by Mark Alker
October 21, 2015
Jenn Hill was actually many different people, depending on who you talk to about her. She was a very private person and the many different circles of her life rarely intersected each other, so it’s only now that we’re beginning to see how many people’s lives she touched in her brief 37 years. Some people knew her from her days in Brighton, where long bike rides on sunny Saturdays seemed to happen a lot more than they should. Other people know her from when she worked in bike shops – wielding a spoke wrench and alignment tool with the confidence of a seasoned mechanic. And many knew her from events and races.
Racing was always something she’d done and she found a niche in 24 hour solo racing, where she’d grind round the courses, wet or dry, with a smile on her face – and she’d frequently end up on the podium.
24 hour racing obviously wasn’t hard enough, so somewhere along the way, she found the time and the focus to train for, and compete in, the Great Divide Race: a 2,500 mile race from the Canadian to the Mexican borders, racing non-stop down the spine of the Rockies. She was on target to smash the women’s record and the men’s singlespeed record, when a bout of giardia took her out for a couple of miserable days. But it’s a mark of her character that she carried on, finished in a still extraordinary time, and amazed people with her resilience.
More recently, she made her mark in Yorkshire, with a move to Calderdale where she settled right into the tight-knit riding scene and the steep, rocky trails. In 2009 she took up a proofing and subbing job at Singletrack magazine a couple of days a week. This led eventually to a full time job at the magazine as Deputy Editor. Full time for Jenn meant four days a week so that she could still get up to adventures at the weekends. Where she went, she never really shared, but there were always photos of the Lakes, the Scottish Highlands and Islands and beyond.
Her attention to detail and insistence that everything be just right kept Singletrack magazine organised and she found time in between the organising to write and photograph some beautiful and well-regarded articles, while maintaining a network of contributors and friends through her preferred silent medium of email.
It’s only now that she’s gone and the accolades have started to appear that you begin to see how far and wide her quiet character reached and how deeply she affected those she came into contact with.
Her professionalism and insistence on a job well done were with her until the end and she carried on working long after she was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2014. It was almost a task in itself to persuade her that the magazine would be OK without her while she made sure she left to say all of her goodbyes.
So, goodbye Jenn, and thank you. Your influence will be felt for many a year and the people you’ve touched will always carry the mark of your resilient spirit with them.