belmont trig Jeff's Bike karate monkey Wellington Snow

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Snow business

Who would have thought, my first ever experience of riding on snow would happen in my own back yard!
After the dumps we got at our house I figured there might be heaps more up the hill, so headed off up to the top of Belmont Trig before work. It was amazing, no wind and about 6 to 8inches deep where there was a northerly aspect. Hard work riding up it, but a blast coming down!

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Cyclo cross Jeff's Bike karate monkey pugsly Upper Hutt

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Where are the roadies?

Here are a couple of nice shots from Craig Madsen from The Bike Hutt’s latest Cyclo Cross in Upper Hutt.
He must have had some old black and white film in the back of the fridge ; )

Craig’s Pugsly was a popular ride at the race. Incredible to think that Surly are about to launch one with even fatter tires called the “Moonlander“.

About 1.3 seconds after this I slipped and fell flat onto my knees in front of the next barrier ! The guys that were bunny-hopping these were taking heaps of time out of those of us that werent. There are some great photos of guys on CX bikes getting big air in the Bike Hutt facebook, in particular Ben Knight.

It was a full-on course with lots of tight corners and quite a few barriers to deal with. The hardest one for me so far. What was really cool was seeing the little kids doing their race. This is the perfect environment for the kids to race in as its not easy to find flat places for kids in the Wellington area.

I am a bit surprised to be going as well as I am at these events as my bike training at the moment is pretty much 1 ride a week ( 2.3 hrs a week average over the last 3 months) as I get ready for the Butterfly Creek Midnight Madness Night Run which is on this weekend in the Hills above Eastbourne.

Its a 15 km two-man teams event, (480 metres of climbing) but unfortunatley myself and Cleetus both got broken-arses last week, him with his back going out, and me with my first time experience of  ITB (illiotibial band syndrome). I probably got it by trying to run downhill too fast just trying to keep Cleetus in sight. Hopefully with a serious taper we can enjoy ourselves for a few hours on saturday night.

More photos here from the Bike Hutt’s Facebook page. Ken Feist had a good race and on his Blog asks the question we are all thinking. Where are the Wellington Roadies? As I was waiting for Cleetus at the bottom of the Hill (on the ride out) both the Welly bunch-ride and the Meoow GP ride came through. I guess we missed our chance to infiltrate and spread the good word….

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Cyclo cross drop bar Jeff's Bike karate monkey Surly

Jeff’s Bike – Drop it like its hot !

The Karate Monkey is getting close to being a final build with the addition of some MTB wheels – brand new, complete with new Racing Ralphs for $285 off tardme!

Some Avid BB7s disc brakes (mtb version) complete the package. All of this has bumped the weight up by about 3 pounds to about 27.5 pounds over the v-braked road-wheeled iteration I was using at the CX’s. The CX tires will be back on for this weekend hopefully.

It got a good hammering at Wainui Trail Park last weekend. The drop bars were great, but the rear brake was almost unusable they were skidding so much. I know that the Racing Ralphs roll incredibley well on the road, so a bit of the skidding could be caused by them, but I think I basically had the Avid BB7’s set up too well. I backed off the inside pad a few turns when I got home. Hopefully it will make them less vicious as the outside pad will have to drag the disc over to the inside which should knock back the efficiency a bit.

I am really liking the Woodchipper drop-bars. I cut 2 inches off each side last week so now I can at least get them into the shed without snagging bottles of turps and paint brushes all over the show.

The position of your hands when riding these off-road is such that its like hanging onto a big set of bar-ends. You can get massive amounts of power through them, which is handy, because with bar-end shifters, I am not going to be changing gears as often as I would if I had an STI road shifter on the front right.

There are several reasons for this choice of shifters. You need a different set of BB7s for road pull levers (mine are special ones that pull the normal MTB amount) and I am using them in friction mode as I would be surprised if STI would work with my circuitous cable routing : )

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Jeff's Bike

Jeff’s Bike – Why you should take Global Warming seriously

Beer – it’s a kiwi favourate – but according to NIWA global warming might just be about to taint your pint.

Another beer related item. DB has managed to gain ownership of the trademark ‘Radler’ . Imagine if Ford were the only people allowed to call there cars “CARS”. The rest of would be driving “Motorised buggies”.

I like the suggestion of Radler brewers putting an ‘@’ in the name to give the finger to DB.

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Jeff's Bike

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Trees are our friends

Last saturday myself and celebrity seismologist Mr Cleetus, hit the Wainui Trail Park yet again. We were both on our rigi-didgy 29ers and as I followed him up the Wainui Hill I pointed out that his rear dropout looked less than perfectly vertically aligned. He acknowledged my concerns and pedalled on. We shot up Labyrinth to check out the new trail that is being built up near the top – The Towai Traverse? It is really coming along and is quite different to the other trails at WTP. A bit more natural rather than being so smoothly bermed. Towards the end of the trail it started to get pretty muddy. Initially my Beaver/Karma combo was sweet, but before long it had turned into a big fat mess just like Cleetuses dry weather Geax Akkas.

Before long there was a foul exclamation and Cleetus stopped to view his now extremely dislocated rear derailleur which was jammed between the spokes in a most unnatural position. His non-replaceable steel drop-out was also looking very munted. We were in a quandry. What would Bear Grylls do? It was way too cold to pee on our tee shirts and make a bandana so I elected to break the chain and make a singlespeed to hopefully get us home.

After 10 minutes we eventually found the power-link in the mud covered chain and we removed the rear derailleur. Cleetus related to me a belief that it might be possible to realign his drop-out to a usable level by leveraging it between two branches in a tree. 

 It sounded far-fetched to me, but anything was worth a go. Low and behold there just happened to be several trees near-by, one of which was a good fit. 10 minutes later the whole thing was reassembled and we scrambled up the short-cut to the firebreak to continue our ride.

We decided to keep it safe and leave the gear changing to a minimum but had to ride down the Snail Trail at least a couple of times. Its a very fun trail on a rigid bike and I was really enjoying the control on the “wide-as” Woodchipper bars. I always assumed that they were a disadvantage to Cleetus, but I am well and truly convinced now that they are not.

We shot up Jungle Gym and Directors and down the Wainui Hill to finish off an eventful day.

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Jeff's Bike Maxxis Beaver

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Leave it to Beaver

Maxxis Beaver 29er tire – first ride. 

I was on the lookout for some 29er tires. I’d just built up my Karate Monkey and had blooded it with its first Cyclocross race and it went well – with CX tires, now I needed some MTB tires if I was to venture further afield in more comfort and control.

Given that I am not currently rich enough to have proper 29er wheels, I needed some 29er tires that would work well enough on my current wheels (Mavic open-pros road wheels). I did a bit of Googling and found that its not unheard of for people to use 29er tires on 700cc road rims, but it was advisable not to go too wide. I managed to find a cheap Kenda Karma 1.9 somewhere for the rear, so I just needed a front. A quick look online and I spied something called a Maxxis Beaver. I googled it up, and could only see two references to it at all. Everyone else was either testing prototypes from the factory or had just got them and hadn’t put any real miles on them.

I clicked “buy”, and 18 hours later there was fresh Beaver on my desk! A  29 x 2.00 tire designed for use in mud and challenging conditions… apparently. There is nothing about them on the Maxxis website, this was just from some PR fluff I came across. They had a nice sticky feel to them and weighed in at a scant 553 grams. How can a 29er tire be lighter than most of my 26ers? They didn’t have scary thin looking sidewalls or tiny knobs. The did have the EXC specification which is supposed to offer high TPI count and lightweight “advantages”.

Anyway. The day after the sunday cyclocross race I came down with a very bad case of dysentery that had me out of action for most of the week. A real shame as it was forecasted to bucket down by the weekend. I snuck out on thursday in the early dawn to see how the Beaver held up on the Danzig track, which was trying to dry out after the previous week’s downpours. Danzig is a slippery muddy pig in the wet, so it was a good test. It wasn’t as bad as I had seen it in the past so thought I would give Big Weta a crack as well.

The combination of the Karma on the back, and Beaver up front was was giving me very good braking. I wasn’t constantly locking up like I do on my Superlight, but then again, the Superlight has powerful disc brakes, and presumably a smaller braking patch. Cornering was pretty much as expected on a bicycle in the mud. No real surprises, only me continually surprised that it takes a while to get used to no suspension on the front after 15 years of having a suspension fork!

It got a bit squirrley near the bottom of Big Weta and I had a magnetic tree experience and ended up trying to embrace the sky as I went over the bank. Thankfully there was lots of damp rotting plant matter to soften my fall. It was still a bit dark, but darker still down the bank. I hauled myself out on a Ponga frond after documenting my stupidity in Gonzo style.

I checked the tires and they were still working well enough. A fair bit of sticky mud build-up in between the wide-ish spaced knobs, but nothing that was hampering traction. If it was wetter, there would have been less mud stuck on the tires for sure. Danzig’s combination of drying mud and pine needles can be pretty crappy if you get it at the wrong time on the wrong tire.

This was only my first ride on the Beaver, and given that it has pelted down non-stop since then, I will have to go out again and try it in even wetter conditions.

* No Beaver/s were harmed in this test and I paid full screaming retail for the tire. I am in no way affiated with the Beaver/Maxxis family although its true I once lived in a town which was to be called “Beaver Town” but which thankfully settled on Blenheim as a name.

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Cyclo cross Jeff's Bike

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Mud glorious mud!

We had a good day today at round 1 of this years new and improved BikeHutt Cyclo-Cross series. It was my first serious outing on my new Surly Karate Monkey so I was hoping all my DIY mechanicing would hold together. I had a 42 mm tire on the front and a 38 on the back so riding out to the event on the road was a doddle. I stopped for some more “moody” shots on the side of the road while the bike was still clean.

The course itself was the most enjoyable one I have done so far, and either it was longer, or I was fitter, because I didn’t get lapped which was good. It would have been an excellent course for a single-speed set-up and I reckon I only used two gears on the back as it was.  I diced with Mike Thomson early on in the race and he was on his Masi CX bike set up in Single Speed mode, no way I could hang with him. The Karate Monkey worked flawlessly and although it picked up a bit of mud it didn’t impact on gears or anything that was going to cause me grief. The 45 minutes plus 1 lap format is just right, although 40 mins plus one would have suited me better as I exploded pretty much on time during the last lap.

There were heaps more CX bikes there this time and some really fruity set-ups. I am pretty sure Revolution Cycle’s Alex Revell was the winner on the day on his very cool Yeti Cross bike.

 Check out a nice image from lensman Craig Madsen ( I met him after the event while washing my bike. He has this beautiful looking Pugsly. As he was washing it as the thing was trying to float away!

 Some more images (above) of one-time NZ Junior Downhill Champ – Ed Banks, Cleetus and myself. I don’t know how Cleetus gets all that crap on his face. Maybe he has a water bottle full of it and he squirts it on so he looks staunch.


Dont miss the next one…

Cyclocross Series 2011
CX Dates/ venues as below:

  • Sunday 12 June – Trentham Memorial
  • Sunday 26 June – California Park
  • Sunday 10 July – California Park
  • Sunday 24 July – Trentham Memorial
  • Sunday 7 August – California Park
  • Sunday 21 August – California Park
  • Sunday 4 September – Trentham Memorial
  • Sunday 18 September – Harcourt Park

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Jeff's Bike karate monkey Surly

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Karate Monkey first impressions

I went for the first ride on my new “frame” on thursday. I still hadn’t recovered fully from the cold that I have had for the last week so it was a gentle up and down of the Danzig and Big Weta tracks in Belmont Regional Park, about 8 minutes of descending and 16 minutes of leisurely climbing.

The Surly Karate Monkey is a pretty bizarre looking machine and is well known for its utilitarian design. If Batman had a bike on his utility belt, it would be this one… if you could take only one bike onto a desert island, then you would take the Karate Monkey… or so the legend goes. It is adorned with all kinds of welded on attachments (except cable stops) which enable it to be used in many different roles.

Apologies for the crappy Tablet photos.

Its a 29er, with canti studs so can be used as a Cyclo Cross Bike, a Cross Country bike (can take a suspension fork and discs) a Single Speed (has horizontal drop-outs) and a touring bike (has mounts for racks and mudguards). So that’s effectively four other bikes I don’t need now… which is just as well, because I had to disable at least three of them just to get together enough parts to make this one go!!

I had to borrow the rear v-brakes off my single speed, the front v-brakes off my Franken-cross bike, the Woodchipper handlebar and old road-wheels off same, and the right-hand shifter off my Time trial bike !

Cleetus gave me his ex-Kiwi-Brevet 42mm conti-cross tire for the front and I picked up a cheap 38mm CX tire for the rear.

Aside from having no front suspension and very narrow tires my initial descent of Danzig and Big Weta went well. There was a fair bit of jarring but nothing I couldn’t handle, a big fat tire on the front would give me a completely different ride. I cant wait. What impressed me most was the nimbleness of the bike, it just dropped into the many Danzig “zig-zags” beautifully. Maybe it was the short chain-stays tucked in close to the bent seat post, reminds me of he old Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo? Surprisingly it felt way more nimble than my Santa Cruz Superlight which is the bike I ride down there the most. Not what I would have expected from a 29er, although the thin tires may have had a big effect on its lively feel.

The frame layout is very strange to look at, and I did a lot of comparing of “effective top-tubes” before I ordered this size – the 16 inch. The actual measurement from BB to the bottom side of the top-tube is only 13.5 inches, but to the top side is 16. The actual “effective top-tube” length is longer than many other “medium” sized bikes at 576 mm, or 22.7 inches.

My plan was always to use this as a drop-bar bike which tends to put your arms more forward than a flat-bar anyway. I do have short legs and a long torso (5ft 10 – very monkey-like; ) and so far the fit feels really good. The amount of actual seat-post sticking out is surprisingly identical to my Superlight, even though it looks crazy. It looks like the top-tube almost slopes directly into the rear chain-stays on the 16inch frame !

The Woodchipper drop-bars are amazingly good. They feel really safe, because of the way your hands just fall into them, but I have to wonder what would happen in an off – would your legs get all tangled up behind the things ? The bars do offer quite a few different positions and what I found really interesting was how natural they felt when climbing. With the hands on the hoods position they had a very similar feel to what you get from riding on bar-ends on a flat-bar equipped XC bike. I have the top of the bar set up about parallel to the top of the seat, but ideally they are supposed to be quite a bit higher than that for proper control while riding on the drops off road.

It will be in the Cyclo cross/Commuter format for quite a while I think, because to run fatter tires I will need wider rims, and if I am going to do that I might as well get rims that have braking surfaces AND disc ready hubs while I am at it. No sense in having two sets of wheels when you are cheap.

The current brake/shifting set-up is very basic but comfortable, Diacompe road levers with special pull for v-brakes. I have done my time with normal canti’s and ain’t going back!

If I ever go to STI styled shifters I would probably go for an SLX 10 speed rear cluster, that way I could have a 34 rear, meaning potentially less chain-rings needed up front.

Surprisingly in this current build it only weighs in at 23.5 pounds. With a steel 4130 frame at about 5.5 pounds and a 2.6 pound fork it was never going to be a light-weight. Anyway, as you know, steel is real, real heavy and real cheap so I am really looking forward to getting over this lurgi so I can get out for a really decent ride !!!

Some relevant links
Baby monkey – riding on a pig going backwards…..

Phoo! Google is your friend, I found you can actually run 29er tires on road rims, it’s just not recommended! I will try out this 1.9 Kenda Kharma. The Rim is an old 36 hole Mavic Open Pro with a Durace hub. I am pretty sure the wheel, or the hub was once my workmate Sam Raphel’s.

A few more observations.
For some reason the front cantis only have holes for one position of the v-brake spring while the rear studs have three. It means I cant get the brakes snapping back into position how I’d like. The seat-tube is also so rediculously short that there is hardly any room to mount the front derailler cable-stop without it potentially fouling an incredibley fat wheel (if it was used) hence negating the pretty bent seat-tube design – hence the cable angle is pretty gnarly. Usually when I assemble a bike I can tap the head-set in with a piece of wood and rubber mallet. Not this one. I gave up and used a proper tool that required %*&^-loads of torque on it to force the head-set in. The BB went in easily with no extra preparation.

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Crazyman Jeff's Bike

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Crazyman 2011

I cant tell you how many Crazymans I have done, but I can say that I did the first one in 1991 when it was a 2 day event at the height of the Multi-sport craze. In those days you had to be pretty serious to be up for the rigors of the equivalent of two half marathons in two days, plus two bikes, and kayaks (from memory). My involvement then was usually as the biker in a team. When it changed to a 1 day format there was a duathlon option and I had some good cracks at that over the years.

The last Du option I did was in 2006 and the new longer run nearly put paid to me. The run was a good 20 minutes longer for most people and the result was that most suffered from cramp at some stage when they got onto the bike leg.

Michael Jacques has been constantly tweaking the course and now he makes use of the Wainuiomata Trail Park which really evens out the course, makes it heaps more fun and achievable and eliminates one of the most heinous sets of hills.

There was a lot of interest at work this year with with a few teams and a few ex GNS employees doing the Individual, all of the them the duathlon option. Myself, Marco and Mark Hearfield were lucky enough to have masters multi-sport record holder Dave Ross ferrying us around and doing our transitions – a very important job.

The start, 400 odd nutters looking in vain for a firm piece of sand to run on. Photo by Martin Crundwell

 Because of the weather the start was changed so that the triathletes and duathletes started together instead of the triathletes starting first with the paddle. We all hit the beach, desperately seeking firm sand, and roared up the road to the bus barn track. It was steep and a bit greasy, but not as greasy as the downhill. By the time I exited the butterfly creek loop (around 46 mins later) about 5 people had passed me due to my crap downhill running skills, including “Mrs Coast to Coast” – Elina Ussher.

I grabbed my hidden water bottle from a bush and as we hit the tarseal Chris “Navy Seal” Martin and Paul “Grimly Fiendish” Grimwood caught me. We legged it along the flat for a km or two until we neared the Ferry Road climb. Paul disappeared behind but we caught Daniel, and Chris seemed to be gaining on me. Jason McCarty was faking a pretty good run and I could see him about 2 corners ahead of me. He stayed that way until until I got to the very top at Mt Lowry. Jase was 10 paces ahead, but he nailed it on the descent and I didn’t see him again : (

Callum Kennedy on his new Yeti. Photo Martin Crundwell.

By the time I got to the transition area I was pretty poked. I couldn’t let Jase beat me, the bugger told me he’d only been for a couple of runs! And I believed him!

Dave passed me a camelbak, a lid and shoes and I was off – in well under a minute. I sculled a half bottle of drink, a gel, started sucking on my camelbak and tried to tell my legs to pedal all at once. Eventually I caught my workmate Jim (count the vowels)  Chrzeszczyk who kindly let me passed on the Labyrinth track. Jim was teamed up with Chris Martin. At this stage it was important not to do anything that was going scare my legs into cramping, so anticipating gear changes well in advance, and not spinning to small, or too tall a gear was the best strategy. Out onto the main firebreak I eventually came across a small bunch with Lee Campbell – last years multisport runner-up, and Elina Ussher. Lee was still gas-bagging as he had been all through butterfly creek!

My nutrition must have started to work as I dropped them and carried on smacking it up the hill, looking for signs of the elusive Jase. Nothing to be seen. It was raining lightly as it was most of the time (I think),  well, everything was wet anyway, and I started to notice the ineffectiveness of my tires. They were the same ones I used at Xterra, hardly mud tires, but I figured they would be worth the extra speed along the flatter river bank section. The Stans Raven on the back and the Spotted Cat on the front. Semi-slicks at best. Its not like there was anywhere where I wasn’t riding straight up and down so I didnt think traction was that much of an issue.

The mud and water was making my drive train feel and sound terrible, but it never stumbled, no chain-suck or slippage. Getting towards the Stokes Valley end of the course I caught a guy who looked reasonably fit. I wondered if it might have been the record holder for the veterans, Andrew Wheatley (a good runner) so I smacked it on past him. No response. I put my head down and kept nailing it while I still could. Up until then I hadn’t seen much of anyone else. To be honest the visibility was pretty bad with foggy mist but I do recall teams rider Wayne Hiscock and Rodney Wallace passing me – Hiskey was standing up and smashing it.

I had been managing to keep the cramp at bay so far but on the descent approaching the Stokes Valley fire roads my quads were getting hammered and they seemed a bit marginal. Ed banks told me later he had to stop at this point and stretch, it was so bad for him. I couldn’t help but wonder how  Geoff Notman was coping on his Cyclo cross bike, at least I had the luxury of full suspension !

About to climb up the near vertical bank. Photo Martin Crundwell

So it was under the culvert and down the river bank to the dreaded cramp inducing portage up a near vertical wall. Apparently at this point Alex Revell’s legs has locked up so much that he couldn’t go on and had to wait for them to come right. Bugger.

The end was in sight but I was starting to feel a bit off colour. My worries about mixing it with the saturday morning market shoppers in the Hutt Riverbank carpark were unfounded as I only encountered one pedestrian on the footpath. Maybe it was too wet for them?

Any feelings of jubilation at having finished were largely over-ridden by those of nausea, but within a few minutes they had subsided. About 10 minutes later I spied a very grottty looking Jason McCarty…. He had been behind me since the bike transition while the whole time I was trying to chase him down, thinking he was in front !

Awesome. I was very happy with the win in veterans class and only 3 mins off the record set on a pretty dry year. I am moving up to the masters class next year so I wont be taking another crack at the veterans record. I know I couldn’t have gone any faster on the day, but I also know I can be a hell of a lot fitter.

Its a good thing I checked my seat-post height on friday night because somehow it had slipped to be almost 20mm lower than it is supposed to be. I have no idea how long it has been like that for, Karapoti? Xterra? I wondered why my feet were sticking out like a duck on my daily commute.

Matt’s team mate, Mick Finn, also from my work, was the MC and somehow found the energy to MC the whole event after  they  won the vets Duathlon team option ! This was probably a short event for Mick who does a few ultras as well.

One thing was evident through out the event, the organisation was incredible. There seemed to be 4wd and first-aid people all around the course, not to mention video-graphers and photographers. The course marking was excellent and there were marshalls where ever you thought you might have needed them. Thanks to Michael Jacques and and his very extensive team of helpers. Hope to see you all again next year.
Results in excel format.
TV3 news video

One of these guys used a crud-catcher. Photo by Jase’s mum, Karen McCarty

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Jeff's Bike

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Undie 500 version 2.

A new frame for the undie 500 Franken-bike. Quite a bit lighter, (alloy) and shorter, so a tad more squirrely. Took it out on the Hutt River Trail with Cleetus to test it out. Its currently sporting a 42-32 crank – an MTB minus the granny : ) It went pretty good, not sure if it’s up to the Crazyman course though, especially not in todays conditions !

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