First and most importantly how are you and your loved ones doing?
On the whole pretty good. Getting over the flu but apart from that fine.
Do you see what is going on in different countries, a good or bad thing compared to what is happening in the UK?
It’s hard to say because the only lens I’ve got on other situations is limited to friends or what I read in the media. From the sound of it though the UK seems to have messed up their handling of this, only the USA seems to be doing it worse.
You have recently completed the PEdAL ED Atlas Mountains Race, we would love to hear more about that and the bike you used?
It was a great experience, feel so lucky to have got to have done it, especially considering the current situation. The race took place in February and was a 1300km off-road bikepacking race from Marrakesh to Agadir. I completed it in just over 6 days which I was very pleased about. The race was organised by Nelson Tress, who also organises the Silk Road Mountain Race. I did that one back in 2018 and knowing the type of terrain Nelson likes to seek out decided to build a more capable bike for serious off-roading. I’d been keen to build a 29r bikepacking rig so I could carry more cargo, run bigger tyres and improve handling over rough terrain. It turned out to be a good idea, with the terrain being as rough as it was in the Atlas Mountains.
Have you been able to get out and ride much?
Not at all! I brought a stomach bug back from Morrocco that saw me in hospital for a day, and in bed for two weeks. Straight after that I caught the flu or maybe Corona Virus, who knows! Then lockdown got into full swing and after spending a month in bed just started to get back out. Had a few rides out but sad to see the fitness I was at after Morroco just evaporate.
Tell us a little about your bike and current setup?
I’ve not touched my 29r since Morroco but have been getting out on my gravel bike, the one I took to Kyrgystan. Felt so weird riding that after wide bars.
What are you currently working on and what do you have lined up for the future?
A few things in the pipeline. An overland tandem is being built plus I’ve started experimenting with titanium. Hoping to have a full build out in a few months.
How do you see the UK custom bike scene going in the future? Do you think the gravel/bike-packing scene has helped in any way?
Immensely, I think the grassroots nature of gravel riding and the focus being on innovation lends itself to the custom scene. Custom builders can respond quicker to the new trends and we’re yet to see any slowing down with tyre sizing or gear setups.
When you look at the photos from the Rough Stuff Archive and the bikes they use do you think the commercialisation of gravel and bike-packing has taken anything away for simple exploration?
Not at all! It can be fun to look back and feel inspired by the past but we need to be careful of being overly nostalgic. I don’t really see the sector being led by large commercial entities and the ones that are involved are making some great products. Personally I find it really exciting to know there are people who are getting so hyped over it all.
Do you think with the amount of events being cancelled the gravel/bike-packing scene is going to change?
Hard to say really but I feel that it’ll all get back on track again soon. I was pretty lucky to be able to get out and do the AMR. Hopefully we’ll all be able to get back out there riding soon.
What is the one positive thing you have been able to take from the current lock down?
Slow down and relax and not feel guilty about it. It’s tough running your own business sometimes as it can be difficult to step back from it and partition work time. Lockdown has really helped me to get back to having some space for myself.
What are you looking forward to doing first when life returns to normal after lock down?
Riding with friends, missing it so much right now.
Have you learnt any new skills or started any new hobbies/activities?
In a way. I’ve spent the time getting better at tig welding. My partner though took up baking which is rad although eating a cake a day is maybe not the best way to keep in shape 😉