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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...

This weekend I run the longest race I have ever entered.

The Endurancelife   #UTSW  100 miles clockwise round the Cornish coastal path from Porthleven to Watergate Bay in a 40 hour time limit.

I have run some tough Ultra marathons over the years. 125km over the Rockies in Canada at altitude was a challenge. A 1/2 Marathon in snowshoes at -42degrees where my eyeballs froze was also a test.

In preparation I have been running an Ultra of between 35 to 60 miles every month this year, but tomorrow will be the furthest I have tried to run and possibly the hardest I have tried to push myself.

Can I do it? I honestly don't know. I'd like to think that I have learnt to ignore the nagging inner voice that encourages you to quit, but I guess I won't know until I cross the finish line. The weather is going to be bad all weekend, but I like it like that.

There is a saying in ultra running.

"You live an entire lifetime in the course of a single race, all the joy, pain tedium and wonder etched into a single day. Step by step, mile by mile, we keep running through the darkness until we eventually come out the other side at dawn"

It's been quite a journey to get me to this point, and however the weekend goes, I know it will just be the start of the next journey.

I will try to get some pictures onto the howies instagram (@howiesclothing)

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?

Torch run

  • Posted by aron
  • 25 May 2012

The Olympic torch will be making its way through our little town this Sunday.

So we did a new shop window display to help the runner along.

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.

Dyfi

  • Posted by alex
  • 9 May 2012

Our May bank holiday was punctuated with a trip to the trails and fire roads in Machynlleth for some epic mountain biking. The weekend didn't start too well after a trip to A&E for stitches, but things only got better on Sunday.

The 11th Dyfi Enduro didn't disappoint, with rain from last week clearing a lot of the surface mud from the slate descents and leaving deep pools of surface water for the brave (and stupid) to ford. 40 miles off-road felt brutal compared to all the recent road riding, but the steep forest hills and crashing downhills left little time to distract yourself from the ride to worry about mileage.

Being my first time at the Enduro I had little idea of what to expect and riding on a borrowed bike, I tentatively span through the course amoung 800 other riders, cheered on by locals, cheer leaders, Welsh hardpists, star wars characters and past beer tents, tempting mugs of free beer 10km from the finish. It's a surreal and hard ride, with every punishing climb followed by teeth clattering descents only to climb higher - rinse and repeat.

If you rode, times are now online. Ruben, Ade and Hazel had a great ride, putting in some fast times. Hazel was even fastest in her category.

Now that my legs have stopped burning and the adrenaline has faded, I can say it truly is an excellent one-of-a-kind event. If you've never ridden the Dyfi, it's definitely something to try - but you'll have to be quick as this year sold out in a matter of minutes.

The Coed-y-Brenin enduro is just around the corner too - run by the same crew from Summit - which will promise another worthwhile trip up the coast.

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 Ride Film

  • Posted by alex
  • 4 May 2012

On the night of the Spring Equinox, Rob Penn and friends took off on an overnight cycle ride across Wales.

The Rest Less Ride took the peloton of 16 riders from the west coast, all the way to the east. They cycled unlit back-roads riddled with pot-holes, gravel and barrier-less hairpin bends. They passed through deep dark valleys, through forests and up mountains, in a race against the sunrise.

The Rest Less Ride celebrates the pleasure of cycling and the friendships it forges.

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