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<strong>UK</strong> EDITION<br />

DECEMBER 2021, £3.50<br />


SPIDER<br />

RIDER<br />

BMX renegade<br />

BAS KEEP’s vertical<br />

assault on urban<br />

buildings and<br />

the laws of physics<br />











Editor’s letter<br />





“I witnessed some of the<br />

craziest gaps done on a<br />

BMX,” says the Peckhambased<br />

photographer, who<br />

documented the production<br />

of More Walls for our cover<br />

story. High praise from a man<br />

who has been shooting bike<br />

action for a decade, runs his<br />

own BMX magazine (Endless),<br />

and happily calls Bas Keep<br />

a close friend. “Shooting him<br />

is always easy.” Page 30<br />


The American author and<br />

explorer has journeyed to<br />

some of Earth’s deadliest<br />

regions writing for, among<br />

others, Outside magazine<br />

and National Geographic. His<br />

experience makes his take on<br />

climber Marc-André Leclerc<br />

all the more insightful. “Live<br />

in the world of alpinism and<br />

you, or someone close to you,<br />

will die,” he says. “Michelle<br />

Kuipers deeply understood<br />

her son’s passion.” Page 46<br />



“A lot of us think of the things we’d like to do, but we hold back.<br />

What would you do if you were able to overcome the things<br />

you’re afraid of?” says Michelle Kuipers, mother of climber<br />

extraordinaire Marc-André Leclerc (page 46). Few will ever<br />

successfully tap into that courage. Some examples, however,<br />

can be found within the pages of this month’s The <strong>Red</strong> <strong>Bulletin</strong>.<br />

Cover star Bas Keep (page 30) is one of the world’s most daring<br />

BMXers, but it took most of his life to realise his greatest trick,<br />

as seen in his new film, More Walls. On the way, he discovered<br />

something more vital: fatherhood. Jazz composer Cassie Kinoshi<br />

(page 40) uses her music to speak out on issues of diversity in<br />

Britain, but what matters most is that she’s in control of her own<br />

narrative. Photographer Andrew Eisebo (page 58) wants to show<br />

a side of his home city – Lagos, Nigeria – that’s rarely seen in the<br />

media; not of crime, congestion or poverty, but of celebration.<br />

Elsewhere, Louise Vardeman (page 26) pushed herself to the<br />

brink, cycling the route of the Tour de France in the hope it<br />

would pave the way for a women’s event – she succeeded on<br />

both counts. And smalltown boy Kofi McCalla (page 28) followed<br />

his dream of entering the hallowed halls of the fashion world<br />

and advising Drake on what to wear. Enjoy the issue!<br />

Canadian climber Marc-André Leclerc sleeps beneath the stars. For his<br />

unique and amazing story, as shown in the film The Alpinist, see page 46<br />



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December 2021<br />

58<br />

Stepping out :<br />

inside the Lagos<br />

party scene<br />


8 Gallery: whitewater wizardry in<br />

Idaho, USA; balletic freediving<br />

in French Polynesia; skiing the<br />

perfect line in the Alps, and<br />

conquering boulder ambitions<br />

in Switzerland<br />

15 Playlist: Music super-producer<br />

Jack Antonoff on the pursuit<br />

of rock/pop perfection<br />

16 Neighbourhood Skate Club: the<br />

skating collective creating a safe<br />

space for board-riding women<br />

18 Radiooooo: the ultra-cool music<br />

player that transports you across<br />

continents – and back in time<br />

21 Quiet Parks International:<br />

protecting the planet’s peaceful<br />

places from noise pollution<br />

22 Letters to the Future: messages<br />

of hope crafted from recycled<br />

waste and age-old wisdom<br />

24 Jesse Marsch<br />

The world-class football coach who<br />

finds comfort in chaos<br />

26 Louise Vardeman<br />

A tour de force in women’s cycling<br />

28 Kofi McCalla<br />

Vlogging streetwear to the masses<br />

30 Bas Keep<br />

An urban masterclass in riding<br />

walls and flipping fear on its head<br />

from the ‘Brian Cox of BMX’<br />

40 Cassie Kinoshi<br />

The multitalented jazz composer<br />

takes us on a voyage of exploration<br />

46 Marc-André Leclerc<br />

How the young Canadian changed<br />

the face of alpinism – albeit at a cost<br />

58 Lagos High Life<br />

Whether rich or poor, partying hard<br />

is a way of life in the Nigerian city<br />

71 Two boards are better than one:<br />

why splitboarding should be your<br />

next snow adventure<br />

77 Canned heat: headphones to covet<br />

78 Inside edge: the Wahoo Kickr Bike<br />

could revolutionise your ride<br />

79 Current account: training tips from<br />

a rising star in slalom canoeing<br />

80 Flash pack: commute in style<br />

82 Bak to the future: innovations in<br />

adventure gear from Vollebak<br />

87 Goggle jocks: the best ski eyewear<br />

88 Pitch perfect: how to master the<br />

latest FIFA release<br />

89 Play to win: next-level gaming kit<br />

90 Let it go: the benefits of showing<br />

forgiveness, and how to get there<br />

93 Essential dates for your calendar<br />

98 Outdoors wisdom from Semi-Rad<br />



White lies<br />

“Nothing brings me more joy than nailing a<br />

shot,” says John Webster. And while this<br />

night action shot might look spontaneous,<br />

the US photographer carefully planned it,<br />

positioning a strobe in the Jacob’s Ladder<br />

rapid on North Fork Payette River, to capture<br />

kayaker Hayden Voorhees in the darkness.<br />

The results speak for themselves: Webster,<br />

like all of this month’s Gallery images, won a<br />

semi-final spot in global photography contest<br />

<strong>Red</strong> Bull Illume. Instagram: @johnjwebster<br />




Water<br />

dance<br />

The biodiverse waters of French<br />

Polynesia are teeming with aquatic<br />

wildlife: more than 1,000 species<br />

of fish, 11 types of dolphin, the<br />

humpback whale… and the lesserspotted<br />

Marianne Aventurier.<br />

As captured in this image by<br />

her husband, photographer Alex<br />

Voyer, the French freediver can<br />

easily match her dorsal-finned<br />

counterparts for poise and grace<br />

beneath the surface.<br />

Instagram: @alexvoyer_fisheye



Alpine<br />

air line<br />

Virgin snow is to a freeskier what<br />

freshly laid cement is to a naughty<br />

child: irresistible. “I know this spot<br />

well,” says Alban Guerry-Suire, the<br />

man who shot this exhilarating act<br />

of environmental destruction, “but<br />

we never had the chance to ride it<br />

without any tracks. The clouds were<br />

moving quickly, so I told [Anthony<br />

Robert, the skier] to get ready for my<br />

signal. After 10 minutes… “Go!” He<br />

lost speed on the flat part, but he<br />

managed to catch some air. It was<br />

perfect.” Instagram: @_stonecat<br />



Magic<br />

marker<br />

“Working with Giani [Clement, the<br />

38-year-old Swiss climber, last August]<br />

during his first ascent projecting on the<br />

‘Stil vor Talent’ [Style over Talent] line,<br />

I quickly realised that the beauty and<br />

logic of line was striking,” says German<br />

photographer Hannes Tell. The location<br />

of the complex route (difficulty rating:<br />

8C/+) is south-eastern Switzerland, in<br />

the bouldering paradise known as Magic<br />

Wood. For this image, Tell conjured up a<br />

composite of 20 shots tracking the climb<br />

at dawn. Spellbinding. hannestell.de<br />




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Sounds<br />

sublime<br />

The world’s hottest music<br />

producer reveals four<br />

songs in rock history he<br />

wishes he’d produced<br />

When music artists such as<br />

Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lorde<br />

and St Vincent feel like they want<br />

to sonically break the mould, they<br />

call Jack Antonoff. The 37-year-old<br />

New Jerseyite earned his stripes<br />

as guitarist/drummer in indie-pop<br />

band Fun – biggest hit: 2011’s<br />

multi-million-selling single We Are<br />

Young – before making his name<br />

as an innovative producer. The<br />

predominance of percussive<br />

tunes with acoustic guitars and<br />

big choruses in the pop charts<br />

is testimony to his influence. To<br />

celebrate the recent release of<br />

Take the Sadness Out of Saturday<br />

Night – his third album as synthpop<br />

act Bleachers – Antonoff picks<br />

four tunes that sound perfect to<br />

his ears. bleachersmusic.com<br />


The Waterboys<br />

The Whole of the Moon (1985)<br />

“One of the most perfect<br />

songs ever written. But that<br />

aside, the production of it<br />

carries so much joy; it’s so<br />

alive and bouncy. I would never<br />

have thought those sounds<br />

would match the yearning<br />

and near-rage of [the song’s<br />

protagonist], who just can’t<br />

get what someone else has<br />

– but, against all the odds,<br />

they do. It’s the hallmark of<br />

amazing production: ‘How the<br />

fuck does this work?’”<br />

REM<br />

At My Most Beautiful (1998)<br />

“This is a pure love song<br />

talking about counting<br />

someone’s eyelashes. The<br />

hook is: ‘I found a way to<br />

make you smile’ – such a<br />

simple lyric. And there are<br />

these chamber Beach Boys<br />

elements: tubular bells and<br />

timpani. All the magic of<br />

falling in love is wrapped<br />

up in there. How the fuck<br />

they did that I’ll never know,<br />

but they really bottled up<br />

that feeling.”<br />

Fiona Apple<br />

Limp (1999)<br />

“This is from her When the<br />

Pawn… album, produced by<br />

[US singer/songwriter] Jon<br />

Brion. There’s no better drum<br />

sound and no better playing<br />

– it’s [legendary Californian<br />

session drummer] Matt<br />

Chamberlain. The outfit that<br />

the song is being held in, the<br />

darkness and rage and all of<br />

the percussion… I think there<br />

are two kits at one point, and<br />

they’re panned all crazy. It’s<br />

just a masterclass.”<br />

The Mountain Goats<br />

San Bernardino (2008)<br />

“There are these pizzicato<br />

strings and then the occasional<br />

long swells. It’s the most<br />

genius backdrop to [frontman]<br />

John Darnielle telling the story.<br />

I love it because it makes me<br />

think, ‘Jesus Christ, who<br />

thought of that?’ And I’m good<br />

at the craft. But we’re all trying<br />

something way bigger than<br />

that to capture a feeling that’s<br />

theoretically uncapturable<br />

unless some of this weird<br />

magic happens.”<br />




Boarding<br />

pass<br />

Meet the all-woman skate crew packing<br />

out an east London park and creating<br />

more space for female board-riders<br />

When skater Sky Brown<br />

won bronze in the inaugural<br />

Olympic women’s park<br />

skateboarding final in August<br />

this year, it was a watershed<br />

moment. Not only was the<br />

13-year-old Britain’s youngestever<br />

Olympic medallist and<br />

the youngest pro in her sport<br />

worldwide, but her achievement<br />

issued a clear message to<br />

the as-yet-uninformed: yes,<br />

women do skate.<br />

This would hardly be news<br />

if you’ve ever strolled through<br />

Victoria Park, east London.<br />

On any given day you’ll see<br />

Kick start:<br />

Lyndsay McLaren<br />

(far left) builds<br />

confidence in<br />

female skaters<br />

a crew of around 40 women<br />

weaving across the tarmac<br />

on their decks. This is the<br />

Neighbourhood Skate Club,<br />

an all-female skateboarding<br />

collective founded by marketing<br />

director Lyndsay McLaren.<br />

The 33-year-old began<br />

teaching one-to-one skate<br />

lessons in her local park in<br />

April this year. “There was a<br />

huge demand from women<br />

who wanted to learn but felt<br />

intimidated by skateparks,”<br />

McLaren explains. But over<br />

time she spotted an increasing<br />

number of female beginners<br />

skating on their own. “It’s<br />

hard to make friends in your<br />

twenties, thirties and forties,”<br />

she continues. “So I wanted<br />

to start a community of likeminded<br />

women from different<br />

backgrounds who all want to<br />

learn.” And so the club was<br />

formed. The motto: empowering<br />

women through voice,<br />

movement and skateboarding.<br />

McLaren first discovered the<br />

sport after moving to Miami<br />

for university in 2008. But it<br />

was only when she relocated<br />

to New York City that she<br />

found the skateboarding<br />

community for the first time.<br />

“It took over my world. Before<br />

I knew it, my whole friendship<br />

group was skateboarders,”<br />

she recalls. She began entering<br />

competitions and spent the<br />

next two years zipping across<br />

the US, supported by sponsors<br />

including helmet brand Bern.<br />

After moving back to the<br />

<strong>UK</strong>, it took McLaren a while<br />

to find her tribe again, but<br />

now it’s bigger than ever. The<br />

Neighbourhood Skate Club’s<br />

free workshops and gatherings<br />

draw all levels of skater, from<br />

total beginners to experienced<br />

riders, and the most recent<br />

event ended with a few laps of<br />

the park as one giant crew. “It<br />

was a head-turner,” McLaren<br />

says. “I’m used to negative<br />

experiences while skating –<br />

being catcalled, or people<br />

telling me to watch out – so it<br />

was amazing to see such big<br />

smiles on everyone’s faces.”<br />

McLaren is determined to<br />

create a safe space for women<br />

skaters and other marginalised<br />

groups in what remains a maledominated<br />

sport. Removing<br />

the skatepark setting was key<br />

to making the club more<br />

accessible. “You don’t have to<br />

learn tricks to be a skateboarder.<br />

There’s a simple joy that comes<br />

from just cruising around. With<br />

such a big group of women it’s<br />

really empowering.”<br />

This is a crucial part of the<br />

Neighbourhood Skate Club:<br />

it builds confidence on the<br />

board and beyond. “I want<br />

women to take the lessons<br />

they learn from skateboarding<br />

– the feeling of strength and<br />

sense of self – and apply<br />

that to their day jobs,” says<br />

McLaren, “whether that’s<br />

using their voice to stand up<br />

for themselves or remembering<br />

that it’s OK to take up space.”<br />

neighbourhoodskateclub.<br />

bigcartel.com<br />



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down to -40°C the jacket comes in one colour,<br />

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The jacket can be instantly charged and made<br />

to glow in the dark by any light source you can<br />

find. Whether you’re writing on it with your<br />

iPhone torch, drawing on it with a flashlight, or<br />

wearing it out in the sun, as soon as you take<br />

it somewhere dark it glows like kryptonite. Built<br />

for the coldest, darkest places on Earth, it’s<br />

engineered with a 3 layer waterproof fabric,<br />

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Radiooooo heads: Moreau (seated), Ferst (centre) and their jet-setting, time-travelling entourage<br />


Time stream<br />

Every song is a product of its time and place.<br />

This music player wants to transport you there<br />

In 2012, Benjamin Moreau was<br />

sitting in his father’s newly<br />

purchased 1960s sports car.<br />

Admiring the vintage interior<br />

– leatherette seats, Bakelite<br />

wheel – the Parisian visual<br />

artist and DJ was, he says,<br />

“transported to another time”.<br />

Then he turned the dial on the<br />

radio and was confronted by<br />

“some abominable commercial<br />

techno music”. It shattered his<br />

idyll but spawned an idea: what<br />

if we could easily access music<br />

from any era, from anywhere<br />

on the planet? What if we had<br />

a music discovery system that<br />

selected tunes from across time<br />

and space instead of by trend,<br />

genre or algorithm? That vision<br />

became Radiooooo.<br />

Accessed via a website or<br />

app, Radiooooo’s interactive<br />

map – hand-drawn by<br />

Passport to tune-isia: Radiooooo<br />

co-founder Ferst works on her<br />

musical map of discovery<br />

co-founder Noemi Ferst, a<br />

visual artist, sound curator, and<br />

Moreau’s partner – is stacked<br />

with hundreds of thousands of<br />

songs. Users choose a location<br />

and any decade dating back to<br />

the start of the 20th century,<br />

then press play. Initially, Moreau,<br />

Ferst and a group of close<br />

friends drew from their own<br />

music collections; they had<br />

been commissioned to create<br />

a musical identity for the global<br />

Le Baron group of nightclubs<br />

so already had “a large and<br />

eclectic collection”, he says.<br />

“We began by digging all<br />

this random and forgotten<br />

music,” says Moreau. “Once<br />

we’d put all that in, we started<br />

calling friends from different<br />

countries, then their parents<br />

began contributing music, too.<br />

Finally, we opened it up to<br />

anyone. It’s become this huge<br />

multicultural, multi-generational<br />

project.” Today, around 1,500<br />

people from across the world<br />

submit records each month.<br />

The project’s gestation has<br />

its own timeline of discovery.<br />

In 2013, the team attempted to<br />

launch it through crowdfunding<br />

site Indiegogo, but with little<br />

success. Radiooooo finally<br />

saw the light of day in 2016,<br />

but lockdown provided the<br />

opportunity for a revamp. The<br />

map now features curated<br />

elements such as themed<br />

‘islands’ of music, and there’s<br />

a ‘taxi journey’ function that<br />

lets you chart a journey across<br />

the globe and enjoy a playlist<br />

of tracks en route.<br />

“The idea is to push people<br />

to share their culture and their<br />

knowledge while engaging<br />

their curiosity about what’s<br />

happening close to them,” says<br />

Moreau. “I’m a French guy, but<br />

I know American music better<br />

than Spanish or Swedish, and<br />

they’re my neighbours.”<br />

So, where to explore first?<br />

Modern Mexican techno is an<br />

untapped genre, Moreau says,<br />

or Korean disco from the ’70s.<br />

“Our musical time machine is<br />

a way to make radio a cool mix<br />

of history and science fiction.<br />

You’re travelling through time<br />

and space and understanding<br />

the story behind all the music<br />

that you uncover.”<br />

radiooooo.com<br />





The world is undergoing an<br />

extinction-level event. It’s<br />

happening all around you right<br />

now. Stop and listen. Can you<br />

hear it? Beyond the rumble<br />

of traffic, the hum of your<br />

refrigerator, the notifications<br />

from your phone… there’s a<br />

distinct lack of quiet. We’ve<br />

become so accustomed to the<br />

constant cacophony of daily<br />

life, we don’t even notice it.<br />

Silence is endangered,<br />

and the situation is inflicting<br />

massive harm on humankind.<br />

According to the World Health<br />

Organisation, noise pollution<br />

not only damages hearing and<br />

affects sleep, but it increases<br />

the risk of cardiovascular<br />

disease, hypertension, and<br />

cognitive impairment.<br />

“We need quiet for our<br />

physical health and to connect<br />

with people and the world<br />

around us,” explains Matt<br />

Mikkelsen, a sound recordist<br />

and documentary filmmaker<br />

from Ithaca, New York.<br />

Mikkelsen was focused on a<br />

career as a drummer when, in<br />

2012, he met Gordon Hempton,<br />

an acoustic ecologist who has<br />

spent the past four decades<br />

recording the rapidly vanishing<br />

sounds of the natural world. He<br />

instantly became an advocate<br />

for protecting nature’s<br />

soundscapes and spent the<br />

next four years working on a<br />

documentary about Hempton<br />

and his work – 2017’s awardwinning<br />

Being Hear. In 2018,<br />

Hempton founded Quiet Parks<br />

International (QPI), a nonprofit<br />

dedicated to identifying<br />

and preserving Earth’s last<br />

remaining noiseless spaces.<br />

Today, Mikkelsen, 28, is its<br />

Executive Director of Wilderness<br />

Quiet Parks. He and his team<br />

study the levels of humanmade<br />

noise around the globe,<br />

identifying quiet places and<br />

working to protect them.<br />

Those spaces that meet the<br />

organisation’s standards are<br />

presented with a QPI Award<br />

and offered assistance in<br />

areas including maintenance,<br />

park guidelines, management<br />

Noise annoys: Quiet<br />

Parks advocate Matt<br />

Mikkelsen is helping<br />

to protect the planet<br />

from sound pollution<br />

practice, and support for<br />

indigenous communities.<br />

It’s not only humans who<br />

benefit from quiet spaces,<br />

either. “Wildlife is just as busy<br />

communicating as we are,” says<br />

Mikkelsen, “and noise pollution<br />

prohibits their ability to do that<br />

effectively. For example, owls<br />

hunt mainly by hearing mice<br />

100m away. Even a small<br />

amount of noise pollution<br />

halves their feeding ground.”<br />

QPI began its work in<br />

pristine wild spaces such as<br />

the Zabalo River in Ecuador,<br />

but soon ascertained that<br />

quiet places need to be more<br />

accessible. In July this year, it<br />

named London’s Hampstead<br />

Heath the first Urban Quiet<br />

Park in Europe. These spots<br />

aren’t devoid of urban sounds,<br />

but birds tweeting and leaves<br />

rustling make them a haven for<br />

city dwellers. “You shouldn’t<br />

have to book an expeditionlevel<br />

backpacking trip to be<br />

able to find quiet. Quiet brings<br />

a lot of joy. It gives space to<br />

listen, think and feel.”<br />

The non-profit plans to spread<br />

its message across the globe<br />

in 2022 with parks in Canada,<br />

Poland, Namibia, Sweden and<br />

beyond. Mikkelsen hopes the<br />

impact will be felt by all, and he<br />

believes that creating protected<br />

quiet spaces will also help<br />

tackle other problems such as<br />

ocean-plastic and air pollution.<br />

“When you find a quiet place,<br />

it’s a good indicator for the<br />

overall health of an ecosystem,”<br />

he says. “By preventing noise,<br />

we’re preventing all those<br />

other sources of pollution from<br />

having an impact, too.”<br />

quietparks.org<br />



Enjoy the<br />

silence<br />

Amid the constant chatter about<br />

environmental crises, one team of<br />

ecologists believes we should all shut<br />

up a bit – it could save the world<br />



The neverending<br />

story<br />

Single-use plastic takes up to 1,000 years to decompose in landfill.<br />

The perfect material, then, to make a book for future generations…<br />

If you could write a letter to<br />

your descendants 100 years<br />

from now, what would you<br />

say? This is a question that<br />

Kumkum Fernando pondered<br />

after watching the 2016<br />

documentary A Plastic Ocean.<br />

“There was a part where<br />

the narrator said that every<br />

piece of plastic ever made<br />

still exists on this planet,”<br />

says the 36-year-old, Sri<br />

Lanka-born creative director.<br />

“A plastic bag I use will still be<br />

there when my great-greatgreat-grandson<br />

is born.”<br />

With this in mind,<br />

Fernando came up with the<br />

idea of creating a book filled<br />

with letters of advice from<br />

his friends to their far-future<br />

family. It would be made<br />

entirely from recycled plastic,<br />

preserving their messages<br />

for the next 1,000 years.<br />

Working in association with<br />

business partner Indraneel<br />

Guha – with whom he<br />

co-founded the Vietnambased<br />

creative agency<br />

Ki Saigon – and local ecoconscious<br />

food franchise<br />

Pizza 4P’s, Fernando<br />

cooked up a plan.<br />

Over the next four<br />

months, letters flooded in<br />

– 327 in total, from 22<br />

countries as far afield as<br />

France, Israel, Mongolia<br />

and Brazil, written by staff,<br />

friends of friends, even<br />

Fernando’s mum. “Most<br />

people wrote about very<br />

personal experiences,”<br />

Fernando says. “Some<br />

revealed secrets, others<br />

shared regrets. The common<br />

theme was that they wished<br />

for a happier tomorrow for<br />

their loved ones.”<br />

No wasted words: each letter was<br />

individually hand-printed onto the<br />

page, then these were hand-bound<br />

One of Fernando’s<br />

favourites came from<br />

Heewon Moon in Korea.<br />

“She wrote a beautiful<br />

letter addressed to her<br />

‘soul daughter’. She said<br />

that if you’re in trouble<br />

right now, just know that<br />

everything will be OK –<br />

this will pass.”<br />

While the letters<br />

express optimism and<br />

hope, the physical book is<br />

a reminder that single-use<br />

plastic never goes away.<br />

According to the United<br />

Nations Environment<br />

Programme, 79 per cent<br />

of all plastic waste ever<br />

produced has ended up<br />

in landfill or the natural<br />

environment. This book is<br />

one way of recycling it into<br />

something useful, while<br />

highlighting its lasting<br />

footprint on the planet.<br />

Each letter was printed<br />

onto a recycled plastic page<br />

made from bags, bubble<br />

wrap and cellophane found<br />

on the streets of Ho Chi Minh<br />

City. Silkscreen printing<br />

was used to preserve the<br />

handwriting of each author.<br />

The book is a thing of<br />

beauty, a kaleidoscopic<br />

time capsule “where each<br />

page is an artwork in<br />

itself”, says Fernando.<br />

Plans are underway<br />

to display Letters to the<br />

Future as an art exhibit in<br />

Ho Chi Minh City. However,<br />

such has been the global<br />

attention, its creators<br />

want to launch a travelling<br />

exhibition and collect more<br />

letters for future editions.<br />

Fernando hopes that<br />

the book will make others<br />

think about their plastic<br />

consumption. “It was<br />

actually a self-realisation<br />

exercise for me. Some of<br />

the plastic we used for<br />

the book came from my<br />

house. Now, when I buy<br />

something, I remember<br />

that it will have a life of its<br />

own long after I’ve gone.”<br />

letters-to-the-future.com<br />



Jesse Marsch<br />

Kicking up<br />

a storm<br />

The US-born head coach of German<br />

Bundesliga team RB Leipzig explains why<br />

he welcomes chaos in his life<br />


Photography JULIAN BAUMANN<br />

Jesse Marsch is an extraordinary<br />

football coach, and not only because<br />

he’s from Wisconsin, USA – a place<br />

where ‘soccer’ has a lot less history<br />

than sports such as basketball and<br />

ice hockey. The recently appointed<br />

head coach of German Bundesliga<br />

team RB Leipzig began his career as<br />

a player in Major League Soccer after<br />

graduating from Ivy League college<br />

Princeton with a history degree. He<br />

spent 14 seasons in MLS, winning<br />

three league titles, before being hired<br />

as assistant US national team coach in<br />

2010. Following a spell with Montréal<br />

Impact, arguably his biggest break<br />

came in 2015 when he took charge<br />

of MLS side New York <strong>Red</strong> Bulls. In<br />

his first season the team enjoyed a<br />

club-record 18 victories, and Marsch<br />

was named MLS Coach of the Year.<br />

Then in 2018, he took a giant leap<br />

into the unknown. Moving to Europe,<br />

Marsch spent a year as assistant to<br />

Ralf Rangnick at RB Leipzig before<br />

stepping up to the head role at <strong>Red</strong><br />

Bull Salzburg. The team won two<br />

Austrian Bundesliga titles during<br />

his reign and earned acclaim with<br />

their attractive style of play in the<br />

Champions League. But in June this<br />

year the head coach’s job at Leipzig<br />

– runners-up last season in the<br />

German Bundesliga – came calling.<br />

Now he faces his biggest challenge<br />

yet. But the 47-year-old American<br />

has built a reputation for stepping<br />

outside his comfort zone, even<br />

learning French to coach at Montréal,<br />

and German at Leipzig. Here,<br />

Marsch reveals how he embraces<br />

chaos and copes with the druck…<br />

the red bulletin: How does it<br />

feel to return to RB Leipzig?<br />

jesse marsch: Great. I wasn’t just<br />

assistant coach to Ralf Rangnick for<br />

a year; as New York <strong>Red</strong> Bulls coach<br />

I often came to Leipzig. I know the<br />

club set-up and the people. I have a<br />

picture in my mind of how I can take<br />

the next step forward with the team.<br />

You’re known for thriving in<br />

unpredictable situations…<br />

My head never works faster than<br />

when there’s chaos all around. When<br />

things are hectic and confusing, you<br />

have to come up with new solutions.<br />

But I also understand that a lot of<br />

people here in Germany like having<br />

everything under control – a perfect<br />

schedule, all tasks clearly delegated.<br />

How do you square that circle?<br />

By finding a balance that suits<br />

everyone. And by instilling a mindset<br />

that we’re constantly learning. Every<br />

match has unpredictable aspects.<br />

The player has to understand every<br />

situation while being able to react to<br />

it physically, at full speed and power.<br />

Has that been the case in your<br />

own career – chaos, then clarity?<br />

I’ve learned a lot when times are<br />

tough. At Salzburg we had to realise<br />

that winning doesn’t always mean<br />

progress. Everyone had to take on<br />

board that complex situations offer<br />

opportunities for self-development.<br />

Do you mean losing matches?<br />

In February 2020, the media were<br />

reporting we were mid-crisis. We’d<br />

won only one of our last six games<br />

and we were out of the Europa<br />

League, but that set a process in<br />

motion. I began to understand how<br />

Austrian football functioned in the<br />

winter; the ideas needed to win games<br />

on bad pitches in bad weather.<br />

Have you developed a European<br />

way of seeing things?<br />

Before I could speak German, I was at<br />

a game in Wolfsburg with [then team<br />

coordinator at RB Leipzig] Jochen<br />

Schneider. I watched an interview with<br />

a player and they used the word druck<br />

about 15 times, and so did the coach.<br />

So I asked Jochen what it meant.<br />

“Pressure,” he said. “As in going in hard<br />

in football?” I asked. “No, in society,”<br />

he replied. “Everyone feels they must<br />

be a success.” Pressure is relative. If<br />

you come to the ground and only talk<br />

about pressure, you can’t play football<br />

or be the coach with a clear head.<br />

You travelled the world for six<br />

months after your first coaching<br />

gig. How did that help?<br />

I realised that more than 99 per cent<br />

of people have zero interest in Major<br />

League Soccer. They don’t care.<br />

People have totally different pressure<br />

– life pressure, not football pressure.<br />

The journey taught me to set the idea<br />

of pressure and success to one side.<br />

What have been some unexpected<br />

sources of coaching inspiration?<br />

When I was still at college I’d speak to<br />

coaches in other sports. I learned a lot<br />

from rowing. Rowers are out on the<br />

water at 5am; they take things beyond<br />

the limit. When they cross the line, all<br />

eight rowers literally collapse. I want a<br />

football team with the same mentality.<br />

How are you instilling togetherness<br />

at RB Leipzig?<br />

Speaking German, for a start. It would<br />

be easier for me to speak English – most<br />

of the players are better at English than<br />

German – but we’re a German team,<br />

so everyone has to adapt. My German<br />

is good enough to be understood.<br />

Does a sense of humour help, too?<br />

Fallibility means being able to laugh<br />

at yourself. There are times when<br />

we’re fully focused on our work, but<br />

we should always have fun and laugh<br />

with and at each other. Yes, a sense<br />

of humour definitely helps.<br />

rbleipzig.com<br />


“My head<br />

never works<br />

faster than<br />

when there’s<br />

chaos”<br />


Louise Vardeman<br />

Long road to<br />

equality<br />

In 2019, she cycled the Tour de France ahead of male<br />

competitors to protest about the exclusion of women.<br />

Now, the Brit is seeing change in her sport<br />

Words JESS HOLLAND<br />

Louise Vardeman knows how to<br />

push through hard times. When the<br />

43-year-old from Marlow, Bucks,<br />

first took up cycling six years ago,<br />

it was because she had to give up<br />

long-distance running; the cartilage<br />

in her hip was destroyed. It was a<br />

low point. She’d been in a marriage<br />

that was falling apart, with two kids,<br />

diagnosed depression and shattered<br />

confidence. After “getting to rock<br />

bottom”, Vardeman finally decided to<br />

leave her husband. She channelled<br />

her pain into riding. Two years later,<br />

she was performing at a high-enough<br />

level to represent Britain in the Gran<br />

Fondo World Championships.<br />

That winter, Vardeman saw<br />

a call-out online from a group of<br />

French women who, for the last<br />

four years, had been riding the<br />

Tour de France route a day ahead<br />

of the male competitors. Their aim<br />

was to raise awareness of inequality<br />

in cycling – the Tour de France was<br />

still a men’s-only event. For women,<br />

only a one-day competition had been<br />

allocated, with just one-hundredth<br />

of the prize money available.<br />

Vardeman contacted the group,<br />

and this led to her co-founding<br />

an international branch, The<br />

InternationElles. In 2019, they met<br />

for the first time in Brussels, at the<br />

start of the Tour de France route,<br />

and set off. The 3,500km journey<br />

was gruelling, but the women<br />

persevered, attracting global press,<br />

from the BBC’s Breakfast show to<br />

The New York Times. And at the<br />

finish point, on the Champs-Élysées<br />

in Paris, Vardeman’s boyfriend was<br />

waiting with a marriage proposal.<br />

The pandemic prevented The<br />

InternationElles from repeating<br />

their feat in 2020, but in May this<br />

year it was announced that an<br />

official eight-day women’s Tour de<br />

France will follow the men’s race<br />

in July 2022. Vardeman is not<br />

expecting to ride in the event itself<br />

– she’s an amateur cyclist with a day<br />

job in events management – but she<br />

took part in the 25-hour <strong>Red</strong> Bull<br />

Timelaps event at the end of October<br />

and is aiming to compete again in<br />

the Gran Fondo next year.<br />

The campaigning was never<br />

intended for her own benefit, she<br />

says, but to inspire a younger<br />

generation: “I hate the idea that<br />

someone might think, ‘I’m a girl,<br />

therefore I can’t do that.’”<br />

the red bulletin: Were there<br />

moments on the Tour de France<br />

route where you hit a wall?<br />

louise vardeman: About three<br />

weeks in, I had a lot of doubt.<br />

I hadn’t slept well, and I started<br />

crying at the top of one ascent.<br />

I had to play music on a speaker to<br />

take my mind off the voices in my<br />

head telling me to go home. As we<br />

approached [alpine mountain pass<br />

Col du] Galibier, I became<br />

overwhelmed. I needed the toilet,<br />

and I was feeling too hot, but I kept<br />

pedalling until I literally just fell<br />

sideways onto the floor. I thought,<br />

“I’m done, I can’t do this any more.”<br />

I couldn’t even unclip my feet from<br />

the pedals. But I realised that I’d<br />

never forgive myself if I got in the<br />

van on the 18th stage out of 21.<br />

If it took all day to do this next bit,<br />

so be it. When we got to the bottom<br />

of Galibier, I felt like something<br />

was pushing me. I just felt strong,<br />

and I ascended the whole thing<br />

without any problem. At the top,<br />

we climbed the sign and took<br />

photographs. It was just incredible<br />

– I’d conquered a mountain.<br />

Do you have the same<br />

determination when it comes to<br />

tackling inequality in cycling?<br />

Yes. Cycling is so traditional,<br />

especially in France. It’s so white<br />

and male-dominated. It doesn’t<br />

help that bikes are so expensive and<br />

cycling clubs are not very inclusive.<br />

There are so many barriers. That<br />

spurs me on.<br />

What other projects have you<br />

been working on?<br />

We did a lot of campaigning about<br />

[the disparities in] prize money last<br />

year, because there’s a big gap there.<br />

For the Strade Bianche [a road race<br />

in Tuscany] in 2021, the men’s prize<br />

pot [for the top five riders] was<br />

€31,600, whereas the equivalent for<br />

women was €6,298. So we launched<br />

a crowdfunding campaign with The<br />

Cyclists’ Alliance and a fan named<br />

Cem Tanyeri. We raised just under<br />

€27,000, which took the women’s<br />

prize pot above that of the men’s.<br />

The pros couldn’t believe it.<br />

Have your cycling experiences<br />

given you greater confidence in<br />

other areas of life?<br />

I wish they did. I lack confidence<br />

with every single thing I do. I want<br />

other people to know that<br />

[competing] doesn’t come naturally<br />

to me. It’s hard, but it’s so worth it.<br />

What advice do you have for others<br />

wanting to make a big change?<br />

You only live once, and if you’re<br />

not happy, you’re wasting your<br />

time. When it comes to making a<br />

difference, you can’t think about<br />

changing the whole world, but little<br />

changes add up. You have no idea<br />

of the ripple effect you have. And<br />

even if you only change one person’s<br />

life, that’s so important.<br />

loukew.co.uk<br />



“I hate the<br />

idea someone<br />

might think, ‘I’m<br />

a girl, so I can’t<br />

do that’”<br />


Kofi McCalla<br />

The art of<br />

styling it out<br />

The fashion world is famously impenetrable, but this<br />

YouTuber went from making videos in his bedroom<br />

to waltzing into its inner circle<br />


Photography LOUIS FRY<br />

Walk around central London dressed<br />

smartly enough and there’s a chance<br />

you’ll be approached by Kofi McCalla.<br />

He might even ask what you’re<br />

wearing. Don’t be affronted, you’re<br />

in prestigious company. Bella Hadid,<br />

Usher and even infamously frosty<br />

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour<br />

have all been hit-and-run by the<br />

British vlogger – the latter two at a<br />

Balmain show at Paris Fashion Week<br />

last year, where Wintour responded<br />

to his probing with a curt “No”.<br />

But McCalla is the fashion world’s<br />

chancer, creating content through<br />

risk and gamble, and begging others<br />

for forgiveness over permission as<br />

he quizzes them on a handheld<br />

camera for his YouTube channel, The<br />

Unknown Vlogs. What began as a<br />

teenage hobby in 2014 has amassed<br />

more than 120 million views and<br />

made McCalla a leading voice in<br />

the streetwear market – a fashion<br />

subculture that mixes the skate<br />

and sportswear aesthetic with highend<br />

independent brands.<br />

“Streetwear is a community and a<br />

form of escapism,” McCalla explains.<br />

“When I first started, there was no<br />

documentation of streetwear on the<br />

internet. Most of the world doesn’t<br />

get it. I decided to fill that space,<br />

explain it to everyone.”<br />

From revealing first drops of<br />

street brands such as Supreme to<br />

tracking thrift-shop trends in Tokyo<br />

and hitting runway shows for Prada,<br />

McCalla’s videos make the scene<br />

accessible and easy to understand.<br />

In his newest video series, What Are<br />

People Wearing Today, he interviews<br />

style-conscious types on the street,<br />

right across the <strong>UK</strong>. “I show how the<br />

community celebrates products and<br />

designers, as well as how everyday<br />

people make their own style.”<br />

This has earned him a following<br />

as diverse as those he approaches. In<br />

2019, Canadian rapper Drake DM-ed<br />

McCalla to ask if he could appear in<br />

an episode – something the vlogger<br />

describes as a “Whoa! WTF?!<br />

moment”. But then, McCalla has a<br />

knack for looking past the image,<br />

labels and price tags, and finding<br />

the individual beneath.<br />

the red bulletin: What made<br />

you start filming streetwear?<br />

kofi mccalla: Growing up, I lived<br />

in a town that was closed-minded.<br />

I’d visit the Supreme store in London<br />

and go home like, “Boom, check out<br />

these clothes,” but no one got it.<br />

That’s why I first posted online –<br />

I found an audience on YouTube<br />

that was just getting into streetwear<br />

and wanted to know more.<br />

It takes some courage to approach<br />

the likes of Anna Wintour…<br />

When you have a passion project,<br />

you just want to show the world<br />

“this is my baby”. At that show in<br />

Paris, I wasn’t thinking about what<br />

Anna Wintour would think of me;<br />

I was thinking that I had this<br />

amazing chance to tell her about<br />

my channel and feature her in my<br />

video. I’m always thinking, “I’ve<br />

made it in here, I need to make the<br />

most of it.” Creating content has<br />

been my life since 2014, and it’s<br />

always been escapism for me, but<br />

now it’s something I live off. It’s my<br />

job to run over and try.<br />

Did anyone try to stop you filming?<br />

Definitely. The whole Balmain team<br />

were scared, and just before I walked<br />

up to her everyone behind the camera<br />

was telling me not to. But she’s still<br />

human, and talking to people about<br />

clothes is what I do, so I was just like,<br />

“Anna Wintour. Oh, hey, what’s up?”<br />

What was the inspiration for What<br />

Are People Wearing Today?<br />

Lockdown was tough for us all. As we<br />

went back outside, I wanted to show<br />

people connecting again. This video<br />

series is as much about people as<br />

about clothes. I wanted to give the<br />

feeling that you [the viewer] are the<br />

camera, finding out how people are<br />

doing as well as what they’re wearing.<br />

How do you pick the right person<br />

to approach?<br />

I try to feature people as diverse as<br />

possible. I look at the colour palette<br />

they’re wearing, the silhouette and<br />

what kind of shapes they’ve made<br />

with their clothes. Sometimes I<br />

recognise a random low-key designer,<br />

but once I approached a guy and he<br />

turned out to be wearing almost all<br />

Primark. It’s how you style it.<br />

Where do you find the most<br />

interesting people?<br />

It’s a cliché, but Soho in London.<br />

You can wear anything there and not<br />

be judged. I’m heavily inspired by<br />

Parisian fashion. Thrifting is big there.<br />

Gen Z are thrifting the craziest clothes.<br />

How are Gen Z changing fashion?<br />

They’ve brought more awareness of<br />

sustainability. Is it ethically made? Are<br />

you using real leather or not? They’re<br />

also buying more into people and less<br />

into brands. I think there’ll be a point,<br />

even with high-street brands, where<br />

influencers become creative directors.<br />

Tell us about that Drake DM…<br />

He just messaged me out of the blue.<br />

Of course I’m a fan, but when we met<br />

I was more “Right, let’s get this done.”<br />

He was the one telling my friends he’d<br />

watched my videos. By that point I was<br />

already working with Balmain, Dior…<br />

I felt I was in a position I’d earned.<br />

Watch McCalla’s YouTube channel<br />

The Unknown Vlogs at youtube.com<br />


“Just before<br />

I went up to<br />

Anna Wintour,<br />

everyone<br />

was telling<br />

me not to”<br />


Tearing<br />

down walls<br />

Fear, stress, injury, boredom, random<br />

Domino’s Pizza scooters, the sides<br />

of buildings – these are the obstacles<br />

BAS KEEP has learned not just<br />

to overcome, but to ride to victory<br />

Words MATT RAY and TOM GUISE<br />

Photography EISA BAKOS

Bas Keep filming<br />

More Walls in<br />

Selfridges car park,<br />

Birmingham, in<br />

September 2019<br />


Bas Keep<br />

W<br />

hen Sebastian Keep was 11 years old,<br />

he discovered an alien artefact near<br />

his hometown of Hastings, East Sussex,<br />

that would change the course of his life.<br />

“I was riding an old-school Raleigh<br />

Burner BMX, looking for hills to go down<br />

as fast as I could, because that’s what we<br />

thought BMX was about,” recalls the<br />

38-year-old today. “Then my brother and<br />

his friends stumbled across this thing<br />

and rushed home to tell us about it, so<br />

we went to check it out.”<br />

What Keep saw blew his young mind:<br />

“There was this metal structure like the<br />

hull of a huge ship, tucked away in this<br />

work yard in some country lanes. You’d<br />

never find it, but it had been there more<br />

than 30 years. At 11, I thought I knew<br />

everything about the world, and yet this<br />

thing felt like it had been kept from us.<br />

Why didn’t we know about it? Why wasn’t<br />

it on TV? It was like finding a UFO.”<br />

Keep and his friends had unearthed<br />

the Crowhurst Bowl. “This guy in the<br />

village, Dennis, had built the ramp to<br />

help out local kids who had nowhere to<br />

skate,” he says. “Even without anyone<br />

doing tricks on it, it was impressive.<br />

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a vert<br />

ramp in the flesh, but this one was 10ft<br />

[3m] tall. It was terrifying, vertical; you<br />

couldn’t imagine people riding down it.”<br />

He didn’t know it at the time, but<br />

Sebastian ‘Bas’ Keep had begun a journey<br />

to legendary status in BMX as one of its<br />

greatest-ever all-round riders. But, back<br />

in 1994, he recalls, “We didn’t even realise<br />

people did backflips on bikes. At that age<br />

I was bored, playing a lot of football and<br />

annoying the trolley pushers at the local<br />

Tesco. I needed something to dig my<br />

teeth into. When we found the ramp, it<br />

introduced me to something missing in<br />

my life, and to people with a common<br />

bond. These guys took us in and gave<br />

encouragement, teaching us how to drop<br />

into a ramp. The other neighbourhood<br />

kids weren’t friendly like that.”<br />


Keep at his practice warehouse.<br />

“I like simple tricks done<br />

well, high, and landed smooth”

2<br />

1<br />

3<br />


Bas Keep<br />

Anatomy of<br />

the wall ride<br />

“There’s a moment after<br />

you jump when you suddenly<br />

stop. It’s like being on a<br />

rollercoaster – that feeling<br />

in your stomach before it<br />

drops.” To see Bas Keep<br />

perform his signature realityfolding<br />

jump-to-vert, it<br />

seems almost effortless.<br />

But like all magic tricks, the<br />

complexity of what’s being<br />

performed is hidden from<br />

the audience by the magician<br />

himself. Here, Keep breaks<br />

down what’s going on inside<br />

his head during each stage<br />

of this jump…<br />

1. The launch<br />

“This is the moment where the<br />

hard part is done – the decision<br />

to let go of the fear. You can’t<br />

see underneath the level – it’s<br />

completely blind, so you look at<br />

the wall ahead and trust. It’s<br />

a massive mind game.”<br />

2. The air<br />

“In this moment you’ll know<br />

instantly whether it’s going to<br />

be a few glorious milliseconds<br />

of flight, or to prepare for a<br />

crash landing.”<br />

3. The vert<br />

“Once the flight has reached<br />

its apex, you start to plan for<br />

the landing by looking through<br />

the bike frame to line it up with<br />

the wall. You don’t want to be<br />

too close to the wall, but you<br />

really don’t want to miss it<br />

completely and land hard on<br />

the flat ground.”<br />

4. Exit!<br />

“A bittersweet moment of<br />

relief and disappointment –<br />

the job is done.”<br />

Keep and his friends began spending every<br />

spare moment at the bowl, and each<br />

evening Dennis would drive them home.<br />

“We’d all be hungry – we didn’t have any<br />

money to buy food,” says Keep. “But he<br />

helped us out. He helped us fix the ramp<br />

and our bikes. He was a great guy.” Within<br />

a year, Keep could pull off a backflip.<br />

“That was unheard of in the scene back<br />

then – a young kid doing a mature trick<br />

like that. I gained instant notoriety.<br />

Then, in the early 2000s, BMX blew up.”<br />

It’s 8am on a chilly September morning<br />

in 2019. Standing astride his BMX on<br />

the second floor of Selfridges car park<br />

in Birmingham, Bas Keep is staring at<br />

a short ramp leading off the edge of the<br />

storey. Beyond it is a gap barely wider than<br />

the take-off, then a concrete pillar rising<br />

from the level below. He’s in a trance,<br />

gazing into a moment where the cars are<br />

halted, chatter dies down, and the only<br />

movement comes from the flutter of the<br />

white-and-red barrier tape strung between<br />

traffic cones. Then his tyres attack the<br />

tarmac. He powers forward, committed.<br />

“I want to put<br />

my wheels places<br />

where no one<br />

has ever been”<br />

The ramp sends Keep across the gap.<br />

His bike seems to fold space as he spins<br />

through 360°, simultaneously inverting<br />

to face the floor. Both tyres hit the pillar<br />

with a clap, rubber compressing into the<br />

concrete as he hangs there for a heartbeat<br />

before plummeting down the vert. At the<br />

bottom of the pillar is another ramp meant<br />

to launch Keep back out in the opposite<br />

direction. But something has gone wrong.<br />

Suddenly, Keep is not riding at all;<br />

he’s a passenger. His bike piledrives him<br />

into the lower level like a sack of wet<br />

cement. From Mach 3 to standstill in an<br />

instant. As Keep lies crumpled on his<br />

side, the crew rush in, anxiety growing<br />

with every second he remains motionless.<br />

“Fuck, I didn’t see that coming,” he<br />

says, pulling himself to his feet with<br />

more alacrity than expected. At first he<br />

looks dazed, but quickly his expression<br />

sharpens back into focus. A quick roll of<br />

the shoulders and a few strides around<br />

the car park and you’d never believe<br />

Keep was hugging the asphalt seconds<br />

earlier. Soon he’s chatting with his crew<br />

in subdued tones. He already knows<br />

what went wrong. “Not getting the setup<br />

close enough,” Keep explains. “It was<br />

3ft higher than we thought, and it spat<br />

me out. I was too tense, and there was<br />

too much vert. That’s a lethal combo.”<br />

If Keep’s assessment seems matter-offact,<br />

well, he’s been here before. In 2017,<br />

he dropped a guerrilla-style video, Walls,<br />

on an unsuspecting public. It documented<br />


“As a kid, I would<br />

just huck stuff,”<br />

says Keep. “That’s<br />

why I’ve broken<br />

so many bones”

Bas Keep<br />

Keep slyly setting up makeshift ramps<br />

around <strong>UK</strong> cities, then launching off<br />

flyovers and overhead walkways to ride<br />

down the sheer sides of buildings. No one<br />

in or outside the bike world had seen<br />

anything like it. Two years and almost<br />

14 million views later, he’s working on<br />

a sequel – taller buildings, wider gaps,<br />

harder drops, More Walls. “People said<br />

to me, ‘You can’t do that again – there’s<br />

nothing else to do,’” reveals Keep. “I said,<br />

“There’s so much more – lots of buildings<br />

that haven’t been ridden down. I want to<br />

put my wheels places no one’s ever been.”<br />

This wasn’t the first time the bike<br />

world decided that Keep had peaked. In<br />

December 2011, he was given a lifetime<br />

achievement award by Ride <strong>UK</strong> magazine<br />

following a decade of victories at pro<br />

BMX competitions; Keep was just 29. “It<br />

was flattering, but a bit strange,” he says.<br />

“In my acceptance speech, I said, ‘They’re<br />

“Fear is normal.<br />

You have to<br />

understand that<br />

you can use it”<br />

just trying to get rid of me.’ The view is<br />

that when you hit 30 it’s time to step down.<br />

It’s a shame there’s that cultural attitude.<br />

We’re not playing in the Champions<br />

League, we’re expressing ourselves. It’s<br />

a lifestyle sport. And I’m still here.”<br />

Keep was 16 the first time he thought<br />

of retiring: “I’d tell my friends, ‘I’m going<br />

to give up this riding stuff and get a real<br />

job.’ So I worked in a furniture factory<br />

for few years, then a BMX distribution<br />

centre. But I began getting invitations<br />

to contests, so I decided to concentrate<br />

on riding full-time. It was a dream<br />

come true.” Then, in 2005, he become<br />

a sponsored rider for <strong>Red</strong> Bull. “I turned<br />

it down the first time,” Keep recalls. “I<br />

didn’t really know who they were. Back<br />

then, no one had drinks sponsors. Years<br />

later, they asked me again. By then, I’d<br />

been working alongside them putting<br />

on BMX events and they’d gained more<br />

respect in the scene. I was all up for it.”<br />

Today, Keep is one of <strong>Red</strong> Bull’s<br />

longest-standing athletes. “They’ve<br />

gained the admiration of a lot of core<br />

BMX riders because of how attentive<br />

they’ve been to the sport,” he says.<br />

“They’d come to us and say, ‘We want<br />

to help you do the stuff you’ve always<br />

wanted to do,’ and that’s so refreshing<br />

to hear. As a BMX rider, you can get stuck<br />

in your niche, but <strong>Red</strong> Bull told me to<br />

look outside the box – to translate what<br />

I’m doing to a wider audience.<br />

“It’s a bit like Brian Cox, the scientist.<br />

He translates what quantum theory and<br />

the universe are about in a way that we<br />

can understand. He makes it relatable to<br />

us dummies. I wanted to show people<br />

BMX. If you do a jump, it doesn’t look that<br />

big, but if you put it next to something<br />

people can relate to – a bus, in the city<br />

centre, down an alleyway – the scale has<br />

more impact. I couldn’t have come up<br />

with this concept without <strong>Red</strong> Bull.”<br />

The year after Keep was given his<br />

lifetime achievement award, he attended a<br />

<strong>Red</strong> Bull BMX contest at the Grand Palais<br />

in Paris. It was the epiphany he needed.<br />

“It must have been the most resources ever<br />

put into a contest course,” he recalls.<br />

“It was beautiful to look at. Nate Wessel,<br />

a famous ramp builder, had been given<br />

free rein to realise every idea he’d ever<br />

had, so he built this ramp that jumped out,<br />

then you rode underneath, back to where<br />

you came from. That’s where I got the idea<br />

for Walls. I said, ‘I’m going to take that<br />

idea to city centres, jump off bridges, and<br />

ride down buildings next to them. I knew<br />

I could do the manoeuvre. The only thing<br />

that would be difficult was getting ramps<br />

to the spots without being caught.”<br />

Keep and his crew have taken a break<br />

from filming and returned to their<br />

operations base – a draughty, graffititagged,<br />

rat-infested warehouse in an<br />

industrial park southeast of Birmingham’s<br />

Chinese Quarter. Inside, creature comforts<br />

are basic: seats ripped from a Transit van,<br />

a monstrous Bluetooth speaker, sheet-<br />


metal safety signs with legends such as<br />

‘Every 2.5 minutes one person is killed<br />

or injured falling at work’. Towering at<br />

the far end is the most important piece<br />

of furniture – a Walls-style jump-to-vert<br />

platform with an adjustable ramp that<br />

launches into a wooden wall. Duct tape<br />

marks the wall about 5m up, representing<br />

a crucial boundary. “Land above that line<br />

and you’re dead,” says Keep, casually.<br />

It’s here that riding intuition meets<br />

ramp-building expertise, although Keep<br />

admits it’s less of a science and more<br />

a twisted kind of art. “None of us is good<br />

at physics – we just work things out by<br />

looking at tyre prints,” he explains.<br />

This methodology may seem terrifyingly<br />

freeform, but the operation of making<br />

More Walls is positively militaristic<br />

compared with the grassroots techniques<br />

employed for its predecessor. “We wore<br />

hi-vis jackets [for Walls] because people<br />

don’t ask questions if you’ve got one on,”<br />

says Keep of the 2017 film. “It worked<br />

wonders. People didn’t even look at us.”<br />

Nonetheless, the team would arrive<br />

at a location at dawn and unpack the<br />

ramps as quickly as possible. “You<br />

couldn’t take a normal-sized ramp to<br />

some of these places, so we had to scale<br />

it down, make it lighter and thinner,”<br />

Keep says. “But the sound of the drills<br />

at 7am, oh my God, it was so loud.”<br />

For the sequel, the rider and his team<br />

have taken a more above-board approach.<br />

“We’ve got council permissions,” he<br />

explains. “A couple of hours to be at each<br />

spot, everything done correctly. I prefer<br />

it this way because there was more stress<br />

before. When I did the Croydon gap,<br />

there was a guy on a moped. No one had<br />

thought to stop him; this is how guerrilla<br />

we were. I was in the air and could see<br />

him. As I slid down in front of him, he<br />

stopped, looked at me and just carried<br />

on. It’s nice to know I’m not going to<br />

have any collisions with Domino’s Pizza<br />

deliveries this time.”<br />

Apart from filing council applications,<br />

Keep has found other ways to manage his<br />

stress. “I spoke to a sports psychologist,”<br />

he admits. “Going into More Walls, I was<br />

quite stressed by such a big challenge.<br />

It’s something that all BMXers battle<br />

with – that fear of doing something that<br />

could hurt you.” A strict schedule locked<br />

to permitted filming days didn’t help,<br />

either. “‘On October 25, you’re going to<br />

be jumping off that bridge, whether you<br />

feel like it or not’ – that’s not how we ride<br />

bikes. It’s like taking a penalty – the more<br />


Bas Keep<br />

“I like the<br />

moody, grey<br />

light,” says<br />

Keep of<br />

filming it all<br />

in Britain<br />

“At 16, I told my<br />

friends, ‘I’m going<br />

to give up riding<br />

and get a real job’”<br />

you think about where you’re going to<br />

kick the ball, the more likely you’ll mess<br />

it up. You’re not going with the flow. But<br />

[the psychologist] told me fear is normal.<br />

You have to understand that you can use<br />

it. OK, I’m scared, but I’m also excited<br />

and prepared. That helped a lot.”<br />

It was also a process that helped Keep<br />

when forces beyond his control – namely<br />

lockdown measures caused by the<br />

pandemic – halted filming for more than<br />

a year. “I’m relaxed about it,” he says.<br />

“You can’t waste energy worrying about<br />

things you can’t change. I’d rather spend<br />

five years getting it right than rushing it.”<br />

The break in production also gave<br />

Keep valuable downtime to appreciate<br />

another crucial change to his life: the<br />

birth of his son, Wilson, in 2018.<br />

“Nothing teaches you more about yourself<br />

than having a child,” he confesses. “It<br />

makes you want to preserve yourself –<br />

more so than I ever did. Now, I’m not<br />

scared to say, ‘Guys, I’m not feeling this.’<br />

Maybe it’s taken my mind off the<br />

individual pursuit of my career. Or it<br />

makes you enjoy your work more, because<br />

you can have a mental break from it.”<br />

Wilson has also provided Keep<br />

with many moments of introspection.<br />

“Suddenly your own childhood is back<br />

in your psyche. You remember how you<br />

were. Everything is new to him; the first<br />

time he saw a police car, it was like,<br />

‘Wow,’ and that makes it exciting for<br />

me again. It makes you realise how<br />

much you can love someone, and you<br />

appreciate your own parents more,<br />

too. I’ve come full circle.”<br />

Riding out walls, landing them,<br />

coming full circle – it’s more than just<br />

a bike trick for Bas Keep. Today, he’s<br />

still in touch with Dennis, the man<br />

who opened up this world to him.<br />

“We’re still friends,” says Keep, fondly.<br />

“I think he’s 70 now.” Passing on what<br />

he’s learned is important, too. In 2016,<br />

Keep formed his own bike company,<br />

Tall Order, to do just that. “We design<br />

our products specifically for ramps and<br />

transitions. It’s a niche within a niche,<br />

because street riding is where the money<br />

is, but I’ve never really been a street rider.<br />

“Also, other companies predominantly<br />

sponsor exceptional riders, but I wanted<br />

to sponsor normal, relatable kids who<br />

ride but just aren’t quite there yet. People<br />

are surprised to see how supportive we<br />

are of one another, and on the first day<br />

I started riding I was surprised, too. But<br />

that’s our community. If you started<br />

riding BMX tomorrow, I’d support you<br />

100 per cent, and then you’d teach your<br />

friend to drop in. It’s exciting to see them<br />

enjoy what you’ve been through.”<br />

There’s no better example of that<br />

ethos than a video Tall Order posted to<br />

YouTube last year. It shows Keep meeting<br />

a boy called Connor at a bike park. “He’s<br />

a great kid, and he loved riding his bike,”<br />

says Keep. “He also lives in one of the<br />

most deprived areas in the country. He<br />

was just having a good time riding, but it<br />

was a crap bike, absolutely broken. Lots<br />

of kids give up when their bikes break<br />

like that – it’s difficult to fix them and<br />

you need special tools. I saw him that<br />

day and I was like, ’We’ve got to help him<br />

out,’ so we gave him a bike. When we<br />

asked what he’d do with the other bike,<br />

he said, ‘I’m going to give it to my sister,<br />

because she wants to start riding.’”<br />

Today, the video has almost 3.5 million<br />

views. “But I didn’t want people to<br />

think that was the only reason we did it,”<br />

Keep adds. “And I messaged his mum<br />

on Facebook to say we hoped she didn’t<br />

mind us giving him the bike.”<br />

Back at Selfridges car park, the<br />

More Walls crew have returned for<br />

another attempt. Keep has been<br />

riding the earlier impact out of his hip.<br />

He comes back purposely out of breath,<br />

as if riding helps exorcise the demons of<br />

failures past. “You can’t have any doubt<br />

in your head,” he says, steadfastly.<br />

There’s barely a pause, then Keep hits<br />

the ramp for a second time. His wheels<br />

smash into the vert with the same<br />

intensity, but he rides it out as if on rails.<br />

A few more runs and you can see the<br />

precision dialled into his big air – the<br />

tyre marks on the vert are all grouped<br />

within centimetres of each other, like<br />

rifle shots on a range. “Once you’re<br />

doing it, you’re fine,” Keep remarks.<br />

“It’s like muscle memory.”<br />

To watch Bas Keep’s More Walls,<br />

scan the QR code<br />


Cosmic<br />

composer<br />

Award-winning composer, jazz<br />

saxophonist and bandleader CASSIE<br />

KINOSHI blends science fiction<br />

and fantasy to construct music that<br />

tells stories about modern society<br />

and the experience of being a young<br />

Black woman in Britain today<br />

Words LOU BOYD<br />



Space is the place:<br />

Cassie Kinoshi is<br />

taking jazz to as-yetunexplored<br />


Cassie Kinoshi<br />

“I will always go<br />

against the urge to<br />

be boxed into<br />

any one discipline”<br />

I’ve just woken up – I didn’t get back<br />

from my gig until 3am this morning,”<br />

laughs Cassie Kinoshi down the phone at<br />

the start of our early Saturday interview.<br />

“Sorry if I sound a bit out of it.” A busy<br />

schedule is standard for the London-based<br />

alto saxophonist, composer and arranger.<br />

When Kinoshi isn’t touring with her<br />

Mercury Prize-nominated 10-piece band<br />

SEED Ensemble, or playing as a member<br />

of the Afrobeat collective Kokoroko or<br />

female-fronted sextet Nérija, she’s<br />

composing and arranging scores for<br />

orchestra, film, theatre and dance, or<br />

creating installations for various festivals<br />

and residences. Weekend lie-ins, it<br />

seems, are not a regular occurrence.<br />

This extraordinary work ethic has<br />

already paid dividends. At just 28, Kinoshi<br />

is among the <strong>UK</strong>’s most accomplished<br />

musicians. Since graduating from<br />

London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of<br />

Music and Dance in 2015, she has enjoyed<br />

astonishing success, including a British<br />

Composer Award (Best Jazz Composition<br />

for Large Ensemble) in 2018, and the<br />

2019 Jazz FM Award for Breakthrough Act<br />

of the Year. Alongside band-leading and<br />

composing, Kinoshi also teaches young<br />

musicians and supports projects that<br />

promote music in the national curriculum.<br />

Having grown up in the leafy<br />

suburban Hertfordshire town of Welwyn<br />

Garden City, Kinoshi moved to South<br />

London a decade ago to study music,<br />

with the aim of composing for film and<br />

television. “I wanted to be exactly like<br />

[American film and TV composer] Danny<br />

Elfman – he was my hero,” she says.<br />

Kinoshi portrays her 18-year-old self<br />

as an enthusiastic and somewhat earnest<br />

undergraduate; she cringes at the memory<br />

of taking sheet music to a recital of<br />

Prokofiev’s Cinderella Suites at the Royal<br />

Albert Hall and reading along with the<br />

performance. From there, her influences<br />

grew more diverse, and soon she found<br />

herself inspired by composers from many<br />

different backgrounds and experiences.<br />

“Someone who’s been really influential<br />

to me is the classical composer Samuel<br />

Coleridge-Taylor, who was half English<br />

and half Sierra Leonean,” she says.<br />

“I also became inspired by the way that<br />

musicians such as Ornette Coleman<br />

and Vijay Iyer have combined their jazz<br />

and classical composition skills.”<br />

Kinoshi’s musical expansion grew<br />

further when she joined the jazz<br />

organisation Tomorrow’s Warriors in her<br />

first year at Trinity Laban, fell in love<br />

with performing, and found her crowd.<br />

“It was such a warm environment to<br />

learn not just about jazz but how to put<br />

yourself into your music; how to connect<br />

with other people and love the music<br />

you make,” she says. This led her to<br />

playing in collectives alongside other<br />

revered <strong>UK</strong> jazz contemporaries<br />

including Nubya Garcia, Moses Boyd<br />

and Sheila Maurice-Grey, and becoming<br />

the bandleader of SEED Ensemble.<br />

Whether she’s composing for a jazz<br />

collective, a film score or an orchestral<br />

project, what connects Kinoshi’s work is<br />

the way in which it starts conversations<br />

about society. Platforming and protest<br />

has been an element of her music from<br />

the very start – one of the first pieces<br />

she ever composed in school, she recalls,<br />

featured the inflammatory 1968 ‘Rivers<br />

of Blood’ speech on immigration by<br />

British Conservative politician Enoch<br />

Powell. “It’s something I always wanted<br />

to do in my work – to write about my<br />

politics and my personal experience as<br />

a black woman in the <strong>UK</strong>,” she says.<br />

In her compositions for SEED<br />

Ensemble, the message is more nuanced,<br />

but even the creation of the band was<br />

layered with meaning, with the intent<br />

of celebrating the <strong>UK</strong>’s vibrant musical<br />

diversity and planting ‘seeds’ of<br />

awareness of underrepresented issues.<br />

“Even though I grew up in a mostly white<br />

area in Hertfordshire, my friendship<br />

group was always different races and<br />

socio-economic backgrounds,” Kinoshi<br />

says. “SEED [Ensemble] is such a mix<br />

of people, and that’s important to me,<br />

because it presents lots of different<br />

interpretations of jazz and improvised<br />

music – and of life.”<br />

The band’s 2019 eight-track debut<br />

album, Driftglass – named after the 1971<br />

collection of short stories by African-<br />

American science-fiction writer Samuel<br />

R Delany – won both commercial and<br />

critical acclaim, along with a Mercury<br />

Prize nomination. A mix of Kinoshi’s<br />

original compositions and improvisation<br />

from various ensemble members,<br />

Driftglass explores modern-day issues<br />

such as race, class and social policy<br />

using themes from science fiction, space<br />

exploration and fantasy.<br />

“Science fiction has always been<br />

a point of escape for me – reading it,<br />

writing it, watching it, listening to<br />

music influenced by it,” she says.<br />

Delany’s words, therefore, seemed<br />

a natural fit for Kinoshi. “I love how<br />

beautiful a lot of his descriptions are,<br />

and how abstract a lot of the themes<br />

are while still being very real,” she says.<br />

“I just thought [science fiction] was<br />

the perfect medium and genre to<br />



“Science fiction is the perfect<br />

genre to express how I feel about<br />

my own existence in the world…<br />

that feeling of otherness”

“I’ve always wanted to include<br />

my politics in my work, writing<br />

about my personal experience as<br />

a black woman in the <strong>UK</strong>”

Cassie Kinoshi<br />


Taking root: Kinoshi (centre) with fellow members of SEED Ensemble<br />

express how I feel about my own<br />

existence in the world. Science fiction<br />

relates closely to feelings of otherness.”<br />

Album tracks The Darkies, Afronaut<br />

and Interplanetary Migration explore<br />

themes of identity and belonging<br />

through poetry and music, while W A K E<br />

(For Grenfell) speaks of the 2017 Grenfell<br />

Tower tragedy – where a fire broke out<br />

in a West London block of flats, killing<br />

72 people – through the words of poet<br />

and Harlem Renaissance leader Langston<br />

Hughes. “Tell all my mourners to mourn<br />

in red,” the poem states within the track,<br />

“’cause there ain’t no sense in my being<br />

dead.” Did these inclusions on the album<br />

start the conversations that Kinoshi had<br />

hoped for? “On a small level, yes,” she<br />

says. “I think that track has allowed the<br />

issues around Grenfell and that whole<br />

tragedy to still be talked about.”<br />

Since its release, Driftglass has<br />

widely been described by reviewers as<br />

‘Afrofuturist’, the artistic style that<br />

explores the intersection of African<br />

diaspora culture and technology. Was<br />

that a conscious stylistic choice, or a<br />

label retroactively put onto her music?<br />

“It’s definitely something that was<br />

put on afterwards,” Kinoshi says. “It’s<br />

something I’m still learning about<br />

myself. I didn’t write it thinking, “This<br />

is African futurism,” though I do see<br />

how some of the tracks can be read<br />

“I’m really inspired<br />

by combining jazz<br />

and classical<br />

composition skills”<br />

that way.” One of Kinoshi’s greatest<br />

influences is Sun Ra, the visionary<br />

1950s jazz composer and bandleader<br />

considered by many to be one of the<br />

pioneers of Afrofuturism. “But I feel<br />

like the way he came by it was really<br />

organic as well,” she argues. “It was<br />

just how he felt about himself and his<br />

music’s place in the universe. He also<br />

didn’t think, ‘Oh, I’d better jump into<br />

this concept of Afrofuturism.’”<br />

Speaking on this weekend<br />

morning, Kinoshi says that while<br />

SEED Ensemble’s current tour is<br />

at its tail end, the schedule isn’t<br />

about to become any less hectic. Over<br />

the next month she’s embarking on an<br />

artist residency at the London Unwrapped<br />

festival – a celebration of the past<br />

400 years of London culture, where<br />

she’ll present Echo, a sonic and visual<br />

installation with artist Anne Verheij;<br />

and an evening of new material with<br />

members of SEED Ensemble and the<br />

Aurora Orchestra. “There are quite<br />

a few layers to it, compositionally and<br />

musically,” she says. “I was approached<br />

by the programme director, Helen<br />

Wallace, to use the space to explore<br />

different layers of my artistic practice.”<br />

Filmed entirely with handheld<br />

cameras, Echo will be an immersive<br />

audio-visual triptych with London as its<br />

main character. “It’s very personal,” says<br />

Kinoshi. “It has a sort of nostalgia about<br />

London, but it’s also a very personal<br />

exploration of myself and on my own<br />

journey in coming [to the capital] and<br />

living and growing up here.” She laughs at<br />

herself: “It all sounds a bit overwhelming,<br />

so I hope people just find their own<br />

interpretation. It is quite abstract.”<br />

Kinoshi’s evening event with Aurora<br />

Orchestra will be more traditional,<br />

however, with new original compositions<br />

performed by principal players from the<br />

orchestra and Kinoshi’s own ensemble.<br />

“I’m really inspired by combining jazz<br />

and classical composition skills, and that<br />

is the inspiration here,” she says. “I was<br />

so happy when Aurora agreed to do it<br />

with me – I’ve wanted to write for them<br />

since university. They’re one of the most<br />

open-minded orchestras I’ve ever seen.”<br />

Will the coming year see Kinoshi<br />

delving deeper into composition and<br />

installation, or heading out on the road<br />

now the world is open and live music is<br />

back? She shrugs. “This year, I’ve put in<br />

a lot of work that I hope will come to<br />

fruition in 2022, on every front,” she<br />

says. “I think the media will always try<br />

to put an artist in a box, because it<br />

makes them more palatable and easier<br />

for audiences to understand, but I will<br />

always go against the urge to be boxed<br />

into any one discipline.”<br />

This suggests more music of all kinds<br />

from Kinoshi, as long as it platforms<br />

diverse voices and speaks frankly about<br />

society. “But I want the choice to always<br />

write about whatever I want,” she says.<br />

“Not just my politics and stuff like that.<br />

If I wake up tomorrow and decide I just<br />

want to write about cake next year, then<br />

I’ll write about cake.”<br />

Cassie Kinoshi’s artist residency at<br />

London Unwrapped takes place throughout<br />

November and December. Echo is being<br />

presented on November 19 and 20;<br />

Aurora Orchestra with Cassie Kinoshi<br />

will be performing on November 27; and<br />

Synthesis, her curated night with three<br />

artists – Lunch Money Life, Joviale and<br />

un.procedure – is on December 10;<br />

kingsplace.co.uk<br />


Beyond<br />

impossible<br />

Writer and climber Mark Jenkins<br />

ponders the audacious exploits<br />

and soulful purity of Canadian<br />

alpinist MARC-ANDRÉ LECLERC,<br />

whose story is told in the new<br />

documentary The Alpinist<br />

Words MARK JENKINS<br />

Mountain tension: Marc-André Leclerc, shown here<br />

on Torre Egger in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field,<br />

soloed dozens of groundbreaking routes

Higher calling: Leclerc, the<br />

protagonist of The Alpinist, had<br />

a deep thirst for experience that<br />

matched his outsized talents<br />



Marc-André Leclerc<br />

Leclerc soloed Mount<br />

Robson without telling<br />

the filmmakers. “It<br />

wouldn’t be a solo to<br />

me if somebody was<br />

there,” he later said<br />

“I<br />

as well shoot yourself, because that’s when people<br />

f you’re not young and<br />

brash between the ages<br />

of 17 and 24 you might<br />

are young and brash.” So says Alan ‘Hevy Duty’<br />

Stevenson – hula-hoop virtuoso, twinkle-eyed<br />

raconteur, and unofficial mayor of the rock-climbing<br />

community in Squamish, Canada – describing<br />

Marc-André Leclerc’s exuberant passion for<br />

climbing. “He belongs in a different era – the ’70s<br />

or ’80s, when it was wild. He’s a man out of his<br />

time.” These words capture the boundless joy and<br />

mortal intensity of The Alpinist, a film about one<br />

of the youngest, boldest and best of this breed in<br />

mountain-climbing history.<br />

In the opening scene, we witness Leclerc soloing<br />

a vertical ridge of horrid rock and useless snow,<br />

a delicate, deathly dance. As the camera pans out,<br />

you realise the young climber is more than 1,000m<br />

from the ground, and a nauseous feeling grips your<br />

stomach. Alex Honnold, star of the Oscar-winning<br />

film Free Solo and perhaps the most famous climber<br />

in the world today, is narrating the scene: “This kid<br />

Marc-André Leclerc. Canadian guy. Hardly anyone<br />

has heard of him because he’s so under the radar.<br />

He’s been doing all kinds of crazy alpine soloing.<br />

He just goes out and climbs some of the most<br />

difficult walls in the world. The most challenging<br />

that anyone has ever climbed.”<br />

In 2015, after Leclerc, then 22, made the first solo<br />

ascent of the Corkscrew route on Cerro Torre in<br />

the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, local climbing<br />

legend Rolando Garibotti called it “an ascent of<br />

earth-shifting proportions”. In the film, after Leclerc<br />

solos Mount Robson, the holiest and scariest<br />

mountain in the Canadian Rockies, veteran<br />

expedition leader Jim Elzinga states that Leclerc<br />

is “redefining what’s possible”. Canadian Barry<br />

Blanchard, who pioneered extreme alpine routes<br />

several decades ago, proclaims, “This is the<br />

evolution of alpinism, and it’s happening right<br />

now in our backyard with this young guy.”<br />

Given Leclerc’s otherworldly ability and<br />

equanimity in the face of death, The Alpinist could<br />

easily have been yet another bad outdoor<br />

documentary – headbanging punk rock laid over<br />

some superbody with a chalk bag, pulling a roof.<br />

No wonder mainstream film critics have largely<br />

ignored the genre. For too long, documentaries<br />

in this space have lacked character development,<br />

history, a real narrative. They’ve lacked irony or<br />

hypocrisy, doubt or nuance, betrayal, hatred or all<br />

the other dark things that make us human.<br />

I’ve waited 25 years for outdoor documentaries<br />

to grow up. A handful have transcended the<br />

genre’s action-focused limitations: Touching the<br />

Void (the 2003 documentary of Joe Simpson’s<br />

near-fatal descent of Siula Grande), even with the<br />

reenactments; Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog’s 2005<br />

film about US bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell),<br />

which has the grizzliest audio of any documentary<br />

ever; Meru (the 2015 chronicle of the first ascent of<br />

the Himalayas’ Meru Peak via the Shark’s Fin route),<br />

with the stunning cinematography of Renan Ozturk;<br />

2018’s The Dawn Wall, a film that finally talks about<br />

the honour of true friendship; and of course Free<br />

Solo. These films laid the foundations for The<br />

Alpinist, which plumbs the depths of a climber’s<br />

craft and creative soul better than them all.<br />


48 <br />


Hard act to follow: Leclerc became best known<br />

for his audacious alpine ascents, but his skills<br />

on rock were also off the charts

The Alpinist does what all great films do: it tells<br />

a story. The story of a driven young man drawn<br />

inexorably to climb immense, ice-plastered peaks.<br />

Yes, we watch him solo unimaginable lines, ropeless<br />

and as preternaturally calm as the clouds beneath<br />

his boots, but we also see him as a dorky, gangly kid<br />

enraptured by the outdoors. We see him lost and<br />

loaded on acid, tripping into a world he barely<br />

escapes (and only then because of his girlfriend).<br />

We see his boyish visage covered in blood after a big<br />

fall. We see him living in a stairwell like a proper<br />

dirtbag. We see him shy and inarticulate under the<br />

spotlight of nascent fame. Most importantly, we see<br />

Leclerc through the voices of others: his girlfriend,<br />

renowned climber Brette Harrington; his mother,<br />

Michelle Kuipers; and a host of famous Canadian<br />

alpinists. Even the greatest mountaineer of the<br />

20th century, Reinhold Messner, has a few<br />

portentous words: “Solo climbing on a high level<br />

is an expression of art. Maybe half of the leading<br />

solo climbers of all time died in the mountains.<br />

This is tragic and it’s difficult to defend.” In The<br />

Alpinist we get to know, if not fully understand, not<br />

only a climber but a human being – his strengths,<br />

weaknesses, desires and derangements.<br />

One of the first things you learn about Leclerc<br />

is that he’s deeply camera-shy and doesn’t<br />

give a fuck about fame. He truly is a<br />

throwback, as Hevy Duty says, to an earlier<br />

age. Believe it or not, there was a time when top<br />

climbers didn’t tell their followers what they had<br />

for lunch. Pre-social media, you shared your stories<br />

with your actual friends, preferably around a<br />

campfire. On an expedition, you spent time with<br />

your team discussing life, logistics and the weather.<br />

On my last few big trips, my teammates, with the<br />

modern magic of a satellite modem, spent their<br />

evenings sending images of themselves that<br />

masterfully massaged their public personas and<br />

completely misrepresented their actual feelings.<br />

Leclerc couldn’t give a shit. He’d solo something<br />

heinous and not tell a soul.<br />

His disregard for the media was problematic for<br />

the film’s directors, Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen.<br />

A perfect example is when Leclerc solos Mount<br />

Robson without telling them. When they finally get<br />

him on the phone, he explains, “It wouldn’t be a solo<br />

to me if somebody was there.” It ain’t easy to make<br />

a film about a man who doesn’t care what the world<br />

thinks. He’s like an Olympian who performs in his<br />

own gymnasium, without a single spectator, doing<br />

moves no other human can.<br />

If Leclerc’s cavalier attitude towards their film<br />

frustrated Mortimer and Rosen, they also admired<br />

him for his singularity of vision. “Marc was out there<br />

every day since he was a teenager,” Mortimer says in<br />

a phone interview. “To look at his climbing résumé,<br />

you’d think he must be 75 years old. He can’t resist<br />

the pull of the mountains. When a weather window<br />

opens, he has to be out there. He was on a vision<br />


Nature boy: The Alpinist shows Leclerc<br />

the super-gifted climber, but also the dorky,<br />

gangly kid enamoured with the outdoors<br />


Marc-André Leclerc<br />

“We were capturing<br />

Marc-André when his<br />

potential was becoming<br />

his reality”<br />


Gripping the moment: only a handful of elite climbers<br />

can free-solo hard rock routes, but free-soloing alpine<br />

routes is even tougher<br />


Marc-André Leclerc<br />

Leclerc did his solo<br />

ascents ‘onsight’ – on<br />

routes that he’d never<br />

even sunk his ice axes<br />

into before<br />


Hitting his peak: Leclerc atop the famed<br />

Northeast Buttress of Mount Slesse in<br />

British Columbia

Marc-André Leclerc<br />


“Some of the climbs<br />

he did were changing<br />

the face of alpinism”<br />

quest. It was pure. He didn’t have time or interest<br />

in thinking about the media or our film. We were<br />

capturing Marc-André when his potential was<br />

becoming his reality.”<br />

Leclerc typically kept only three people in the<br />

loop: his mum, sister Bridget, and Harrington.<br />

They understood who he was and why. He’d<br />

text them from the summit of one peak after<br />

another just to let them know he was safe. “Some of<br />

the climbs he did were changing the face of alpinism,”<br />

says his mother. “He was enough of a climbing<br />

historian to know that, but he had a total lack of<br />

interest in being famous.”<br />

Talking with Kuipers provides an insight into<br />

how Leclerc became who he was. Growing up,<br />

money was tight. “But it’s all about perception,”<br />

she says. “There are an endless number of things<br />

you can do without money; you just have to activate<br />

your imagination.” Without a car, the family walked<br />

everywhere. When it was raining and cold, Kuipers<br />

would create a story that imagined the children as<br />

intrepid explorers escaping someplace dangerous,<br />

or on their way to rescue a friend.<br />

Leclerc was a voracious reader, and from the<br />

age of four he knew the tale of Edmund Hillary<br />

and Tenzing Norgay’s pioneering 1953 summit of<br />

Everest. “He had a fascination with mountains from<br />

the beginning,” says Kuipers. Home-schooled from<br />

third to sixth grade – “Marc-André would drive his<br />

Strong hold: Leclerc on the south-west ridge of<br />

Baby Munday Peak in British Columbia<br />

sister crazy by talking in rhymes all day” – before<br />

skipping seventh, Leclerc was intellectually and<br />

physically precocious, but socially awkward. Aged<br />

14, he worked in construction with his dad to pay<br />

for his climbing gear. At 15, he screwed eyebolts<br />

into the beams in his basement bedroom and began<br />

hanging from his ice tools.<br />

As a youth, Kuipers says, “he spent a lot of<br />

uncomfortable nights out in the mountains, alone”.<br />

He became competent in how to deal with difficult<br />

situations. In the film, we see Leclerc trapped in a<br />

snowstorm in Patagonia but keeping his head and<br />

downclimbing to safety. We see him soloing the<br />

stunning Stanley Headwall in the Canadian Rockies,<br />

hanging precariously but precisely from his tools,<br />

the picks hooked on mere millimetres of rock. His<br />

sangfroid is spellbinding.<br />

But then so is his love for his girlfriend. From the<br />

earliest days of their relationship, Harrington and<br />

Leclerc were inseparable. They lived in the stairwell<br />

together, in the woods together; they climbed and<br />

climbed and climbed. “Marc is interested in intense<br />

experiences, living to the fullest,” Harrington says<br />

laconically in the film. When I speak to her by phone,<br />

she acknowledges that she was the same way, and<br />

this mutual need for life in extremis explains, at least<br />

in part, why they fell so deeply in love. “We matched<br />

in intensity,” she says. “The most meaningful<br />

experiences of my life are the climbs I’ve done in poor<br />

weather, in extreme places. I like that sort of thing.”<br />

Leclerc was the same. “He arrived in this world<br />

enraged to be in the body of a helpless infant,” says<br />

Kuipers. “He needed to start moving immediately. As<br />

soon as he could crawl, we were both a lot happier.”<br />

Notably, however, when Leclerc became a climber,<br />

this wilful rambunctiousness didn’t translate into<br />

a disregard for hazards like avalanches and icefalls.<br />

Leclerc would study every aspect of a mountain to<br />

determine the safest possible line. He would check<br />

the weather incessantly, calculating the exact<br />

number of hours before the next storm and how<br />

many it would take him to get up and down. As he<br />

says in the movie, “You can control what you’re<br />

doing, but you can’t control what the mountain<br />

does.” Kuipers recalls how one day Leclerc bicycled<br />

to Mount Slesse, soloed it three times by three<br />

different routes, but then called to get a ride home<br />

because he didn’t want to cycle across a narrow<br />

bridge during rush hour. “He was not a casual risktaker,”<br />

she says. “He was very clear on how much<br />

he disliked objective risk. Overhanging seracs, bad<br />

weather – he preferred not to take those chances.”<br />

Both Kuipers and Harrington feel the film does<br />

an excellent job in capturing the irrepressible spirit<br />

of Leclerc. Still, Harrington believes The Alpinist<br />

doesn’t fully express his technical mastery. “Marc<br />

put his whole life into rock climbing,” she says.<br />

“More than 90 per cent of the time we were climbing<br />

with a rope. Marc valued all aspects of climbing – aid<br />

climbing, ice climbing, alpine climbing – and wanted<br />

to be really well-balanced.” It wasn’t just about mixed<br />


Marc-André Leclerc<br />

In The Alpinist, we get to<br />

know not only a climber<br />

but a human being<br />

“We matched in intensity,” says Brette Harrington,<br />

shown here on a climb with her partner Leclerc<br />

climbing or soloing: “Marc could climb 5.13 slab.”<br />

Kuipers agrees. “Yes, Marc-André came into<br />

climbing with a lot of natural skill, but to get to<br />

where he did took years of single-minded<br />

dedication. I remember him practising clipping<br />

a carabiner over and over.” Leclerc practised his<br />

craft hour after hour, week after week, year after<br />

year. As he pulled off bolder ascents, people<br />

expressed dismay at the juxtaposition of his age<br />

and ability – most alpinists take decades to get that<br />

good – but his mum wasn’t surprised. “What is it<br />

that they say, 10,000 hours? Marc-André did that.”<br />

This is self-evident watching him climb in The<br />

Alpinist. Whether he’s rock climbing, ice climbing<br />

or mixed climbing, Leclerc’s movements are<br />

graceful and fluid. No jerky jumps, no too-long<br />

reaches, no desperation. There’s an almost sloth-like<br />

slowness, like a modern dancer performing a<br />

difficult manoeuvre. (I remember a mentor of mine<br />

telling me that to climb fast you must climb slow.)<br />

Experience creates confidence; confidence creates<br />

a calm mind; a calm mind creates a calm body; a<br />

calm body is capable of astonishing climbing.<br />

You can see Alex Honnold climbing with<br />

this kind of self-possession in Free Solo, but<br />

there is a deep chasm of difference: Honnold<br />

is climbing on solid granite, whereas Leclerc<br />

is on the most fickle of substances, ice and snow,<br />

and beneath this fragile layer is the kitty litter they<br />

call rock in the Canadian Rockies. If free-soloing<br />

hard rock routes is only for a handful of the most<br />

skilled climbers, free-soloing hard alpine routes –<br />

with the constant risk of avalanche, serac collapse,<br />

changing conditions, and little chance of retreat –<br />

is in the welkin of the gods.<br />

Furthermore, Leclerc did his solo ascents<br />

‘onsight’ – on routes he’d never even sunk his ice<br />

axes into before. Honnold practised the route<br />

he soloed on El Capitan for Free Solo again and<br />

again with a rope; Leclerc would show up below<br />

a massive mountain face and set off into the<br />

unknown. Would the ice be sticky and ‘thunker’<br />

or hollow and treacherous? Would the snow be<br />

‘styrofoam’ or bottomless mush? Nothing had been<br />

practised, nothing was wired or dialled. Onsight<br />

free-solo alpine climbing is the absolute tip of the<br />

arrow in the variegated world of climbing. There’s<br />

no margin of error, no net – there’s nothing but<br />

you. Imagine you’re an archer and you must hit<br />

the bullseye with every arrow or be executed.<br />

This is onsight alpine free-soloing.<br />

The casual viewer might see Leclerc as an<br />

adrenalin junkie. This is the misconception of most<br />

non-climbers. In truth, adrenalin is the enemy of<br />

good climbing. If you’re frightened, your ‘reptilian’<br />

amygdala – one of the most primitive parts of your<br />

brain – takes control, and your cerebral cortex is<br />

left out of the decision-making. This is when you<br />

do stupid things. A large part of climbing is learning<br />

to control your fear. The very best climbers shut off<br />

their fear like flicking a light switch.<br />

Right before the very end of the film – the actual<br />

coda is a tragic plot twist best left unsaid here – as<br />

we witness Leclerc pulling onto the summit of an<br />

ice- encrusted tower, alone, we hear the voice of his<br />

mother. “A lot of us live our lives thinking of the<br />

things we’d like to do, or the adventures we’d like<br />

to have, but we hold back,” she says with hope and<br />

pride. “That’s what really stands out to me about<br />

Marc-André’s journey. What is it that you would<br />

do if you were able to overcome the things you see<br />

as limitations, or the things you’re afraid of? What<br />

would you do?”<br />

The Alpinist leaves you dumbfounded by<br />

Leclerc’s prowess and nerve – climbers will be<br />

talking about this movie for years to come – but,<br />

unlike other good outdoor films, this is not the<br />

heart of the story. It is the portrait of an artist as<br />

a young man. Like Stephen Dedalus, James Joyce’s<br />

literary alter ego, Leclerc allows us to witness<br />

an awakening – physically, intellectually and<br />

emotionally – of the human spirit. Through ardour<br />

and intensity, he becomes who he dreams of<br />

becoming, right before our eyes.<br />

The Alpinist is showing at cinemas nationwide and<br />

available to stream later this year; thealpinistfilm.com<br />




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The high life<br />

Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, is home to almost 15 million<br />

people. Among them are some of the biggest names of the<br />

fast-growing music genre known as Afrobeats, making for a<br />

party scene like no other. But for revellers in this Nigerian hub<br />

the wealth gap is vast. From the gated compounds to the<br />

shantytowns, photographer Andrew Esiebo has captured it all…<br />

Words and photography ANDREW ESIEBO

“I attended this party in a neighbourhood called<br />

Lagos Island. At the end of each year, they have<br />

block parties playing loud, heavy music; they’re<br />

full of energy but also tension, because everyone<br />

wants a space in the crowd. Everyone is in groups<br />

with their own tables, sitting with others from their<br />

street. I try to be invisible to my subjects, but this<br />

woman was posing in such a way that she wanted<br />

to be seen. Her body language is empowered,<br />

even though she’s not giving eye contact.”<br />


Lagos high life<br />

“Lagosians love to party hard”<br />

Andrew Esiebo is internationally renowned<br />

for his photography examining gender<br />

politics, sport, culture and social struggles<br />

within Africa. But the 43-year-old Lagosian<br />

learnt his craft by capturing the people of<br />

his hometown more than two decades ago.<br />

“Lagos has been, and maybe still is, notorious for crime,” says<br />

Esiebo. “When I see stories about the city, they focus on that,<br />

or congestion and infrastructure. I rarely see the global media<br />

highlighting the vibrant culture, tradition and nightlife.”<br />

Esiebo was inspired to document Lagos’ parties after one<br />

night at a DJ set in the city. “It made me aware of the power<br />

of DJs and Afrobeats,” he says. “With the arrival of democracy<br />

[in 1999, after decades of military rule], and as the economy<br />

keeps booming, there’s more money in the hands of people.<br />

One way to express this wealth is through parties – and<br />

Lagosians love to party hard.” More than merely celebrating<br />

Lagos’ nightlife, Esiebo’s photos show the effect of rapid urban<br />

development on its people. “There’s a growing middle class<br />

and more opportunities for young people, but the bid to<br />

improve their lifestyle has led to a high level of inequality.<br />

Some parts of Lagos feel like totally different cities. But<br />

whether rich or poor, people want the same things. Even<br />

a guy who has no money wants to buy champagne.”<br />

Right: “We drink a lot of<br />

champagne in Nigeria.<br />

In 2016, Lagos was the world’s<br />

second biggest consumer<br />

of champagne after Paris. I see<br />

people at parties holding<br />

their champagne bottles till the<br />

very end of the party, even<br />

though they’re empty. This guy<br />

with a big bottle is in Ikeja –<br />

not really a poor neighbourhood,<br />

but also not one of the richest.<br />

In this VIP section, the more<br />

expensive the bottle you bought,<br />

the more privileged the space<br />

they gave you. I find people do<br />

this more often at working- and<br />

middle-class parties because<br />

it’s an aspirational act – they<br />

want to be like the big guys. The<br />

upscale parties actually don’t<br />

consume as much.”<br />

“This is the entrance to<br />

the club/restaurant Spice<br />

Route in the upscale area of<br />

Victoria Island. I took this<br />

photo because I loved the door<br />

– it has this ethnic design, and<br />

it showcases some of the city’s<br />

aesthetic. I also wanted to<br />

capture these doormen. It used<br />

to be that only high-end clubs<br />

had bouncers, but now I go to<br />

places and find there’s always<br />

someone at the gate. They’ve<br />

become a more typical element<br />

of parties across the city, and<br />

I wanted to show that.”<br />



“Jimmy’s Jump Off is an annual party<br />

supporting hip hop music in Nigeria.<br />

Before the explosion of Afrobeats, hip<br />

hop and reggae were the most popular<br />

styles of music here, and at that time hiphop<br />

DJ Jimmy Jatt made his name. Now<br />

he continues the spirit of the genre through<br />

this party. This is a photo of DJ Nana. It’s<br />

important to me because the DJ space in<br />

Nigeria is very macho; there are not many<br />

women at all – of the top DJs, there are no<br />

more than four or five. I wanted to show<br />

how women are breaking into that space.”

Lagos high life<br />

“Felabration is a week-long festival<br />

that celebrates the late Fela Kuti, founder<br />

of Afrobeat [the West African music genre<br />

born in the 1960s, not to be confused with<br />

Afrobeats]. It takes place every year at<br />

the New Afrika Shrine, a warehouse-like<br />

music space set up by his son. It’s intense,<br />

with thousands of people. Sometimes<br />

you can’t even get in, so they put large<br />

screens outside for people on the street.<br />

Crowds are an important element of Lagos<br />

life; everything we do is always in a mass<br />

of people. To understand the true scale<br />

and energy, whenever you look at a photo<br />

of someone partying in Lagos you need<br />

to remember that they’ll be part of a<br />

much larger crowd.”


Lagos high life<br />

“This is a picture of aspiration.<br />

The guy’s T-shirt looks like a Versace,<br />

but you can tell it’s a knock-off. Still,<br />

he’s confident. On one hand, this<br />

shot is talking about fashion – people<br />

want to wear Versace, but it’s not<br />

affordable, so the one way to feel like<br />

you‘re wearing the label is by having<br />

a fake. On the other hand, the guy’s gaze<br />

and the way he’s holding his body have<br />

a sense of connection, and there’s a<br />

feeling of power emanating from him.”

“Cigars are not a common<br />

commodity that you’d find on the<br />

street, but people smoke them<br />

because they aspire to be what they<br />

see on TV and in hip hop. You see<br />

Jay Z and others blunting the cigar,<br />

and guys [in Lagos] like to reenact<br />

it. I’m drawn to documenting this.<br />

For me, this guy smoking the cigar<br />

talks not only about consumption<br />

at parties but also how people<br />

reimagine themselves socially.”<br />


Lagos high life<br />

“This photo was taken at a party on Ilashe Island,<br />

a neighbourhood that’s popular for beach houses.<br />

A lot of luxury drinks companies sponsor high-end<br />

parties, and this one was courtesy of [cognac maker]<br />

Hennessy. It was called the All White ‘Privilege Party’<br />

– you took a boat from the island, the theme was<br />

privilege, and you had to dress all in white. It was not<br />

a party for the poor people. I wanted to show the people<br />

there; the dancing and the tensions between them.”<br />



Lagos high life<br />

“This was the earliest<br />

stage of my work on<br />

this project when<br />

I was first trying my<br />

hand at this theme.<br />

These women at the<br />

Jimmy’s Jump Off<br />

party were twins, and<br />

they looked like they<br />

were wearing a party<br />

uniform. The matching<br />

clothes, the high shoes<br />

— their style was so<br />

unique. People in the<br />

city will dress like<br />

this, with bright<br />

colours, patterns and<br />

accessories, but I’d<br />

never seen them<br />

matching it before.”<br />

“I don’t usually do wedding photography, but I wanted to explore these spaces for the project.<br />

Nigerian weddings are huge and super over-the-top, and [the top photo] is a high-end example of this.<br />

I love that it shows how people get into a state of ecstasy through music and dance. People wear<br />

traditional clothing at weddings as well as to church. Some offices let you wear it to work on Fridays.<br />

Nigeria is a multicultural society, and Friday is the day to express all our different cultural identities.<br />

“Wedding parties in Nigeria are also known for people spraying money all over the dancefloor<br />

[bottom photo]. They want to express that they’re rich and anyone who comes to the wedding can<br />

do it. Annoyingly, the government are trying to enforce a new law to stop it – they say it’s abusing the<br />

currency. This photo shows a small example compared with what a lot of people do at these parties.<br />

Sometimes the whole dancefloor will be covered in money.”<br />



WIIINGS.<br />



Enhance, equip, and experience your best life<br />



Sierra Nevada,<br />

USA<br />




Travel<br />

“Riding serious lines is an intimate<br />

conversation with nature.<br />

Being present, not having an ego<br />

and accepting what the mountains<br />

are saying is critical”<br />

Jeremy Jones, US pro snowboarder<br />

We live in a crowded world, but<br />

with the power of your own<br />

two feet – and a bit of knowledge<br />

and creativity – it’s still possible<br />

to walk upon untouched mountains,<br />

without seeing any other person, and ride<br />

the best snowboard lines of your life.<br />

I knew by the age of 12 that I would<br />

end up living in the mountains. Growing<br />

up in New England, USA, I’d started<br />

snowboarding at nine; by 16, in 1991,<br />

I’d gone pro. After racing for a few years,<br />

I switched to big mountain freeriding,<br />

doing first descents of the steeps in<br />

Alaska and beyond. Since then, I’ve been<br />

in 50-plus movies on snowboarding.<br />

Today, my home mountain range<br />

is the Sierra Nevada on the US West<br />

Coast, which I’ve explored for more than<br />

a decade. The Sierra is in excess of<br />

640km long and 100km wide, running<br />

north to south, with more than a dozen<br />

major drainages that you can easily<br />

follow into the thick parts of the range.<br />

And with a coastal snowpack that’s<br />

less complex and usually safer than<br />

in Colorado, Utah or Wyoming, it’s<br />

a splitboarders’ paradise.<br />

Splitboarding allows you to ‘split’<br />

your snowboard in half and use it like<br />

skis for climbing. This is faster and more<br />

efficient than walking in snowshoes.<br />

Add in a tent, a sleeping bag, and food for<br />

a few days, and I can get deeper into the<br />

mountain range, where there’s a vast<br />

ocean of peaks that see little-to-no people<br />

in winter. For me, it’s about getting past<br />

the guidebook, and I’ve burned millions<br />

of calories in the backcountry here.<br />

What happens when I walk deep into<br />

the mountains and set up a winter camp<br />

is that I’m presented with what I call ‘the<br />

wonderful problem’. I hit an objective I’ve<br />

been dreaming of for years, only to stand<br />

on top of the peak and see five more<br />

dream lines. This is what the wonderful<br />




Travel<br />

A brief<br />

history of<br />

splitboarding<br />

The splitboarding revolution<br />

began in the 1990s when Utahbased<br />

firm Voile released its<br />

DIY Split Kit, which allowed<br />

snowboarders to convert their<br />

boards – by sawing them in<br />

half. Since then, brands<br />

including Burton and Jones<br />

Snowboards have broken new<br />

ground, joined by emerging<br />

names such as Swiss maker<br />

Korua. In 2020, Burton reported<br />

that splitboards were selling<br />

faster than regular boards as<br />

lockdown restrictions<br />

prompted increased interest<br />

in the backcountry.<br />

Splitboards have a reputation<br />

for being heavier, stiffer, and<br />

harder to ride on hard-packed<br />

in-resort snow, but new<br />

refinements are bringing allmountain<br />

versions. Jones has<br />

spent years testing and refining<br />

‘The Solution’ splitboard. “The<br />

board is evolving, but the goal<br />

remains the same,” he says. “It<br />

rides like a normal snowboard<br />

that’s lightweight, but it’s<br />

still stable and durable.”<br />



Travel<br />

problem means – the more you do here,<br />

the bigger your hit list gets.<br />

Splitboarding took over my life for<br />

a variety of reasons. First and foremost,<br />

I realised that we can only take<br />

snowmobiles and helicopters to about<br />

five per cent of the mountains. These<br />

areas, as well as the areas you could hike<br />

to from the resort’s lifts, have become<br />

more crowded. If I wanted to get away<br />

and ride new lines, I needed to discover<br />

how to walk for long periods and live<br />

deep in the mountains. This realisation<br />

coincided with my awareness of the<br />

effects of climate change on the<br />

mountains, and how much CO2 I was<br />

burning when I went snowboarding.<br />

It’s the reason I started Jones<br />

Snowboards. The better the product,<br />

the further I can go. So when I improve<br />

a design, it’s a huge quality-of-life<br />

increase, because I spend so much of<br />

my life with a splitboard attached to my<br />

feet. This has unlocked so much new<br />

terrain in my backyard. And when I’m<br />

walking in the mountains, my mind is<br />

awake – it’s pretty much where all my<br />

ideas come from, which is why I always<br />

carry a notebook in my pocket.<br />

A key part of splitboarding is<br />

transitioning between walk mode and<br />

ride mode. When walking, we use skins<br />

stuck to the bottom of the splitboard.<br />

It’s important to align these when you<br />

fit them, but also to keep them dry and<br />

warm between uses, stashed in a<br />

pocket, because if they get wet or frozen<br />

they lose their adhesiveness. Glide by<br />

sliding your feet forwards, rather than<br />

lifting them up, and keep a constant<br />

rhythm. It’s also surprising how warm<br />

you get, so the mantra ‘Go bold, start<br />

cold’ applies. Add a layer when you stop<br />

to transition, but remove one when you<br />

start moving again.<br />

Alaska – the location of my latest<br />

film, Mountain Revelations – has so<br />

many peaks that look perfect for<br />

snowboarding, but finding one that’s<br />

safe to ride and walk up is tricky. When<br />

hiking, I’m on the mountain for hours –<br />

as opposed to minutes if you’re dropped<br />

by helicopter – so I need to ensure<br />

there’s not a big cornice or a serac that<br />

can fall on me. Then I figure out if the<br />

snow is stable. Having a clean outrun is<br />

also critical. This means if you fall or get<br />

swept away in an avalanche, you won’t<br />

be pushed over a cliff or into a crevasse.<br />

Riding serious lines is an intimate<br />

conversation with nature. Being present,<br />

not having an ego and accepting what<br />

the mountains are saying is critical.<br />

The Jones<br />

Solution<br />

Splitboard<br />

“The Solution is like my<br />

third kid,” says Jones.<br />

“I put real energy into<br />

freeride shapes that no<br />

other company wanted<br />

to at the time.” Stockist:<br />

snowboard-asylum.com<br />

The split is closed<br />

with a bridge that<br />

eliminates the<br />

need to drill bolts<br />

through it. “This<br />

makes for a way<br />

tighter connection,”<br />

explains Jones.<br />

Jones recently reduced the<br />

carbon footprint of his company’s<br />

boards by almost a third: “We’re<br />

constantly testing new materials<br />

that have fewer impacts on the<br />

environment. Our factory has<br />

gone 100-per-cent solar.”<br />



Travel<br />

Steel edges carve the snow<br />

better and give harder<br />

bite when side-stepping<br />

uphill, says Jones: “And<br />

when the board is<br />

connected, traction tech<br />

gives added structure.”<br />


Solid snowboards use 3D<br />

contouring to ‘spoon’ the nose<br />

for better performance, but<br />

no splitboard has had that<br />

until now. “It took five years,”<br />

says Jones, “and at times I<br />

questioned if it was possible.”<br />

I read their subtle signs and understand<br />

their moods, because splitboarding is<br />

a zero-mistake game. The mountains<br />

can change fast, and I need to be hyperpresent<br />

to see those changes. Still, I’ve<br />

experienced rolling down an unrideable,<br />

rock-strewn face where I shouldn’t have,<br />

which almost cost me my life. My mistake<br />

that day was overconfidence – I was in<br />

a rush and not present. Since then, I’ve<br />

developed a backcountry mental checklist.<br />

First, “mountains speak, and wise men<br />

listen” is a [19th century US naturalist]<br />

John Muir quote I live by. Am I present<br />

enough to read the signs? Next [on the<br />

checklist] is patience. Your agenda<br />

needs to be thrown out the window – the<br />

mountains don’t care that your only day<br />

off is Saturday. I don’t say, “I’m going to<br />

ride X,” rather that, “I’m going to look at<br />

X”. I don’t become mentally attached to<br />

a line until I’m dropping into it.<br />

Look for reasons to back down, and<br />

anticipate that the turnaround point<br />

may be at the top of a line you just<br />

spent hours hiking to. Late Norwegian<br />

snowboard legend Tommen Bjerknæs<br />

summed it up best: “Tomorrow is good,<br />

too. Ride for tomorrow.”<br />

Jeremy Jones is a US pro snowboarder<br />

and the owner of Jones Snowboards;<br />

jonessnowboards.com. He’s also the<br />

founder of Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit<br />

working to reduce the effects of<br />

climate change; protectourwinters.org<br />

NEVADA<br />

San<br />

Francisco Sierra<br />

Nevada<br />

Mountains<br />

Las<br />

Vegas<br />


L.A.<br />

Riding the<br />

Sierra<br />

Nevada<br />

Although the mountains are<br />

a backcountry splitboarding<br />

paradise, the best place to<br />

learn may be in resorts<br />

such as Mammoth Mountain<br />

and Palisades Tahoe, which,<br />

on average, get 10m of snow<br />

per year. You can hire<br />

mountain guides to take<br />

you through the process of<br />

walk mode and transitioning<br />

into ride mode. Also, next<br />

door to Palisades Tahoe is<br />

Alpine Meadows, which is<br />

known for its wide-open,<br />

off-piste bowls. All these<br />

resorts are accessible with<br />

the Ikon Pass, which covers<br />

a host of resorts across the<br />

US and Europe.<br />

ikonpass.com;<br />

mammothmountain.com;<br />

palisadestahoe.com<br />



YOUR<br />

WORKOUT,<br />


The Compex Mini offers up<br />

muscle stimulation and pain relief<br />

in a pocket-sized package<br />

New Year is traditionally followed<br />

by a ‘new you’ and an annual<br />

reboot of your workout routine.<br />

Going to the gym is tough on<br />

your muscles, though. From your<br />

warm-up to your cooldown, you<br />

stretch, strain, contract and<br />

extend your body in ways that<br />

you simply don’t do when sat<br />

behind a desk in everyday life.<br />

It’s understandable if you want<br />

to push yourself during the limited<br />

time you do have to work out,<br />

maximising every minute to reach<br />

your targets and goals as quickly<br />

as possible. But for every extra<br />

lift you do, or kilometre you run,<br />

there’s an increased chance of<br />

muscle tension, DOMS, and, at<br />

worst, injuries from overtraining.<br />

The Compex Mini solves all<br />

these common problems and<br />

more, enabling you to warm-up<br />

more efficiently, train harder and<br />

recover more quickly. The pocketsized<br />

muscle stimulator is perfect<br />

for use on the go, in the gym or<br />

at home, and is clinically proven<br />

to enhance your fitness – whether<br />

you’re an all-out bodybuilder or a<br />

lean-and-mean endurance athlete.<br />

Muscle stimulation works<br />

by sending safe electric pulses<br />

to your muscle’s motor nerves,<br />

creating low-level vibrations that<br />

oxygenate the muscles, or<br />

slightly more intense contractions<br />

that usually take place when<br />

performing cardio or weightbased<br />

workouts. The strength<br />

and intensity of the pulsations<br />

determine the type of muscle<br />

reaction, allowing the same bit of<br />

kit to be used to simulate lifting<br />

weights during a bodyweight-only<br />

session, flush your muscles<br />

of toxins post-workout, or give<br />

you deep-tissue pain relief in<br />

those extra-sore spots.<br />

The Compex Mini’s small<br />

stature makes it an ideal<br />

bit of kit for those who slot their<br />

workouts into an already jampacked<br />

schedule. The system<br />

is super-easy to control via an<br />

accompanying smartphone app,<br />

and there are six different modes<br />

to choose from, which can be<br />

modified and tweaked to suit your<br />

abilities and training progress.<br />

It comes complete with two<br />

wireless stimulator pods, six snap<br />

electrodes in varying sizes, long<br />

and short snap lead wires and<br />

a charging cable, all in an easy-totransport<br />

carry case. If you’re<br />

completely new to using a muscle<br />

stimulator, the app also provides<br />

guidance on electrode placement<br />

for the best results.<br />

For more information on the<br />

Compex Mini, or to view<br />

the full product range, visit<br />

compex.com/uk<br />



Equipment<br />

JBL Under Armour Project Rock wireless<br />

noise-cancelling headphones, uk.jbl.com<br />

EPOS H6PRO Open Acoustic Gaming Headset<br />

with detachable mic, eposaudio.com<br />

RAZER Opus X wireless headset with active<br />

noise cancelling and internal mic, razer.com<br />

SKULLCANDY Crusher Evo Sensory Bass<br />

with Personal Sound, skullcandy.co.uk<br />

TIM KENT<br />


Wall of sound<br />

“If music be the food of love, play on,” said the Bard. Clearly he’d have appreciated<br />

these professional headphones, whether gaming, training, or penning a sonnet<br />



Fitness<br />

RIDE<br />

Rolling revolution<br />

Indoor cycling is great for a home workout. In fact, the makers of this turbo<br />

trainer claim it will give you results as good as – if not better – than your real bike<br />

Turbo trainers have exploded<br />

in popularity over the past<br />

few years, but for dedicated<br />

cyclists these machines raise<br />

one question: how do they<br />

compare with the real thing?<br />

As far as the Wahoo Kickr<br />

Bike is concerned, the<br />

answer is: pretty damn well.<br />

Upload your body<br />

measurements, or a photo of<br />

your bike, to the Wahoo app<br />

and the Kickr’s five-contact-<br />

point system will generate<br />

the perfect fit. Likewise, gear<br />

shifters can be matched to<br />

your bike, or replicated from<br />

brands including Shimano,<br />

Campagnolo and SRAM.<br />

Up- and downhill gradients<br />

and riding resistance can be<br />

automated via compatible<br />

apps such as Zwift. And enjoy<br />

the reassuring simulated<br />

‘clunk’ when you’re shifting<br />

gears. wahoofitness.com<br />




Fitness<br />


It takes Evy Leibfarth<br />

90 seconds to paddle a<br />

slalom course. During that<br />

time, she’ll thread through<br />

gates, using her skills and<br />

fitness to navigate whatever<br />

the water throws her way.<br />

“I paddle on whitewater six<br />

days a week,” says the 17-yearold<br />

US competitive canoeist.<br />

“I love the adrenalin I get from<br />

racing.” Her approach has paid<br />

off; in 2019, she came fourth<br />

in the ICF Canoe Slalom World<br />

Championships in Spain and<br />

won bronze in Slovenia – the<br />

youngest woman to take a<br />

medal at a World Cup event.<br />

Then, in July this year, she<br />

made history as the first US<br />

female slalom canoeist to<br />

compete at Olympic level, in<br />

the women’s event debut at<br />

the Tokyo Games.<br />

Slalom canoeing is a mix<br />

of skill, strength and daring in<br />

which athletes must become<br />

adept at reading the water.<br />

“While we do paddle difficult<br />

whitewater sections, so<br />

much of it is technique,” says<br />

Leibfarth, whose father is a<br />

former US Team kayak racer<br />

and instructor. As a young girl<br />

growing up in North Carolina,<br />

Leibfarth would sit on her<br />

parents’ laps as they paddled<br />

easy waters, and soon she had<br />

her own boat; she entered her<br />

first race at the age of six.<br />

“I love the feeling, using the<br />

water to carry you places,” she<br />

says. “It’s not a sport where<br />

you just have to be fast or be<br />

strong; it takes core strength,<br />

flexibility and technique.”<br />

Here, the Olympian reveals<br />

the training needed to develop<br />

that perfect balance…<br />

The acid test<br />

“I often do two sessions on<br />

the water each day. I get onehour<br />

time slots and enter the<br />

water about 30 minutes before<br />

a session. To warm up, I usually<br />

do four 10-second sprints and<br />

a lot of turns – just circling<br />

around and pivots. On the days<br />

I’m doing a lactic workout, I’ll<br />

do 60-second sprints, which<br />

gets the lactic acid flowing<br />

before my interval workout.”<br />

Emulating exhaustion<br />

“I simulate being really tired in<br />

a race. Often in competitions<br />

there will be difficult moves<br />

at the bottom of the course<br />

that I have to paddle when<br />

I’m already tired. I do halfand<br />

full-length efforts on the<br />

practice course; also loops –<br />

just paddling down and around<br />

the course for about an hour<br />

at an aerobic heart rate, which<br />

for me is 155 to 165bpm.”<br />

PADDLE<br />

Rapid results<br />

America’s first female Olympic slalom canoeist reveals<br />

her training techniques for whitewater success<br />

Out of the water<br />

“I do three weight workouts<br />

a week: weighted pull-ups, leg<br />

lifts, that kind of thing. And I<br />

take two [bodyweight training]<br />

straps everywhere so I can do<br />

‘T’s, Y’s and I’s’, creating those<br />

letters with my hands. I also do<br />

two weekly aerobic workouts:<br />

a 45-minute ride or 20-to-<br />

50-minute run, depending<br />

on whether I’m working on<br />

training or recovery.”<br />

Crashing the foam<br />

“I foam-roll my back and do<br />

a lot of yoga for mobility. I’m<br />

not super-great at it, but I’ll<br />

pull up and try to follow a<br />

class on YouTube. I stretch<br />

every day. I love the seal<br />

stretch, where you arch your<br />

back to stretch it out. My<br />

favourite stretch is one<br />

where I lie down and bring<br />

my knees up over my head.”<br />

goevy.com<br />



Equipment<br />

Clockwise from top left:<br />

MAC IN A SAC Origin<br />

Packable Waterproof<br />

Jacket in White Camo<br />

(and packed jackets in<br />

Black Camo, Ocean and<br />

Yellow), macinasac.com;<br />

RAZER Blade 15 gaming<br />

laptop, razer.com;<br />

APPLE iPhone 13 Pro in<br />

Sierra Blue, apple.com;<br />


Beoplay EQ adaptive<br />

noise-cancelling<br />

wireless earphones,<br />

bang-olufsen.com; YETI<br />

Rambler 36oz (1,065ml)<br />

double-wall vacuum<br />

stainless-steel bottle<br />

with Chug Cap, yeti.com;<br />

TOPL Series 1 Regular<br />

12oz (354ml) reusable<br />

coffee cup, toplcup.<br />

com; MOLESKINE Smart<br />

Writing Set (includes<br />

Paper Tablet A5 Smart<br />

Notebook, Smart Pen<br />

with pen-tip ink refill,<br />

USB cable, and Volant<br />

XS Starter Journal),<br />

moleskine.com;<br />

APPLE iPhone 13 Pro;<br />

apple.com<br />

Opposite page, left to<br />

right: STUBBLE & CO<br />

The Roll Top 20L<br />

backpack in Urban<br />

Green and Tasmin Blue,<br />

stubbleandco.com<br />


Working wonders<br />

Recruiting the best gear for your rush-hour ride is like building a team<br />

– trust is key. Delegate roles to these hard workers and you’ll breeze it<br />



Equipment<br />

TIM KENT<br />



Equipment<br />

Do not disturb:<br />

the Relaxation<br />

Hoodie is inspired<br />

by isolation tanks,<br />

allowing solitude<br />

in any situation<br />

WEAR<br />

Fabric of<br />

space<br />

Getting ready for your manned flight to Mars?<br />

Here’s what you’ll need, from the workwear brand<br />

making garments for every possible future…<br />

“What is that you’re wearing?”<br />

enquires US chat-show host<br />

Jimmy Fallon from behind<br />

his interview desk. Comedian<br />

Jon Glaser is sitting in the<br />

guest’s chair. “It’s a Relaxation<br />

Hoodie,” Glaser says of his<br />

impossible-to-ignore,<br />

taramasalata-pink top. “It’s<br />

specifically designed for<br />

relaxing, down to the fabric,<br />

the aesthetics… You zip it all<br />

the way over your face, put<br />

your hands in the pockets<br />

and just… relax. And Jimmy,<br />

I got one for you.”<br />

The studio lights dim and<br />

both men zip their hoodies<br />

up over their faces and hug<br />

themselves. “Jimmy, I’m so<br />

relaxed right now,” says<br />

Glaser, “and one thing I like<br />

to do when I’m relaxed is sing<br />

opera. Is that OK?”<br />

“We had no idea he was<br />

going to get Jimmy to try<br />

one on,” says Steve Tidball,<br />

who co-founded experimental<br />

clothing brand Vollebak –<br />

creators of the Relaxation<br />

Hoodie – with his twin<br />

brother Nick in 2015, the year<br />

before its appearance on<br />

Fallon’s show. “Glaser is<br />

a gear-obsessive and a big<br />

fan of ours. After that, our<br />

business really took off.”<br />

By their own admission,<br />

this first iteration of the<br />

hoodie – which is now<br />

available in sell-out black,<br />

navy (pictured above) and<br />

electric blue – was a wacky<br />

attention-grabber, not least<br />




Equipment<br />

Full Metal Jacket<br />

Waterproof, windproof and... disease-proof? To some degree, yes – thanks to it<br />

being made from 65-per-cent copper. “The milling stage turns the copper into<br />

microscopic rope,” explains Steve Tidball. “Each strand is actually 25<br />

miniature strands, so if you were to unpick it, it would stretch 11km. Copper<br />

hasn’t received the same hype as silver. It’s a magic material with antimicrobial<br />

properties that naturally conducts heat.”<br />



Equipment<br />

The Mars Jacket<br />

“The outer shell is ballistic nylon, originally used in jackets worn by World War II airmen to shield them<br />

from shrapnel,” says Steve. “The fabric also recalls the look of original spacesuits – their functionality<br />

led the aesthetic. We knew our Mars uniform would require multiple pockets with Velcro, including an<br />

anti-gravity one that opens upside down. In fact, there are pockets everywhere, because in space a<br />

pocket near your shoe is as important as one close to your chest. We’ve also added a horizontal fly [to<br />

the pants], as seen on fighter pilot suits, as well as a vomit pocket, which is just a bit of fun.”<br />



Equipment<br />

Two heads are better than one: Vollebak co-founders Nick (left) and Steve Tidball<br />

because it came with its own<br />

“pink soundtrack” to help<br />

athletes achieve a meditative<br />

state before a big race. But<br />

then, blue-sky thinking is<br />

a speciality at Vollebak,<br />

where super-strength metals,<br />

fibres and nanomaterials<br />

more frequently found in the<br />

aerospace industries than in<br />

the world of fashion are used<br />

to create sustainable, highperformance<br />

adventure-wear.<br />

The Tidballs’ latest<br />

invention is less blue sky and<br />

more red dust. Conceived to<br />

actually be functional on a<br />

deep-space flight to the <strong>Red</strong><br />

Planet, the Mars Jacket and<br />

Pants have been through two<br />

years of R&D and numerous<br />

prototypes. “We’re space<br />

super-fans, and we felt it was<br />

our job to design workwear<br />

for Mars now,” says Steve,<br />

“because when space<br />

tourism takes off, we want<br />

to be at least 30 iterations<br />

in, not at the nascent stage<br />

of development.”<br />

The idea was that those<br />

same features should be<br />

eminently practical on Earth<br />

in the meantime, however. “If<br />

you design for extraordinary<br />

circumstances, you’re<br />

inevitably going to discover<br />

amazing things along the<br />

way,” says Nick. “Memory<br />

foam was invented because<br />

of the Apollo space mission.”<br />

This intersection of<br />

objectives is integral to the<br />

thinking at Vollebak. Perhaps<br />

it comes from the melding of<br />

their twin 42-year-old minds;<br />

the same DNA yet different.<br />

Steve has a degree in art<br />

history, and Nick studied at<br />

The Bartlett School of<br />

Architecture, University<br />

“Getting lost in<br />

a rabbit warren<br />

of research<br />

is what we do”<br />

College London. Before<br />

founding Vollebak, the pair<br />

worked as creative directors<br />

at TBWA – an advertising<br />

agency renowned for its<br />

disruptive ideas – during<br />

which time they masterminded<br />

campaigns for the likes of<br />

Adidas. However, both felt the<br />

opportunities for innovation<br />

were often stifled by the<br />

bureaucracy of big business.<br />

“We worked on brands that<br />

weren’t run by their founders,<br />

but by some old person in a<br />

suit in an office in New York,”<br />

explains Nick.<br />

That changed in 2015,<br />

when the brothers created<br />

the famous ‘floating house’<br />

for Airbnb, sailing a habitable<br />

70-tonne cottage down the<br />

River Thames. “We were<br />

dealing directly with [Airbnb’s]<br />

originators, Brian [Chesky],<br />

Joe [Gebbia] and Nathan<br />

[Blecharczyk]. Working with<br />

a trio who were our age [and<br />

were] fearlessly taking on<br />

the hotels was inspiring. We<br />

realised that businesses are<br />

actually inventions, dreamt<br />

up by people with vision.”<br />

Along with the Airbnb trio,<br />

the Tidballs drew inspiration<br />

from other entrepreneurs,<br />

including Yvon Chouinard<br />

of ethical clothing brand<br />

Mars-a-slacks: the Mars Pants (left) feature external Velcro strips for attaching tools (in space or<br />

on Earth). The Vomit Pocket (right) has a ziploc for safely storing anything (including bodily fluids)<br />



Equipment<br />

Patagonia, Apple’s Steve Jobs,<br />

and chef Heston Blumenthal.<br />

“Here was a man [Blumental]<br />

with exactly the same food<br />

ingredients as everyone else,<br />

and yet somehow he creates<br />

these amazing dishes,” Nick<br />

enthuses. “It was science,<br />

it was exciting,”<br />

Their own interest in sport<br />

also played a pivotal role.<br />

“We were taking part in<br />

ultramarathons and had a<br />

vested interest in sportswear,<br />

but how do you create a space<br />

in between giants like Nike<br />

and Adidas?” says Nick.<br />

The brothers often felt their<br />

performance and recovery<br />

was marred by the inadequacy<br />

of their kit, which was rarely<br />

engineered to an appropriate<br />

standard for endurance<br />

challenges in the Arctic,<br />

Amazon, and Namib Desert.<br />

“We saw it as our Ithaca – a<br />

journey full of adventure,” says<br />

Steve, citing Constantine P<br />

Cavafy’s 1911 poem inspired<br />

by Homer’s Odyssey. “Vollebak<br />

is addressing challenges we<br />

will face a century from now.<br />

Our entire climate will change,<br />

and we can’t ignore that. The<br />

last time we faced something<br />

this epic was 50,000 years<br />

ago, when humans migrated<br />

out of Africa.<br />

“If we know the weather is<br />

going to change and diseases<br />

will spread, let’s design for<br />

those things. The world is not<br />

waiting for another waterproof<br />

jacket or white T-shirt.”<br />

The <strong>Red</strong> <strong>Bulletin</strong>: What<br />

inspires you to create these<br />

unique garments?<br />

Nick Tidball: As a former<br />

architect, I was taught that<br />

all the materials in the world<br />

are yours to play with, and<br />

once you discover things like<br />

meta-aramid and para-aramid<br />

fibres, such as those used in<br />

our Garbage Sweater [derived<br />

from recycled firefighter suits<br />

and bulletproof vests], why<br />

wouldn’t you use them to make<br />

something totally different?<br />

Getting lost in a rabbit warren<br />

of research is what we do.<br />

If we can’t find the answers,<br />

it’s our job to supply them.<br />

“The world is<br />

not waiting for<br />

another white<br />

T-shirt”<br />

What are you looking for<br />

the answers to?<br />

Steve: The three questions<br />

we ask are: can you get<br />

nature to grow you stuff? Can<br />

you make stylish, resilient<br />

things that last longer than<br />

a human being? And what can<br />

you do with the stuff that’s<br />

already out there?<br />

Nick: We’re also reliant on<br />

other industries to create<br />

recyclable ‘loops’ we can<br />

attach to – we can’t be<br />

sustainable on our own.<br />

Electronic waste is polluting<br />

our planet, but it’s rich in gold,<br />

copper, silver and palladium.<br />

However, it’s still currently<br />

cheaper to mine for those<br />

materials using traditional<br />

methods. Someone has to<br />

pave the way for change; we<br />

want to be at the forefront.<br />

Your clothes undergo many<br />

years of R&D, but how do<br />

you cope when things don’t<br />

go to plan?<br />

Nick: When we visit factories,<br />

we chuck water on things,<br />

rip them up, set fire to them…<br />

I get interested when experts<br />

say no to our suggestions,<br />

because it means that they<br />

haven’t done these things<br />

before, which often leads to<br />

new discoveries.<br />

Steve: One thing you’re<br />

trained to do in advertising<br />

is recognise that your idea<br />

might be terrible and you<br />

may have to abandon it, no<br />

matter how attached to it<br />

you are. The key is to exhaust<br />

all possibilities. Our Graphene<br />

Jacket is a case in point. The<br />

challenge with this material<br />

[which is 200 times stronger<br />

than steel, lighter than paper,<br />

and won its inventors,<br />

professors Andre Geim and<br />

Kostya Novoselov, the 2010<br />

Nobel Prize in Physics] is<br />

that the nanoparticles are<br />

scattered over the surface<br />

like tiny Rubik’s Cubes. Only<br />

the material doesn’t behave<br />

the way you want it to –<br />

sometimes these carbon<br />

atoms cluster together, and if<br />

they’re not evenly distributed,<br />

the jacket won’t store heat<br />

the way it’s intended to. The<br />

Italian mill that supported us<br />

with this project is the same<br />

one that created the material<br />

for [US swimmer] Michael<br />

Phelps’ ‘speed suit’ for the<br />

2008 Beijing Olympics.<br />

Reverse engineered: one side of the Graphene Jacket is made from graphene – a superstrong<br />

layer of graphite one atom thick – the other is nylon. Wear it either way around<br />

Now that you’ve made<br />

clothing fit for Mars, will you<br />

be giving Elon Musk a call?<br />

Steve: Actually, two years<br />

ago we rented a huge<br />

billboard outside his office<br />

[in Hawthorne, California]<br />

for a couple of thousand<br />

dollars. We’d just released<br />

our Deep Sleep Cocoon, for<br />

hibernating in deep space.<br />

The poster read: “Our jacket<br />

is ready. How is your<br />

rocket going?” Elon didn’t get<br />

in touch, but NASA did.<br />

So we’re talking to them now.<br />

vollebak.com<br />



Equipment<br />


Shades<br />

of glory<br />

Blinding rays, biting<br />

winds, stinging snow –<br />

all nemeses of a skier’s<br />

eyeballs when on the<br />

piste. Keep out the lot<br />

with these protective<br />

ski goggles<br />

From top: DRAGON<br />

NFX2 Kimmy Fasani<br />

Signature goggles with<br />

Lumalens Violet lens,<br />

dragonalliance.com;<br />

SPY Marauder Elite<br />

Matte Colorblock 2.0<br />

Happy Blue goggles<br />

with Happy Bronze<br />

and Light Blue Spectra<br />

Mirror lens, spyoptic.<br />

eu; RED BULL BY<br />

SPECT Solo 05 goggles,<br />

specteyewear.com;<br />


Interstellar RIG<br />

Reflect goggles,<br />

sweetprotection.com;<br />

POC Zonula Clarity<br />

Comp goggles in<br />

Uranium Black with<br />

Spektris Blue lens,<br />

pocsports.com<br />

TIM KENT<br />



Gaming<br />

Go on the defensive<br />

Thanks to faster hardware in<br />

the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox<br />

Series X/S consoles, the virtual<br />

player AI in FIFA 22 makes six<br />

times as many decisions as<br />

before. This is particularly<br />

noticeable in defence, where<br />

players work as a unit, moving<br />

around the pitch like an Arrigo<br />

Sacchi-era AC Milan tribute<br />

act. “Consider defenders the<br />

bedrock of a long-term titlewinning<br />

project,” says Pessoa.<br />

“It’s tempting to favour big<br />

names, but a mix of youth and<br />

experience is best.”<br />


Career<br />

goals<br />

In FIFA 22, you control a<br />

virtual squad of footballing<br />

heroes. Master it and you<br />

could become a legend of<br />

the game yourself<br />

The football season in Europe<br />

may kick off in August, but<br />

for millions of sports fans<br />

around the world it doesn’t<br />

truly begin until the new FIFA<br />

game drops. What began in<br />

1993 as a simple but excellent<br />

football sim has grown into<br />

the biggest-selling sports<br />

video-game franchise of all<br />

time. FIFA is a technological<br />

and licensing juggernaut that<br />

cuts deals with virtually every<br />

governing body in the sport,<br />

and for which an entire 11-vs-<br />

11 football match is recorded<br />

with players wearing Xsens<br />

motion-capture suits. All this<br />

ensures that when one of<br />

your players executes a move,<br />

they look exactly like their<br />

real-life counterpart, right<br />

down to their hairstyle and<br />

the angle of their feet when<br />

they strike the ball.<br />

But for some devotees,<br />

such as Ryan Pessoa, it’s more<br />

than a game; the Man City<br />

esports pro and <strong>Red</strong> Bull<br />

player has made a career<br />

from his FIFA skills. Here are<br />

Pessoa’s tips on getting the<br />

best out of the most realistic<br />

edition to date, FIFA 22…<br />

Connect the dots<br />

Ask any lower-division<br />

footballer what it’s like to face<br />

Premier League opposition<br />

and they’ll talk about the<br />

“Don’t just<br />

buy Messi,<br />

Mbappe and<br />

Neymar”<br />

Ryan Pessoa<br />

precision of the passing. In<br />

previous iterations of FIFA,<br />

passing was too easy, with<br />

the ball zipping around as if on<br />

a string, but now only the best<br />

players can successfully pull<br />

off those raking 40-yarders.<br />

“Premier League fans should<br />

look to young stars like Phil<br />

Foden and Mason Mount for<br />

their midfield,” recommends<br />

Pessoa. “I’m trying Martin<br />

Ødegaard now he’s signed<br />

permanently for Arsenal.”<br />

The common theme here?<br />

Amazing passing stats.<br />

Remember to look<br />

after number one<br />

Goalkeepers play a mostly<br />

passive role in FIFA. You don’t<br />

control them in the same way<br />

as outfield players, and they<br />

either do their job or they<br />

don’t. FIFA 22 changes the<br />

way they behave, reflecting<br />

personal styles and levels of<br />

the sport so a world-class<br />

sweeper keeper is discernible<br />

from a pure shot-stopper. “It’s<br />

worth getting PSG’s Gianluigi<br />

Donnarumma,” says Pessoa.<br />

“He won Euro 2020 with Italy<br />

and is a remarkably complete<br />

goalkeeper for 22 years old.”<br />

Start a club<br />

Career Mode gives you control<br />

of a club throughout a full<br />

season, but if your favourite<br />

team disappoints in real life,<br />

why play as them and extend<br />

the agony? This year, you<br />

can create your own club,<br />

customising every detail – but<br />

plan for the long haul. “Don’t<br />

just buy Messi, Mbappe and<br />

Neymar,” says Pessoa. “Look<br />

for young players with high<br />

potential. A solid midfielder<br />

or wide player can keep you<br />

going for years.” We hear <strong>Red</strong><br />

Bull Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi<br />

is a bit handy in front of goal...<br />

Take it easy<br />

The most popular way to play<br />

FIFA is Ultimate Team – the<br />

digital equivalent of collecting<br />

Panini stickers, where fans buy<br />

‘packs’ of players to build a<br />

squad worthy of competing in<br />

an Elite Division and real-life<br />

esports tournaments such as<br />

the ones Pessoa plays in. But<br />

all that is irrelevant if you can’t<br />

hold it together. “Take a break<br />

after a loss,” says Pessoa. “Go<br />

straight into another match<br />

and you’ll still be playing the<br />

last opponent in your head.<br />

Come back even a few minutes<br />

later and you’ll play a lot better.”<br />

And the best new Ultimate<br />

Team feature? You can turn<br />

off the opposing team’s goal<br />

celebrations so you don’t have<br />

to watch them gloat.<br />

FIFA 22 is out now on PS5, Xbox<br />

Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC<br />

and Nintendo Switch; ea.com<br />




Gaming<br />

PLAY<br />

Level up<br />

Bad kit equals game over.<br />

Whether it’s Valorant on PC,<br />

Half-Life in VR, or Halo<br />

Infinite on Xbox, this gear<br />

will put you in beast mode<br />

Clockwise from top: EPOS<br />

Sennheiser GSP 601 Closed<br />

Acoustic Gaming Headset,<br />

eposaudio.com; RAZER Kishi<br />

Universal Gaming Controller<br />

for smartphones, razer.com;<br />

HTC VIVE Pro 2 VR headset and<br />

controllers, vive.com; RAZER<br />

Wolverine V2 Wired Gaming<br />

Controller for Xbox Series X,<br />

and Huntsman V2 optical<br />

gaming keyboard, razer.com;<br />

LOGITECH G Pro X Superlight<br />

gaming mouse, logitechg.com<br />

TIM KENT<br />



How To<br />

LEARN<br />

To bury the hatchet<br />

In an age when tempers are frayed and we’re quick to write each other off,<br />

forgiveness has never been more relevant…<br />

William Fergus Martin has<br />

given more thought to<br />

forgiveness than most. Not<br />

because he carries around<br />

a list of names longer than<br />

Arya Stark’s in Game of<br />

Thrones, but because one<br />

day the idea that we could<br />

all benefit from being more<br />

forgiving just happened to<br />

pop into his mind.<br />

“I was writing an article<br />

for a dating site, along the<br />

lines of ‘How to make<br />

yourself happy rather than<br />

try to find someone else to<br />

make you happy,’” says the<br />

Glaswegian author, “and<br />

the idea about forgiveness<br />

came to me unexpectedly.<br />

The next day, I sat in front<br />

of my computer and another<br />

set of ideas sprung to mind.<br />

The material became<br />

enough for a book.”<br />

Forgiveness is Power:<br />

a User’s Guide to Why<br />

and How to Forgive was<br />

published in 2013. Martin<br />

followed this by setting up<br />

a registered charity, The<br />

Global Forgiveness Initiative,<br />

to provide information and<br />

workshops to those wanting<br />

to let forgiveness into their<br />

lives – whether that’s dealing<br />

with gaslighting, self-esteem<br />

issues, or the current<br />

polarising topics of the day.<br />

“There’s the whole vax/<br />

anti-vax issue – people get<br />

angry at those who wear<br />

masks, and vice versa,” says<br />

Martin. “The situation is<br />

bringing out the best and<br />

worst in people. Everything<br />

benefits when we’re more<br />

“Everything<br />

benefits when<br />

we are more<br />

forgiving”<br />

William Fergus Martin<br />

forgiving. It brings peace of<br />

mind, freedom, happiness.”<br />

Easier said than done?<br />

Perhaps not. “People have<br />

fears around forgiveness,<br />

often because no one has<br />

shown them how to do it.<br />

I define it as letting go of pain<br />

from the past.” Here, he<br />

explains how to do it…<br />

Make a list<br />

“The first thing I ask is,<br />

‘Why would you not want to<br />

forgive this person?’ Maybe<br />

you’re afraid because then<br />

you’ll have to put up with<br />

them. Write a mission plan:<br />

‘I want to forgive X for Y.’<br />

You might be unsure you<br />

actually do, but it’s like trying<br />

on a jacket that you’re not<br />

sure you want to buy – you’re<br />

just getting a feel for it.”<br />

Connect with<br />

your emotions<br />

“What are your current<br />

feelings? Maybe you’re<br />

vengeful, or afraid of conflict.<br />

Perhaps you feel guilty about<br />

not wanting to forgive. It’s<br />

a dialogue between the<br />

higher, noble part of<br />

yourself that might want to<br />

forgive and the gut feeling<br />

of hurt. The more honest<br />

you are, the more this will<br />

help reconcile the two parts<br />

of your mind.”<br />

Think of the benefits<br />

“Imagine you’ve completely<br />

forgiven the person – what<br />

would be different? Maybe<br />

you’d get peace of mind or<br />

feel you could be friends<br />

again. It can be a tangible<br />

benefit. You might forgive<br />

your boss, which could lead<br />

to you performing better<br />

at work and getting a<br />

promotion. Adding a benefit<br />

provides motivation, which<br />

can help shift your mindset.”<br />

Rinse, repeat<br />

“Now go back to step one<br />

and see if there’s anything<br />

else you want to add. Maybe<br />

you need to rephrase what<br />

you want to forgive them<br />

for, or perhaps your feelings<br />

have changed. Keep working<br />

through these steps until<br />

there’s a shift in attitude. It<br />

has astonished me how little<br />

catharsis often needs to<br />

happen before people are<br />

ready to forgive.”<br />

Consider next steps<br />

“I can teach people how<br />

to let go of the pain, but<br />

reconciliation is a separate<br />

step. Forgiveness can<br />

include ‘goodbye’ – you can<br />

forgive them, but they might<br />

be too abusive to have an<br />

ongoing relationship with.<br />

You might have no contact<br />

with them, but getting rid<br />

of heavy feelings can make<br />

it clearer what to do next.<br />

Forgiveness is unconditional,<br />

but reconciliation isn’t –<br />

perhaps you could go to<br />

a councillor together.<br />

That’s a different process.”<br />

Martin’s publications,<br />

including the ebook Four<br />

Steps to Forgiveness,<br />

are available at global<br />

forgivenessinitiative.com<br />



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The iconic Italian brand 3T is celebrating its 60th anniversary<br />

in style, giving you the chance to own a piece of history<br />

Turning 60 brings to mind<br />

slowing down, putting<br />

your feet up, and getting<br />

into things like gardening.<br />

Not for 3T. Although it’s<br />

entering its seventh decade,<br />

the Italian cycling manufacturer<br />

is just getting started, launching<br />

fresh and new concepts that<br />

tap into its history and heritage<br />

of continuous innovation and<br />

the drive to be first.<br />

Founded in 1961 as<br />

Tecnologia del Tubo Torinese<br />

(Turin Tube Technology),<br />

the Italian manufacturer has<br />

built a reputation for designing<br />

light, strong and eye-catching<br />

products – from record-breaking<br />

handlebars used by the likes<br />

of Eddy Merckx, to boundarypushing<br />

road bikes with World<br />

Tour status. Its limited-edition<br />

Dreambox, marking the big<br />

six-0, is the latest in a string<br />

of iconic releases.<br />

The centrepiece of the<br />

Dreambox is a specially created<br />

3T Exploro RaceMax Italia.<br />

The world’s first aero gravel bike<br />

on release in 2020, the Exploro<br />

RaceMax offers riders the speed<br />

of a road bike, but on unpaved<br />

paths. The Italia edition marks<br />

the start of 3T producing<br />

frames in Italy – a process it<br />

began exploring back in 2018.<br />

The carbon-fibre frameset is<br />

engineered and produced at<br />

the newly opened 3T factory<br />

in Lombardy before being<br />

painted in Veneto. Assembly<br />

is also done in-house, and in<br />

collaboration with Campagnolo,<br />

Pirelli, Fizik, Elite and Carbon-Ti,<br />

3T has pieced together a bike<br />

that is the pinnacle of high-end<br />

Italian design.<br />

It doesn’t end there, though.<br />

The Dreambox is a fully stocked<br />

cycling gift box, and comes<br />

with a completely custom and<br />

colour-matched wardrobe<br />

of kit – including Castelli jersey<br />

and bib shorts, Kask helmet, Koo<br />

sunglasses, Fizik shoes and Elite<br />

bidons – while Campagnolo’s Big<br />

Corkscrew could come in handy<br />

after a long day in the saddle.<br />

The Dreambox itself is a<br />

piece of art, too. A solid 200kg<br />

construction, the motorised bike<br />

garage opens and closes at<br />

the click of a remote control<br />

button, and provides a state-ofthe-art<br />

storage solution for the<br />

bike and all the additional gear.<br />

Limited to 60, the Dreambox<br />

is available now for<br />

€19,610. Find out more at<br />

60thanniversary.3t.bike<br />



Calendar<br />

9November to 15 January<br />


Detailing the behind-the-scenes<br />

dramas of Steven Spielberg’s 1975<br />

blockbuster thriller Jaws – including<br />

feuds between its principal actors<br />

and the perpetual malfunctioning of<br />

its biggest star, the mechanical shark<br />

– this West End play has battled<br />

crises of its own, having been<br />

postponed since May 2020 due to<br />

lockdown. But finally the production<br />

is setting sail, written by and starring<br />

Ian Shaw (son of actor Robert Shaw,<br />

aka shark hunter Quint in Jaws), who<br />

portrays his father with an uncanny<br />

resemblance, as seen below.<br />

Ambassadors Theatre, London;<br />

theambassadorstheatre.co.uk<br />

9<br />


9<br />

November onwards<br />


What to do when you’ve been preparing to<br />

achieve perfect scores in the upcoming World<br />

Surf League Championship Tour only to find<br />

the season cancelled due to a pandemic? For<br />

Californian pro surfer Kolohe Andino and his<br />

friends in 2020, the solution was to score<br />

perfect waves of a different kind, heading<br />

to remote Indonesia to ride gorgeously empty<br />

swells and reconnect with the essence<br />

of what surfing is all about. redbull.com<br />

November onwards<br />


At the age of 15, Anna Gasser decided she’d had enough of her sport. That sport was<br />

gymnastics, and she hasn’t looked back. Today, the Austrian athlete is better known<br />

as a pro snowboarder who has won two Winter X Games, the 2017 Snowboard World<br />

Championships, took the inaugural Big Air gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics, and<br />

became the first woman to score a Cab Double Cork 900 and a Cab Triple Underflip.<br />

Now, at 30, Gasser is expanding her horizons once again, this time with backcountry<br />

riding. This film tracks the legend and shows her amazing ability to succeed. redbull.com<br />



Calendar<br />

1to 31 December<br />


The Troxy has survived tough<br />

times. Having opened in 1933 as<br />

the <strong>UK</strong>’s biggest cinema, this east<br />

London venue closed in the ’60s,<br />

later becoming a bingo hall. So<br />

it’s fitting that, after a perilous<br />

period for cinemas, the Troxy is<br />

hosting a festive film extravaganza<br />

including Elf, Love Actually, and a<br />

live ‘Story of Christmas’ pre-show<br />

by George the Poet. The Troxy,<br />

London; backyardcinema.co.uk<br />

9 19<br />

to 20 November<br />


Jamie Hale is a queer/crip poet,<br />

actor, playwright, and the director<br />

of this showcase of music, dance<br />

and spoken-word performances.<br />

Presented by a collective of disabled<br />

and D/deaf artists. the event aims<br />

to inform, celebrate and challenge<br />

preconceptions about their lives. Hale<br />

opens proceedings with Not Dying,<br />

their thought-provoking personal tale<br />

of living with progressive disability.<br />

Barbican, London; barbican.org<br />

November onwards<br />


The beauty and elegance of freeskiing has been perfectly captured through countless highproduction<br />

snow films. Sometimes perhaps too perfectly. For this one, Austrian director<br />

Fabi Hyden wanted something more real; the title references the intensive hours that go<br />

into making one of these films. “Some days, the crew starts touring at 1am to ski lines at<br />

sunrise,” Hyden says, “or stays out till dark to shoot sunset sessions.” Long Days features<br />

pro riders from the Legs of Steel ski collective, including the <strong>UK</strong>’s own Paddy Graham, with<br />

each athlete individually mic’d up, and the real-time 4K footage features zero slow-mo.<br />

The result, says the filmmaker, is “raw and back to the roots of freeskiing”. redbull.com<br />




THE RED<br />



The <strong>Red</strong><br />

<strong>Bulletin</strong> is<br />

published in six<br />

countries. This is<br />

the cover of our<br />

US ‘Heroes 2021’<br />

edition for December,<br />

featuring Olympic<br />

gold-medallist and<br />

five-time World Surf<br />

League champion<br />

Carissa Moore<br />

For more stories<br />

beyond the ordinary,<br />

go to: redbulletin.com<br />

The <strong>Red</strong> <strong>Bulletin</strong> <strong>UK</strong>.<br />

ABC certified distribution<br />

145,193 (Jan-Dec 2020)<br />

Head of The <strong>Red</strong> <strong>Bulletin</strong><br />

Alexander Müller-Macheck, Sara Car-Varming (deputy)<br />

Editors-in-Chief<br />

Andreas Rottenschlager, Andreas Wollinger (deputy)<br />

Creative Directors<br />

Erik Turek, Kasimir Reimann (deputy)<br />

Art Directors<br />

Marion Bernert-Thomann, Miles English, Tara Thompson<br />

Designers<br />

Martina de Carvalho-Hutter, Kevin Faustmann-Goll,<br />

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Photo Editors<br />

Eva Kerschbaum (manager), Marion Batty (deputy),<br />

Susie Forman, Tahira Mirza, Rudi Übelhör<br />

Digital Editors<br />

Christian Eberle-Abasolo (manager),<br />

Marie-Maxime Dricot, Melissa Gordon,<br />

Lisa Hechenberger, Elena Rodriguez Angelina<br />

Head of Audio<br />

Florian Obkircher<br />

Special Projects<br />

Arkadiusz Piatek<br />

Managing Editors<br />

Ulrich Corazza, Marion Lukas-Wildmann<br />

Publishing Management<br />

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Managing Director<br />

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Head of Media Sales & Partnerships<br />

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Head of Co-Publishing<br />

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Project Management Co-Publishing,<br />

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United Kingdom, ISSN 2308-5894<br />

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Austria, ISSN 1995-8838<br />

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France, ISSN 2225-4722<br />

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USA, ISSN 2308-586X<br />

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Publishing Management<br />

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Tanya Foster,<br />

tanya.foster@redbull.com<br />



BUFF®<br />

It’s always more interesting<br />

when you do things your<br />

own way. Whether you’re<br />

hiking, running, climbing,<br />

or just exploring the great<br />

outdoors, it’s always better<br />

to be an original than to follow<br />

the pack and take the same<br />

path as those who have gone<br />

before you. That’s the way<br />

that new routes are opened,<br />

new records broken, and<br />

previously unknown places<br />

of beauty discovered.<br />

For a company like BUFF®,<br />

being an original is in its<br />

DNA. Led by maverick founder<br />

Joan Rojas, the company<br />

was formed when Rojas<br />

pioneered the world’s first<br />

tubular, back in 1991. Drawing<br />

on the craftsmanship of his<br />

family textile mill, Rojas<br />

developed what became<br />

the company’s Original<br />

Multifunctional Headwear,<br />

in order to protect his head<br />

and neck from the sun and wind<br />

while riding his motorcycle<br />

around the Catalan countryside.<br />

The result not only offered<br />

protection, but was seamless,<br />

stretchable and breathable<br />

– perfect for active people.<br />

Today, this simple piece of<br />

equipment is a prerequisite<br />

for any adventurer stepping<br />

out of the door. What started<br />

with a single tubular has grown<br />

into an international range of<br />

sportswear and lifestyle gear,<br />

which now does as much for<br />

the planet as it does for its<br />

wearer. As well as being made<br />

with high performance in mind,<br />


Go your own way and embrace a life of spontaneity and<br />

adventure with the innovators at BUFF®<br />

every piece of Original<br />

EcoStretch Multifunctional<br />

Neckwear sold is made using<br />

95-per-cent recycled fabric<br />

and created from two recycled<br />

plastic bottles.<br />

BUFF®’s original spirit is<br />

more than just the products<br />

it makes. The company is<br />

a proud part of an outdoor<br />

community of unique and<br />

spontaneous explorers, looking<br />

for adventure and to explore<br />

the world in a way that does<br />

not harm the planet.<br />

Supported by quality<br />

performance wear, and with<br />

innovative spirit, BUFF®<br />

will always be there for life’s<br />

true originals.<br />

For more information, visit<br />


Semi-Rad<br />

Adventure philosophy from BRENDAN LEONARD<br />

“One time, I was trying to prepare for an ultramarathon that was 160km long,<br />

with 7,300m of elevation gain. Where I lived, it was the middle of winter, so my<br />

trail options were pretty limited. I ended up deciding to do 12 laps on a road<br />

that climbed to the top of a mountain near town, to equal roughly 3,600m<br />

of elevation gain over the course of 80km. Most people might think that sounds<br />

ridiculous and maybe borderline psychotic. It’s both of those things, but<br />

in my mind also necessary. When a hiker who had seen me three different times<br />

in the span of two hours asked, ‘What are you training for?’ I replied,<br />

‘Something way worse than this.’”<br />

The next issue of THE RED BULLETIN is out on December 14<br />


Noise Canceling<br />

Wireless Headphones<br />



www.bfgoodrich.co.uk<br />


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