A Microadventure on the Tube

  • Posted by alex
  • 13 June 2013
Adventure needn't be big, expensive or complicated. Adventure can be found right on your doorstep. In fact it's really easy and it's really fun.

A couple of weeks ago, our old friend Al came down to see us and take us out on some Microadventures. We headed out and spent 2 nights kipping in bivvy bags out in the wild. And now we want you to get out there too.

Adventure needn't be big, expensive, far away or complicated.

You could leave work, head to your local tyre shop, inflate a tractor inner tube and float down the river to cook dinner and sleep on the beach.

You don't need lots of kit either. You can use a survival bag instead of a bivvy, or use blankets if you don't have a sleeping bag. You could even eat a pub on the way so that you don't need a stove or cooking utensils.

Join In With The Summer Of Microadventure

On the night of June 21st (or around then if you can't make it) grab a friend, a colleague, or go on your own. Head for the countryside by bike, on foot, by train, canoe or however you like. Sleep out under the stars and have fun.

Whilst on your microadventure (or when you arrive home), post a photo or video of your adventure on the Microadventures Facebook page, or use the hashtag #microadventure on Twitter, Instagram or Vine.

The top 3 microadventures will win prizes too.

It's as simple as that.

A howies Microadventure on the tube - inflating tubes

A howies Microadventure on the tube - floating downstream

A howies Microadventure on the tube - arrived safe

A howies Microadventure on the tube - time to cook

A howies Microadventure on the tube - fire

A howies Microadventure on the tube - home for the night

Here are some inspirational Microadventure videos from some of you too, from last time we asked to you head out on a Microadventure.

Vai, vai, vai!

  • Posted by alex
  • 11 June 2013
The pace was so hard and fast that your lungs and throat burned when you came off from a set of laps and back to the tent.
We've just got back from a long weekend in Italy, racing bikes at the Castelli 24 hour criterium.

24 hours with Phil Collins*

“I would rather have a kidney removed with a plastic knife in a branch of KFC but we’ll sign up again for next year”

Every June in the foothills of the Dolomites the centre of Feltre is closed off for 24 hours of thundering thighs. The relay criterium event around a 1.8km circuit is organised by our old friends at Castelli and is about as much fun as you can have on a bike unless you own a tandem with the seats very close together.

100 teams of 8-12 riders take to the line with strategies that vary from “we’ve paid for a pro- rider so we are going to get our money’s worth” to “I’m sure the rest of the lads will be along in a minute, I’ll keep going until they get here”. For sheer guts I admire the tenacity of the latter.

The course goes up for longer than is entirely necessary, down for a disappointingly short time and has a long straight section that provides useful thinking time for composing an excuse should you decide to hand over early and a nearby canal if you just want to end it all. The lap finishes on a cobbled section sponsored by the local dentist.

Notable features apart from all the cycling stuff are the tannoy operators taste in music, which lurches from abysmal (Genesis) to please make it stop (Genesis), the chance to see a former world champion emerge from a putrid port-a-loo and the local Sprizzone which seems like an ideal pre-race drink. Like Italian footballers or Michael Douglas it goes down easily.

The combination of sleep deprivation, Sprizzone dehydration and trying to ride as fast as you can tests your mental strength so you WILL hate it for a bit but 5 minutes after it’s over you are booking the hotel for next year.

Great event. Fantastic people. Get some friends together and do it one year. You’ll never look back.

Thanks Castelli for a great event.

*As you can see from the picture Hazel’s bike is a Genesis.

Warming up nicely

Rooftop views and mountains

Assembling our bikes

Fuelling up

Practising the 2 Laps Signal

24hr Start / Finish Gate

Fatigue starting to show

Carbon fibre galore

Busted Cleats

Rain stops racing

Last year's event video.

Revolution Round 1 round-up

  • Posted by alex
  • 30 October 2012

"1. Don't crash.
2. Be in the front third"

Mike and I headed up to Manchester Velodrome at the weekend to watch our track team race in the Revolution Series.

Standing trackside we listened in on the team briefing for the evening -
"1. Don't crash. 2. Be in the front third" Team manager Kyleigh tells everyone. You can't win from the back and that's where the crashes happen. It sounds simple enough, but with steep bankings and wheels nipping at the rider's tyres in front, anything can happen. It's what makes track cycling so exciting.

A gentle hum from rollers set a tone for the evening. Riders spend longer warming up and cooling down than they do racing, occasionally turning the roller-hum to thunder as legs went into a sprints to stay warm and race-ready.

The team love racing in front of such a big crowd - especially the juniors. Normally, track events aren't as well attended, but at Revolution, the deafening cheers from the stands will on aching legs and make for a great atmosphere.

Between races everyone fettles their bikes; swapping sprockets to change gearing and fixing punctures. Everyone has their own spare wheels, cogs and tools - some borrowed, some hand-me-down - all tidily stowed in the tiny team pit.

A crash in the boys final race called for Dust Busters and gaffa tape to take up splinters and plug gaps in the track. Pringled wheels are swapped for true and grazed knees stay on for the last few laps. Even a crash wouldn't stop the guys from getting back on their bikes and everyone finishing the night on a high.

Mike captured a bit of video and we'll be doing little film about the team and the event which we will release at the end of the series.

In the meantime, you can watch highlights of howies in action on ITV4 Player and the team will be back on the track 1st December for Revolution meet 2.

For a peek into the track centre and what’s happening in the team pit, follow @howies on Twitter and @howiesclothing on Instagram. We’re using the hashtag #teamhowies

Mark Cavendish riding for howies.

  • Posted by ade
  • 20 July 2012

This is the last race of the night at the Revolution series that Mark Cavendish raced for howies. It was why we made the World Champions tee.

It still creates a slight feeling of disbelief in the office that it actually happened.

And at the end of the clip when he talks about howies team riders leading him out. . . something that may never happen to a tiny brand like us again.

Rest Less Recipe

  • Posted by alex
  • 4 May 2012

There's nothing quite like real food to keep you going when out doing something challenging. Especially at 3am, when your stomach's raw and another energy bar, shot, gel or gram of raw sugar could not be further from your mind.

That's why we asked Laura to make us a few things for the Rest Less ride. Nothing beats home made food to keep you fueled for adventure.

Packed full of Brazil nuts, Almonds and oats for natural energy,
this flap jack got tired bodies and minds across the country.

Chunky Chocolate Nut Flapjacks

200g Oats
30g Desiccated coconut
160g Butter
50g Light muscovado sugar
4 tbsp Golden syrup
100g Brazil nuts, cut into large chunks
50g Almonds, cut into large chunks
85g Good quality dark chocolate, cut into large chunks

* Grease and line tin.
* Mix together oats and coconut.
* Melt butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan, until sugar has dissolved.
* Stir mixture in with the oats and coconut.
* Spoon into tin and press down evenly.
* Scatter over the nuts and chocolate pieces.
* Bake at 180°C / Gas 4, for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown.

Unlike your usual energy food, we don't have a list of calories, grams of protein, carbs or how many GI's - but on a scale of edible to delicious, we'd say it's excellent.

Recipe: Laura Elsaesser

Rest Less Success

  • Posted by alex
  • 27 March 2012

Last weekend the Rest Less Ride took riders across the whole of Wales from beach to border overnight. The roads were riddled with pot-holes, sheets of gravel and barrier-less hairpin bends, dropped into deep dark valleys, through forests and over 25% climbs in a race against the sun on the night the clocks went forwards.

The ride was born out of a story that writer - and friend of howies - Rob Penn, shared from a chance meeting on the road with a passing cyclist, reminiscing over night-long club rides in the late 1950's; the quieter roads, the lack of traffic, and the peloton pushing one another on through dawn.

The roads back in the 50’s aren’t too dissimilar to the country lanes in Wales, so only one question remained; "When shall we do it?"

On Saturday, 16 riders set off from howies HQ to Abergavenny, all that led the way were small road markings, the faith in the peloton and the promise that no-one would get left behind in the wilderness.

The pack was made up some of Rob's and our riding friends, who had come from across Britain, to take on this incredible adventure. A last supper gave time to go over the route, fettle bikes and exchange names with the riders who would help carry one another across the entire country in the dark.

Barely 10 minutes into the ride, a disturbed badger darted into the pack, causing a tumble. The sound of bikes hitting the ground and cries in the night halted riders in front. Once turned upright, we re-grouped and pressed on. What other dangers waited for us in the dark?

Winding out of the Teifi valley, the stronger legs set a steady pace along the undulating road to Lampeter. The hills began to get steeper, breathing deepened and gears simultaneously jumped in the dark to bigger cogs.

The descents made up for the climbs and soon everyone seemed settled, taking to the 40mph bends, down over humpback bridges, free wheeling to allow the legs to rest for the next inevitable climb.

At Lampeter we left the safety of the A roads and towns, heading into the wilderness. The quiet back roads were brown and green down the middle, with fractures to test skinny tyres and fords to test nerves; a surface barely ideal in daylight, let alone in the dark.

These country lanes were bound for the lake at Llyn Briane, up winding valley passes and through pitch-black, potholed hairpins. Chatter in the pack slowed as concentration increased to keep wheels in line over the rough surfaces and spotting markers to keep on course - we had not seen a house or car for miles and rumbling over cattle grids. There would be nowhere to go if you gave up here.

News of the coming halfway stop for hot soup refreshed tired minds. Eager stomachs wound up the pace and soon everyone was huddled around a 2-ring gas burner awaiting some real food. Passing round bread and stretching, we noticed the time, 3am. With darkness all around, we were halfway from nowhere and nowhere near somewhere with an handful of hours 'til dawn. The race against the sun had begun.

The climb past the lake, invisible in the dark, led to fantastically smooth tarmac lining the valley as it wound through the hills and over barrier-less summits with steep drops into the dark.

Approaching the pine forest, a broken chain tore apart Alex's derailleur, demanding some roadside repairs. Stopped in the silence, it was obvious the damage was irreparable. Cut down to a single speed, the best attempt to limp on, wasn't going to get the bike over the 25% climb of the Devil's Staircase and certainly not onto Abergavenny. It was game over for Alex.

The Devil's Staircase is famed for it's 25% walls levelling out briefly before the next step upwards. The set of short, sharp climbs marked the midway point through the wilderness. A series of sketchy but exhilarating hairpin descents to the valley floor followed. Mist collected between the hills as the road bounced along, mimicking the bed of the river until finally a junction and another short rest.

Signposts pointed through a dark forest to Builth, where the pack regrouped. The dawn chorus had begun, and the promise of daylight was in the air. The quiet A-roads were smooth and wide, with street lighting easing the dependence of lights which would surely be near the end of their battery life. These roads gave the pack their best chance yet to work together, forming a train of tired legs each taking turns out front to break the cold air.

Crossing the river, heading for Hay-on-Wye, the B-roads were foggy and felt chilly without the climbs to keep the body warm. Staying together for company and warmth, the pack pressed on in the mist.

Leaving Hay behind, daylight finally broke over the hills of the Black Mountains where the final - and hardest - climb of the ride came into view.

Every rider stopped to shed weight, jettisoning surplus layers and water bottles. Feeling sore and empty, the beauty of the scenery laid out in the early morning sun was enough to make the riders forget their tired legs. The end would soon be in sight, with a 15 mile whooping descent though the Llanthony Valley to breakfast. And it would be the best breakfast ever, in soft chairs with hot food.

The ride forged friendship through adversity; sharing the experience of digging deep when you’ve got nothing left, feeling sick, delirious and weary but pushing yourself and fellow riders further than you could possible ride on your own.

Despite the grueling climbs and rapid descents over tarmac laced with gravel and pot holes, 14 of the 16 riders completed the challenge - 124 miles, over 3000 meters of ascent with only one final question remaining; "When shall we do it again?"

A short video of the ride is here.

Rest Less

  • Posted by alex
  • 7 March 2012

At the end of March the clocks go forward to mark the start of British Summer Time – losing us one hour in bed, but gaining us extra daylight to do more of the things we love.

So on the night of the 24th, a group from howies will be joined by writer and cyclist Rob Penn and friends for a night-long bike ride across Wales, from beach to border.

The 115 mile race against the sun begins in the early evening in Cardigan. Riding east through the night on dark back roads, over rolling hills and alongside lakes, the route will take us over some of the country's most infamous peaks, before descending into Rob's hometown of Abergavenny, in time for the sunrise.

Some of us will be fast, some of us will be slow, some of us may not even make it to the finish. There will be flat tyres and deflated souls, mud, blood, sweat and struggle – the stuff that makes strong hearts and legs.

But whatever happens, there'll be no time to rest.

Revolution Round 3 this weekend

  • Posted by alex
  • 6 January 2012

We've not even been back a full week in the office and Team howies are off to a racing start this weekend up in Manchester.

This Saturday, Russ Downing is heading up the team at Revolution, and we're looking forward to some big leg action in front of another sell-out crowd.

Still buzzing from Round 2 and Cav riding for Team howies?  Well, you can get your hands on a limited edition howies rainbow replica jersey.

We've got x2 to give away, both are a size Medium.

To be in with a chance to win, simply share your photos from Revolution this weekend with us.

Upload your photo to our facebook wall, or tweet your photo @howies with the hashtag #goteamhowies.

We'll announce the winners next week along with a link to the ITV4 highlights.

PS. If you're not Social Media savvy, you can always drop us an email with your photo to info@howies.co.uk.

Team howies: Jon Mould

  • Posted by alex
  • 5 January 2012

Jon's role in Team howies seems to be being stoked on riding as we haven't seen him on the bike without a smile.

Paired with Leif Lampeter, he won the 1km Madison TT at Revolution round 1, and along with Andy Fenn, Jon led Mark Cavendish to victory in the 15km Scratch at the last meet.

Originally from Wales, Jon has been in the team from the start (aided obviously by a strong list of accomplishments & a great riding attitude). He spends the winter focused on the track and concentrates on a Road race programme through the summer, taking part in events all around Europe.

When Jon isn't racing for howies, he's based up in Manchester together with fellow British Academy riders. These guys all live and train together with a love of biking and a sole purpose to race bikes.

1. How did you get started in cycling?
I started when I was 14 at the Newport Velodrome, my Mum and Dad took me down one day for taster session and just progressed from there.

2. Where do you ride when you just want to ride for fun?
I think I'd ride a mountain bike up at Cwmcarn Trail with my brother, I don't do it much, but it's always good when I get the chance to.

3. If you could ride in any event in the world, what would it be?
I'd want to finish the Tour de France, it's the most famous race there is. Ask anyone and the first race that comes to their mind is the Tour.

4. What do you do to relax before a race?
I just listen to music, but it's not always 'relaxing' music I'd listen to. But before any road race I always try and find a cafe and get a quick coffee, especially in Italy.

5. What do you like to do off the bike?
I'm a big Ice Hockey fan so whenever I'm home I always try and watch the Cardiff Devils. And I'm into my dance music so I like to think I'm a DJ not a very good one but spend a lot of time 'trying' to mix songs.

It's Round 3 of Revolution this weekend with highlights on ITV4 on Monday. You can follow the action on our twitter. Let us know you're support using the hashtag #goteamhowies.

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