A quick pitstop for Phil and her Bokeh on their way to the Further Journal Pyrenees meant that we had a much-needed catch-up. 

For those who don't know, Further is a bit of an old classic when it comes to off-road gravel events. Established in 2019 by organiser Camille, "it was inspired by events like the Transcontinental, The Barkley Marathons and the early Tour de France. Further aimed to create an event that challenged cyclists to discover their own limits, the limits of what can be achieved on a bicycle, to push and cross boundaries.

The event is a mixture of set parkour and free routing. The set parkour is 'ridden' in sequence. Between the set parkour, the riders are free to take any route they choose.  Some sections have night curfew for reasons of safety, and importantly, tactics. Further is about thinking how to tactically complete the event within the four days.

The event is a Hike-a-bike event, no bike is correct. Some argue it is a MTB, a few think Cyclocross bike, and it has been completed on a Brompton. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong in terms of bicycle choice"

We speak to Phil about what her plans are for the event and what she's doing differently this year. Including the decision to travel to the event on land. 

1. What makes the Further events so special to you and what are you looking forward to most when riding the event?

Further is a very unique and slightly excentric event, which is no surprise when you meet the organiser Camille. The routes he partially designs (leaving you to fill in the gaps) takes you from the sublime to the ridiculous, as you push, pull, carry, swear your way through some of the remotest and most beautiful parts of the Ariege region. 

This year I'm pretty excited about going head to head with myself from 2022, as the route is unchanged, only the goal posts have moved. The start time is earlier meaning if I go like the clappers on day 1 (not my style!) I might squeeze through the curfewed sectors. If I don't make it I suspect it'll turn into a Pyrenean pizza party, especially as the weather is looking a little daunting!

2. You've mentioned flight free travel to get to the event, why is this so important to you and what has been your experience in planning for this? Are there any tips you can offer to people looking to travel to events without flying!? 

Not flying is about a number of things... theres the environmental impact of course but theres also the act of travelling to places slowly over land and sea which makes for a far more enjoyable experience - which isn't just about convenience, speed and the destination. Many would rightly say an individuals not flying makes a negligible impact on emissions, but it's also about demonstrating a mindful approach to global travel which is a privilege for a minority yet impacts those without that privilege, most. 

My experience of planning for this has been relatively straight forward. Yes it requires a bit more time to travel (although by taking the sleeper this time is actually very little..) and often significantly more cost. The more you navigate alternative means though the easier it becomes.

My tips to those looking to travel to events without flying is -  choose events which are reachable without getting on a plane! There are a wealth of events in the UK and Europe, and flying to far flung places for a short period of time, to race blinkered through foreign cultures often feels crass and insensitive. We as endurance cyclists probably benefit more than most from experiencing the natural world, so it feels right to respect what it allows us to enjoy and do, even if the actual impact is negligible. 

However this is not to say I won't fly again. I will. But I won' t take the decision lightly....

- Philippa Battye