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Dear Ade

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 December 2009

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Dear Ade

Dear Ade

Okay okay, I admit it, cycling is pretty fun. I'm converted, so apologies for taking the piss out of your lycra all this time. It's taught me quite a lot about myself:

1. I'm quite unfit
2. Wales is beautiful, but the road surfaces are shocking
3. Wind is my enemy
4. I prefer going down hills to going up hills
5. I love Italian engineering
6. I like my own company
7. I prefer to ride to mellow music
8. I'm never going to win any races
9. Most drivers are clueless towards bikes
10 There really is a point to clip-in shoes

So, in short, I'm really glad I got the bike... So when are you going to come and try skateboarding?

Yours sincerely,
Pete
(converted skater)

P.s. You still won't catch me wearing lycra

Why I ride

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 December 2009

Why I ride
Snowboarding to me is not just a sport, it’s a way of life. There is nothing more exhilarating than riding down a mountain at speed. The adrenalin rush is amazing, whether it be riding at speed, hitting a kicker or mastering the technicality of the halfpipe, the feeling is amazing. I love the people involved in snowboarding. It is like no other sport. Despite the fact that we enter competitions to compete against each other we are all stoked when someone is riding well. When I managed to get through to my first World Cup final, there was a massive cheer from the rest of the competitors. That’s a great feeling. The mountains also make a magnificent backdrop for the sport. There is never a morning when you feel like staying in bed. If it was not for the weather and having to give my body a rest, I would ride every day.

Ben Kilner

Ben is the British Halfpipe Champion and in February 2010 will represent Great Britain in the Vancouver Olympic snowboarding events.

Bad moods get lost in the woods

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 September 2009

Just the way it is

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 September 2009

Categories:

Just the way it is

Just the way it is
Where there are hills, there are bikes
Where there’s concrete, there are skateboarders

Where there’s toast, there’s butter
Where there’s tea, there are biscuits*

Where there are paddling pools, there’s laughter
Where there’s kids, there’s hope

Where there’s chickens, there’s eggs (and rats)
Where there’s fish, there’s otters

Where there’s common sense, there’s harmony
Where there’s words, there’s pictures

Where there’s work, there’s fun
Where there’s fun, there’s work

*except at howies

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Finding my feet (well pedals, or will it be my sea legs?)

Finding my feet (well pedals, or will it be my sea legs?)
Over the past 10 years (10 years, blimey) sport for me has normally taken place on water, and it was one of the reasons I felt compelled to move closer to the sea. Having lived in-land for most of my life and taken to water like a duck in the pool and in kayaks, I had always dreamt of moving closer to the sea and getting away from greyness of the city. I had dreamt of being able to go for day trips in kayaks to hidden beaches and cooking fish caught on a line. Now it’s right on our doorstep. 

On moving next to the sea I have definitely done the above dream and lots more, but more recently, things have funnily changed and my habits have altered to do more land based sport. Maybe it’s just a winter thing or a cross training phase or maybe it’s just more accessible but cycling is the new thing for me at the moment. Where I live, it is only a mile from the sea and the nearest beach, but access for kayaking is pretty difficult and if I’m going to tackle it, it has to be for a long-ish paddle.

From November to January rowing is never really possible with the sea being battered by storms, surfing is possible on bigger days when it is too big at Whitesands but chances are I mostly miss the half an hour when it’s working at my little beach.

I used to not enjoy biking or running, but now it feels like new territory and I can just enjoy being out and in the surroundings. I ride out of my house onto the road for 100 metres then turn into the maze that are the lanes and bridalways close to the coast. 

We meander up and down hills, around fields, around hills, through farms but mostly along lots of lanes which all look the same, it’s a bit of a challenge to keep on going in the right direction, but it’s easy so long as you know where the sea is. 

I get a different feeling when cycling, you don’t have to constantly concentrate on what the water is doing and if there are any hidden currents to watch out for, you can just ride as fast or as slow, or as far as you want, stop and take photos of the view, call into tea spots and have a cuppa. My mind wanders totally into my own playground just taking in the smells in the air, the sights, it all feeds into my mind, overloading it with possibilities, ideas, everything seems possible and I want to do it all now, it is very inspiring and makes me feel like I want to burst.

Recently we went off into the Preseli Mountains, and I was surprised that even though it was tougher with the terrain being so changeable, my mind was still buzzing taking it all in. One minute there were rocks to negotiate through and the next I was trying to pick the best route through a whole series of bogs. Every 100 metres it would change, opening up new valleys and horizons, it was amazing.

I’ve discovered I can wear clip in pedals on this terrain and also that I like going up hills, which is good. 

There’s something about stretching your lungs and letting your legs burn more and more, and I quite like it now.

I have changed my opinion on running too, especially after I was able to run along the coast path with Anja last summer, it’s amazing, you play some music with a beat and you can run to it. You’re heart starts thumping, and you get locked into a rhythm and feel like you can go on and on. Anyway, as much as this is all new, I shall soon be returning to the water, with rowing starting earlier this year, not out on the ocean but on a lake in the Preseli Mountains, even that’s kinda weird… Doing training for sea based gig rowing on a lake?

So for now it’s cycling, running, rowing on a lake and rowing on an indoor rowing machine, but this summer I am aiming to push my surfing on a step, to get stronger and fitter so I can row harder and for longer and to get over my fear of the strong currents in the sea. Life’s too short to be scared or to stick to one sport I reckon.

Melanie Lang

Why I ride

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 September 2009

Why I ride
When people ask why do I like to ride my bike, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is fun. The fact that it is economical, healthy, environmentally friendly etc are all just (big) bonuses.

I think back to my daily commute on London’s public transport, (especially during summer months) and it’s enough to make me want to ride to work everyday. 

After 8 hours on my arse in front of a computer, I am excited to ride my bike home. Every journey is a little adventure. I interact with the city and I never know what might happen or what or who I might see.

I ride a fixed gear bike, which I think makes cycling even more enjoyable. As well as being a great bike to commute on, you can try tricks on it. I remember when I was younger, hanging out with boys that skated and rode BMX, watching them play at Southbank and wishing I could do the same. I’m not sure what stopped me but I guess I was intimidated because it was so male dominated and aggressive.

I love the fact that fixed gear bikes are accessible to everyone and I see more and more girls on them all the time. There’s nothing quite like riding through the streets of London with hundreds of people from all different walks of life, from the age of fourteen to forty-plus. All brought together by their passion for riding these bikes. 

Now, at the age of 29, I still hang out at skate parks with my friends, but instead of sitting on the sidelines watching, I’m actually riding with them… Which is way more fun!

www.fixedgearlondon.com

These are the days

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 June 2009

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These are the days

These are the days
Come rain (and there will be), come shine (here’s hoping). Even if our knees have knobbles and our calves are like sticks, we’ll be hunting through our wardrobes for our favourite shorts. Because just a few hours of sunshine is all we need to remember those summers when we were kids. When the sun shone for longer, the days were endless and our only deadline was tea on the table. And when we got up in the morning and threw on our shorts and t-shirts, grabbed some toast and our bikes or skateboards and left for the day we knew that one day in the future the sun would be shining and we’d be putting on our shorts and remembering that feeling.

These are the days and they always were.

What it is to climb a mountain

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 April 2009

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What it is to climb a mountain

What it is to climb a mountain
It’s hoping for bad weather as the alarm beeps at six, only for silence to creep in after its final chime; no hammering of rain, no tile bullying maelstrom, no excuses. And so it’s a long lamp lit motorway that finally twists into a dark road to the rendezvous, where being the first one there you hope your friends come (and they do).

It’s a big fry-up in a café with misted up windows – with one more brew and another round of toast – before stiff boots and bones at the road head, putting on all your layers – a barrier to the wild – wishing you’d just had muesli when your waterproof trousers won’t zip up.

It’s getting light, stepping in puddles with their skins of ice, smelling the air and leaving it all below – stopping only to take off another layer – being glad you didn’t stay in bed as you watch the colours grow more vivid with the morning light. It’s passing those on the way up and feeling fitter, only to be passed by those fitter still, picking up drinks cartons and tissues as you go, knowing the mountain will repay you for it one day.

It’s the sudden rain and mist that sends you all scrabbling for crags that make you feel invulnerable, then on again, no views this time, only easy conversations. You know it’s not far as you hear the kind encouragement from fellow climbers of mountains, those coming back down through the mist, shouting “not long now”.


It’s the big push, legs feeling tired now, looking at your feet, feeling the wind beginning to bite, and so it’s on with your odd gloves and hat; water droplets beading up on wool, the bones of a base jumping sheep reminding you why the stuff keeps you warm up here, and why you should take care of the drop.

It’s being a little bit lost, finding you have the wrong map, and a Southern hemisphere compass, but sort of knowing the way anyway and bluffing that you do.

It’s still not getting there, and hoping for a cloud inversion that never inverts.

It’s the top; a pile of stones and faded orange peel.

It’s soggy sandwiches and damp crisps that never tasted so good, and tea from flasks that tastes both foul and wonderful until the cold forces you down.

It’s headtorches with almost flat batteries all the way back to the car, and on to the café for a quick brew before you travel home, with heavy eyes, a light stomach, in clothes that no longer stink of clean chemicals but smell instead of doing.

Andy the climber

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