I posted a photo on the Nzo Facebook page the other day which has received more than the usual amount of attention.
I wouldn’t call it viral, especially after contracting COVID a few weeks back. That is viral. But it does show an admirable level of interest in the grass-roots side of mountain biking from the people on our circle, or whatever you call anybody likely to see an Nzo post.
The image shows young James, stoked on life after climbing a long singletrack called Apumoana. This thing gains 204m in two and half kilometres, and starts in a spot that requires a bit of effort to get to. The reason he was so keen to ride up Apumoana was the trail he wanted to ride when he got to the top: Te Poaka, which means The Pig.
He had seen the videos, now he wanted to test his new (second-hand) bike on it.
That is the connection I want to note: he had seen the videos. Being able to dial up just about any trail in the known universe for your research or entertainment is easy in these post dial-up days.
But back when the internet was mainly an idea looking for a broadband to express itself on, and Nzo was a fairly new shop in Rotorua, simple point-of-view cameras were not yet available and there was no practical way to share videos if you could create them. Which most people couldn’t.
But one of our early supporters in the Nzo project found ways to create short films and distribute them far and wide…
Our customer-turned-friend Geoff mounted a handicam (a small video camera, state of the art at the time) in a Pelican case (water and crash proof housing) strapped around his waist, connected to a pencil cam (small and simple camera) and collected footage featuring a group of early free riders figuring out how far they could push their luck.
The raw material would be edited on a primitive computer that could barely cope with the task, to create short and compelling movies that he would give to a contact at SkyTV. Amazingly, they were used as filler between segments of sports shows, and were seen by squllions, even as far afield as the UK.
He did all this around a heavy work schedule, a feat we still consider amazing.
Geoff is now a successful videographer, mercifully freed by the march of technology to do his work much more efficiently than he could back in the day.
He is the father of young James, who researched his upcoming ride online.
We rode up to Te Poaka because we are old-school, and downhills are always better when getting to them is hard.
James reckoned the effort was totally worthwhile.
The picture above shows father and son in celebratory stance, with the jawbone of the pig that gave Te Poaka its name hanging in the tree above them.