Nicknames are one of those things that you acquire for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s just a shortening of a first or last name. Other times it’s a term of endearment. In most cases however, a nickname comes from some sort of historical basis, related to events or activities that have occurred.
I arrived at my riding Nickname, DZ, in the mid-90s, affectionately given to me by my riding crew while I lived in the Northern Territory. It was short for Danger Zone and became such a part of my riding identity that even my car’s licence plates reflected my nickname.
For those of you now too young to remember (and I really hate saying that), “Danger Zone” was the name of a song from the soundtrack of the movie “Top Gun”. It was a movie that I watched which inevitably led to my joining the Royal Australian Air Force as a pilot.
My time in the RAAF was during the 90s when mountain biking had begun to become popular and technological advances such as suspension and V-brakes were becoming prominent on the machinery of the time. So you could be forgiven for thinking that the name arose from the fact that I was in the Air Force and had at one stage flown aircraft.
But you would be mistaken.
In actual fact, the name was given to me due to the rather frequent incidents that occurred while I was riding a mountain bike – otherwise known as crashes. What used to occur was that during these incidents, anyone that was riding too close to me would inevitably be sucked into the vortex of my crashes. My riding crew surmised that there was in fact a “Danger Zone” around me whenever I was on a mountain bike and that it was best to be safe distance away while riding. The fact that I used to bend handlebars when landing jumps or snap derailleurs and other bike components didn’t help the matter.
For those of you that may be vaguely aware of my riding reputation, this may come as a complete shock and surprise to you.
The truth of the matter is that my tendency to crash on two wheels began well before I ever touched a mountain bike. At the ripe old age of 5 years old I had a race down the street against a friend. At the end of our street was a speed bump made from tar and gravel. I can clearly remember the bike flipping on impact, sending me over the handlebars and face first into a bunch of rocks that had been stuck together.
By the time I was 8, I had snapped the forks of three BMXs and landed on my face at least as many times again.
When I returned to mountain bike riding in 2015, being older and wiser I thought I had quite possibly left such recklessness behind. However on my very first ride on the Gold Coast’s local trails I crashed not once or twice, but three times.
At the time I put that down to cobwebs in my riding abilities and figured that I would improve as skills returned and improved. In actual fact, all that has happened is I now crash at much faster speeds.
So there you have it – the origins of my riding nickname DZ. Which incidentally serves as a reminder – it’s best not to ride too close to me… just in case an incident happens!