Making up your own rules with adventure unicorn Jenny Tough

Jenny Tough doesn’t stick to the expected modus operandi. As an adventurer devoted to remote places, she’s never boxed herself into a single sport. As a result, she’s the rare athlete (aka unicorn) who gets stuck into just about any challenge as long as there are mountains involved. From mountain biking to gravel and road riding, and even trail running, Jenny has dived into adventure, often competitively (where there are lots of eyes on her) when most people would still be playing it safe, testing their skills, waiting for that elusive feeling of readiness.  

Her first foray into cycling is well-documented: a 1,245mile (2,004 kilometer) ride from her home in  the Canadian Rockies to the Yukon, armed with minimal experience – only a few Youtube videos’ worth of bike maintenance know-how (on the question of bike tools, she still jokingly replies, “You mean there’s more than duct tape?”).

Photo © Kelvin Trautman

When it came to her first time mountain biking, she stayed true to form. To date one of her most epic MTB adventures is riding the Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan, which stands out in her memory “…because I thought I was so far out of my depth entering “one of the toughest MTB races in the world,” when I didn’t even own a mountain bike at the time.”

However, if you know a bit about Jenny, the leap into MTB isn’t so crazy. Before mountain biking, she was primarily a trail runner, with a penchant for remote mountain ranges. She’s nearing the end of a project to run solo and unsupported across a mountain range on every continent. To date, she’s run the Tian Shan Mountains in Asia, the Atlas in Africa, the Canadian Rockies, the Southern Alps, and the Bolivian Andes. She has only the Caucasus Mountains remaining in the project.  

Photo © Jay French

Referring to her seemingly mad decision to sign up for the Silk Road Mountain Race, she points out, “Of course, being in the mountains (and some mountains I knew well from running across them previously!) made my heart sing.” Partly because of her experience in the mountains, Jenny did much better in the race than she could have imagined, given her limited mountain biking experience. It wasn’t just the mountains that made it a great experience though:  “I gained a lot of confidence and shared some really special memories with the other competitors.”

She may seem superhuman, but Jenny Tough’s motivations to get outside are probably similar to yours: “I’m happiest when outside, so I know I need to get out as often as possible. Exploring is just what I love – I’ve always wanted to know what’s around the next corner.” 

This year that metaphorical corner refers to local adventures. Like most of us, 2020 has been a year of exploring her local area more. Her top tip for keeping your adventure fire stoked for local missions? 

“Searching for [komoot] Highlights that other users have contributed and then finding a new way there is a good way to have new adventures from home.”

Photo © Lian van Leeuwen

While she clearly enjoys a challenge, Jenny Tough’s just as excited to get out and explore. And also encouraging other people to do the same. When she’s in adventure mode, enjoying the sensation of being outside, and exploring places she’s never been, there’s only one thing that will make her push her speed: “Nothing will make me pedal faster than ending up behind a dude with worn-out bib shorts. (Really, please throw out your old shorts people!)”

And on that note…

Go check out Jenny’s  profile on komoot. There are a lot of Tours, photos and Collections to get you excited!

2 Comments

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  1. Pat Holland says:

    As a 71 year old I am out there 2/3 times a week playing out on my bike. I love to see more women getting the recognition they deserve thank you for sharing this post.
    Keep going Jenny you are amazing

    1. Dave says:

      Nice one Pat! Never stop going out!

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