Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you fell in love with cycling and the outdoors?
I grew up around the South Downs in East Sussex and as far back as I can remember I was always out on my bike with mates. In the early days, it was Raleigh Grifters and BMX’s around our village. The breakthrough to going longer distances was when my parents bought me a Raleigh Maverick mountain bike. That led to many adventures around Sussex in all weathers and an obsession with plotting routes to and from home on OS maps.
So Rpm90, How did it come about?
I used to live in Morzine in the French Alps and set up a road cycling holiday business back in 2000. It was great fun and we had clients from all over the world come to ride in the mountains and see races like the Tour de France and Dauphine Libere (now Criterium Dauphine). In 2003 My long term girlfriend and business partner sadly passed away and i decided to move back to the UK. I didn’t really ride much and took up running and put the cycling business on hold. I set up Rpm90 in 2012 and developed it with a friend, James, from my local bike shop. We were primarily a high end road cycling holidays and corporate event business then. Its changed over the years, james has moved on and lives in Switzerland and I am enjoying taking the business in the Gravelbike and bikepacking direction
You’ve recently gone through a bit of a brand refresh with the new website, does this reflect where you wanted to take the brand from day one or has it just evolved this way?
Its been fun to re brand and to take things in a new direction. Our offering has always reflected where we are at as the Rpm90 team and that means that we can really enjoy what we do and deliver that passion to our customers. So in that sense its always evolving. It feels really good to be creating adventures for both us and our clients on gravel style bikes. We are focused on getting into nature, riding in new countries, checking out new landscapes and connecting with local people. Its less about the stats and more about the Adventure. Its really exciting to be riding in countries like, Finland, Portugal, Italy and Slovakia and be riding with our kit and getting a bit dirty.
You’ve got some serious trips planned for the year ahead, especially the “Remoteness in Slovakia” How does a trip like this come about, and what sort of unique challenges does it present you and your team?
The Slovakia trip has taken a while to develop and came about from a conversation with a guy who lives locally to me. He is Slovak and saw what I do and kept saying ‘you have to go to Slovakia, its wild, its beautiful!’ So i looked into it and after a lot of web searching and emailing i found a couple of local guys who have helped me develop this trip whilst they develop their new travel business. The Challenges with this trip are mainly that its a pretty full on mountainous route covering multiple types of surface. It tests the top end of what a fully loaded Gravelbike can do. Its long days in the saddle, remote trails, rooty mountain descents and long climbs but it is so beautiful. Oh and apparently theres Bears but we did not see any. Like any adventure there is always the challenge when Plan A does not go to plan. We have some great Slovak guys who are at the end of the phone if we really need assistance.
It looks like you have quite an experienced team around you, I guess they each bring there own unique experiences and skills? Do you get much chance to go adventuring together outside of client trips? What does this involve?
Yes, we all get to ride as much as we can together when we are all at home in Sussex. We also do a lot of trip Recces, so we are adventuring and researching a lot. Theres a lot of riding that goes on behind the scenes in addition to the trips that are available on our website. We all come from different riding backgrounds, are different ages and have had different life experiences but we share the same outlook on riding bikes, look out for each other and really making sure we enjoy it.
What’s the trickiest situation you’ve found yourself in on an adventure?
That has to be a trip too South America a long time ago now. My first big adventure with my girlfriend. Within a matter of a few days we had been held up at gun point in the back of a taxi in Venezuela, robbed in Colombia, survived a very bad plane dropping out the sky experience over the Andes Mountains and then urgently had to get into a car to escape some very violent anti government protests in Ecuador. We had to hide in the back seat and were driven at full speed through burning tyres, tear gas and people attacking the car to get to a safe place. It was all pre mobile phone or internet so we had to really deal with it to be ok. It was a crazy, life changing few weeks but good for setting the bar when you get a tricky problem on other trips or in life.
So what’s the ultimate trip, location, an environment you can’t wait to explore?
I have been having some really nice conversations with a guy in Armenia about an amazing trip there. I cant say too much about it but I am hoping that we can offer this soon and will probably open it up to a couple of people to join our team as part of the research trip to see if the route is feasible.
Adventure/gravel cycling is massive right now, with events like the transcontinental getting more and more coverage and of course you being somewhat of an adventure advocate, can we expect to see you line up for the TCR in the future?
I find just by reading about these races and following them when they are live that it really inspires me to do my own solo trips. I have a couple planned for this year which gives me some solo space to catch up with myself. However, I would love to do an event like the TCR and experience the community around it. I have friends who have been part of it and its always inspired me. I would also love to do the Silk Road Mountain race … so watch this space i guess!
If you could share one piece of advice to someone yet to go on an adventure on their bike, what would it be?
There are usually a far to many reasons and excuses not to go. You learn so much on your first trip that subsequent lists of ‘reasons not to go adventuring’ should never look that long again. You can have a really cool adventure just by sleeping out overnight and going back to work in the morning or ride to a B&B and ride back a different way the next day. Start small I guarantee you will be buzzing with big ideas after those first mini adventures. Don’t worry if that trip or future trips do not go to plan, its all just part of learning about adventuring and learning about yourself.
Rpm90 Cycling Adventures is a UK based cycling travel company. Who offer challenging ride experiences across Europe and beyond. Nick and his team are specialists in providing high-quality services for small groups of riders. Get in contact with Nick here