Josh Ibbett has been part of The Rider Firm family since it's inception. He's often off galivanting around the world on two wheels, testing out the products and winning a few races on the way *cough* TCR 2015 *cough cough* GBDuro.
We leant him an E-Adventure when he returned from the GBDuro, having picked up a knee injury. We thought it would be a great time to see how he's doing during lockdown, get his thoughts on ultra-distance races and talk E-Bikes.
Cairn Cycles: Firstly, how are getting on. How is lockdown for you?
Josh Ibbett: Nothing really changed in lockdown for me personally, or any lockdowns so for that matter. Workwise I work for my family business where we run a country store and agricultural sales and service so we are deemed as essential services, so we continued operating as normal, apart from social distancing and facemasks etc. Socially the biggest thing that has been affected is the lack of racing as I normally race cyclocross throughout the winter months, however I’ve been nursing a bit of an injury so I would have been able to race anyway. Having said that I’m getting desperate for some sunshine now!
CC: It was a while back but GBDuro how did it feel to have got the win?
JI: Winning is never a priority for me in bikepacking events, the odds of winning are pretty slim so if I don’t enjoy the process of racing then it’s a pretty pointless endeavour. However winning GBDuro was a huge bonus. The main thing was just to be able to enjoy being out on my bike enjoying riding and a bit of freedom after an incredibly hectic Spring at work.
CC: 2020 was a weird year all-round but what was it like to race in? GBduro for the ultra-community was really one of a few races to be held. Did it change the way you raced? Was it in the back of your mind the whole time? Or was it business as usual on the bike?
JI: Bikepacking is essentially escapism from real life so it was very much welcome on GBDuro. The race rules were changed so that we had to be fully self-sufficient including carrying all our supplies for the race and not use any shops or public services. It was great to get a bit of freedom and peace and quiet so once I was out on my bike it was business as normal.
CC: It’s hard to tell whether everyone was just hungry for racing in 2020 or whether ultra-distance, backpacking, multi day self-supported racing are really coming into the mainstream. GBDuro seemed to get a huge amount of coverage, with teams like EF Education and big-name ex pros turning up to these events? Do you think post covid we could see a spike in interest around these events?
I think Bikepacking has gradually been growing as a discipline for the past 5 years. Each year there are more races created and brands are putting more focus on products and marketing so yes there is more and more demand. I think Covid has made people rethink their lifestyles and made it more difficult for traditional mass start cycling events to be held, so I think overall Covid will just give bikepacking a quick boost on what is an already steep upwards trajectory.
CC: Post GBDuro you were understandably shattered and had picked up a niggling knee injury. You had the E-Adventure for a while but how did having an E-Bike in the shed really help with you recovery?
JI: Early on with my knee injury I basically had to rest and if I did ride keep things nice and easy. Riding the E-Adventure allowed my to get out and ride at a decent pace while keeping the pressure off my knee.
CC: Other than your recovery, in general how does an E-bike help or get used by someone like yourself? I think people find it hard to understand how someone perfectly fit and as accomplished as yourself could see the need to use one?
JI: An E-bike is great for recovering from injury, but the other benefit I found is on recovery days when you also need to keep the HR down and just spin the legs. It’s quite fun blasting around gravel tracks at 20mph on a recovery ride and helps keep the skills sharp. I also use the E-Adventure to ride to work, its only 3 miles away but up a gradual hill. It means I can ride to work in my work clothes without arriving in a sweating mess, not to mention quicker on the way home as I can bypass the one way system and traffic jams in town!
CC: Finally, on E-Bikes, either personally, how you use them or in general, where do you see them going? What would you like to see from them in the future?
E-bikes will certainly make riding more accessible to certain people, whether that is some one who is getting older and loosing fitness but still wants to go on harder rides, or to allows 2 people of different abilities to ride together. However, the biggest area that I see E-bikes benefiting is commuting. In big towns and cities bikes are nearly always just as fast if not faster than driving and public transport and with the governments drive towards low emissions the E-bike is going to play a bigger part in our futures.
CC: Fingers crossed 2021 sees the removal of some travel restrictions. Probably still early doors but Have you started planning yet? If so where might we see you racing in 2021?
I have plenty of ideas as to what 2021 could hold, but nothing is in concrete at the moment as Covid doesn’t care about plans!