Real cycle adventurers fight monsters

To be a real adventurer, you have to do things like solo trekking through the Amazon basin, scaling the ten tallest mountains of the world (dressed only in beach gear) or wrestling with crocodiles, right?

In graphic terms, that belief – sadly quite widely held – is a steaming pile of bovine excrement, and I’ll show you why.

Adventure is a state of mind. Once you accept this, everything starts falling into place.

Your adventure is in no way made bigger, or smaller, more awesome or less significant by what anyone else gets up to. Let them live their lives, while you live yours. There are people in their 40s who have never spent a night in a tent, and if such people camped overnight in their own garden, to them it’s a legitimate adventure.

Between Christmas 2020 and New Year’s Day 2021, in the middle of the British winter, I camped in my garden twice. Lockdown meant I couldn’t go camping anywhere else, and besides, I needed to test my (mainly summer) camping gear, as I’m still planning on going cycle camping on Dartmoor, in the snow.

Though camping in my own garden, I still had an adventure, even if only a small one. This is coming from a man who’s often slept in the African bush, on the ground, without a sleeping bag or tent, and with my rucksack as a pillow.

Do not ever make the mistake of thinking your adventure is somehow not worthy of the name, and most certainly don’t ever be put off from going on an adventure purely because you think others will think it too insignificant.

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Look at it this way: if we applied that same belief to running, then you would say only the likes of Usain Bolt do running, but of course that’s not true at all. Even toddlers can run, and every weekend there are many thousands of people out there, running, with varying degrees of pace and distance.

The same applies to cycle touring – it’d great if you can take a year out and cycle around the world, but it’s equally great just to get away for a weekend. Don’t ever feel that an adventure requires exotic locations, danger and excitement, or that it needs to be a mammoth undertaking.
As my blog is mainly about cycling, my take on adventure will focus on cycling adventures, but please do also read my other post about having more adventure.

When you plan a weekend break, by car, or (hopefully not) by aeroplane, the things you care about will be completely different to planning a weekend cycling adventure. In a car, hills don’t register in your mind, but when cycling, on a laden touring bike, your legs will soon tell you how steep or mild any incline is. As a result, cycle adventures mean your focus will shift quite radically, and that will be liberating.

It’s far more fundamental than that. In our modern life, we’ve become so detached from the world in which we live. We rush everything, we want everything delivered now and we get upset at the slightest delay. Nature has become a commodity – something we enjoy briefly in a park, but we frown if the grass isn’t regularly mowed.

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Having a cycle touring adventure is an effective antidote against all that, and you will find yourself reconnecting with the real world out there. You will start noticing things that passed you by before, and you will notice wildlife more. If wild camping (and I really suggest you do that) you will be faced with a whole different set of questions to your 9 to 5 life.

For example, some questions you’ll be faced with are where will you pitch your tent? Is the ground even? Will water pool there if it rains? Will you be sheltered from the wind, and ideally from view? When faced with such far more basic questions than what you may be used to, you will find your whole focus shifting, as you become far more connected with the physical world around you, and that is an enriching experience.

As I’m writing this, it’s mid-July 2021, and we’re still in the middle of the British summer, so there remains plenty of opportunities for you to go have a little adventure, before the weather turns too cold. Having said that, cold-weather camping is a whole new frontier, and I’m hoping to cycle out onto Dartmoor, when it snows again, to camp overnight in the snow.

There’s a whole world out there, just waiting for you. Go explore it. Go have an adventure, even if only a small one. Especially if only a small one. The only monsters you need to fight are in your mind.

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