Photo: Sara Sani All rights reserverd. No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form without permission from the publisher. The opinions of authors do not neccesarily represent those of the publisher
Welcome to the new bigger, best ever issue of Coven Magazine, jam-packed with creative collaborations from women the world over. I hope you love it as much as I do; I’m rightly proud! I’m sure a few of you may be wondering where the paper copies of Coven Six have got to; well sadly a gang of balaclavered badgers ambushed our delivery, and being nature loving geeks here at Coven HQ, it just didn’t feel right to prise them out of their greedy little paws. Ok, so that’s not strictly true; with many special projects in the pipeline we’re taking a moment to re-group and reasses. So for now, enjoy this magical issue and get your tangible fix in the form of a Coven x Sam Dunn T-Shirt. And keep an eye our for our new, fresh website, coming soon. Enjoy! - Juliet
EDITOR/PUBLISHER/DESIGNER Juliet Elliott PICTURES WORDS Nathan Gallagher, Laura Austin, Richard Juliet Elliott, Hannah Bailey, Emily Dunwoody, Giles Smith, Robbie Sell, Katherine Chappell, Vanessa Fisher, Rachel Harrison, Cannon, Who Is Mudi, Rebecca Naen, Kalle KJ Megan Owen, Tamsin Ross Van Lessen, Johansson, Nik Cook, Kim Woozy, Peter Swain, Vera Janssen Sara Sani COVER Sam Dunn
Photo: Laura Austin
9 L’Eroica Italia A Ride In Time 15 Below The Treeline Danyale Patterson keeps it low 19 Emily Sarsfield Self-funding An Olympic Dream 21 Return To Innoncence Running In Its Purest Form? 29 Storytelling Photographer Laura Austin 39 The Enigmatic Rebecca Reilly Emily Chappell Meets The Legendary Messenger 43 Eddie Brockwell Who Does An Ironman At 70? 55 Brits On Board Shred Your Own Turf 65 Welcome To Bralorne Vera Janssen’s Shredventures 73 Highway To Hellas Serbia, Macedonia, Albania & Greece On Two Wheels 79 Daydream Believer It’s Sunny Down Under 101 Annie Last Scoring A Place For Team GB 101 Annie Last Scoring A Place For Team GB 101 Day In The Life MAHFIA’s Kim Woozy
Published Quarterly by Coven Press. For enquiries, please contact email@example.com
When we escape on an impromtu adventure, we travel light and snuggle up in this Eagle Nest Outfitters hammock. From £74.40 www.enonation.com
Lightweight, slimline warmth, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody will keep you cosy this winter £260 www.arcteryx.com
OBJECTS OF handpicked winter favourites
We adore Vuline’s women’s cycling wear. Our favourites? The softshell jacket and rain trousers above. Trousers £140, Jacket £175. www.vulpine.cc
Yes, we know Pendleton print is suddenly everywhere, but that doesn’t stop us loving these Pendleton x Urban Ears headphones. £79.90 www.urbanears.com
Everyone’s favourite week on the snow, ‘Spring Break’ is back in Kaunertal from 27th April to 3rd May with plenty of boards available to test, and a parties every night of the week. Get your shred on from €150 for three nights accommodation, three days lift ticket and entry to all events www.snowboardspringbreak.com
Coldwater surf company, Finisterre’s new range of knitwear is luxurious, practical and ethically produced; just the thing to slip on post-surf. Mora Knit (left) £95 www.finisterreuk.com
Nuun’s new Grape and Lemon Tea flavoured electrolite drink tablets taste amazing and keep us hydrated when workinng out. Yum, seriously. £6 www.nuun.co.uk
Natural Hero’s Hot Ginger Sports Muscle Rub warms and soothes muscles using natural ingredients; we found it irritated the skin far less than synthetic equivalents. For a 20% discount on the range, visit the online store and enter COVEN20 at the checkout From £9.99 www.naturalhero.co.uk
Poler x Granted’s handknitted sweater is top of our Christmas list this year, and yes Santa, we’ve been very goo, we promise. $249 www.polerstuff.com
To raise awareness of the ‘Keep Skateistan Rolling’ fundraising initiative, Skateistan invites you to spreading the word by customizing your very own paperskate deck model, available at Skateistan.org. To join in the fun, take a picture of your creation at a cool location and upload it to their Instagram feed @Skateistan with the hashtag #paperskates www.skateistan.org
BRITSH S N OW B OA R D E R AIMEE FULLER T E L L S C OV E N WHICH ITEMS S H E S I M P LY CA N N OT L I V E WITHOUT PHOTOGRAPHY HANNAH BAILEY ILLUSTRATION WHO IS MUDI
Motorbike / Bike - 'I have a passion for wheels, I was on a quad bike at age 4 and now I just started to do my motorbike license so bikes are on the brain. I love going fast and hate waiting around. Getting on my bike and cycling, is such a great release of energy and really refreshing, I Hair Straightners - 'I have quite a lot of hair, and on occasion it needs taming down a bit, so can't live without my straightners before a night out in the alps! the fro can get get wild.' iPhone - 'When I am travelling I love to stay connected with family, friends and the boyfriend, also it's a great way to document your travels, have a camera slide into your pocket and when your on a mission have your personal sat nav in your pocket, it gets me out of all sorts of sticky situations when I am on the road, booking flights, hotels and organising fun missions with your mates.' Passport - 'Boring but true, this is the key to have the most fun, i love to travel, whether it be by, train , plane, bike or boat, but your not going to get very far without this little gem.'
L’EROICA Scanning through the numerous regulations for the next day’s sportive, I was unable to find one to explain the shoddy state of my vintage hire bike. Nowhere on the list of many rules did it state ‘you must ride a bike that is nearly falling apart.’ I was in Chianti for L’Eroica, a annual paean to cycling’s glorious past, the days of Coppi and Merckx when jerseys were woolen, roads were gravel and beverages predominantly grape-based. My steed, hastily acquired from the local bike shop where somewhat unscrupulous Italians passed off death-machines as road-worthy, had a very authentic air, possessing all the necessary characteristics required of a ‘heroic’ bicycle – it was pre ’87, steel and the gear shift lever was on the downtube. It was also suitably rickety, and I felt sure I’d look the part wobbling my way through Tuscany on the tiny red Benotto. My only upgrade was a new Brooks ‘Cambium’ saddle which gave the bike an undeservedly polished look.
Words: Juliet Elliott. Photography: Dave Noakes and Juliet Elliott
IT FELT LIKE A MASS BICYCLE TAKEOVER, WITH US KINGS AND QUEENS OF THE HIGHWAY DELIGHTING IN EVERY REVOLUTION OF THE PEDAL, AND EVERY NEW, PICTURESQUE SCENE WE ENCOUNTERED
The next morning, delighted at our good fortune – the weather forecast had been dire and the previous day’s rain had nearly washed us away – myself and the Brooks team assembled outside our castle for a group photo before heading to the start line in the village. I immediately noticed something fishy: amongst our woolen gang I spotted several machines that were not only road-worthy, but looked eminently appealing; gleaming vintage Colnagos and Bianchis sure to transport their owners in comfort, style and panache. Where’s the fun in that, I thought? Who wants to ride down a steep gravel road knowing their brakes will actually stop them on a bike that feels nice to ride? Isn’t that against the spirit of L’Eroica? There are four different routes at L’Eroica and we’d plumped for the 78km – long enough to feel it was worth bothering but not so long that we had to get up at 5am and ride the first few hills by candlelight (I’m not kidding!). All of the routes take in the historic ‘white roads,’ or strade bianche, with our ride split roughly 50/50 between regular tarmac and the gravel tracks winding their way through olive groves and traversing this most glorious of landscapes. Setting off from Gaiole in Chianti we rode along chattering and smiling, spotting tandems, single speeds and some truly fantastic outfits; dressing up is a large part of the fun and the easiest way to enter the spirit of the ride, and people had gone to extraordinary lengths to acquire their clobber. One man, for reasons seemingly known only to himself had dressed as a groom and was riding with a pretend bride on a seat behind him, strings of cans trailing as he went. The terrain is hilly rather than mountainous and our first ascent was a chance to warm up and get a feel for our bikes. After several kilometers, we reached the first white road where a crowd of excited onlookers had gathered to cheer us on as we tackled the gravel climb. Thanks to the near biblical downpour the day before the road was somewhat worse for wear but we were in no hurry – L’Eroica is all about inhaling the beautiful surroundings and making new friends. After reaching the top of the tree-lined climb we took a moment to survey the stunning countryside before making our first wary descent, testing our brakes for the first time. A huge smile filled my face as I sailed happily past several riders, the sun shining down as we cruised past vineyards packed with Sangiovese grapes. The next 25km or so were an absolute delight. Not for nothing is Tuscany one of the most well known areas of Italy; it’s a stunning region, verdant with vineyards, clusters of terracotta roofs dotting the landscape whilst castles keep watch from distant hills. Surprisingly, the roads were free of traffic nearly the whole way and it felt a mass bicycle takeover, with us kings and queens of the highway delighting in every revolution of the pedal, and every new, picturesque scene we encountered. The atmosphere at L’Eroica is unlike that of any other sportive or ride
that I’ve done; there’s a real camaraderie, a sense of pure bicyclefuelled amour, and when we pulled into our first rest stop in the village of Radda, a party was in full swing – L’Eroica is as much about the rest stops as the riding. As riders passed around bottles of wine, rosy-faced with exertion and inebriation, we refueled with bread, olive oil and salt – there are no energy bars, or sports drinks on this sportive, so in keeping with tradition we sank espressos and clambered aboard once more. The next section of the route hugged the hillside, the road rising up towards the village of Panzano and its festival atmosphere. Thanks to my tiny bike with its very short seatpost, I’d been riding with my knees somewhere near my ears, but luckily I’d become accustomed to this inefficient way of cycling and we tucked into a small peleton of riders and blasted our way up the hill. Once we reached the village a large part of the party seemed focused on a butcher’s shop, so we took a pass on the lard-covered crostini and carried on through, unwittingly heading straight for the nastiest climb of the ride. The ‘nasty climb’ – ask anyone who rode the 78km and they’ll know which you mean – is a very long, steep stretch of the strade bianche which very quickly sorted the women from the girls and the men from the boys. The damp, sandy surface stole any power you put into your cranks, with a great deal of effort getting you barely anywhere at all. I was absolutely determined not to walk, but after a while even I decided to push for a hundred metres – it’s easy to look at the total distance and think L’Eroica is easy, but the strade bianche can really take it out of you. Back on the bikes, we grinded our way up the seemingly endless hill, littered with people on foot perspiring wildly, and eventually made it to the top after a light sprinkling of rain. The final rest stop was slightly more subdued than the previous ones, possibly due to the climb, more likely thanks to plentiful wine consumption at the butcher’s shop, but we were more than happy to partake in a bowl of stew and some cantucci before heading off for the final section of the route, much of it on tarmac. I was glad I hadn’t opted for wine when my bicycle gradually started to give up on me, so I rode the last 15km in the big ring, as I could no longer shift into any other gears. Nearing Gaiole we nipped onto the final section of gravel enjoying views of our charming residence, Castello Di Spagnello, as the road followed a ridge high above the town. I can’t emphasise enough the beauty of this area of Italy, which, coupled with one of the most perfect days ever, left a lump in my throat as I coasted down the final hill. Crossing the finish line, we collected the final stamp on our official Eroica way-cards before making short work of several beers, which further raised our spirits. As a stylish battalion of cyclists refueled on wild boar and Chianti, we raised our glasses, ‘Salute!’ 13
below the treeline ALASKAN NATIVE AND STREET SHREDDER, DANYALE PATTERSON
H a i l i n g f r o m A n c h o r a g e , A l a s k a , y o u ’d b e f o r g i v e n f o r t h i n k i n g s n ow b o a r d e r D A N YA L E PAT T E R S O N w o u l d b e t e l l i n g u s t a l e s of endless backcountry and first descents. But like many Alaskan s h r e d d e r s , s h e s h u n n e d t h e e x p e n s e o f r i di n g a b o v e t h e t r e e l i n e as soon as she felt a groomer beneath her board, instead opting to stick at street level. The rider, who wouldn’t look out of place in E a s t L o n d o n w i t h h e r 9 0 ’s v i b e s t y l e a n d b r i g h t l y c o l o u r e d h a i r , i s a s c r e a t i v e o f f a b o a r d a s s h e i s o n , s h ow c a s i n g h e r t a l e n t i n t h i s s e a s o n mu s t - h a v e m o v i e s ; T h i n k T h a n k s ‘ B r a i n D e a d H e a r t A t t a c k ’ , R o x y ’s ‘ W i l d e r ’ a n d h e r ow n p r o d u c t i o n ‘ S t i l l H a r d ’ . T h e s t r a i g h t u p shredder tells us her deepest thoughts, a.k.a. whatever the hell she thinks.
You caught our attention last season with ‘Too Hard’ (your own production) and then this seasons Roxy movie ‘Wilder’. Please take a moment to officially introduce yourself. I’m Danyale Patterson. People call me Dangy. I snowboard, skateboard, film/edit, shop, watch movies, party, Instagram and online shop. You’re from Alaska, the big mountain mecca, but you ride street. How did your get into that kind of riding? I was taught how to snowboard by my dad in the backcountry. It was not fun to learn in the backcountry but once I finally got to a groomer, I was like "this rules!” Groomers were so easy and fun! Then I started watching movies like One Love and Love/Hate and they were all street rails, and I was like, "that’s tight, I wanna do that". Also, if you haven't already noticed, most snowboarders from AK are street riders, because it’s really hard and expensive to get past the tree line in AK. It’s actually way easier to ride pow in Tahoe or Colorado.
Where do you base yourself these days? Salt Lake City, UT or Anchorage, AK. You’ve got a pretty heavy trick bag, a bit of everything. What’s your favourite stuff to pull? I go through phases but lately I've been pretty down with switch fakie hardway frontlip 360 out. But really though, I'm down with switch backside tricks. And what are you working on next? My tan. Training for Sochi. Not much. Sounds… busy! Which other riders inspire your snowboarding and who do you like to shred with? In the park I like to snowboard with people that ride fast. Either that, or no one. I get in the zone. I like to film with people who are positive, energetic and motivated. June Bhongjan is my favorite filmer because she pushes me the most and Esthera Preda is awesome because she helps me think of creative stuff and is fun.
By HANNAH BAILEY Photography ROBBIE SELL
So what are your favorite sorts of things to hit? I like gaps and drops. BIG shit. And I just love to get the creative juices flowing. You not only caught our eye with your snowboarding but your fashion too. What would you say inspires your style? Weed n’ addys. You feature in the upcoming ‘Brain Dead Heart Attack’, we’re always fans of the Think Thank films. What was it like filming with them? I didn't actually film with them. I just sent Jesse some of my clips. But I was hyped he used them! You also enjoy being behind the camera and editing, can you tell us about ‘Too Hard’ and how that came about? I used to want to make music videos, so I just started filming and editing snowboarding, I started making edits and then I decided to make a movie. It was hard. I am completely self-taught. ‘Still Hard,’ your next movie with the crew looks like it’s about having a lot of fun and not giving a shit. Is that the vibe you are going for? Well that’s just who I am, but I do want to inspire younger girls so I am trying to make the movie more censored, though honestly most of the girls (in the movie) are pretty mellow and don't need censoring. But me and a couple other girls like to rage and I cant help but portray who we are. Are you trying to push it for the girl’s scene? I am trying to push it for the outcasts and underdogs. We enjoyed watching ‘Still Hard, there are a ton of names involved. Was it an aim to try and get as many people in it as possible? I used to have a hard time finding movies to put my footage in. So I really want to give all the girls a place to showcase their footage and that’s what my movies do. I'm not like, trying to have a million chicks in the movie but we are definitely not exclusive. Do you think guys will be stoked on it as much as girls? I foresee more guys will watch it but hate on it because they are scared and don't get it. Not as many girls will watch it but the ones that do will (get it).down. So is snowboarding, editing and filming what you do most of your time? Pretty much. Is it tricky as a girl in North America to work, ride and make a living in the scene? It is for me. I am struggling a lot. Where do you hope to take your snowboarding? Your mom’s house Haha. And what’s coming up for 13/14? Clinical drug studies They pay well apparently. So apart from snowboarding what do you like to do in your spare time? I like to dress my cat up and teach him how to skateboard… Sounds purrfect. Follow @jibgurl420 @toohardxxx Thank you GNU, Roxy, Blindside, Sabre, Mom and Dad
As with many British winter sport athletes, pursuing an Olympic dream can b e a f i n a ni c a l ni g h t m a r e f o r B r i t i s h s k i - c r o s s r a c e r E M I LY S A R S F I E L D . T h o u g h r a n k e d nu m b e r o n e i n t h e U K , t h e 3 0 - y e a r o l d ’s r o u t e t o S o c h i i s e n t i r e l y s e l f - f u n d e d , a n d E mi l y mu s t n o t o n l y f o c u s h e r e f f o r t s o n t h e s t r e n g t h a n d t e c h ni qu e n e e d e d t o m a k e h e r m a r k , b u t also on raising enough money to get to Russia. Competing against athletes r e c ei v i n g f u l l s u p p o r t a n d f u n di n g f r o m t h ei r h o m e n a t i o n s , E mi l y ’s s t e e l y d e t e r mi n a t i o n a n d n a t u r a l t a l e n t a r e h e r b i g g e s t a s s e t s ( a n d o n l y ) a s s e t s . VA N E S S A F I S H E R c a u g h t u p w i t h E mi l y a t P r o Fe e t ’s F u l h a m R o a d s t o r e t o f i n d o u t m o r e a b o u t h e r l i f e , f i t n e s s t r a i ni n g a n d p r e p a r a t i o n f o r t h e w i n t e r Olympics at Sochi 2014.
Photo: Dan Smye-Rumsby
emily sarsfield CHASING DREAMS ON A BUDGET
How long has Ski-Cross been around and when did it become an Olympic discipline? Ski-Cross is a relatively new sport; it’s probably only been around for about 10 years. It made its debut at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010, which is where I ripped all my knee ligaments in the training run. It’s great that I have been involved in the early stages of the sport and good to see how it is developing. What made you switch from Alpine skiing to Ski-Cross? It was really random, I was at the World University Games doing slalom and my coach suggested I should give it a go. I said, “No way – they’re all crazy skiers” but somehow I ended up on the track and once you’re on it there’s no way out. It sparked a new love of skiing in me. It’s fun but scary. People said my style of alpine skiing would suit Ski-Cross as I have an all or nothing approach and I am super competitive, especially when I’m lined up next to the other girls - I just want to beat them! Can you tell us about the financial side of your Olympic bid? I’m fully self-funded. It’s completely down to me to find the funds to ski and each year I’m losing money. My parents are very supportive but they don’t have any cash to throw at me so I have to be really creative about how I can make money. I did the Round the Island sailing race and had some appearance fees for that and I have just launched my own raffle online at www.emilysarsfield.com. My sponsors have been amazing and donated some fantastic prizes such as ski weekends, new skis, UK ski training at Skiplex. Every little helps me and so far the response has been so positive and that spurs me on to get to the gym and get training. TASS, one of my supporters provides me with medical and physio support which is new for me and such a relief to have. And how are your Olympic preparations going? I feel great, I’m stronger than ever. My trainer Nick at UPC has made sure I’m in great shape, I can lift more weights than ever! I’ve been doing some pre-season training on glaciers with the Polish Team. There isn’t a UK coach or team although we do now have a UK base at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead which helps, but on actual snow, I have to train with the Polish. Who’s your coach and how do they help? I get lots of help from different areas. I get physical training from UPC, I get my ski training from the Polish coach and I have various psychologists that help me when I need it. I also rely a lot on my family. My sister is the best PA, organizing all my flights, suggesting new training ideas. She works in sport and might see something someone like Victoria Pendleton was doing when she was training and suggest that I try it. Do you spend a lot of time training off the snow?
About 50% of my time is spent in the gym and this complements what I do on snow. In summer I work on fitness and strength, Olympic weight lifting, cardio intervals. Making 30 metre jumps at 70mph, my body needs to be able to cope and as I go head to head with other skiers I need to be powerful enough to do that. Pre-season the focus is getting back on my skis. Once I’m in the season it’s back-to-back races; I’m on the road and competing on glaciers and then on to the tour. During the winter season, it’s all about maintaining my strength rather than building it. Do you have a base or are you living out of a suitcase? The circuit starts in December and so yes, my car becomes my wardrobe! There are 13 stops on the tour from North America to Scandinavia so a lot of travelling. My winter base is home in Meribel, France but I’m pretty nomadic. What do you do to unwind? I’m not very good at doing nothing, although I do like sleeping! In my days off I’m still an adrenaline junkie so in summer I’ll mountain bike in Meribel or go wake boarding. I like being busy! When I’m competing my recovery time is important. I love my firefly machine, a bit like a tens machine, it gets the blood flowing back to muscles and removes the lactate build up. I can strap that on and relax! What’s the best thing about your life? I have such a varied life with amazing people and I see amazing places which I would never have been to if it wasn’t for this sport. I have grabbed every opportunity that has come my way. I live by this motto, “if you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough”! And what sacrifices have you made to get where you are? There are always sacrifices to be the best in your sport and to be an athlete. You end up in a world of guilt: guilty because you cannot have a drink, but guilty if you do have one as you won’t train so well, then if you don’t train you feel guilty about that as well. Many of my friends are settling down with houses and children and I still have to stay with my parents. My parents and my boyfriend make sacrifices for me. I have bank loans which my parents support as they want me to succeed. I’ve competed since I was four years old and if I do well at Sochi 2014, I’ll want to carry on. I was born to be an athlete! Raffle tickets cost £10 – to support Emily towards Sochi 2014 visit emilysarsfield.com 20
return to innocence
RUNNING STRIPPED BACK AND RETURNED TO ITS ROOTS; NO TARMAC, NO TIMING CHIPS, NO SPONSORS. MEGAN OWEN MEETS THE FELL RUNNERS SEEKING NOTHING BUT WIND IN THEIR HAIR WORDS Megan Owen PHOTOGRAPHY Giles Smith
FELL RUNNING IS LIFE AT ITS SIMPLEST - LEGS VS HILLS, A PAIR OF SHOES & THE BIG OPEN SKY Itâ€™s 11am on a Saturday morning just outside Kettlewell, Yorkshire. The air is mild but rain threatens from the clouds that gather across the surrounding hills. Undeterred, a hardy group of runners is assembling, their bright vests shouting allegiance to the clubs that surround these valleys. They have come to tackle Great Whernside, a brutal race of 4 short, but very steep miles, climbing 1558 feet up the harsh slopes of the fell to its summit. Thereâ€™s little formality or ceremony. Runners will scramble grassy banks and rocky shale, before turning on their heels and bowling back down as fast as their legs can carry to them to the finish. The going will be tough, the rewards great: vast views, windswept tops and adventure. Fell running is life at its simplest - legs vs hills, a pair of shoes and the big, open sky. Wherever there are hills, there are races and all over Brit-
ain peaceful valleys play host to runners fleeing choking towns with their paths and pavements, junctions and traffic lights, to tackle nature's biggest challenges. In an act of defiance against airconditioned offices, stale city living and modern angst, fell running is a return to roots, to what life is for: flying free into the wind. This is why they run. Fell running has its roots in the "guides" races of the nineteenth century. Wealthy businessmen, making use of the newly opened railways would visit the greener pastures of the Dales and the Lakes in pursuit of sublime scenery. The fells were foreboding places however, and no selfrespecting gentleman would dare venture on the hillside alone without a trusted guide. These were the sturdy country-folk; the shepherds and farmers whose sure-footed knowledge of the lanes
proved invaluable to their employers. The faster and more quick-witted the guide the better, and soon races were held to determine which was the most tough. This tough streak is a hallmark of all fell racing. No one races because it's easy; they race because it's not. Back in Kettlewell, talk turns to trails and the race ahead. Leggings are removed and limbs tighten, stretching in the autumn morning. The hills are a stage for all players, with old and young, the rakish whippets and the more amply proportioned, all here to test their wits against the world. The runners are jittery, feet twitch, ready for action. At the horn they are off. They stream towards the summit, some pushing a punishing pace, whilst others stride purposefully behind them, their lungs heaving. They disappear and become vivid distant paint specks against the hillside. Then the wait begins. Five minutes pass, then ten, fifteen and nearly twenty before the first paint speck reappears. At first just a silhouette on the horizon, it then moves vaguely closer. Spectators strain - who is it? The runner approaches quickly, his red vest marked against the bracken, his arms swinging, his legs rampaging out of control as he bowls downwards over the grass. Checking behind him, he sees other specks appear, until the army returns, all of them now flowing down the paths towards the village below. And then, within an hour, the race is over. The runners gather in a breathless hum - some have fallen, crowned
in mud, all are flushed and smiling, exuberant from their tramp through the turf. They congratulate eachother, swap stories, share pain and elation. Applause for the last one down resonates as loudly as for the first. Although there is only one winner, all have beaten the hill, the backbreaking climb, the daredevil descent and all are alive, more so than ever before. There have been victories here, but no roaring crowds. Instead, hillsides are defeated in majestic modesty; runners arrive, race, pant and burn; they breathe and climb and push. And then they stop. There are no sponsored t-shirts, no timing chips, no mass warm ups - just runners, and friends, their feet, and the hill. This is not a game for the fame-hungry. Today's first lady smashed the course record by two full minutes. No stranger to the fells, Victoria Wilkinson has a string of titles to her name including high rankings in the Commonwealth Mountain & Ultra Distance Running Championships. Yet no one shouts for her or jostles for photos. She runs side by side with the old, the young, the beginner and the veteran. The real opponent is the fell. And then, as the sun finally breaks free from the clouds and the afternoon begins, they are gone. Racers and families disappear, swaddled in fleeces and hats. There are cheery goodbyes and the valleys and hillsides return to the hushed serenity and windswept openess which brought them here.
steppe on it A n a d v e n t u r e h o r s e r a c e , t h e M o n g o l D e r b y i s a 1 0 0 0 k m ( 6 2 0 mi l e ) r a c e a l o n g t h e M o n g o l i a n S t e p p e , o r g a ni s e d b y T h e A d v e n t u r i s t s . Pa r t i ci p a n t s f a c e u n p r e di c t a b l e w e a t h e r a n d mu s t r i d e e v e n m o r e u n p r e di c t a b l e s e mi w i l d M o n g o l i a n h o r s e s . W i d e l y a c k n ow l e d g e d a s t h e l o n g e s t , t o u g h e s t h o r s e r a c e i n t h e w o r l d , o n l y a b o u t h a l f o f t h e r a c e r s f i ni s h e a c h y e a r ; m a n y o t h e r s s u f f e r b r o k e n f i n g e r s a n d r i b s , r i di n g t h i r t e e n h o u r s a d a y f o r t e n d a y s . C O V E N s p o k e t o t h e L a r a P r i o r - Pa l m e r , f i r s t w o m a n , f i r s t B r i t a n d a t 1 9 - y e a r s - o l d , t h e y o u n g e s t w i n n e r e v e r.
How did you first hear about the Mongol Derby? Facebook! The Adventurists do a few other cool races and I saw someone post a link to the Rickshaw Run in India on someone’s wall two years ago. I didn’t realise until after I’d signed up quite how tough it was going to be. What did you want to achieve from the Derby? The main aim was to raise as much as possible for Macmillan Cancer Support and Greenhouse Schools Project. I’m still trying to reach my target of £20,000 – any donations to my justgiving page would be much appreciated. After I’d confirmed I was going, I spoke to two people who’d done it; one told me about his amputated fingers and broken ribs and fractured pelvises from past years and the other simply said, “You won’t enjoy it at all. It is immensely tough.” So there my aim emerged – to endure this mad thing! I certainly wanted to see Mongolia too, I’ve always been excited by the nomadic culture. How long have you been riding? My aunt introduced to riding when I was two on a beautiful Shetland pony. She also put me on my cousin’s race pony when I was about seven and I can remember it cantering continuously. I didn’t start riding more than once a week until I was 12. It took three
years of persuading my parents and eventually we went to Ireland at 3am one morning with a bunch of drunkards on a ferry from Wales and came back with a lazy, very uneducated, four year old grey that was always rude to me in the stable. The cost to join is very expensive, how did you raise the money to compete? The cost was phenomenal, absolutely ridiculous. I signed up very late in the day, around the end of June, so I spent July waitressing, bookselling, doing dull secretarial work, to try and pay for it. I also got £500 worth of sponsorship from Julia Lloyd George Jewellery, which was a huge help. They bought me new jodhpurs with their name on, which was great because I previously owned four really holey, itchy pairs. How many participants were there? This year 30, other years 25 or 35 people. About 60% actually complete the race. What was the age range and level of riders taking part? The age range was super. There were over 50 year olds, who were incredibly brave, and then there were two or three younglings, myself included. I was embarrassed to be doing it when so young so I tried not to tell anyone my age! But the brilliant thing was that all ages got on so well; nobody cared how old anybody was. It was very international too. There were lovely Mongolian
Interview RACHEL HARRISON Photography RICHARD DUNWOODY 25
interpreters, and delightful herders, some hilarious vets and crew from South Africa, and also some very gutsy riders from there. Plus, there was an entertaining Belgian vet who couldn't speak English. There was also a big handful of very intimidating endurance riders, one or two eventers, some ex -race jockeys, some cool cattle herders, some western riders. Experience in the saddle was the key I think.
go straight because there’s a bog, or a mountain, or a river ahead, and then behind that there’s a sand dune in your way, and behind the sand dune there’s a pack of wild rabid dogs etc. It’s like one of those outrageous board games, come to think of it. This isn’t all too relevant to navigation but I described the derby to someone the other day as a cross between the Tour de France and Snakes and Ladders, the board game of luck.
What types of food were available for you to eat? I was told beforehand that the food was totally inedible, and that they eat funny things like testicles. In actual fact it really isn’t so bad. I had to eat enormous amounts to get over the exhaustion, because by lunchtime I wanted to go to sleep, and that was never a possibility. They have quite a disgusting beverage called Airag which is fermented horse milk and very alcoholic. They drink it first thing in the morning, and then I assume, all day long! I didn’t realise that the prize for the winner was yet another cup of Airag, delightful.
Were any of the horses injured? All the horses are all vetted before you ride them, so they are all healthy at the start. The first of my 25 horses went lamer and lamer as the first leg went on so the first 40km was rather lengthy, I had to get off and walk the pony, and I’d run out of water and it was 30 degrees. Apart from that I was super lucky, no pony injuries, not even when my 23rd horse rotationally fell down a marmot (that’s a squirrelly kind of animal) hole, landing on me in the process! There were also these Mongolian gerbils hamster things that made holes in the ground everywhere, and sat in the sun squeaking as you rode towards them before dashing down the nearest hole at the last minute.
How often did you have to change horses? Depending on how many stations you did a day, three or four times. We all rode 25 different horses over the 1000km. There were lazy ones, and then there were the total lions that you wanted to ride all the way back to England and breed from. How did you choose your horses? I was useless at choosing them. You never knew. They look like donkeys but once you try to tack them up they start messing around, they are not tame. I gave up choosing myself after about five stations and just trusted the herders to pick one for me. Via a handful of very tolerant interpreters, I’d say to the herders, “Please may I have the wildest horse, the one that will gallop the furthest, the strongest, the fittest, etc.” You had to put emphasis on the ‘wild’ bit because they sometimes think the girls can’t ride and try to give you safe, ploddy ones - the ones that bucked and bolted and were a nightmare to get on but once I was on those horses tended to be the fastest and fittest and most willing once they got going. The pony choice makes or breaks your enjoyment of a leg. Sometimes I’d find myself waddling along aboard a horse that could barely canter ten strides… let alone 40km! How did you navigate the horse? Erm, I didn’t. For the first three days I just followed other people because I had no faith in my navigational skills. Very luckily, I think this year’s course was the most navigationally simple one yet. There were a few opportunities to get lost, most of which I took, but not enough for me to be severely disadvantaged. We had GPSs, but they are a nightmare because they just point you directly to a coordinate, and you never can
What was it like staying with the locals? Absolutely fantastic. They are so smiley and jolly, that you can communicate with them even though you don’t speak their language. They invariably managed to start cracking jokes with you through mimes and gestures. They were immensely hospitable; they’d tuck you up in bed at night and care for your pony whilst you rested, and expected nothing back. Did you have a strategy to win? If so, what was it? No strategy whatsoever I am afraid. I wish I could come up with something but even in hindsight I’ve no idea how it happened. I obviously wanted vaguely to win, but absolutely never thought I would because there were 29 nutters who also wanted to win and I was no way going to be beating them. What was the hardest point of the whole trip? 13 hours on a horse each day must take its toll. I shouldn’t moan here because there were others who rode with shocking injuries. Dylan, a South African, made it to the finish with broken ribs that he had before he came out to Mongolia, and Tom rode half the thing with torn shoulder ligaments just to name a few. I was extremely lucky because I’ve got a young body but after day two my ankles were huge because I stood up in the saddle cantering for 60% of those 13 hours. My ribs were very bruised from the backpack and my knees felt like big balloons, but my body seemed to suck it up and deal with it. Every time I got off a horse at a station I had to run about fifty metres to straighten my body up, because it got so moulded into this ugly sitting
YOU NEVER CAN GO STRAIGHT BECAUSE THERE’S A BOG, OR A MOUNTAIN, OR A RIVER AHEAD, AND THEN BEHIND THAT THERE’S A SAND DUNE IN YOUR WAY, AND BEHIND THE SAND DUNE THERE’S A PACK OF WILD RABID DOGS
shape. Exhaustion is a nightmare; you can’t get away from it. I’d be knackered as soon as I got off my horse, be it morning or evening, but then I’d suddenly forget the exhaustion in the thrilling company of whichever entertaining vet/photographer/doctor/steward was present at the checkpoints. The weather was extremely tough, it would get really hot and the ponies would find it knackering but then suddenly the air cooled and the valley was transformed into a grand hall of rain and lightening, thunder and water, resulting in me and my pony at the time becoming this saturated flannel under the weather. Will you be doing anything else like this again?
Whilst I was doing it I would mutter to myself about how daft I was to have entered because I was exhausted or lost or lonely or on board an unfit horse. But the feeling would soon pass, I’d get on board a bolter, or I’d share a laugh or a look with a random passing herder, and suddenly I was happy again. It was the most phenomenal event, absolutely extraordinary and slightly ridiculous and I can’t imagine any other event like it. But if there were one, I’d sign up straight away. In fact I’d ride the Mongol Derby every year if I could afford it! Strangely enough someone suggested to me yesterday that I become a female equivalent of Bear Grylls or Ben Fogle, which made me laugh because I certainly can’t imagine that materializing! Viewers would run a mile.
P h o t o g r a p h e r , w r i t e r , d e s i g n e r a n d a l l - r o u n d c o o l c h i c k , L a u r a Au s t i n i s a one-woman creative whirlwind, travelling the globe with camera in hand. Capturing snapshots of life on the road, her effortless touch celebrates the beauty of natural landscapes and life off the beaten track, an ode to the traveller forever seeking new horizons. T h o u g h a d e s i g n e r b y t r a d e , t h e r e ’s s e e mi n g l y n o t h i n g t h i s t a l e n t e d l a d y c a n ’ t turn her hand to, and after working at Quiksilver, Laura went on to bag a role a t S n ow b o a r d e r M a g a z i n e a n d T h e B e r r i c s . B u t d e s p i t e h e r o n c e d e s c r i b i n g t h e S n ow b o a r d e r M a g a z i n e g i g a s a ‘ d r e a m j o b ,’ i t s e e m s t h e r e ’s j u s t n o k e e p i n g L a u r a t i e d t o a d e s k , a n d s h e ’s g o n e o n t o e s t a b l i s h h e r s e l f a s a f r e e l a n c e creative in demand from clients such as Nike, Burton, ESPN, Roxy and Rhythm. COVEN caught up with Laura to find out more about her modern approach to storytelling.
Where did you grow up? Technically I was born in Colorado. I lived there until I was 13 when my mom decided to move to Vermont and brought me with her. I normally consider Vermont where I grew up because the years I spent there, between the ages of 13 and 18, were when I became who I am. Where do you call home these days? Right now I live in Los Angeles. I’ve lived in Southern California for 5 years now, long enough to call it home. You’re creative in multiple ways, and it seems like you’ve always had your finger in many pies. If you had to define yourself, would you say you’re now primarily a photographer? Yeah, I’ve gone through a few different stages. I started as a graphic designer and got tired of sitting at a desk all the time. I then started working for Snowboarder Magazine as their Online Editor where I was able to shoot more photos and write. But now I would mostly consider myself a photographer although I still do other kinds of work here and there. How did you become interested in photography? Had that interest always been there? I studied it in high school, which piqued my
interest in it. Back then we were shooting film and developing our own photos in a darkroom. I loved the process. But then I fell even more in love with it when I realized photography allowed me to travel and meeti new people. When I was at Snowboarder, I’d try to find as many excuses as I could to shoot photos. You also worked as a designer at Quiksilver. How did that influence what you’ve gone on to do? When I was at Quiksilver I was solely focused on design. But after a year of working there I realized I didn’t want to be stuck at a desk all the time. You have a strong web presence and blog for several people. Did your jobs within the industry help shape the multiple layers of your career? I have a lot of people ask me how I gained a web presence, but that is a really difficult question to answer because there are so many different things that play into that. But yeah, I think the fact that I had a job at legitimate places within the action sports world definitely gave me more credibility in the digital world. When did you decide to leave Snowboarder Magazine? I left Snowboarder in October of 2012 with the intention of trying to make it on my own as a
LAURA AUSTIN STORYTELLING
freelance photographer. However, soon after I quit, the skate website The Berrics offered me a job as their online editor. I have a hard time passing an opportunity, so I did that for 4 months until I realized I still wanted to try to make it as a freelancer. So I quit there and have been working as a freelance creative for the past 5 months. What cameras do you use and which are your favourites? I have a lot of cameras, many of which are more decorations than stuff I actually use. For legitimate photoshoots I use my Canon 5D Mark III. I also have a Panasonic Lumix GX1 that I bring with me as my digital point and shoot. I also mess around with a few different Lomography cameras every now and then. And I guess I would have to consider my iPhone a camera since Instagram has gotten me a good amount of work. Do you shoot mainly analogue, digital or both these days? Mainly digital because photos need to be turned around so quickly these days. I mess around with a film from time to time, strictly for personal use when there is less pressure on what I am doing. What percentage of photos that you shoot do you end up liking? Are you trigger happy? With digital it is so easy to just click away. It depends on what I’m shooting, I’m not too trigger-happy… but there is definitely a lot that doesn’t get used. Do you immediately know when you’ve got a killer shot in the bag? Normally yeah, you can just tell when you caught the right moment. But it isn’t till after the shoot when I’m looking through all the photos as a whole that the good ones really stand out. Do you enjoy working with Photoshop to manipulate images or do you prefer to leave your work as untouched as possible? I do edit my photos a bit, yes. But I try to leave my photos as natural looking as I can. My goal is to be subtle and make them look like they could have come right out of a camera. I think there is an art to making your edits discreet enough to not distract the view from the actual content of the photo. What’s your favourite thing or place to shoot? Anything that requires me to travel to get there, haha. But my favorite situation is shooting people in vast, wide-open landscapes. Aesthetically that is something that really appeals to me for some
reason. You seem to have a real wanderlust. What’s the longest you can stay in one place without getting itchy feet? Ha, I don’t think I have a specific amount of time. Southern California can make me pretty claustrophobic from time to time. And when I can sense that happening I try to get away for a minute to get a breath of fresh air. Where do you dream of going? So many places. I would really like to explore Europe. I have only been to Austria and Germany, and those were both work trips so I didn’t get to experience them as much as I would have liked to. I feel like there is so much to see in Europe that I still need to experience. A lot of your work appears to be shot on road trips. How much of it is set up and how much of your work is documentary style? Pretty much all of those series are documentary style. I love the idea of venturing out and seeing what we can find without planning ahead too much. I think it makes the photos seem more genuine that way. Along with your landscapes and portraiture, you shoot some fashion too. Do you enjoy that as much? Hmmm… I’d say I enjoy shooting lifestyle. I come from a background as a journalist so I like to feel like there is a story to be told in a series of photos. But it really just depends on who I am working with and what they are going for. Is it hard working with models to achieve the natural look evident in many of your photographers? What’s your method of working; do you direct them, or just hang out? It really depends on how comfortable the person is with being in front of a camera. I have methods for putting models at ease who I am intentionally shooting. But a lot of my stuff is just spur of the moment where they might not even realize I’m taking their photo… those tend to be my favorites.
How about sport, does that fall under your remit? I definitely prefer shooting lifestyle as opposed to action… or sports if you will. I’m really interested in people and interacting with them and I feel like action photography is a little more removed. Don’t get me wrong, there is so much skill that goes into shooting action… but I like photos where I can get a feel for the subject’s personality just by looking at the photo. If you could describe the vision you’re trying to capture, what would it be? Oh man, that’s a tough question. I don’t know if I have a vision, but I guess more of a goal with my photos. My hope is to inspire people to get out and experience the world a little more. Whether I’m opening up people’s eyes to places they realize they would like to see for themselves, or by simply realising that it is possible to make a living doing what you love. Who or what inspires your style? I think everything and everyone inspires my style. I tend not to put too much thought into it, as far as what is considered cool by the masses or whatever. I really just gravitate towards what I am personally interested in, and I believe that is completely shaped through my environment and my past. What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a photographer? If I didn’t feel the need to always progress then I would probably still be a graphic designer since that was my first real professional passion. If you could shoot anyone or anything, what would it be? Wow, that’s a lot to think about. If it could be ANYTHING I wanted I would probably choose to travel the world with my boyfriend and document our adventures. I don’t know if that exactly answers your question, but that is definitely a dream scenario. www.inspiredbyme.tumblr.com 38
by EMILY CHAPPELL
It’s always a little nerve-wracking, meeting one of your heroes face-to-face, but with Rebecca Reilly I didn’t have time to be timid. One moment I was loitering outside a curry house on New York’s 1st Avenue, wondering whether I’d recognize her, or she me – the next moment I heard someone yell my name from across the street, and looked up to see a large car heading straight for me, with a telltale bicycle strapped to the back, and an energetic blonde woman beaming at me from the driver’s seat. “I’m going to go park – I’ll be right back!” she hollered, and disappeared round the corner onto 4th Street. Two minutes later she was back, weaving expertly and brakelessly through the traffic on her bike, and pulling up in front of me with a grin. By the time we’d sat down in the restaurant we were chatting like old friends, and I had to remind myself that this friendly, engaging woman was also one of the courier community’s biggest heroes – in a sense, the one who brought us all together in the first place.
I’d come across Reilly via my controller Buffalo Bill, who describes how he first heard of her in the mid90s, at the time when she was a bike messenger, travelling across the United States, living and working in eleven different cities, interviewing everyone she came across and gathering their stories for a book, which was eventually published in 2000, titled Nerves of Steel. Bill’s affectionate and admiring portrait of Reilly, on his site Moving Target, depicts her as “a mixture of vulnerability and bravado … quixotic, forever tilting at windmills, real or imagined”, describes how she “brought the international messenger community onto the streets of every city, large or small, she visited.” Before Reilly, and long before the internet, there was no community, and most messengers had no idea that there were others like them, in other cities all over the world. Before I was travelling, I only knew of two guys that travelled somewhere, in a year of messing in D.C. … and you know, they weren’t even real to us – they were like gods. So one guy, I actually talked to, and
he had gone to Chicago … and said there were messengers there – and it was like: the world was flat until he got back from Chicago. But it wasn’t simply a compulsion to map uncharted territories that set Reilly off on her decade-long odyssey across a continent. She was driven by an urge to honour the black Americans who had welcomed her wholeheartedly into their community, despite the endemic racism that meant they would never be welcomed by hers, and spurred on by the nagging of her mother. My mom was like ‘you know, you’re really screwing your career’, because I had a business bachelors, business administration, I was working on my French, and she was like ‘you could do marketing, and you’re chucking it all away, to go and gallivant…’ And I was like – I’m not being that knucklehead that, you know, bumps around in the fifties – Jack Kerouac – I’m not Jack Kerouac, I’m not just going around getting high and hanging out, OK, I’m gonna write a book. She’s like – what-ever. And Reilly bursts into laughter, clearly harbouring not an ounce of bitterness about this maternal scepticism. It becomes more and more clear, during the course of our evening together, that her emotions are strong, but refreshingly simple. She speaks of her former courier colleagues with warmth and admiration; she is frank about her dislike of Travis Culley, a rival who won her enmity when he emailed her while they were writing their respective books, claimed to be a leader of the community she had helped to create, and demanded that she share her material with him. Reilly doesn’t have time for hypocrisy or jealousy, and nor does she bother to hide or contain her anger at the way couriers were – and still are – treated by drivers, the police, and the very cities they work in. We speak at length about the constant frustration of other people’s road rage and dangerous driving – I’ve been a courier for five years now, and it still gets to me, no matter how firmly I tell myself to move on and leave it behind, because there are some battles you can never win, and there’s no sense in getting upset over something you can’t change. I half-hope that Reilly, who has a decade or so on me, will be able to reassure me that it gets easier with time, but she is still palpably furious when recalling some of the aggression she faced on the road, and visibly proud of the times she stood up for
herself. She joined the US Marine Corps after 9/11, and was an instant hit at the recruiting office, having arrived on a bicycle, in a blizzard. They asked me if I’d ever been arrested for something and I said ‘yeah.’ ‘What, pot?’ And I was like ‘no, I don’t smoke pot at all.’ ‘Well what?’ ‘Assault and battery.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah’ ‘Tony! Wilbur! Come over here, you gotta hear this story!’ So they all came up, I told them my story about the fight
separate awards for females at messenger championships. As a marine, ever the idealist, she campaigned for women to be held to the same standards as men, arguing that as long as the bar was set lower for women, men would feel like they were being cheated. This didn’t make her many friends, and she ended up as unpopular with the female marines as she was with the men. Although military life gave her the chance to see the world, and to utilize her talent for languages (she has taught herself French, Chinese and Korean), she was glad to get out in 2010. After a while, in the corps, I just put my personality in a box – ‘I’ll take this out when I get out’. And then I got out. It took a while for my personality to come out. It was so buried. You have to just live it. Her non-conformity surprises me – I’d assumed, since Reilly joined the Corps immediately after 9/11, that she did so for patriotic reasons, wanting to defend the ‘American way of life’, and avenge the attacks. As it turns out, she signed up in 2002 because she had absolutely no other options. The US courier industry shrank abruptly and alarmingly after the 9/11 attacks – first there was the anthrax scare, and then, possibly as a result, more and more communications went online. Reilly was working in D.C. at the time, and her wages suddenly dropped from $600 a week (“which for then was pretty good”) to $120. She could no longer cover her basic living expenses, her book wasn’t selling, and she was sliding further and further into debt. Reilly’s characteristic brightness falters as she recalls her struggle to stay afloat. with the cabbie, how I put him in hospital, and they just thought that was the most wonderful thing. They’re like, ‘oh my god, you’re gonna make a great marine!’ And I thought, oh finally! Someone comes to kill me and I can kill ‘em back! That’s awesome! And she grins, with a childish delight that belies the violence she’s describing. But the respect Reilly had earned as one of the hardest and fastest couriers of her day – female or male – didn’t follow her into the military. Marines are like the last bastion of masculinity. A lot of guys get in because – well, they want to be a man. To have a woman do stuff as well as they do was like the biggest insult. They hated us. As a courier, Reilly had argued that there shouldn’t be
I actually became – uh – pretty, uh – honestly, I was pretty low. I was drinking all the time, getting in really violent arguments, and after a while I just stopped going out, would just sit home and drink until I fell asleep. I thought about killing myself … And here I was with a college education – I’d look at it, like, yeah, I have a college education, but I don’t have a wardrobe, I can’t even go for an interview. None of my skills are current. I’m kinda stuck! So in a fit of desperation, whining about my life to my sister, who’d been in the air force, she said – well shit, just join the military! You know, because they’ll pay for your clothes, they’ll give you an education – you get the GI bill, you get out, you go back to school. I thought – that sounds pretty good. I could get food, get my teeth fixed. I hadn’t been to a dentist in more than fifteen years, I had no health insurance. And, for all its faults, the Marine Corps did sort her out.
They saved me. As hard as it was – and I do have some pretty bad feelings about the whole experience – I’m not bitter about joining, it was my choice. I got a lot of really good training, I paid back all of my debt, I got to see the world, I got to do some incredible stuff. But they’re a bunch of assholes. Despite the hotheadedness and occasional violent outbursts of her youth, Reilly is a committed Buddhist, and a strong believer in peace and justice. She lights up when she describes the humanitarian work the marines did in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. I firmly believe, if you give people the mission to help, especially if it’s hard, and hardcore like that, they’ll be all over it. And that’s what the Marine Corps could do. Instead of killing people, they could be going in and shielding people. Because that’s dangerous too. Towards the end of the evening, having listened to her stories for hours, I ask Reilly if she has any regrets. This stops her in her tracks. “Wow. Huh. That’s a really good question.” And there’s a long pause while she wracks her brains, finally admitting that she perhaps could have messengered in more countries, especially France. But in truth, regret doesn’t seem to be part of Reilly’s emotional vocabulary. What comes across much more strongly is a sense of unapologetic pride – pride in the community she nurtured; pride in the book that took her a decade to write, and stands as probably the most complete record of the courier scene that will ever exist; pride in being one of the few women who thrived in a male-dominated industry, and who, in their visibility, showed the world that a strong woman could be a creature of beauty, rather than an object of revulsion. We were little specks in the universe, but we were noticeable. We had sex appeal. We were fast, we were bitchy, we raised hell. We got in fights – well, not all of us. Mostly me. But you know, we didn’t back down. I feel I have a lot to thank her for – but it would take too long to express my gratitude for the courier scene, for changing the image of womankind, and for the way her life has directly inspired my own, so instead I thank her for the meal (for which she insists on paying), and for driving hundreds of miles to New York especially to meet me, and watch her as she rides off into the traffic, still smiling. www.thatemilychappell.com
EDDIE BROCKLESBY AGE IS JUST A NUMBER WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN
“Age is just a number when you’re having fun.” My mother’s an avid collector and distributor of cuttings, and I regularly receive deliveries of choice snippets chosen for their coverage of cycling, female athletes, and well, just women doing cool stuff, so I first heard about Edwina Brocklesby when Mum sent over a page from the Guardian emblazoned with a huge exclamation mark highlighting an urgent need to read the piece. Eyes drawn to an image of a redheaded woman smiling as she ran through Hyde Park, my gaze moved to the headline; “Britain’s Oldest Female Triathlete, Eddie Brocklesby, 70, only started running at 52.” Intrigued, I read on to discover more about Eddie and her involvement in a multi-discipline sport requiring an incredible level of fitness and serious amounts of training. According to Eddie, she wasn’t particularly interested in sport for much of her life, having only ever won a ‘twist’ competition at university, and she only turning to running in her fifties after a doctor advised her to build up her bone density. Sadly, it was around this time that Eddie’s husband died, and she found running with a club therapeutic, and infinitely more effective than grief counselling. “I felt that I was the lucky one, and that feeling has never left me,” says Eddie. When her small Nottinghamshire club secured a place in the London Marathon, they made the decision to
give it to Eddie, and thus the stage was set for her first ever endurance event; “They presented me with the place, so I had to do the London Marathon, and I had to do them justice!” The marathon was to be a turning point in Eddie’s life and she’s gone on to run many more, but after rupturing her ACL on a skiing holiday, she was left concerned about the impact on her knees of all the pavement pounding; she needed to strengthen her quads and hamstrings and branch out into other less damaging forms of exercise than running. Her solution was somewhat surprising for someone in their fifties who struggled with swimming; Eddie followed her son into triathlon, despite the fact that she had to learn front crawl from scratch. “I could only do minimal breaststroke with my head above water, but I very slowly learned. I had a term of lessons at my local pool and I still couldn’t crawl, but slowly, slowly, I mastered it.” But why would she decide to take on such a challenge? “I was so worried about the fact my knee was going to give up that I was very keen to do any kind of exercise at all,” she says. “Running is by far the most damaging for your knees and a multi-discipline sport like triathlon allows you to build up muscle and allows other parts of the body to take the strain. So my main motivation was to stay fit, to go on enjoying life as much as I am.”
Words JULIET ELLIOTT Photography by NATHAN GALLAGHER
Eddie’s first London Triathlon in 2001 was not without difficulties; she remembers feeling very, very scared about swimming in the Docks as she’d never done an open water event before. But she makes the rest of the event sound like a breeze, saying “it was sheer joy to be out of the water, plus it was a fab course biking all the way to Westminster. It helps that it ended with a run too, as that’s where I feel confident. So I enjoyed it. Actually, I loved it; I remember going up to get my medal as the only over 50 year old, it was fantastic,” says Eddie. With her first triathlon under her belt, Eddie followed someone’s suggestion that she try a duathlon; a 10km run followed by a 40km bike ride and another 5km run. The only person in her age group to enter, Eddie found herself qualifying for the World Duathlon in Switzerland where she went on to become World Champion in her age group. In 2011, she entered her first Ironman competition, a gruelling combination of a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike ride and a marathon. I’m quite simply flabbergasted that anyone could even contemplate such a physical and mental challenge, but clearly Eddie is made of sterner stuff than I am. The fact she was then 66 didn’t even come into her mind; “I just thought it would be fun! I’d supported my son doing the Lanzarote Iron Man three time, and I thought ‘I’d love to have a go at this!” How did she find the training, and how did she motivate herself? “I just threw myself into the training, I love it,” she confides. “I love the long hours on the bikes, I love the island of Lanzarote and I love biking there.” And the swimming, is that still the tough part of the race? “God, yeah, the swimming part is hard! I try to convince myself that I enjoy it. The best triathletes are always the ones that come from a swimming background and I can never catch up with my failure to swim as a kid.” As the first and only person in her age category, Eddie qualified for the World Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii, then seemingly unstoppable, she completed a second Ironman in Lanzarote. But in 2011, disaster struck; Eddie was told to stop running immediately. “I found out I’d damaged my left ACL too when I went for a scan on my right knee. I was told I should no longer run at all. I stopped for about six months but I really missed it,” says Eddie.
But never one to let, well anything at all stop her, Eddie saw the break from running as an opportunity to concentrate on cycling, one of her favourite pastimes. Rather than let her fitness go to waste, the sexagenarian signed up for the Nove Colli, a 200km bike race up nine Italian hills. It wasn’t the end of Eddie’s triathlon career though; “back at home, I got a second opinion on my knee and sought out a physiotherapist who has helped me greatly. We worked together on rebuilding strength so that eventually, I was able to run again. But even now I’m very cautious about doing too much running. I do a lot of work on the cross trainer, and when I run, I run on soft grass to minimize the impact.” The oldest British women to have done an Ironman, Eddie is a huge inspiration to all, and with a history of working with charities and organizing marathons, in February 2013, Eddie set up Silverfit with the aim of encouraging wellbeing and fitness for seniors, children and young people and those whose health might mean they need more help and encouragement to change to a healthier, fitter lifestyle. “I feel passionate about motivating others to have the same fun, health and enjoyment as I have had and persuading our ageing population that it’s never too late to start. There are 20 million people in the UK aged over 50 and this group will live longer than any generation before, but many do not want to live longer unless they can also enjoy a good quality of life and many don’t want to depend on others because they are ill, immobile or depressed. In order to do this they need to stay fit, healthy and independent,” says Eddie. The charity organises events and local groups, with accessible, friendly, sociable exercise opportunities such as guided walks, fun runs and numerous sporting and social activities to encourage people to take up new forms of sport and exercise regardless of age or ability. And with the epidemic of loneliness sweeping the nation and many feeling disconnected from their community, the benefits of Silverfit’s activities don’t end at fitness and physical wellbeing. “I’d love to see it expand,” says Eddie. “We’re mainly in London at the moment so we’re looking to get people to identify a park near them, and get their own social group going. We want people to have fun and to find one other
person who is not exercising and get them out too.” “It’s never too late to start, there’s always something you can do; though swimming is not my favourite, it always feels therapeutic after, and you can carry on swimming longer than you can running. I’m also interested in mastering Nordic Walking as that is good for older people, putting less pressure on your knees and the poles give you confidence.” Next year, Edwina will be heading out to a training camp in Italy before riding in the Nove Colli again, this time with a goal of finishing more quickly. “In 2012, they only just allowed me to carry on and do the full nine hills at the cut-off point of five hills. It was touch and go but I made the whole lot with fifteen minutes to spare by midnight, so this year I’ve got to get more confidence and get into those huge peletons before the race hits the hills.” After that, she’s lined up the East Leake tri, the London Triathlon and then the New York Triathlon in August. In September comes ‘the big one,’ the World Olympic Triathlon in Edmonton, Canada, where Eddie would
love to improve on this year’s 5th place in her age group. And with her new role as my idol, and the inspiration to many, both young and old, what advice does Eddie have for people wary about exercise? “I’m steadily being convinced that the fact I didn’t start until I was 50 may motivate others. Just 30 minutes, five times a week is all we need. But as important as exercising is avoiding that sedentary lifestyle – that means the computer as well as TV.” Mindful of the time we’re spending talking on the phone, bums firmly on seats, we wrap things up so that Eddie can continue on her mission to be superwoman. Clearly, an active lifestyle has worked for Eddie. Does she feel fitter now than she did when she was younger? “Gosh yes, my Tanita scales have me as 44 years old,” smiles Eddie. “I was gutted when it went up from 43.”
YEAH ZINE TRIP
RAISING THE BAR FOR WOMENS BMX
O U R N U M B E R O N E P O RT O F CA L L W H E N W E ’ R E S E E K I N G A B M X F I X , Y E A H Z I N E CO L L AT E S E V E R Y S C R A P O F F E M A L E F O CU S E D B M X N E W S , P H OTOS A N D V I D EOS F O R O U R E N J OY M E N T. THE BRAINCHILD OF US RIDERS, ANGIE MARINO A N D N I N A B U I T RAG O, T H E W E B S I T E A N D Z I N E A R E A H U B F O R A L L FA N S O F T H E T W E N T Y I N C H W H E E L , C R E AT I N G A ST R O N G S E N S E O F CO M M U N I T Y F O R F E M A L E R I D E R S T H E WO R L D OV E R ; E S S E N T I A L W H E N YO U ’ R E O F T E N T H E O N LY G I R L AT T H E S K AT E PA R K . E V E R Y S U M M E R , A N G I E , N I N A A N D F R I E N DS H E A D O F F O N T H E FA B L E D Y E A H Z I N E T R I P, W H I C H S E E S T H E M H I T U P M U LT I P L E S K AT E PA R K S , T RA I LS A N D BAC K YA R D RA M P S AND DELIVER A DEMO AND CLINIC FOR L A D I E S AT T H E X GA M E S . T H E S E P H OTOS A R E A SO U V E N I R O F T H I S S U M M E R’S T R I P, A L L TA K E N BY A N G I E , W I T H T H E E XC E PT I O N O F T H E S H OT O F H E R S E L F, W H I C H WA S S N A P P E D BY SA M LYO N S .
To p Ri g h t : Ni n a B u i t r a go Ri g h t : L i n d s a y H a l e
A b ove : L i n d s a y Ha l e To p Ri g h t : S a ra h L a m p e r t Ri g h t : N a t a l i e No b l e
A b ove : S a ra h L a m p e r t a n d N i n a B u i t r a go To p Ri g h t : A n g i e Ma r i n o Ri g h t : M a g g i e L a h e t
WEATHER BE DAMNED! HANNAH BAILEY ON WHY AND HOW WE SHOULD ALL GET ON BOARD G r e a t B r i t a i n ! Ye s i t m a y s e e m l i k e a l o t o f w i n d , r a i n , a n d m o a ni n g a b o u t t h e w e a t h e r , b u t t h i s Fa i r I s l e h a s t h e l a n d s c a p e s a n d o p p o r t u ni t i e s t o r i v a l a n y a d v e n t u r e l a d e n c o u n t r y. W i t h t h e m o u n t a i n s , s e a a n d concrete all ready to host you on a board of y o u r c h oi c e , s o m e t i m e s y o u ’ v e j u s t g o t t o put that extra effort in to gain the rewards. Be prepared to look for an alternative when y o u r l o c a l b ow l r e s e m b l e s a p o n d a n d m a k e s u r e y o u h a v e y o u r s n ow b o a r d n e a r y o u a t a l l t i m e s i n c a s e o f o p p o r t u n e c o n di t i o n s u p North. So suck up the cold, get the 5mm on, put your hood up and jump on in. Here I chat to 3 girls who are inspiring us t o d o j u s t t h a t , a l l a c t i v e l y p u t t i n g t h ei r p r o a c t i v e p a s s i o n r i g h t b a c k i n t o t h e i n d u s t r y. Ju m p h e a d f i r s t i n t o t h e c h i l l y C o r ni s h w a t e r s with Rosa, rock n’ roll in Brighton with Lucy or t ake to the hills in Scotland with Lauren. Here they tell us why you should get on board and the best way to do so…
Words by HANNAH BAILEY Illustrations by PETER SWAIN BOB Logo by SUZI KEMP
Name: Lucy Adams Board: Skate ‘Skateboarding is the best way to have fun. It’s cool, it’s gnarly, it can hurt but it’s ultimately something that looks rad and feels rad!’ The good about skating in Britain: We were blessed with an awesome summer this year and so there was a load that was good about ‘Skate Britain’! We have an increasing number of rad concrete skateparks being constructed and so now, you’re never really far away from something decent. That’s another good thing about Britain, it is actually pretty tiny and therefore you can travel to all different parts of it fairly easily if you have wheels or the patience to take public transport! The girls’ scene in the UK: The girls’ scene throughout GB is on the up! There are pockets of girls up and down these isles who are actively promoting their scenes and it’s no longer a surprise to see a girl skater at the local park. It may be unusual to see many, but there are now sessions all over which are being run exclusively for girls to get skating. This is rad and really helps inspire and build confidence, but girls themselves need to support these sessions – get down to your local if they have something like this, if not, then campaign for one! I’m lucky that in my area, Brighton Youth Centre fully supported my idea to have a female only skate session. We named it ‘Brighton She Shredders’ and it runs every week. We get a good turnout and what’s even better, lots of the participants are now going to the local outdoor park, ‘The Level’, and organising their own meet ups. The best platform/environment for girls to learn to skate: From experience of having supported lots of girls through the process, I would say that an exclusive session with other girls provides the best conditions. I think it helps to have others around you to help you progress, but others that are in the same shoes. It also helps if there are no other skaters around that are ripping it up, I mean they can help to inspire but it can also be quite detrimental to someone’s confidence! The story of She Shredders: I worked on a girls’ only skate project down in Brighton one summer, which was pretty popular, but mainly amongst young girls. I spoke to some friends who worked at Brighton Youth Centre about the possibility of running a session for older girls and women. I knew there was a demand but I think some of the older females were a bit nervous about taking part in a course that was mainly attended by 8-11 year old girls. We talked it over a lot and finally got some proper plans to launch winter 2012. That slipped a bit but eventually we got going in Jan 2013.
How it has evolved: Brighton is quite a diverse towns and is home to lots of students so luckily we’ve been growing and growing. We also put in a bid to fund some weekend sessions at outdoor parks over the spring / summer which helped us to recruit some newbies, as well as introduce the girls to some of the great outdoor facilities that Brighton has. The FB page is also growing and girls from the sessions are using it to communicate to one another about going skating. We had 16 girls turn up to one session recently! There is talk of stickers and t-shirts and I hope we can do a little event around Xmas. How to get on board: www.facebook.com/brightonsheshredders Brighton Youth Centre on 01273 681368. She Shredder sessions run every Thus, 5.30 – 7.30pm for girls 13+.
Name: Rosa Thompson Board: Surf ‘It's time to grab them wetsuits and boards and do what Roxy says, ' Let the sea set you free!' The good about surfing in Britain: We have fairly consistent swell, even if the quality of wave isn't always there, we more or less always have something to practice on. The girls’ scene in the UK: We have lots of lady surfers in the southwest, Newquay being one of the more popular places. Our ladies have a strong presence in town and so the quality of ladies surfing in Britain has definitely improved over the last 10 years. The best platform/environment for girls to learn to surf: I think we all have our own way in which we take on a challenge & learn. Girls can find comfort in learning within a group, with a supportive, fun environment allowing them to relax and enjoy the process. This promotes confidence, leading to catching the 'surfin bug', which means more practice and more surfing rewards! What has held Brit ladies back so far: It's hard to say, the cold weather can go against us and the lack of worldclass waves. Possibly more sponsorship and backing is needed to help surfers get to the competitions they need to be competing at. The story of the surf club: We wanted to fill a need for a place for girls to come and learn how to surf and enjoy meeting new surf buddies. All in low pressure,
safe, informative and most of all a fun environment. I personally always found when learning to surf, the more fun I had with it, the easier it was. How it has evolved: The club started back in 2009 by Sophie Skinner, run down at Watergate Bay beach. I then took the club over as our Sophie had her little boy. From 2012 to present, it is run from South Fistral, with between 16 to 40 ladies. Word of mouth has played a big part in the growth of the club. Also we now have more coaches, with different surfing influences and styles, allowing us to split the girls into levels/groups so we can progress their surfing skills and help bring them one step closer to where they would like to be. We also come together for surf & BBQ's, club surf trips to Devon, fancy dress surf competitions and charity paddles… How to get on board: www.facebook.com/groups/womenssurfclub Name: Lauren MacCallum Board: Snow ‘Snowboarding is the best! It opens so many doors to travel, meeting new people, learning new stuff, getting creative, getting outdoors and generally just having a rad time. Lets have it!’ The good about snowboarding in Britain: There is nothing better than snowboarding on your own turf! It’s amazing to be able to roll out of bed and head down to your local dryslope, dome or if your lucky enough to live in the highlands, to your local mountain, without the expense or stress of having to plan a trip away somewhere. It’s also amazing having all your friends there and feeling part of your local scene. The girls’ scene in the UK: It’s healthy and only going to go strength to strength, especially with Slopestyle debuting at the Sochi Olympics and snowboarding getting more attention by the general public. Hopefully it will inspire more girls to get involved and also be seen to be an alternative form of activity to girls who might not be drawn to your classic school PE sports such as netball or hockey. The girls’ scene here is Scotland is small but I’m confident that it will grow. Everyone loves a home shred and you’ll always have a good crew who are up for a laugh and getting some turns in! Whether you want to drop the backs with the girls at Nevis,
get creative at Glencoe, go for some quick laps at the Lecht, earn your turns for a day in Cairngorms or get some rail laps in at Glenshee, there will always be someone keen to go with… or if not will be willing to introduce you to someone who is. It’s all about mucking in and having the confidence to say hello and be up for some good quality banter! The best platform/environment for girls to learn to: In my experience girls learn best when they are in a safe and non-intimidating environment, so setting up a good progressive park is key; there is nothing worse than trying to hit a feature for the first time when it’s proper gnarly. Taking baby steps and breaking down the skill to bite-size chunks is a good step towards learning new tricks. I also feel that girls progress when they can relate to riders around them, so when learning it’s nice to provide some girl coaches to give that extra “if she can do it, I can do it” attitude! It’s always super inspiring seeing girl crews encouraging each other at the local dome or mountain. What has held Brit ladies back so far: It’s a mixture of things; such as a general lack of role models and peer pressure. Plus, we just don’t get the seasons or mountains like alpine nations so it’s not in the forefront of our society’s mind. But with freestyle we can start imitating these training environments and facilities more and more, which is why the UK are now representing and bringing through some of the best riders in the world, riders such as Jenny Jones, Aimee Fuller and Katie Ormerod, The story of LASS: LASS came about when I joined Snowsport Scotland as their development officer. It didn’t take long to figure out that our female participation numbers, especially in freestyle, were incredibly low compared to our male counterparts. I felt that the national governing body had to try and engage, especially with females, if they wanted to address the balance. This is where the initial “Girls Shred Day” came about. From there, 5 all-girl LASS shred days were held across Scotland welcoming girls who had never popped an ollie, to girls who were slaying frontsides, to come and join in with the mission of having a load of fun. The atmosphere was amazing and it was really encouraging to see. Having female girl coaches encourages everyone to fall over and try new things which is what it’s all about! This year we decided to put on three weekend long events rather than five individual days to give the girls a chance to shred over a weekend, share accommodation, have a few beers. It provides more
of a platform to build on the friendships that snowboarding is so good at forming! The decision to make it over three weekends was made by our LASS ‘steering group,’ that is currently made up of our all our coaches, plus Rachel Miller who has recently come on board to do our visual communication and Poppy who helps with social media. It’s important that the girls who want to participate have a say in how LASS is run. Snowsport Scotland is committed to making this collective truly reflective of what the girls’ scene wants to see. If you need support to film some street that’s cool, if you need support to be that athlete and chase gold that’s cool too… The more the merrier! How to get on board: www.facebook.com/LASSshred twitter.com/lassshred firstname.lastname@example.org Name: Hannah Bailey Board: Skate, snow, surf The story of Brits On Board: These girls and every other Brit lady getting on a board have inspired me to get behind a camera to showcase the UK scene. The UK is so diverse and adventure capable; it makes me want to run around the whole island so that’s what I hope to do. For my new web series, Brits On Board, I set off to find out what it means to be a girl shredder in the UK, documenting stories of stories, creativity and passion from girls in the UK who love life on a board. It’s a collaborative project, with all sorts of people getting involved to help film, create and be part of the story. From a personal perspective I have always wanted to work on a filming project and I’ll be learning as I go. It really is about having fun, but the more serious aim is to increase the exposure of the industry to help strengthen and move it forward! How to get on board: Twitter.com/NeonStash email@example.com. Brits On Board official channels coming soon on Vimeo and other platforms. #BoBShred
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER
T h e r e ’s n o t h i n g l i k e t e a mi n g u p w i t h y o u r f r i e n d s ; a t C O V E N i t ’s the only way we like to work! Here, long-term pals Hayley McCarthy and Rebecca Naen team up to s h ow c a s e t h e D C S h o e s S p r i n g 1 4 womens collection, one of many projects the pair of friends have w o r k e d o n t o g e t h e r t h i s y e a r. S h o t at the Skate House in Brighton, Lewes, a DIY spot with a lot of rubble and inspiration for the shoot, Becca and Hayley enlisted the help of model Eliza Moore to r e a l i s e t h ei r v i s i o n , a b l e n d o f s u n b l e a c h e d c o l o u r s a n d C a l i f o r ni a n meets East Coast style. See more of B e c c a a n d H a y l e y ’s w o r k w h e n t h e l a u n c h e s e a r l y n e x t y e a r. Have you guys always wanted to work togeher? How did you end up teaming up? HM: It was quite simple. We were chatting about an idea for a shoot that we’d both love to do, so we decided to shoot it.. That became the start of the ‘Girls’ series for The Daily Street. It was super casual. RN: Me and Hayley have been friends for a while now, and earlier this year we had a conversation that went a bit like this “I really want to do a shoot like this,” “me too,” “ok lets do it!” And we did, and it was great!! What’s the best thing about working with a good friend? What do you enjoy most about teaming up? HM: We have a very similar creative process and get excited when we see our vision coming to life. I always have fun on photoshoots we do together, we can bounce ideas off each other and both be honest
B e h i n d t h e s c e n e s a t t h e D C S h o e s s h o o t i n B r i g h t o n . P h o t o b y N E O N S TA S H without getting offended. It’s makes work fun when shooting with friends, when the chemistry is right on set it makes everyone feel at ease and everyone gets better results.
RN: Yeah! Hayley is one of my best friends.
RN: We have the same vision for shoots, and we love the same things, so we both get really excited and enthusiastic about each others work. So shoots are always lots of fun, as we generally just spend the day shouting, “ahhhhhhhhhhh I love it!”
HM: We’ve got some exciting shoots coming out within the next few weeks. Hopefully this is just the start and we will be doing lots more projects together.
Are you friends away from work as well as on set? HM: Yes Becca is one of my best friends. It’s great as we both support each other’s work. It can be quite isolating at times being freelance so it’s good to have a team of creative friends around you who can inspire and motivate each other.
What do you have coming up in the future, are you planning to continue working together in fiuture?
RN: Hopefully in the new year, there’ll be lots of big new collaborations too… Rebecca: www.rebeccanaen.com @beccanaen Hayley: www.mellowdrop.co.uk & @dotsndrops www.dcshoes.com
WELCOME TO BRALORNE
THE WORLD'S BIGGEST COUGARS LIVE IN THIS EXACT AREA, AS WELL AS BROWN BEARS AND GRIZZLIES
It is dark out and all I am focused on is the small beam of light from my snowmobile, which barely lightens up the black, snowy path ahead of me. It is a clear night and when I look up to the sky, the moonlight shows me the shape of the high mountain ridges, which seem to be watching over the snowy forest. I am wearing my complete freeride set-up, including beacon, probe, shovel, and satellite phone. Additionally, there are two spare shirts, my toothbrush, and oil for my sled. A couple of boxes of Top Ramen and Chili sin Carne are strapped to my seat. I won’t be needing much in Bralorne. Bralorne is a deserted gold-mining town on Canada’s West Coast, around 3 hours north of Whistler. When the gold rush there ended in 1971, most of its inhabitants fled the sinking ship – all but a small group of snowmobiling backcountry enthusiasts. The curvy and scary gravel road to civilization leads from Bralorne to Lillooett – 120km single-laned. When the avalanche danger rises with the autumn humidity, the road closes for the most part of the winter and the little ghost town is nearly cut off from the outside world. The only way to or from Bralorne is by snowmobile over the Hurley Pass. This is why I strapped down my food especially well for this trip. The legendary Hurley Pass is very bumpy and you never know what’s waiting behind the next corner. The world’s biggest cougars live in this exact area, as well as brown bears and grizzlies. But I keep my eyes open, mainly because of fallen trees, avalanches that may have washed out the road, or other obstacles, because falling off the road with my snowmobile could be devastating. Especially in touristic high times, when Whistler is nearly bursting from visitors, the lovers of untracked backcountry and lonesome valleys will travel north to Bralorne. Also when the temperatures are rising and the Coast Mountain snow is wet and avalanchy, Bralorne offers the perfect escape. That’s how it was this time, when Nadia Samer and I ran into Robin Van Gyn on a cloudy morning at a coffee shop in Whistler. “You guys are going sledding in these snow 67
conditions?” Robin asked. It hadn’t snowed in a while and it had been warm so the backcountry was tracked out and the snow hard. “I always find good snow” I replied with a grin and added “We can hit up Bralorne anytime and we will find good snow for everybody.” Robin and Leanne Pelosi talked to their filmer Trout and called our friend Andrew Geeves, who has a house there, where we’ve often stayed before. My boyfriend, pro snowmobiler KJ, also decided to join us. And as often happens, within 12 hours a coffeeshop idea had formed into reality. After a four-hour adventure crossing the Hurley we finally arrive in the wilderness and solitude of Bralorne, BC. Of course we are headed straight for the Mineshaft Pub, which also serves as the gas station, restaurant, hotel reception, and internet cafe, and as we park our snowmobiles outside the building, Chris, the chef, comes out to greet us personally. As we get comfy he proudly announces that all items on the menu are currently available – and that even the gas tanks are full. “Looks like we’ve got lucky because our mountain ponies are very thirsty.” You can’t come to Bralorne and not have a few drinks, and soon word has spread that “Geeves and his friends” are in town. From the 40 inhabitants, a big part shows up at the bar for hugs, high-fives, and beer, and I am using the time to get informed from the locals about the current snow situation. One entire wall of the pub is covered in a huge area map and it is often there that everybody is standing, beer in hand, planning the next descents, and exchanging stories of past adventures. The spots in Bralorne have such intriguing names as Lord Of the Rings, Secret Spot, Spot X, Noel, and Lone Goat. Typically for the region, the next day starts not too early and with a huge thirst for water. Over the empty main road we wander back over to the pub, meeting only a herd of roaming dogs. Slowly but surely, our whole crew is arriving and fueling up on Chris’s delicious breakfast. Slowly but surely, we re-fill the tanks in our snowmobiles and finally start the engines. Our 10-count biker gang heads through the empty town – by the old bank, the fire station, the deserted school and church, by homes and villas. At the edge of town, the well-sized but fallen-apart brothel marks the entry into the vast wilderness of the Bralorne Backcountry. From now on we are completely on our own. We are able to make emergency calls on our inReach satellite phones – yet it would take a very long time for help to arrive. Ahead of us lies gravel road covered in snow with no tracks in sight. Looks like the inhabitants of Bralorne haven’t been out in the backcountry for a while. Good for us. Fresh tracks in the middle of the road are always a great start into the day. After 15km we come across the first intersection and head toward Lord Of The Rings. At the end of the road we enter the thick moderate rainforest. Good that Geeves knows
FROM NOW ON WE ARE COMPLETELY ON OUR OWN. WE ARE ABLE TO MAKE EMERGENCY CALLS ON OUR SATELLITE PHONES – YET IT WOULD TAKE A VERY LONG TIME FOR HELP TO ARRIVE
Left: Vera in powder paradise Below: Robin Van Gyn casually drops a cliff
the way so well. We all keep exactly in his track, so that our path can set and we will be able to get back out. We see the tracks of wolves, cougars, and birds in the snow. After a few kilometers, the forest lightens and gives us sight of the Tolkien Massive: Mt. Aragorn, Mt. Gandalf, Mt. Shadowfax. On the other side of the valley thrones Mt. Taillefer. As opulent and massive as these mountains sound – so they are. And no human track in sight! The snow could be of a better quality but considering we are at the top of the treeline at 1600m, I am quite sure still to be able to find dry powder on the shady, cold north faces. We are immediately intrigued by a long, tight chute that winds itself through the steep rock face. I was at the drop-in a few years ago but didn’t ride the chute because of the high avalanche danger that day. Today, it is looking mighty fine. We will just have to wait two to three hours for the light to get suitable for filming on this aspect. We make our way to the top and break trail up the 1200 vertical meters. The drop-in is at 2300m and the altitude and thin air is not the only reason you can get dizzy up top. Crazy steep this mountain drops off into the valley. After the usual hassle of stuck, rolling, and ghost-riding snowmobiles, we all stand at the top and looked down. Surprisingly, Leanne and Robin let me have first tracks, which I proudly accept. I turn on my GoPro, give a countdown via radio to Trout, whose camera is set up at the other side of the valley, and drop in. Just a few seconds later I am at the bottom of the valley. In my head, rocks and stones are still flying by to either side of me, and I look up at my line. What an amazing feeling. Robin drops next, then Leanne. Because the snow isn’t really fresh, we all get shots on this, which makes it even more fun. Had it been fresh snow, the line would have been sloughed out after just one person. The moving snow would have taken down the loose fresh snow in a mini-avalanche (we prefer the word ‘slough’ or ‘moving snow’ in the same way surfers don’t talk about sharks), so that the next rider would have only ice ahead of her. So bad snow conditions can sometimes be good, too. Adrenaline-fuelled and laughing we are all standing at the bottom of our lines and are loving life. Geeves showed us a pretty big cliff that had about one square meter of good landing under it. He makes his way to the top and sends a huge back3 down it. Meanwhile, Robin is contemplating hitting it. She stares at the cliff with that certain look in her eyes and I offer her a ride on my snowmobile to the top. After I drop her off, I hurry back down so I can take the photo. She tries the cliff three times and gets really close to landing it. The photo looks sick anyway, and we all are so stoked that she went to try this huge drop! The sun is slowly making her way toward the mountaintop horizon and the shadows are growing. It is time for us to head home to Bralorne. We are at least a one-hour sled-ride from town – that is if all goes without problems – and traveling on two-stroke engines is never too reliable. We are getting hungry and cold and are looking forward to dinner at the Mineshaft pub, where we will be standing in front of the area map, beer in hand, talking about the adventures of the day. If you want to follow more of Vera’s Adventures, watch her web-series SHREDVENTURES for free on vimeo or check out www.facebook.com/shredventures
A journey on two wheels t h r o u g h S e r b i a , M a c e d o ni a , A l b a ni a a n d G r e e c e Wo r d s : Ta m s i n R o s s Va n L e s s e n Illustrations: Katherine Cannon
Dodging speeding lorries in an attempt to rescue a lonely tortoise from the middle of the road, making old ladies cry with a simple bunch of flowers and being eaten alive by a hungry family of bedbugs weren’t exactly what I had in mind when I set off on a two-week bike tour through the Balkans, but in Europe’s last true frontier, cyclists can’t be too picky. After spending a summer living and working in Belgrade (one of the most exciting, welcoming and upand-coming cities on the continent and well worth a visit in its own right), I decided this region deserved a bit more of my time and so invited my friend Katherine to join me for a cycling jolly to Greece. Now, we are by no means serious cyclists, but after cycling from the Czech Republic to Romania, and Belgrade to Istanbul in previous years (albeit it on singlegeared, steel-framed city bikes that refused to go up even the smallest of inclines), we were pretty confident we could handle anything the Southern Balkans threw at us. As we’d already spent a bit of time cycling in the area around Belgrade, and with the winter fast approaching, we decided to catch a bus to the southern city of Nis and begin from there.
In some countries – England included – taking your bike on a coach would be practically impossible, but thankfully the ‘can do’ (or should that be ‘doesn’t care in the slightest’) Serbian attitude lets you do pretty much anything as long as the driver’s happy and a few extra dinars change hands. So off we went. From Nis we cycled the relatively easy 50km through fields full of cabbages, peppers and villagers bringing in the harvest to the town of Leskovac. After a good night’s sleep and a traditional Serbian breakfast of coffee, homemade plum cake, cheese and, of course, a few shots of their home made spirit rakija) we set off for the Macedonian border. Though the plan had been to chase the summer sun as it headed south, the weather decided not to play ball and so we found ourselves about 15km from the border in a ferocious wind with a broken rear cassette. Luckily, Serbia stepped up again and before we knew it we had a local family escorting us to the border, in their ancient Yugo car. Though at one point this would all have been one country, the difference in atmosphere and scenery between Serbia and Macedonia is now fairly marked. And entering the northern town of Kumanovo in search of
bike parts felt a little bit like arriving in the Wild West after an apocalypse. Now, as much as no one wants to experience any breakages or mishaps during a bike trip, they do often lead to the most memorable and heart-warming experiences. And our stop in Kumanovo, which came complete with an old lady – later brought to tears by a bunch of flowers - feeding us honeyed quince, coffee and cakes while her mechanic son tuned up our bikes to perfection, was no different. From there we continued to Skopje, the unfinished and frankly bizarre capital of Macedonia. Like many cities in the region, Skopje was ravaged by brutal communist architecture and little of the old town remains. Instead, the city centre is occupied by a strange mix of grotesquely oversized statues, fountains and monuments, all vying for space and visitors’ attention. As the weather didn’t look like it was going to improve, we decided to jump on a train to Bitola, a city around 100km to the south. Looking at Bitola you can’t help but imagine that this is probably what Skopje was like before some overenthu-
siastic communist town planners got their hands on it. An old city, built around a central bazaar and bustling marketplace, it boasted some of the best eateries you could hope for after a long day in the saddle. After a good night’s sleep in a bed that unfortunately turned out to contain the family of bedbugs, we set off for Ohrid, a stunning lakeside town around 70km to the west. From the start we knew that this was going to be a tough day, involving a lot of punishing climbs high up into the mountains. But thanks to the spectacular Macedonian countryside, smooth, empty roads and an epic 25km downhill at the end, it actually turned out to be the one of the best. If you only have the time or inclination to visit one town in this region, make it Ohrid. With winding, cobbled streets, higgledy-piggledy houses, hidden coves, crystal clear waters and even an ancient amphitheatre, the beauty of Ohrid will take your breath away at almost every turn. Wonderful though Macedonia was – and it really was – the time had come to depart the former Yugoslavia and head to mysterious neighbouring Albania.
The route took us through a national park and down the side of the lake to the border, a ramshackle affair, apparently staffed solely by two surly Albanians and the obligatory pack of angry stray dogs. Though we knew that Albania was lagging a bit behind the rest of the Balkan region in terms of development, we hadnâ€™t been prepared for the dramatic contrast that hit us as soon as we crossed the border. Piles of burning rubbish, even more stray dogs, old men on packhorses and a distinctive air of desolation made our arrival a little bit ominous to say the least. Though things improved a little as we cycled into Pogradec, a small town on the opposite side of the lake to Ohrid. Here, groups of old men played dominoes by the promenade and families wandered along the shore, past the abandoned slides and empty fishing boats. It also happened to be market day in Pogradec, adding live chickens, sheep, cows and goats to the already hectic atmosphere of the market square in the centre of town. Once weâ€™d cycled a few kilometres out of Pogradec, the
chaos began to recede and the beauty of the Albanian countryside began to shine through. Though we’d expected the worst, the roads were actually pretty good and cars, horse riders and donkey herders all gave us a lot of space as they passed by. As in the rest of the Balkans, unfinished houses of all shapes and sizes dot the landscape, many of which look like they’ve been built as a show of wealth that’s now dried up. Though we could have made it all the way to Greece, we decided 100km was enough and stopped for the day in Bilisht, a town of around 12,000 people, about 8km from the Greek border. After briefly considering a stay in what is possibly the most depressing hotel in the world (think The Shining meets Fawlty Towers meets the end of the world), we managed to find another hotel nearby that even provided us with our very own balcony. In the former Yugoslavia, food is a big part of life and
they’re deservedly proud of their national cuisine. As a result we’d probably been a bit spoilt when it came to dinnertime, regularly tucking into dishes that wouldn’t look out of place at a feast.
to the future. Gone were the piles of rubbish, the groups of men sitting by the side of the road and the ubiquitous stray dogs. Instead we found neat little villages, welcoming cafes and an unbeatable culture of hospitality.
However in Bilisht we struggled to find any food at all, very nearly resorting to yet more dried bread snacks Our first stop on the Hellenic leg of our Balkan advenform the local shop. Luckily our stomachs were saved ture (a trip that very nearly came with t-shirts emblaby the owner of a small café who whipped us up some zoned with the slogan ‘Highway to Hellas’) was Kasspiced tomatoes, salads, grilled toria, a lovely town balanced meats and beans that were truly precariously on a peninsular delicious. in the middle of a lake. T H O U G H T I T WA S So, onwards to Greece, and despite the ongoing financial crisis, crossing the border from Albania felt like travelling back
A B I T H I L LY, T H E WONDERFUL VIEWS AND THE LUNCHTIME SHOTS OF OUZO WERE MORE THAN ENOUGH TO KEEP US GOING
From there we set off on a spectacular 110km ride to Edessa, passing through wolf and bear country, mountain villages and forests. And though it was a little bit hilly, the wonderful views and the lunchtime shots of ouzo were more than enough to keep us going. One thing we should probably mention is that this year we had invested in bikes with a few gears (12 to be precise). This made a huge difference when tackling the hills of Macedonia and northern Greece. If you’re planning a long distance bike ride of your own, you’ll probably have enthusiasts tell you all about
the latest gadgets, gizmos and lightweight bike parts that you just have to have. But in reality, all you need is a bike that you trust, some solid panniers and a good map, and you’re pretty much good to go. The next day we headed for the small city of Veria – in need of another bike shop due to a fast-disintegrating rear tyre – but on arrival discovered it was the anniversary of the town’s liberation from the Nazis and so everything was shut. A little frustrated, we sat down in a café, only to be showered with free food and drinks from local families celebrating their freedom, proving that the generous Greek spirit is as yet undiminished by the nation’s economic troubles. The next day was the last cycling day of our trip and as it was pretty much all flat, we had expected it to be a doddle. However after stopping for a fantastic mezze lunch the wind picked up and soon became so strong we were forced to walk our bikes for fear of being blown into the road. Thankfully the wind died down as we reached the outskirts of town, allowing us to
enjoy the final home straight to the harbour with its magnificent view of Mount Olympus. As we’d pre-booked our accommodation in Thessaloniki before we set off (we’d learnt our lesson from the previous year when we ended up paying through the nose for a boiling hot, cramped, window-less hostel room in Istanbul) we headed to the old part of town to find our house and settle in, ready for a few days of eating, drinking and, most importantly, not cycling any-
Daydream Believer by Sara Sani
Left: STUSSY Tank Dress STANCE Socks VANS Shoes Below: BRAIN & BEAST Sweater STUSSY Overalls
STUSSY Tank Dress
HERSCHEL SUPPLY Backpack STUSSY Overalls AMERICAN APPAREL Sweater
GOSHA RUBCHINSKY T-Shirt AMERICAN APPAREL Swimsuit
Left: BRAIN & BEAST Denim vest VANS T-Shirt Above: BRAIN & BEAST Denim Vest TOPSHOP Shirt & Shorts
BRIXTON Snapback VINTAGE Top VOLCOM Jeans
SKULLS EYEWEAR Sunglasses VINTAGE Shirt
Photography and Styling: Sara Sani Model: Nuria Val @ Blow Models Barcelona
THE DEVILS IN THE
Textural pieces lend a tactile edge to this seasons silhouette, the familiar finessed to banish the january blues. PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATHAN GALLAGHER STYLING BY MIREIA ROELAS
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ANNIE LAST ON TOUGH TIMES AND TRIUMPHS
Sheffield’s 23 year old Annie Last made her Olympic debut at the London 2012 Olympics, becoming the first woman to represent Team GB in the mountain bike event since Sydney 2000. With Britain not automatically qualifying for a place in the women’s mountain bike event, it was was down to Annie to secure one through World Cup races in the lead up to The Games, and much to the nation’s delight, her 8th place finish at the World Cup in Bresse secured Britain and Annie a spot. After leading the race in the early stages in front of a 20,000 strong partisan crowd, Annie went on to finish eight. And at just 23 years old, Britain’s top female cross country mountain biker in a decade has everything to play for. Nik Cook from British Cycling’s Insight Zone spoke to Annie for Coven Magazine at Buxton Adventure Festival.
Interview by Niklas Cook Photography courtesy of British Cycling 102
I THINK GOING ROUND A CROSS COUNTRY COURSE ON A HORSE IS A LOT MORE INTIMIDATING THAN GOING DOWN A TECHNICAL DESCENT ON A BIKE
How did you get into competitive cycling? I started bike riding because my brother did. I don’t know why he wanted to, but he started bike racing and really loved cyclocross and did a bit of road as well. And I wasn’t sure why he was going riding round a muddy field getting dirty and cold and sweaty. I used to ride horses but in the end I decided because every other weekend one of us would have to go and watch the other doing their activity that I’d give a cyclocross race a go if he’d ride a horse. That’s why I ended up doing my first cyclocross race. I actually really loved it. It was an under 12s race, so 10 minutes of riding round a field and then at the end you got a little goodie bag, free chocolate and a few freebies. I thought ‘oh ok, that’s pretty enjoyable really,’ so it went from then. I did more cyclocross and then more disciplines. When you first got on a mountain biking did you instantly gel with it and fall in love with it? I think so. You learn to ride a bike on a MTB – not necessarily a full suspension, disc brake type but that’s what I’d always ridden. But before we even moved to the Peaks and I even started racing I’d be riding a MTB ride round these great woody, rooty or rocky trails. I just really enjoyed it. I can’t think of time I was on a MTB and not enjoying it. Your father and brother are still keen mountain bikers. Do you ever still ride with them or are you just too quick now? I’ve not ridden with my brother for a long time. Up until this year, he’s done quite a lot of road racing; he rode for Sigma Sport for quite a few years then Metal Tech this year and did the past couple of Tours of Britain and things like that. So he’s pretty fit and strong so I’ve not been dropping him – it’s the opposite there. My Dad used to train with my brother then my brother started going too fast so my Dad used to train with me and then I started going too fast so now my Mum rides with him instead! Did you take part in any other sports or cycling disciplines as a young rider? Before I rode a bike properly I used to ride a horse so I used to compete doing one day eventing, cross country and show jumping. And then school hockey and netball and athletics and cross country running as well – so quite a few different things before. When I decided on cycling was the sport I wanted to pursue I did quite a bit of road when I was younger. And cyclocross as well as MTB, and a little bit of track as well to start with. I actually really enjoyed track but I loved be able to go and do a weekend every 6 months and then get back outside.
Do you think that coming from the horse riding background helped with your balance? You’re renowned for having great technical ability. I think so. I think going round a cross country course on a horse is a lot more intimidating than going down a technical descent on a bike. At least with a bike you can decide what it does. With a horse you don’t have that much control. I used to pretend that I did, but I didn’t really! It gives you a lot more balance and I think quite a bit is the mindset and the confidence to do it. It gives you balance and control I guess. You grew up in Bakewell, an area surrounded by fantastic natural terrain. What do you think about the explosion of trail centres? Do you like them too? I do enjoy trail centres. I know some people aren’t that a big of fan of them but I think that they’re good. You’ve got purpose built tracks so you can get into the flow and just enjoy riding your bike without having to
open loads of gates and end up riding big sections on the road or sections where the trails are destroyed like some on the moors. I think it’s good and it means you can go and ride your bike for just an hour and you’ve got an hour of amazing single track or technical climbs and downhills. Do you ever get the chance to go back and ride the natural trails around Bakewell just for fun? Yeah. For me when I was younger it was so good to be able to go from the door to get on really good natural trails with loads of variety. Then for the three years leading up to the Olympic Games I lived in Manchester which meant that I and was on different trails. Coz my training was so structured and I was away doing training camps and I was away for so many races I didn’t get to do that much fun riding – just going home and enjoying riding my bike - but for the 6 months after the Games I really got some time to go back home and to
just enjoy riding my bike on some good natural trails and enjoy it again. Where’s your favourite place in the Peak to ride? I don’t know really – that’s a really tough one. There are so many different kinds of trails. If it’s a not very nice day you can go through woody trails with good rooty sections. Or if it’s a nicer day – and occasionally we get them! – then you can go on the tops on the moors. There’s good riding around Ladybower. And there’s a few nice bridleways like round Bakewell woods and then up Blacka Plantation and places like that. London 2012 must have been an amazing experience, what are your lasting memories of it? It was a great experience. For me, the actual race day until I’d finished my race, I’ve not got huge memories. That just happened. Everything’s planned out in minute detail so instead of having to think about what I was doing I just followed the plan and it’s all focused on the race. So when I’d crossed the finish line and got my breath back I remember looking up and thinking ‘wow’ and seeing the crowd and hearing the support and being able to appreciate it. So that was a big thing. Must have been an amazing sensation when you were actually leading the race! You almost feel the crowd when you’re racing but it’s not til afterwards you think ‘Oh my god, that was amazing’. But when you’re doing it because you’re so focused you feel the atmosphere and this massive support but it’s only after you think ‘Woah, that was an Olympic games with a home crowd and that happened!’ You were originally penciled in for Rio 2016, when did London become a reality and what was involved in getting there? I think when I was second year junior at the World Champs that year I got a top 10, which was like a big step up from the results I’d been getting – I’d been getting top 20 result. Something about that race I just started to race quite differently – and actually be able to race properly and be in contention. From there because I was still at school and in my first year under 23, that first bit of the season I didn’t manage to do that much because I was at school. When I finished school in 2009 I was able to go away and commit to my training and racing properly and get
some good results - 4th at the Europeans and 5th at the Worlds at some other good results at international races and that’s when people thought that instead of having to put me on back burner until Rio if I worked hard and people put the itme and effort in that I could be a potential for London Did you enjoy the Hadleigh Farm course and did it suit you as a rider? Yes I did enjoy it. They had a big challenge – there was nothing there. They had to go from abolsutely nothing to make an Olympic track. To create a manmade course with so many technical aspects which involved a lot focus was good. And it did suit me – it was quite technical and powerful. In cross country and mountain biking in the past 5 years courses have changed quite a lot. They seems to have changed into more technical, power courses. And that’s what the London course was like and that really suits me as a rider. Was it hard to get back to the normality of life after the Olympics and did you take any time off? Because I was in last year of under 23 for 2012, 3 weeks after the Games there was the World Championships and I wanted to win that. I’d got Silver the 2 years before that, so it was my last chance to win the title so was quite easy to get back into focus but unfortunately I got quite ill in the week leading in and if hadn’t been my last chance at under 12 worlds and the last race of season I wouldn’t have raced. But I raced and didn’t get result I wanted. After that I needed a break anyway but then the combination of this huge build up to the Games and then the Worlds I needed quite a big break but think everyone does but I think everyone does to receover from the 3 year build-up to the Games. I had a nice little holiday and saw friends which was good. 2013 has been a tough year with you battling and even racing with a stress fracture in your back, how have you coped? To start with I thought I was on the right track – we thought were doing the right thing to fix my back in the first part of the season – it was around the end of Feb/March we realized there was something more serious going off than just early season back pain. So we thought everything was getting back on track but around May we realized that although it was getting better it wasn’t actually solved & started to get bad again. Around that time it was quite frustrating
YOU ALMOST FEEL THE CROWD WHEN YOU’RE RACING BUT IT’S NOT UNTIL AFTERWARDS YOU THINK ‘OH MY GOD, THAT WAS AMAZING’ really to have spent half the season thinking I was getting better and hoping I’d be able to train and race properly again to having to start again. But the past few months I’ve been getting on with rehab and it’s ok. And I get to be at home and have a bit of a normal life so it’s not been too bad. What’s going to be your main focus through the winter? At the minute I actually have no idea! With my back it’s so difficult to make plans. Noone can give me an answer about when it’ll be better and when I’ll be able to train. If that’s sooner rather than later then cross would be good but if takes a bit longer, then maybe missing out on the cross season to prepare for the next mountain bike season might be the best thing to do but
I love cross so I’d like to be able to but it’s what’s best for my back. A lot of people don’t get cyclocross. If you were trying to sell cyclocross how would you sell it to them? See this is difficult because until I gave it a go when I was young I was definitely with that group of people saying ‘what are they doing!?’ It’s hard. I really love getting freezing, exhausted and muddy in a field! It really makes you appreciate a cup of tea and cake afterwards! What are your main goals for 2014? I would love to be in shape to be back on like World Cups and getting good results there. I’d love to be
podium regularly at World Cups and then I’d like to be in for a shot at the Worlds and it’s the Commonwealth Games as well so I’d to compete at another major home games. It’s going to be an amazing experience. If all goes well I’d like to podium and hopefully win at the Commonwealth Games. That’s the dream – we’ll see if it happens. What advice would you give to a young rider with ambitions who’s just starting out? You see so many young riders who do all this training, this many hours, they’ve got this bit of kit and stuff and for me it’s not about that. It’s about really enjoying what you do. If it’s mountain biking or off-road then want to do, then just getting out and riding bike, having fun and getting skillful at it. That’s the main thing. It’s not about hours and hours of training. That sort of stuff you can do that when you’re full time when you need to tweak your fitness. It’s about getting good basic skills, learning how to ride a bike and most
importantly enjoying it – that’s the main thing Is it more difficult for a female rider to forge a career in cycling, especially MTB which has been traditionally so male dominated. I don’t think it’s necessarily as easy for girls. I know that there are a lot more male MTB riders than females. For me now that’s ok I can ride with the guys but when you’re younger it can be intimidating to go out with a bunch of the guys who have got the ability to go faster. So I don’t thing it’s as easy because there’s not that many people you can compete and ride with, but it’s definitely changing. There’s lots more girls doing it now and a lot more support now which is great. At most races there seem to be a lot more female competitors which really helps. There used to be just a few when I was racing and you’d end up not see anyone the whole time but now there’s good close racing going which is great and makes it easier and encourages people into it
I CAN COPE WITH THE RAIN BUT WHEN IT’S JUST GREY WHEN YOU WAKE UP AND IT’S DARK AND BY HALF 4 IT’S DARK AGAIN, THAT CAN BE PRETTY HARD WORK
With the creation of the Wiggle-Honda Team, the profile of women’s road racing is improving, what are your thoughts on the push for a female Tour de France? That’d be great. It is extremely different - the female road racing team to the male team. Wiggle Honda is really healthy in Britain but there needs to be equal opportunities at least to race for women for them to showcase what they can do. Like at the Olympics – even none bike riders said the women’s road race was really exciting to watch whereas the men’s road race wasn’t that good to watch. That shows that women are capable of putting on a good show and being interesting to race with and watch so hopefully we’ve done quite well with the petition so with the women’s Tour de France that would be a really good opportunity to help the sport to grow. Without racing, it’s difficult for sport to grow. Have you any ambitions to ride on the road? Used to do little bit of road racing and did enjoy it – I actually did a few race abroad like mostly in Holland Belgium – and I did enjoy them. But at the minute I’d like to stick to MTB because I really enjoy it. But maybe at one point I’d do a bit of road but for me for now the off road has got more challenges and it is what I enjoy. How much time do you typically split between the road and the trails when you’re training? It depends on time of year but most of my training is on road. Probably only normally 2 days a week is off road stuff because as soon as you go off road it takes so much more out of your body without you necessarily being able to make the fitness or power gains from it but as it comes more into season I do more off-road training – the more specific stuff. But the road is really good for the base fitness and power and strength. Do you train with heart rate, power or feel? Or all three? A combination. Power is the key one but you’ve got to put a bit of feel in there as well. If on the day you’re really struggling to keeping the effort up at certain watt then you’ve got to listen to feel and realize maybe it’s not the right day or pushing it and you need to back off a bit to recover and go again. This is the first year I’ve
raced with heart rate monitor and power monitor to see what the races have been giving me. You can race to feel but you can’t race with just heart rate and power so it’s been interesting to see. How many hours a week do you ride? Probably about 20 hours a week is normal. On a week when it’s more about base and building then it might be up to 30 odd hours. With MTB there’s so many different aspects to it that doing lots of hours on the road and slow hours off road won’t give you that much. It’s about the power and the technical skills in order to do short sharp climbs repeatedly. Can you tell me what kind of training you do off the bike? I’ve always done a bit in the gym, not lifting big weights, gym-styley! But more core body weight type things. Pilates and yoga have been really key in staying fit and healthy and they are a huge part of my rehab to keep everything working well. How do you deal with the cold, dark winter months, are you immune to the cold and damp?! Are there days when you don't want to ride? I think being British you have to get over the rain don’t you? I can cope with the rain but when it’s just grey when you wake up and it’s dark and by half 4 it’s dark again, that can be pretty hard work but when you’ve got your goals laid out it’s quite easy. You don’t have to think I’m going to have to get out of bed to do a bit of a bike ride today. You know you’re getting out of bed to do this specific session which will give me this for this goal which makes it easier but some days it’s hard work! If you could jump on a plane and ride anywhere in world where would it be? I really wanted - depending on how my back was - to go an finish my season either in Colorado or go to BC, the Vancouver area of Canada and just go and do lots of different bike riding on good off road stuff and enjoy riding my bike. That was my original plan for this time of year.
A DAY IN THE LIFE
A t the core business of MAHFIA, we are content creators. Videos have always been our bread and butter, but we’ve had to configure and adapt to how people were consuming media, which was (and still is) rapidly changing every year.
In 2009, things were tough for the action sports industry given the economic climate and women’s marketing budgets were definitely the first to go. After being laid off from Osiris Shoes and I spent a month traveling in Europe with Vera Janssen, who I worked with on the Osiris Girls team. I helped her put together a tour to promote the snowboard film she was in, along with her friends Booty Call Soundsystem, a DJ group from Cologne, Germany. I had always admired DJs so when I got back home I started making some connections in the DJ scene in Southern California. Long story short, in the first year and a half of MAHFIA, we were covering female DJs, music, fashion and dance culture while still keeping tabs on girls action sports. By the time 2012 rolled around I felt that we needed to re-focus back to our roots, which was always videos and
conversations with people overseas and it works out perfectly. I also like that when I’m on Facebook at 2am, I get to see what my friends in Europe or Asia are posting about. The downfall is that because I work at night sometimes I can’t sleep even when I want to and it’s late because my brain is just on power mode. It’s a blessing and curse. I found that the best way to wake up in the morning (or noon actually) is to grab my phone and scan my emails. There is always something I need to respond to so it gives me the motivation to get up and get cracking on my computer. Probably the only thing that I will go to bed early and wake up for is a powder day. No question about that! Unless I’m traveling and filming, I spend the first few hours of my day handling important emails and trolling my Facebook newsfeed. My social network is one of my most valuable assets. This sounds kind of weird, but I’ve been using Facebook longer than the average person. In the first year Facebook came out, it was only open to a certain group of Universities and mine was in that group so I’ve literally been able to stay connected to almost everyone I’ve met in my entire life, including my
Probably the only thing that I will go to bed early and wake up for is a powder day girls action sports. That’s when we launched MAHFIA. TV. In just 3 years, it seemed like there was a whole new generation of young girls who had gotten into board sports as kids and were teens now identifying themselves as skateboarders, snowboarders, and surfers. These girls were craving content on the internet and spending their dollars buying action sports/lifestyle goods. On average, in those 3 years, the number of females as participants/ customers in action sports grew from about 15% to almost 40%, globally. I’ve been living in San Diego for the past 10 years but I just recently moved back to Northern California, where I grew up. I am living in Berkeley now and stoked to be close to family and my ultimate happy place, Lake Tahoe. I am a major night owl and always have been; I think I pulled my first all nighter in 7th grade. If I’m not traveling or filming, I go to bed anywhere from 3-5am and wake up around noon. I’ve always worked better late at night, I think it’s because there are less distractions and I know everyone physically around me is sleeping. It’s actually really ideal for working internationally; I can have Skype meetings and email
high school and elementary school classmates. Thank you Zuckerberg. As a kid, I was a sporty nerd. Kind of an oxymoron, I know. I was a bookworm for sure; I was always reading or listening to music by myself in my room. But throughout my childhood until the time I graduated high school I had played almost a bunch of sports competitively including baseball, soccer, basketball, water polo and track. I ended up playing soccer the longest because I was a goalkeeper from the start and played in club leagues and school for 10 years. My cousin gave me her old skateboard when I was about 10 and my brother and I would mess around on it in our driveway. My parents took us skiing when we were young, so I grew up skiing but switched over to snowboarding when I was 12 or 13. I remember being on the chair lift with my mom in Lake Tahoe and we saw a guy on snowboard for the first time and she said to me “I hope you don’t ever do that, it looks really dangerous.” So naturally I had to try it! Growing up I went through a lot of phases of what I wanted to be – at one point when, I was playing sports
and training year around, I wanted to go into sports medicine or be a physical therapist. Towards the end of high school I got into videography and dreamed about being a music video director. In my high school yearbook I think I had a quote about being a future “business woman!” I went into college undeclared and when I got there I discovered there was a “Visual Arts Media” major that was based on video and film and I ended up graduating with a bachelors degree in that. On the days I’m not out shooting or have meetings I work from home, which I love. My commute is from my bed to my desk and I own more pairs of sweatpants than most people do jeans. Breakfast is usually either an egg and some canadian bacon, tomatoes and avocadoes or a fruit smoothie and home made flax seed and whole grain oatmeal. My mom is a nutritionist so she was always drilling healthy eating habits into my brain. I spend my afternoons and evenings tackling whatever project is at hand. A lot of the time that means I’m working with our video producer, Johnny, on our current edit or project. Together we handle the preproduction, the actual shooting and then he oversees the editing. This past year I was also pretty hands on with working with individual athletes in our crew. I spend time assisting them with a variety of tasks including press opportunities, social media marketing, content needs from their sponsors, contracts, etc. Some of the younger girls were just starting their careers so I was helping [to] advise them. The rest of my time is spent on marketing and business development. In the past 3 years I feel like I’ve been traveling nonstop. As a filmer or photographer you have to be where the action is and as a new business you need to take advantage of every opportunity to be in the scene, meet people and network. I absolutely love to travel but I’ve learned that it can be very taxing. Now that we’re maturing I’m looking forward to being able to have more routine in my schedule and time at home. To stay sane from all the computer time, I definitely need to be active. I try to workout, ride my bike, or skate around town to run errands. For me the ultimate relaxation is switching my phone to airplane mode and going snowboarding and being in nature; but that’s tougher to do, as things are usually pretty busy. I have a lot of talents but I will be the first to say that cooking is not one of them. I can make basic things but in general I think I have cooking ADD and get bored standing over the stove. For the past 10 years, I’ve been super social. I’ve always loved meeting new people and getting to know their world. I was constantly going out and making new friends in every setting imagine-able. I was always throwing parties and loved connecting everyone that I
knew. I had a blast in those days but now I truly prefer to stay in and just read a book or watch a movie, have dinner with my parents or one or two of my close friends and watch a mind-blowing documentary on Netflix. It’s so easy to access good independent films nowadays. My Netflix queue is a priority on a weekend night. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t feel the pressure of starting my own business. There is of course my desire to achieve my personal goals but in some ways I also feel like I’m carrying the torch for all of us females. I know that if I can continue to grow and succeed, I can set the precedence as well as create more opportunities for other females like myself that are intelligent, hard working and insanely passionate about this culture. I have a deep respect for the women before me that pioneered the way and I hope that I, along with my peers working in our industry right now, can keep progressing forward in a positive way. Right now there are more girls in the next generation that are interested in our culture than there ever has been and we have the opportunity to shape what the landscape will look like for them. No one else is going to do that authentically except us. We are the ones that understand them because we used to be them and a part of us still is them. The more each of us accomplishes individually as well as working together, the more opportunities there will be for all of us. As Mimi Knoop always says to me, “a high tide floats all boats.” I was surprised and honored when I was asked to do a TED talk. It went well! It was sort of a life changing experience. I was nervous, not to speak in front of people, but to make sure that I fully executed the opportunity to get my message out to the world. I literally had to ask myself, what is my message? Why am I doing what I’m doing? To be honest I didn’t really know the answer to that question before my Ted talk. I spent every day of an entire month figuring it out, looking back at my life to see what drove me to do what I did and led me down this path. If I had asked myself this question when I started MAHFIA, my answer would have been to just to have fun, make sick videos and prove the haters wrong. But over the course of the past 3 years girls started reaching out to me and telling me how stoked they were on what we was doing. I figured we would gain fans and viewers but I don’t think I truly understood the influence I had until I started getting personal messages from girls that sounded just like me when I was their age. That’s when I realized it was bigger than my personal motives. I realized that I had an opportunity to be a voice for these girls and change the game. www.mahfia.tv
Packed with beautiful photography and intelligent interviews, Coven redefines the ‘women’s’ magazine with a refreshing blend of action, art...
Published on Dec 13, 2013
Packed with beautiful photography and intelligent interviews, Coven redefines the ‘women’s’ magazine with a refreshing blend of action, art...