Monday, January 18, 2010

Ventana crew in pre-Brevet shakedown

With both Michi 'Macguyver' Speck and Ollie locked in for the years most epically awesome event; the Kiwi Brevet, time was due for an offroad shakedown to test their Ventana steeds in anger.
Both have chosen to ride Ventana El Commandantes equiped with the marvel of german bicycle engineering; a Rohloff 14 speed internally geared hub (pronounced Hhchrolloff). With 1200km of sealed and gravel roads, and a sprinkling of 4wd and singletrack, big 29" wheels and ultra reliable hub gears will surely be the hot ticket.

Going into the ride, tire choice between the pair couldn't have been more different. Ollie opting for fast rolling 35mm wide cross tires, and Michi going for the fatties more typical on a mountainbike. Interestingly, by the end of the ride and a raft of sidewall tears Ollie flip flopped, deciding to run some No-tubes Crows coming in at 2 inches wide. Higher volumes would allow for some cush and durability in the rougher sections, without sacrificing the feeling of speed that comes with a slick.

The mission was a circumnavigation of Mt Oxford. Leaving Oxford township with panniers and Jo in tow, spirits were high. The road section leading to the track proper was an ideal warmup, and legs soon adopted a sit and spin approach to manage the extra heft that 10kg of panniers and gear introduced.

To create a full all conditions test, nature had even provided some rain, making parts of the track slick but not to the point of unridable.

All the weight on the rear tires imparted an amazing climbing ability. Balance seemed to be on offer in spades, with traction through the roof. Downhills were also surprisingly straightforward, with the brand new NZ designed Freeload pannier racks offering a second saddle of sorts, and panniers offering some cushion in the event of a rear wheel washout. Normal lines through the often narrow track had to be widened to allow room for the elephantacious girth of the panniers.


With hut dispatched it was off down the valley. Numerous adjustments to racks and bags were required, and many of the lessons learnt will be invaluable come Brevet time.
Saint of the weekend must go to Jo, who aboard her Saltamontes put up with extended delays as her touring newbie companions discussed tactics for securing wayward panniers. Some beautiful gravel climbs and descents were knocked off before the final tar seal stretch to Oxford.

A thoroughly enjoyable adventure and a true test of gear for the extraordinary adventure that will be the Brevet.

Mountain Pedaler out...

1 comment:

Karen said...

Yay Team Ventana crew! Sounds like you are in for an epic journey. Ride hard :) Kaz