Winning Microadventurers

  • Posted by alex
  • 28 October 2011

After much deliberation, the long-awaited winners from our Microadventure competition are named and famed below.

A huge thanks to everyone who took part and we hope you had as much fun as we did.

Microadventures let anyone plunge into a world of cheap Credit Crunch adventures. Adventures that are close to home, which are fun, affordable, easy to organise and designed to get you doing and experiencing things that would normally pass you by.

This competition was a great reason for howies to invite Alastair Humphreys up for a Microadventure of our own and if you missed it, the video is here.

We asked you to get out there and do your own Microavdenture and send us your story. For us, these four stories really captured the spirit of Adventure and we've thrown in an honorable mention to the good folk in Japan for their unique video approach.

Enjoy - in no particular order:


Tom Allen - Zone 1 Microadventure


Luke & Brooke - London to Lewes


Simon Edwards - South Downs


Ariel & Emma - Belfast

Runner Up

Rob Thomson & Co - Sapporo, Japan

If you're one of our winners, please drop us a line on info@howies.co.uk to claim your prize.

great bloke, nice rider, our rider

  • Posted by ade
  • 28 July 2011

Will Jackson rides BMX, and we sponsor him along with We The People.

Here is a video of him talking and riding.

Take 10 minutes to watch.

Mini Ramp for Skateistan

  • Posted by alex
  • 6 July 2011



You may remember the mini ramp from catalogues past. 5ft tall, 16ft wide, tons of fun? Well, sadly the time has come to say goodbye.

It's been skated in a field. It's been skated in a barn. It's now not being skated in our warehouse.

We'll be putting the ramp up for auction on eBay towards the end of August and the winning bid will be donated to Skateistan who are giving kids in Afghanistan and opportunity to escape their daily lives through the outlet of skating.

We've got a few fantastic people on board to help us spread the word who have contributed to a tidy bundle of skating gear.

A signed Girl deck, and bundle from Form Distribution

Shoes from Vans

A custom setup from Shiner

And a years subscription to Sidewalk / Ride magazine from Factory media

Even the local courier will help ship it to the new owner for cost.

This appealing lot will hopefully help raise some money for a fantastic cause.

If you want to pledge something to the auction, please get in touch. Or if you just want to help, spread the word with a tweet. We'll be using the hashtag #howiesminiramp to spread the word.

Life is complicated. Sport is simple.

BÖIKZMÖIND

  • Posted by matt45
  • 28 June 2011

For those of you who don't know, a good friend of mine, Gavin Strange has been filming BÖIKZMÖIND over the last year. It's a documentary film about riding fixed gear bikes in beautiful Bristol. The film is in progress right now and will premiere 20.08.2011 on the big Screen at the Millennium Square. (a must, so get out your diaries!)

Last Sunday saw about a hundred plus riders get together for the final bit of filming, I chose to do this in a full vintage rabbit costume.

It was an epic day which i wont forget in a hurry! I climbed Park street still suited up in the costume which was my favourite moment, sweaty is an understatement! That along with the mass take over of the Clifton suspension bridge as the sun set, are going to be hard to beat.

Thanks to everyone that came, as I met so many nice people. It has made me love Bristol just that little bit more!

Keep up to date with more news here http://www.boikzmoind.com/

Thanks to Benjamin Reid and Francesca Milano for the great photos

Cheers then
Matt/45

Go Somewhere New

Hands up if you've heard of Muckle Flugga!
To eliminate show-offs, could you also place St. Agnes, Soay or Ness Point on the map?

I certainly could not have managed this until recently, yet they are all in our country. They are the north, south, east and west extremes* of Great Britain**.

I always encourage people to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats at some point in their lives to get a better understanding of the place we live in. Nick Hand went one step further in his exploration, cycling a full lap of Great Britain.

But even he didn't make it to the poetic-sounding Muckle Flugga. Our country is full of beautiful, surprising places and we should make the most of these long, lingering summer days to go somewhere we have never been. You don't even need to go far to do this: I bet there is somewhere interesting within 15 miles of your house that you have never been to.

I'm feeling particularly fervent about this at the moment. Here's why...

Years ago I stood at John O'Groats, tired but jubilant, and gazed out to sea (or, more accurately, into the fog). I had conquered Britain by bike and I could go no further.

I was wrong.

For last week I was in the Shetland Isles, more than 100 miles further north than "J O'G". This time, as I stood outside my tent in the soft solstice midnight light I looked at the lighthouse on Muckle Flugga and the tiny islet of Out Stack, I was at the top of Britain. And I realised that only now was I beginning to realise how little I know of my own country.

My tent was pitched on a patch of flat green grass like a billiard table. A metre away from the door was the cliff edge, swirling with puffins and scores of other seabirds swirling above the crashing turquoise waves far below. Not only was it one of the best camping spots I have enjoyed in Britain, it was one of the best in the world. You don't need much time or money or expertise to experience a night's camping like that. You just need to go do it.

I have not yet been to St. Agnes, Soay, Ness Point, Rockall, or any number of other super places. But I certainly will do. It's a lifetime's work to know your own country, and there's no better time to start than right now.

* - pedant alert: I have not included the Channel Islands because they are Crown Dependencies, not constituent parts of the United Kingdom and Rockall is not internationally recognised. There are a couple of other pedantic details too, but summer is not the time to be discussing stuff like this!
** - apologies to Scottish, Welsh, Shetland and Scillian separatists!

Beach to Border

  • Posted by ade
  • 20 June 2011

Rob Penn came to cardigan a couple of weeks ago to ride from Cardigan to the Hay Festival to talk about his book.

I was too busy to go all the way, but had a great ride through the lanes here to a pub at the end of the day.

His mantra of slow, back lane, no traffic, laughter, lying in hedge rows, eat well and earning your beer was exactly what it was.

He wrote about it in the Observer yesterday. Have a read here.

Below are the shots that sum the day up for me.

Italian bike race tales

  • Posted by ade
  • 15 June 2011


Alberto from Castelli clothing invited us over to race round the town of Feltre in the feet of the Dolamites in the 24hr road race they put on every year.


The first few hours of traveling to the race were stressful when Ruben and I got the flight times wrong and missed the flight out on the Thursday and were not able to get a flight till the next day. Spending a night in Gatwick airport  was a great punishment, as well as the embarrassment of having to tell the rest of the team.


Trek kindly lent us two super spec spangly carbon madones for Ruben and our team 4cross rider Dan. We spent a day boxing them up and shoving in all the team jerseys, shoes, socks, helmets ready for the baggage mishandlers to load them into the plane.


We had been watching the weather in Feltre all week and reports looked like we were going to get 3degree cold mountain rain, so we packed down jackets and enough merino to recreate a flock of sheep, but when we arrived we were greeted by sun and that kind of heat you don't get in West Wales. No shorts or flipflops were in the bags.


After a huge pasta lunch in Bassano we drove the bikes and kit upto Feltre to meet Alberto at the Castelli offices. We sat in a room getting the race briefing with jerseys worn and signed by cyclings great names next to Carlos Sastre's 2008 tour bike and a cabinet full of trophies. The feeling of the race was moving from us going to have a laugh, to us going to have to work it with some skilled riders. Alberto gave us all rain race jackets to see us through the event.


We were taken down to the event and unloaded all the kit into Castelli's team tent, and we unpacked, built and tweaked the bikes. Race numbers were zip tied on, and rear lights were fitted as they were mandatory for the night laps. We shoved all the bike bags and boxes in the vans and we were set.


Before the race every team was to be called up onto the stage infront of the gathered crowd to show off their team kit. So at 9.30pm after 107 teams had been introduced 7 non Italian speaking howies riders climbed onto the stage to be introduced and cheered by a great crowd who continued to shout for us to the end of the event. Their support for the only team from Wales was amazing.


The view from the startline is where the main action went on. The crowd sat in the stalls on the left. The course was the left hand lane that passed under the inflatable arches, the pits where you waited for changeover were in the centre behind the  orange barrier pad and under the white awning on the right was the lane you took once you had finished your laps. The burgundy colored mats I am stood on clocked your digital chip on your bike as you passed over them logging your lap time. Behind the Garmin sign at the top of the picture was a clock counting down to the start of the race and eventually to the end of the 24 hours.


And then things happened fast. Helmets were on, glasses got clear lenses fitted, shoe tension was tightened, loosened, tightened, gloves on, electrolytes mixed and the last supper eaten. Three test laps ridden, and then like a dream (and that dream like out of body feeling was to happen allot over the next 24hrs) I am on the start line with 107 other riders all ready to race. Anna from Castelli spotted me in the pack and again, with the care were were treated with all through the event, weaved through the riders, introduced me in broken english to a few "greatly fast riders" and explained the start format. 3 laps behind the safety car, and then the race would begin as it left the course.

The man on the mike was filling the time as it counted down to start time, and the last 5 minutes were spent pulling a rider from the center of the pack and introducing him to the crowd as having just ridden the Giro D'Italia

And as my pulse becomes the dominant sound in my ears I am scared. I have raced bikes for 24 years. Mainly mountain bikes. I have never ridden off a start line on a road bike in a pack behind a car and I have never raced round a city centre at full tilt.

Then the clock drops to 24 hours, the crowd are shouting stuff, the man on the mike goes more crazy than he has already been, there is the cracking of cleats into pedals and the pace car fires off up the road. I am outside left 3 riders back for the first 50 feet. Then I have riders ahead slowing, riders trying to squeeze between my bars and the barriers, but I can't move over because of the riders trying to come through on the right. Brakes are applied, released, gaps appear then closed then we hit the hill and there is no room for one more bike to be funneled up between the barriers that line the course. Once we are at the top of the hill the road drops, the pace really picks up and we string out to the first 90 degree left hand corner. Please don't let me be the one to fall and bring you all down. We rattle the drain covers as we chicane over a small rise into a drop to the next 90 degree left hander. No brakes round, head up against the railings inside the corner, use the full width of the road to sling shot out and then out the saddle hard on the pedals upto full speed to chase down the accelerating bunch who string out into a roaring train heading to the finish. Then it happens again. I am aware that I am riding in a race, in Italy at full speed chasing down pro riders. Suddenly we start to bank left out of the darkness into a spotlight shining right at us and the rumble of the bikes in the pack turns to a roar as we hit the cobbles that corner hard left into the finish line.

And then lap 2 of the warm up begins. Same again, but I am getting the hang of it and when the car finally leave the course the pace of the front riders explodes and we break up into small groups of riders working to break the friction of the air to keep the pace high.

Then with bursting lungs and lactate filled legs I wave to Drew, break right into the exit lane and want to go again.


Drew was our fastest rider, our youngest rider and did the most laps over the race. I would go out on my laps and work as hard as I could to position myself just infront of the super fast pack (by being caught by them) then Drew would roar from the pits straight into their windsheild and off to ride 1.8km in two and a half minutes. Within 3 hours we had worked out the rider schedule as me, Drew, his uncle Paul, Ruben, Dan our team 4cross rider, Harold  and finally Peter who handed back to me. Once we had don our stint of 6 laps it was back to the Castelli tent, out of helmet and shoes, warm jacket, eat, drink, rest, watch some racing, back into race kit, down to the pits and back out.

Dan, who has never ridden a road bike before or been clad in tight lycra came fresh from an accident trying to jump a road on his 4cross bike, to riding the beautiful sleek Madone like a mountain bike complete with flat pedals. He ragged it up the hill like he was just out of a drop start gate and descended through the corners like a demon and came back into the tent with a huge grin on his face. If they had put a small jump in the course he would have been over it. Harold had a tough start. He was posting terrible lap times, until we found that the front brake on his bike was stuck on which was why he was having to pedal hard down the hills to keep the bike moving. Once adjusted he went out and nailed some sub three minute laps.


This was our changing room and bedroom for the whole 24 hours. Male and female riders came and went throughout the race and there was always someone in a state of undress. Broken English conversations discussed form and pace. Even blown out cheeks and eyes raised to the sky worked. Wet clothes were hung in the roof to dry and clean kit was kept in bags on the floor that also doubled as pillows.


As dawn broke Ruben (centre rider) was out with legs fresh from the Edinburgh marathon mixing it with the fast boys, coming round leading his pack and attacking on the hills. The rest of us were looking to the surrounding mountains that had been clear all night and were now making cloud.


Then came the rain. I was out on a 6 lap stint. It came very light at first. Nothing too much to worry about, except the large metal drain covers. Then it came in ernest. The road wetted. When sprinting you could feel the back wheel slipping with reduced traction. Then on my 6th lap as we approached the second 90 degree left hand bend it was clear by the change in the riders line into the bend that there was a problem. Which I found as I dropped the bike into the corner. The front wheel slipped out on the white lines of the zebra crossing that bridged the corner, I caught it but the bike stood upright in the middle of the corner taking me wide across the path of another rider who just missed me by swerving up my inside line and I hit the padded bariers that kept me upright and threw me back out into the race. Back came the fear. As I changed over to Drew I tried to warn him, but he was off at full tilt into 4 very slippy laps before the race was suspended due to the dangers of no traction. It spent the next 6 hours raining hard.


As soon as the racing stopped so did our ability to stay awake. The other teams returned to their hotels. We slept under canvas. Then the air above the mountains cleared. The sun came, they took 6 cars onto the course to drive round it to dry it and they announced that racing would commence in 30 minutes. I was up again to start behind the pace card and I had the fear. There was water on the course still and all I focused on was corner 2, 90 degrees, no brakes, wet white slippy lines and other riders. Three laps behind the pace car was much more sedate this time and as we rolled the heat of the day and the tyres cleared a line, the pace car dropped, full traction returned and then it was on at full pace to the 10pm finish time.


Up to this point we had been the smallest team on the course. Most teams had 8-12 riders. We had 7. As the afternoon set in we were joined by Rolando, a local club rider that came and raced with us to make the minimum required number of 8 riders. He was going out every 3rd rider and pushing 3 laps which eased the work load. Paul in the picture above was also stoically going out and adding to our laps. And when we checked our position instead of being in 2nd from last as we had planned, we were in the mid 80's. Suddenly the team is focused on the finish, the time seems like we will make it and we all want to reign in a few of the teams above us. So we reduced the amount of laps each rider was doing in blocks from 6 to 3.
Then came the last 30 minutes. I went out, nailed three laps and handed over to Paul. He put in two laps and with no other rider ready I put in another three laps and handed over to Drew who caught the fast pack and rode it out to the end. He crossed the line 50 seconds before the 24hr bell went, and got in an extra lap to take Team howies to 332 laps in 24hrs 1 minute and 10 seconds and pegging us at 77th out of 109 teams.

Although he was nearly felled by a massive 6 rider pile up on the sprint finish.

Because we were staying an hour away from Feltre in Bassano, it was 10pm, the hotel closed at 12pm and we needed to eat we had to run. They awarded us a prize for the team that traveled the furthest to get the event, the mayor shook hands, gave us champagne and we headed off the the van to cheers to pack down the bikes.

At 1.30am we were sat in Bassano, eating bruschetta , drinking beer and wine and chatting through our highlights. Then as the alcohol sunk in so the fatigue grew and we headed to bed, without even showering. And despite wearing, living, sleeping and racing in them for 24 hours, the merino sprint jerseys did not smell.

This snipet of video will show you the fast pack coming through, riders waving in the pits to acknowledge they are on, 3 riders joining the race, then Ruben in blue accelerating out the pits followed by a small bunch following through.

We have already signed up for next year.

Thanks to Alberto, Anna, Castelli and Feltre for the hospitality, the kit, the food and the invite. Thanks to Rolando for working all night and then coming to race for us. Thanks to smartwool for the socks. We only used one pair each. Thanks to Trek for lending lovely bikes at short notice to unprofessional athletes. Thanks to Wiggle for a deal on stuff.

Roll on 2012

to italy, to race

  • Posted by ade
  • 8 June 2011

We have been invited to ride the Castelli 24 hour road race in Feltre this weekend. Quite an honour and quite a big event. Liquigas have riders there and so do SKY. And Pinarello and Wilier and Sant'Anna and...

The office has been a frenzy of preparation over the last few weeks.

I got new shoes and cleats.

Ruben new glasses, shoes and helmet.

We had to get race licenses from the BCF.

Peter has been watching the weather daily and taking last years  lap times and fettling a strategy in excel.

We all had to go and buy back lights because you have to have them on the course at night.

Ruben shaved his legs. They looked lovely. Took him quite a while apparently to go from lots of hair to non.

We even had to have an official team kit, so the boys in the Printshop used Rob Penn's tee design on the back of the slipstream merino bike top and added some logo's.

Today we has to wash the cow shit off our tyres, the mud from our road shoes and the black mould from the outside of old road helmets.

Smartwool gave us socks and Trek stumped up two full carbon bikes for the weekend at very short notice.

Today we have been boxing everything ready to travel over. Tom in the bike shop gave us three boxes for the bikes and we are ready.

The race starts at 10pm Friday night and we race as a team of 7 (should be min 8) through to 10pm Saturday night.

It's raining and cold so our Welsh training grounds has prepared us well.

Bring on the wet cobbles. They cannot be harder than a freshly mucked road.

How Far Can You Go?

  • Posted by ruben
  • 27 May 2011

Chris, an ultra-running-machine friend of mine just sent this video to
help with post-marathon inspiration.

Next week we're going to head out and run 16 miles of trail.

So the next adventures in running begin.

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