With 100% more weekend on offer as of now, we've been thinking of a few ways to spend the extra days while we're not at our desks.
After a quick poll in the office, these were the top suggestions. We'd like to hear yours.
Have a great weekend. Whatever you do, we hope you enjoy it.
1. Run in the woods
2. Fix up your bike
3. Get lost somewhere new
4. Read a book
5. Eat outside
6. Skinny dip
7. Go sledging (do not leave the country)
8. Make wild garlic soup
9. Take to the water
10. Make a paper hat for a fly*
(*sadly, this fly was dead when we found it...)
Anyone who knows me may be glad to hear this, but I am about to embark on a plan to quit smoking cigarettes. Forever. I have to do it to be in with a chance of winning that £500 in our little 10K run bet, or to ever be able to run further than to my local Londis (you can read more about the bet here).
Tut tut, I'm sure a lot of you dissapproving sporty-types will be quoffing into your mungbean salad about now. Well save it. Yes, smoking is stupid, trust me I know. I'm a smoker. My comedy lung capacity and the mahogany hue of my fingernails says so. But I'm not writing this for you (haven't you got some workout stats to go analyse, or something?) Not many of you howies fans do smoke, anyway. So I'm writing this for anyone that does, in the hope that it could nudge just one of them to get off their arse and do something, one day, soon.
We know smoking is disgusting, we know it's wrecking our health and we're all fully aware that if we carry on, it will probably be the death of us. But when you're addicted to nicotine, you go into ostrich-mode at the fear of never being able to smoke again – convincing yourself that you aren't slowly dieing on the inside and that your hacking cough is just a tiny tickley cough, caused by the ickle Marlboro pixies ballet dancing on your windpipe.
So, I've read the books and I've listened to the tapes and they can all be summed up in 100 words, rather than 100,000 – smoking is brainwashing. Remember your first cigarette and how utterly foul it tasted? Well, every single cigarette you ever smoked after that is exactly the same. They are clones, all made the same way, on a production line, using the same cocktail of rubbish and they all taste pretty much the same and are equally disgusting, should you happen to light them on fire. The pleasure you think you get from puffing on them and how you think you now enjoy the taste, is just your brain tricking you. It needs the nicotine that's in them and it will do all manner of Derren Brown-ery on your senses to get it. That includes habitually fooling you into thinking you like the taste of hot burning chemicals and that yellow teeth look cool. Knowing this, gives you an advantage over the bastard.
But you need some sort of emotional trigger, a wake-up call to pull your head out of the sand and realise that this drug owns you and you need to do something about it. My trigger was the bet and how my running has progressed so pathetically. It is also the fear of having to cough up £500 and possibly a lung in the process. You just need to find your trigger.
If you're like me, then it's probably fear stopping you from doing something. All I'll say is give it a go. Connect your brain back to your body, go for a long walk or something and just feel how unfit you are (probably). That alone could be your trigger to make some changes. Maybe then we could all be happy, healthy, lycra clad endorphine junkies, nodding at eachother across the park.
Or don't bother. Maybe you like smoking? Who am I to preach? My goodness, I've become one of those worthy plebs I dislike so much... Carry on.
Prof. Peter Davies
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.
I ran my first ever ultra on Saturday - 34.3 miles of coastal trail around Anglesea, featuring several gruelling ascents of Holyhead mountain.
I finished almost last, but that's not the point. I finished an ultra. It was something I'd wanted to do since I first started running seriously a couple of years ago.
Back then, after a few 10k runs on local trails, I began to wonder what it would take to run a marathon. I thought I could do it, so with no training I set off to try. After 22 miles and 3 big hills, I collapsed completely, but the distance bug had taken a firm hold.
I went back to the drawing board, running shorter races and keeping the miles up between events. Less than a year after the first attempt, I ran my first marathon. Then another. I thought I was ready for longer distances, so I entered the Endurancelife CTS Anglesea ultra.
Work on the new howies website made training tough until the middle of November, but I managed to keep the miles up and by the time Christmas and New Year came round, I was feeling great. I thought I was in the best shape of my life.
Then, exactly a week before the run, I fell off my bike and landed heavily on my leg. A previous injury in my knee was reawakened and as the days passed with me limping around I began to worry. I thought about dropping out, but couldn't bring myself to do it.
On the trip up to the race with Chris (also running the ultra) and Alex (running his first trail half) I was subdued, and at dinner the night before I found myself massaging the damaged knee and mulling over what was to come. I knew this was bad, and that the doubts were probably more dangerous than the injury itself so I tried to put it all to the back of my mind.
Arriving at the start before daybreak we found the car park was a 10 minute walk from the event HQ at the Breakwater country park. And again, the pain from my knee started nagging at me. The howling wind and lashing rain didn't help, although thankfully both began to subside as the sun came up and we began to run.
The course started off with a short flat run to the foot of Holyhead mountain, before the first long climb began taking us around to the South Stack lighthouse. I was more than happy to walk the steep rock stairs, near vertical in some places. I knew we were coming back here later.
For the first few miles I was running with Chris, who had kept me company during my first trail marathon a couple of months before. I don't think I was great company this time as I was still struggling to control my negativity and I was actually quite relieved to see Chris head off up the road, running his own race. I was now alone, and I knew that was how it had to be.
I was soon beginning to feel much better and was enjoying the scenery as we passed Trearddur Bay. My thoughts were a lot more positive, although my knee was still giving me trouble. Shortly after the half way turn around on Rhoscolyn beach, it flared up and my leg cramped causing me to fall against a low wall. To my relief I was able to recover quickly and get back on my feet, although cramp (and the fear of cramp) plagued the rest of my run. Especially over the numerous stiles, which I now negotiated ver gingerly for fear of triggering another leg failure.
Heading back toward the finish line, I saw Holyhead mountain again in the distance. Knowing I would be having to climb the rock stairs around the mountain again before the finish and already approaching the furthest I had ever run I wasn't in a hurry to get there. I ran a steady pace, but making sure I could make the cut off point in time to be allowed back onto the mountain.
As we joined the half marathon course, I was quite glad to have the company of other runners again, as I had be plugging out the miles alone, save for odd fragments of conversation as I traded places with a couple of the other ultra runners. By chance I met up with Alex, who seemed to be having a great run in his half. He left me with one of his spare gels and carried on.
The miles all began to blur together and my mind wandered until I reached the foot of the mountain and the sharp ascent brought things back into focus. The sun was out, the views were amazing, and passing half marathon runners with their fresh legs on the climb gave me a massive boost. I passed nearly everyone I saw on the first climb, although my legs screamed at me to stop. Eventually I reached the summit and took a moment to enjoy the view before turning back down the mountain toward the marathon finish line.
I made the cut off more than 20 minutes before it closed. I knew this wasn't fast, but it meant I would now get to finish the ultra. I set off toward the mountain again, looking over my shoulder to check I wasn't last. Ray who runs the whole food shop in Cardigan and his friend were the next through the gate, about 500 yards behind me.
Seeing someone I knew behind me gave me another boost and I was determined to keep up a good pace as the climb began again. I was impressed that my legs seemed to have recovered from their earlier cramps and I was able to power my way back to the South Stack lighthouse checkpoint without stopping.
I ran into the checkpoint and headed straight back out again, not wanting to loose any more places before the finish. The course now took me back inland and I knew that another trip to the summit was coming. My legs were beginning to feel hollow and my mind was wandering. I was interested by the sensation, but refused to slow down.
Reaching the summit for the second time, I almost cried. I knew that gravity would do the rest. All I had to do was point my weary body int he right direction and not fall over. I plodded out the descent, drinking whatever was left in my bag and eating a bar. I realised I had too much food left, and should have been eating more. I was already planning my next ultra by the time I finished.
Chris and Alex were waiting for me at the finish line. I had to wait a few minutes to get my time. They'd turned the power off and had to restart the computer. As I waited, Ray and his friend came running home. I would later find out they were the only finishers behind me, although 9 runners dropped out.
I followed the others back to the car and was more than happy to let Chris drive home. I was done. I had run my first ultra.
We stopped at a little climbing cafe called Pete's Eats that Chris knew on the way back to Cardigan. The good coffee and baked potatoes seemed to serve as a fitting full stop to the run, and the reality of the achievement began to sink in.
There's such a difference between believing you can do something and knowing you can.
After a lovely fortnight off over Christmas and New Year we're back in the office and hard at it with new t-shirt designs for the spring range. Trying to come up with ideas got me thinking about my life and how I live it, and the things in it that I love or hate (sometimes both).
One of the things that I noticed was that I find myself glued to my iPhone. All that information right at your fingertips is an amazing thing to have, but at the same time it kinda works the opposite way. You end up consuming more information than you create, almost becoming a bit of a 'slave to the machine, man'. So I thought about how I could reflect this in an illustration for a t-shirt.
Here are a few sketches of what I've been working on. It was nice getting away from the mac and get drawing again, although, as you can tell, it's been a while since I've picked up the pencil and drawn some human forms so they're a little bit rusty. But I do like the Matisse-esque style they have.
Thanks for reading.
P.s. I understand there's great irony in posting these on Instagram from my iPhone.
As of January 1st, howies got small again.
When we were sold to Timberland in 2006 we became a tiny part of a $2 billion company and that was not easy.
When VF bought Timberland last September we became a miniscule part of a $10 Billion corporation.
So while everybody was crunching the big numbers, the howies management team quietly bought the business back.
We thank VF for giving us the opportunity to be small again.
It could be big.
A year of lunchbreakouts.
A year of first Marathons.
A year of races.
A year of Microadventure.
And the year a World Champion raced for howies.
A year for riding harder.
A year for first Ultra's.
A year for (more) racing.
A year for adventure.
Then again, why wait until January...
Another 1 to 5 from the howies pit at Revolution. Team rider Andy Fenn gives us a quick insight into riding.
Andy was an obvious choice for the team with his winning record across track and road disciplines, the most impressive we think is his U23 UCI World Championships Bronze medal win.
Riding in the elite category for Round 2, Andy teamed up with Cav for the Madison TT and joined Jon Mould to help bring howies the Rainbow victory in the 15km scratch last month.
Andy's skipped the winter weather on a training camp in Spain and left us a few words before he disappears off Down Under next month on tour...
1. How did you get started in cycling?
I started mountain biking first, my dad got me into that, but there isnt cycling in the family. When I moved to Welwyn I joined the Welwyn Wheelers, and slowly took it more seriously from there, progressing through the British Cycling Programs.
2. Where do you ride when you just want to ride for fun?
I dont really have a favorite route, as you can get bored of the same thing, but its always more fun when you go out with a good group of people you know to a nice cafe on a easy day.
3. If you could ride in any event in the world, what would it be?
4. What do you do to relax before a race?
I just try to keep my mind off the race until its time to get ready. When we were in the camper van you can always have a laugh with the other guys so that helps.
5. What do you like to do off the bike?
Meeting up with friends, going out to eat, and just relaxing. Normal things.
If you've got any other questions for our team, just leave a comment below.