Frankly Thursday is back for the new year! This week we catch up with Tryfan Ephraim from Wainui and get his take on what's good in life and mountain biking......How old are you (if you want to tell us)? 39 (but I feel more like 16 after a ride!)
Where do you live? Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt (I migrated from the UK in 1997) What do you like best about living where you do? Wainuiomata - cheap housing, quality custom made trails, great surf nearby, beach fires and the stars at night. I enjoy my morning runs with the dog and being only 20 mins from Wellington CBD! Wellington's MTB scene is VERY vibrant, there is so much on every weekend and often midweek. When winter comes around people don’t back off, instead of they just go night riding! Racing a techie trail at night with two dogs and two mates in the rain and finishing with a few beers in Wellingtons is a VERY good way to spend a Friday night! As far as work is concerned I teach some great kids at Wainuiomata High School – it’s very diverse ethnically. Good teaching in Wainuiomata means good relationships, I love being more than just a teacher I guess – a bit of parenting, some social work, it’s challenging but extremely rewarding - never a dull moment! What do you dislike about living where you do? Winter weather and not enough ‘outdoorsy’ people live here. Too many people label Wainuiomata badly – it’s a ‘real’ place, sure it has its troubles from time to time, where doesn’t? Living here works for me right now, it’s not at all pretentious or ‘showy’ – I like that.
What's your involvement with the Wainui MTB trails? I designed the first track (Beeline) and built it with kids from our school. I am still the president of the Wainuiomata Trail Project (wtp.org.nz). I help coordinate the volunteers, dig and design new trails, guide others with their design and project planning. I also do a lot of emailing / discussion with Hutt City Council who we work closely with, they appreciate our efforts and look after us really well. On a personal level, going out with the dog for a ride, tweaking jumps, rollers and berms here and there, testing new lines… It’s healthy, community focussed and feels like an extremely rewarding thing to be a part of. I used to drive miles with a surfboard looking for perfect empty waves in Taranaki, now I go riding close to my house and build trails to teach me to ride better. I am known as a bit of an ideas man I think! Luckily this one came through for me and lots of people are now getting involved and enjoying our trails.
How did you get involved in the MTB scene to begin with, how long ago was that? Started in 2004 – moved here from Taranaki and realised I better find something else to do instead of surfing! Started riding bikes again, (I used to own a Haro freestyler BMX as a kid) discovered Wellington’s trails, the Eastbourne walking tracks and realised how much potential Wainuiomata had as a mountain biking destination.
What's your 'day' job? Part time teacher at Wainuiomata High School – I teach Design. Also working for Gabby doing MTB skills clinics in Wainuiomata / Wellington helps pay the bills. Whats the story behind FLÔE clothing? I started screen printing T-shirts for volunteers who came and helped us dig trails in Wainuiomata. You couldn’t buy them and they could only be ‘earned’ so to speak and Flôe just evolved from there. I have been self employed as a printmaker and as a sculptor in the past. Printing, making clothing patterns and learning about modern fabrics / digital printing and manufacturing techniques for MTB clothing seemed like a logical progression.
Best thing about overseeing FLÔE clothing? It’s got the potential to become a really sweet little MTB lifestyle job with a real local / NZ focus. Out of the office I like to ride lots - (sifty DH, trail missions, ‘older bloke friendly’ dirt jumping etc.) So riding and digging trails, plus attending / helping friends run some of the numerous Local MTB events keeps me fit AND inspires me to make graphic art / design new Flôe stuff. Getting an idea for an artwork / garment / product from something that day, developing the idea, seeing it go into production and watching people getting stoked on it for themselves - It’s a good feeling. It would be great if Flôe could fund events, sponsor people, put up cash to build new tracks, amenities and skate parks etc... Philanthropy? - Right now I am skint and dreaming but it will hopefully happen one day! I love learning new techniques from the machinists and printers who do some outworking for me locally. I choose to be working, designing and learning all the time, I have always struggled to sit still and do the ‘chill out’ thing! A constant stream of ideas and inspiration comes from living in NZ and spending time outside doing good stuff with good friends on bikes. Travelling through NZ with a bike or surfboard is very inspiring as an artist / designer. Even better - living in Wellington and being known for digging trails / owning an MTB - It’s like knowing the Mafia! – ‘Once you're in - you're in for life’ so to speak!! So many people here in Wellington have helped me, become my friends, and inspired me. Flôe is about life viewed from the saddle of a bike expressed through clothing design and graphic artworks. Of course, we all need well-made ‘technical’ clothing to go out and enjoy the outdoors. However, I need Flôe to have a bit more soul than that though… (Why do few of us wear our MTB stuff to the pub..? – because we look like geeks)!
Worst thing about overseeing FLÔE clothing? Money v time – it’s hard starting something new and not being able to work on it enough to develop it how you really want because you have to do other stuff to pay the bills. Anyone else who has gone through the struggle of starting a small business and doing everything themselves has my utter respect!
What are your plans for the New Zealand summer? Developing lots of new product ideas I have for Flôe, and building a decent homepage (long overdue). Getting my DH track from the Wainuiomata hill summit into Sea view agreed by our council so we can get it dug and enjoy some serious local shuttling. Rebuilding my SS, it's a bit lighter to work off the pies and do some XC races and team events with friends on. Working on my jumping (my right hand whips suck!), helping Hadley Boyce tune his pump tracks in Karori, (possibly build my own at home). Getting up earlier to do longer bush runs with my dog in the morning, finding more time to go surfing with my friend when the swell is around.
You do some coaching for MTB Skills Clinics in the Wellington area, what'sthe most rewarding part of this job? You think about your own riding a lot more deeply when you do the Instructor training with Gabby, she is ultra experienced and has broken everything down to the finest details. When you unpack someone else’s riding with them you can expose bad form, and get people riding smoother and faster. We all love to ride, but imagine someone waving a magic wand over you and you instantly feel yourself riding better! That’s exactly what happens for a lot of people on the skills clinics. Clients get to spend several hours immersed in their riding world, they remove their own bad habits, replace them with better formand come out way smoother. It’s a buzz to see people improve, gain confidence, go faster and get more out of the very thing that we all enjoy most – our own riding.
Who do you think was the most legendary MTB rider in the World in the last 15 years and why? I would probably say Kelly Slater – World surfing champ x10! (I am a newbie to MTB - a 39year old ‘grom’ no less so don’t have 15 years experience in the sport). I like what I read about Hans Ray – older dudes riding super smooth is pretty inspirational to me, Steve Peat also for his longevity. What's wrong with mountain biking? Too many ‘takers’. There are a few people out there who ride past you when you’re digging trail and almost glare at you for getting in their way! My mate’s van had a ‘Give until it hurts’ sticker in the back window – Believing if something does not go your way it’s because you did not help others enough – isn’t that the line the Buddhists walk? I like that philosophy. In honesty MTB is a sweet scene, in contrast surfers are often selfish, hussling each other for waves on a good day, staying secret squirrel about where the waves are good etc... MTB has a fantastic vibe – if you dig trail, help organise events or drive the shuttle car to the top one extra time everyone is your friend. If a trail is busy, no problem, just let people pass by and enjoy each section of a trail with your friends between other groups enjoying the same trail that day. A few people ‘talk bike’ - Is the latest and greatest piece of gear really that interesting? It’s much nicer to talk about riding or the trail. MTB is new and we all benefit from important technical innovations, but sometimes riding a Singlespeed feels good, it’s simple and wont break the bank, I don’t miss surfing all that much but I miss talking about getting tubed or that late take off with my friends sometimes.
What's right with mountain biking? Everything!!! (Well nearly everything) – Get involved, support your local scene, dig trails, hold fun quirky little events, lend a mate a bike, learn to do your own builds, maintainance, get super fit and stoked on the whole thing. I used to make surfboards now I make trails, I was forced to steal waves, now I share my trails. MTB in NZ is such a great community. Flôe trail Hiku – “Marvelous days lost, through paths and passageways, between dirt and sky…”
Who do you look up to? My friends – in particular Steve Wallace, Mike the Hippy and Luke Symonds. Anyone who has taught me to do something more efficiently, anyone with a real drive or a passion for something. My mum for her strength and optimism.
What are your vices? Chocolate and Facebook…
A bit of word association:
Dirt jump- Rhythm and pressure..- Cross Country - Pain (but a little bit of pain never hurt anyone!)- Downhill - Sifty(playing on the slower lines)- Juniors - Cocky (but riding with them keeps you younger..)- Wainui - School MTB club(I need to get it going again)- FLÔE Clothing. - “Who? Oh yeah - a friend of a friend of a friend has some of that stuff”!
Last words? Support any trail building happening near you, and I don’t mean give them money. Give them your time and blisters!! Without trails we would all be riding gravel roads or getting squashed by cars – Give a little and put something back!!