You know those riders that can make a chaos of roots look impossibly smooth? Well Jeff Schooler is one of those dudes, on and off the bike. Arborist during the week and shredder at the weekend, Jeff cuts through trails like the tree surgeon he is. He’s a man with far too much energy. When I first met him he told me he was working as a postie out west. He’d blat around on his postie bike up and down those brutal Waitakere hills as fast as he could so he could spend the afternoon surfing or riding. Nowadays he has just a much zip, slaying singletrack from island to sub-alpine bluff.
Who is Jeff Schooler?
Fruitcake, father, rider, tree molester and pretty opinionated!
I was going to ask how old you are, but I’m feeling my age this week. How old do you feel?
After riding or surfing, about 12 years old. After a big day on the tools, about 45! When my son Indi has the Lego out, about four.
What do you do for a crust?
I make sawdust mulch and firewood (arborist).
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Coffee! Or the boys turning up at mine for work and I’m still in bed, or a small boy jumping on me!
What would be your ideal day off?
Riding then surfing or vice versa or hanging with my boy.
When did you get into mountain biking and why?
Dad wouldn’t buy me a motorbike so I got a Panther 24″ 3 speed instead; I did enough damage to myself on that! Thanks for not getting the motorbike Dad, you’ve saved me a lot of hospital time!
Are you a bicycle monogamist? Or do you ride other bikes?
It was MTB to start with then a few road miles. Never raced them though. I have a wee stable under the house, but it’s mainly dirt orientated.
What’s your stomping ground?
Riverhead when it’s dry! And oh-my-god it’s been a good year for the head! Kaimais in the winter with a mate who lives just out of Te Aroha, and I usually throw in a few Auckland urban park missions; it’s possible to get a good few hours in just hopping between parks and linking up urban walkways and spending muck all time on the roads.
What’s the best trail you’ve ridden?
Ever? Wakamarina [Wairau Valley to Wakamarina Valley, Marlborough region], I still dream of it! Last year, Okiwi, Harataonga Great Barrier Island – so much fun! Pity though – they were upgrading it to make it more walkable. Say goodbye to a hidden gem!
Favourite bit of riding kit?
Something that left clean and came back dirty … or at least dusty!
Best thing about mountain biking these days?
It’s so accessible to so many people, more people riding means more tracks, more people enjoying the froth!
Worst thing about mountain biking?
Coming back to a hidden gem and finding it’s turned into a motorway!
What are your vices?
Coffee, beer, women (just one actually), bikes, boards, cooking meat on fire!
How would you describe your riding style?
I like it tech. After pasting myself so many times trying to fly, I figured out I may as well stick to what I’m good at!