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June 2013

Cycling spin class

TVDinnerThe TV news is on at dinner time so people don’t have to chew food and follow a soap plot at the same time. It has to stay simple and lightweight. There are a scant few minutes allotted to each story, so there is no time for exploration of a topic.

This week there was a report about the number of people ticketed in New Zealand for not wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle. The number is up, apparently, and the ‘reporter’ was highly indignant about it. Here’s how it went: Cue a series of shots of bare-headed adults weaving through traffic on bikes, take a soundbite from the mother of a boy whose bike related head injury ruined his life and sent her on a crusade to make helmets compulsory, spit out the figures from ACC regarding the inordinate cost to the taxpayer of bike related accidents. Segue into the sweeping recommendations to be made by the coroner, investigating the number of cycling related deaths over the last few years, and say it like cyclists are going to get what’s coming to them, damn it. Cut to an ad break.

Here’s how it could have gone:
Well, the good news is that the number of people ticketed for not wearing helmets is on the increase! That means more people are cycling to get from A to B. Look at these people riding through the traffic! None of them are those annoying lycra wearing sporty types! These people are using their bikes for transport, which means less cars and buses on the road. And, the exercise they get by doing this will save the country millions in health expenditure! OK, they would be better off wearing helmets - that’s a no-brainer - but it turns out over 80% of bike accidents are caused by vehicle drivers. So cut these people some slack folks, bike riding is a simple solution to our traffic woes and its good for everybody - car drivers included!
Please look out for them!

Why the news programmer chose the first approach is anybody’s guess.

Gandhi said: first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. Well, it might have been Gandhi. Might have been Groucho Marx. Doesn’t matter, its true. I think we are at the fighting stage.

 

The view from the top

Head200613Last weekend Saturday contained the weather window for mountain biking. Rain was forecast for later on, and so it was an early start.

There is a trail on a hill close to the car park. It has been called various things, but the name that has stuck is RockDrop. Originally a complicated serpent that milked many kilometres out of a small patch of woods, it has become a few well-loved lines that are fairly hard to find but well worth the effort. One of them is a climb that is like a little dirt version of Alpe d’Huez.

I like to use that climb to get into the woods. At the top, where once was only dark and mysterious forest, there is now broad daylight. A stand of trees in there has been turned into an export commodity, and now there is a vantage point. A few steps off the trail is a cliff. From the top is a view of terrain that was unguessed at before, and already there is a fresh line snaking down through newly exposed volcanic outcrops. Its called BoulderDash, the brainchild of Casey King (thanks again, Rotorua MTB Club!).

Standing on the apex of a corner, surrounded by camera gear and a remote controlled flash, was Graeme Murray. We met on one of my first bike rides after moving to Rotorua, many years ago, not far from where he was now standing. He told me right then his dream was to become a professional photographer.

Now he is one, has top quality work in international publications, and on the way he has had a big influence on the look of New Zealand mountain biking.

He was standing on this trail in the cold early light, waiting for somebody to come along, because he had seen a shot in his mind and gone out to get it. His luck wasn’t in, and his first subject was only me, but that is not the point. Here is a successful lensman, up at sparrow fart, waiting by the spot he likes for the image that might come along. Not for any commercial reason, just because he loves mountain biking and capturing it in a camera.

He makes a habit of this kind of thing, the image at the top of the newsletter is one he got of Mike Metz (another perfectionist) on another early morning outing.

That is how you get to the top, kids. Passion for what you are doing, and the perseverance to get out and do it.