First and most importantly how are you and your loved ones doing?
I’m doing well and the family is keeping sane just about. Juggling home schooling and work is proving quite a challenge, however. The plus side is the riding conditions have been excellent and we’ve been doing lots of family bike rides, exploring sections of the South Downs we’ve never been to before.
Do you see what is going on in the UK, a good or bad thing compared to what is happening in other countries?
I think it is comparable to a certain extent but I feel very grateful that we are still allowed out to cycle. I don’t know how I would cope if I couldn’t ride.
Do you think the commercialisation of gravel and bike-packing has taken anything away from simple exploration?
I’d go the other way and say it has added to it. Bikepacking and gravel riding has brought new people into riding bikes, much as mountain bikes did in the early days. They are perfect tools for exploring the countryside so I see the commercialization as a good thing. We need more people to ride bikes so anything that can help this is a bonus in my book.
Overland is clearly aimed at adventure and new horizons, what was the thinking behind it?
It started because I became tired of “getting ready” for a ride and ferrying rucksacks of clothing to and from work. I found that often became a barrier to heading out for a quick ride. I think it also was a barrier to new people wanting to take up cycling. Lycra isn’t for everyone and neither is the moto look of some mountain bike clothing. Overland is an answer to the question we posed – “ How can we normalize the look of sportswear”. This then also extends into the frightening statistics of clothing production (400% more clothing is made now than 20 years ago) and how it is used so little (36% less use of clothing over the same 20 year period). Overland is designed to cut your clothing carbon footprint by approximately 50% as It can be used as regular clothing and not just cycle clothing. Versatility is paramount.
With more long distance events appearing do you think races like TCR, Silk Road Mountain Race have taken anything away from the simplicity of exploring by bicycle?
I think these events cater for a slim minority of the cycling masses and whilst good at testing personal levels of endurance and kit, doesn’t really encourage more people to cycle. There has been some good articles on the cult of exercise and also by Eben Weiss about this. To get more people to cycle we need to make it look like the most fun and accessible thing to do. Like the expression – “It’s as easy as riding a bike.”
If you were able to explore one country by bike where would it be?
Britain. I’m a real advocate about limiting carbon footprints and discovering more about what is on your doorstep. There is still so much to see in my home country that it keeps me constantly motivated.
Overland is growing so we would love to hear about what you have lined up for the future, where do you hope it will go?
Well, we don’t have new ranges coming out every six months like regular clothing brands. We have what we have and look to sell this through and then maybe add new things in if we feel the could be of benefit. Almost the opposite of fast fashion. Overland is slow fashion. For us it’s all about creating a sustainable business that benefits people and the planet and to become a clothing company of the circular economy. We’re spending a lot of time researching how we can recycle, repair and upcycle our products and essentially looking to produce less clothing and those we do will be versatile and timeless.
How many cups of tea or coffee have you drunk today?
Two so far!
Have you been able to get out and ride much?
I have, both on the gravel bike and mountain bike. The trails are in such good condition it would be rude not to. Especially after such a wet and windy winter!
Tell us a little about your bike and current setup?
It’s the Chickens Citycross. It was a bike designed and built by my friend Jon Chickens for the CityCross events we (Morvélo) did back in 2013. It was then modified three years ago to take 40c tyres. I run what many call ‘silly gearing’ with a 39t paired with a 12 x 25 t at the back. I’m a singlespeeder at heart and this is almost like a mutli-geared singlespeed in so much you have to mash up all the climbs!
Do you think with the amount of events being cancelled the gravel/bike-packing scene is going to change?
To be honest I think the lockdown is encouraging people to be more self-sufficient and explore local areas by bike more, ingraining the use of cycling as more an everyday thing. So I think the cancelled events won’t cause as dip in popularity but instead will be over subscribed when they do come back.
What is the one positive thing you have been able to take from the current lock down?
It’s an unprecedented time for the human race to reappraise its relationship with nature and the harmful ways we all have been living.
What are you looking forward to doing first when life returns to normal after lock down?
Apart from seeing family of course, going to the skatepark and going for a kayak/swim in the sea.
Have you learnt any new skills or started any new hobbies/activities?
I’m learning how to kickflip a skateboard in my back garden and a few other tricks – hence the eagerness to put them into practice in the skatepark!