The Great Escape

Pearson’s Adventure cycling collection has been designed for intrepid exploration. So, a journey that starts in south-west London might take you further than you ever imagined.

A taste of the rough stuff - Tour champion Lemond in 1986 Paris-Roubaix.

“It doesn’t hurt any less,” remarked Tour winner Greg LeMond when asked to account for his improved performance in the mountains, “you just go faster”. As lockdown eases and Britain’s open spaces prove congested, cyclists across the country are tempted to head for the hills at whatever speed they can muster.

If your local spin lacks an Alpine giant or Pyrenean monster, you can still make your own great escape. In fact, you can invariably find some challenging riding on the outskirts of town. Gravel riding is characterised by ‘track and trail’ (sound familiar, Matt Hancock?), allowing you to enjoy your surroundings without worrying about traffic.

Pearson Off Road Gravel Cycling London

The great escape - discover local tracks and some headspace.

A good place to start is Pearson’s Inside Out gravel series, two rides exploring off-road routes around south-west London. The first two rounds were cancelled due to Covid-19 but we’re running the autumn and winter editions, on 12th September and 14th November respectively, entries are open. (For those who can’t wait that long, Guy Pearson has created his own gravel route on the Pearson Strava club.)

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or gravel virgin, Pearson’s Adventure collection has everything you need. Take Irons in the Fire, steel, disc-brake bike reinvented for 2020. With a new adventure focus, it is ideally suited to rough terrain. A new frameset includes thru-axles, an improved full-carbon fork (with clearance for wider tyres) and front and rear rack mounts for ample luggage. A commanding riding position allows you to see whatever the trail might throw at you, and the 2020 ‘Irons’ now features your choice in Shimano's new GRX groupset.

Irons in the fire steel gravel bike

The all-new Irons In The Fire gravel bike.

Both Inside Out rides will benefit from the support of our sponsors. Sportive Breaks will provide on-course mechanics to keep you rolling, while Wahoo GPS systems will ensure you’re rolling in the right direction. Signal Brewery, our drinks provider, will be at the finish for a well-earned beer.

The Adventure Collection also includes clothing. Our Adventure Cycling Jersey, To Pastures New, is a short-sleeve version of a jersey originally created to be ridden through a hawthorn bush. This spring-summer version, for warmer conditions, has a looser fit than conventional cycle jerseys. It is made from sustainably sourced, recycled fabrics and features ‘poacher’ pockets for additional cargo. Located on the side of the body, they enable you to carry a backpack or water bladder comfortably when riding.

Pearson Cycling Clothing Adventure Gravel Jersey

To Pastures New Short Sleeve Adventure Jersey.

Last year, Pearson began working with two mental health charities to promote the wellbeing benefits we believe cycling brings. We are pleased to have both Action for Happiness and the Mental Health Foundation as benefactors of our Inside Out rides. Offering solitude in a tranquil landscape, it’s the perfect way to turn off an overactive brain.

Completing your off-road wardrobe is Push Comes to Shove, our Adventure Bib Shorts.

Push Comes To Shove Adventure Bib Shorts.

An ingenious hybrid product, they combine the rugged performance of bibs with a looser draped material to preserve your modesty. Without the bagginess of over shorts, they’re made from recycled materials and also feature cargo pockets, this time on the legs, for maximum storage in the back of beyond.

And who knows where the trails of south-west London might ultimately lead? Air bridges and quarantine rules permitting, you might one day find yourself on the start line of the Inca Divide, an adventure race following ancient Inca trails through the Andes. An off-road version of the 3,000-mile Race Across America (RAAM), what marks out the Inca is not just the 2,200-mile distance but the altitude, with numerous passes in excess of 4,000m.

The Inca Divide, a minimum of 80% off the beaten track. 50mm gravel boots highly recommended.

If the adventure-riding bug bites hard enough, you could even follow the example of Britain’s Ben Page. In 2014, having ridden across Patagonia, the then 22-year-old decided to keep going. Page also realised he had a preference, for the trails less travelled. Using little more than a modified ‘fat bike’ and the GPS on his smartphone, Page proceeded to cycle his way around the planet – entirely off-road. A genuine first, he arrived home three years later, total mileage unknown.

Pearson Gravel Riding Ben Page Patagonia

Ben Page on a previously mentioned "trail less travelled".

Wherever you ride, the Pearson Adventure collection is there to ensure that, should your resolve falter, your kit won’t. To paraphrase Mr LeMond: “It might hurt now and again but look how far you can go.”

To see the full Pearson Adventure collection click here.

To find out more, and to sign up for the Pearson Inside Out gravel series click here.

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