NATHAN JONES | OVERCOMING THE ODDS
The Fix talks to an old mate of the business and occasional Team Quella rider, RAF pilot Nathan Jones about trauma, resilience and life after professional sport. We talk about his post-traumatic growth, Invictus games success, and his latest project promoting mental fitness on a global scale.
MM: Hi Nathan, great to catch up with you as always. At the risk of going over old ground, could you share with the The Fix readers 'the big story' of how you ended up with the injuries that turned your life upside down?
NJ: Hi Mike, no problem at all. So, to keep a long story short, I was flying an RAF Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton to Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan when we encountered control difficulties whilst over the Black Sea. I was in the cabin and hit the roof of the aircraft when it went into a dive. I then had to crawl along the roof to get back into the cockpit and sort the thing out. Unfortunately I broke my back in the process but that's nothing compared to what could have happened, as there were 198 passengers on board, so it could have been a very bad day at the office.
MM: Wow so let me get this straight, you crawled along the ceiling with a broken back whilst hurtling into the sea?
NJ: I know it sounds dramatic but when you're running high on adrenaline and strong coffee you can achieve amazing things.
MM: Well it must have helped that you had a sporting background to enable you to do such a thing?
NJ: It certainly helps in any situation to be both physically and mentally fit. I came from a Rugby and Skiing background so strength and agility played a big part in my training anyway. I'd just got back from ski racing in Meribel the day before so was at peak fitness which certainly helped with both the incident itself and my recovery.
MM: I imagine your recovery was a long journey! At what point in your recuperation did you start to see light at the end of the tunnel?
NJ: Yeah, there were some dark times and staying motivated over such a long period was tough. We had the best care and facilities imaginable when I was a patient at the Defence Medical Rehab Centre in Headley Court and later Stanford Hall, with access to such amazing physios and clinicians, but the real battle is in your head to get up every morning and go again. In 2016, one of my doctors asked me to try out for the Invictus Games to try and get me back into a competitive environment and set achievable goals, in not just my recovery but representative sport again. I threw myself into it and ended up competing in cycling and swimming in both Orlando and Toronto Invictus Games.
MM: And how did that go for you?
NJ: Well the build up to Orlando was crazy. It was held at the ESPN World of Sports near Disney and the whole of the worlds sporting media was there to watch. Training had gone really well and I felt fit for the race. The last thing my surgeon said to me before I left was "whatever you do, don't fall". I was in the road race which was done as a crit and on the last lap I still had something in the tank, so kicked on the outside of the pack on the back straight. I ended up in the lead by a couple of bike lengths, until the final corner about 15 metres from the finish where I took the final corner a bit hot and wide and clipped the barrier. So after cartwheeling down the final straight, smashing my bike to pieces and scaring the hell out of my wife, I was taken to hospital on a spinal board and ended up with a $96,000 bill for the insurance company.
MM: And the fact it was on prime time TV meant there was no escaping that!
NJ: No, it seemed everyone else knew before I did. I did end up getting No.7 in the ESPN top sporting moments that week though, beating Lebron James, so there was at least 1 positive. I managed to then come back and although the chlorine stung my road rash, managed to pick up a few medals in the pool. Toronto was a different story though. I got my revenge there.
MM: Why swimming and cycling? Were these sports that you had always done?
NJ: No not really. I'd done both at school and for general fitness training but nothing serious for years. Coming from professional rugby though, the coaches felt that I had the right attributes to give it a go if I applied myself properly. Thankfully it paid off and I've not looked back.
MM: Was your interest in overcoming mental health challenges sparked by your experiences or those of the people you encountered along the journey?
NJ: A bit of both really. I studied Sports Science at Loughborough Uni and the importance of Sports Psychology has been drummed into me from an early age, so I had a good basis of tools and techniques there, but I still have so much to learn. The people I've met along this journey though have been so inspiring with such amazing stories of resilience and post-traumatic growth, that I'm fascinated in using these learnings to shine a positive lens on mental health, rather than the usual (although very important) negative connotations.
MM: Tell us a bit about your new venture?
NJ: Over the last couple of years we worked on a mental fitness platform to promote positive tools and techniques in mental fitness in the MOD. We launched this as HeadFIT last year, and from the learnings of this we have set out on a global journey in promoting positive mental fitness and create a community of people trying to attain it. We've called it Peak State and its just launched in Australia but about to launch in a few other countries.
MM: It seems to be that the pre-emptive approach is the big difference here, explain how this works?
NJ: We deliver a series of easy to use tools to create healthy daily habits to improve your mental fitness. We feel everyone should look after their mental fitness just like they look after their physical fitness, so just like going out on your bike to keep fit, use these techniques everyday to stay on top of your mental game.
MM: Who is the target audience?
NJ: Everyone now. As I said, we developed this with the Military and launched a platform in Aus for the First Responders in the aftermath of the bushfires, but now it's for the general public. We have taken learnings that professional athletes have used for years and just democratised it.
MM: I understand that you have the backing of Prince Harry, how did that come about?
NJ: Well my Co-Founder, David and I both worked for him at the Royal Foundation and also know him through the Invictus Games, so he is championing Peak State as he feels incredibly passionate about improving people's mental fitness and giving them the tools to do so.
MM: It all sounds amazing, we wish you every success with it all. Can't wait to catch up properly over a few beers and hopefully to get you racing again with a Team Quella shirt on in some post-Covid events at the end of the year - thanks so much for chatting.
For more info on Nathan and his new venture, Peak State, please check out:
KAREN BARDSLEY | WOMEN’S EQUALITY AND TRACKSTANDS
In this edition of The Fix, we talk to one of our Friends of Quella & all-round awesome person, Karen Bardsley. Karen is the goalkeeper for Manchester City and the England national team and proud owner of a beautiful Quella Cambridge named Quigley!
Given that it's Women's Equality Day this month, we’d love to focus a little on your first hand experience of Women’s Equality as a successful sports professional and how this may have affected opportunities presented to you.
Within your long career in the sport, how has the attitude changed towards women in football and the women's game in general? Do you think enough is being done to promote women's game?
Clearly attitudes have changed towards women in football and the women’s game for the better. Yet, there are far too many changes to mention in a quick Q&A. Therefore, I’ll stick to three key themes - performance, inclusion and visibility. From 2011, evolving support and investment in the form of central contracts from the Football Association has enabled international players to focus solely on elite performance. As a result, fitness along with results on an international stage began developing.
Social perceptions must first be addressed and changed. It is no longer acceptable for women’s sport to be a token gesture.
Highlighted by these shifts and social equality pressures, opportunities began to emerge for domestic clubs such as Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and more to invest and embed their respective women’s teams within their organisational/business strategy. Indeed, the ability to train as a full time, professional footballer resulted in a marked improvement of technical and tactical quality and moreover, the aforementioned improvements also led to increased media coverage and visibility. You only need to take a look at the steady increase in domestic viewership numbers, grassroots participation numbers and of course, the WWC 2019 semi-final numbers to see this, alongside the fact that it has become tradition for the Women’s FA Cup Final (and hopefully Community Shield) to be played at Wembley every year.
Interestingly, the players are not the only ones being driven by these new competitive trends. Clubs are also vying for their own unique market share within the women’s game, with the battle to stay ahead of the curve well underway. However, there is still much more to be done in order to see real change and one day, parity. Social perceptions must first be addressed and changed. It is no longer acceptable for women’s sport to be a token gesture. It has been evidenced by multiple teams, individuals and institutions that women will achieve and succeed when provided with equal opportunities.
Presumably you were always sporty? Were you one of those massively annoying kids at school that was brilliant at everything? What made you choose footie?
Ha! Yes. I have always been very sporty. As a child I always had a lot of energy and I was fearless. Naturally it translated into curiosity about anything athletic. Therefore, If I was given an opportunity to try a sport I would jump at the chance. Typically, I was quite good at it. For example, I had the opportunity to try football after a boring stint playing softball. I knew my Dad and Grandad loved it so I thought I would just give it ago. I can’t remember how good I was, but I do remember how much I loved it.
Did you have any idols growing up, or idols now that continue to inspire and push you forward?
I was obsessed with Peter Schmeichel when I was a kid. As a goalkeeper, I wanted to emulate him in every way possible because he had such an incredible influence on games. For instance, he was an imposing presence, he had a winning mentality and ultimately, he made unbelievable saves. However, these days I find inspiration in many different ways. From Ruth Bader Ginsberg challenging the status quo to everyday people living kindly and doing things for the greater good.
What advice would you give to a younger female wanting to make a career out of sport?
Go for it! Just get started. Find the thing that you’re best at or most passionate about, work hard and lastly, embrace every opportunity you get!
If not football, what do you think you would have chosen to do as a career?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a whale trainer. As that is well(whale) and truly not in the cards I probably would have followed my passion for graphic design after University.
What’s next for you, do you have any personal goals (no pun intended) you’d like to accomplish, or are you ready to kick back?
KB: Other than more trackstand practice, I’ve got loads of little personal goals. Such as, finish my UEFA B coaching badge, stay more connected with friends in the States and help Manchester County FA become the leaders in Women and girls grassroots football development. Lastly and most obviously, my football goals are to win the league, FA cup, League Cup and Champions League this year!
Finally, we challenged you to learn to trackstand during lockdown - how did you get on? We checked beforehand, and it looks like the record is over 15 hours...
KB: Haha! Over 15 hours?! Oh my goodness, I’ve got no chance. I actually found it more difficult than I expected. I tried stationary balancing without a roll in and that just looked ridiculous as everyone can see from my Instagram. I also tried a roll on a hill which was much easier but there is no way I could stand for a minute let alone 15 + hours!! I’m very impressed and very jealous!
BUFFALO FOUNDATION | FIX ARTICLE
Quella has recently partnered with The Buffalo Foundation to create a one-off, branded version of it’s iconic Oxford bike. Every Buffalo Foundation bike sold returns 25% of its sale price directly to The Buffalo Foundation. In this edition of The Fix, we talk to founder, Jan Joubert, about the charity and its background.
The Fix: So Jan, for those who don’t know about The Buffalo Foundation, can you give us some background?
J.J: Buffalo Foundation is a charity that supports disadvantaged young people via sport, education, and life skills. Sport & education is taken for granted by most of us, but in a world where people are struggling to make ends meet, it is not even on the menu. We have a heavy focus on the townships in South Africa where I am from and we have plans to replicate this with academies we support in the UK in the near future.
The Fix: Why do you feel that sport and education is so important?
J.J: .Sport takes many forms from a simple pleasure to an all-encompassing passion and our aim is to open the door to this world to people who wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity. It is not just the pleasure of taking part but the structure that it imposes; the discipline, commitment, and the communication needed to make it work. Sport introduces some of the individuals we work with to these structures for the first time in their lives. In townships where life is chaotic and unstructured, just the process of involvement with sport is life changing along with the added benefit of supplementary education via our academy tutors.
The Fix: Can you give us an example?
J.J: One of our projects that we are involved with is the Kwano Cycling Academy in the Kwanokathula township in Plettenberg Bay. The kids at the academy understand the value of what the Academy offers them, they know that they must arrive on time, that the equipment needs to be looked after in order to perform well and homework complete before cycling training. They relish the rewards of their achievements as payback for their hard work and they flourish in the safe environment of the club away from the dangers of township life.Aside from the cycling itself, the club offers extra teaching and proper facilities for the kids to do their schoolwork.
The Fix: Cycling seems to be at the heart of many of Buffalo Foundation’s initiatives, what is it about cycling that works so well?
J.J: Cycling is a very accessible discipline; it can be learned quickly and at its most basic level it instantly provides a method of transport as well as a route to improved fitness and wellbeing. You literally get back what you put in and with some commitment, improvement is rapid and rewarding. A bike also gives instant freedom, and enables self-sufficient transport whether it be to school, a medical centre or just to visit a friend. The Buffalo Foundation recently assisted with fundraising to deliver just under 250 Qhubeka bicycles via the Murray High School into the community of Kwanokathula.
The Fix: How has Covid-19 affected the academies?
J.J: It’s been tough on the academies throughout the current pandemic. We are in the middle of additional fundraising campaigns to not only assist us with keeping the academies running at cost so they can survive through the lockdowns and new regulations but still be there for when some form of normality returns to life. We have several supporters who have coloured their hair, and beards in the 7 colours of the rainbow and we have also kicked off a campaign for employees to get their CEOs to either colour their hair or shave it into a mohican. Of course there is also our Buffalo Club for people who with to support us on a regular basis. This not only helps our academies survive but has also helped us provide food parcels to all of our academy families who have really struggled with food as they have lost their income as a result of the pandemic. Quella is a partnership we are super excited about as the funds raised will help us to not only maintain what we are currently doing but also help us make a difference to more young people including our UK academy plans.
The Fix: We know you are a committed cyclist yourself and have done some big rides here and back in South Africa. How has your cycling enthusiasm influenced your joint creation and support of The Buffalo Foundation:
JJ: My key reason is I want to make a real difference to as many young people's lives as possible by giving them opportunities to flourish and enable their futures. We can have academies with any sport, it doesn't have to be cycling, but for me cycling has not only helped me keep fit and healthy but also provided me with various networking opportunities, allowed me to experience some of the most incredible rides around the world including within the areas of our current SA academies, and make lifelong friends. I’m passionate and strongly believe cycling has been a catalyst to making a difference to those that are part of the academies.
The Fix: It’s been a pleasure Jan, we are delighted to be involved.
Take a look at a day in the life of Kwano Cycling Academy, one of the Foundation's project partners.
The Buffalo Foundation custom bike can be ordered on-line on the Quella website for £575.00 and for every bike sold £120.00 will be donated straight to The Buffalo Foundation.
RAD-RACE | LAST MAN STANDING
Team Quella rider Callum Jeandin was one of 150 riders let loose for the 2020 Last Man Standing race in Berlin to battle against some of the best fixie riders in the world.
This incredible event takes place on a tight indoor go-kart track with 10 riders per race racing fixed-wheel bikes at the same time with no brakes - sound like chaos?? Yep, it is! It is fast and furious with lots of crashes - incredible bike handling as well as speed and fitness are the key to success.
Last Man Standing is organised by the amazing Rad-Race team and, as well as bringing together some of the world's best Crit riders, they managed to persuade former time-trial World and Olympic champ, Fabien Cancellara to take part. 'Spartacus' was looking very cool and definitely sprinkled some celebrity stardust on this high octane event. Another rider well known to the audience was James Lowsley-Williams from GCN who was here for a second helping having competed last year.
Check out the video that we made from Rad race here - https://youtu.be/YDakFuexQfw
Despite the incredibly high standard of the riders, the backdrop is more like a rave than a pro-sport event with D.J's banging out pumping music, with full light and sound system, and LOTS of noise from a very enthusiastic crowd who make full use of the bar. As well as the super competitive hard core riders, there is also a great reception for those riding in fancy dress or not much dress at all in some cases. The format is brutal, after every two laps, the last rider is pulled out of the race to get down to 4 who progress to the next heat until, eventually, there is only a 'Last Man Standing'. This means the standard gets higher and the races get faster as the evening progresses - it's a fantastic spectacle and a great atmosphere. After holding his own well in his heat, our man in black, Callum, on his Quella Varsity had a minor crash which slowed him up and he just missed out on progressing but survived to tell the tale. Huge congratulations to British rider Alec Briggs who made it to the top of the podium after some very hard racing - amazing performance!! French fixie ace Margaux Vigie was untouchable in the women's event and always looked in control to take the trophy. Once the racing finished, it was time for the music to get even louder and a proper after-party to finish things off.
Will we be back? Yes, for sure, it's epic!!
Big thanks to Limar helmets for hooking us up for the event, check them out here - https://limar.com/?lang=en
Thanks to Henry Little for the film and photography, check his instagram out - @hen_piccolo
JAMES GOLDING | CANCER SURVIVOR AND RECORD BREAKER
The Fix talks to an old friend of Quella James Golding about surviving cancer, breaking world records, and his goal of being the first man to win Ride Across America.
We have known each other a while and we are very familiar with your back story and the horrendous health issues you have battled, but it’s inspirational stuff and it would be great to share it with our Fix readers.
I don’t mind talking about it at all because, horrible as it was at the time, it has brought about so many positives in my life and changed my perspective on almost everything. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and told that my chances of survival were bleak. The following months consisted of some very gruelling treatment and a prognosis that I might well spend my life in a wheelchair. As you can see, I managed to avoid that, but I did spend 4 months in one and then got a second diagnosis of another tumour 3 years later. It was hard going but it was during those times that I developed a resolve to turn the negatives into positives and I will always be grateful for that.
Since your recovery, it is fair to see you have become a fairly bonkers cyclist. Could you give the Fix readers an insight into what ‘bonkers’ about cycling means in your case?
Yes, bonkers is a good way of putting it!! There have been so many big rides and so much training. It is fair to say that some of the early smaller sportives I did after cancer also were some of the hardest at the time when my body was still massively depleted. Since then, I guess some of the bigger ‘headliners’ are LA to Miami (3473miles), London to Edinburgh in 2 days, 9 x Haute Route 7-day trips across the Alps and Pyrenees, the Mallorca 312km and pre-running the Tour of Britain route. The most recent big one was the Ride Across The West in the States earlier this year which has qualified me for the Race Across America 2020. I have definitely missed loads out, but they are all on my website.
And, you have raised a few quid for charity in the process – we know you are a modest soul but please tell us the magic number?!?
I like to think that I am modest, but I am also unbelievably proud to say that I have raised over £3million for charity since my recovery from cancer.
Huge congratulations on breaking the seven day world record, talk us through that.
In a word – hard - 1766 miles of hard! As with a lot of challenges, it becomes a huge mind game. Am I in real distress or real discomfort? Discomfort – keep going!! Do I want to stop more than I want this World record? World record please! I have learnt that if there is a clear goal, I can nearly always keep going. I am definitely an endurance rider not a racer.
So the big project now is Ride Across America, where are you at with that?
I want to be the first British athlete to win and I am confident that I can do it. Endurance races aren’t as well known as the Grand Tours but I can assure you that this is a monster. It is widely recognised as the hardest bike race in the world. To win, you need a proper team behind you and I have secured some great sponsors and we are well on the way but I am still fundraising and would love to hear from any readers who would like to get involved in helping a GB rider make history. It’s a huge financial commitment as well as a personal one and cannot be done without a professional team in place.
Give us a few stats!!
There are many, I know them all far too well!! Here’s a few – the total race is 30% longer than the Tour de France and is complete without any rest days. I’ll race 3000 miles total, approx. 375 miles per day for 8 days against the clock, average sleep per night 3 hours, over 17,000 metres of climbing up to a max height of 3309 metres (1.5 times Mont Ventoux!!) To break the current record, I need to get from San Diego to Maryland in under 7 days and 16 hours! Of all the stats, that final number is the one that I wake up in the morning thinking about. Sadly, all the rest are out of my control!!
Bloody hell!! It sounds horrific. How’s training going?
Really good thanks, notwithstanding a few domestic issues. Louise, me, and our two kids moved to Portugal to give me easy access to the right training environment – better weather, quieter roads, and plenty of climbing. The house desperately needed a new kitchen and a few other bits. The local builders arrived and took it upon themselves to make their first job ripping out the old kitchen, so we are currently living in a house with two young kids and a makeshift kitchen in the front room. The builder is now well behind on the project and Louise’s patience is wearing very thin. Apart from that we love it!!
Is the Quella still getting a run out for the odd trip to the local bar?
Hmmm, I am sad to report that the local bar is not really on the agenda, unfortunately it's definitely more bananas that beer at present and my lovely Quella is hidden at the back of the garage behind the majority of my furniture, a large pile of building materials and a cement mixer!! Get the house finished, ride across America, and then I will be back on my trusty single-speed and definitely enjoying a few cold ones!! As usual, ‘One step at a time!!!’
James – as always its been an absolute pleasure. We wish you the very best luck with the project and the fundraising – if anyone can do this, it is you!
James Golding is aiming to be the first British rider to win Ride Across America, the hardest endurance bike race in the world. It’s a huge challenge and despite having some great sponsors on board James is still fundraising hard in between countless hours of training. There are still some amazing sponsorship opportunities available.
If you are interested in helping James and promoting your brand, visit his website at www.onestepatatimeuk.com
DANIEL HUGHES | ON CYCLING ADVENTURES AROUND THE GLOBE
We caught up for a coffee and a chin wag with friend of Quella Daniel Hughes in the London suburb of Stoke Newington.
Daniel Hughes has had some amazing adventures in his lifetime - passing selection for the Special Forces, placed the first Red Nose and made the world's highest video call from the summit of Everest to the BBC Newschannel, raced two world Duathlon championships, raced as a pro-cyclist and flies around the world as a 787 pilot. In recent times, he has combined his travel with his love for cycling and photography to create beautiful content for his website and Instagram accounts that has lead to sponsorship with some of cycling's top brands including Shimano, Silca, Panaracer, Hexa helmets and Strava. When not riding one of his factory issued Basso bikes and filming in some of our planet's most extraordinary places, he can be found bombing around his home town of Stoke Newington with his wife Carali on a pair of Quella Stealths.
YOU HAVE POSTED SOME INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, WHAT ARE THE STAND-OUT DESTINATIONS AND RIDES?
I’m spoilt with all the places I get to go to, but this year I’ve had two really standout sets of riding.
Oman, the Al Hajar mountains.
Having flown to Oman a few times, I’ve always gazed in awe at these mountains, and at the beginning of 2019 finally got to ride them. Imagine three days of gravel riding, where you’re in valleys where no-one goes. Trails and paths where maybe a goat herder goes once a week. Super remote and totally epic riding, in fact I’m going to say it’s the best riding I’ve ever done.
Santiago, Chile – Valle Nevado Climb
I’ve actually done this climb a few times, but this year I went to photograph it for Cyclist Magazine and MAAP. 56 switchbacks, 3 valleys and over 3000m of climbing to get to the Ski lodge at the top. For me, this is a world top 20 climb and nothing can prepare you for the views as you cycle in awe of the majesty of the Andes.
There are loads more photos from Oman and Santiago on my Instagram @danielhughesuk (plug!!)
ANY TALES OF ADVERSITY THAT YOU CARE TO SHARE?
How long have you got! I’ve had a fair few near death experiences, from a near head on collision flying with the air force (civilian aircraft busted military airspace and tried to land on the runway I was taking off on!), twisted lines around my feet parachuting where I had to cut away the main chute, plenty of interesting experiences with the SAS and of course I’ve scared the shit out of myself plenty of times on my bike. Worst? Actually a car which deliberately knocked me off my bike in California and left me for dead. Twat!
IS THERE ANYWHERE COMING UP THAT PARTICULARLY EXCITES YOU?
I’ve had an amazing run this year, from the rides above, cycling on the great wall of China, gravel in Morocco, riding in Rio De Janeiro and more. I try to do at least one “badass” adventure each month to share with my partners and my channels. Coming up I’ve got 5 days of riding from Munich to Feltre with Rad-race tour de friends with 500 hundred riders, where it's not a race but one massive party involving bikes, after ride parties and climbs like the Stelvio pass! Definitely looking forward to that one! Also got a week of riding in the Pyrenees, mapping out unchartered gravel routes in September and more gravel in October in South Africa where I’m doing the worlds only 7 day gravel race as a rider / photographer for Hotchilee.
HOW IS THE BUCKET LIST LOOKING? ANY BIG CHALLENGES ON THE HORIZON?
I get asked that a lot…what’s next! And yeah for sure I’m always on the hunt for exciting things to do. I get excited and bored easily. I guess the gravel world champs in August, but other than that lots of mini adventures this year. Next year will be off the scale and have already mapped out most of it.
YOU RIDE A LOT OF GRAVEL AS WELL AS ROADS, WHY? WHAT'S THE ATTRACTION?
Until 2017 I had never even heard of gravel riding, which I guess is like most people. It all started when I started flying out to Austin, Texas and met Colin Strickland who recently won Dirty Kanza. He is a beast of a rider, but our riding styles / way we train is very similar. Basically we like to do long rides where we bludgeon ourselves (290- 300w av for 100 miles), and the routes we’d do would involve plenty of gravel roads in and around the middle of nowhere.
It was this freedom and lack of cars which really appealed, it feels more dynamic and more adventurous than riding on paved roads. With a gravel bike you can ride pretty much anywhere, a swiss army tool of bikes.
From a racing point of view it really suits me also, I guess I’m a rouleur. I’m able to hold high levels of power for a long time, like a diesel motor, and that is definitely rewarded in gravel racing. The other rewards are that it's super chilled, but yet highly competitive nature. Dirty Kanza is littered with World Tour and Pro riders, but no-one is on rollers before the race. Most are enjoying a few beers the night before and everyone is there for a good time. But don’t get me wrong, as soon as you’re out of the neutralised area its full gas and most races the average speed is circa 20mph for 200 miles.
My racing? Well last year I served mainly as a domestique for Meteor Giordana, a Pinarello Factory team. During that season, I was super happy (and I guess very proud) to win and set a course record on the South Downs Way race. Damn, that’s a hard course, both in terms of the surface and its challenging terrain and there’s a reason why people normally do it on mountain bikes. The surface is so brutal, your spine and body feels like it's about to snap. For sure, I took a lot of risks, and at times was going over 50mph on the grass and chalk descents but it was worth it to take the win!
IS A GRAVEL BIKE VERY DIFFERENT TO A ROAD BIKE? WHAT ARE YOUR WEAPONS OF CHOICE?
Every manufacture builds their gravel bikes to handle different sized tyres, but everyone now is pretty much offering the same thing. Compared to a road bike, the differences are a longer wheel base for stability, more relaxed front tube for comfort and the ability to put large volume tyres. You can even fit 47mm tyres on some models which is close to mountain bike tyre. The beauty about these bikes, is that if you have two sets of wheels you can have a pretty capable road bike with 28mm tyres and a gravel bike with 42mm tyres and flip-flop between the two in seconds. Genius!
What do I ride? Well last year I was riding a Pinarello gravel bike, but have recently been sponsored by Basso, another Italian brand. I’ll be riding their Diamante SV road bike and their Palta gravel bike until the end of the season. Definitely excited about the partnership and hope to extend until the end of 2020. They join me with some other hitters such as Shimano Global, Silca, Panaracer, 100%, Strava and HEXR.
YOU WERE A SPONSORED RIDER FOR A WHILE, IS THE RACING CAREER OVER?
I really enjoyed my time racing with Meteor Giordana, and actually it was the other contracts that I was offered which meant I couldn’t race with them anymore. There’s nothing like pushing yourself to total destruction, hunting for the individual or team win. However, the biggest gravel races are out in the USA (thousands and thousands of miles of gravel) and logistically that is tough. Over here in the UK there are gravel races, but when given the choice of doing a race compared with travelling to Girona or somewhere exotic for the week, I’m enjoying the adventurous riding more.
WE NOTICE YOU ARE A BIT OF A 'HILL HUNTER' - WITHOUT THE RACING, WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO PUSH YOURSELF SO HARD?
It is weird, I’ve actually turned into not a bad climber, I guess due to the fact most of the places I enjoy riding the most are lumpy / mountainous. In terms of pushing myself, I’ve always been able to do that. To take myself to a “special” place and totally destroy myself where after I’m physically sick. Is that healthy? Probably not! But I need it, much like I need carbs!
WHAT CAME FIRST THE CAMERA OR THE BIKE? DID YOU HAVE ANY PHOTOGRAPHIC TRAINING?
Hmmm good question! Well technically the bike as I’ve ridden bikes for as long as I can remember but, in terms of taking things seriously, I reckon the camera actually. I’ve always been snapping and been the photographer. I wish more of my mates would get into it, as they always get shots, and I don’t! Formal training? No. All learned on the job so to speak.
HOW DOES THE 'SELF-PHOTOGRAPHY' PROCESS WORK WHEN YOU ARE RIDING ALONE? WHAT KIT ARE YOU USING? DO YOU WORK WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS?
I get asked that a lot! I’m using a Sony A7 mk3 as my primary camera, and if I’m on my own I set it up to take timed shots. I do the same with a drone. 99% of the photos on my Instagram I’ve taken myself, and if not you’ll see a credit to the photographer.
It’s amazing what you can achieve on your own, and once you’ve done it enough you know what shots will work, and I can grab a shot in less than 5 minutes. It would however be pretty sweet to have someone with me all of the time, but then in many ways I’ll be doing myself out of a job, as I do a fair bit of rider / photographer work.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING. AS A FINAL QUESTION, WHAT DOES DANIEL HUGHES DO ON HIS DAYS OFF OR ARE YOU TOOK KNACKERED?
Day off! I tell myself often, that I should chill more. Put my feet up and do nothing, but I get restless easily. You’ll be happy to hear this, but getting a Quella has been a total riot. I really enjoy nipping around London to go see my mates on it, and run it as a proper fixed gear. Already I’ve scared the crap out of myself with a nice pedal scrap and gone to answer my phone thinking I could relax my legs. Wrong! Fun times…
THE BRISTOL BIKE PROJECT I AWARD WINNING COMMUNITY PROJECT
Bristol Bike Project is in its 10th year, The Fix talks to Krysia Williams, Community Co-ordinator to find out more.Happy birthday to the project! Congratulations on your 10th anniversary, that's quite an achievement. For those unfamiliar with BBP, can you explain how it all began and why? Thanks! Yes, we’re really proud to be celebrating our 10th year! BBP was born when two friends came back from a cycling trip in Norway with the idea to do combine their new-found love of bikes with a desire to do good in their community. Through volunteering with Bristol Refugee Rights (BRR), they’d come to know of the acute need for affordable transport among asylum seekers in Bristol, many of whom were struggling to get about the city to make important appointments. They put up some posters asking for unwanted bicycles, and within days were spannering away and rehoming those bicycles with people from BRR. The mound of donated bikes grew as quickly as the number of people knocking on our door needing a bike themselves, and before we knew it we were settling into the vibrant workshop in Hamilton House which we still call home today. Our friend James from Touchpaper Productions recently made a film to tell the story of our 10 year journey. It’s a lovely watch, for anyone interested!We hear you are in the 2019 Lonely Planet guide, what sort of experience are you offering a tourist who turns up with Lonely Planet in their back pocket? Indeed we are! It was a lovely surprise to get that Lonely Planet window sticker through the post! The Project has definitely become a bit of a meeting point in Bristol, so it’s amazing to get this recognition on a national scale. For anyone, tourists or otherwise, interested to know more about the Project, I’d say don’t just come down to have a look. The real experience is by coming along and getting stuck in. You could come and fix your own bike at one of our DIY workshops, sign up for a maintenance course, or volunteer at a session to help others get out on two wheels! We also offer tours to people who are setting up their own bike projects, and we’re really happy to share our learnings to get people started. How many staff and volunteers work at the Project now? We’re a pretty big community now... There’s around 16 employees, mostly part-time, including our shop mechanics, coordinators for our community programmes, and office staff who keep busy making sure everything is rolling smoothly behind the scenes. We also have around 150 volunteers who give a huge amount of time and energy to get bicycles ready for our community programmes. Most of our volunteers are keen to get their hands dirty in the workshop, but we also have some fantastic volunteer support in the office, helping the business of the Co-op tick over. Oh - and all our directors are volunteers as well!Where do staff typically come from? Do you take them on as trained mechanics or are they learning on the job? Many of the mechanics, and office staff, who are now employed at the Project started out as volunteers. We’re really keen to support people who want to build their skills, and volunteering with us is a really great way to get that training. Many volunteers actually say how getting involved in the Project helped them to realise that they want to pursue a career as a bike mechanic and have gone on to get jobs either at the Project or other bike shops in Bristol. It’s amazing to see people develop in this way! We don’t offer any formal training or apprenticeship schemes at the moment, but it’s something we’re keen to look at in the future. Does a job at BBP tend to be a start point for people wanting to move onwards in the cycling industry, like an apprenticeship type model? Yes, a number of our volunteers have started out learning here, and have gone on to work in great independent bike shops in Bristol like Jakes Bikes, Bike Workshop, Roll Quick and Bool’s Bicycles. Some also get jobs with us, or learn elsewhere and then come to work for us. I think being mechanic here is quite different from other bike shops - you’re working not to make a profit for the business, but to support our community programmes which help people with less money get out on two wheels as well. We’re also a Co-op, so everyone - yes, even the mechanics! - get stuck in with the wider business of the Project, like designing our community programmes, training volunteers and providing general support to the wider BBP community. How is BBP funded, is it possible to generate any surplus with a model like this? What happens to any profits? We fund ourselves for the most part through our busy bicycle shop, where we sell refurbished second-hand bikes, and do all the usual bike shop stuff like repairs and services. It’s always been the priority to make our own money where possible, so that we’re resilient and not reliant on grants. We also get some grant money and have a successful Earn-a-Bike Supporters’ Scheme - we’re really grateful for all the donors, funders and customers who support us, ensuring we can continue to be here for our community. We’re a Community Interest Community, so all our profits are reinvested in our community programmes. We are able to generate surplus, which is really important in safeguarding the Project against any big expenses things that might come up - like our move this year! We understand a move is on the cards, for any potential landlords out there, maybe you could tell us what you are looking for? Yes, we’re really sad to be leaving our lovely home at Hamilton House, but the time has come to move onto pastures new. We are looking for suitable spaces anywhere in Bristol - somewhere accessible, reasonably central and affordable. To give you an idea on size, we currently have about 1500 sq ft inside for our shop and community workshop, and a further 900 sq ft externally for bike storage. We’d love to find a bigger space if we can, but we’re flexible and willing to be creative! We don’t have a clear idea of when our landlords want us out, but it could be as soon as February 2019 so we are looking for somewhere as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition.We know your efforts have been recognised with a few awards over the years but we understand that 2018 landed a biggie with the National Community Group Award - tell us more. We were pretty thrilled when one of our former Earn-a-Bikers, Essam - popped in a few months back to tell us he’d nominated us for MTM’s community group award, which celebrates the the excellence & achievements of Asian, Black & Ethnic Minorities. We were even more thrilled when we were announced as the winners! There’s so many organisations doing such wonderful work in Bristol, so it’s a real honour to be named for an award like this!
Quella rides Critical Mass
Critical mass is often described as an ‘unorganised coincidence’. It happens when cyclists congregate in the same place at the same time and decide to cycle the same way together for a while. A social gathering to meet people and share stories from everyday life. On occasions, it offers individuals the platform to demonstrate more concerning issues in society, albeit of an unorganised nature. Onlookers can do nothing but wait patiently until the procession of riders has meandered leisurely on through, and for a brief moment in time cyclists claim ownership of the streets beneath their wheels.
On the last Friday of every month riders from all walks of life converge under Waterloo Bridge in Central London.Critical Mass has a global presence. It is said to have officially gained recognition back in in San Francisco in 1992 and has since gained momentum to an ‘unorganised’ event panning over 300 countries worldwide. The UK summer of 2018 has been hot. The blistering heat at times has been intense and prolonged, however in true English fashion when the day of the Critical Mass came in July the heavens truly opened. On our way to the gathering, we met up with Matt Derrick friend of Quella Bicycle and owner of clothing brand in the making Paloma Fixie. Matt joined us from Farringdon Tube station as we headed over to Waterloo Bridge. The weather was changeable, and without notice we faced a downpour supported by huge lightning bolts that proceeded to lighten up the dark skies as we flew fixie style weaving in and out of the traffic in true alleycat fashion. Still pouring with rain we were drenched to the bone upon arrival at the arches, yet the community vibe that we approached could be seen humming with warmth in the distance. It was an exciting feeling to see so many congregating under the shadows of Waterloo Bridge; the place was a buzz to the eclectic mixture of folk meeting and greeting one another. People from all walks of life talked in conversation whilst perched proudly next to their carrying modes of cycling transport whether Fixie, MTB, Road ….. All styles were present even the odd ‘Boris’ thrown into the mix. Right on cue, the rain eased off, the sun poked its face through the parting clouds and the uplift in vibe changed as hundreds of bell’s rang out an unorchestrated high-pitch melody. It was time to head-off as we happily bumped shoulders with others eager to grasp our space and join the moving procession seeking to commence. Our mass exodus flowed through London, a wave of cyclists that stopped all in their tracks passing landmark after landmark. For a brief moment traffic came to a standstill as without authority parts of the mass broke off and became stewards, planting their roots at junctions preventing the automobile industry from taking ownership of the tarmac that lay before them. A sense of camaraderie filled the group, the feeling of power to take over and ride the streets of London with no worries about oncoming traffic, a feeling of real exhilaration flowed within. Everyday, all over the world, people are resisting the problem culture of the car by getting on their bikes and riding, instead of driving. Critical Mass is a celebration of the alternatives to cars, pollution, accidents and the loss of public spaces and freedoms. Not an organisation or group, but an idea or tactic, Critical Mass allows people to reclaim cities with their bikes, just by getting together and outnumbering the cars on the road. Every Critical Mass ride is different. With no set route, the direction is chosen spontaneously as people freely cycle along. Everyone is welcome and free to join or leave the ride as it pedals along. The ride lasts no more than a couple of hours (depending on the weather!) and usually ends in a conveniently placed watering hole, where refreshments are best served by the pint. Whether in London, San Francisco or Tokyo take part. Most of all, they are peaceful, safe and fun! [gallery size="full" ids="5291,5292,5294,5295,5297,5298,5288,5289,5290"]
PARIS-ROUBAIX | FEATURING GARRETT TURBETT
In December 2002 Garret Turbett was involved in a life-changing road accident. His neck broken in three places and his back in one, he was left with 80% paralysis in one arm. At 34 he became a para-athlete for his native country of Ireland.
This is a story of overcoming adversity, a love for the traditions of cycling and the battles of one man taking on the cobbles of Paris- Roubaix.
FEATURING QUELLA AMBASSADOR GARRETT TURBETT
FILMMAKERS CLEMENT HODGKINSON /2ND CAMERA TOBY RONEYwww.clementhodgkinson.com / www.tobyroney.com
SUPPORTED BY QUELLA BICYCLE
Elliot Jones | A Photographer on a fixie
'This is my bicycle, there are many like it, but this one is MINE' is a sentiment most cyclists are familiar with; your bike is precious and personal, a friend as much as a possession. Like a lover, it might have 'issues'; a cranky personality, the occasional breakdown, and the ability to puncture your emotions from time to time. However, together you make a beautiful partnership without the complications of bad sex and arguments about whose turn it is to take the bins out.
Anyone who has owned a bike will know the pain felt when some undeserving, low-life swipes it whilst resting and vulnerable. It is inconvenient, expensive and annoying - really, really annoying.
Elliot Jones, a 22-year-old photographer and content manager at website basementapproved.com, had owned his Quella Nero fixie for precisely 489 days. It had whizzed him across London from Tufnell Park to Shoreditch hundreds of times, always beating the traffic and the tube. Sure, it had thrown him a couple of punctures, one of them in the pouring rain, and it lost its chain bouncing out of one of London's 'infinite' potholes, but it was a good'un - extremely good looking, low maintenance, reliable and steady. So, when he emerged from the pub after a quick post-work sharpener to find what little remained of his lock lying on the floor, he was very, very hacked off. He had lost his loved one to a thief.
Luckily, Elliot is a resourceful fellow and a talented photographer, so when he was told a couple of days later that his insurance company wouldn't pay out – because the bike hadn't been locked in his garage – he came up with a plan. THE PHONE RANG AT QUELLA and Elliot pitched his intent “What if I provide some great photos of your new Varsity range and we work together on some Fixie art prints for the website, could we have a deal on a bike?'. A new partnership was born.
A brand-new chrome finished Varsity Imperial was dispatched and it was time to 'move on'. The old Nero had been great, but the Varsity was a step up. In Elliot’s words; 'This bike really is the business, I love riding it and the chrome frame gets comments every day. I am chuffed to be working with a brand like Quella on an on-going basis, and, as well as the general photography, we are going to partner on some limited edition, 'fixie themed', urban art prints, which is a really exciting project. Getting my bike nicked was a massive pain but every cloud...'
It all sounds like a happy ending, but if you are the grubby 'tea-leaf' that nicked a Quella Nero from outside The Prince Arthur, be very careful you don't get spotted riding it around anywhere near Elliot Jones. We have met him, he is a big lad who's definitely been around the block, I wouldn't fancy your chances.