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Author Archives: howies

Getting out the door

  • Posted by howies
  • 12 April 2012

Exercise makes me happy. If I run a couple of times a week I think clearer, I sleep sounder, I eat better, I work more productively. I am happier. And yet, I can go for months without going for a single run. What's with that?

It took a chance meeting with Olympic athlete Steve Cram to tell me what the problem is. It's the front door. It's there, and its shut. He told me, "it doesn't matter if you're a professional athlete or training for your first fun run, the hardest part is motivating yourself to get going. If you can pull your trainers on and get out the door, everything else is easy."

The good news is he also told me how to open the door. Its a 2 step process:

1. Set yourself a goal.
Enter a run / bike ride / triathlon / adventure race / bog snorkel.
Nothing too hard, just something you couldn't do today.

Parents, children, postman, neighbours, doctor, God, Twitter followers,
ticket collectors etc. There's no turning back now.

It works. For example, I haven't been swimming for 5 years. Then yesterday I entered a 1.5 mile swim to the Isle of Wight. I now have exactly 94 days until I walk down the shingle beach and into the waters of the Solent. So today I found my old trunks at the back of my drawer and tomorrow morning I'll be in the local swimming pool.

David came to howies to show us a website he built with a couple of friends to help people with the difficult Step 1.

You can guess what it does. It gets you out the door.

Words: David Wearn


Challenge yourself to something new and when you've found a race, let us know where you're racing on facebook, or tweet us with the hashtag #foundarace. You might even find a friend or two to get out the door with you.

Mountain biking in Brechfa

  • Posted by howies
  • 14 March 2012

Here’s your chance to win a weekend posh camping in the Brecon Beacons and ride the trails on your doorstep at Brechfa.

You and a friend could be off on an amazing weekend of mountainbiking and posh camping from the kind people at Canopy & Stars. We’ll join you to ride some of the most famed trails in the country and throw in some howies performance Merino baselayers for you both.

And the best part is you get to pick which weekend we go

To enter, simply submit your details below or over on the howies Facebook page to win a place for you and a friend.

Good luck.

Thanks for all your entries, this competition is now closed.

Friendship through adversity

  • Posted by howies
  • 7 March 2012
Twenty-five years ago, Bill and I rode rigid steel mountain bikes from Kashgar in China to Chitral in Pakistan. It was hard yakka all the way. Our friendship was young as we set off: we’d come together for the adventure.

I ride a bicycle for many reasons. Perhaps the most powerful reason at this stage of my life is to share the physical and emotional fellowship of riding with friends. Happily, all my best friends ride. I’m not saying that we can’t be friends if you don’t ride – that would be absurd – nor am I suggesting that I’m friends with everyone I’ve ever ridden with. It’s just that all my best friends do ride. That’s the way things have turned out.

When I reflect upon the friends I have now, though, I realise the link between cycling and friendship is more profound than I’d previously thought. I see there is a direct correlation between how close my friends and I are, and how many miles we’ve put in together. I’m not talking about commuting miles or Sunday morning miles. I’m talking about the hard miles, the miles where you’re hanging and sore and need help, the miles where you’re far from home, shit’s gone wrong and your mettle is being tested. These are the miles that really count. Adversity puts friendship on the line. When things go awry, we subconsciously confide in each other. This leaves a lasting bond.

Twenty-five years ago, Bill and I rode rigid steel mountain bikes from Kashgar in China to Chitral in Pakistan. It was hard yakka all the way. Our friendship was young as we set off: we’d come together for the adventure. When my cheap aluminium luggage rack fell apart deep in the Hindu Kush, Bill offered to strap one of my panniers to his back. I knew then our friendship had distance. When I got married a decade later, he was my best man.

I have as many examples of hard miles with folk I’ve subsequently come to trust as I have good friends, so when my Dad died suddenly last autumn, old riding buddies were the first people I called.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: ‘A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.’ I believe in this. It’s why I’m still riding the hard miles, and why I’m still making new friends. It’s why I’ve hooked up with Ade and Alex and the howies team to organise a ride across Wales at night, in March. When I’m lost in a dark forest with a broken chain somewhere between Cardigan and Abergavenny, when the night seems dead, when hope is fading and the right road is gone, then new friendships will be forged.

Rob Penn

On our own two feet

  • Posted by howies
  • 6 January 2012

As of January 1st, howies got small again.

When we were sold to Timberland in 2006 we became a tiny part of a $2 billion company and that was not easy.

When VF bought Timberland last September we became a miniscule part of a $10 Billion corporation.

So while everybody was crunching the big numbers, the howies management team quietly bought the business back.

We thank VF for giving us the opportunity to be small again.

It could be big.

Revolution Recap: Leif Lampeter

  • Posted by howies
  • 2 November 2011

team howies revolution 33

I was racing Revolution 33 in Manchester last Saturday. The racing started with a very fast devil scratch as usual. Somehow it started too fast and too hectic for me and I was out after only a few laps.

The next discipline was the 1k Madison time trial - a discipline I know well from Six-day Racing. Jon Mould and myself took off as the second team setting 0:58.89 as the fastest time so far. After waiting for 6 more teams to finish we were still the fastest taking a prestigious win for the Team in the discipline.

The points races at the Revolution are always a team discipline with 3 riders in a team. Adam Duggelby of our team managed to be in a group of three to make up one lap on the peloton soI worked hard to get him in the position for the sprint. He made up some distance, but finished just behind Russel Downing of Sky.

It was a very fast night of racing with a very good crowd in Manchester. I hope to have another chance to race for Team howies at the next Revolution on the 19th of November. With Sky gearing up for the next race with Geraint Thomas, the pace is set to be very hard.

Words: Leif Lampeter
Images: ©British Cycling

Event hightlights available online on the ITV Player.

One man’s junk

  • Posted by howies
  • 4 October 2011

Recycled Cotton
If you were to go into a clothing factory and have a look around, you’d see the huge amount of wastage that occurs during the manufacture of clothing for all those brands out there.

There’s tonnes of the stuff – cotton off-cuts and scraps all over the factory floor. And you can probably hazard a guess as to what most of them do with it too... that’s right, they bin it and send it all to a landfill site. Good cotton going to waste for no reason.

We wondered what could be done with that old junk material. We figured we should try to make something new with it. So we worked with the factory to fix this.

Now we are able to take all the cotton waste from those other brands and we recycle it. Those scraps are mulched into something that resembles cotton wool, ready for re-spinning into a new recycled cotton yarn, which can be made into new garments.

And interestingly, because it’s a mix of all different grades of cotton, it gives our recycled cotton pieces an irregular and washed out look and a really cosy soft hand feel.

The irony is that most of the companies who are throwing their old cotton away actually have to use harsh chemicals and processes to achieve that look. All we do is sweep up and use what they throw away.

Ironbike Roundup

  • Posted by howies
  • 8 August 2011


Ironbike Roundup

What makes the hardest Mountain Bike race in the World? How about 600km over 7 days with 27,000m of climbing in the Italian Alps!

In July I picked the hardest Mountain Bike event in the World as my first ever stage race. Starting from Limone Piemonte racing over some of the highest peaks in the Alps, including the mighty Mt Chaberton at 3131m the event finished in Sauze d'Oulz 7 days later. Not only would the distance and climbing figures make the riding hard but the terrain is challenging both up and down giving bikes and kit the ultimate challenge.

Day 1 started hard, but compared with the later days it would be one of the shortest days, with 93.5km and a huge 3560m the route was never flat and the descents were incredibly technical while the climbs were relentless, steep and loose. I finished in 6hrs 18 minutes and placed 11th overall out of the 140 starters.

The following days became harder, with Day 2 being a particular highlight of the week with a climb to the top of Monte Bellino at 3000m and the incredible never ending descent off the other side that I will never forget. Day 2 was the hardest single day of riding I have ever done to that point, 118km with 4076m climbing yet I still had another 5 days afterwards.

Day 3 had even more climbing, totalling 101km with 4262m of climbing, the trails were hard going, while day 4 looked hard, the weather decided to turn making it a incredible mental challenge as well as physical, with zero visibility and temperatures well into single figures it was my lowest point of the week. The meagre 72.5km and 3500m took 7 hours and 40 minutes, showing how tough it actually was. Despite a bad day I had managed to move up to 9th position overall.

Day 5 was a long day, but I pushed hard and relished the tough riding, finishing the 91km and 4520m climbing in a time of 8 hours and 30 minutes. The day also included a short trip through a mine! 2.5km of pitch black mine shaft, where we needed a light to see where to go which was another experience I would never forget! I was the 2nd fastest through the mine section, just 20 seconds off the fastest time. I also moved up to 7th overall, continuing the slow but steady progression up the leader-board.

Day 6 was the big one; the one everyone was fearing. A long day with lots of climbing and the highest altitude of the event – Mount Chaberton. We reached the bottom of the climb having already covered a very tough 70km and now faced the 2000m climb to the top, at 3131m. Looking up from the bottom, the gun turrets from the WW2 fort were just visible yet it seemed an impossible challenge. I set off to challenge myself against the mountain and reached the top in 2 hours 41 minutes, but still had a long way until the day's finish at Sestriere. The massive day eventually took 9 hours 51 minutes, covering 111km and 4613m of climbing and had moved up again to 5th overall. The hardest day of riding I have ever done!

With just the final day to go, everyone left in the event was looking forward to a slightly easier day, yet it was still harder than almost every UK event I have done. After 5 hours, 4 minutes with 2968m we were greeted by the town of Sauze d'Oulz and I could finally relax, knowing I had finished the IronBike. Of the 140 starters, less than 50 people finished after 7 brutal days of riding I managed to hang on to 5th position. My first ever stage race, the hardest race in the World. I had survived and have some amazing memories to take from it.

Unlike many other riders I had absolutely no mechanical problems during the event, despite the terrain being the roughest and most challenging I have ever encountered. Sensible kit choices played a part, but the biggest factor was having Ben from Wiggle as a supporter for the entire event. He kept my bikes in perfect condition, allowing me to concentrate on recovering after each day's massive effort. To finish in 5th position in my first ever stage race, which also happens to be the hardest race in the World is a fantastic achievement and something that I am very proud of.

The next event for me is another stage race, although a little closer to home this time, Trans Wales where I am hoping for another top result.

Adventure Beyond!

  • Posted by howies
  • 21 April 2011


I’ve always loved anything to do with water, especially white water.  You don’t have time to worry or stress about life.

You’re too busy having fun.

It’s something to do with the control you have. Or don’t have… I still can’t work that out…

I’ve been in Adventure beyond raft team for the past few years. This year we were invited to the new Olympic white water centre in lee valley, London.

We were competing for a place in the championships, to become the new Great British team or B team.

I didn’t think we had much of a chance though, our team captain managed to dislocate his shoulder a few weeks earlier and none of us had really done any training.

It was more of a fun run.

Don’t ask me how but a fun run turned into something serious.

We pushed hard through the competition.

At the award ceremony we discovered that team "GB" satayed as the "GB" team.

We came third. None of us were expecting great things so to be rated third in the country was awesome.

Until September that is…


The Best Seat In The House Isn’t Always In The House

Colour so rich you can almost smell it.
Detail unmatched by any screen on Earth.
It’s like you can actually feel the wind prickle the sweat on your brow, 
as you plunge into the shade beneath the trees.
Because you can.
Real breeze.
Real sweat.
Real shade.
Real trees.
It’s a High Definition, Surround Sound experience like no other.
There’s only one thing better than a 3D IMAX Technicolor sunrise.
A real sunrise.
Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats.
The show is about to begin.

Mike Reed

Illustration: Jenny Bowers

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