Great British Gravel Rides - New Book from Markus Stitz captures the variety of Britain’s Gravel Community and Trails

We are very pleased to announce the publication of this fantastic new book and are very proud of our contribution and support and the fantastic efforts of Markus in putting the amazing guide together. The incredible Great British Gravel Rides by Markus Stitz is now available to pre-order direct from Vertebrate Publishing ( https://bit.ly/3Pd866n ) ahead of its official publication in July and all preorders will be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres! If you sign up to the VP newsletter you will also receive a 25% discount code to use on this and future purchases. This book is published by Vertebrate Publishing with support from Schwalbe Tyres and Kinesis Bikes. Markus has produced a short video trailer to introduce the book and the full press release is below: PRESS RELEASE: Markus Stitz, founder of bikepackingscotland.com and singlespeed round-the-world cyclist, has curated a collection of 26 routes across all of Britain – each a favourite route of g

Jacqui Slack; It’s Never too Late to Tri

Firefighter...

As a former firefighter in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Jacqui Slack is a self-proclaimed late-bloomer when it comes to becoming a competitive triathlete. After taking some time out from work to solely focus on training, Jacqui moved Down Under where she’s been living for the past 8-years with her husband, Ben Allen, who also competes in many gruelling Tri events around the globe. With numerous top 5 finishes and the British Elite and Off-Road Triathlon Champion title, Jacqui is living proof that athletes aren’t born, they are nurtured, at any age and any stage of life.

Triathlete and Xterra competitor Jacqui Slack with everything she needs: something to swim in, something to ride and something to run on.
Swim, bike, run...

“I used to compete in swimming, that’s my background. But I didn’t get into triathlons until my 20s after I spectated at Bala Tri and I just felt so inspired by people in the event, and the women who were taking part, that I decided to try it out”, Jacqui shares. “I had no idea about anything, so I read up on what triathlons were and what was involved, and I went and entered my first Tri event. I remember my Mum and Grandad came with me for support, but it was only a small event with an indoor swimming pool and a 15km cycle stage. When I came off the bike to get ready for the running stage, I realised that I had left my shoes in my Grandad’s car! So my mum had to run across the field to meet me, and I still won in my age cat!”

Sabbatical...

With her first triathlon event under her belt, along with her first win, Jacqui entered more and more races including her first National event; “I won a voucher from that event, so I got myself a training coach, and that’s when it got more serious.” From there, Jacqui trained and raced her way onto Team GB for the World Champs in Switzerland, “that’s when I realised that’s where I wanted to be, an elite.” Jacqui’s first event as an elite athlete was the Windsor Tri. “In my first year, I came 9th. Then I came back the following year and came 6th, and then 3rd until finally, I came 1st in 2012.” During those attempted years of the Windsor Tri, Jacqui took a sabbatical from the fire service and headed out to Australia to train. Upon returning to the UK in 2010, Jacqui dominated the infamous Strathclyde Park Triathlon. From there, Jacqui became interested in more demanding race formats, like the Xterra Tri which is a cross-tri event that comprises swimming, mountain biking and trail running. By throwing herself into off-road Tri events, Jacqui has already racked up 5 top 10 Xterra Womens’ finishes and 9 Xterra World Tour wins.

Xterra triathlete Jacqui Slack takes on a rock garden drop on an XC course.
Rocky drop

With the onset of the global health crisis, Australia’s lockdown measures have been more relaxed than in other parts of the world. Jacqui explains, “At first, it felt like the rug had been ripped from underneath us and training was hard with little motivation. It was demoralising as I was very prepared for 2020, so I got stuck in my head a little, and it took a few weeks to really adjust and get used to a new routine and mindset. Even though I’m enjoying having a little break, I’m still training a lot at the moment. I have a gym at home, an indoor bike which I use with Zwift, and I still get outside for a run or cycle, but no swimming.”

Skype and Zwift...

In addition to training and racing, Jacqui also coaches over 20 aspiring athletes. Using Skype and Zwift to stay in touch and to keep making those gains, Jacqui is using this lockdown time to focus on strengthening weaknesses. “I try to experiment on myself with different techniques and workouts, and then I pass them onto my clients once I’m happy with the programme.”

Xterra triathlete Jacqui Slack with her XC mountain bike.
Jacqui Slack

It’s not just Jacqui who’s waiting for racing to start again, her Liv Pique Advanced 29er is also itching to get back out on the trails. This full-suspension cross-country bike is typically adorned with Schwalbe’s Racing Ralphs on the front and back for competition. Still, Jacqui confesses to preferring the Schwalbe Thunder Burt tyres, especially for dry conditions.

Suffice to say that Jacqui Slack is a real go-getter. Once she’s set her sights on achieving something, there’s no stopping her. To find out where Jacqui’s triathlon journey takes her, be sure to give her a follow on Instagram, and hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see her compete again.

Words: Jess Strange - Velo Me | Images: Carel @carelduplessis, Dominic Hook @dominichookphotovideo, Shioban @shabbi_adventures