Jenny Tough is an adventurer, a writer, a filmmaker, a trail-runner and a Velocio Ambassador. Committed to travel all over the world, Jenny has spent the year near her home in the Canadian Rockies due to restrictions on travel from the pandemic. We spoke with her about riding, 2020 and what comes next in the world of cycling adventure.
Whether it be a race or a solo adventure, Jenny’s desire to push her limits has led her to numerous corners of the world. In 2018, Jenny became the first woman to finish the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race, branded as one of the hardest ultra-distance cycling events in the world. Two years later in 2020, she repeated the feat to become the first woman to finish the inaugural Atlas Mountain Race.
Jenny’s challenges are certainly not limited to those on two wheels, and she’s also covered extraordinary ground by foot. She’s spent the last few years trying to run solo and unsupported across a mountain range on every continent.
Bikes have always been a gateway to adventure for me. I don’t think I ever became a proper ‘cyclist’, I just used bikes to see the world, and over time that progressed to new heights with racing, and the discovery of comfortable bibshorts and gravel bikes. Game changers!
Jenny’s rides aren’t your typical Sunday run. She is most often found bikepacking long distances in remote corners of the world, most recently including BC, Morocco, Nepal, and Spain.
Bikepacking is the coolest thing in the world, to me. You just strap the minimal kit that you need to your bike frame, and then the world is your oyster. I love riding all day, seeing new places and pushing my body, and then camping out somewhere beautiful and in nature. The combination of exploring new places and cycling big miles is just awesome.
Jenny’s goal in sharing her solo adventures and endurance challenges around the world is to encourage more people to take up outdoor pursuits and push their comfort zones, particularly women and girls.
I did my first bike tour when I was 21 - a solo ride to the Yukon - and, although I was completely out of my depth having never ridden a bike any distance before, it was an incredibly empowering journey. The first mechanical I got was overwhelming and I had no idea how to use any of the tools in my bag (mostly still with the pricetags attached). I cried a bit and then eventually figured out how to solve my own problems. I want other people to have that kind of formative experience. When you push the limits of your comfort zone like that, you’ll discover that you’re tougher than you think.
Although travel restrictions seem like pretty bad news for a professional adventurer, Jenny has managed to make the most of 2020 by riding nearly every day (with one big break to run across the Rockies in July), and even including some bikepacking adventures from the front door.
Being able to continue riding has been a huge lifeline in 2020. I’m so stoked to see so many people join the cycling community, and hope the sport continues to become more inclusive. Although I may not be able to adventure around the globe as usual, there’s so much to discover from my front door and I’m still planning to continue bikepacking and searching out new gravel as much as possible!