Florence’s Finest

  • Posted by aron
  • 3 March 2011

howies team rider Dan Yeomans is also an artist (and a pretty fine one at that). In true Mr Yeomans style, he has excelled once again by receiving an invitation to Florence Academy of Art - arguably the most prestigious art school in Europe.

So this is where you come in. To help fund his studies Dan is offering anyone interested the opportunity to order a painting in advance. Once his studies are complete he will then paint you a portrait as agreed.

For more information please have a look at his donation page here and watch his video. Dan's painting skills are exceptional, he even did a portrait for our Lou.

For more of Dan's work, visit his site here.

Thanks.

January

  • Posted by dan
  • 3 February 2011

Brings a few changes in lifestyle for some.

After december any aches and injuries left over start to take their
toll. The most common being 'shin bang' (basically sore shins from
skiing hard every day.) My friend Josh is adamant he's found the
solution, that being his girlfriends epilator! Not the most glamorous
thing in the world, and yes I do give him stick for it.

The main change I seem to have made is a talent to eat even more
than usual. For anyone who knows me thats already quite a lot of
food! I have therefore developed a new type of fast food now known
as 'the seasonaires pasty' Yes it is a pasty, except it fills a
large dinner plate.

During December we did lots of skiing, falling over and finding our
skiing legs again. This season Josh and I have entered some
freeride ski competions around Switzerland so we are now just trying
to push oursleves to do better lines, bigger cliff drops and of
course have as much fun along the way!

Here is a nice shot from a thin line which I found along the top of
a cliff , up until the drop off point the width of the ledge was
only about a 1.5metres wide with a slight hangover above my head.....

Engelberg gets tracked out very fast as it's a really popular area
for 'freeride skiing' So a few days after the fresh snow I got my
touring skis out and spent some hiking and skiing fresh powder where
there is no lifts.

These are the days when you really do need your map, and your
compass, your avalanche gear and a trusty friend but your always
guaranteed some stunning scenery and untouched wintery white
landscape to ski on. Hike number one of the season was sometime
last week and below is the view from the top........

Next came the huge dump of powder! it didn't stop snowing for at
least three days so this is our perfect opportunity for some really
great skiing and practicing going as big and scaring ourselves as
much as we dare. So we head up the revolving lift which goes above
the famous glacier 'Steinberg' and I spot this great spot for a good
cliff drop. As we get half way up the lift some other guys are
beating us to it and we have to watch them ruin our landing. So
instead, we decide take the next cliff along which was a good 5
metres bigger, and from take-off to landing between measuring about
15-20 metres.....quite a bit out of our comfort zone! But you only
live once hey!

Here is the take-off and landing shots below: (taken from a video
clip so the quality isnt great)

This was probably the best powder day we had seen all season. By the
end of the day we all had seriously sore shins from dropping cliffs
and I also had a little tangle with some rocks which ended in the
worst dead leg just below my hip

To finish off the perfect weekend me and a friend Dani went for a
really nice ski tour yesterday. Starting at 9am, we were the first
people up there, hiking fresh tracks. Taking it quite easy as I
still had a really sore bum and leg!

It was a stunning day, with the misty clouds bringing more snow but
as we arrived nearer the top we came above the snow clouds and into
the sun shine which created a kind of crystalized view of everything
and a real mystic feel to the mountain.

We arrived at the top at midday just in time for lunch. Now thats
what I call healthy eating!

Needless to say, the ski down was perfect in every way.

So thats pretty much it for this month. In the meantime I have some
portraits to paint from life, some more ski touring planned, and a
whole lot of exploring to do.

For those of you who have never experienced the mountains in winter
time it really is something special!

> www.danyeomans.com
> www.danyeomans-art.com

Something Familiar

  • Posted by james m
  • 31 January 2011

With increasing summer resorts, bike parks and relaxed access rights creating an ever growing abundance of riding opportunity across Europe, a mountain biker’s lifestyle is fast becoming close to that of the surfer bum. Large groups of lads and ladies can be spotted all across the continent piling out of beat up vans, piecing together rickety bikes and enjoying each and every venue along the way.

Of course there is more to it than just the sport itself; the people to meet along the way, the places, the views and the ordeals all make the sport bums lifestyle adventurous, fulfilling and therefore enticing. It’s always nice to see something unfamiliar and curious.

This searching could go on forever and ever, which, personally, I can’t see any particular problems with. Yet having recently been cooped up in an entirely non-exotic location in the UK, I have come to realise that sometimes more familiar surroundings could do with a closer look too.

The British riding scene has grown rapidly and from strength to strength over the last few years. With weekly uplift services running across the country, multiple races taking place every weekend and trail centres popping up all over the shop, there is a lifetimes worth of riding to be explored right here on this island. With more investment in mountain biking to come, there has never been a better time to be a mountain biker in Britain.

Last weekend whilst riding at one of the newest downhill venues in Wales, Nant Gwtheyrn, we were treated not only to a superb and demanding track with excellent facilities, but also gifted a stunning sunset across the Westerly cliffs. I think a good sunset can be measured on how long a crowd can be rendered speechless, in this instance there was silence until the last of the light was out. We certainly aren’t lacking in good countryside either then.

Another Super Nice place right here in Britain and I can’t wait to be back and racing the first BDS (British Downhill Series) race. Be there 20th March if you fancy visiting an unfamiliar venue with an interesting history, seeing some of the worlds best riders hurling themselves down the steep hillside and particularly if you like a silence-inducing view every once in a while.

www.britishdownhillseries.com

Thank you very much to SRE, BOS, Riders Refuge, Kingdom Bike and of course howies.

Changing Priorities

  • Posted by will
  • 10 January 2011

The stack of reading material here is illustrative of my current list of priorities. At the top are two quite magnificent books by Jez Alborough about Bobo the chimp. Bobo is quite a central character in our house at the moment and these books have made bedtime (and most other times) a lot easier for all concerned. I have spent more time narrating the adventure of Bobo than I have looking at much else. Highly recommended for those looking to entertain a 'wee-one' or indeed themselves. No-one is too old for books with titles such as 'Yes', 'Tall' and 'Hug'?

Sat beneath Bobo very symbolically are two of the books I'm attempting to make sense of for a much maligned thesis. Kant, Locke, Marx and the like don't have the draw of Alborough, Cuncliffe and the Ahlbergs and sadly I have no-one else thrusting these books in my lap like I do with those that sit at the top of the pile so I am reliant on self-discipline to open these. But 'needs must' and these books (and too many others to count) are piled up on my desk awaiting my attention.

At the bottom is a field of 'literature' that at one time in my life I read intensely. A combination of the ability to get a 'quick fix' of bmx news and trivia from the web and everything else I have to read means these magazines dont get anywhere near the attention that my 16 year old self was able to give them. My priorities are thus structured in this order and riding has to fit in between everything else rather than everything else fitting around the riding as it has had to do for so much of the last 15 years. Having said that, riding still provides a much needed escape and connects me to a group of friends when around whom nothing much seems to have changed (which is a good thing!). Over the last year or so my good friend Jamie Barron and I have managed to sneak in a number of trips out near and far to ride and film and the video below is the result.

A big thank you to Jamie for putting this together and a big thanks to Jez Alborough and the like for making such damn fine books to entertain a 16 month old. Locke, Kant and co are mostly long gone so I'll spare them the thanks......

The Two Harrys

  • Posted by will
  • 17 November 2010

'Different horses for different courses' or so the saying goes. Bikes I think fit this idiom so very well. It is easy to envisage having one bike as a jack of all trades but I think it becomes apparent (and this has taken me years to admit) that different bikes are designed for different types of riding. I have spent years cycling a bmx bike to school then college and then to work determined to stay 'pure' and not 'sell out' to any other type of bikes. In my old age with knees no longer prepared to put up with riding any real distance on 20" wheels I slowly came round to the idea of getting a 'proper' bike for getting from A to B and keeping the little bike for fun.

The two bikes in the picture are, I think, about as far apart on the spectrum of bike design as you can get but suit my needs pretty perfectly. One has taken me around the world (as a reason to travel if not the means) and the other takes me across Manchester everyday and over the Irwell river into Salford. The link between them as tenuous as it may seem comes in the name of the designers: Both are the product, in the main, of men called Harry. The big one a Harry Quinn frame (I think possibly as old as I am.) decked out with the finest second hand bits that ebay and various bike geek's garages around Manchester had to offer for a reasonable price; and the small one the product of the imagination of Harry Schmitt at wethepeople bike co (in collaboration with Ashley Charles). The two have provided me with everything I need to keep pedalling on a bike suited perfectly to my alternating requirements. Cheers Harry(s).

King of Projects/Welsh Road Trips

  • Posted by james m
  • 15 November 2010

Last year over several of the finest beers to come out of the Alps (anyone that has been to Morzine will know the beer, good enough to keep quiet about), my friend Chris and I started to muse the idea of starting a bike company “to serve the needs of real bike riders.”

Chris may have had a few post-ride ales, yet somehow he stayed true to his word. Myself on the other hand, well I have no recollection of the conversation, only the words that Chris poked at me when he was being pro-active and putting things together.

Fortunately, I was allowed in on this project after all, and for a little while now I have been attempting to refine one of the frames to as close to perfection as possible. That process has involved mainly putting pedals on the bike and going out riding, if I’m to be honest.

But that’s all good according to the ‘boss’, and last month Chris even took me and my friend Al Stock on a road trip around some of North and Mid Wales’ finest testing grounds. This is a little vid that Chris made during the trip, almost lost forever after he left his shiny, expensive laptop in a car park in Betws! Oops. Turns out folk are pretty trustworthy round those parts anyhow.

Here’s to the last sunshine seen in Wales before the green country plunged into darkness for another few months.

Thank you kindly to howies, Riders Refuge, Kingdom Bike and Shinny Racing for covering my back at all times..

Find – The Mountain Bike Film

  • Posted by james m
  • 9 November 2010

Adventures are never ending, bike rides forever commencing.

Earlier this year I travelled to Tenerife with Dirt mag and Rowan Sorrell, bike rider, traveller and crafter of some of the finest bike trails Wales (and beyond) has ever seen.

I moved to Morzine in the Alps just after I turned 16 – I had a job cleaning bogs courtesy of a family friend – and at that time I entered mountain bike utopia. I was young and certainly naïve, but was fortunately well mentored by a good bunch of folk from all over the world.

One of those was Rowan, who I met on the hill one day and he showed me how a bike can be ridden with unbelievable style and grace – I can still remember being in awe of all the whips, tables and drifts that he pulled out in the space of one run, and all the more, how much fun Rowan was having.

Well, that was one day out of a summer that shaped the rest of my life, and now I continue to enjoy bikes and travel as much as ever, and it is so good to see that Rowan still shares that passion.

‘Find’ is a mountain bike film by Mark Huskisson, who joined us on the trip exploring Tenerife. Marks incredible filming skills along with his shared passion for bikes have come together in this film and captured, for me, the essence of it all. Not a high action, huckin’, flippin’ and spinnin’ freeride film, but rather the opposite – a calming, uplifting, motivating bicycle adventure captured.

This is the teaser, and those are Rowans voice and skills at the start. A real treat.

Film teaser by Mark Huskisson of Reset Films.

For making all my adventures possible, thank you to howies, Riders Refuge, Kingdom Bike and Shinny Racing. Here’s to many more.

James McKnight

  • Posted by james m
  • 1 November 2010

I’m James McKnight

I’m 24 years old, born in Britain (Wiltshire), I’ve lived around the world (well, mostly Europe but I did live in Australia for a few years), and this is a bit about me:

Riding, racing, testing, guiding, coaching, writing

Biking, hiking, journeying, pikeying

Veg eating, fun loving

…hippy..?

I don’t in any way, shape or form claim to be a world saving activist, nor do I claim to be a hippy .. Er, but I kind of am (not the world saving bit, just the hippy).

I ride bikes for a living – not in a professional kind of way but I scrape through by guiding people around the mountains of Europe, testing products, coaching kids (and adults, but we’re all young at heart, hey?), writing for websites and dirt mag, and working for a chalet firm in the alps (riders refuge, by the way.)

Bikes have taken me on one big journey since I started racing aged 12; since then I’ve worked in the alps, raced and bumbled my way across the continent, and inhabited a lonely Spanish hillside, amongst other experiences.

Throughout 2010 I have travelled constantly around Europe and even across America (in all honesty, the journey was from Nevada to Utah, so not really ‘across’ the US, but it sounds good). I saw a lot of places this year and felt that i missed some opportunities to share them with the world.

Looks like my adventures will continue for the foreseeable future, so I’m going to be subjecting all you howies readers to my weekly(ish) ramblings from my travels from now on.

For what you are about to embrace, god help you.

Oh, and thank you howies, kingdom bike, riders refuge, shinny racing and all the other lovely folk that help me along my way in this endless search.

Ta very much.

{photo by Keno Derleyn}

Caersws Cup

  • Posted by ruben
  • 20 October 2010

Here's our friend and team rider Dan Yeomans on the grass podium after coming down the hill 2nd fastest in round 5 of the Caersws Cup downhill race.

He was under 1 second off the top (or middle) spot.

Nice one, Dan.

(by the way, the shirt he's wearing will be available online shortly as part of our winter range)

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