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They're Back - Wallpapers

  • Posted by alex
  • 15 May 2013

Easter Breakout

  • Posted by alex
  • 28 March 2013

howies Easter Breakout

We're taking the next few days off and heading out on some Easter Breakouts.

Chris is running the mountain ridges and forests of the Nantlle valley from Waunfawr to Beddgelert in north Wales.

Hazel is heading down Whitesands with a her parent and surfboards to brave the cold and score some waves.

Naomi is hoping for surf too - dipping in at Freshwater West for a deserted early morning surf in the West corner. Out for a hot brew and lunch. Back in early evening after a blood warming, coastal walk. And then a night around the woodstove, recounting the day’s adventures and laughs.

Emma is off with family to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims and walking some of the North Downs Way.

Ade will be running his favourite local trail; a 10 mile loop up and down small valleys with river crossings, pine forest and twisting single track.

Alex is conquering the Preseili's on the road bike (and hoping not to need a rain jacket).

Jules will be strolling along the beach at Llangrannog with her dog "Juno" and chatting to people from different walks of life.

While Tom will be fixing freezing and burst pipes on his Caddy in hopes to get out further afield.

Let us know what you're getting up to on your Easter Breakouts.

Tour de France

  • Posted by alex
  • 27 June 2012

You may have spotted this video on our Twitter feed, but the Tour de France starts this weekend with the prologue in Liège, Belgium.

Over the next couple of weeks, the world's most famous riders will be pushing themselves over some of the most breathtaking and backbreaking stages of cycling known to mankind.

There will be sweat, blood, tears and glory.

We'll be tuning in for a stage or two and running the office sweepstake in true convoluted howies fashion; an undecipherable points and scoring system with the victor buying an espresso machine for the kitchen with their winnings (hopefully).

In honour of this epic race, we've created these Tour de France t-shirts of the month. They're only around for the duration of the Tour and we'll be giving one away every week on the Blog and Facebook, so watch this space...

A-to-B. Via C.

  • Posted by alex
  • 20 June 2012

Routine can be a good thing, but I recently realised I've been stuck in the grind of A-to-B: Ride to work. Work. Ride home.

The routine has been broken a little in preparation for racing in Italy. So A-to-B has had a little B-to-B loop added at lunch, but last night reminded me it's a lot more fun when A-to-B goes via C. Especially when you don't know where C might be.

I live about 1 mile from work and it took nearly 2 hours to get home via a 30 mile detour on roads I've never seen, over hills I've never climbed and getting lost at a crossroads I couldn't get back to with a map, let alone without one.

Finding myself a little lost, faced with uphill one way and downhill the other, the temptation was to take the easy way out and roll down. But with the setting sun as my only bearing, onward and upward west was the order of the evening and eventually, all would be alright. At the summit, the Preseli's came into view in the distance with familiar-looking fields lining the river valley. It was clear I was heading back to B.

Today is the longest day. 16h 38m 20s of daylight (give or take). That's plenty of time to take the long way home.

Ever wondered where A-to-B might take you if you go via C?

Tree Top Adventure

  • Posted by alex
  • 17 May 2012

We’ve teamed up with Go Ape to give away 5 pairs of tickets for a day out
at one of their tree-top adventure centres.

Rise through the trees, zip down zip wires, climb rope ladders and tip-toe
across high wires in some of the UK's most beautiful forests.
 
To win a day out for you and a friend, simply fill in the form below.
We'll send your friend a confirmation email and also invite them to enter too.

The more friends you enter, the more chance you'll have of winning
(just make sure you have their permission before submitting their details).

This competition is now closed.

Birthday Club

  • Posted by alex
  • 15 May 2012

Saturday was belting sunshine out west and Hazel had rallied us up for her birthday to ride the Tour of Pembrokeshire. We couldn't have asked for better weather to take in 75 miles of Wales by bike.

The miles passed as the skin got pinker, taking in coastline out of St. Davids and up towards the towns closer to home, before turning back over the Preselis towards the finish.

Plenty of riders passed us by while we stopped for lunch or to high-5 santa; our faux Birthday Club t-shirts giving away that we probably weren't taking things all that seriously. In fact, by the end of the ride, we had picked up a few companions along the way, making the ride that bit more fun.

Sometimes with cycling to work and rides penned in the diary, I forget how great it is to ride without an agenda - not riding to train, abandoning the GPS and the ticking clock, no pace to keep or person to beat.

Note to self: Ride more. Train less.

Roll on summer.

Lunch.

The top of the climb. On top of the world.

Bristol Sample Sale this weekend

  • Posted by ade
  • 16 April 2012

We are heading back to Bristol this weekend to do a howies sample sale at the bottom of Park street. We will be in here, number 30 on the right as you are heading uphill. It's only a 15 minute walk from Temple Meads rail station too.

The space is not as big as usual, so you won't be able to get your bike in.  And if Thursday is it's usual busy self, you may be in the queue for a bit. But we are around for 4 days, and not everything will be out on the first night.

As before there will be some amazing bargains,  last-in-the-box pieces from seasons past, unique samples of items that were never put in to production, prototype samples and maybe things that need a button or a stitch.

The sale will run:

Thursday 19th April: 4pm to 8pm

Friday 20th April: 10.00am to 6pm

Saturday 21st April: 10.00am to 6pm

Sunday 22nd April: 11.00am to 4pm

But remember, as always, stock is limited so if you want the first stuff out the box, be the early bird.

Oh and bring a bag to take your purchases home in.

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.

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