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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To minimise our environmental impact, we try to use as little packaging as possible – we only bag stuff when we really need to.
So if you've been a customer of ours for a while, you may have noticed we’ve changed the material our bags are made of. They used to be paper, but now they're plastic.
We’ve switched to recyclable plastic as it is the most widely recycled material available in the UK at this time. They have less environmental impact than paper bags because they weigh less, take up less storage space and use less energy.
Likewise, we've found that recyclable plastic has less environmental impact than degradable plastic. This is because degradable plastic bags cannot be recycled or composted properly in the UK, so they end up as landfill. They leave small traces of plastic in the soil that never break down. They are also known to create more greenhouse gasses than conventional plastics and paper.
The change has had a big effect and more than halved the annual CO2 footprint of our packaging.
We don't pretend that recyclable plastic is perfect. But right now, it is the lowest impact way of packaging our stuff.
The carbon impact of cycling is dead interesting. Here’s some food for thought.
There’s a lot of nonsense talked about carbon footprinting. I have a friend who believed that owning and feeding a dog was more carbon intensive than owning and fueling a 4x4.
The truth is that depending on where you draw the boundaries you can prove anything with carbon footprinting. So if your 4x4 is super efficient and only drives 6,000 miles a year and if your dog eats loads of meat that has been reared just for it (i.e. not a by-product of other part of the meat industry and not mixed with vegetable/rice feed) then yes you can show that the 4x4 has a bigger footprint.
So I wasn’t that surprised to see that US Republican Ed Orcutt declare that the CO2 emissions from riding a bike are greater than that of driving a car. Clearly Mr Orcutt is deluded. Particularly as he cites the greater expiration of the cyclists as being the cause. We can ignore Mr Orcutt on the grounds of stupidity but the carbon impact of cycling is dead interesting. Here’s some food for thought.
Mike Berners-Lee in “How bad are bananas?” looks at the impact of cycling a mile. Now the interesting thing is that it depends on what you’ve eaten. This is the fuel for the bike. So if you are fueled by cheeseburgers the impact of cycling a mile is 260g of CO2e but if you are fueled by bananas this falls to 60g. These figures take into account the embodied impact of the bike per mile.
The embodied impact of a family car kept for 200,000 miles is 100g per mile plus the impact of burning a mile’s worth of fuel (between 150g and 200g per mile). But this doesn’t take into account the fact that the car driver will also have eaten food but that the calories from this food are not burnt off but accumulated. This in turn has a knock-on potential impact of running a health service to deal with those non-cyclists who become obese (note: not all non-cyclists become obese).
So the impact of driving a mile in a car is the impact of the fuel use, the embodied impact of the car and the impact of the food eaten by the driver. So if the driver eats cheeseburgers this gives a figure twice as large as that of a cheese burger eating cyclist.
Phew, that’s complex. The key thing is to understand is where the boundaries of your study are. My advice to Mr Orcutt is to get his facts straight, trust the science and ride a bike more.
The chatter in the office suggests most of us are planning adventures over the holidays.
There's talk of trail running up Cader Idris, mountain biking in the Dales, road rides over the Preseli Hills, surfing (if we're given the gift of waves) and New Year swims for the hardy.
Next year we'd like to build a short movie of these adventures and it would be great if you could get involved.
If you send us a 30 second(ish) video, a great picture or a map of your adventure by 14th January*, we'll select the best ones and they'll be put in the movie and featured on the blog.
Everyone who gets their adventure featured in the video will win a t-shirt specially designed for the event.
How To Enter
*To enter, email your video to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, upload your entry to our Facebook page or tweet us @howies.
Competition closes 14th January 2013, judges decisions are final, your photos and videos may be used on the howies site but you will be notified and credited. (We think it's important to be open and up front about that stuff.)