Friday, 23 August 2013

A "microadventure"

The other day, by a happy combination of events and mouse clicks, I came across Alastair Humphreys’ (@Al_Humphreys) blog via Twitter.  Click this link to go and have a look.

If you’ve not read it then you should.  Alistair is an adventurer with an impressive list of achievements under his belt, in his rucksack or wherever adventurers keep achievements.  However, he is also a keen advocate of what he’s termed “microadventures”.  It’s a wonderful encouragement to those of us with a family and a 9-5 that adventures are there for all to experience and needn’t be expensive, long-distance or in a far-flung place for them to be adventures nonetheless. 
There are some fabulous ideas on Alastair’s blog and so on Wednesday, buoyed up by inspiration from the blog and motivated by a) nice weather outside and b) a dull afternoon stuck in the office, I set out for an inaugural microadventure of my own.

I usually cycle to work using a local commuter train to break the journey up.  However on several occasions, where train congestion or cancellation has made it necessary, I’ve cycled all the way home.  Wednesday was the first time I’ve ridden the Dahon door-to-door just for the fun of it.  I also did a small amount of planning, choosing a new route that which I’ve not cycled before.  All I can say is that it was brilliant!  Just doing something you’ve chosen to do is very empowering and refreshing in the fact that it’s beyond the mundane.

My lack of photographic ability (read "laziness") means I didn’t take any pictures but the highlights and things I learned were:
  • Taking new routes to go places you often visit is fun.  Worrying about how you’ll negotiate a busy traffic junction 2 miles ahead is not necessary as things have a way of sorting themselves out.
  • Cycling through places that you know well, albeit by car is very revealing.  You notice so much more from a bike than through the window of a car.
  • Even the fairly mundane can feel adventurous.  As I passed traffic queue after traffic queue on my way across the city, I felt brilliant knowing that my choice was a far better one than being stuck nose to tail in a tin box.  I’ve been there, done that and don’t want to go back.
  • Cycling home is not such a slow choice!  While I try very hard not to get caught up in the numbers and fret about average speed etc. I couldn’t help setting my stopwatch going when I left the office.  Google maps had the journey at 22.5 miles and I cycled it comfortably in 1:27 – an average speed of over 15 mph!  That’s not bad going for anyone so for a bloke on a 3-speed folding bike, I’m happy indeed*.
  • Best of all, when I got home, the kids had filled a large paddling pool in the garden so I stripped down to my shorts and leapt into the cold water.  Bracing indeed but just the tonic after a hot, sweaty commute!

I spend a lot of the time in my head on the Dahon thinking about adventures I could have with it.  They’ve gone from the mild (cycling the length of a local Sustrans route) to the reasonable (coast-to-coast) to the serious (coast to coast – Wales to Norfolk) to the very serious (Land’s End to John O’Groats) to the mega serious (cycling to Istanbul).  While all of those are doable I’m sure, the immediate needs of a family to support and job to do so mean that long periods of time off (for the bigger ones) would need some planning and negotiation.

Thanks to Alastair’s microadventures blog, I’ve shifted my thinking in a whole new direction to adventures that I can have here and now, with the Dahon, in and around the other demands of life.
There will definitely be more to follow…


* That is my once in 18 months speed-obsessive moment.  I’ll get back to my usual “pretending I couldn’t care less” attitude, now


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