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ON THE DROPS INTERVIEW: JENNY GRAHAM (ADVENTURE SYNDICATE RIDER)

 

The Adventure Syndicate is the latest group to be supported by Hunt Bike Wheels. A collection of likeminded individuals, the all-female crew places a big emphasis on riding long distances in the toughest of conditions. What we're dealing with here, is the ultimate assembly of female ultra-endurance athletes on the planet.

As a relatively young upstart, The Adventure Syndicate have some (really) big plans. Stay tuned for more details! Nonetheless, we managed to catch up with Jenny Graham - a rider who really (really) likes spending a long time on her bike.

As a rider who has completed the Land's End to John O'Groats route in four days, as well as competing in the Strathpuffer24 (24hr mountain bike race in the middle of the Scottish winter), she is an absolute pioneer in her field, and also someone encouraging and inspiring a new wave of women interested in adventure cycling. This means countless hours spent on the bike in horrible conditions - a great way to see just how far we can stretch our 4Season wheels' capabilities.

 

jen

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Name:  Jenny Graham

Age: 37

Born and Bred: Inverness, Highlands of Scotland    

Ice breaker – describe yourself in three words.  

  1. Wandering   
  2. Chatty   
  3. Type2'er 

What keeps you going on the road deep into the night when the solitude may be too much for others?  

I love night miles the best. They're stolen miles that few other people will reach out and grab. They are quiet hours where you see magical skies and get to sing at the top of your voice without anyone hearing you! I rode my first solo all-nighter during the Cairngorm Loop (bikepacking ITT) a few years ago. It felt like a big deal to brake the barrier of riding all night, alone. It was tough conditions on an already tough route, but once I did it I felt like I was mentally in a stronger place. So, when it’s getting dark and my natural instinct would be to find somewhere safe, now my rational brain knows what I'm capable of so I can just keep going....  It’s like gaining a superpower!

So, what’s your cycling story? When did it all start and why? 

I got into outdoor sports in my early 20's. I had my son Lachlan when I was 18 and once he started school I had some extra time on my hands so started hill walking, biking, skiing and climbing with a local college group. As Lachlan grew more independent and would go away for weekends with friends and clubs, I would hit the hills. I guess my passion grew with him. I would use my bike to reach hills or bothies. Full rucksacks (and later bob trailers) I always enjoyed the journey aspect of sports. I was planning a bike trip to Romania with a friend when I was introduced to the Highland Trail 550... and life has never been the same since. 

 

jen

 

First & favourite bikes you owned? 

First mountain bike was a Saracen, it cost £70 and came with no pedals. I remember thinking 'bike-for-life' well that didn't happen! My favourite has been my Stooge (UK-based adventure bike manufacture). It was a steel framed, ridged, adventure bike. It was the first bike I built and with my limited bike maintenance skills it took about three goes to get everything the correct way round. I've ridden it all over the world, and it's never let me down. We had a particularly bonding experience when I carried it 24miles through the Grand Canyon as part of the Arizona Trail 750 route last year. 

Shimano, SRAM, or Campagnolo? 

For most trips nowadays I'm with Shimano as I like the gear ratio on the Ultegra groupset. Also for the world-wide availability of parts should things go wrong. But I’ve ridden SRAM in the past and I've had no problems so no real favourite.

What grinds your gears? 

Bad coffee, or worse, no coffee (Ed. from Ollie: "Debatable!"). A week camping out in midges would definitely grind my gears.

 

jen

 

Favourite pro cyclist and why? 

Leal Wilcox has been out there pushing the boundaries for women's endurance riding. Her TransAm win just blew me away last year. And ALL The Adventure Syndicate riders of course!

Got any secret hobbies aside from the cycling thing? 

Yes! Having indoor hobbies is really important to make the most of your rest time! I enjoy sewing, I mean I'm not amazing, but I can knock up the odd dress and pair of Jammie bottoms (which I then love lying around in). Also love just going camping with no activity attached... just laying around a fire, cooking up food , foraging and living the simple life!

We like to end with a crash story… What was your biggest cycling accident/crash, and how much stuff did you break? 

My biggest crash was actually cycling home from work on a flat road when a punnet of mushrooms got stuck in my front wheel and I hit the ground at about 15mph and landed on my teeth! It was unbelievably sore. The bike wasn't damaged but I had to buy some more mushrooms! I was off the mountain bike for about 6weeks with staved my wrists and a pretty sore face.  

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STAY TUNED FOR A HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT JENNY'S NEXT UNDERTAKING 

Photos: @adventuresyndicate