On Shoulders of Giants – Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2020

OSOG Rauri

As the boats from his years Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge continue to roll into Antigua, a group of teams from next years race gathered at in Henley and On Shoulders of Giants were among them.

More than anything the event was an opportunity to test out some processes for the main event. For the bulk of the Atlantic crossing, we will row 2 hour shifts. For the 24 hour row, we had 2 rowing ergs which we rode in pairs on the same shift pattern. 

OSOG team

From the beginning the atmosphere was great, none of the teams really knew what to expect which brought us all together. Again, like the race, there was everything from solo rowers up to teams of 4 like us. The solo’s are a real special bunch, rowing 90 minutes on, 10 minutes   off for as long as they could before maybe taking a slightly longer break but still not long enough to get a decent rest!

As well as shift pattern, we wanted to test out a nutritional strategy. Dan had put together a program based on our, body composition, target heart rate and age and we had some of the freeze dried meals we’ll be using at sea. 

So how did it go?! Well…we learnt a lot firstly, getting enough food in is tough! We’re all big lads and like our food but trying to get in 8000 calories was an effort. Aside from the fact calorie dense freeze dried food isn’t the most appetising, you just don’t feel that hungry. We had all kinds of snacks, from energy gels and haribo to home made sausage rolls, flap jacks and rocky road. The first of any of these was great but 16 hours down you just don’t want to eat any more of it. And the less said about what the mixture of that amount of food plus that amount of exercise does to your insides the better. 

The other big learning point was time. Rest is key, but that 2 hours off goes ridiculously quickly (unfortunately not so much when you’re rowing!). You have to be up about 20 minutes before your on shift to get set up, so that’s 1hr 40. By the time you’ve stopped, set the other boys up, been to the toilet, eaten and done anything else you might want to do, it’s easy for that 1hr 40 to be closer to 1hr and that’s in great facilities on land. When we’re at sea we’re going to need to look closely at how we work this out.

As ever, ashmei’s kit stood the test. Our t-shirts dried easily within the 2 hours off the rower and despite some serious salt marks didn’t smell (although I will confess we didn’t brave wearing the same one for all 6 shifts!). This is ideal for the row, not having to carry loads of kit because what we have dries quickly and doesn’t smell will help us keep weight down and stay comfortable which is a huge part of keeping going.

It’s been a tough but awesome weekend, I’m not sure how I feel about repeating it for more than a month at sea but it hasn’t put me off!

ashmei in 2019

ashmei teamIt’s time for reflection, as the end of a very busy year at ashmei comes to a close. I’m extremely proud of the progress we have made in 2019. After working with the company since inception, in 2018 I was asked to lead the new generation of ashmei. In just 12 months we have achieved so much to stabilise our business in uncertain times, and create a sustainable model which can thrive going into 2020.

During the year, we have had some additions to our team while others have moved onto new adventures. Our very talented designer Lucy has moved to New Zealand and our much loved customer service manager Hester found a new challenge. We have welcomed Belle into the business, to lead our digital and social marketing efforts following a successful time at Strava. You will see much more of Belle through our social and customer interaction channels. We also welcome Raj, who will look to optimise our customer website journey, something we are aware needs lots of attention. Thank you for support and patience on this. We have moved into a new office just a mile down the road from our old premises which is now Musette Café – a cycle cafe stocking ashmei items. If you have the opportunity, please do pop in.

This year, we wanted to focus on building a more inclusive ashmei experience. Our products continue to perform at a consistently high level and we’re now looking to communicate clearer than ever, how sustainability and integrity work as core values here at ashmei. From our signature Merino Wool blend to the high quality and integrity of our partners and suppliers we want you to know we’re doing everything we can to make our products sustainable.

One of the business practices that I am most proud of is our stance on consistent, fair pricing and our anti-Black Friday campaign. We believe that variable pricing throughout the year is detrimental to brand trust. We work with our suppliers to find the highest quality performance solutions at a fair and stable price, and pass this directly onto the customer. Performance and quality at a fair price, all year round.

This year we focused on working with partners that aligned to our values. We now have retailers in eleven countries and will continue to develop this network with the addition of a wholesale manager, Andy, who came on board just last month. We welcome Andy to our expanding team. Our ambassador team, have been representing ashmei to the highest level across the globe, with ambassadors located across five countries. Thank you for your continued support, efforts and extra-ordinary athletic abilities.

In 2020, a new year and a new decade too, we will be expanding our Run and Cycle collections whilst also introducing more Outdoor, Fitness and Lifestyle products, all with the same performance, quality and style. We are planning the launch of version III of Domestique Gin with our friends at Campfire Gin and also have an ashmei Run Event in the works.

I had better draw this, and 2019, to a close by saying a huge thank you to all of you who have supported ashmei since our inception nine years ago. I hope you agree that we have a lot to look forward to in the new era of ashmei.

Many thanks
Elliot

The Running Viking – Spine Race 2020

Let´s start by going back to January this year. More precisely in the middle of the night on Sunday the 14th. I was at the finish line for the Spine Challenger, which is a 175 km brutally hard race, and I was so tired and cold and my head could hardly take any more of that loud noise from the gusty winds, that had been my partner for the last 38+ hours.

For the last several hours I had been so happy, that I was doing the Spine Challenger and not the Spine Race. Some people call the Challenger for “Baby Spine”, which I find very insulting to everyone, who has ever completed that race. It is most likely one of the most challenging 100+ miles race´s you will find, and there is nothing “baby” about it.

Anyway. I was sitting in this house trying to eat and get some heat back in my body. One of the many nice volunteers asked me this one crazy question: would you ever come back to do the Spine Race (what he meant was: now when you have completed the 175 km race, would you come back to do the even harder 426 km version?)

I started laughing and said to him: “Absolutely not. You guys will never ever see me here again”. Louise, who was sitting next to us, replied to him, that I did not know what I was saying, and that I would change my mind in a few days.

I could hardly walk the next day, and two days later I signed up for the Spine Race. Seems like Louise knows me better than I do…

Now we are just 52 days away, and I think about the race almost every minute. 52 days might sound like forever if you are sitting behind an office desk waiting for your next vacation. Being on the starting list for the Spine Race, 52 days sounds like absolutely no time.

How do you prepare for such an unsupported 426 km nonstop race with 6000 vertical meters in rough terrain and most likely horrible weather? Add to that a heavy backpack.

Let’s start with the obvious part. It takes a lot of physical training to prepare for such a race, and the hour after hour running and walking in this terrain puts a lot of pressure on your body. Carrying a heavy backpack does not make this part easier. If you have not done your homework on this part, then you will most likely DNF quite fast.

The mental strength (or lack of it) will determine if you can finish or not.
It is a fact, that most runners will use 5-7 days for this race, which is a very long time to be out there.
It is a fact that you will be running/walking in darkness for about 14 hours a day.
It is (almost) a fact, that you will encounter bad weather and get wet and cold.
For a lot of runners, it is also a fact, that you will be totally on your own for hours and hours.
It is also a fact, that you will feel very very sorry for yourself at some points during the race.

To try to overcome all these mental challenges, you need to be absolutely clear, why you do this and why it is important for you to complete the race. You also need to be quite stubborn

I have done as much training as I have been able to, and at this point, I feel confident, that my body will be able to carry me and my bag all the way from Edale east of Manchester to the border of Scotland. All I have to hope for is that my knees will back me up for this mission.
I have run a lot of kilometres every week and in combination with cycling. I have not focused that much on hill running despite the 6000 vertical meters. Endurance has been more important to me. My weekly running distances have been 100-120 km and add to that UTMB 175 km in August, Seoul 100 km in October and my last long run will be Formosa 105 km in just 9 days.

The real battle (for all of us) will take place inside our heads. But I know, that I normally do quite good on that part. I know from my Munga Trail races, that I can go on for days and days and that I can do with very little sleep. The darkness will be tough for all of us and make navigation difficult, but I know that I will be ok on that part. The dark horse for this race will be the weather. The race is known for bad weather but as long as we do not get too much snow, I should be ok in terms of being able to move forward. Being on my own for a very long time is something, that

I am used to. Somehow, I always get stuck – alone – in the middle between the fastest and slowest runners. I know, that I will feel sorry for myself several times during the race, but I also know, that I will be able to overcome the feeling.

Strategy for such a race is difficult and much more demanding than for a stage race. If you are one of the slow runners, you have to plan your speed and breaks very precise, so that you will not miss one of the time cuts along the way. If you are in there to race, you will have to plan your own breaks BUT at the same time look at your competitors and try to guess, how much or how little they stop. If you break or sleep too little, you might be punished at the end. If you break or sleep too much, your competitors will beat you.

Over the next few weeks, I will start getting all my gear ready, and trust me, there will be a lot of planning to do with extra clothes, food, batteries for headlamps, watch, navigation device and so on. You do not want to be out there in the middle of nowhere having to say: “Uupps I think I forgot that”.

No doubt that this race will be the biggest foot race challenge of my life, and it is just around the corner.

The Running Viking – Formosa Trail 105km/ 5600 Vertical Metres

Snakes. Maybe a weird place to start a race briefing, but I am VERY scared of them. Actually, very scared. But also fascinated, so I follow “snakes in Taiwan” on FB. Just a few days before this race I watched a crazy guy from Hong Kong, who just recently posted a video of him being in Taiwan. Looking for snakes. At night. In the jungle. He spotted 10 of those killers in just one night. One night. Just saying. Very smart move to watch that video Carsten.

Anyway. 4 am in the morning a few days later the snake guy had left the jungle and I was ready to take his place. There were a lot of excitement at the starting line and hundreds of runners because both the 75 km and the 105 km runners started at the same time. Pretty much everyone looked mean and ready and 20 kg lighter than me.

At the same time, I was wondering what I was doing there. I did the same race last year and remember clearly all the suffering that I had to put myself through. Specially the mountain right after the halfway point still gives me sleepless nights sometimes. 1400 vertical meters in just 6 km with multiple sections where you need rope to climb. BUT I also remember the beautiful course, the friendly crew and the magnificent nature.

Of we went and after 4 km with an easy ascent to get out of town we reached the first big climb. 1100 meters of vertical climb and lots of runners around me, so felt quite protected from the silent killers in the grass and in the trees and just as I reached the first checkpoint, the sun came up and that is still one of the most beautiful moments of the race (also last year). Mountain after mountain, all covered by jungle and the morning haze. Guess you would need to be there to understand it.

The next 40 km looks pretty “flat” on the route profile, but still about 2000 vertical meters. I was just taking it easy trying to stick to my own pace despite all the other runners around me. For many kilometres I stayed behind a girl, how had almost the same running rhythm as me. Just better and faster. But it kept me going and made navigation so much easier. She was a 75 km runner though and eventually I had to let her go.

After 9,5 hours I reached the halfway CP where our drop bags were available. I planned before the race to get clean socks and a dry shirt here, but decided, when I got there, to skip it. My combination of Ashmei merino wool socks and the Columbia TransAlp shoes did well once again. Also, I decided to stay with my already wet shirt, because I knew, that changing it would be waste of time two minutes after leaving the CP.

Next 3 hours and 15 minutes was just about surviving the next mountain. My hope was to get to the top before it got dark, because I knew, how technical the top 500 meters were. I focused constantly on keeping the speed down here, but still had to take brakes now and then. My “snake scanner” was turned on constantly and kept me on my toes. At one point I stopped, scanned the terrain to see how I should move on, and suddenly I heard something just behind me. I looked back and right next to me was a fairly big dog. I got so frightened, but I realized quickly, that it was just a happy and lovely dog. After a quick patting, the dog took off and made the next climb look very easy.
When I finally reached the top, I sat down for a few minutes and called Louise. Shortly after another guy reached the top as well and he also sat down next to me. Next guy coming out of the jungle expressed precisely how I felt minutes before. He asked us: “Have I reached the top”? I replied: “Yes you have”. He then went down on his knees, lifted his hands and shouted: “Yes”.

I smiled, wished both of them good luck and left.

It was close to sunset and I had the remaining part of the race all by myself in the dark jungle. Now it was time to turn the “snake scanner” in position overdrive. It is really exhausting to spend this much energy on such a thing, but at the same time it gave me something to do while I ran. The 75 km runners were no longer on our course, so it was very rarely, that I saw anyone.

At night everything looks very much the same, but now and then I could recognise places from last year. Finally, I started my last long climb, and although I knew it was a long tough one, it also gave me a lot of energy to know, that I would make it to the end, unless I did something really stupid at the end.

Halfway up the mountain I came to the last checkpoint. They had the fire turned on, I was quite cold, and I decided to have a short break, get a little to eat and just enjoy the heat. Just another 5 km climb and 9 km of descent and I would have finished the race once again. Most likely in a better time.

Shortly after being back on the course again I got myself a happy new friend. A bigger dog this time, and obviously he knew the direction well, because he stayed ahead of me almost to the top. That was really nice. Suddenly he was gone.

After 21 hours and 6 minutes I crossed the finish line and although I did not focus on it at all during the race, cutting of almost 2 hours of my time last year was really satisfying to me. I planned this race to be my final long training run before the Spine Race, and were able to get some good training out of it. Good long distance, out on the course for many hours, many hours of darkness, being isolated for quite a while and also a lot of good training in regard to vertical meters.

I kept my pols in the bag for the first half of the race and used them during the second half. That worked out well except on the very steep technical sections where I needed both hands to climb.

As for energy I carried my usual CLIF bloks and some Nick´s chocolate to keep me going on the long stretches, but all other foods I ate was from the CP´s.

As always, I used Ashmei merino wool socks combined with a pair of Columbia TransAlps. That combination worked out perfect, and actually I did not get one single blister during the race which I am happy about. I picked that specific shoe for the rough sole and the toe protection.

I used my Elwis headlamps again and it worked out fine. I use two identical and can switch quick if needed. I use the lowest lumen to save battery (important for Spine Race) and being surrounded by other runners with more powerful headlamps, it is quite annoying, but when I run by myself, it is just fine.

Now resting for a couple of days before it is back to training and preparation.

Bye for now 

Wild Christmas Charity Run

ashmei are teaming up with local trail-running company, Run The Wild, as they host their annual Christmas Charity Run in aid of Hector’s House. Situated in the heart of the beautiful Chilterns, Run the Wild are committed to sharing their passion for running and the outdoors while giving back to their local community.
Runners are encouraged to bring family and friends of all ages and abilities. Children under 16 are most welcome as long as they run with an accompanying adult. There will be 2 distances to choose from, an 8-10km and a 3km loop. Trail running instruction and environmental info will be provided by Run The Wild’s experienced run leaders. A prize for best fancy dress will be awarded at the finish! To enter, you may choose to donate either £10 or £20. The run will begin and end at the Musette Cafe, based in the quintessentially English village of Aldbury. You are invited to stick around afterwards for mince pies!The event is easily accessible, just 40 minutes North West of London by rail or road and there is free on-site parking for all runners. All abilities are catered for, so whether you are new to trail running, just looking to get some miles in an inspiring location, or smash out trails like a pro, you’re in good hands. As with all Run the Wild events, it’s a team event so you will be grouped with similar ability runners and led by an experienced Run Leader.
Click here to visit the Run The Wild website for further information and booking. Spaces are limiting so don’t hesitate, we look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

Why we don’t do BLACK FRIDAY

Late November has come around and with it, the habitual event of Black Friday. This bad habit is one that we at ashmei wish to break.
In the Black Friday mayhem, we are rushed into buying things we don’t really need for fear of missing out. This over-consumption results in extensive waste. High street independents struggle to compete with online discounts, supply chains are pressured to meet excessive demands and the surge of deliveries come at an environmental cost.
This is unsustainable and not in line with our values as a socially responsible brand. To take part would be to contradict what we stand for so instead, we intend to break the mould.
This Black Friday, the ashmei team will be turning off our computers, closing the shop and heading outdoors and we challenge you to do the same. Resist temptation, put down your phone, get outside and enjoy your ashmei gear for its intended purpose.
Best regards, Team ashmei

Success in Venice and Barcelona

 

Double success in Europe

Zoe retains title in Venice

After being sidelined for 10 weeks with a stress response in her Tibia, Zoe only had 5 weeks to train for the European Masters Athletics Championships in Venice. A late decision to compete in the W40 800 and 1500 meters was taken. The latter a title she wanted to defend from Aarhus 2017.

As there was no heat, Zoe went straight into the 1500m final on Friday. This created a slow, tactical race with Zoe taking up a wide position and progressively moved to the front of the field. Zoe describes “I knew when I went to the front others would be following. I went at 300m and gradually built up speed over each 100m until I got to the final bend and changed gear again.” Two athletes from Spain followed Zoe but she was clear for the win and retained her 1500m title.

Four days later and Zoe raced in the 800m heats with number one seed Denise Toner from Ireland. Zoe ran behind Denise to gain automatic qualification to the final in a time of 2:18:00. However, the final did not go to plan. Zoe was boxed in from 300-450m and had to slow her race down to then chase the leaders. Zoe describes “I worked hard but had too much to do to get back to them. I almost made it to third and threw myself at the line but came 4th by 0.08 seconds.” Despite the setback, Zoe recorded an impressive personal best of 2.14.35. “The race had not gone to plan but I had given it everything and I was proud of that. Although I have not achieved the PBs I set myself for this season I am still ending my season on a high.”

Zoe is now ranked #1 in the country for both W40 1500m and 800m, a great achievement. She now starts her cross-training over the winter, with her new goal of personal bests in the 1500 and 800m at the European Indoors in Braga and the World Outdoors in Canada.

You can follow Zoe’s journey through her Instagram account: @zoelouisedoylemasterathlete

 

Nigel excels in first Ironman

Nigel has a long list of sporting achievements to his name in swimming and aquathlon, but an Ironman would be a first and another challenge altogether. Nigel says: “I went into this race with no real target other than finishing and having those famous words called out as I ran down the red carpet, ‘You are an Ironman’”. Nigel took on the Ironman in Barcelona, featuring a 2.4-mile sea swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run to the finish.

Beginning with his forte, a 2.4-mile sea swim through the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, beginning and ending on the beach of Calella. Nigel exited the water 2nd in his age group with a time of 53:02, positioning him 51st overall. The 112-mile bike leg would be the further Nigel has ridden. “I then just dug deep and had my best bike ride ever. 1st 56 miles completed in 2:30:29 then I negative split the ride completing the last 56 miles in 2:30:18”. A negative bike split in your first ironman! The final transition led to the 26.2-mile, marathon to the finish line. Nigel started off well but knew he had to slow his pace if he was to finish. The two pit stops he took as he passed transition helped along the way for a run time of 3:36:00, and an incredible 9:35:56 finishing time, 31st in his age group. Nigel was happy to tick off his achievements in reflection:

– 1st ever Ironman
– 1st time I’ve ever cycled 100 miles
– 1st time I’ve ever cycled 112 miles
– 2nd fastest swim in my age group
– negative split my bike leg
– 1st marathon I’ve run in 5 years
– 1st time I’ve visited Barcelona
– 1st ever Ironman finishers medal
– Would I do an Ironman again?

You can follow Nigel’s journey through his Instagram account: @n.gaskin

5 Reasons Why Merino Wool is the Ultimate Running Fabric

Merino wool isn’t new, it has been around for decades. In fact, it was perhaps most commonly found in outdoor apparel before the invention of synthetics. With excellent insulating properties, it was found to keep mountaineers warm in extreme conditions. For this reason, Merino was used extensively for expeditions and still is today. It is no surprise to find that Merino wool was used by the great explorers because of its outstanding performance features. We’ve outlined the five reasons why Merino wool works so well for them and why we use Merino extensively in our running collection.

Temperature Regulating (Versatility)

Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep, raised through evolution in the Australian outback, these incredible sheep keep themselves comfortable through extreme temperature ranges, reaching highs of 50 degrees celsius and lows below freezing. The Merino sheep has adapted to these conditions, producing a coat that works at both extremes. This temperature regulating property transfers to Merino wool garments, keeping you cool when it’s hot, and warm when it’s cold. This property provides excellent product versatility, meaning you only need one Merino garment to cover the work of two synthetic layers.
ashmei Men’s Merino + Carbon Short Sleeve Running Jersey

Better for the Environment

Polyester has consumed the sportswear industry providing an inexpensive way to produce athletic apparel, the result has led to a throw away sportswear culture, where garments are no longer cherished, are easily replaceable and led by fashion as opposed serving a true purpose. Merino wool on the other hand has a sustainable source and provides garments which perform over a longer period of time. After years of use, when you do want to replace your Merino apparel, it is biodegradable too.

Anti-Smell Properties

Merino wool holds a great advantage over synthetics, the ability to prevent odour. Here is the science: sweat contains not just water and salt, but also oils, fat and other organic compounds. As the water in our sweat wicks through synthetic fabrics, these constituents of sweat get stuck in the pores in the material’s fibres. The trapped materials create an irresistible feast for bacteria, which create the smell that is synonymous with endurance sports kit. Merino wool fibres stop these sweat compounds mixing with the bacteria, preventing odours from forming. This permanent, natural property requires no anti-smell treatments such as silver, unlike synthetic alternatives.

Non Itchy – Fine Merino

There is a misconception that Merino wool is itchy. This is based on the fact that most wool types are not smooth. However Merino wool, and especially the fine 18.9 micron Merino wool that we use for ashmei kit, is incredibly soft and comfortable to wear.

Wicks, Dries, Performs.

Merino wool has excellent wicking and drying properties, when sweat builds through intense exercise, the moisture actively moves from the skins surface to the outer surface of the garment, evaporating into the atmosphere and keeping you more comfortable for longer.
ashmei Men’s Merino + Carbon T-Shirt

Animal Welfare and Woolmark

We source our Merino wool from Australia and New Zealand farms which have the highest standards of animal welfare. These farms operate non-mulesing practices to ensure the standards are upheld. We are certified by Woolmark for the quality of our merino products and will continue to ensure the Merino we source achieves the highest ethical standards.
Check out our collections of Merino products:

5 Reasons Why Merino Wool is the Ultimate Running Fabric

ashmei Founder, Stuart Brooke on how Merino Wool helped with set up of ashmei

ashmei was created because I found the performance of running clothing back in the early twenty-tens to be pretty low tech and of equally poor quality. In fact, the majority of the gear back then looked and performed to the same mediocre standards. I just knew that there were much better performance fabrics out there. Having been involved in the development of high end sportswear for some of the leading sports brands of the last 20 years, I thought it was about time runners were given access to authentic performance fabrics. Truth is, I also wanted some better gear for myself.
Without a second thought, I knew that Merino wool would play a major role in the development of the launch ashmei range. I had used Merino wool on several high end products before to great effect. I also had quite a personal collection of cycle, outdoor and ski gear that used Merino because of its superior performance.

Go Australian or New Zealand

Sourcing the Merino wool turned out to be pretty straight-forward as well. I knew the quality and performance had to be the best possible. On that basis, Australia & New Zealand were the only real options. But I also recognised that we had a unique chance to spin to our own specification with regard to grade and weight. In addition, we had an opportunity to manage the handle and feel of the fabric with different finishes.
Merino isn’t new. It has been around for decades, in fact. It was perhaps most commonly found in the mountain/outdoor/climbing sectors before the invention of synthetics. Both easy to wash and dry, it was found to keep mountaineers warm. For this reason, Merino was used for expeditions and still is, of course. It was no surprise to find that Merino was used on their top end products within the outdoor/mountain/ski/cycle sectors because of its outstanding performance features.
So why is Merino so special? There is a common misconception that it is going to be itchy. Folk also think that it is just a cold weather option and will get you too hot in spring/summer. However, they are confusing Merino with other wools such as lambswool.

Thermo-regulation

Actually, some Merino can be itchy but this does not apply if you select the finest Merino from Australia & New Zealand. It’s worth remembering that this is a natural product that has been developed by Mother Nature (or more specifically, sheep) to be one of the finest and strongest fibres in the world. Also it is true that Merino wool will warm you up when you – or the conditions – are cold. But it is the only yarn that has the ability to cool you down when you become too warm or when the mercury rises. I have been running in Merino 12 months of the year for the last 10 years. Now I don’t think twice about pulling on a Merino Jersey for a midday run on a scorching summers day.

Bacteria-hating

Another real advantage with Merino for athletes is that it is naturally antimicrobial. This means it will never stink like synthetics can. Bacteria proliferates on synthetics and it is this bacteria that causes that nasty whiff that never really washes out. Even if you use special soaps, the smell always seems to come back with polyesters. In contrast, you can wear Merino wool for a long run, then simply take your garment off, fold it up and put it back in your drawer ready for the next run. You don’t even have to wash it if it’s not picked up dirt from your athletic endeavours. We do always recommend you wash garments from time to time though as sweat still contains body salts which can stain.
So, these two features are the two key performance characteristics that sealed the Merino deal over typical cheaper polyester options. That’s not all of the story though as there are plenty of other key benefits that nailed it for us:
  1. Merino wool is sustainable
  2. … is biodegradable
  3. … is quick drying
  4. … wicks moisture
  5. … is 100% natural

Reassuringly Expensive?

There is one other issue with Merino that we shouldn’t ignore and that’s price. There is no getting away from the fact that the material is significantly more expensive than petrochemical polyester alternatives. However, there are other factors to consider when working out real value. Your Merino jersey will last for years and years; it will smell as nice as the day you purchased it; and it’s your favorite piece of gear based on pure performance. When you add it all up, Merino actually represents great value for money. If you add in the sustainability and biodegradability story to the mix, then we think you’ll agree – it’s a real winner for athletes.
ashmei Men’s Merino + Carbon T-Shirt

A footnote on biodegradability and the environment

As we learn more and more about microplastics and their effect on the environment, it’s worth reminding ourselves that this pollutant comes from every day man-made items such as broken-down plastic waste, beads and synthetic fibres. Clearly, if we want to have a planet to ride and run on in the future, we will need to address our consumption and resulting pollution head on. I’ll leave you with this thought: being a natural fibre, Merino will decompose to its natural state in the ground or in the ocean – no bother. To prove this, we tested it ourselves:

Loved to Bits

In February 2019, we launched Loved to Bits. An opportunity for our customers to tell some of the stories of them and their ashmei kit. The response has been overwhelming, and in turn here we are sharing their stories with you.

My Japan – Travelling with ashmei – Ming

Hello everyone, This is Ming-Ying Wu from Taiwan, today I want to share my story with Ashmei. In the last year, I had a bicycle trip with my friend in Shimanami Kaido. “Shimanami Kaido” is one of the most famous bikeway across the Seto inland sea which connects Imabari city to Onomichi in Japan (Kaido means the way of the sea). The length of 70km bikeway that attracts cyclists from many countries, everyone is excited about the impressive sights, including us. Furthermore, CNN also introduce it as “one of the world’s most incredible bike routes”.
We had a wonderful week in this bicycle paradise. There are beautiful bays, authentic fishing village scenery, stately temples and shrines, friendly people, delicious oranges and rich seafood.
But here is unlike Taiwan, the temperature dropped very low in autumn for us. In the chilly season, the cyclists are most afraid of being knocked down by the cold wind. So how do we conquer the coldness is very import issue. So we choose the Merino wool jersey and base layer, and the soft shell waterproof jacket. Merino can get warm for a long time, and the special textile layer can help the body to quickly remove water, keep it dry.
High-performance cycling clothing can let us stop at any time to enjoy the scenery, fight the bad weather, and don’t worry about my odour of sweaty in the restaurant. Just riding a bike and enjoying this happy trip.

Follow Ming’s adventures here


 

Wonderful Softshell – Robin

The garment I loved the most but has now come to the end of its life is both the run and bike softshell jacket. They absolutely perform wonderful. Protect you from wind and light rain, while not making you feeling soaked due to generating too much heat (as the typical large consumer brands do). But it also prevents me from getting cold in case I run into a friend midway and have a chat.

Merino Sock – Patrick

I knew that the material was wearing thin, this didn’t stop me always reaching for them when it was time to ride.
If it was to be an epic day I always need them.
If it was to be a non epic day I always needed them.
It was the heal that went first. Thin, thin, thinner and then I could see my finger skin through them.
Still they hung on in there. The whole growing and growing with every ride.
The time came when there was no heal left.
Bin time.
I don’t think so. They have had their final wash and now sit at the back of my draw. There to always remind me of those memorable rides. Much like those memories sit at the back of my mind.
When I glance at them in the draw I can’t help but smile..
So good I bought another pair of ashmei socks.

Six Year Softshell – Michael

The garment I loved the most but has now come to the end of its life is my soft-shell running jacket. This was my very first Ashmei purchase, and it has been my faithful guardian over … well, quite a few seasons! I’m guessing at least six… though for the intensive use it’s had, it’s wearing its age really well!
Even now, after so many years, I still feel great heading out in my white jacket, feeling like an icon of virtue! (As far from the truth this may be… ;^) ) This is my favourite jacket from November to March (and often in the summer when I paraglide) because I love the combination of merino and soft-shell that gives just the right balance of wind/cold protection and flexibility/breathability. And it fits like it was made for me…
(Looking at it, I have to admit – after 5 or 6 years of loving, it’s still in amazing shape! Probably one of the best-made running garments I’ve ever had! The thumb-holes are fraying, and the back is a bit nubby, but other than that…!)

Hooded Sweatshirt Tales – Torbjörn

I bought the Ashmei Hooded Sweatshirt 2012. When I think back, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in this sweater.
When I go for a run, and it is between October and March, I wear this sweater. It makes no difference if it is 5 degrees or -15 degrees. I just put on a pair of gloves, a neck gaiter and a beanie if it is cold. The clothes on the upper body stays the same. The hood and mittens also helps on really cold days.
There are times when I can’t use it, it might be due to washing day or running at work. But when I wear something else, I always miss it. Other sweaters are not as comfortable.
Sadly my loved sweater is getting old. The material gets a bit thinner, and the arms becomes a bit longer every year. My wife is also getting a bit tired of always seeing the same outfit, either on me or hanging in the garden to refresh…

Beanie for Life – Anon

The garment I loved the most but has now come to the end of its life is….. my Ashmei beanie, I’ve had it for at least 6 years, and from Oct to Apr every year it comes out on every run. I love it but it’s stretched now and no longer as comfortable as it once was… still doesn’t smell though

Running in the South Down – Anon

The garment I loved the most but has now come to the end of its life is….. long sleeved running jersey.
It is my go to piece for running but also for comfort at home when I want to be cosy and comfortable. Unfortunately my wife has said no more as it has literally been worn to death and has gone to clothing heaven. A wonderful top and very sad to see it go. I run mainly on my own. Lots of trail running as live on South Downs. Sorry no photos. It wore out down the centre front and back – it looked laddered and then became a hole. Have a hooded top too which is great but currently just keeping me warm while recovering from cruciate knee issues.