geometry, and not drilled for brakes. I love the lugwork and the contrasting yellow lug cutouts lugs and stamped rear stays.  The colour scheme is great, and far too good to even consider repainting it.

So a little about Miyata. From what I’ve read Miyata were special in that they made their own tubing, they were also the first to use triple-butted tubing, although my Team Miyata uses double-butted tubes. Sheldon Brown has high praise for Miyata, although he’s referring to their top-shelf touring model during the 80s. Miyata was founded by a  Japanese gunsmith – Eisuke Miyata – and produced the first conventional Japanese bicycle in 1892. There’s a bit of history about Miyata here and catalogues to be found here.

The good/interesting bits that came with bike include:

  • Cinelli stem and handlebars – the stem is too long for me so will be replaced with a shorter Nitto stem
  • Suntour Superbe Pro crank on the right, and a Dura-Ace arm on the left
  • 50t French chainring and 14t Dura-Ace cog
  • Campagnolo bottom bracket and headset, both feel silky smooth
  • Shiny 36-hole high-flange Suzue hubs

The rims are nothing-fancy Alex, the seat is a rock-hard throwaway, and the seatpost, a plain Ritchey.

The pics show MKS pedals and Brooks straps, these were robbed from the Claud Butler build. The photos were taken in the Auckland Domain, though I’m not super happy with how they turned out. The light was crap but never mind, there’ll be more pics no doubt once I get what I want sorted on the bike.

Taken with a 450D and Canon’s f1.4 50mm USM.

Here’s the frame’s history – from the seller – which is worth a read, too.

It’s a particularly special bike David and has a very fine pedigree indeed. Here’s a brief history.

1. It’s the only one of its type brought new into NZ – ever.

2. It was my first brand new bike and was originally a gift to me from Miyata Inc. Japan after my Dad secured the agency for the distribution of the brand in NZ following a visit to them in Japan in late 1989. At the time he was the CEO for CMC (Cycle Manufacturing Co) who made Tarini bikes & Pantha BMXs.

3. The first time I raced it I crashed and scored the minor dings in the top tube as mementos. I was severley annoyed about it but they proved to be a constant reminder to be careful.

4. I raced it at the Nat Track Champs in Auckland that year and took it to the Junior World Champs in the UK as a backup just in case it was needed.

5. My Dad also raced it and won a number of National medals in the Veterans’ category.

6. I last raced it in 1994 but it went on to be raced by a number of really good riders who scored national medals at Under-17 and 19 level, helping 3 of them get selected to race at the Junior Worlds.

7. It most famously went to Italy where it was ridden on the track in the Junior World Championships Points Race by Auckland’s Rawea Greenwood (1993 or 1994?) who won bronze in the pursuit (on my old pursuit bike).

8. It is very well travelled in NZ and has been ridden on most of the velodromes including Levin, Palmerston North, the old and new tracks in Wanganui, Taupo, Manukau & New Lynn in Auckland, Trafalger Park in Nelson, Denton and English Parks in Christchurch, Dunedin & Mosgiel, along with the old outdoor and new indoor tracks at Invercargill.

So there you go. It’s been in our family for 20 years but now the next chapter in its amazing life is up to you.

Enjoy!

Cheers, Brendon

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