13th March 2018
#WOMENDURANCE | 4 | ANNALEENA
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.
Filmmaker. Designer. Viking.
Annaleena is a fairly recent but fiercely passionate cyclist. She caught the bug for longer journeys and adventuring by bike and tracked us down for a Mason Resolution to carry her on the rides she had started to dream of.
I remember that Annaleena sent us a photocopy of her hand so I could check the reach on the bars and levers. That is a first and it worked a treat! …it gave me a clue that she looked at the world a little differently!
A true individual and real free-spirit, Annaleena has enthralled and amazed us with her incredible feats of endurance and discovery ever since!
...in the spirit of Marie Marvingt who was told she couldn’t take part in Tour de France 1908 because she wasn’t a man [eye roll] but went and rode it anyway on her own. That’s exactly the spirit of my adventures and what drives me to them is without a doubt the sheer sense of freedom and wanderlust you feel on the road.
ALL ACCOMPANYING IMAGES SOURCED FROM @CONCLEDOC
1. Please describe your Mason bike : ]
A dream! A tank. An adventure machine. On it I feel unstoppable.
“Unstoppable, that bike. Like an inquisitive dog, it pulls me off the road and into adventure mode”
Forget about planning and just go do it. My most memorable jaunts have been completely on the spur of the moment: like riding to Brussels one Friday eve after work, just because the road was calling.
2. Why did you first get into cycling and what drives you to do the type of riding that you do?
I learned to cycle in the grand old age of 26, mostly because needing to get away from the relentless sexual harassment on public transport. Cycling made me feel instantly safe on the streets, and in control – even though I could barely steer my bike. About four years ago I got an itch for longer journeys. I had just found out about Alfonsina Strada and was so inspired that I immediately signed up for Vätternrundan (a legendary 300km race in Sweden). What followed was an even bigger itch: not for races but for long multi-day solo adventures. For example, I’ve done a solo Paris-Roubaix on Christmas Day, ridden the routes of Tour of Flanders, Paris-Brest-Paris, Bordeaux-Paris and other legendary races – very much in the spirit of Marie Marvingt who was told she couldn’t take part in Tour de France 1908 because she wasn’t a man [eye roll] but went and rode it anyway on her own. That’s exactly the spirit of my adventures and what drives me to them is without a doubt the sheer sense of freedom and wanderlust you feel on the road.
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 them more?
I’m currently researching the early years of women’s cycling for my next film and can confirm that already in 1880s there were plenty of badass randonneuses riding across continents and also winning races. You have to remember that a top of the range bike back then weighed over 60kg, the pneumatic tyre was yet to be invented, and roads were made of dirt – so not only have women always been at the forefront of ultra-endurance cycling, they’ve had to work SO much harder than we do now. Those epic heroines have always existed and I’m making it my mission to bring them back to light.
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?
Forget about planning and just go do it. My most memorable jaunts have been completely on the spur of the moment: like riding to Brussels one Friday eve after work, just because the road was calling. The beauty of modern-day high-tech adventuring is that you can get un-lost —as Mike Hall used to say— very easily. You can spend a day in the wilderness and then, should the weather or your mood change, make plans on the go: pick a different route, find an Airbnb, a train station, a bike shop... So whilst old school randonneurs might turn up their noses at all this gadget reliance, for me it’s a great way to pack plenty of last-minute micro-adventures into my exceedingly hectic life.
5. Describe that 'Take your breath away moment' that you have experienced when riding, racing or adventuring.
These always seem to be to do with animals! I’ll give you three unforgettable scenes.
Super Brevet Scandinavia 2018, end of day one. Some 350km done and only a handful left. Somewhere in deep dark forests of Halland County, around 2am. Gentle misty rain, visibility almost nonexistent. Suddenly, out of the thick fog emerges a moose, big as a house, in no rush. I slow down, he majestically waltzes over the road right in front of me; a beast, a royalty.
Bordeaux-Paris, final day. A morning of solitude, not a soul in sight, not even a car for 120km. I stop for a picnic – there is fresh pâté in my saddlebag. On the horizon, a cloud of dust gathers. Five Dalmatians gallop towards me, or am I seeing a mirage? No, already they’re here, jumping all over me, stealing my pâté and absolutely making my day.
Paris-Brest-Paris, about 500km in. Lost in the woods, 3am. Almost wanting to throw in the towel, so tired and cold. A pair of eyes stares at me from the forest. Is it a fox? Then it’s running alongside me, black and silver, fast and nimble, still unidentified. Just when I think how cute and fluffy it is, it lurches at me; a hiss so vicious it cuddles my blood. Suddenly I have all the speed in the world to make it to my abode for the night. Later on I read in the local paper that it’s peak season for stone marten attacks, and that they take no hostages.
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?
Time management. Riding has really given me a good sense of how much I can do in an hour or a day – something I apply in my work. When I find myself over- or underestimating, it’s clear that it’s time for a long ride to reset the internal clock. I also do a lot of thinking, especially in the first 4-5h of the ride. But at some point the mind clears and I find a sort of calm nirvana where no worry or niggling thought can get to me. And that’s something worth riding for.
The final entry in our #Womendurance series comes from Kim Wright, she's an incredible rider who has just cycled the entire length of South America - but before this her furthest ride was 80km. Gung Ho!