Alistair Humphreys is an adventurer, blogger, author and motivational speaker. I’ve followed his blog for a good few years. In some ways his writings helped inspire me in 2009 to take a risk and step way out of my comfort zone. I left a secure job, a good pension and mind numbing drudgery to manage a children’s home with a small school for kids with emotional and behavioural difficulties. After four years I moved on. I took another risk and since late 2013 I’ve been freelancing.
I’ve not regretted either decision (thanks for the nudge Alistair). Both created challenges, sleepless nights and a lot of hard work. Sweat blood and tears in the literal sense during the years managing the children’s home. Steep learning curves, sink or swim situations and big stakes as a freelancer. I have learned as much and perhaps more about myself, about other people and about life from these experiences as I have done from any of the more conventional adventures I have embarked on. I’ve had one or two. There are though similarities.
Feelings of self-doubt, loneliness, fear, and wishing I’d never started just some of those that colour the darker moments. The high times, the triumphs and the buzz of proving myself wrong on the flip side. Feelings that anyone who has a go at living beyond what they think they can do only to find out otherwise is likely to be familiar with.
Long tough bike rides (you knew this was a cycling post right?) give all of this in spades. Back in 2014 a work assignment presented me with the chance to do the Fred Whitton Challenge and to tie it in with a stretch of the North Sea Cycle Route I’d been doing in chunks with a friend. If you have any familiarity with either route you’ll know that they’re on the opposite sides of the country. The box was ticked for taking on more than I than I knew I could do.
It was over three days in November I completed the miles with the Fred Whitton done on the third. It was pretty hard going at times especially on the second day crossing the country. I did not enjoy every minute of those three days it but as often is the case satisfaction comes as much and often more after the experience as it does during it. You don’t have to be having fun all the time to enjoy yourself and make the effort worthwhile!
Today I came across this video Alistair made of his experience in completing the Fred Whitton Challenge. Sharing it as it’s a great short film and because Alistair articulates so well the spirit of cycling I subscribe / aspire to and the enjoyment I get from it. The Fred Whitton is not by the way an Audax ride but all the same values apply.
…know the triumph of doing something difficult, rewarding and satisfying, in an understated and quiet way… humble but also hardcore.