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Author Archives: ruben

Nowhere moments

  • Posted by ruben
  • 23 September 2013

The middle of nowhere is a funny place. Even if you visit it a million times, it's almost impossible to tell anyone else how to get there, because the middle of nowhere is as much about your state of mind as the place you're in.

If you're on the side of a mountain with no houses, planes or roads in view and your phone suddenly chirps out to let you know you got a tweet, you're not there.

If you're in the woods with only the wind in the leaves and the sound of the rain for company and you thinking about bills and TV schedules, you're not there.

The middle of nowhere means going where the roads don't, to find your space and clear your head.

And it's not always about going into the wild either, it could be much closer than you might think.

Nowhere can be a hard place to find, but you'll know it when you get there.

Running Mont Blanc

  • Posted by ruben
  • 23 August 2013

Most of the team here at howies like to go running from time to time. None of us are incredibly fast. We're more Forrest Gump than Mo Farah. But although we all run different speeds, and different distances, we all enjoy getting out on our favourite routes.

In terms of distance, it's Chris, who runs our shop in town, who goes the furthest. With more than a few "ultra" runs under his belt, he gets more odd looks than the rest of us combined when people find out what he gets up to in his free time.

Next week, we'll be heading out to the Alps to support him in the biggest event he's ever entered, the UTMB trail race around Mont Blanc. It's a long run, with a lot of mountain passes to get through, but we're sure Chris will still be smiling as he makes the finish line.

Keep an eye on our Instagram for updates from the race next weekend.

Time To Empty Your Head ...

  • Posted by ruben
  • 26 July 2013
I’m sure that this state of mind and visual theatre could be priced beyond any gym membership, but no-one’s managed to make it an exclusive ‘members only’ club yet. This is a relief. It means that we can all join, any time, for free.

Words and illustration by Anna Koska

We're all defined by lots of things really, and writing a bio I could put a heap load of waffle down. But to keep it tight.. and truthful…

I'm an illustrator, and I'm a forest runner.

I started running in the forest for lots of obvious reasons, like health, no gym membership, and convenience (it's on my doorstep).

But it's become clear that it goes beyond the obvious.

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Through forest running I have rediscovered something utterly amazing that I thought I’d lost forever in my old school satchel. I have become reacquainted with a desire to know, to learn, to dream big. As each foot falls on deer carved pathway, my mind begins to loosen from the ties that bind it to the usual rhythms of work/home life. And with this uncorking of my stuffed, distracted and chattering head, there appears a space. It doesn’t really seem to matter what my feet are doing, how my ankles are adjusting to rock, mud and shale, whether my quads are aching or whether I’m picking an errant gnat out of my eye. The head space remains accessible, available. So I find my mind wandering freely through new questions, new curiosities, fresh and dewy plans.

And amongst all this cerebral stuff that’s going on, my eyes are drinking in this extraordinary and ever changing theatre of the forest. The colours range for Monet to Van Gogh, depending on season and light. This light can play tricks on the lower canopy, transforming it into the biblical burning bush. Shadow can create a moving form that seems to race a pace behind me. One late Winter's afternoon, the light dipped so quickly that I became disorientated. Flicking on my head torch I suddenly became aware that I was moving parallel with silent-running deer. 14 or more sets of eyes blinked back at me. My heart leapt with the shock, and the thrill.

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Running in the forest and through its seasons is perhaps the most extraordinary and innervating aspect of all. If I was just to talk about the changes of the scent and quality of the air (if I could write with a “scratch n sniff” app it would help): the dry bite of Winter's icy air sucked into lungs; the first whiff of pig manure, pulled across on a northeasterly breeze from a farmer’s field as Winter subsides; the punchy honeyed smell of warmed Spring bluebells; the damp earthiness of the freshly watered forest floor; the drying pine needles underfoot as we slip seamlessly (hopefully) into Summer.

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I’m sure that this state of mind and visual theatre could be priced beyond any gym membership, but no-one’s managed to make it an exclusive ‘members only’ club yet. This is a relief. It means that we can all join, any time, for free.

image copy 3

You can see more of her pencilship at www.annakoskaillustration.com/ and read her tweets at @gremkoska

#microadventure - the winners

  • Posted by ruben
  • 18 July 2013

Rather than going home to a sofa in front of the TV and a comfy bed after work, last month we challenged people to head out into the great outdoors to spend a night under the stars.

Together with our friend Alastair Humphreys, we took an unusual Trip on The Tube, and then asked people to get out for their own #microadventures, with prizes for the best videos, photos and stories.

Here are the winners as selected by Mr Humphreys:

3RD PRIZE – DAN AND LEO KNAPP CAMPING OUT UNDER THE STARS

2ND PRIZE – CHRISTOPH DRESSLER’S PHOTOBLOG OF HIS MICROADVENTURE

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1ST PRIZE – STEVE COFFEY AND HIS COLLEAGUES’ OFFICE MICROADVENTURE

While the competition may be over, we still think that anyone who breaks their daily routine to go somewhere new and spend a night in a bivy bag with the sound of the sea or the wind in the trees gains something every bit as worthwhile as any prizes.

Why Run?

  • Posted by ruben
  • 18 June 2013

Categories:

Why Run?

Why run?

Why tie in, to now grey shoes,
greet the flat white sky before work, after school.
Why drum the pigeon grey pavement, hay-fever dust track,
Why salt-sweat, sore ankle, mud be-spattered back.
Why go faster, go further,
when there's no-one around, why run through the still of the just waking town
and why race the cars and why not just sleep in,
if only to feel the pull in your chest of the miles you've just beaten and
Why stomp in the sun to savour the shower,
Why de-clutter your thoughts with each outdoor hour,
Why choose the challenge when you could settle for easy,
Why cool rain, cool water, Why push sore sighing limbs
down the same old roads day out and day in
just to go that little bit further than you have gone before,
just to feel a little more you
when you come back through that door.

----

This poem was sent in by howies blog follower and runner
Megan Domaille. Illustration by her friend Marjorie Newnham.

Pedal for Pizza

  • Posted by ruben
  • 5 June 2013

Categories:

Pedal for Pizza

This weekend we will be in Feltre, Italy, for our third annual appearance at the Castelli 24 hour criterium. Starting at 10pm on Friday, our team of 10 will be racing alongside 90 other teams made up of over 1,000 riders of every level, from professionals to costumed have-a-go-heros.

We have trained in the Welsh hills, we will race on the Italian cobbles. Our aim isn't to win but to beat our best score & complete at least 456 laps in the 24 hours, to have the most fun we can and to enjoy the best of Italian pizza and espresso.

Keep an eye on our Twitter and Instagram feeds this weekend for updates from the event.

Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

Two years ago our friend Alastair Humphreys visited us at howies HQ on the West coast of Wales as part of his year of Microadventure.

Al came up with the Microadventure idea to encourage people to get outside, get out of their comfort zone and go somewhere they’ve never been. A Microadventure is an adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.

Next week we're planning to get our feet wet in another Microadventure with Al and we're hoping some of you will get involved over the summer as well. We're joining forces with Trek bikes, Osprey packs and Mountain Equipment this time, too. There will be some great prizes. More on that later.

To find out more about Microadventures you can join the Facebook page here, use the #microadventure tag on Twitter, Instagram and Vine. There are videos of past adventures, tips and tricks for those planning their own adventures and lots of like minded adventurers to talk to.

We'll be updating the Facebook page (and our blog, of course) with all our upcoming adventures and more details about how you can get involved.

Remember, you do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to go somewhere you've never been.
You do not need to be an elite athlete, expertly trained, or rich to have an adventure.

Adventure is only a state of mind.
Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

Dyfi 2013 - Cramp or Glory

  • Posted by ruben
  • 9 May 2013
  • Dyfi_1
  • Dyfi_2
  • Dyfi_3

On Sunday, we made our annual pilgrimage to Machynlleth for the 12th annual Dyfi Enduro. A mountain bike event like no other. The course is tough, but rewards hard work with some of the best (if occasionally terrifying) descents and singletrack sections around.

For Ade and I it's become a bit of a yearly battle for the title of "fastest howies rider." In 2011 I beat him for the first time but the result was questionable as he'd dragged himself round suffering from some kind of manflu. I was left hungry for a more honest win. In 2012 we battled it out within sight of each other the whole way around but I wasn't able to close the gap and finished 10 minutes slower.

This year, with us both feeling equally unprepared, we rolled out from the start line through town and into the hills. With 800 riders jostling for position, I soon lost track of where Ade was in the pack, but knew he was ahead. I kept my head down and pushed on at a steady pace.

The miles passed. The uphill ones slowly, the downhill ones fast. I was losing hope of catching up until 2/3rds in, I rounded a bend and reached the feed station. Ade was there. My spirits lifted out of my tired feet. Maybe it's possible after all! I hurried to fill my bottle and grab a banana before heading off. Just ahead.

Now the mood of ride changed. For one thing, I had Somewhere Over The Rainbow stuck in my head after Ade had let me know it had been on his iPod. I pushed a little harder up the hill, trying to get a feel for how his legs were holding up. The gap opened a little but now cramp began to rise it's ugly head, snapping at our legs each time we slipped a wheel or dabbed a foot down. .

On the climb before last, I looked back and couldn't see Ade. I thought this was it. Turning into the last descent I was faced with a mire of rutted muddy tracks, I lost my wheels more than once and had to fight building cramps to keep things going in the right direction.

Dropping out of the descent onto the last bit of fire track, my chain came off. As I was trying to get it back on, I was passed by Ade. Laughing. I jumped back on the bike as quick as I could but with only 800 meters to go I knew there was little chance of closing the gap again. I finished 30 seconds after Ade. The closest honest gap yet.

Elsewhere in team howies, Chris had a great first time at Dyfi - finishing 7th of the short course riders and 4th in his category while Hazel rode an anonymous ride after forgetting to attach her race number before setting off.

At the end of the day, we all got what we really came for. The event mug to add to the collection. Post race brews never taste better than in those Dyfi mugs.

And what do I have to say about Ade's mirth while passing me with my chain woes?
Not much. I'll just let this video do the talking.

And here's a lovely little edit of the weekend from Will Sanders.

2013 Howies Dyfi Enduro on Pinkbike

A big thanks to Jon Brooke from rightplacerighttime for the photos of the weekend.
If you rode the Enduro, he's probably got some snaps of you too on his website.

howies Dyfi Enduro 2013

Ade-and-Ruben

howies Dyfi Enduro 2013

howies Dyfi Enduro 2013

howies Dyfi Enduro 2013

It's Dyfi Enduro Time

  • Posted by ruben
  • 26 April 2013

howies Dyfi Enduro - photo rightplacerighttime

Next weekend hundreds of mountainbikers from all across the UK will descend on the town of Machynlleth, nestled in the beautiful Dyfi valley, to participate in one of the highlights of the Welsh MTB calendar - The howies Dyfi Enduro, which after more than a decade has become the fastest selling and arguably most loved MTB event in the country.

Come rain or shine the course promises 60km of the best trails around and a fantastic atmosphere the whole weekend. Some long, long climbs are more than made up for by the stunning views and fast, whooping, white knuckle descents, mixed up with miles of fantastic singletrack and entertaining trailside shenanigans to take your mind off your tired legs.

In previous years the course has featured a brass band, a group of cheerleaders, a Welsh rock band, Darth Vader and a Star Wars ensemble reenacting battles from the movies, a wizard, a man playing a banjo and a wind and hailswept mountaintop rugby match. And every year there's a bar serving pints of beer just before the finish.

All in all, this adds up to our very favourite mountain bike event of the year and the excitement is starting to build in the office.

Ade, Hazel and I are starting to fine-tune our bikes. Bleeding brakes, oiling chains, choosing tyres. This year we're joined by our resident trail runner Chris, who manages the shop in Cardigan. He has borrowed a bike from a friend to see what all the fuss is about, although with a couple of 100 mile trail running races on his calendar we're half expecting him to shoulder the bike at the start and run the course.

This year the howies Dyfi Enduro is proud to be raising money for Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team who will also be fundraising at the event on the day.

Follow the news on the Dyfi MTB events Facebook page.

We hope to see you there.

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