12th March 2018
#WOMENDURANCE | 3 | PHILIPPA
We very often build up a personal relationship with our customers, the first communications instantly break down barriers because we are often talking about the customers physical dimensions and this can move on to back pain, injuries, struggles to raise the cash for their dream bike and the races and adventures that they have planned.
This is a really important side of Mason for me, I love to know where my creations are going in the world and where they are carrying people. It’s incredible how many Mason owners report back that their new bike has had a significant impact on their riding and sometimes inspired and encouraged real change in their lives.
I’ve always admired the more ‘left field’ and independent spirits in life, not so much the rebels but more the people who choose to go their own way, who are driven by something different, have an aversion to ‘normal’ and an open minded feeling of wonder at the world.
So, when I feel a real connection made with a new Mason owner, it is inevitably one of those types as above. Recently, it’s been really striking how we keep noticing the incredible rides, races and adventures of the women that own our bikes. We haven’t been deliberately looking but it’s just been impossible not to be enthralled by what these people are doing.
I’ve wanted to write something to highlight these impressive endeavours for a while and then ‘International Women’s Day’ arrived, so I was spurred into action and contacted 5 female Mason owners with some Q’s.
The idea was to run them all in the blog post you see here but once I started reading I was blown away by the emotion, honesty and integrity in the writing and didn’t want to edit out a single word. So, we are going to run them all in full, starting today and posting 1 a day for the 5 days following International Women’s Day.
We spoke to Philippa a lot about which bike would work best for her proposed adventures. She was going to give up her job and had big things planned, so it was essential that she made the correct decisions re bike choice, sizing and equipment. This was a big life decision and a significant expenditure for Philippa, so it was a responsibility we took seriously!
The final decision was a 54cm, Bokeh Rival 1x in FlareOrange for extra visibility. Philippa came to collect the new bike in person from #MasonBarn , undertook an ‘Adventure Bike Maintenance 101’ course with Cal and then rode the bike home to London via many forest trails!
Since then, she has chucked in the job, adventured the length of Spain with The Adventure Syndicate and then taken a ferry to ride across Italy and then another ferry down to start new Adventures in Albania!
ALL ACCOMPANYING IMAGES TAKEN BY PHILIPPA DURING HER TRANS-EUROPEAN ADVENTURES
1. Please describe your Mason bike : ]
My trusty and tolerant travel companion....
The bike is a dream! Hands down best purchase decision I ever made!
2. Why did you first get into cycling and what drives you to do the type of riding that you do?
From a young age I think I've always been quite a restless person, so I tend to like to be in motion. My main driver to ride as I do is to see what is out there - exploring different landscapes and experiencing cultures in quite an immediate way which I believe is made easier when travelling by bike.
3. We are noticing more and more Women riding ultra-endurance races and expeditions, we've recently seen female Mason riders heading off all over the world and competing in very testing rides. Do you think more women are now doing these rides, or is it that we are just noticing
I imagine more and more women are doing these rides now... however women achieving amazing things by bike registered on my radar a few years back. Back then I couldn't believe the distances these women were covering, competing side by side with male riders. Its inspiring to see a type of cycling where men and women are not differentiated and treated as equals.
Now that (most of!) my fears about wild camping have subsided... I feel totally free and liberated from almost all constraints. It's a pretty nice feeling.
4. 'Adventure Riding' and 'Bike Packing' seems to be exploding right now, many riders are discovering what lies either side of the roads that they have been riding for years! I'm often encouraging people to head out into the unknown, get a bit lost and 'discover their inner caveman/woman'! But our lives are increasingly busy and a proper adventure needs time, so how do you manage to fit your essential riding into your busy lives?
Well... fortunately for me a failed attempt to buy a house lead me to quit my job, take to the roads and live in my tent (most the time...) instead, putting that house deposit to better use! However while I was employed, I'd just ride whenever and wherever I could. It never felt quite enough though, and wasn't scratching my itching desire to be totally free for a while.
Philippa's beautifully detailed maps charmingly document her journey from Spain to Albania including all base-camps, her route in Northern Italy, and her final destination in Albania with all ferry routes included too.
5. Describe that 'Take your breath away moment' that you have experienced when riding, racing or adventuring.
I'll say yesterday, because I have a terrible memory and its fresh in my mind! After some really snowy/wet/sodden days in Italy, it stayed relatively dry... lifting the spirits alone! Crossing Umbria to reach the east coast I climbed up and over the Appenine mountains - rewarded with a beautiful fast flowy descent the other side. The colours were so saturated and intense, with low slung clouds hanging between snow covered hills. A river thundered besides me as I felt like I was flying through the landscape - it really did take my breath away! Definitely one of those days when i felt incredibly lucky to be on my bike.
6. Modern life puts all sorts of pressures on us, riding is undoubtedly good for us physically but can you describe how it helps you mentally? Would you mind sharing something in particular that riding has helped you through or helped shape things for the better?
When I was employed, I think it provided a necessary release. Cycling is as much a means to subdue my mind and thoughts - taking in my surroundings instead - as it is a physical act. At a certain point it becomes quite meditative and helps quiet the noise of a busy life.
Then since quitting my job, cycling provides me with a frugal and rewarding way of travelling through countries and experiencing mighty and humbling landscapes. Now that (most of!) my fears about wild camping have subsided... I feel totally free and liberated from almost all constraints. It's a pretty nice feeling.
Next up in our #Womendurance series is #MASONite Annaleena Piel Linnå, the Ultra-Viking and definitive free-spirit. Part 4 hits the stacks on Tuesday.