Disdain for the contempt: riding on the road in Wellington, NZ

Recently I have shifted from a position of tolerance to absolute disdain for riding on the road, and the rules that go with it. Now I know for some this will be met with annoyance, frustration and anger. But, before you judge me, let me tell you how I arrived at this situation.

I have been riding on the road in big cities for at least 18 years, ever since I was at University in London. Even before that I road my bike every day, either to and from school, on the local trails or on my paper round.

In Wellington there seems to be a simmering underbelly of righteousness among road users, it breeds hatred, cynicism and contempt. When you do something wrong, you’re told about it, punished even, whether that be lawfully (by the police) or unlawfully by another road user. For example doing something small such as being in the wrong lane by accident is met with fury, blowing horns and finger gestures. Woe betide you if you step into the road and it’s not at a pedestrian crossing, or a cyclist gets in the way of a car speeding off at the lights.

This scenario in Wellington has led me to experiment with two extremes of riding: 1) follow the law to the letter, 2) have total disdain for law and the road.

First I tried to follow the law to the letter. In that time, which was about two months, I nearly died being run over by a bus, I was abused, told to fvck off multiple times, and towards the end had a massive complex about being run over at lights.

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It’s not rocket science

Now, for the last few weeks I have been completely ignoring traffic rules altogether. The mantra is, you get out the way of the traffic at all costs, sometimes this means skipping a red if necessary.  (it has worked in Paris BTW: you can now skip red lights and research has shown it’s actual safer!)

The result: I feel safer at lights because I avoid the imposing buses, I am never around long enough to get abused and most of all I am less likely to shout abuse back (because I know i’m in the wrong).

I have come to the conclusion that looking after number one on the road is most important and it is safer to keep out the way of traffic rather than be in it.

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The point is this: the roads in Wellington need to become safer. At the moment drivers are intolerant of cyclists no matter what the circumstances. Your dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t. We need well thought out cycle paths that are out of the way of other traffic and where we don’t have to compete with motor vehicles.

Until it improves i’m looking after number one, and if that means breaking a few rules, then so be it .

Tubeless: it’s too easy!

Tubeless is the way forward. However, as with everything there are always deniers and critics, but mostly this is fueled by fear and ignorance, take climate change for instance.

Anyway, a couple of years ago I was as wedded to tubes as American’s are to guns. Accident’s happened, tragedies even, as I recall having to walk back from being in the middle of nowhere with a pinch flat and nothing to repair it with.

Fast forward to today and not only do I not get pinch flats anymore but I barely even take a tool kit with me when I go out riding (with the exception of the way out there jungle missions).

Lets face it the benefits easily out weigh the cons for us mere trail riding mortals: no more flats, ability to run lower pressures, weight savings. Sure there may be a bit of a cost at the outset.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted but if you don’t believe how easy it is just watch this:

 

 

It’s back! NS Eccentric rocks Wellywood

A couple of years ago I bought myself an NS eccentric hard tail. 140-150mm travel, 27.5 wheels, thru axles. Everything you’d want on a hardcore hardtail.

It’s had many guises over the last wee while, but i’ve now built it up again, with what I consider the best build yet.

Hardcore hardtails are still all the rage but to make the most of them here a a few tips to getting the best out of your much loved slede:

  1. Don’t over spec  it’s not meant to be high-end, half the fun is riding something you don’t car too much about
  2. Not too much travel yes you can bang on a 160/170mm but the bike’s geometry is going to be out of sink: 140/150mm max is going to produce the most fun
  3. keep the front end low. with longer front travel and no rear suspension the front end is going to rise up like a chopper from easy rider: slam the stem onto the headtube.
  4. Don’t expect to be as fast on the rocky stuff hardtail riding is about finding new lines and challenging yourself on sections that normally you glide over on your fully: enjoy the new challenge and hone in your skills, it’ll pay dividends once you get back on your fully
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unleash the beast

Spec

  • Frame: NS Bikes Eccentric frame (size large)
  • Fork: Rockshox Revelations 150mm (thanks Jono for the sale)
  • Wheels: DT Swiss 533DB Enduro rims / XT hubs
  • Tyres: Specialized Butcher/Slaughter (fr/rr) (cheers iride)
  • Stem: DMR Defy 50mm
  • Handler bars: Spank spoon
  • Brakes: slx/xt mash up (thank Ali for lending me the XT brake!)
  • Drive train: Sram/Shimano  mash up of all sorts

Yeti SB6c six month review

Pre-amble

It is a little over 6 months since my Yeti SB6c was delivered to me. It came on Christmas eve, which incidentally was my birthday.

It wasn’t a birthday present however, the bike was a flash replacement for my first Yeti, the aluminium SB95, which, i’m sorry to say had a multitude of issues.

Sure i had to pay a lot more to get a carbon frame, with the edition of wheels, shock and fork (to fit the 27.5 wheels), but I figured with a 5 year warranty what could go wrong.

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I eat trails like you for breakfast

The bike

The SB6c is full carbon stead with 152mm travel on the back, 160mm on the front. It utilises Yeti’s switch infinity linkage system.

Mine is the 30th Anniversary version, apparently only 250 were made. It don’s the 80’s yellow and turq colours.

The ride

My first impression after building the yeti up was that it rides just like my old yeti, which for was good for me because SB95 was a slayer.

Within two rides I was up to speed as if i’d had the bike for years.The edition of 10mm front travel and 32mm on the back is noticeable straight away.

The Sb95 ate through its travel very quickly and to be honest there is still some degree of that on this bike, albeit the suspension can be adjusted to a harder setting without loosing too much.

What I really like about the SB6c is that it is light and you can ride on it all day up and down the mountain. However, when you really need a burly enduro bike you know you have one between your legs. My build isn’t exactly light but the bike is still way lighter than most 160mm travel machines.

All together I am just your average weekend warrior on a bike that gets ridden in the Enduro World Series: it’s the best thing I’ve ever ridden and it’s more bike that I will ever be able to handle.

It’s a super bike that I was lucky enough to lay my hands on and i’m going to enjoy every second of it. Sometimes I find myself just staring at it in admiration.

The Kit

  • Frame: 2015, 30 year Anniversary, SB6c
  • Shock: Fox X (high volume)
  • Fork: Fox Fit 4, 36
  • Wheels: DT Swiss 471 rims, 25mm inner width, 240 hubs, Maxis High Roller II tyres, tubeless
  • Drivetrain: Xt8000 crank, XT 10 speed derailleur, cassette and shifter
  • Steering: Ritchy 40mm stem (35mm), Raceface Turbine (35mm) 760mm wide bars
  • Post & saddle: Specialized IR command post, 125mm, Nukeproof saddle
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Pedals: Time attack M2
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What other bike can turn into a downhill monster with a pair of duel crowns?

Biking on the mind?

I didn’t realise I was addicted until the other day when I was relaxing at a friends batch in Waimarama. There was a bookcase full of books and I began to explore them for something exciting to read for the weekend.

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You’ve got guts…

Normally, at the weekend I would be on my bike. This is not to say I didn’t want to be at the batch. Waimarama is a beautiful place and the company was great, but it cannot be ignored that when your a mountain biker and your not biking, everywhere you look your reminded of that fact!

Season of Enduro: a review

My goal at the beginning of the 2016 Wellington Enduro season was to finish in the top ten of at least one race.

Well, I managed to sneak in third place at the Makara Enduro behind a couple of good riders but in a relatively small group of starters. I’ll still take it though, it’s always nice achieving a goal you set out to reach.

Apart form that race though, how’s the season been, what have I learn’t and what’s install for next year

Round up – race results

  1. Makara Enduro: 3/7 (elite male)
  2. Escape from Mount Crawford:  11/63 (male starts)
  3. Poll Hill Enduro:  15/145 (overall)
  4. Donald Trump Freedom Enduro: 13/ 74 (Vertigo)  and 31/70 (Trickle Falls)
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The Yeti takes flight at Poll Hill.

Lessons Learnt

  1. Fitness is the key to winning: I did a lot of training this year, but it still wasn’t enough. I was definitely fitter than I’ve ever been before but there are some guys out there that have the edge just because they can ride harder for longer.
  2. Crashing is key to loosing: In the race where I crashed (i.e. Poll Hill) I almost definitely missed out on a top ten finish. I was riding as hard as I could so I can’t complain. (which Segways onto my next point nicely)
  3. Seconds really do count in racing: In many races just seconds was the difference between a podium and a top twenty finish. In the DTF enduro I was 31st on trickle falls but there was only ten seconds between me and 13th place.
  4. There really are some unbelievable riders out there, young and old: I am always amazed when you get to a race and people beat you on trails that you’ve been riding loads. Sometimes you just have to admire the skill and dedication of riders and realise their ability and your own limitations.
  5. You really need to eat well and have a good night sleep before a race: A few times before a race I had a bad nights sleep or had a couple of beers etc… I really felt it in the race and it definitely affected my performance.

The Future

Next year for me it’s about three things:

  1. Structured training
  2. Track practice
  3. Having fun, and relaxing!

 

Donald Trump Freedom Enduro – timeless

Last Sunday 1 May 2016 I raced in the Donald Trump Freedom Enduro at Makara peak.

It was a fantastic day and the most enjoyable Enduro I’ve raced in so far this year. It was sold out in days of the tickets being available, and the level of competition was up there: some of the best riders in Wellington came out to play.

Afterwards, when we had all smashed 3 or 4 (some even 5) laps of Makara we went back to Mud Cycles: a place where beer flowed like wine and beautiful women instinctively flocked like the salmon of Capistrano.

How did I do?

I thought I performed mildly well, the Yeti SB6c certainly behaved itself, as it usually does.

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Go straight twenty eight. Photography by Sydney Wainwright

However, you may have heard this week that there was issues with timing and that we never know how well we actually did.

The event, when it started  last year was not about fancy timing systems worth tons on money, it was about mates getting together and riding their favorite tracks and trying to outwit each other. Rustic as it was, that was probably the charm.

Money can’t buy you happiness

According to research US presidential elections are not won just on the money invested into them by the candidate, but also on key messaging, charisma and popular policy positions. That’s clearly a shame for Trump.

Like US presidential elections, some Enduros have vast amounts of resources poured into them. Yes it is nice to get official timing and race your mates but that’s not just what racing is all about. its about the comradery, the yarns, the beer afterwards and most of all the absolute fun of it.

The upside of a timeless event?

Whilst it is a shame that the timing didn’t work, I can now always live with the notion that I performed better than I actually did. I might have made the podium or beat one of those good riders, no one will ever prove me wrong.

In essence, the event is timeless and long may it last.

Light up my life – by Jason Krupp

As a mountain biker, my New Year’s resolution is generally delayed by about three months. I start making self-improvement commitments when day light saving kicks in, promising to maintain my fitness by riding through the winter. But just like their January 1st counterparts, these promises soon lie in tatters by the time winter bares its teeth.

I have a theory that there are two interrelated reasons for this. The first is that riding in shit weather is, well, shit. The second is that I don’t have a bike light. As a result I don’t ride during the week when the weather is okay (because it happens to be dark), and if it is inclement on the weekend, then the couch is the preferred option.

I had planned to change that with the purchase of a bike light, but the $300-plus price tag was a major disincentive. I was puzzled/surprised/alarmed (choose any two) that a clutch of LEDs and a battery could cost almost the same amount as a dropper post, albeit on sale.

Then this gem (http://www.ragsandgadgets.co.nz/shop/cree-led-lighting/cree-led-3000-lumens-bike-light-with-8800mah-battery/) dropped into my lap: a 3000 lumen OEM bike light, replete with box of accessories, bells, and whistles…for $75.

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Hello World!

So I bought it. I’d be daft not to since I spotted a 100 lumen commuter light in a LBS for about the same price (no names mentioned but the shop name rhymes with Schmapital Schmycles). But proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the tasting. My made-in-Guangzhou special could fall apart in days. Then again, it could stand up to the elements nicely, at which point I’ll be laughing loudly at the suckers who stumped up top dollar for effectively the same thing.

Either way, I’ll let you know how I fare, both on the light and the winter riding.

(P.S. Thanks Ed for letting me welsh in on your blog)

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Jason – pinning it – the only way he knows how

 

The truth about track closures on Tinakori

Has four complaints over two years and $5,000 spent on fences, signs and dismantling structures meant the end of the MTB tracks on Tinakori?

From December 2015 Wellington Council have been actively addressing the issues of illegal mountain bike tracks on Te Ahumairangi Hill aka Tinakori, in response to complaints about riders.

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Rightly or wrongly bikers have been riding unsanctioned trails on Tinakori hill since the late 1990s, mainly owing to its step gradient, making trails technically advanced and its close proximity from town.

The big question is why, after years of general tolerance of this situation did Wellington Council suddenly take action.

Complaints to blame?

Information given to NZenduro by Wellington Council shows that from 2014 to 2016 Wellington Council received four complaints from residents about cyclists on the Hill.

Of the four complaints lodged, one was regarding cyclists destroying native plants by making illegal tracks, two were requesting warning signs for walkers and for cyclists to slow down and one was asking whether the tracks were illegal.

Of the four complaints two were lodged in 2014 and two in 2015 a rate of two complaints per year.

The Council has stated in a recent official information request that it responded to the complaints they received by implementing the following actions:

  • Fencing of known trail heads,
  • Erecting signage at illegal trail heads,
  • Dismantling structures on illegal trails.

Contrary to believes held by some mountain bikers the council has ‘NOT located CCTV cameras on Te Ahumairangi Hill‘.

The total cost of these actions was $5,085, or $1,271 per complaint.

To put this into perspective, rates for a typical house in Wellington are $2,000 a year. So more than half of the rates for each person who complained went on actions to stop illegal riders. Good value for money?

Two further complaints were received in regards to illegal track signs being vandalised (not necessarily by cyclists) as a result of the actions above.

To put the number of complaints in perspective, for dog walkers it is a local by-law, punishable by a fine, for them to pick up their dogs poo. In 2010 alone there were 210 complaints about dog poo on pavement.

So, the big question is why would the Council respond to such a small number of complaints in such an aggressive manner?

On the basis of the number of complaints received I would argue that the users of Tinakori Hill are not that too concerned about mountain bikers, albeit they would like to see safer tracks on there.

Certainly the four complaints in two years should not have been a reason to close them. It is more likely that the closures are down to individuals at the Council flexing their muscles to prove a point, make an example and to use this as cannon fodder for not building new ones.

Unfortunately for us mountain bikers status quo bias means that it’s easier and cheaper to close tracks than actually work with us to sanction them.

We will have to work extremely hard and all together as a collective if we ever want to see legitimate riding on Tinakori.