BROOKS CYCLE BAGS. STOPPING TRAFFIC SINCE 1866.
Photo: Krystle Wright 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
I spend large amounts of time following virtual trails in the ether - hopping from Instagram accounts, following links on blogs and leads from articles. Sometimes I come accross something that immediately resonates, and I keep going back to look again, delving deeper to find out more about the artist, the athlete, the person who’s drawing me in. It’s one one of the best things about my jobs and I find pure delight in sharing the people who thrill me with readers around the world. I always feel honoured when people say yes to our interview requests and never fail to get excited when the photos come through. This issue brings more of our tried and true formula - tales of the people who wow me and those around me, some of whom may have undeservedly escaped your notice, others who may be more familiar. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. - Juliet
EDITOR/PUBLISHER/DESIGNER Juliet Elliott PICTURES WORDS Sara Sani, David Mason, Dan Clifford, Dave Juliet Elliott, Hannah Bailey, Sophie Radcliffe, Francoisy, Ben Osborne, Amanda Leigh Smith, Patrick Kinsella, Jen Smith, Anka Martin Martina Paukova, Krystle Wright, Daisy Campbell, COVER Gary Perkin, Ben Osbourne, Alec Townley, Martina Paukova Dave Francoisy, Brian Fick
Photo: Amanda Leigh Smith Published Quarterly by Coven Press. For enquiries, please contact email@example.com
12 Show And Tell Climbing Harnesses
70 Why Fit In? Sophie Radcliffe On Adventure
12 Mina Leslie Wujastyk A Woman On The Edge
55 In This Town Sara Sani Shoots Summer Style
52 Cover Girl Martina Paukovaâ€™s Playful Politics
20 Bombardino! Coven visits Lombardy
58 Joey Gough Killing It Softly On A BMX
44 Amanda Leigh Smith Endless Magic
26 Taming The Dragon Four Friends Travel The Amur River
62 Backyard Adventure Juliana Bicycles Down Under
38 Lydia Shirreff The Paper Engineer
84 Day In The Life Skateboarder Mimi Knoop
L’EROICA BRITANNIA Win a place on the Coven Cycling Te a m a t t h e f i r s t e v e r L’ E r oi c a B r i t a n ni a t h i s Ju n e . L'Eroica, the famous historic Tuscan bike tour known as 'the most handsome bike race in the World' is coming to the UK on June 22nd.
In keeping with the original Italian ethos that celebrates the golden age of the bicycle, the 'The Great British Adventure' will embrace the romance of heroic cycling as it once was, adventuring along trails and tracks of the Peak District similar to the historic Tuscan 'Strade Bianchi.’
Win a place!
As with the Italian L’Eroica, participants will ride one of three routes on a vintage, pre 1987 bicycle, with classic woolen jerseys and vintage attire adding to the unique feel of this one-of-a-kind event. All riders will receive a Bakewell Pudding at the finish line; the perfect way to refuel those tired muscles whilst you celebrate with a pint of specially brewed Thornbridge ale.
British cycling, with carefully curated stalls and events, local food and entertainment.
Alongside the rides themselves, a free three-day festival will celebrate the vibrancy and excitement of classic
Would you like to join Coven Magazine for a Great British Adventure? We have two spots of the Coven Cycling team up for grabs. Head to our website for details of how to win!
HOWIES We’ve long been fans of UK brand Howies’ high quality, low impact clothing all of which is built to keep you comfortable when doing the things you love - cycling, running, adventuring or just cosying up with a hot chocolate. All the clothing is built to last, materials are ethically produced and designs are kept simple, allow ing garments to multi-task. This season, Howies have really upped their game and begun offering a well thought-out collection of female specific cycling clothing with slick, streamlined designs and an emphasis on comfort. The seamlessly knitted women’s bib shorts and tights look superb and the circular knitted jersey are very soft and comfortable on the skin - as they’re knitted in a single, continuous tube shape, the use of seams is minimised and the fit is superb. With bib shorts starting at £59.99, what’s not to like? howies.co.uk
ADIDAS X TOPSHOP Everyone loves a bit of Topshop, and now our favourite high street store has joined forces with Adidas Originals to release a limited edition capsule collection of heritage inspired pieces. The 20-piece colllection reimagines Adidas’ logo and triple stripe motif in a range of graphic prints, resulting in a collection of easy to wear, feminine pieces with an urban edge. Seamlessly fusing fashion, sport and street style, we can’t wait to get our hands on some of these pieces when they hit stores this week. topshop.com
Show And Tell
CLIMBING HARNESSES Whether you’re taking your first vertical steps or you’re a seasoned climber, the importance of a comfortable, well designed harness cannot be over emphasized. Most manufacturers now take into account the different shape of women’s bodies and there are now a huge number of ladies harnesses for you to choose from. Comfort is key, and as we’re not all made the same, it’s imperative that you try several harnesses on before parting with your hard earned cash - seeing as you’ll be squeezing your feet into tiny shoes, the last thing you want is a harness that rubs, pinches and chafes or hampers movement. What works for others may not work for you. Coven put three of the best women’s specific harnesses to the test, both indoors and out.
BLACK DIAMOND ‘SIREN’ £59.99 A really lovely looking harness in a great colourway, the Black Diamond Siren is one of the nicest we have seen. Lightweight and supple with plenty of adjustability, this harness feels great from the moment you put it on. Designed for sport climbing or going light on long routes, the women’s-specific Dual Core waist belt uses two thin bands of webbing and 3D mesh panelling to distribute the load and keep you comfortable. Padding is on the slim side thanks to the lightweight nature of this harness but the edges of the leg loops and swami are slim, soft and flexible and the overall feel is comfortable. The leg loops themselves are an absolute cinch to adjust which minimises faffing, though tucking away the end of the waist belt is a bit fiddly as the loop is quite tight and hard to access. The two gear loops at the back are both divided in two, so you can space your gear out nicely. All in all, this harness performs very well, looks great and is a real bargain. Highly recommended. blackdiamondequipment.com
ARC’TERYXR280 £100 Incredibly lightweight and minimalist, the Arc’teryx R280 looks elegant and expensive and once on, you can barely tell you’re wearing it. Unique Warp Strength Technology minimises bulk and makes for a very slim swami and leg loops that lie flat against your body for superior comfort. The harness packs into a tiny mesh bag and weighs next to nothing. A self-locking buckle allows easy adjustment, and a waist belt tuck away ensure you won’t catch the end of the strap accidentally. Four gear loops give plenty of space for all you need to carry. This harness does away with any unnecessary extras, so it’s important to be careful when selecting your size as the leg loops are non-adjustable. It’s also not got any padding, relying instead on well thought our cut and construction. We liked this a lot, but it may not be for everyone. This is one of the most expensive women’s harnesses on the market, but with a lifetime guarantee it would make a solid investment for those looking to get serious about climbing. arcteryx.com
PETZL ‘LUNA’ £70 The Petzl Luna is a bright, cheerful, hardwearing harness that offers good value for money over its lifetime. A snug fit and easy adjustment ensure this harness stays exactly where it is supposed to, plus you can tweak the fit using the adjustable leg loops. The Double Back Light buckles on the waist belt and legs are very easy to adjust, even with gloves on. I did find the leg loops to be slightly stiff on the inner thigh, though I’m sure this will ease up over time. The overall feel of the harness is slightly on the chunky side as it’s very well padded but it does feel reassuringly solid, tough and reliable. The EndoFrame construction and female specific shape provide excellent weight distribution and fit. It comes with a selection of flexible and rigid gear loops as well as two ice clipper slots, so you are never short of space to carry all your gear. The breathable mesh lining wicks away moisture effectively so whether your ice climbing or in a centre you remain comfortable and relatively sweat free. petzl.com
mina leslie wujastyk
TURNING HEADS FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID MASON
M i n a L e s l i e - Wu j a s t y k f i r s t c a u g h t t h e climbing bug whilst monkeying around on a climbing frame as a youngster l i v i n g i n I n di a . O n c e b a c k i n t h e U K , Mina wasted no time in getting to her local climbing wall and has since gone on to est ablish herself as one of the top b o u l d e r e r s i n t h e w o r l d . N ow c o m p e t i n g for the for the Great Brit ain Bouldering Te a m a s w e l l a s t r a v e l l i n g t h e g l o b e a n d climbing for the pure pleasure this sport a f f o r d s , t h e e mi n e n t l y l i k e a b l e M i n a made headlines last year with her ascent of Mecca (8b+) â€“ to date the hardest sport climb by a female in the UK. Coven caught up with Mina to find out more after her recent trip to Hueco Ta n k s i n Te x a s .
Left: Mina climbing The Amphitheatre (V12) at The Rocklands, South Africa Below: Mina climbing Tetris (V12) at Wild Basin, Colorado
What was it like living in India, and in what way did your time there shape who you are now? My family moved to south India for a year when I was seven years old. It was a great age to be there; young enough not to be intimidated too much but old enough to remember it properly. I remember not wanting to go actually, I feared missing my school friends in England but as soon as we were there I loved it. My sister and I attended a Krishnamurti School where the ethos is very much about learning in an individual way with support rather than extensive rules and discipline. It was a great year and I think being outside so much at school really nurtured my desire to run around and clamber! How did you feel when you returned to the UK? Just as I feared leaving England, when it was time to move home I was desperate to stay in India! However, we moved back to the same place in the UK and soon it was back to “normality” and being in India soon felt like a bit of a distant dream. At what age did you become more involved in climbing, such as going to indoor walls. When did you start climbing outdoors?
I started climbing properly when I returned to the UK, aged eight. My parents took me to an indoor wall and I was hooked from there. It wasn’t long before other climbers took me under their wings and I began to venture outdoors on little weekend trips here and there. My first climbing trip further away was to Fontainebleau when I was thirteen…although it wasn’t my best trip as I broke my ankle! How often were you climbing at that young age? Were you fairly obsessed with it? I was pretty keen from the get go. Initially it was once a week but then a wall opened nearer to where we lived and it became a lot more regular, perhaps 3-4 times a week. Why did you like it? It’s hard to describe but climbing feels like a very natural thing to do. It is so multifaceted, requiring strength, power, endurance, flexibility but also the more cerebral element of problem solving. Did your parents get involved too? Do they have any background of climbing? My parents were always really supportive, both
Mina climbing White Arete (V7) at Ibex, Utah
tried it a little bit at different times but neither were climbers.
applied for university and just focused on getting up in the morning.
When did you become more serious about climbing and start competing? I competed a bit as a young teenager but then took a break. I started competing again when I finished university and that was when I decided to focus more on climbing and I started to go on longer outdoor trips. It was around that time (2009), that I first received sponsorship for climbing too. Initially I competed sporadically, it has only been the last 2-3 years that I have been more involved in the international competitions.
It was in my second year at university that I found climbing again. I missed it and went in search of a climbing wall. Before I knew it, I was hooked again. This was a really turning point in my mental state and happiness, a sign that I was starting to recover from a big loss.
You took a break from climbing during your teenage years. Why was that, and what drew you back into climbing? When I was 15 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. My parents also broke up and my Dad moved away at the same time. This all happened in three months, so as you can imagine, things changed dramatically for me and climbing went on the backburner. I still continued to climb fairly regularly to begin with but when my Mum died soon after, in 2004, I lost the love completely. I finished school,
Youâ€™re now mainly based in Sheffield. How much time do you spend there and how much are you away travelling? Can you tell me a little about your movements over a year? It is probably about 50:50. I travel on and off in the spring to the World Cups which is very busy and mostly I am away. Then I usually try to do one or two big outdoor trips a year too. So in 2013 I was in South Africa over the summer and I am currently on an extended trip in the USA. Youâ€™re known as a boulderer, though you also like route climbing. Why is your main focus bouldering? For me it is a very pure form of climbing, it is very gymnastic and is based around doing the hardest moves possible rather than endurance based climb-
ing. The problem solving is often really diverse and that appeals to me a lot too.
but now I really feed off it, it’s a great adrenalin rush!
What’s your favourite type of move? Why? I really like burly steep climbing! It is probably not what I am best at but I love it because you get to go all out and try really hard! It is very satisfying and exhausting and I love feeling achy and like I’ve really worked hard.
What have been your best competition results? My best result was in 2013 when I placed 9th overall in the World Cups Circuit. Roll on 2014…..
Do you have a focused training routine, and can you tell me a little more about it? It varies a lot depending on the time of year and what I am training for and I also play around with it a lot, as I am never quite sure if I am doing the right things! Before coming on this USA trip I did a lot of gym based work alongside my climbing training to try to increase my power and body strength. Lots of kettle bell work, which was really fun! When I return to the UK, it will be the run up to the competition season so I will hit the ground running training wise. I will continue with the gym work but put a greater focus on the climbing based training. How important are first ascents to you? They’re not particularly important at all to me. There are so many amazing lines that have already been climbed that I would love to climb, it would seem silly to avoid them in search of something that hasn’t been done. It would be great to put something up, but I am more interested in the climbs themselves than whether or not other I am the first person to climb them. How does the standard of British female climbers compare with that in other countries? In bouldering I think we are holding our own pretty well! In the 2013 World Cups myself and Shauna Coxsey were both ranked in the top ten overall and outside we are keeping up with the progressions in women’s bouldering difficulty too. What do you think about the competition circuit and events such as Adidas Rockstars? They are really fun. For me, competitions have been a real challenge and something I have had to work pretty hard at. Outdoor climbing comes more naturally to me but I really enjoy the buzz of competitions and getting better at something that doesn’t come as naturally is very satisfying! The competitions are getting much more exposure and support now which is great, it is another discipline within climbing to be cherished. Do you enjoy having the crowd watching you? I do actually. The first time it was pretty terrifying
How do you fund your life? Is it hard to make a living as a climber? It is hard to make a living from climbing. I am lucky to have some financial support from my two main sponsors Arc’teryx and Five Ten, which is great for now, but it is not a sustainable situation in the long run. Where are your favourite places to climb? It’s so hard to choose….it would have to be Fontainebleau for the impeccable sandstone, history and movement; Rocklands for the scenery, adventure and sunshine; and Hueco Tanks for the dense array of hard problems to go at…and the stable climate! What has been the highlight of your career so far? I honestly don’t think I could pick one moment. I have had so many happy experiences, each unique and somehow incomparable. What are your aims over the next 5 years? Gosh, I haven’t got that far! Over the next couple of years I would like to continue to compete on the World circuit to see how far I can push myself there and I would also like to travel some more for outdoor climbing. My greatest enjoyment comes from pushing my limit in outdoor climbing and I hope to visit new areas as well as returning to the ones I love best. I am not 100% sure what I will do after the next couple of years but I have some plans up my sleeve! Besides climbing, what’s important to you in life? My friends, family and boyfriend are all very important to me. Climbing would not be what it is to me without all the people in my life that make it so fun. It’s not just the days out sharing experiences, but the evenings in reminiscing, talking and laughing. I also love learning and I suspect that I will go back to studying when this chapter of my life is done and I am keen for something new.
TO U R I N A S D N N
E MO U N TA
WORDS JULIET ELLIOTT PHOTOGRAPHY DAVE NOAKES
“Are you sure that you want to go snowboarding in this?” The baffled looking Italian studies our faces with an air of bewilderment as yet more snowflakes settle on his rather substantial mustache. His eyebrows knit together in confusion as he asks us once again to be certain of what he’d heard. We’re standing at the foot of Monte Pora ski area in the Upper Seriana Valley, a petite, traditional Italian resort with 9 lifts, a laid back atmosphere and no lift lines, particularly if it’s snowing so much you can’t see your hand in front of your face. A thick blanket of white muffles the sound of a snowplough buzzing up and down the road trying desperately to get a hold on the ever-increasing snowfall. To our left, a restaurant owner and friend pant heavily as they struggle to shovel a 3-metre drift from the roof of their business. Only a night before, I’d been enjoying a comfortable stay in the Radisson Edwardian Blu at Heathrow, skipping along in high heels to enjoy perfect lobster ravioli at the Trunk Restaurant,
legs bare in an embroidered frock. We’re now stood in a blizzard, covered head to toe in layers of merino and Gore-Tex with balaclavas firmly on heads as we ready for another kind of perfection – foot after foot of untracked snow. Clutching snowboards we eye up the only lift we can see, and it appears not to be moving. Finally, convinced of our passion for the white stuff, our Italian friend instructs the lift operator to switch on ‘for the crazy English.’ At the top of the lift, there’s so much snow we can barely make out the shape of the mountain, but with the entire resort to ourselves, we point our skis and snowboards in the general direction of the village below leaving gravity to take it’s course. After many short, but ever so sweet runs, we refuel with espresso before heading off to explore Monte Pora’s excellent snowmobiling trails, a magical delight of well-maintained runs weaving in and out of the pines. It’s testament to Monte Pora’s allure that we made it up the mountain at all – our hotel for the evening hides a significant treat in it’s belly – quite possibly the best spa we’ve ever seen. Down the steps from the unassuming looking lobby lie two indoor pools, saunas, Turkish baths, a salt therapy room, ice showers and more – a true water paradise built with immac-
ulate modern style, and one in which I could very happily while away many hours, emerging prune-like at the end of the day. Tearing ourselves away the next morning, we head to Sondrio, our driver entirely unfazed by epic amounts of snow lining the hillsides and roads. A year round destination, the Valtellina Valley nestles deep in Lombardy, and boasts an intensely beautiful mountainous landscape. It’s certainly one of the most dramatic regions in Italy, but curiously, one of the least known to us Brits. As we approach, we pass row after row of Nebbiolo vines reaching up to the peaks, fields of corduroy thanks to a gentle dusting of snow. The Italians have been growing wine in this region for over 2000 years, harnessing the power of this dramatic landscape to produce excellent reds. As well as wine, the region is famous for its winter sports thanks to resorts such as Livigno and Bormio and it’s also home to numerous worldclass thermal spas. The road cyclists amongst you may be interested to know it’s also where to find the legendary Stelvio pass, and making note of the graceful, winding roads of the region, I now feel a summer visit is a must.
At the Valtellina wine cellars, we take the opportunity to witness production of Valtellina Superiore, known as ‘Sforzato’. The wine's name is derived from a traditional method of processing the grapes, literally the 'forcing of the grapes' that delivers a higher alcohol level and greater sugar concentration via the process of drying. Made only after the finest harvest, the wine develops a rich, complex taste, and proves a delicious way to end a fascinating tour. After a quick freshen up at our wine themed boutique hotel, we head out into Sondrio to sample the local gastronomy. Cerere is a true delight; a restaurant in an historic building with dark, well loved antique furniture, open fires and a relaxed though refined atmosphere. Local dishes such as ‘Pizzocherri,’ a delicious combination of buckwheat pasta, cheese, cabbage and butter are probably best only eaten as an occasional treat, but it’s impossible to resist a second portion.
Tucked up away from the continuing snowfall blanketing the area, we toast the region’s delights with large glasses of Valtellina
TRAVEL FACTS Radisson Edwardian Blu Heathrow From £79 per night radissonblu-edwardian.com Grand Hotel Presolana From €130 per night grandhotelpresolana.it Hotel Retici Balzi From €70 per night hotelreticibalzi.it
Lo In what has been the over-riding theme of
the trip, the atmosphere is simple and relaxed, allowing a focus on quality without undue pretense, but that’s Italy all over, and that’s why we love it The next day, with continuing snow no obstacle to our ever-intrepid driver, we pull into Madesimo for our final day on the slopes. This very attractive village is home to nearly 60km of ski-slopes, 60km of snowmobiling tracks and the Acquarela snowboard park as well as boasting night skiing and an ungroomed 1000m drop run, the legendary ‘Canalone.’ The snowmobiling is phenomenal, and we’re treated to an epic excursion winding through infinite snow-drenched valleys. Blasting our way through a never-ending blizzard, we’re grateful for heated handgrips on our powerful machines as we pass refuges serving up Vin Brulee. Up on the slopes later that afternoon, we playfully slash the deepening drifts with our snowboards before heading to our hotel to warm up in the spa.
Boscone Suite Hotel From €75 per night residenceboscone.it PRESOLANA MONTE PORA: Daily Ski Pass from €22 6 day adult ski pass: €96 Snowmobile Tours from €70 emozioneestrema.it MADESIMO: Daily ski pass from €31 6 day ski pass from € 137 Snowmobile Tours from €55
Our final evening, we join new friends round the table of Madesimo’s Michelin starred restaurant, Il Cantinone, for a five course menu showcasing chef Stefano Masanti’s flair for modern interpretations of classic local dishes. In what has been the over-riding theme of the trip, the atmosphere is simple and relaxed, allowing a focus on quality without undue pretense, but that’s Italy all over, and that’s why we love it.
t aming t he dragon IMAGES BY KRYSTLE WRIGHT STORY BY PATRICK KINSELLA
W i l d a n d u n p r e di c t a b l e , t h e A mu r R i v e r i s one of the last truly unt amed rivers left on the planet. Last year, a four-strong, all-women team of paddlers set out to e x p l o r e i t s u ni n t e r r u p t e d f l ow. The Nobody's River expedition wasn't intended to be all-female affair – that's just the way the trip shaped up. The perfect people Amber Valenti found to accompany her on a source-to-sea paddling mission along the Amur River, all happened to be women. Thoughts of danger – the kind of danger that had nothing to do with the river itself – definitely raced through their minds at times. And the minds of others too – not only their loved ones at home. “But, you have no security!” a anonymous man cried out from the bank as they set off on the second stage of their journey, the concerned stranger looking on with horror as they launched from a brutal concrete shoreline covered in broken glass in the midst of a bleak industrial city in Russia's far east. But like the Amur, which runs free and unimpeded from the foothills of Mongolia to the Sea of Okhotsk, so Amber's plan had to take liquid form, and flow organically around opportunities and challenges whenever they presented themselves. There's little point being too rigid in your scheming when it comes to an expedition like this. By the end of the odyssey she'd been dreaming about for years, Amber had led the team through monstrous, storm-whipped waves, keeping the mission moving when they faced lightening bolts from above when towering riverbanks left them with nowhere to run. She'd paddled across vile, polluted water and through brutal industrial cities, and had been uncontrollably, violently ill after drinking too much homemade horse-milk vodka with a local family. But she'd also taught nomads how to do headstands and dance to techno music, and had ridden a horse called George Michael for three days across the vast plains of Mongolia to reach the headwaters of a mighty river. She had paddled along a meandering waterway, through epic fields full of wild flowers and bear prints. She had led an expedition along one of the last big free-flowing rivers in the world. And she had lived to tell the tale – although it wasn't quite the tale she expected it to be at the outset of the expedition.
PA RT N E R S
T H E B L A C K D R AG O N
Amber had been brewing the idea of paddling the length of the Amur, the third longest natural waterway left on Earth – for years. By the beginning of 2013 she had the logistics and the people in place to make it happen. Joining her on the adventure would be two fellow Americans – Becca Dennis (a river guide) and Sabra Purdy (a river ecologist) – and Krystle Wright, an Australian adventure photographer.
Known as the Black Dragon in China, and simply the Black River in Russia, the Amur is the planet's eighth longest river. More importantly, for Amber at least, was the fact that it is the third longest free-flowing river on Earth.
Sabra was there to report on the health of the river – which runs freely, but for large sections is foul with pollution from the two giants it briefly separates: Russia and China. Krystle, a veteran of more wild adventures than her young years suggest and a highly skilled photographer, was there to record the journey. And Becca, she was a super experienced kayaker and adventurer – "the perfect expedition partner" as Amber describes her. Tragically, she would only be the perfect expedition partner for half of the trip. Just weeks before the women were due to begin paddling, Becca's 28-year-old longterm boyfriend, Zach Orman, was fatally injured in a paragliding accident in Arizona. Becca was determined to remain on the team, but a huge shadow had inevitably fallen over her life. After paddling the first section of the river – from the source to the Mongolian– Russian border – she returned to the United States to grieve with her family.
The river runs wild – undammed and free, just as it's always done – all the way from a forgotten corner of Mongolia, across the enormity of Siberia, sliding between China and Russia before spilling into the Sea of Okhotsk, almost 5,500 kilometres from its source. Amber is deeply indignant at the damaging influence and control her species has inflicted on most of the planet's major waterways and she is painfully aware that her children, let alone her grandchildren, may never see a wild, free-flowing river. This was one reason she found herself unable to escape the grasping current of the Amur. But it wasn't just a passion for free-flowing water that led Amber to the banks of a Mongolian river. A physician's assistant by trade – one who also trains doctors how to use their skills in the wilderness – Amber has an explorer's pulse. She wanted to experience a wild river, sure, but she also wanted to paddle right off the edge of the map, and the Amur offered her this chance.
Amber is deeply indignant at the damaging influence and control her species has inflicted on most of the planet's major waterways and she is painfully aware that her children, let alone her grandchildren, may never see a wild, free-flowing river. This was one reason she found herself unable to escape the grasping current of the Amur. But it wasn't just a passion for free-flowing water that led Amber to the banks of a Mongolian river. A physician's assistant by trade – one who also trains doctors how to use their skills in the wilderness – Amber has an explorer's pulse. She wanted to experience a wild river, sure, but she also wanted to paddle right off the edge of the map, and the Amur offered her this chance.
A 5 0 0 K M PA D D L E The first part of the river – known as the Onon River, or 'Mother Onon' to locals – is the gentlest. Young and still unstained by the big cities it's destined to visit, the water runs clean here. Troubled only by the occasional electrical storm, the team comfortably paddled their folding TRAK kayaks 500 kilometres from the head of the river to the Russian border, travelling under an epic Mongolian sky and through virgin forests. They were accompanied by a translator for this section, and regularly enjoyed the hospitality of locals – a little too much on one particular night, when Amber discovered that seven teacups of home-brewed mare-milk moonshine was one more than she should have consumed. At the border, though, after 20 days on the water, everything changed – the expedition, the team, the river and the surrounds. It had proved impossible to get official permission to paddle the section of the Amur that forms the sensitive border between China and Russia. The girls could have pushed on without the proper paperwork, but they were advised that they'd need around $50,000 in cash to bribe their way through. That was neither possible nor prudent, and a decision had already been made: they would pack away their kayaks, take a train across Siberia and rejoin the river in Khabarovsk, Russia.
B R AV I N G M O N S O O N S
Unloading the boat bags in Khabarovsk, the team knew they were facing an entirely new challenge for the second part of their expedition. Since they'd last seen it, the Amur had morphed into an entirely different beast. Gone were the flatwater conditions and bucolic meadows. In Khabarovsk the river was a sprawling, braided and polluted mess, up to 4 kilometres across in places and dissected by dangerous shipping lanes. Gone also was their translator. They were on their own now – three women attempting an unsupported paddle through remote far eastern Russia, where the wilderness is punctuated only by the occasional ugly scar of an industrial town. Another 1000 kilometres of river stood between the team and the sea, and time was against them. The summer monsoons were in full temper-tantrum mode and some seriously heavy weather was forecast, threatening major flooding. Tension and conflict was also brewing in the expedition team. Krystle, hungry for a story and gungho for an adventure, just wanted to get on the water and paddle right through. Sabra, the pragmatic scientist, was more interested in analysing and reporting on the health of the river. Amber, wearing the responsibility of leadership, was juggling concerns for the safety of the team and the integrity of a mission she'd spent years planning. Eventually, after two days of debate, the decision to continue was made. The kayaks were unpacked and reassembled, and the three paddlers nervously got onto the putrid water and set off into the unknown.
INDUSTRIAL EFFLUENT "I expected it to be very different to the Onon," says Amber. "We knew it was going to be more challenging, and that there was going to be pollution in the water – but it was a kind of perfect storm on that lower section." Happily, once they'd cleared the outskirts of Khabarovsk, the industrial landscape quickly gave way to wilder terrain. Here the river was the boss once again. And it liked to assert its authority. "I've been paddling for decades, and I've never seen anything comparable to the Amur," Amber recounts. "It's so big and so powerful. The flow is so huge. It's not like being on a river; you're dealing with almost ocean conditions.
"We'd lost Becca, our most competent and strongest paddler. I hadn't really considered how hard it would be to literally get off the river – sometimes the banks would be like 5 meters of sheer dirt. Sometimes we were just stuck on the river, and there would be a storm coming. It was very committing like that.
No one is in charge of this river. No one tells the Amur what to do."
"And it would change. It would be really calm, like flatwater padding, and then a storm would break with thunder and lightening and these waves would kick up. We couldn't have taken a swim, there's no way we would have gotten back in our kayaks. If somebody had gone in they would have been out of their boat for hours."
At Komsomolsk, having paddled a further 400 kilometres, Amber, Krystle and Sabra pulled their kayaks off the Amur River for the last time. They'd spent a week and a half paddling 50 kilometres a day, sleeping for five hours a night and constantly looking over their shoulders.
Being out of their kayaks for even a short time was a nightmare scenario that Amber was desperate to avoid. The conditions, when they kicked up, were dangerously feisty – particularly with Sabra being outside of her comfort zone in her kayak – and the health threat posed by the pollution levels was very real. "It's quite deceiving," says Amber. "You're downstream from China and you know the water has industrial effluent in it. The place is being abused by loggers and miners, but it's so huge that it hasn't really had an effect yet. It was so empty out there. It just felt so wild.
The monsoons were hot on their heels. One night they were almost caught out, sleeping on a sinking island as the water rose around their camp and nearly devoured them in their sleep. It was a lucky escape. The final blow was dealt when Sabra developed severe tendonitis in her forearm. For three days Krystle and Amber had to tow their stricken expedition partner towards Komsomolsk. A further 500 kilometres of river stood between them and sea, and the rains were coming. To continue would have been very risky. "Too risky," says Amber. "With the tragedy that happened before the expedition, I just thought that risking further tragedy on the trip wasn't
an option." Packing away their kayaks, they caught a boat and a ride to the Amur River Delta, where they finally got to see the river they'd been following for two months disgorge its contents into the ocean. About a week after they pulled off the river, the entire region flooded. The river broke its banks and swelled up to 50 kilometres wide in parts, sweeping away houses and causing widespread destruction. "The floods showed how powerful this river is," says Amber. "It was like the ultimate validation of our decision to get off the water. There's no doubt what would have happened. Imagine – we were struggling to navigate when it was 3 kilometres wide. And we would have been amongst all the stuff that gets washed into the river during floods, bits of houses and cars." Ultimately, Sabra's tendonitis probably saved all three women's lives.
“Why would you come to this place that God forgot?” This question was fired into Amber's face as she got off the water in Komsomolsk. A local girl called Natalia clearly couldn't believe her cold blue eyes as she observed the four western women climbing out of their kayaks, like aliens landing somewhere they would surely regret. When she embarked on the journey that led to the Nobody's River expedition, this kind of blunt inquisition was not what Amber expected to face at the denouement of the adventure she had spent years planning. It was a fair question though, and even now, months after the expedition, she has to dig almost as deep as she did when answering Natalia. "We think the Amur River is incredibly special – like nowhere else in the world,” she says – despite man's abuse of the dragon and God's apparently amnesiac approach to it. "The concept of a free-flowing river is a really powerful metaphor for connection," she continues. "To sit on a river that has had no obstructions from its headwaters to its mouth, where it flows into the ocean – the opportunity to experience that is pretty amazing."
THEY CALL ME THE PAPER ENGINEER We s e e i t a l l a r o u n d u s . We u s e i t p r e t t y mu c h e v e r y d a y. I t ’s a r e s o u r c e m o s t o f u s t a k e f o r g r a n t e d , b u t n o t L y di a S h i r r e f f ; s h e sees paper as more than just A4. A ‘paper e n g i n e e r ,’ L y di a c o n s t r u c t s , a m o n g s t o t h e r things, pineapples, shoes and sandwiches for an array of clients and personal p r o j e c t s . H e r e s h e t e l l s u s h ow s h e c a m e t o play with paper for a living
How did you first begin working with paper? I studied fine art at Uni and I did a lot of sculpture alongside, a lot of detailed, geometric stuff. When I left University, I applied for loads of competitions and got an exhibition in Bristol. I realized I didn't actually have any work, except for my university stuff, so I ended up making this installation that was a row of 6 or 7 long thin shelves with tiny little geometric objects, that were supposed to look like rocks and minerals, and they were all made out of paper - it was the cheapest easiest material to use. That was the first time I realized there was a lot of scope to make incredible things cheaply. From there I did a few more paper things like shop windows, then about a year ago I got picked up by an agency looking for a paper artist after they had seen my stuff online. Since then it’s been my main thing. So the move to paper was born of necessity? I got bored of drawing and I wanted more of a challenge. I came to a point where I was always drawn to the 3D stuff and wanted to do something tactile and engineer something. Paper made sense because you can get crisp geometric lines and edges and it’s easy to work with.
Is ‘paper engineer’ a niche or label you are happy with? I am, yes. Every job I get is different as paper applies to so many different things. I could be doing fashion or set design or editorial or…anything really! It’s fun because I will show my portfolio to people and they will always be able to think of a way to apply it to them. Every job I get is different so it’s always a challenge - I have to use my brain differently. Do you feel that the material itself makes your artwork feel accessible? I think if something is made out of paper you can relate to it a lot more as it’s something you see every day. You know what it feels like and how big it would be. You can relate to it more than a big marble carving. Although I would like to work with more expensive materials eventually! What was the first big job you worked on? There have been a couple of projects that haven’t come through. I did some work for Lush, ideas for window designs last Christmas with full size mock-ups so I had to get interns in. I guess that was my biggest job. It was the most work I had to do, in the shortest time. They didn't go for it in the end, but that’s fine! Still a good experience? I learnt a lot. Its weird having people work for you. Being the boss! Was it helpful as an exercise in getting your ideas across? It made me become a lot more organized with my ideas. The way I work is that I’ll come up with a vague plan and work quite intuitively. So I will come up with an idea and then it will be trial and error to come together, there will never be a proper plan or a proper net to begin with. But obviously when I was telling people what to do, I had to come up with really detailed plans and think everything through from the beginning to the end. So it was twice as much work as I would have been doing on my own. Do you prefer to work on your own now then? If I had another big job I would need help, as a lot of it is quite repetitive. It be nice to have someone there to just cut out a triangle 100 times, stuff like that! Normally I work on my own, as they are small projects. I did an editorial for Red mag and they wanted lots of foliage to display some Joe Malone candles and scented things and that was a nice job. Just a two-day thing.
IT IS A VERY JAPANESE THING SO, MAYBE SOMEWHERE IN MY BRAIN I HAVE SUBCONSCIOUSLY BEEN LED ALONG THOSE PATHS
Leafs and blackberries and butterflies. Quite different to what I normally do!
Sounds like you have a good grasp of shapes and 3D. Most people wouldn’t be able visualize this.
What’s been your favourite job you’ve worked on?
Yes, its something I do almost without thinking about it. It’s quite difficult to think about it now and try to explain it. I would just make a drawing and just figure it out somehow. I guess it started as I was making those geometric shapes and I got most of the nets for those off the Internet, as I didn't know what I was doing. So they were regular polyhedron, the same shaped triangles joined together. All kind of folding into each other. After that I did a project doing decorations for a hotel room and I did the same geometric 3D shapes. Once you start making them repeatedly you start understanding how they go together and the angles.
Well I’ve got a couple of favourite pieces but they were done for myself, like personal work. It's nice when I get the chance to do my own stuff, things that have been in the back of my mind for months but I haven’t found the time to make them or I’ve started making them and not finished. I get a lot of briefs for things like sandwiches and apples and lots of fruit! I did a pineapple a couple years ago that was really geometric, I liked that pineapple. I’m selling it actually! Are you finding time for personal projects at the moment? I don’t have any big jobs on at the moment so I’ve got my ideas book out. It’s almost a relief to do something for my self sometimes. Usually I get quite rigid briefs! As it’s paper and it’s folding. Do you have background of origami or take inspiration from it? I guess so, well I did some with my mum, and she’s Japanese. I remember doing some when I was little. But it’s pretty different, what I do now uses card, not thin paper. It’s not so much folding as constructing, so it’s not really the same. Is it just a coincidence that you got into paper then? It might be a sub-conscious thing. It is a very Japanese thing so, maybe somewhere in my brain I have subconsciously been led along those paths. I never intentionally thought I’d do something like origami. It just happened. My mum was talking to my grandparents about it and they were like ‘oh its such a Japanese craft, we’re so proud of her’. My mum was like… I don't think she sees it that way. Before you’ve started, how do you go about planning a paper build? The beginning of the plan is knowing the limitations of what paper can do. You can only do quite geometric things. You can make a cylinder, that's the only curve. You can’t make a sausage or a sphere. So I guess you start by figuring out if its even possible. The way I did the pineapple, first of all I knew it was going to be a cylinder but the top and bottom had to taper. Once you have that you can start building up the spiky bits.
So you sort of learnt it as you went? I did things like it at university and it all kind of helped. It’s in there somewhere, a library I can access. It’s just trying to figure out how to make sense of it all and loads of practice. Over and over again. That definitely helps! How have your skills with paper grown and developed? I still have a lot to learn, but I see myself being in a better place than I was a year ago. I am a lot more careful with my measurements. I try not to make as many mistakes as I used to. Quite a lot of it involves maths, getting things down to a precise millimetre, which is a complete headache! Are you going to stick with paper? For the moment it makes sense to. But I would like to do more set design or costumes. What do you have coming up? I had an interesting email from a girl in Tokyo. They do a lot of branded exhibitions; clothing brands will have an artist in residence for a month or so. She is interested in putting my work forward for a Diesel project. Sounds great! And where would you like paper to take you? I’d like to work in other countries. . Send me somewhere to do some cool stuff! lydiakasumi.com @lydiakshirreff
Po r t l a n d b a s e d p h o t o g r a p h e r , A m a n d a L ei g h S mi t h ’s d r e a m y p h o t o s c a p t u r e t h e b e a u t y o f t h e Pa ci f i c N o r t h w e s t a n d t h e i ni mi t a b l e s t y l e o f her close friends, many of whom work as stylists, models, photographer and designers. Her evocative images, shot entirely on film present a rebel aesthetic with a nost algic feel, inspired by her friends’ closets and a love of Americana. Coven spoke to Amanda to find out more about t h e i n s p i r a t i o n f o r h e r w o r k , a n d h ow l i v i n g i n Po r t l a n d l e n d s i t s e l f t o c r e a t i v i t y a n d a l o v e o f t h e outdoors.
You fairly recently decided to focus on your photography full-time. What were you doing beforehand to support yourself? Yes, I’ve been shooting photos since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until this past year that I dedicated myself to making it my full-time profession. Before that I was working full time as a social worker at a homeless shelter for teenagers and working as a freelance photographer on the side. Have you any formal training? I haven’t had much formal training other than dark room photography and photojournalism classes in high school and community college. I’ve been interested in all kinds of visual arts, including photography, since a very young age. I distinctly remember seeing a Bill Owens photo book called Suburbia when I was 15 while in a dark room photojournalism class, and I fell in love with the whole process. You’re based in Portland, a city known for both a love of outdoors and it’s alternative lifestyle. To what extent has that influenced your art? I think it’s definitely influenced my art. I can travel out of the city in any direction to find some amazing, diverse nature and photo locations. Also, the city is full of talented and creative people that I’ve been lucky enough to work with and know. You often shoot pictures of your friends or products designed by your friends. Are you part of a very creative circle? Do you all feed off each other’s creativity? I am super lucky to be a part of a very inspiring, supportive and creative circle of women. Often relationships that start off as business ones turn into great friendships or vice versa.
What have the most interesting/memorable shoots been so far? When I traveled to LA & Joshua Tree to shoot for Sugarhigh+Lovestoned. It was pretty magical. Your photographs often have a kind of seventies rock meets hippie kind of vibe. From where does this influence come? Are you particularly interested in that era? I grew up being very interested in history, and in high school was super into learning about JFK and the Vietnam War, which I guess got me intrigued by that era. There are other eras I’m into as well, but lately things just end up with that vibe. Most of the styling comes from my, or my friend’s closets. I know you’re into motorbikes, do you think that influences your self-image and the feeling you’re trying to capture? If so, how? I wouldn’t say liking motorcycles has specifically influenced my work or self-image, but I like to ride them and shoot from them. I’m more interested in the experience I’m having and the experience the people I’m working with are having rather than trying to capture something specific. Lately, there has been some criticism of photographers who focus on grainy, analogue point and shoot photography. What are your thoughts on that? People have been using photography to capture images since the 19th century using some type of film to create a permanent image through chemical processing. There has been an incredible amount of skilled and talented photographers throughout that lengthy amount of time. I think one can just as easily critique digital photography and claim that expensive equipment and lots of time post-processing images in Photoshop does not equate to good photos, talent or skill. I think there are lots skilled photographers out there shooting with all kinds of different tools – digital, analogue or otherwise. There is much more that goes into creating interesting photos than the type of camera you use. Which other photographers do you look up to, and what do you like about them?
There are a lot of photographers I admire and am inspired by. To name a few: Helmet Newton, Guy Bourdin, Steven Meisel, Amanda Charchian, Olivia Bee, Petra Collins, Tamara Lichtenstein, Neil Krug… I like them for various reasons, but overall I appreciate their identifiable and unique styles and I really enjoy seeing the images they create. Are your shoots normally planned or spontaneous? Do you have an in idea of what shots you’re trying to get? Both; yes and no. Typically look book shoots are more organized and planned, my goal being to get interesting and beautiful images of a product, so things are more intentional while at the same time leaving things open and adaptable to change. But often shoots come together last minute and are centered around going on some sort of adventure. Who have you worked for recently/who have you photographed recently? I recently worked for jewelry designer CobraCult shooting the winter lookbook, and I recently photographed Olivia Bee. What have you got planned for 2014? I’m going to travel to South or Central America to visit my boyfriend while he’s on a motorcycle journey from Whistler, Canada to Patagonia and back with his company West America (wearewestamerica.com). I’ll stay for a few months in LA and work as much as possible, and representation to help support my career. I’d like to do as many photo projects as I possibly can and adventure as much as I can. What can you normally be found doing when you’re not shooting photos? I’m a shop girl for Poler Stuff in Portland. Otherwise I’m usually hanging out with my cats, cooking dinners with friends, hiking or adventuring outside the city. What words do you live by? “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Henry David Thoreau. aleighsmith.com
â€œ T H E B O DY I S S E L F I N D U LG E N T A N D P E R P E T UA L LY C A R E S S E D BY C H O I C E O N T H E O N E H A N D, A N D O N T H E OT H E R H A N D, H A S TO B E N D TO O M N I P R E S E N T P R E S S U R E A S W E E X E RT CO N T R O L OV E R O U R OW N V E S S E LS , R EG U L AT I N G T H E M , A D H E R I N G TO SO M E N O R M â€?
What was it that initally drew you to graphic design during your politics degree? I knew I felt a bit restless and discontented towards my final year at university in Slovakia and the idea of graphic design proved to be an ideal outlet - practical and down to earth, with a real function. I find graphic design to have much more direct connection between the outside world and the viewer - I really like its ability to present the world and compact it in a visually digestible and intriguing way - and coming from social sciences, which always felt quite removed from the world, I was very attracted to this. How did you begin to explore your artistic side whilst you were still studying politics? I have been always visually very aware, jotting down shapes and objects and combining them into strange patterns - it is just that it never struck me as a 'drawing', or at least not drawing as an artistic enterprise. I also proved to be quite savvy with software, and after discovering Photoshop, it didn't take me long to realise that, actually, I really enjoyed this creative side of me. More drawings and more Photoshop experimentations followed, and thus, moving to London to pursue design further felt like a natural step. Did you prepare a portfolio to apply to the London College of Communication? When I arrived to London, I became very aware of how little I actually knew about the creative industry or art college environment; and how little portfolio material I actually had.
So I signed up for a 1-year intensive BTEC course in Design and Graphic Communication, which equipped me with a substantial amount of work and even stronger conviction to pursue this path. And it was during this course that I discovered that I was actually very attracted to all things pictorial. How did you go about funding your degree, that must have been hard. Funding was tricky; because I held a master's degree from Slovakia higher than the degree for which I was applying in the UK, I wasn't eligible for any funding or grant support. My family couldn't support me, so as unbelievable as it sounds to me now - I paid it all by myself - 4 days per week in a coffee shop and the rest studying. And it worked. My budget for everyday expenses was almost non-existent and it was an era of packed lunches and snacks and smuggling little bottles of alcohol into bars on nights out. But I managed! What themes/materials were you drawn to initially? For me, it has always been a combination of the digital and analogue. I start by drawing on paper and then continue the work on the computer. I was, and still am fascinated by the material world around me - in the beginning I spent lot of time drawing mundane everyday objects and juxtaposing them with different things or situations, creating new, small, sort of surreal realities. For example, I drew a series of catering products, things like jumbo drums of mayonnaise, gherkins, bread crumbs, with stripped down aesthetics and sad, oversized
labels, giving each of them a moment in the limelight. I guess, I like lifting the mundane and overseen from the dust and giving them some little stage. Does â€˜the everydayâ€™ continue to intrigue you?
to omnipresent pressure as we exert control over our own vessels, regulating them, adhering to some norm. I think this is where my desire to investigate the body further grew, along with the need to understand the constitution of my own identity.
I must say, Iâ€™ve stayed fairly loyal to this fascination with the banal. However, over the last year, I've started a slow shift towards focusing on the human body, or more specifically, the body as a consumer. The body is self indulgent and perpetually caressed by choice on the one hand, and on the other hand, has to bend
I have been always drawn to societal workings and mechanisms, either as devoted observant or active participant. As an illustrator, the urge to observe, record, and visualise the stories of our complex culture and society feels vital. Writer Susan Sontag said that we are increasingly discovering the world by depicting it, and
then viewing the image we have created; that, I feel, is my call - to discover, catalogue, and portray the everyday and the ordinary.
a small dots or miniature lines over the drawn object - for example hair, to achieve a textured non-flat quality.
How does your artwork develop as you progress through the various stages of working in pencil and on the computer?
Do you work quickly once youâ€™ve traced the line work?
Most of the time, my creative process is very straightforward - the brief from the client usually sparks some pictorial ideas almost immediately, then I go and exB R I E F S A R E G O O D pand on these by further research - endless browsA S T H E Y C R E AT E ing and 'Pinteresting.'
A V E RY D E F I N I T E P L AYG R O U N D W I T H B O U N DA R I E S IN WHICH I AM A L LOW E D TO P L AY
What follows is a sketching down of the main ideas and visual combinations on paper, which I subsequently scan into computer and begin to work with digitally. Then, I trace the line work in Illustrator, which although it is often a very long and seemingly mundane process, happens to be my favourite part - it is usually during this lengthy menial work that further ideas spark up and the whole project takes on additional layers of depth. Finally, I move on to the digital colouring and eventually texturing - that is applying of
I work fairly fast. I guess I am lucky enough to be sufficiently fluent with the tools I am using. The presence of the digital element makes the whole process more straightforward and infinitely amendable at the click of the mouse, whereas the traditional methods don't offer any â€˜Command+Zâ€™ key shortcuts and can get rather frustrating with spilled inks, misshapen lines, or wobbly fingers. The hardest part is to come up with the initial idea, but once that one is in place the rest just follows. How do you find working to a brief? Do you enjoy it, or just prefer to see where your mind takes you? Briefs are good as they create a very definite playground with boundaries in which I am allowed to play. So yes, I do like seeing where my mind takes me but I also like to see the walls of space within which I am operating. How have you found the financial side of working as an illustrator? Is it a struggle, like with many artists today?
I am afraid the answer is yes - it is all about a healthy balance of interesting (and sometimes less interesting commissions) with a financial benefit versus personal projects or small-scale fun projects for non-profit purposes. My solution is a part time job on the side at Saint Martinâ€™s College that offers certain financial stability and often a healthy break from illustration - a recharging time. How much time do you devote to marketing yourself? I must admit, not much. I do have a website, regularly add to my blog, and often post Facebook updates, but I do intend to adopt a more proactive strategy this year. When did you begin your MA at Camberwell
and what are you hoping to achieve there? I started my MA last September. The whole purpose of it is to give myself a sort of personal playground - to be able to pursue things I am drawn to with sort of academic roofing/recognition above my head as opposed to commercial projects with briefs developed by clients. Don't get me wrong, these are fun to do and often offer new realms to explore and things to learn, however, with the MA I felt that the time had come to carve and store bit of my creativity and curiosity just for my own purpose without any outside pressures and directions. Do you still have an interest in politics? Is it ever apparent in your art? I must admit that the political layer of society
I F E E L T H AT W I T H M Y P O L I T I C S D EG R E E I CA N N AV I GAT E T H R O U G H T H E WO R L D SO M E W H AT M O R E S E N S I T I V E LY, A N D I H O P E T H AT O N SO M E ST RA N G E , D E E P L E V E L T H I S F E E DS I N TO M Y I L LU ST RAT I O N TO O.
(at least at the macro-level) has kind of lost its magic for me. My original pathway of study was general European studies and International Relations, and this just succeeded in making me feel that I was a relatively small individual, unable to have any direct
impact or say in the face of larger political structures with so many mechanisms already in motion. I guess that is partly why I chose to refocus and select another pathway in my life - this way I feel that the world I am dealing with is more immediate and more within my reach, more tactile and moldable. But I must say that 5 years spent studying the materials of society certainly made me more aware and
informed. I feel that with my politics degree I can navigate through the world somewhat more sensitively, and I hope that on some strange, deep level this feeds into my illustration too. What are you other interests, hobbies or passions?
Well, apart from illustration, an absolute dedication to freshly baked sourdough bread, daily cycling (no helmet to the great dismay of my boyfriend) and the usual small tactile joys of the everyday life - coffee and muffins, clean surfaces, nice scents, and good flavours. I am also an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction, and regular cinemagoer. Life feels good.
Photo: Ben Osbourne Above: Alec Townley
JOEY GOUGH THERE’S NO NEED TO SHOUT
In a world full of athletes clamoring for attention and their small bite of the apple, Joey Gough’s a breath of fresh air. The 33 year-old BMXer stays firmly out of cliques and politics, quietly kicking ass without kicking up a fuss and allowing her riding to do the talking. Though arguably one of the best female trails riders in the world and a demon out of the gate on the racetrack, Joey’s happiest just kicking back with her friends and filming a few clips for the fun of it. Most recently, Joey released a video documenting her 30 years riding BMX, which showcases her inimitable style, fun-loving attitude, and appetite for huge jumps. Coven caught up with Joey to find out more about her World Championship win, and why she’s sticking wit h di r t .
by Juliet Elliott
Photo: Dave Francoisy
You started riding BMX when you were very young. Is your family into bikes? My brother started BMX when he was 6, and my parents took us BMX racing throughout our childhood. My parents still love to follow the BMX scene and they enjoy watching other types of cycling too, but it all stems from the BMX; I'm not sure they would have got into cycling otherwise. Can you tell me about the first time you rode a BMX? Not really, because I was about 3 and a half! As far as I know, the story goes like this... I was watching my brother on the BMX track and I asked Dad if I could have a go. He said I could but would have to learn to ride without my stabilisers first. A few days later, they were off! I do remember the track was at a local Pontin's holiday camp, it was made of dirt but the jumps were made of wood. How long was it before you started racing? I started racing not long after I started riding. I was lucky that my parents really enjoyed taking us away racing, so we got to go a lot. I was probably racing or riding most weekends and riding at the local club one evening a week at least. I really enjoyed the racing but most of all I loved riding my bike, so much that I used to ride all day Saturday before the race and often be completely tired out for racing. I made loads of friends, travelled, camped, played in the biggest, most disorganised games of rounders you can imagine, and sat outside singing camp fire songs at night. Why did you give up racing, and what drew you back to it? In 2007 I was asked to join the GB team after BMX racing was added to the Olympics. It was like a dream come true, I went from working a full time job to training and racing full time. In 2008 I made the top 16 at the World Championships, but I didn't make the Olympics and as I would be 31
by the time the London Olympics came round it was decided I would not be continuing on the program. It was a great experience and I put my all into it, but at the end of that year I realised I had sacrificed the fun side of BMX that I loved so much, the adventures with my friends and the freedom BMX had always given me. I felt quite relieved that it was over and once it was, I just wanted to ride my bike and have fun; I was pretty burnt out on racing and being serious. At that point I wasn't sure I would ever race again. Why did you change your mind? It happened by accident really. It was 2011, and some of my friends were racing a lot of UK 4X races, which are far smaller and less serious that BMX. It was the first time I had an urge to race again, but it was for all the reasons I used to race, for a fun weekend away with my friends. Next thing you know, I'm heading up to Fort William to race in the 4X World Cup. I had no expectations for the race, I went up there with an awesome group of mates to ride my bike and have a bit of a holiday, but little did I know I would end up leading the final and just getting nudged into 2nd place by the World Champion. That was a crazy week! I got picked up for the rest of the season by Identiti Bikes, but by the end of the year they were looking to switch their focus to a new BMX team and asked if I was considering making a comeback to BMX. I knew by then I was able to enjoy racing again and with the World Championships being hosted in England for the first time since 1996, it seemed too big an opportunity to miss. I won my World title in the 17 & over amateur ranks, which wasn't too shabby at the age of 31! Do you prefer 4X or BMX? BMX. I grew up on a BMX and I am from Norfolk, the flattest place in the UK, which is obviously not great for riding mountain bikes. I really enjoyed 4X when I was racing it, it definitely taught me a lot and made
Photo: Dan Clifford
TRAILS RIDING IS MY CHILLED OUT TIME AWAY FROM THE RACE SCENE, I'D HATE THAT TO BE COMPETITIVE TOO
me a better rider in general and I do still love going on days out on the 4X bike and blasting some berms...but BMX is where my heart lies! I just love the simplicity of a BMX, the smoothness, the flow and how ‘flickable’ the little bikes are. You can really control the bike and get so much feedback from it with no suspension and little wheels.
like any other rider, which is great too; really I just want to be one of the group and ride and have the piss taken out of me if I hook up a jump - just like everyone else! I can embrace both scenarios.
How do you support your lifestyle?
I am not afraid to jump in the van and travel miles to ride at the weekends. I live in Norwich, which is miles from anywhere and a lot of my best riding friends live in other parts of the country. I also get bored of riding the same stuff quite easily; I am always looking for something new to ride, something big to jump and to get the adrenaline going a bit.
You have to be passionate about winning to enjoy being a full time BMX racer; it's your job 24/7. There's no time to enjoy the essence of BMX, because if you are not focused 100% on winning, someone else will be. I realised I am not passionate about winning... I am passionate about BMX. I’ve been working full time at the hospital as a clinical coder for 5 years now. I’m far happier than I was when I was a full time BMXer because having a normal job allows me to enjoy BMX however I want to in my spare time. How does your racing influence your trails riding? When I first rode trails I already had years of racing behind me, so all I knew was pedal as fast as you can and pull up. I've learnt over the years about going slower, pumping the lips and going higher, but I still prefer bigger/longer jumps to short and steep jumps, it suits my racer style. Although I can ride a lot slower now, I still like to follow a local into a new line, because if I had a go on my own straight away I know I'd go too fast and land flat! I guess my racer background is the reason I enjoy being ‘flowy’ and smooth at the trails rather than doing tricks too. Are there any specifc exercises you do to help stay strong? The only consistent training I do is 2 nights a week at the gym. I do this with a focus on racing, but it also helps me to have good control on the bike, which means I have more fun at the trails. I really enjoy it now; I like to push myself, but don’t take it too seriously any more. Sometimes I do some sprints, but not religiously, just if I feel like it. Other than that, I am just riding my bike and having fun as much as possible because that’s what makes me smile. How do the guys react when they see a girl ripping as hard as you? A lot are surprised to see me hitting the lines I do, but then not many girls ride trails so it is kind of unusual! I think they’re surprised in a good way; they normally come and talk to me which I like, because I can be quite shy with new people so it helps me get to know people. Once people know me though, I'm just treated
You love road trip, right? We’ve seen some great edits from your adventures.
It's not just about the riding though, it's the people, the laughs and the adventures, you never quite know where it might take you! I have also been on a yearly road trip to southern France with a big group of friends 6 times now. We just ride for fun all day, everyday for a week and do a lot of messing about and laughing... those trips are some of the best times of my life! What are your plans this year? I'll be racing the UK Nationals, trying to keep up with the youngsters who are getting faster and faster. I'm also racing the World Championships in July where I'll be racing amateur again, that'll be a fun week hanging out with all the Brit riders. Besides that, I'll be riding and digging my trails, taking up a couple of invites to hit some amazing UK trails spots, road tripping to the UK's best tracks and going to France again, because it never gets old! Oh, and I might do a little bit of mountainbiking if I can fit it in too. In between all that, I'll be sitting at work, daydreaming about bikes... Any plans to compete in any freestyle BMX events? No, freestyle has never been my thing. Although I've put a few tricks in my trails bag over the years, it's never been about the tricks for me. From a competitive aspect, my trails riding is my chilled out time away from the race scene, I'd hate that to be competitive too. Besides that, I think the only girls trick comps are park riding and I hardly ever ride skate parks. They've never given me the buzz that riding on dirt has and as a result I've rarely been to one more than twice in the same year and I don't really know what I'm doing! Joey rides for Identiti Bikes, Gusset, Halo Wheels, TSG, ODI, Dia Compe, 100%, Drift Cameras, Vans shoes & Hardcore Hobbies
anka martin’s BACKYARD ADVENTURE
W i t h a n o p e n h e a r t a n d a n i n qu i s i t i v e b r a i n , a d v e n t u r e i s e v e r y w h e r e . Fo r m a n y, adventure begins at home, whether as the seed of an idea, a new route home or a f i r s t ni g h t u n d e r t h e s t a r s i n y o u r v e r y ow n g a r d e n . H e r e a t C o v e n , s e ei n g t h e f a mi l i a r f r o m a n o t h e r v i e w a n d s h a r i n g t h a t beauty with close friends only adds to our h a p p i n e s s , a n d Ju l i a n a B i c y c l e s t e a m r i d e r Anka Martin shares our enthusiasm. Oh, and it doesn’t help that her backyard just happens to be Nelson, New Zealand.
It was time to get the girls together for a little mid week summer getaway into the backcountry. I’ve got a great group of women who I ride with out here, all really strong, interesting women who can really hold their own on a bike – they are rippers when it comes to mountain bikes and most other cycling disciplines too. We’ve got Harriet, an ER doctor, Downhill champ & overall shredder, Anja, who is a bird researcher & spends most of her days climbing up really tall trees and hanging out in the canopies chatting with birds. She is also a maniac on a bike, whether going downhill or riding 1200km self supported in three days straight with no sleep or winning single-speed national titles. Bob is a hydrologist by day and another one of those brevet loving people who can ride her bike for days on end with no sleep. Me, I’m a nature loving, adventure girl who just likes to ride my mountain bike up & down mountains. My bike takes me away for six months of every
year during which time I’m off racing or seeking adventures spanning four or five continents. Due to the nature of what I do for a living with the constant traveling abroad and being away from my home in Nelson, NZ it was time to go and play in our backyard. We are so blessed with what we have on our doorstep. It is paradise. The scenery is unbelievably stunning and the tracks around this area are some of the best tracks that I’ve ever ridden, and I’ve ridden a lot of tracks. They are challenging, technical, scary, super fun and then to top it all off – stunning with enchanted, ancient forests surrounding you everywhere you look. We started our little road trip in Nelson on the Coppermine track. This is always a great way to start off any trip as it’s really mellow, very scenic, but really a great way to catch up with people as the grade is really cruisey so us girls can keep on chatting. I guess it’s just a way for
by Anka Martin P h o t o g r a p h y b y G a r y Pe r k i n
We measure our rides out here in sandwiches, not distance, as most of the trails out here are so deceiving. You read 20km on the signboard, but that can literally take you all day to do due to the technical nature of the tracks out here, so when we go riding, we usually make the call and tell people it’s either a two sandwich or three sandwich ride. us to all catch up with life on our bikes instead of going to sit in a coffee shop doing it. The next morning we headed up to Opouri Saddle, where we got dropped off to begin our adventure. As you drop into the singletrack, all your senses come alive. Opouri saddle bridle track is such an amazing track; narrow and fast with rocks, moss and ledges, ferns and turns, it has everything that makes a track fun & scary at the same time. Descending from the pass then pedaling along the water into Duncan Bay and the start of the Nydia Track was a great way start the morning. There is nothing more spectacular & special than riding alongside the most beautiful, clear turquoise water; truly magical. The track is a great mixture of climbing & descending, and you really work hard going up and down as the track is riddled with massive roots everywhere you look. You cannot lose concentration for one moment; otherwise it’s over the bars for you. We measure our rides out here in sandwiches, not distance, as most of the trails out here are so deceiving. You read 20km on the signboard, but that can literally take you all day to do due to the technical nature of the
tracks out here, so when we go riding, we usually make the call and tell people it’s either a two sandwich or three sandwich ride. Our packs were pretty loaded with some overnight gear, as we were planning to spend the night over at On the Track Lodge, a lovely eco lodge near the end of the Nydia Track with the most amazing home grown & made food. After slogging up, over and down the track for most of the day, it is always a welcoming sign to see the local ‘tame’ eel, Ella. She’s always lurking about, waiting for a little morsel, preferably an unsuspecting rider’s little finger. This is also a sign that we’re not too far from some ice-cold beers and yummy treats of our own. The lodge is such an awesome place, tucked away in the mountains, stretching to the blue waters of Nydia Bay. A fully off grid haven, and the perfect place to really switch off and get lost within your surroundings and enjoy a guaranteed good nights sleep. It’s just a lovely opportunity for all the girls to get away from everything, work, partners, cell phones and computers. The best part of this trip for me is the water taxi that picks you up in the morning to take you back to Have-
lock where we left our van. This is just so special to me, to be able to take your beloved mountain bike with you on a boat, is so cool. The actual trip takes about 45minutes and is spectacular; if you’re lucky, you’ll see dolphins or orcas, but those are just the added bonuses. The whole experience is just special and you get to see so many little bays, coves and inlets and baches many of which you would never knew even existed if you didn’t catch the taxi. After enjoying our relaxing, scenic morning on the boat, it was time to get ready for the next part of the adventure. We dumped our overnight gear, loaded up with some more sandwiches, snacks and water and headed off to meet up with Matt, our helicopter pilot for a cheeky drop off at Fosters hut on the Wakamarina track. The Wakamarina track is undoubtedly one of my all time favorite tracks in the world. It is so out there, no cell phone signal, no people, no nothing, just sweet, sweet, loamy, cornflake strewn single-track trails with never-ending ferns and beautiful black beech trees. Usually this is a track that we’d pedal from start to finish, but that would take us about 8 or so hours with shuttle driving and climbing, so we cheated this time around and got a little help from the heli. But even though we got dropped off at a high point, you still have to work to get to the main downhill; there are no easy free downhills in this area even with a chopper. This one only had about a 45min hike-a-bike section and some pedally bits, so no biggie.
We were hooting & hollering, laughing & screaming, screeching and laughing some more. This was rad. We were ripping down the track, launching off root balls and decayed stumps, railing and roosting turns, hanging on going flat out down root strewn downhills, overtaking each other on inside lines, it was a blast even with a few pile up crashes along the way. Exhilarated and exhausted when we got back to the van, it was the perfect day out with the girls. On the drive back to Nelson, all the stories were flowing and the OMG moments were aplenty, but what I love about riding these tracks is how alive they make you feel. Everyone had a sparkle in their eye, buzzing from an adrenalin high and we all left with so much respect for the tracks & love for our bikes. There’s no better way to finish off an action packed few days than with a big bonfire on the beach and our local beach at Cable Bay is the perfect spot to watch the sun setting, to sit around a fire and to keep exchanging stories, moments and of course, begin planning our next adventure. Our backyard is amazing. No need to travel far away, as we have the most amazing terrain, mountains, tracks, beaches and forests to keep us happily satisfied for ever and a day. julianabicycles.com ridehousemartin.com
S E L F P R O F E S S E D A DV E N T U R E R SO P H I E RA D C L I F F E H A S A N OS E F O R A DV E N T U R E T H AT S H E ’S P R E PA R E D TO F O L LOW W H E R E V E R I T TA K E S H E R
T E XT S O P H I E R A D C L I F F E I L LU ST RAT I O N S DA I SY C A M P B E L L
“ W H E R E D O YO U G E T THESE IDEAS FROM?” A F R I E N D R EC E N T LY A S K E D M E A F T E R I TO L D H I M T H E CO N C E PT F O R M Y N E XT A DV E N T U R E .
my passion for challenging myself in the outdoors and what I get up to, they can find it difficult to absorb and often ask me to backtrack;“Wait a minute, you swam 1.2 miles, cycled 112 miles and then ran a marathon? In one day? Are you insane?” As I also do a little bit of Ironman racing, it could be perfectly valid to question.
In August I’m embarking on my most demanding adventure to date ‘The Alpine Coast to Coast’. The plan is to cycle through the Alps, from Slovenia to the South Coast of France and climb the tallest mountain in each of the 8 countries the Alps travel through. My husband, Charley, and I have been working on this plan for over a year and at Christmas we decided to just go and do it.
Inspiration isn’t always simple; my ideas don’t always come easily to me. The kind of things I do for fun were things I would previously have considered as way too extreme for me. When I first took up cycling, I made friends with a bunch of guys who would cycle from London to Brighton and back on a Saturday and then go out partying all night. I could only dream of the days I could do something like that. Now, that’s what I would call a good looking Saturday!
I’m always on the look out for the next awesome adventure that I can organise and train for without too much hassle or time off work. I’ve cycled from London to Paris in 24 hours 4 times. Raced through the Jungle of Borneo, climbed Mont Blanc and completed the 3 Peaks Challenge - with a twist - I cycled the 450 miles between them and climbed them in 3 days. These are some of the best days of my life.
F I N D I N G I N S P I RAT I O N I prefer planning my own events rather than paying to join organised events, which means I’ve always got ‘something a little crazy’ cooking. When I tell people about
w I H A D TO L E A R N H OW FA R O U T O F M Y CO M F O RT ZO N E I WA S W I L L I N G TO P U S H M YS E L F. I H AV E N ’ T F O U N D M Y L I M I T, Y E T
A DV E N T U R E M I N DS E T
I had to practise opening my mind up to the possibilities in front of me. I had to learn how far out of my comfort zone I was willing to push myself - I haven’t found my limit, yet. I had to understand that adventure was not a thing you did, but rather a way of thinking and looking at the world. Sean Conway, who recently swam the length of Britain taught me that. Leading me nicely into the importance of having adventure buddies, people to show you the ropes; I had to make friends with people who were willing to take me under their wing and wait for me at the top of hills in the pouring rain until I became a stronger cyclist, runner and mountaineer.
T H E S E E D O F M OT I VAT I O N
I learnt that the idea for an adventure all starts with the seed of motivation. If your motivation is there, the rest will flow and you can do anything. I mean it. If you don’t believe me, try it. Challenge yourself to find something that truly motivates you and go for it, you will surprise yourself.
It starts with a conversation you have in the pub, something you read or an idea that comes to you on your daily commute. Either way, once that seed pops into your head, there is no turning back.
FA L L I N G I N LOV E You know you’ve come up with the right challenge for you because it’s the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing on your mind at night. You only came up with the
why idea yesterday and you’re already getting up at 6am for pre-work training sessions.
It feels like falling in love. You are in love with your adventure. You are inspired, motivated and you feel alive. What is it that makes you feel this way? Motivated, excited, alive! Ready and willing to make sacrifies, change habits and raid your piggy bank for funds?
RAISING THE BAR
For me, the challenge is to raise the bar and to see what I can produce and deliver when I set my mind to it. It’s an opportunity to take control over my life, to accept where I am now and know that the responsibily to get to where I want to be lies solely within my hands. It makes me nervous and excited. It’s motivation to prove to myself that I can do it. To learn that nothing comes without hard work and dedication. I love it.
DON’T LET LIFE GET IN THE WAY
Every day, life tempts and teases us to settle for mediocrity. To adhere to the expectations of society and succumb to our excuses. I’m on a mission to break down those excuses and make adventure accessible to the masses. You don’t need to quit your job, live on a shoestring or sell your worldly belongings to have an adventure. You don’t need to spend less time with your family or stop doing the things you love. You don’t need to spend your life in lycra or even step foot in a gym if you don’t want to, getting fit outside rocks!
ACC E PT T H E R I S K S What you do need is to embrace the ups and downs. You need to commit to the unknown and be pre-
pared to put yourself in a situation where you may fail. You need to be open to meeting new people and sharing experiences with them that may change you. You need to get familiar with being cold, wet, muddy, tired and hungry because you will see a lot of each other. If you smile through the pain it will help.
CO M M I T M E N T
Once I’m all fired up and motivated, I set about putting wheels in motion and commit to the challenge. If you decide you’re going to cycle from London to Australia, there’s nothing more commiting than buying a one way ticket from Australia to London. That’s it, you’re doing it now, just the small matter of training and logistics to tend to.
TO DAY YO U A R E YO U
Above all, you will learn that an adventure allows you to be you. When I’m out there cycling, climbing, running and exploring there is no time or space to be someone I’m not. All my energy is spent on what I’m doing, on completing the challenge I’ve set myself. It’s raw energy and emotion. It’s me at my very best, because I’m being myself. I learn how to overcome obstacles, to drive forward and to succeed. Even when I fail I have still succeeded because I took a chance and challenged myself. This is what I love to do and why I do it. I adventure because I want to be the best possible version of myself, to understand what I’m capable of and have fun in the process. I do it for the love of adventure. It’s all there for the taking, go challenge yourself and find out who you are. In the words of Dr. Seuss: “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” challengesophie.com @challengesophie
By Hannah Bailey Photography By Kassia Meador
‘What I love most about cooking is the work that goes into it and enjoying the end result. When something turns out just the way you want, it is such a good feeling.’ It may come as a surprise to see longboarder, Jen Smith sharing her thoughts on cooking rather than teaching us how to hang ten, but things have changed over the past year for the Californian. The long-term professional Roxy surfer lost her main sponsor at the start of last year bringing an end to her 7 years of being a ‘glorified beach bum’. The longboarding circuit was no longer what it used to be and she saw the opportunity to move onto new things, ‘at the time I figured I could look around for another sponsor and maybe keep making a living for a few more years as a surfer or I could really start thinking about my future and what I want to be doing and where I want to be...’ she tells us. It had been an idea of hers, over the past few years, to open a café once her surf career had come to an end, so her sandy feet headed off the beach and into the kitchen. After chatting it over with a friend, who is a pastry chef, Jen was given the chance to see if she could handle the heat in the kitchen. Her aim was to give it a year and learn as much as she could to take away with her and open her own place. But going from a free-range surfer to a full time job was a real test and after 8 months in the kitchen Jen had to ‘bow’ out to go help her dad run his skate shop. But it’s not the end for her dream (or ours of eating at ‘Jen’s Café’) as she is working on a business plan for a bistro in Pacific Beach, California. So not to get hungry whilst we wait, she’s done a special recipe for us for this issue, Oatmeal pancakes to fuel our surf. ‘I chose this recipe because pancakes are awesome.’ Jen explains. Right she is. Time to take inspiration from her and cruise into the kitchen to give them a go.
E p i c O a t m e a l Pa n c a k e s w i t h B e r y y C o m p o t e A R e c i p e To S w e e t n e s s b y L o n g b o a r d e r Tu r n e d Pa s t r y C h e f , Je n S m i t h Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup flour 1 cup oats 2 tbs baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1tsp vanilla 1tsp cinnamon 1 1/2 tsp sugar 1 1/2 cup milk 3 eggs 1 tbs butter 1 banana
This recipe is a quick and satisfying breakfast for you and your friends to enjoy before or after whatever adventures you might be getting up to any day of the week. Packed with oats and banana, these pancakes are almost like a crepe or a Swedish pancake. Full of body, they are not just your average doughy pancake and syrup. I made these just the other day for some friends and myself before we spent the day at the beach. They will leave you satisfied but not full and sluggish. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Mix flour, oats, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon in one bowl. Crack your eggs into the other bowl, add vanilla and whisk. In the saucepan, melt your butter then add the milk to warm. Pour the milk and butter mixture into the bowl with your eggs and whisk with a fork. Slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, whisking as you pour. Once everything is together, thinly slice the banana thin and fold into the mix. Rest the batter for 30 minutes or overnight. If you don't have time, heat your milk and butter up just a little hotter to allow the oats to absorb the liquids and get soft more quickly.
COOKING YOUR PANCAKES
Heat your skillet to medium heat. I like to use butter to cook my pancakes, but you can use pan spray or olive oil if you want. Smear enough butter in the hot pan to cover the area where your pancake will sit. The butter should sizzle a little. Take a 1/3-cup and scoop one scoop onto the skillet. Let it cook until you can see a ring around the outside edge that is starting to cook through. Use a spatula to flip the pancake and let the other side cook for about one minute. Whip your pancake out of the pan and onto a plate. The first pancake rarely turns out nicely so I usually adjust the heat of the stove after the first one. If my first pancake is burnt I turn the heat down and if it is not brown at all but is cooked through Iâ€™ll turn it up just a tiny bitâ€Ś
Place all berries in saucepan on med-low heat. Let them simmer until they start to "sweat". This is when some liquid will start to form in the pan. Stir berries around with a spoon and smash them down a little. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. More liquid will form as the berries absorb the sugar. Turn down the heat and let simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Your end result should be syrupy compote with lots of whole berries.
BERRY COMPOTE 12 OZ berries (2 cups) 3 tbs brown sugar
N THIS OWN Photograhy & Styling SARA SANI
Left: STUSSY hoody ROXY shorts This page: VANS dress
STUSSY top AFENDS skirt Left: SUPREME BEING AT SURFDOME hat AFENDS playsuit
STANCE socks Opposite Page: QUAY sunglassses BENCH dress
a day in the life SKATEBOARDER MIMI KNOOP Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to be. Sometimes I wanted to be a fisherman, other times I wanted to be an explorer in the Amazon, never anything normal. I never knew how to answer that question when I was a child. I first fell in love with skateboarding the very first time I stepped on one. I was about 7 years old. It felt like ‘flying’ to me. I was immediately hooked, and trying to learn how to roll off curbs. I grew up mainly on the East Coast, and was unaware that other girls even skated, so I never knew it was a possibility to compete and become a professional girl skater. I didn’t start competing until I was almost 24. These days, I live in San Diego and first and foremost, I’m a professional skateboarder. But I do a lot of other things too! I’m Co-founder of the Alliance, Cofounder/Creator/Brand manager of hoopla skateboards, Director of Women’s Skateboard events at the X Games and last but not least, Creative Director for Art of Board. I’ve always skated for fun with my friends; I’ve never consciously ‘trained.’ I began competing and skating every week so that I could progress, but I always maintained that ‘skate for fun’ mentality throughout. I just did it for fun way too long to have that aspect taken out of it. I surf a lot and when I’ve had injuries, I have learned how to rehabilitate and have learned a lot about how my body works in the process. But other than that, I do not work out. Every once and awhile, I will take my bike out for a spin, other than that, I just skate and surf.
a s t o l d t o Ju l i e t E l l i o t t
p h o t o b y B r i a n Fi ck
Life is too short to not s p e n d i t d oi n g something you are passionate about!
I am not a morning person. There’s my disclaimer! I usually try to be up with a cup of coffee in hand by 10am otherwise I start to feel antsy and a little guilty. When I am at home, I make my coffee, and then jump on my computer and catch up on Hoopla work first, whether that is updating the website, editing footage of the team or creating new graphics or products Then depending on the time of year, I will sort out X Games invites with our Alliance committee, and also work on any art projects I have in the mix. I eat whatever I want, usually eggs and toast or a sandwich. But I try to listen to my body, and if I crave something, then I eat it. But I tend to eat pretty healthy, so I usually crave good food, though occasionally I crave a cheeseburger or brownie. After computer work, I usually start texting the guys I skate with to see where the afternoon session is. Depending on the consensus from our crew, I’ll either go skate Tony Hawk’s ramp, the DC/Monster ramp, the Vans combi pool, or another SoCal location. I usually skate with a good group of guys depending who is in town: Brian Fick, Christiano Goulart, Mancha, PLG, Marcelo Bastos, Paul Luc Ronchetti, Bucky Lasek, Paul Wis, Andy Mac, Navarette, Owen Neider…the list goes on. I also skate with some amazing girl skaters like Nora Vasconcellos, Cara-Beth, Allysha Bergado, Alana Smith, and Samarria Brevard. I film a lot with Lisa Whitaker from the Girls Skate Network too. Usually I am flying by the seat of my pants; it’s ordered chaos. Trips can pop-up out of nowhere so adapting and going with the flow is important when juggling so many different things. There is some structure, but I have learned I need to be ready for anything at any moment so I try to be open, but I operate with a lot of focus and drive. At the moment, I am enjoying designing graphics and products for Hoopla Skateboards. I’m also getting into creating some work for Art of Board’s products as well. I will usually get into
my artwork every so often, but then I won’t make anything for a stretch of time. It helps me to have projects going on, or deadlines, even if I set them myself. Then I am fully engrossed in the task in front of me until it is finished. On the side, I have created a little character called the “Slaying Mantis”. It came from a painting I did about a year or so back for Tony Alva. I ended up making Slaying Mantis stickers just for fun, and people seem to dig them. So I am always doing random stuff like that too! I used to go out all the time, but now I am content to stay home more. Luckily, I got my wild years out of the way luckily before the invention of Facebook! My ideal evening is being super tired from a long day of skating and then just chilling with friends, maybe with a frosty beverage. I cook a lot. I like steak, or chicken, and then I’ll usually make a nice salad, or some bok choy with a sweet potato. That’s one of my typical meals. I tend to live pretty frugally. You have to, if you want to ride a skateboard for a living. My goals change all the time. But for now, many of my goals surround helping cultivate girls skateboarding by working with the hoopla team, and also by working with events like the X Games to keep women’s skateboarding legitimate on that worldwide platform. Also, of course, I aim to have fun riding my skateboard. I hope to get back into filming more this year as well. I have gotten so much from skateboarding throughout my whole life. I have met some of the most amazing friends through skateboarding- even as a young kid. And now, being older, it is so rewarding to help the other girls that are up-and-coming now. I like to help them out as much as possible. Life is too short to not spend it doing something you are passionate about! And the clock is ticking, so get out there. mimi-knoop.com hooplaskateboards.com