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November 2015

Weekend off



It is Thursday November 26th. Several things start happening around this time of year. Foliage around here is having a panic attack, and needs hacking back on an hourly basis. Large retailers start ranting about the impending fiasco my scouser mate calls “chrimbo”. I am starting to think about getting my stuff sorted for the annual ride around Lake Taupo, and wondering what tyres will stop me getting shelled on Hatepe Hill. As if.

Not this year though.

The lawn still needs mowing, and the malls are best avoided, like every other year.

But my road bike still hangs on the rafter where it lives, and the tyres it has on are not about to be switched out for something more deluxe.

For the first time in two decades, I am not going.

Last week, in a pas de deux we could not reproduce with a choreographer and stunt doubles, the directors of Nzo managed to get their feet entangled in such a way that the one responsible for long road rides (me) got his big toenail half torn off. I am not going to detail exactly how this came about. Working in bare feet is another thing that starts to happen around November, but only half of us had jumped into that mode of dress so soon. The other half had rubber soled shoes on, with enough tread to enable walking on the ceiling, and engaging with a toenail if the angle is correct and the opportunity presents.

It did, and I can’t put any kind of shoe on.

Hordes of my ‘friends’ have made helpful suggestions, ranging from riding in sandals (not in this life) to cutting a hole in my shoes (may yet happen), and including such gems as drinking enough to mask the pain (at 7am, race time?) and dipping my toe in rohypnol, so it would forget what had happened to it. I had to look that up too, my ‘friends’ know more about drugs than I do.

The annual humiliation, resolution to do some miles next time, and ritual disappointment of standing for hours at prizegiving so I can not win a car, can wait until another time.

POSTSCRIPT: the weather on Saturday was abysmal, and it was therefore quite nice to laze around on Saturday morning before wandering in to do a day in the shop talking to bike riders. Got out for a short ride after a long day in the garden on Sunday, and the toenail was ok. Not good enough to have survived 5 hours, but up for one and a half.


Stuff, and where I stuff it.


Travelling by bike is something everybody should do some time or other.

We once did half a lap of the South Island, and started with enough gear to set up a small apartment, including a moderate library. We shipped about one third of it home after the first day on the road, when the bikes turned out to be nearly ungovernable. About a third of the remainder followed a few days later after a couple of decent climbs. We took a side trip out to Milford, and to travel ‘fast’ we left most of our stuff behind at the campground in Queenstown. We experienced the worst extremes of weather and privation on that week-long dogleg, and survived, proving we really didn’t need the stash we had left in QT. To complicate the equation, we didn’t actually go any faster without it.

Experience helps a bike traveller head out with the correct amount of stuff: as little as possible.

But even with the barest of necessities, there needs to be a way to cart it. Back in the day we used bolt-on racks with bags festooned on them, but the bikes handled like they had developed their own ideas about where we were off to.

Today we have bags strapped directly to the bike. This seems so simple we don’t know why we didn’t think of it. Pictures of our bikes on our recent weekender have attracted a slew of emails asking about the bags, so here they are! Designed and made in Rotorua, New Zealand by Dancing Moose.


Just riding along

These Dobies are a write-off These Dobies are a write-off

There are a million things about a bike you can change and reconfigure, and one or two you do at your peril. One chain ring, three chainrings, who cares? Big wheels, little wheels, or some new-fangled in-between sized wheels. Meh. Clipped in or on flats? Now you are starting to get into the realms of stuff you better not mess with. Which way around your brakes are arranged? Forget about it. If you run front on the right, like most sentient humans, that is your curse FOREVER. If you think you can jump on a bike with front on the left and get out alive, good luck.

Case in point: This week a customer wrote to proudly show us her husband’s Dobies, which were a complete write-off. She had already ordered another pair, but was keen for us to see the state of the originals. We have seen some well thrashed examples, and some that had been cut off the wearer in ER, but this pair sets the bar for complete destruction.

In fact, the writer credited the shorts with saving her man from a faceplant, because they were destroyed in the act of catching on his brake lever but retained enough strength to leave him suspended in mid-air.

We responded with admiration and encouragement, it is not how we like to get our stock to turnover but we like to see people enjoying our products to the full.

We then learned that the incident that wrecked his shorts was the third over-the-bars episode on the same ride.

Further investigation reveals that the rider had decided to switch his brakes over… they are now back where they belong!


Welcome to the world of Nzoactive

(republished from Juliana.com) Words by Anka Martin / images by Sven Martin

WP2 Exploring the Chilean trails early season 2014.

"On my very first visit to New Zealand in 2006 for the DH World Champs in Rotorua, I bought a bike T-shirt from a very “home grown” type vendor/stall. This doesn’t happen often, as I’ve never been a real fan of most of the bike apparel out there. This was different, the designs were clever, it was fresh and fun, and funnily enough, I still own this T-shirt.

Fast forward a few years on and we find ourselves living in New Zealand (a dream come true) and on a road trip to the North Island to the bike mecca of Rotorua. Ever since I had bought one of Nzo’s T-shirts back in 2006, this company has intrigued me and I wanted to learn more about the people behind this brand. To me, it’s about the people, their products, how they run their business, and what they give back to the community. When you’re new to a country, you feel this immense sense of pride and this loyalty to promote it and everything that it has to offer and I was on a mission to live and breathe everything kiwi, but I digress. Once in Rotorua, I stopped off at the bike shop to buy my first pair of Nzo shorts. It was love at first fit and I’ve never looked back since. I wanted to represent this kiwi company and have them along for all my adventures, journeys, and races. A quick call to introduce myself and say hello to Gary Sullivan, or Gaz as he is known, and Glen, and they insisted I head over to Mount Ngongotaha for a cup of tea and a tour of their home workshop. Perfect.

Backcountry exploring on the Heaphy Track in New Zealand pre season 2015 in my old faithfuls. Backcountry exploring on the Heaphy Track in New Zealand pre season 2015 in my old faithfuls.

Heading into the 2014 season, the Scuffers were my shorts of choice, combined with one of their many funky T-shirts and raglans, Gary also printed up some custom Kowai designs (along with other sponsors logos) for me onto merino raglans, so I had sweet “race” kits too. With this combo, I suffered through all the Enduro World Series races, survived the grueling Andes Pacifico race in Chile, the Trans Provence multiday stage race, loads of filming and photo trips, product and bike launches, clinics, adventures, missions, wet as a dog conditions, slipping, sliding, snow, crashing and burning, and of course lazy days just lounging. I was covered, literally, for anything.

WP12114 Sarah Leishman looking killer in her new kit as she navigates through the tricky, wet roots of the Whakarewarewa forest in Rotorua at EWS round one 2015.

I don’t think there are too many companies, never mind “smaller” companies out there that will do what these guys have done for our team. The timing was impeccable, as they were just getting ready to launch their new ultra lightweight Burner trail shorts, so Gary and Glen offered to match our shorts with our three different race jerseys. We now had red, purple, and green to choose from, to match our jerseys. We could pick whatever color we were in the mood to wear on that given day and we could all rock a different color on different days to mix it up and keep our new women’s team looking fresh and funky out on the tracks. Something different and unique to what everyone else is doing and wearing.

WP12116 Kelli Emmett ripping up the heather-clad hills of Scotland at the third round of the EWS 2015 Tweedlove.

I’m getting ready to put my Scuffers to their biggest test yet, spending the Month of March 2016 in these shorts, pedaling 3000km from the tiptop of NZ to the very bottom along with the main man Gaz himself in the Tour Aotearoa.

WP12117 Our shorts held up during these flash-floods and torrential downpours in Ainsa Spain a few weeks ago. Tough as. Sarah and I were struggling to hold onto our bikes however!




What is the score?


Aly, David, Gaz, Harm and Stu at Jailhouse, about to escape.

The only thing more exciting than a Rugby World Cup final is riding a bike somewhere which has absolutely no contact with the outside world and staying there until it is all over.

The Moerangi trail is an excellent big day out. It usually requires a shuttle, or a strong desire to smash yourself. We decided to split it into two days of riding, and effectively almost double the distance by riding it as a loop.

Going bush for 24 hours can probably be done with no equipment whatsoever. Or the way we did it, which is semi-prepared for anything. As in, packing several beers each. It was World Cup night after all.

We had a varied selection of rigs, from state of the art trail weapons to rigid touring rigs. All readied for a camping trip with strap on bags: no racks required.

Like the old Hiace we drove into the ground last century, my Surly Krampus is a handful until you load it down. Add enough food and camping gear, cutlery and spare parts, two bottles of water and 1.5 litres of brew and it becomes a trail smashing hell beast. Its oversize wheels and tyres allow it to plough along with scant regard for roots, rocks, mud or ruts. Even ruts full of mud, rocks and roots.

We reached the first hut, deserted and picturesque, but it was too soon to stop. The second hut along the trail would have seen the perfect distance covered for the day, but it was occupied. It looked like the tenants were DoC workers on a long visit, unless hunters have started using weed-eaters to save ammo. There was an industrial sized example on the picnic table.

Short meeting ensued, decision made to take a side trail to another hut. It was a good choice.

The best bit of trail, a beautiful spot, and a tidy, vacant hut. Beers, fire, food, stars, moreporks.

In the freezing morning, wearing everything we had, we started the day on an unknown trail in the middle of a forest. That experience is a must-do.

Just wake up, kit up, and get going.

Rejoining the main track we found climbs that have been a struggle on previous trips were much more pleasant than usual. Loaded riding is slower, but so what? The day unfolded with plenty of time to stooge along, take in the forest, and make sure everything in our bags that was edible was accounted for by voyage end.

The final entertainment was provided by Stu, trying to get back to his TV recording device before finding out what had happened overnight. Not sure if he made it.

I didn’t. On returning to the Jailhouse where we had parked I asked the proprietor what he got up to while we were gone. Nothing much, he reckoned, just down to Murupara for a couple of games of darts. I asked him if he won, which he misunderstood, and said yup, All Blacks 34 - 17.

WPSled My sled, loaded for travel. About to get dirty.

WPam Early in the morning it was cold but otherwise great.

WPHArm Harm eats his breakfast. Or dinner. Probably dinner (note beer).

WPMap Map of our trip. Where we actually slept was off the map. Literally.

WPWine David brought this wine bottle along. It did not want to go, and tried to escape twice. It didn't get away.


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