But REAL adventurers…
There is this enduring image that people have that to be a real cycle tourer, you should at least have cycled around the world. Barefoot. On a unicycle.
That is, of course, utter rubbish. Simply put, a cycle tourer is someone who went touring on their bicycle, regardless how long, or short their tour was. And adventurer is someone who goes on an adventurer. As kids, we were all adventurers, and explorers. Sadly, as we grew up, society (wrongly) made most of us believe that adventure isn’t something that adults do, and slowly, we locked away that part of ourselves. But it’s still there! Yes, somewhere inside of you, that adventurous kid is still there. Set them free!
How, I hear you asking. Oh, that’s simple: an adventure can be as easy as going for a walk somewhere you’ve not been before, or perhaps somewhere you’ve only ever rushed through. Take your time, explore alleyways and back lanes. Adventuring is a state of mind, and you can find adventure almost anywhere.
My life was unusual, even by South African standards. I grew up on a military base, and from a young age was exposed to guns and explosives. I electrically detonated my first home-made bomb when I was around 8 or 9 years old (before that I used to use fuse that I’d light) and by age 12 was used to working with military plastic explosives. I was taught how to navigate using only a map and compass, even at night, at a young age. I was perhaps 10 when I first went wild-camping on my own, in the African bushveld. I didn’t own a tent until 2005, and camping usually meant sleeping on the ground, underneath the stars.
I’ve done a long list of stupid things, and probably still have scars on my bottom from when I went down white-water rapids on the Crocodile River, in a truck inner tube, butt-naked. Once I tried to catch a hare that was running next to my mate’s dad’s car (my 16-yo mate was driving at the time) by jumping out of the car at around 20mph, on a dirt road. And no, I didn’t manage to catch the hare, which with hindsight I’d agree was probably a good thing! I climbed out a flat window, on the 7th floor, and shuffled around the building, from one end to the other, on a ledge that’s about 20cm wide. In an extremely stupid activity, I once cut open a military-grade training explosive, called a thunderflash (still powerful enough to kill you) using a hacksaw and a craft knife, as I wanted to explosive powder inside, to make a rocket. The rocket exploded on lift-off, in case you wanted to know. Another time, at around 160km/h, I climbed from one motorcycle onto another. Outside the town where I grew up, there’s a wait-a-bit thorn bush I split in two when I tried something stupid on a motorcycle, and it went wrong. I was dressed in a T-shirt & jeans at the time, and weeks later I was still picking thorns out! As a kid, a stunt-show I was putting on went wrong, and the burning wood I was supposed to triumphantly ramp through with my bicycle was sturdier than I expected, and I ended up with an impressive bump on my head, and several blisters.
These are just some of the things I’ve done, and when it comes to a list of spectacularly stupid things to do, mine is actually embarrassingly long!
I’ve since grown up. In fact, when my son was born (he’s the eldest) everything changed. Prior to that, I had an attitude of “Well, I’ll die some day anyway”. Afterwards, I mostly stopped doing really stupid things, but the thirst for adventure always remained. These days, I go on gentle adventures, and WillCycle is all about trying to coax you out of your comfort zone, and on to a gentle adventure. As a result, I won’t try and talk you into cycling across the Sahara, unsupported, or cycling across Alaska in mid-winter. Look, if you badly wanted to go do those things, then by all means, go ahead. That’s just not what I’m about.
If you view the world in terms on conquest, you and I will probably not get along all that well. You’re not Alexander The Great. You have nothing to conquer (except perhaps your fear of going on a cycling adventure!)
I don’t conquer mountains – I simply climb them. Well, those that I can climb (as in, within my ability) without doing any harm. I like the thought of standing on top of Everest, but I cannot abide the reality. People who go to conquer Everest contribute massively to waste and litter, and do enormous environmental damage overall, just for a few seconds of standing on top of the tallest peak. After having stood in a queue for hours. Yes, there’s a very real risk of death, but to be honest, if I wanted to risk my life, I can find a million other, more fun, and less destructive ways of doing so.
Simply put, the world is not there to be conquered. It’s there to be experienced.
Ethical adventuring is extremely important to me, and factors in everything I do. I try to highlight the extremely important principle of Leave No Trace.
Again, if you want to go cycle across the Sahara, don’t let me stop you. However, if you wanted to have a great adventure, filled with (minor) challenges, and a whole bunch of laughs, then I can certainly help you. My Travelling Ouballie rides are just that – having a laugh and a gentle adventure, while cycle touring. If you’re interested, there might still be 1 or 2 places on the Cheshire Ring Travelling Ouballie ride. My Guided Wild-Camping Experiences offers YOU the chance of legally going wild-camping, on the spectacular Dartmoor, with help at hand. This will help you build your confidence, while you’ll be having a great adventure at the same time!