One of the highlights of the summer break was a chance meeting I had in the forest.
There is a tap and drinking fountain plumbed into the spring-fed conduit that runs along the fittingly named Pipeline Road. The intersection of Pipeline with two other descriptively titled forest roads, Direct and Red Tank, is also the exit point for The Tickler
, Hot X Buns
and Te Poaka
, and the entry to Be Rude Not To
. Bunny Jugs
and Dragons Tail
start just down Red Tank a bit.
All of this makes the large clearing a sort of de facto gathering space. It is very unusual to arrive in that dusty arena and find it empty, sometimes it is almost crowded.
I was pouring the deliciously cold water into my bottle, on to my head, and soaking my bandana
when three people pulled up alongside. They were obviously not locals, assumption based purely on their language of choice: Japanese.
We got chatting, if you can call it chatting. My grasp of Japanese is approximately zero and their English was serviceable but missing enough vocabulary and syntax when delivered live that I was not sure if anything either of us said was registering correctly.
After a few minutes I noticed there were a few Nzo products in their ensembles. With some effort we managed to establish my part in the creation of these, and then did a few slightly embarrassing but also very nice group photos. Mine turned out slightly hazy due to extreme humidity in the Sifter
It was nice to meet them, see they were having a great return visit, learn that they were customers, and not much else on that occasion (see above re language challenges).
A much clearer text conversation followed later, and we vaguely agreed to meet up if we could manage it, for a ride they had planned. They were shuttling, I was riding, timing was a little unclear, so it was amazing to ratchet my way to the top of the forest just in time to see a group disappearing into the jungle of Tuhoto
. I did a little sprint, and caught the riders I had seen, and it turned out to be my new friends.
After a helter-skelter descent there is a little clearing we call the Alien Landing, celebrated in this Limited Edition t shirt
we put on sale for a week, a few years ago. When we got there Akira pulled one of the Ts out of his bag, so he could photograph it in situ - that was the main reason they had chosen this trail for their final ride on this trip.
At least that is what I think he said.
We sold a few of those ts, a good result by Nzo standards but still a vanishingly small quantity by global standards.
That one of them ended up in Japan, was now back at the scene of its print, and that I lucked onto being present for its unveiling - priceless.
For reasons beyond my grasp, Hideki had lyrics from a Bon Jovi number taped to his top tube, and was quietly practicing them from time to time. After the ride we dropped in to the Secret Spot to round out a great day together.