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. All photos courtesy of Sven Martin.
I’m not too sure how many of you know this, but in my previous life, I submerged myself in the fashion industry. I studied in Los Angeles, sewed, screen printed, bought, merchandised, designed, the whole lot, so clothing is in my blood and a passion of mine that has been put aside for many years to make room for bikes. To be able to visit a company like Nzo, who runs everything from their house, was a dream come true and something that I aspire to one day. After meeting the dynamic duo of Gary and Glen, I was even more excited about these shorts and everything else. They were the coolest couple, making the coolest shorts, and they just got on board as one of my new sponsors.
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.
It was a no brainer that I wasn’t going to let go of these guys (or my shorts) with the formation of the Juliana-SRAM Pro Team going into the 2015 season. I was pretty adamant that my kiwi Scuffers, my new kiwi identity was coming along for the ride, and of course my teammates were just as excited to get a pair fitted to find out what my raving has been all about.
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.
Besides their amazing shorts, they write up a fabulous blog, support endless events, are heavily involved in the biking community, participate in races, festivals, and all the fun stuff that goes along with bikes. Every few months they release a funny new T-shirt that pops up on their site and they have also collaborated with the good people over at Ride Central in Rotorua for those of you who are more visually inclined. It is one freaking cool bikers' destination store.
I don’t plan to change my shorts anytime soon, they’re stuck with me for many more adventures & races to come, and they’re made so darn well, that they will last for many more years to come. Trust me ladies, these shorts are keepers!
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.
Cheers to Nzo Active, Gaz, and Glen for all your support.
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