It’s been four months since my last adventure.
It was a year ago – almost to the day – that I was standing at the Mexican border ready to walk the 2650 miles north to Canada. Since then I’ve had a few small trips, but with the combination of winter laziness, absence of money and work-based fatigue it’s all gone a bit downhill. The start of 2018 has featured a real absence of adventure, and I’m going through the usual withdrawal symptoms.
Time to do something about it.
With the long May bank holiday weekend approaching, I have decided to make the most of the extra day off by cycling from London to Paris. This three day, 200-mile jaunt will begin at the Greenwich Meridian line at Greenwich Observatory and will end two days at the Eiffel Tower – not very original but the best I could come up with at short notice.
Usually I don’t like to plan too much, preferring to play it by ear, but seeing as I only have three days to cycle over 200 miles, I have devised a rough itinerary:
Saturday: Set off from Greenwich at 9am (GMT, of course). Head south out of London and through The High Weald and the South Downs before reaching Newhaven and wild camping somewhere nearby.
Sunday & Monday: A late start on Sunday as I catch the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, France at 10.30am. Arrive at Dieppe at 3.30pm and attempt to get as far as I can that evening. On Monday I will cover the remaining distance to Paris, travelling through a number of national forests and national parks, culminating at the Champs Du Mars. Here I will get a quick shot of myself in front of the Eiffel Tower before grabbing the Eurostar home. I’ll back in bed by midnight ready to stumble bleary-eyed into the office the next day.
A nice, simple adventure and a brilliant use of the long weekend. It will also be good training for my big bike trip in August – 1500 miles from Gibraltar to London. More details on this to follow soon.
But there’s more…
I always like my adventures to have a purpose, and this one is no exception. I wanted it to be more than just a frivolous way to spend my bank holiday weekend. One of my main goals in everything I do – whether it’s through my blog, my talks or even just shouting at strangers in the street – is to convince people to live more adventurously. And this is something anyone can do.
Often people think they are an exception to this rule, but in 99.9% of cases they are not. With this short microadventure I am attempting to challenge three of the most common objections I hear from people who claim they don’t have the ability to live more adventurously:
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t have the physical fitness
- I don’t have the money
These are all rubbish, and I will tell you why.
Firstly, everyone has the time. Sure, it can be a challenge to fit your adventures around a 9-to-5 lifestyle, but it’s not impossible if you want it enough. If you really don’t have the time to do the things you would like to be doing, you are in the wrong job. There are extenuating circumstances of course, but I would hazard that most people do have the time and convince themselves otherwise.
I currently work 9am to 5.30pm, 5 days a week. I have 20 days of holiday a year, plus weekends and bank holidays, which adds up to a grand total of 132 days to myself a year. Considering I walked from Mexico to Canada in 135 days (122 if you don’t count the rest days), that is a huge potential for adventure. And that’s not even taking evenings into account. A lot of people are going in for the 5-to-9 adventures if that’s your bag.
If you make the optimum use of all these days, you could have – at the bare minimum – one small adventure per month with a couple of bigger ones thrown into the mix too.
It doesn’t even require much preparation. While London to Paris may not be the most original idea ever, I only decided to do it a few days ago and the last-minute planning has been minimal. I just spent an hour or so on Google Maps planning a scenic, traffic-free route, found a way to cross the Channel and I was ready to go.
You do have the time, you just need to make the best use of it.
Secondly, you don’t need to be that fit. I am hardly a paragon of fitness, yetI’am about to cycle 200 miles with no real training. I have only just replaced my bike after it was stolen three months ago. By the time I set out for Paris I will have cycled a mere 70 miles in the preceding two weeks, an average of 5 miles a day. When I walked the Pacific Crest Trail I didn’t train at all. I just started slow and built myself up over time. All you need to do is be aware of your capabilities and don’t overestimate them. An adventure doesn’t have to be a test of endurance, it just needs to be fun.
Finally, and the point I think I will get most resistance to, is that you don’t need much money to have a great adventure. And to show people that their financial objections are ill-founded and a great adventure doesn’t have to cost loads, for the duration of my journey I will have a budget of exactly zero pounds. I will carry no money. I’ll be wild camping both nights and only bringing gear that I already own. I will eat whatever food I can rustle up from the cupboards and I will be filtering water or filling up from taps along the way.
Of course on any adventure, there are a couple of inevitable initial travel costs, and I have itemised these below:
However, once I leave London, that’s it.
Less than £200 for a three day adventure isn’t bad at all. And with a bit more planning ahead I could have saved myself a lot of money on the tickets.
To sum up, I want to use this bike ride to demonstrate that is possible to have a memorable adventure even if you think you don’t have enough time, fitness or money. All you need is the drive to actually take that first step and begin.