“Ah, it was a fine night, a warm night, a wine-drinking night, a moony night, and a night to hug your girl and talk and spit and be heaven going. This we did” – Jack Kerouac
A common question in my talks is “what do you think of Mark Beaumont’s ride?” Last night, to my surprise, I came up with a brief answer that pleased me rather than the usual mental meanderings I come out with in Q&A’s.
Mark, as you will know, cycled round the world a couple of year ago, breaking a world record for the fastest bike ride round the world. On the back of his trip Mark featured on an Orange ad, broadcast a TV series and wrote a really successful book. He’s just back from another televised ride for the BBC.
Mark’s journey was very different to my own ride round the world. He rode 18,000 miles in 194 days. I rode 46,000 in about 1600. Him fast, me slow. But neither one of them is “better” or “worse” than the other. Neither Mark nor I set out to compete with anyone else. But Mark’s trip has spawned a bit of a competitive craze for cycling 18,000 miles really fast. Every couple of months someone pops up who has done it quicker than the last person. Two more were in the news just last week.
It is perhaps inevitable that I get asked about these journeys. After all, we all went ’round the world by bike’. But, apart from that, I always answer that I don’t see anything else in common between us. Theirs are impressive physical, athletic feats. Mine was an ambling journey: I was on the road for longer than all of the new batch of speedy guys put together which shows how amazingly quick they are! Separate but equal, perhaps.
And so to my answer last night:
“it is like comparing Chris Hoy with Jack Kerouac.”
By that I meant that it’s just not really an appropriate or relevant comparison.
Was I right or wrong with this? Do these speed rides fit in the categories of “Adventures” or “Journeys” or “Expeditions”? Or are they “Races” or “Challenges”? Or both? And does it really matter? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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