A Message From Tom Hill

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By Tom Hill

I visited the Singletrack offices yesterday. We sat down over a bag of doughnuts and some coffees and just talked about Jenn. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours and a reminder that Jenn’s work colleagues were more than just that – they were friends of the most important kind – riding buddies. In fact, they were and remain a cliched family… the kind that can frequently argue, but look out for each other and support each other. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call them my friends too.

Jenn felt that working at Singletrack was one of the most rewarding things she had done. It was, in turn, one of the most exasperating, frustrating and down-right stressful things she’d done too… It wasn’t in her nature to accept anything other than excellent, and she expected that of everyone. At times I know it tested the friendships above, but once deadlines were over for another few weeks, or bikes were being ridden instead of written about, the day-to-day stresses that come with most jobs were forgotten about. Most importantly, I know Jenn was rightly proud of what she helped to create at Singletrack.

Jenn had no desire to be in the public eye, in fact she would actively avoid it if at all possible, and saw it as a necessary evil of what she did. She once told me that as much as she loved racing, she hated crossing the finish line (especially those regular times she did so in first place) and even more so, standing on the podium, all eyes on her.  She struggled to balance her love for writing about riding bikes, with the recognition it brought. It was so typical of Jenn that while privately she might have felt a little baffled and embarrassed, publicly she always had a smile and the time to talk, whether that be at races or out on the trails.

In the end Jenn was able to rationalise this paradox by accepting that if she was inspiring others to try something new, to challenge themselves, to look at riding bikes in another way, or simply pick up their bike on a day that they otherwise may not have done, then it was more than worth being centre of attention every now and then (although it didn’t mean she had to enjoy it, thank you).

Jenn inspired in a very quiet way. She simply got on and did things. There was no shouting about it, no hint of an ego. It was just what she did. What felt like sometimes superhuman exploits were conducted by this modest person with a wicked cute smile, the bluest of eyes and time for everyone. To me and many others, this made her exploits all the more powerful.

And so it was when we sat in a room in St James’s Department of Oncology in early 2014. Our lives changed in an instant. We stepped outside and chose to walk the couple of miles home. By the end of that walk, we knew how we would face the prospect of a vastly reduced time together and the stupid fucking cancer. With typical bloody mindedness Jenn fought to make sure we packed in as many experiences – and as much love – as we could in the short time we then knew we would have with each other. We did way more than even we thought we would get to do. It will never be enough. I will always treasure each one of those days, every mountain top we stood on, every muddy smile, every sip of whisky before falling asleep in the back of a van or in a tent.

By just doing what she does, my wife managed to inspire those around her again. The support that Jenn received when she finally took the decision to step down from Singletrack overwhelmed her – again the shy and private girl was a little baffled and embarrassed. She was also touched and moved though, as were her family and I. Seeing the #jennrides taking place #forjenn felt a little like she was back on the podium, but she was happy that people were getting out, riding with others and having fun – and if she had played a small part in that, then maybe that wasn’t a bad thing after all. Now that she isn’t here, it has been lovely for those of us left behind to see Jenn living on through other people’s rides and adventures. So keep getting out there for Jenn, keep riding, keep smiling. Keep using hashtags if you’d like to. More importantly though, keep doing it for you, keep doing it for those that you are close to.

Finally, our families and I would like to say thank you for the incredible support shown to us by colleagues and friends at Singletrack, all of the readers of the magazine and site and anyone who has sent messages of support. Each and every one has helped, every anecdote has kept her alive  in our minds a little longer. Thank you too to all of those who have bought Issue 100 products and donated to Jenn’s nominated charities.

Jenn’s funeral will be held on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 October. Our families have decided to say a final goodbye in our own small and private way. We will also celebrate Jenn’s life with her friends on a larger scale in the near future. In the mean time, if you ever needed an excuse to get out on your bike, then maybe choose to do so on Wednesday afternoon. I can’t think of a better way to remember a remarkable human being.

Jenn

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Tom Hill is Jenn’s husband, and a frequent Singletrack contributor.

Comments (43)

    ooo yer bugger. I’m crying at work now. good on yer mate.

    Damn it, dust in my eye again. Lovely article.

    Nice one, for Jenn.

    Big hugs Tom. Inspirational, both of you.

    Wonderful, brave words, they must have been tough but cathartic to write. I’ve been where you are Tom and my thoughts are with you on your journey through the grief and the painful pleasure of exploring your memories of Jenn over the next few months

    Wed afternoon already booked off. I’ll be outside thinking of her.

    bloody hell – great words Tom. That must have taken some writing – they’re fantastic and humbling in equal measure. Took me several attempts to read all the way through – can only imagine how hard it was to put them together.,

    Hugs xx Callum

    p.s. cracking picture

    That’s twice today I’ve sat on a dusty bus.

    Cancer is a proper bellend.

    Booking Wednesday. ……… A thought shared in the Peaks……

    That’s such a lovely and inspirational piece of writing.

    Yup, I’ve gone again!

    Lovely words Tom.

    Just beautiful.

    Can’t do Weds afternoon but will take a few quiet moments to remember Jenn during our Weds night ride.

    Hey Tom, very moved by your openness I lost my father earlier this year Cancer is the most cruel hope you stay strong and get through this difficult time aurora best Dougie

    Tom
    I really don’t know what to say after reading this. I was just going through my e mail and came across a whole load of correspondence I had over the last couple of years with Jenn over bits of copy and images I submitted. I always looked forward to hearing from her and it saddens me that I no longer have that to look forward to. I can’t begin to imagine how you feel but please know they’re are many people you don’t know thinking of you.
    Sanny

    Beautiful and powerful writing Tom. Again. The art of living well. You are quite good at this. Wed afternoon booked off

    Wow. Wednesday it is.

    Lovely words about a remarkable lady. My thoughts are with you.

    Moving words. Take care.

    Jay

    Really moving. All my best wishes to you and the rest of her family.

    Dusty in here?
    My mum died nearly 15 years ago of a secondary cancer. Like Jenn, her view was just get on an live live, and to the full.
    I think I need a bike ride this afternoon instead of staring at a screen.

    Big cross in the work diary for next Wednesday/ Im out on the bike. XX Jen XX Tom.

    A fantastic reflection, it is a bit dusty all of a sudden,

    Man-hugs sent.

    Beautiful words.

    Dusty here too

    Thank you Tom very moving. Thoughts with you and your family.

    Thank god I’m working from home. Blubbing reading this and trying to figure out how to plan my week next week to incorporate a Wednesday afternoon ride #forjenn

    Well said. Well written. Welling up…
    Wednesday it is, will go in search of high hills and big vistas!

    Dusty here too! Rather fitting that on wed my wife and I will be riding towards Petra #forjenn

    Top respect. Dust in my eyes too!

    God bless you both.
    Wednesday it is.

    Lovely article Tom.
    I wish you all the best.

    And where was that photo taken from, and what are we looking at in the distance?

    Thank you all for the kind words and the well wishes.

    Billyboy – the photo is taken from the top of Bealach na Ba. It’s a spectacular road climb through a rocky pass on the Applecross peninsula in Scotland. The view is looking out to the Cuillins on Skye. Jenn did the climb, at the end of a lumpy 50 mile loop, despite at the time being midway through chemotherapy and a reduced lung capacity. It’s just what she did.

    Cheers Tom. I should have recognised it, because I have been up there. I cycled up with a lady but we had a ‘misunderstanding’ at the top, so I didn’t get to linger and soak up the view!

    Whatever loop you did, 50 miles up there is hard work.

    Respect.

    I’m off on Wednesday with the kids for half term. I’m going to take them both out for a lovely little ride in Jenn’s memory.

    I’ve never met you, or Jenn for that matter; I’m a latecomer to STW too, but that is one of the most tragic, emotive and inspirational articles I have read.

    My condolences and thanks and respect for what you had together, and gave so many people.

    Thanks for posting this Tom.
    Since learning more about Jenn I no longer say MTFU, I’ve replaced it with WTFU.
    I feel very sad about your loss and equally very envious of the great times you obviously had together.
    I’ll be working tomorrow but at lunchtime I’ll grab a short ride and be thinking of you all.

    beautiful. will be taking a moment this afternoon to reflect. Puts everything in perspective.

    My best wishes to you and Jenn’s family. Thanks for your openness and I will ride for Jenn.

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