• What’s one thing every man should know?
How to find the North Star in the sky.
• What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Committing to beginning to try to cycle round the world. (Notice there’s 3 verbs involved and none of them actually relate to the 46000 miles I slogged round the world…)
• What are you working on right now?
I’ve had a busy summer encouraging people to get out on microadventures of their own. Today I am working on a microadventure film for film festivals, and trying to work out what book to write next.
• Name one thing you can’t live without.
Good books to read. Occasional bursts of wilderness.
• Who or what influences you?
The urge to fill my life as full as I am able, to make the most of my potential and my opportunities. I’m influenced by people who do things well – people who really, really commit to their craft (whatever that may be), and do it really well.
• What are you reading right now?
Two very different (though with odd similarities) but fabulous books: The Peregrine by JA Baker and Brand New Ancients by Kate Tempest (watch the 3 min YouTube video of her narrating).
• Name one thing no one knows about you.
I didn’t really cycle round the world – I’m just a wizard on Photoshop… 😉
• It’s your last drink and meal on earth. What’ll it be?
Black Sheep Ale, steak (medium rare), fat chips, no veg in an English pub garden.
• If you could go back and tell your 16-year-old self something, what would you say?
It takes 10 years to get good at something. So start now. Stop watching TV. Read more. Write more. Climb more hills.
• How do you want to be remembered?
As someone who did a few cool adventures, wrote a very good book (still to be done), and inspired some other people to make the most of their life and opportunities.
• What path led you to become an adventurer?/What first drew you to adventure?
I loved travel. I loved physically testing myself (though I am no athlete). I enjoyed tales of travel and adventure. I didn’t feel excited about the usual post-university routes through life. So I thought, “what the hell?! Let’s give this a go…”
• How do you choose your next adventure?
I browse maps, Vimeo, Flickr and my bookshelves. I think of places I have never been before. I work out how much spare time and cash I have and where in the world the weather is suitable right now. And I think of an idea that has a good story.
• What is it about human-powered travel that captures your imagination?
It is hard. You earn the miles. It is slow. You experience the world. You appreciate the scale and diversity of the planet. You learn more about yourself. You are immersed in the situation. Anyone can drive / motorbike round the world. It takes a bit of oomph (mental more than physical) to do it by bicycle.
• You’ve biked around the world, walked across India, rowed the Atlantic, backpacked and packrafted across Iceland. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made on those adventures?
Rushing too much, yearning for the end rather than living in the moment, not getting out my camera at times when things are tough.
• How has your idea of adventure changed in 17 years?
At first I had a lot to prove – to myself, to others. I was brutal on myself. If it was fun I felt I was cheating. I’m more relaxed now – you’re allowed to enjoy adventures! I also care more about the story and less about the physical challenge these days. I’m still learning as a storyteller whereas I know I can walk / cycle / run / row as far as is necessary. I’ve ticked those boxes in my own mind.
• What was your first microadventure, and when/how did you decide to make it your crusade?
Walking round the M25. The parallels between that and cycling round the world were so strong that I realised that you do not need to head to the ends of the earth to seek adventure. You only need to make the effort to do something, wherever you happen to live.
• What does a successful day look like to you?
One in which I exercise, pause to read a book for a while, write 1000 words, and then run up a hill for sunset / jump in a river for a swim.
This interview originally appeared on GearPatrol.
Thank you to the many people who have kindly “bought me a coffee” for just £2.50 as encouragement to keep this blog going.
“Yes, I too would like to donate a couple of pounds to this site..!”