Meet the team – JaBig, Lake Ambassador

Meet the team – JaBig, Lake Ambassador

Cycling from the heart: an adventure on 2-wheels

At heart, each and every one of us is still just a child inside. Yes, we’re grown up, and we need larger clothes, bigger shoes, and we generally eat more and play less. However, the simple fact is that inside, we’re still the same person that we always were. When it comes to it, we still love adventure, and we love doing things that make us smile. JaBig, isn’t just another member of a world-wide cycling community and a Lake cycling shoes ambassador - he’s a person who understands that life should be fun. He rides his bike whenever he can, and he does so for no other reason that it just feels right. When you consider the chaos of the world at this time, isn’t it time that we all got back to doing things that make us smile – to simply riding a bike, because it makes us smile and it relaxes us. Ultimately too, it takes us to so many amazing places, like no other form of transport - and it’s that particular aspect of cycling that took this quite inspirational human being into cycling in the first place.

Every journey needs a starting point

JaBig is truly the sort of person who I could talk with and listen to all day long. He’s a fascinating man, and his journey into cycling is funny and interesting, in equal measure. By his own admission, he wasn’t a generally active man, and yes, he owned a car – a Mini Copper – the same model as a friend. It was when this friend was without transport and JaBig offered his own Mini to them, that he found himself without any transport and thinking: ‘Man this is crazy,’ as I don’t like walking.’

Passing a bike shop on his journey home, he saw a fixed gear bike in the window, liked the look of it and went into the store. ‘I’ll take that bike, please!’ He had no idea what a fixed gear bike was, or what the size of the bike was - or indeed anything other than it seemed easier than walking. Thankfully, like every good bike shop, they explained the relevant issues to JaBig, sending him on a ride around the block, where he could experience a fixed gear at first hand – yes, you can guess the rest!  Despite falling off, several times, he liked the feeling, and the following day, he returned to collect his very own and correctly sized fixed gear bike.

Yes, this disciple of the motor car had joined the world of cycling, and he rode that first fixed gear bike every single day that spring and summer. He rode it every morning, every afternoon and at night. Talking with JaBig, he recounts, ‘I would tell myself I was going to ride to “this place”, and not think about riding home. I was only interested in the adventure. One day I rode 15km on a fixed gear bike and I felt like the king of the hill! I got the metro back home, as I didn’t want to die! However, the next day though, I rode there and back! Wow!’ It Felt like madness – but I also felt alive and like I’d achieved something!’ Distances soon increased, and the jeans and tees were eventually replaced with far more comfortable and practical cycle clothing. However, in that one first summer, his adventurous spirit had already clocked up over 5000km of fixed gear fun. Looking back at that distance, and how he now rides up to 200km a day, JaBig laughs and sees the fun of it.

Across Canada on a fixed gear bike

Reflecting on those first months as a cyclist, it occurred to JaBig that he’d covered the distance between Montreal and Vancouver – so, why not ride it. On a fixed gear! Now, there are some interesting climbs along the route, but setting out on this first epic journey in 2016, with enthusiasm on his side, and a defiant character, JaBig conquered the ride with only 3 gear changes – and these were mostly down to prairie winds, rather than mountains. By 2019, he decided on cycling a world tour, but the pandemic put paid to this, and he found himself returning to Canada, where he simply cycled across the country once more – but this time using a fully geared bike and travelling west to east! Those of you who know what Canadian weather can be like, will understand, that it was this journey in particular that brought JaBig into contact with us here at Lake – and our legendary winter cycling boots!

Having been born on the shores of Lake Michigan, here at Lake, we know what cold weather cycling requires; and it was JaBig’s first pair of Lake MXZ303 winter cycling boots that brought this excentric and adventurous cyclist into a partnership with Lake that continues to this day. The warm weather had given way and by time he got to Ontario, it was cold – Canada cold. And so, after an initial contact, where we’d been watching his adventures with interest, we sent our intrepid cycling friend our warmest boots, which kept him riding in our legendary Lake cycling shoe comfort, all the way to arctic ocean!

When you talk with JaBig, he's keen to emphasise that he isn’t a racer – he's just a cyclist seeking pleasure and adventure in life. Despite the epic nature of his trips, like each and every one of us, he also wants to be as comfortable as possible. Which is why JaBig still chooses Lake for every cycling challenge and for his everyday rides too.

Riding into the future

When we released our new CX333 recently, we liaised with JaBig,  who gave us a design created by an artist friend, which we used to create 2 special custom editions for him: 1 x CX333 and 1 x MX333 for off-road adventures. WE pride ourselves here at Lake, on our custom shoe design service, and JaBig says he was blown away when the shoes arrived, describing them as being ‘like a piece of art that ought to be displayed. I don’t want to wear them! I loved the CX332, which was my favourite shoe. However, the extra leather crossover beneath the BAO closure cabling on the new 333 is so much more comfortable across the forefoot and the upper bridge. It makes the whole foot snug and secure, and the shoe is so much lighter, retaining that stiffness from the carbon sole, which I love.’

As we speak, JaBig is visiting friends in London and riding as often as possible, just shorter distances that crossing countries. This is a guy who deserves to take it easy; he’s cycled across America, and from the northern tip of Europe to the southern tip, and so yes – he deserves a rest!

‘I love riding my bike – because it’s fun. I’m not a racer, I’m just a cyclist. People challenge themselves on a bike, and that fascinates me – the personal challenge. I don’t like sports where there’s only one winner. I want to ride to explore the world and myself. London is fun, and so are the group rides, but I ride for pleasure.’

Comfort is always the life goal

As an international, professional DJ, JaBig has designed his life to sleep and wake up late! Cycling fits perfectly around this, and travelling is a bonus that he loves.  When he’s out on his bike, riding with 48” tyres for comfort, it’s critical that his footwear is just as comfortable. The Clarino leather uppers from our Lake cycling shoe range are a bonus for JaBig, because they clean up easily and take the arduous knocks of long and challenging rides. He loves the fact that our shoes come in wide and extra-wide fittings, giving lots of fitting options for so many riders. He’s a great believer in the value of bike-fitters - something that we aim to increase our own use of, here at Lake. After all, they’re experts in making every ride as comfortable as possible, for every single rider – a shared Lake cycling shoes philosophy.

JaBig’s current stay in London is just for pleasure, and he’s making sure that he smiles as often as possible on all of his cycling miles. ‘It’s like being a kid again’ he says.

Maybe we all need to pause and reflect a little, like our ambassador, JaBig. Maybe we all need to find our own challenges, and not race into a future life without pausing to reflect on what it actually means, and what we ultimately want. For me, chatting for hours to JaBig and being hooked on his story and the easy-going conversation and way in which he gives his accounts of travelling and his philosophy of life, I’m already enthused and planning my own 2-wheeled adventure.  When he’s next in the U.K. we plan to head into the Yorkshire dales together, riding the quieter lanes at a slow and easy pace. You don’t have to take an epic journey, and you certainly don’t need to be a racer. You just have to be happy in yourself. Cycling is a way a life, and JaBig is a great ambassador for Lake and for life!

If you do nothing else today, just pause for moment, and reflect. Take time to just enjoy the ride and to be a kid again, riding for fun. We’ll do that we can, to wrap you in comfort. The journey, well – that's up to you!

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