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July 2018

Twenty years ago today

The first t shirt we ever produced, featured this diagram of our story as it was at the time. A few years later we were forced by other companies co-opting our name to drop a few letters, which turned out to be a good thing. The first t shirt we ever produced, featured this diagram of our story as it was at the time. A few years later we were forced by other companies co-opting our name to drop a few letters, which turned out to be a good thing.

 

Yesterday marked the 20th Anniversary of Nzo opening its doors.

The story of Nzo is entwined with our story of mountain biking, and living in Rotorua. One thing caused the others, but we are not sure which one started it all.

We started coming to Rotorua to ride mountain bikes as soon as there were any mountain bikes. A long time before there were any actual trails, there were kilometres of old logging roads snaking through the towering stands of trees in Whakarewarewa forest. I didn’t know anybody else with a mountain bike, so my solo missions blundering around in the woods was a monthly exercise in survival I looked forward to while I sat in Auckland traffic and schemed about some way of making a life around this new sport.

Fast forward about five years and several trails designed for bikes had been created. Challenge and Dipper were worth the drive from the smoke to the steam. The old roads were still there, but trails with berms and jumps - that was truly mind-expanding.

By the time we took the decision to move to RotoVegas and start Nzo the network had been extended to include what is now Tahi, and Creek.

We were several years into the business by the time RockDrop and Rosebank opened. I was amazed by a day I spent riding every purpose built trail in the forest in a complex loop, and totting up 32kms on my primitive cycle computer (which lasted about three rides before the wire got torn off). I felt like the luckiest man alive, making a living in a sport I loved, with a partner I love, in a place with several hours of singletrack right next door!

Time flies when you are 1/ having fun or 2/ flat out or 3/ both.

What got me thinking about all this was a ride I took the other night: a loop I used to ride way back when. Trees have been mowed down and trails have been reformed, trees have grown back and the rebuilt trails have matured. It is like that old bike that’s had two warranty frames and three new drivetrains - the same but different.

It is still a loop of singletrack that removed me from normal life for a couple of hours. It still stays within 2kms from the car as the crow flies, except nowadays it’s magpies. It still contains nearly every reason I need to make me hoist a leg over a mountain bike.

With so much trail spreading to the far corners of the forest - and the rest of the country - and probably the world - we might not revisit the places that first fired us up very often. 

We should. 

This year is the most exciting for Nzo since - not sure, but it’s pretty exciting. Like riding a trail that hits the sweet spot, we can’t wait for what comes next.

nzone1 The Nzo shop in 1998

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glen Glen Sisarich in Nzo shorts at NZDH Champs on the hill we can see out our window, about 1999

 

Mike Mike Metz was our number one customer, and possibly our first sponsored rider, can't remember. Here is ruling a dual in about 1999
Rob Rob Metz railing his Keewee when we supplied the graphics and moral support to NZ's first real Downhill bike builder.
DCP_1923.JPG This is Zib. She ran things for a long and happy time. Here she is in our tent at the Nzo Sydney 24 Hour in what? 2004?
Glen completes another lap of the sun, some time in our Nzo adventure Glen completes another lap of the sun, some time in our Nzo adventure
Graeme Murray taking a photo of something, like he has since literally the day we started. Graeme Murray taking a photo of something, like he has since literally the day we started.
Coxy flying the Nzo flag Coxy flying the Nzo flag

 

Bike Addiction

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Lately I have been thinking about bike addiction.

It’s been a long time since I have trained for anything, my motto is “Ride Enough to Ride Enough”. By which I mean, I need to ride enough to be fit enough to ride enough.

Last time I ‘trained’ for anything specific was aeons ago, and when I did I had a coach. One of his pearls of wisdom was to do a little and often.

When mountain biking started I was young-ish, and could ignore this sage advice. I could go forth on a fortnightly basis and smash myself into submission. As the years went by I didn’t get much better at mountain biking, but I did slowly figure out that the old coach was correct: two or three rides a week is much better than trying to cram a week of pent-up bike riding demand into a suitable Sunday afternoon. A time comes when an attempt to do that simply doesn’t work. An hour in, it’s over.

So, a decent blat on the weekend and at least one ride midweek, bare minimum.

But then circumstances allow several midweek rides. And sometimes two on the weekend. That becomes normal, and if things change and that rate can’t be managed, I get very itchy very quickly.

I have just finished my annual bout with our son. He comes to town and wants to ride every day for three weeks, sort of like the Tour de France, only at 13kph, on dirt, with skids.

This year, for the first time ever, I survived without coming down with the flu. I guess my every-other-day riding habit allowed for an every day bash, with two days off for good behaviour (and bad weather).

Now he’s gone home, and I admit that for the first 48 hours I was moving slow, and not actually on a bike at all. But then, three days in a row I have been back at it.

And it felt about right.

My question is, at what point have we had enough? I wake up with sore legs, thinking about where I can go today.

In fact, even though I aim for 500 words when I am writing these things, if I stop typing now I can probably fit in a lap of Paradise Valley before it gets too dark.

 

Doing dumb stuff since forever

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This week Glen found a notebook in a pile of stuff in a cupboard.

It was full of positive affirmations, written by me, in list form. The items commented variously on sunny aspects of our stage of life, ability to do stuff, and our engagement in things that we enjoy.

Neither of us can recall what made me write this list, but it was written in several colours, in a variety of handwriting and covered a few pages. It must have been created over a period of time. Presumably when the day-to-day was feeling less than ideal.

I read through them, and they are mostly still true, which has to be a win.

The one that made me smile the most, however, was fairly cryptic:

16. Wrist probably not broken

I am pretty sure the wrist that was probably not broken didn’t get that way from a gardening incident, or from falling down the stairs.

It would have been from doing something dumb on my bike, one of a series of dumb things I have been doing since I was dumb enough to get on one in the first place.

Example: only last night I met a Rotorua local, as we trundled back to town after our various laps of the trails high in the bush. He is the proprietor of an iconic Rotorua cafe, which opened the same month Nzo did, several decades ago. He was wearing an old Nzo bike top, and a liberal coating of dirt down his right side.

I called him out on that evidence of a mishap, and he owned up to it, got an off-camber rooty bit wrong, etc.

We parted ways at a junction, headed for a different exit, and my friend yelled “so you’re off to Strava the kids loop?” In a particularly derisive manner. Which was strictly true, but not the overall goal of my outing. So the kids loop back to the carpark: flat, fairly featureless, usually full of family groups but not when it’s nearly dark.

There are four perfect curves, with berms, and my favourite dumb thing to do there is sprint like a dog is after me for fifty metres or so before them, then whistle through them without touching the brakes. Last night it went well until the last curve, mind wandered, so did front wheel, bada bing, on the deck.

Elbow probably not broken. 

 

Its a jungle out there

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As any Australians we have ridden with will agree, there is always a point on a ride around here when we stop to compare the risks involved in our two countries of say, wandering into the scrub for a pee. It goes along the lines of, “Ha, we wouldn’t do that in Australia! There could be a (insert an almost endless list of things that you don’t want to step on or walk into for fear of a fatal outcome)”.

There are at least four such risky critters available in any Australian habitat.

We pee, we laugh, we ride on.

Same goes for South Africans. We did a big loop with a guy from Capetown. He has to consider African versions of the things that can deal to you in Australia, as well as other things.

Lions, for example.

We warned him about magpies.

Which, come to think of it, are Australian imports.

After a coffee at the trailhead we sent him off down Hemo Gorge, a pleasant little creekside trail that has become the nesting area for a posse of New Zealand falcons. The feisty male bird attacked the startled African, and tore his helmet off.

Not a Lion, but still.

As further proof that New Zealand is not the safe haven we have been promoting it to be, I had my own brush with dangerous wildlife last Friday.

Something got stuck in my shorts, and stung my leg. Probably a wasp. Another unwanted import. There must be a place on the planet where wasps perform a useful function in an ecosystem, but it isn’t up my Sifters.

By the time I worked out that the irritation wasn’t a niggly bit of foliage or maybe an errant pin (I often wear samples), and had stopped and turned my shorts inside out to make sure whatever had stung me was not still stinging me, I was kind of committed to the ride. So I kept going.

I don’t know if a couple of decent hours in the woods is what turned a wasp sting into what Dr Internet called a Large Local Reaction, but I definitely ended up with a Large Leg.

My actual Dr reckoned not to worry. Go for a ride. Which I would have if my leg would bend. Even three days later one of my feet looks like it has just come off a 24 hour flight in economy.

It’s a jungle out there. Beware.

 

The best shorts I've ever owned, period

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Just before the festive season we got a heads-up from an Nzo customer: we received another mention on bikepacking.com

The editors listed their 50 favourite items in a column called “Bikepacking Gear That Lasts: A Gift Guide”.

There is a dizzying variety of things in the list, from stuff to wear to eating aids, cookery things to trailside repair helpers. It is worth a look, even if you don’t bike pack.

There are products there we definitely didn’t know we needed.

Nzo Sifters and Scuffers made the list. They are the only shorts that did.

We are pretty happy about that, because the examples we sent for review are now two and a half years old. They must have made an impression.

Of course, all that is tempered by the fact that since not long after that review, we have been struggling to keep the things in stock.

The best 50 List even mentions that, see above. But as they say, they’re worth the wait.

And in the case of Sifters, the wait is over. We have a new batch ready to go, and they are hustling out the door even though we have only just started telling people about them.

Detail: the photo chosen by bikepacking.com for the Nzo listing shows Scuffers, our street/trail shorts for women. A full size range of that product is still “on the way”, we will yell when they are available.

 

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