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Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

Two years ago our friend Alastair Humphreys visited us at howies HQ on the West coast of Wales as part of his year of Microadventure.

Al came up with the Microadventure idea to encourage people to get outside, get out of their comfort zone and go somewhere they’ve never been. A Microadventure is an adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.

Next week we're planning to get our feet wet in another Microadventure with Al and we're hoping some of you will get involved over the summer as well. We're joining forces with Trek bikes, Osprey packs and Mountain Equipment this time, too. There will be some great prizes. More on that later.

To find out more about Microadventures you can join the Facebook page here, use the #microadventure tag on Twitter, Instagram and Vine. There are videos of past adventures, tips and tricks for those planning their own adventures and lots of like minded adventurers to talk to.

We'll be updating the Facebook page (and our blog, of course) with all our upcoming adventures and more details about how you can get involved.

Remember, you do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to go somewhere you've never been.
You do not need to be an elite athlete, expertly trained, or rich to have an adventure.

Adventure is only a state of mind.
Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

Revolution Round 1 round-up

  • Posted by alex
  • 30 October 2012

"1. Don't crash.
2. Be in the front third"

Mike and I headed up to Manchester Velodrome at the weekend to watch our track team race in the Revolution Series.

Standing trackside we listened in on the team briefing for the evening -
"1. Don't crash. 2. Be in the front third" Team manager Kyleigh tells everyone. You can't win from the back and that's where the crashes happen. It sounds simple enough, but with steep bankings and wheels nipping at the rider's tyres in front, anything can happen. It's what makes track cycling so exciting.

A gentle hum from rollers set a tone for the evening. Riders spend longer warming up and cooling down than they do racing, occasionally turning the roller-hum to thunder as legs went into a sprints to stay warm and race-ready.

The team love racing in front of such a big crowd - especially the juniors. Normally, track events aren't as well attended, but at Revolution, the deafening cheers from the stands will on aching legs and make for a great atmosphere.

Between races everyone fettles their bikes; swapping sprockets to change gearing and fixing punctures. Everyone has their own spare wheels, cogs and tools - some borrowed, some hand-me-down - all tidily stowed in the tiny team pit.

A crash in the boys final race called for Dust Busters and gaffa tape to take up splinters and plug gaps in the track. Pringled wheels are swapped for true and grazed knees stay on for the last few laps. Even a crash wouldn't stop the guys from getting back on their bikes and everyone finishing the night on a high.

Mike captured a bit of video and we'll be doing little film about the team and the event which we will release at the end of the series.

In the meantime, you can watch highlights of howies in action on ITV4 Player and the team will be back on the track 1st December for Revolution meet 2.

For a peek into the track centre and what’s happening in the team pit, follow @howies on Twitter and @howiesclothing on Instagram. We’re using the hashtag #teamhowies

Back to the track

  • Posted by alex
  • 24 October 2012
Star riders Mark Cavendish, Michael Morkov (who briefly held the KOM jersey this year in his 1st Tour De France) and Leif Lampater headed up the team last year, helping inspire numerous race wins throughout the series and an overall 3rd place finish.

Our track team will be returning to race in the 10th series of Revolution this weekend.

We've got 4 talented junior riders from the Welsh National squad riding in the Future Stars event who will race alongside professional riders in four track meets over the winter.

Previous Future Stars have gone on to win Olympic gold medals this year and with Wales producing current Olympic and World cycling champions, Revolution will be a great place for our Welsh team to battle it out against cycling's giants.

Pete has even tweaked this years team kit to include elements of the Welsh flag for our riders to fly in.

Star riders Mark Cavendish, Michael Morkov (who briefly held the KOM jersey this year in his 1st Tour De France) and Leif Lampater headed up the team last year, helping inspire numerous race wins throughout the series and an overall 3rd place finish.

6 Olympic gold medalists, the World road champion and Tour De France riders rode last winter and with more big names set to join the team this season, we roll onto the boards in front of a sell-out crowd at Manchester on October 27th with race highlights on ITV4 after every event.

Pine. Rubber. Lycra and speed.

For behind the scenes Revolution action, follow @howies on Twitter and @howiesclothing on Instagram.

Autumn Epic

  • Posted by alex
  • 12 October 2012

I've never been so glad to see a sign for the Finish. Especially when it was accompanied with the handwritten note "Downhill. All The Way." As I freewheeled, the speedo began to pick up and I knew I could make it home. All the pain from climbing masked by the feeling of accomplishment.

My first attempt at a century ride was crunching out of the Rest Less ride in the wilderness back in March and it's been on my Bucket List since.

With regular trips over the rolling hills at lunch time, racing in Italy and week night rides, it felt like it was time to take on 100 miles again.

So I set off - a 5am departure from Cardigan - for the Autumn Epic last weekend. A ride just short of 100 miles through mid Wales with some 8000ft of climbing, notorious for usually being in an apocolyptic downpour but as luck would have it, it was cool but a dry.

We set out in a group of 6, soon merging with a quick bunch and relishing the chance to be swept along and settled into a rhythm. Scott soon powered on and then we were 5.

The first real climb split the bunch and I was soon spat out of the back, gladly resuming my own pace and reminding myself that there were some 80 hard miles to go - I was already starting to feel the pace. As I rejoined the guys as the hill levelled out, we were soon up to cruising speed again and could start to take in some of the beautiful vistas from on top.

Just before the first feed station at Rhayader we started to climb again, before dropping into town. Out of the saddle, leaning hard, Laurence snapped his handle bars at the stem. Despite our best efforts with a handful of zip ties and a stick, his ride was over. He seemed pretty un-phased by the winding downhill on one drop bar and brake!

We pushed on as a 4 as we wound through forests and rolled over hills into the stunning Elan Valley. The road rose before descending round sun-lit hairpins into the open valley floor accompanied by buzzards and kites cruising over the plains.

Before we knew it, we were half way round, passing the cascading dams and heading back towards Knighton. The feeling of achievement was soon broken as we turned into Glascwm hill which felt like trying to ride up a travelator continually tapping my levers, trying to find more gears. I slowly made my way up passing riders who had opted to get off and push, while others zig-zagged up the road shaving attempting off a % or two. It was gruelling. Let alone this far in.

Just before the second feed station, the roads began to roll again and became muddy and potholed. A ping from behind revealed Doug had broken a spoke but managed to limp on to the final stop where a mechanic was able to swap his cassette onto a borrowed wheel and we pressed on.

With less than 10 miles to go, we were stalled again by a puncture. Riders who we had passed and re-passed throughout the day's escapades rolled by as tyre pressure was re-established.

We turned past the final way marker, ushered by an outrider who called after us "6 miles to go. 3 to the top of the big hill". Everyone cursed. Surely not nother big hill?

As it turned out, it wasn't big, it was just long and the sapping came from previous miles more than the incline.

Elated at the summit, I've never been so glad to see a sign for the Finish. Especially one accompanied with the handwritten note "Downhill. All The Way." As I freewheeled, the speedo began to pick up and I knew I could make it home. All the pain from climbing masked by the feeling of accomplishment.

Nick and I rolled through the finish, some 6 hours 24 minutes in the saddle I was over an hour behind Scott, 2 minutes behind Doug and James.

It was certainly epic and a great way to mark the end of this summer's riding.

Image ©rightplacerighttime.co.uk

The thing with softshell...

  • Posted by ade
  • 27 September 2012
The thing about a soft shell is that it replaces a few layers giving you a single technical layer that can be worn almost all of the time over a base layer.

We made our first soft shell in 2006 and we still see them at races and hacking round cities.

To be a true soft shell it should shed water but not be waterproof. This makes it very breathable and quick drying. It should also block out the wind and have insulation to keep you warm. And by having some stretch in the fabric it is easy to wear both in and out of activity and is very hard wearing.

The thing about a soft shell is that it replaces a few layers giving you a single technical layer that can be worn almost all of the time over a base layer.

In 2010 we introduced the barrier hoody, which was a sell out for winter.

This year we have introduced the Barrier Light for men and women with a few tweaks.

- A reduction in the weight of the jacket by using a loop back liner that also increased the warmth.
- Ribbed cuffs and waistband to stop the wind blowing in.
- Inner pocket and headphone loop.
- A second colour. Not everyone suits khaki.

It’s great for on and off the bike. To put on over your dirty kit post sport when cooling down. From house to bus to train to office, in and out of doors. Pre and post yoga and gym.

This means we should see them at races and hacking round cities in the next 6 years.

Last Day of Summer

  • Posted by ade
  • 21 September 2012

It rained but we still rode our bikes.
It rained but we still ran new trails.
It rained but we still swam open water.
It rained but the days were still long.
It rained but we still had summer holidays.
It rained but we still went to the beach.
It rained but we still wore shorts.

It rained but it was still a great summer.

Summer. Ends Saturday.

  • Posted by ade
  • 17 September 2012
Cook outside on a fire. Even just a tin of beans heated over a blaze in the garden will feel like an adventure.

Every shop is showing their latest Autumn ranges, howies included. We are all talking about the Autumnal weather (there are even chocolate Santas for sale in the supermarket). It's like we're willing summer to be over already.

But until Saturday, it's still here, so you have five whole days and nights left to make the most of it.

You could:

1. Swim in the sea. It's probably the warmest it's going get this year, so get in.

2. Wear shorts or a skirt all week.

3. Sit in the sun on the grass and eat your lunch.

4. Cook outside on a fire. Even just a tin of beans heated over a blaze in the garden will feel like an adventure.

5. Go camping. Why have 5 star accommodation when you can have billions.

6. Run somewhere at sunrise or sunset (Late summer always has THE best light).

7. Leave work early to ride the long way home with no lights on (pretty soon you won't be able to ride home without them).

8. Get to a forest before the leaves fall. The trails will be great.

We hope that gives you a few ideas. Do something everyday to push back autumn and let us know what adventures you have.

#lastdaysofsummer

Me vs Me

  • Posted by alex
  • 23 August 2012

Me versus darker mornings
Me versus my duvet
Me versus damp running shorts (forgot to put the dryer on)
Me versus the front door
Me versus the slanting rain
Me versus those mulchy leaves (the jogger's nemesis)
Me versus cowpats
Me versus that man on a bike
Me versus the ruts in the farm track
Me versus the barbed wire fence
Me versus the hill back into the village
Me versus my PB
Me versus all of you
And I'm home

By Dan Germain

A new summit

  • Posted by ruben
  • 24 July 2012
The format is simple, you run to the top of Snowdon then straight back down to the finish. Since the first 86 competed at the inaugural race, the event has grown to over 600 runners today.

"Running takes you places." This is my first thought as I slap my hand down on the trig point on top of the tallest mountain in Wales and glance out at the stunning views below me. The sight of the guy I've been chasing turning to vanish down the other side leads to my second thought. "Just a shame I don't get longer to enjoy them."

I'm half way through my first 'official' mountain race. In a moment I will be hurtling down the same route I just climbed to finish the race with a knee-pounding, tooth-loosening descent back into the small town of Llanberis. 5 miles away as the crow flies, and a vertical kilometre below my feet.

If I wasn't staring at the ground ahead, focusing on my footing and trying to catch the guy in front, I'd be able to see miles in every direction, including the faint outline for Cardigan Island a hundred miles to the south marking home (and howies.)

The Snowdon Race has been held every year since 1976 and is part of the Skyrunner World Series. The format is simple, you run to the top of Snowdon then straight back down to the finish. Since the first 86 competed at the inaugural race, the event has grown to over 600 runners today.

Despite this surge in popularity, the course record was last broken in 1985 when K Stuart ran to the top and back in 1 hour 2 minutes and 29 seconds. This stat passes through my mind as I turn and start the descent with the clock already passing 1 hour 10.

Still, even though I hadn't given the race leaders anything to worry about as they flew down the mountain at speeds I could barely believe and even though I had walked a few hundred meters of the steepest part of the climb, I had already decided this wouldn't be my last mountain race.

The elation I felt on reaching the top of mountain, and the sense of accomplishment that began to sink in as I descended was something I haven't felt before in running.

Not the same as the emotions that wash through during a long run, but something different. A new summit.

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