Deciding to go and 20% bonkers…

“We’re lucky, we have the chance to go – so we’re going” is something I’ve been saying a lot recently.  People are curious about our adventure which is lovely, though this can manifest itself in different ways.  Responses have varied from person to person, from warnings of certain and painful death at the hands (paws?) of bears/diseases/Narcos, to specific questions about kit, to eyes lighting-up when someone imagines themselves doing the same.  That last one is my favourite.

We feel lucky to have the resources to contemplate a trip like this. From two pairs of working legs, to the will to explore, to more mundane and essential things like some savings, and being able to rent out a house.  Yep, some of this is based on the choices we’ve made (and a lot of hard work!) though really it does feel like the Universe is on our side on this one.

Deciding to go… Was it a moment of clarity? No, that’s not how we remember it. I have some experience when it comes to pedalling long distances for no reason at all, including doing things like this or this, and sometimes in places which your mum would think are well-dodgy. This has taught me that no matter how tired, hungry, cold, wet or smelly you are, and no matter the reputation of the country you’re in, you’re really really unlikely to actually die from pootling around unusual parts of the world on a bike.  Zoe’s quite happy cycling, and with events like the Himalayan 100 mile stage race under her belt she knows what it means to get up and do things. Some of our friends have gone on epic adventures – and returned safely – which brings thing sort of closer to home, makes it more possible.  Overall, while there are aspects of the trip we’re really unsure of, both of us feel that ‘this is exactly the sort of thing we would do’.

We started thinking about a trip around a year ago, but not with any definition or timetable.  We both were at an interesting stage in jobs we were committed to and enjoyed, and the time wasn’t right.  In around March 2017 we settled on the end of the year as the right time to change something.  Neither of us can remember a ‘champagne moment’ when we committed to go, but that’s not to say it didn’t happen….

What we do remember is the excited feeling, and some extra energy.  I’ve spent part of my life in coaching, both in sport and beyond, and have often suggested to other people that “the resources you need exist only on the other side of the step you’re about to take” – or somesuch hippy claptrap.  I remember it being really nice to realise that was actually true.  As soon as we agreed to go, and starting talking about it, ‘stuff’ started coming back our way.  Within about a week, someone I barely know offered their Aunt’s house at the very starting point of our proposed route in the States.  Total strangers, at at least one degree of separation, are now offering us hospitality in El Salvador.

So how are we getting ready? Over time we’ve realised clearly that preparing is useful, planning is… sometimes less so.  The scale of what we’re going to do in terms of factors like time, distance, culture, weather, language and so on is so big that any detailed plan beyond about the end of the first week seems a little ambitious and maybe unnecessary.  Some things like Visas and jabs you can’t wing at the last minute and so yes, quite a bit of time goes into that sort of thing, which is easy to forget as it’s not very sexy and I bore myself even as I write about it.  Far more fun is preparing – mostly equipment – to be ready for as much variety as possible.

We recently went to see Anna McNuff talk about her own travels, on bikes and otherwise (hello Anna!).  We’d highly recommend her book, The Pants of Perspective, and going to see her talk btw.  She described knowing you’re in an adventure when what you’re about to do feels at least 20% bonkers. Or it might have been 80%, I forget, I was too busy being excited and laughing at her stories. Anyway, some kind of % bonkers.  Not enough bonkers it might be too ‘safe’.  Too much bonkers and perhaps you haven’t thought of some risks.  Right now our adventure feels like it is in just the right place, with some bits (a lovely flat roll-out through Florida in the warm and dry, anyone?) looking like a doddle and others (100k climbs in the Peruvian Andes?) just on the border between excited and squeeky-bum-time.  We’ll find out if we were in anyway right about this, very soon!



2 thoughts on “Deciding to go and 20% bonkers…

  1. Pingback: Trans-Canada: The intro. – Let's go and do fun stuff…

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