2 bicycles, 2 photographers, 30,000 miles and 50+ countries, to document the Geography of Youth.
1. So what’s the story with you two, best friends, lovers…..how do you know each other?
We met in 2007 while both working at the Maine Media Workshops for the summer. We moved to NYC right after that summer and the rest, as they say, is history!
2.You are quite the achievers for young people, have you worked hard for it or is it easy because it is your passion?
I’m not sure that we’re so much achievers as folks who wanted to see something happen and took a leap of faith. We work really hard, but a lot of doing what you love is taking the tough first step towards actually getting what you want out of life.
3. Photography is one thing, but you gave it a more extreme element by adding in the bikes, how did this whole idea come about and be put into action?
When we came up with the idea for Project Tandem, we originally thought about driving around the country. Mo’s dad pointed out that his college buddy had cycled across the country and we thought that was a pretty cool idea. A month into cycle touring, we were hooked.
4. What bikes are you cycling?
We are sponsored by an amazing company called Waterford Precision Cycles. They made us custom steel touring bikes and they are so awesome. We’re totally in love with our bikes.
- Distance you cover a day?
Anywhere from 30k to 130k. Depends on the weather, terrain, resources…
- Pace? We average 20k per hour.
- Stopovers? We take lots of water, snack, and photo breaks. We’re constantly stopping for something!
5. Do you feel lucky to have found another person that is on the same page as you goal wise? Are you as similar in all aspects of your personality?
We’re actually pretty different, personality-wise. We’re lucky to share the same drive, but mostly just lucky that we can tolerate each other for this long and under often less than ideal circumstances.
6.Did you do any training or bike maintenance before you departed?
A bit! We’re pretty decent at repairing bicycles but we’ve learned as we go. We didn’t train too much, just tried to get/keep in shape. You don’t have to be a super-athlete to cycle tour.
7. What is the crux of your mission?
The best way to describe the project is through our intro video:
8.How do you approach the people you want to photograph?
We literally just walk/cycle up to them and start chatting. We explain the project and ask them if they want to be a part of it!
9. You are out there cycling the world with an aim, but what are the benefits?
- What have you learned?
It’s impossible to write all that we’ve learned. Seeing the world at 20k an hour is a pretty amazing thing. We’re seeing and learning more than I think we could possibly ever realize fully.
- Have you had fun?
Of course! It’s not always sunshine and downhills, but we try to remember, even in the toughest of days, how lucky we are to be doing this!
- What difference can it make to other people’s lives?
- Will you ever dismount the bike and stop?
Sure. We’re not really hard-core bicycle riders. That sounds funny, but the bicycles are just the way we choose to travel right now. We love the pace and the photography and writing that traveling by bicycle allows, and traveling by bicycle will always be a part of our lives, but different forms of transportation suit different needs. The bicycle is great for us now, but that may not always be the case.
10. Is there a lesson here you are trying to teach the youth of today?
Nope. This project is in the spirit of true documentary. We find people in their twenties, photograph and interview them, and present the material for viewer to form their own opinions and conclusions.
11. How did you narrow the questions to ask your subject to those 10-11?
We worked with Dr. Jeffery Jenson Arnett at Clark University to develop questions that we thought pushed at the heart of what it means to be in your twenties in today’s world. Hopefully the questions make the subjects think a bit about where they are in their lives and their answers will allow everyone else to learn a little something about different place, cultures, people, and what it means to be twenty-something today all over the world.
12. Is it all pre-researched and pre-planned or do you take it day by day…where you are going to go, where you are going to sleep?
It’s all researched and pre-planned, but it also changes day by day. Our motto is: plan, plan, plan, and know it’ll all change.
13. Whats the best part of your lifestyle?
Getting to meet new and interesting people every day and getting the opportunity to share the things we see and learn with the world on-line. So cool.
14. Give me a rundown of a typical day?
Wake up before the sun. Pack up the tent and bags. Cook and eat breakfast. Ride, stopping all the time to photograph, jot down notes, interview twenty- somethings… Eat lunch. Do administrative work on the computer if we can find internet.. Ride a bit more. Find a good camping spot. Set up tent. Eat. Write and upload photos. Sleep.
17. Where in the world are you now?
We’re in the Pampas of Argentina right now. It’s pretty and flat, but very hot!
18. What age are both of you?
Alan is 27 and Mo is 28.
19. Where is home?
Home is our tent. Haha. We both consider home to be the Northeast of the United States. We both grew up there and it’s the region that we call home.
20. What camera’s are you both using?
We both use Canon 5D Mark II’s.
21. How do you fund the project?
The Geography of Youth is funded by grants from the Maine Arts Commission, several amazing corporate sponsors, and 230 fantastic Kickstarter backers who pledged more than $16,000 to the project. We’re not completely funded to make it all the way around the world yet, but we’re pretty close!
22. First the States, then the world….what is next?
Not sure. It feels like we’ve only just begun The Geography of Youth, so we’ve got plenty of time to keep thinking about what’s next!
23. Is the cycling just a means to get around, or is it something you love?
Cycling is a great form of transportation and we definitely love it. We’re big advocates of cycle touring, and we love to see people give it a shot. That being said, our passion is really for the storytelling aspect of these projects, so when the time comes that cycling isn’t the best way to get what we need, then we’ll try something new!
Imagine finding yourself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with nothing but sky on the horizon and thousands of miles separating your temporary floating home from land. No demands from work or the tax man or our bank managers, just a focus on everyday living and where we sit in a mini-community, on a yacht with finite resources that mirrors the floating of our planet in space.
I can’t imagine a better place to find peace and clarity in an ever-changing world and frankly cannot wait for this fifth leg of my Expedition1000 project.
I see this voyage as a social expedition. An opportunity to contemplate life, as opposed to the compulsory breaking down of immense distances that I usually accept as a daily task on a long distance pedal, paddle or skate. We live in a time of constant change where the importance of our actions have a wider reach and impact more so than at any time in our existence, and I strongly believe that developing our thought processes and comprehending the consequences of our behaviour is the best way to ensure we become the best possible versions of ourselves.
In addition to the physical and mental challenge of a 3070nm sail between Mexico and Hawaii, I hope this expedition will create a culture of learning and discussion far away from the distractions of land, to understand our individual place and responsibilities as the generation that needs to prepare the way for future generations.
We set sail from Cabo, Mexico on March 14th and will arrive in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 30th. We still have some places remaining on board our 72ft yacht Sea Dragon. I hope you can join us.
Imagine throwing in your job and travelling around the world with your girlfriend and 8 month old baby. Mitch Stokes did that. Or rowing across the Pacific Ocean taking a route that nobody else had ever managed to complete. Chris Martin made it. Or howsabout a 30,000 mile circumnavigation of the planet, by wheelchair. Andy Campbell is about to set off on that one. What about spending much of your early twenties in the middle of an ocean, highlighting global environmental issues and become an expert on plastic pollution? Hello, Emily Penn.
Not many people have travelled the full length of the Amazon, less than ten, in fact. Mark Kalch is one of them. Have you ever rented a Fijian island and set up a tribe there, and then done the same on a beach in Sierra Leone? Ben Keene has. Or what about developing a sports car to drive the length of the Americas, but powering it purely by electricity? Alex Schey, Ladies and Gentleman. Second youngest person to the North Pole and the second fastest ever to make it there. Parker Liautaud, you’re only 17, slow down! Leader of the first female team of 5 to row the Atlantic, at the same time as campaigning against human trafficking. Julia Immonen is fresh back on dry land. And then, being told you have Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 36 and deciding that you’re going to deal with it by running 10 million metres. Meet Mr Alex Flynn.
Frankly, as the only world record-breaking skateboarder who would 100% break an arm if he attempted a go on a half pipe, I’m honoured to be presenting the 7th Night of Adventure on 20th February in Leicester Square’s VUE cinema. All in aid of Hope & Homes for Children, the speakers above will stand beneath an enormous screen and share their own personal take on adventure.
It’ll be an inspiring, funny and memorable night. We hope you can join us.
I enjoyed writing DATE (probably more than I did doing the research) and I found great pleasure in sitting opposite someone on the tube the other day as they were reading the book and shaking with what I think was a thorough case of the chuckles, but if you want an honest assessment of whether you’ll enjoy this read, take a look at the reviews on Amazon.
And if you have read DATE, please please write your own review, however you feel about it!
Every week our very own Orla O Muiri pays a visit to someone fairly adventurous and riddles them with questions. This week, ultra runner Mark Cooper tells us about multi-marathon feats…
1. You weren’t completely happy with your life so you changed it. What did it take to make that decision, it can’t be easy when so many others don’t make the change? It was a really easy change for me to make, I was totally fed up with being unhealthy, it had gotten to the point where I was smoking 20 a day as a minimum. I was outside work one day and a man ran past me in the street, I looked at him and decided then and there that I would try and be like him, he looked so full of life running in the street, I on the other hand….. I dropped the cigarettes that day and started running and cycling, in many ways I am lucky, so many people try to make lasting changes in their life but fail, I was lucky because the option I took, to run, was something I found a natural love for, still to this day, four years on I love running.
2. You started on a feat that is fairly achievable; cycling John O Groats to Lands End and then built it up. How important is it to start on a smaller scale first? It may seem like a small feat these days but at the time it was a massive achievement, it still is to me. My proudest moment with regards to fitness is still my first ever 10k race in 2008 after stopping smoking, people get to focussed on the size of the goal and the drama of a challenge, one achievement might not be a big thing for someone but a huge deal for another. I say set lofty goals right from the start, make them achievable but really tough to achieve.
3. You are still working as a lawyer?! How do you find time to balance it all? (I’m not a lawyer but work in a law firm) To be honest with you, I work full time in a law firm but because I love what I do outside work it never feels like hard work If that makes sense? How can giving presentations to schools and running races be deemed work when it is what you love. The hard part is to make that you’re living, you do need some structure though, a place to go that keeps your feet on the ground and my colleagues are very supportive of the things that I do.
- How did they take it when you took 56 days off to run across Europe? They were very cool about it, I had three months off to do it, unpaid leave. I did wonder how I would pay my bills and fund the trip but I had a chat with them and it basically transpired that they couldn’t pay me a “wage” because I wasn’t here but they could be a corporate sponsor and fund some of the trip so that’s the way it panned out. Like I say they were very good about the whole thing and I think that my work has improved because of this freedom.
- How do you even start an expedition of this scale? When I started out I had no idea what to do and indeed how much was involved, it was pretty daunting. It’s kind of like trying to get it clear in your mind that you are about to run a 100 mile race somewhere, you have to break it down otherwise it’s impossible. At the same time you have to just get on with it, that’s what I did, I looked at it in separate projects, what do I need, I need kit for the run, who do I need to speak to in order to get that kit donated, that kind of thing.
4. What does it feel like to step out from a crowd and be recognised by people? I won’t lie, it does feel nice sometimes to be given awards and so on but the best thing about this is being asked to help other people and being asked by charities to give them advice on fundraising and that sort of thing. It has opened a lot of doors for me but mostly to the benefit of other people so I sleep well at night knowing or at least I think that I am making some sort of difference in my own small way.
5. You are relatively new to the adventure world, what can we expect from you in the future? I don’t really know, there are so many people doing so many incredible things I often wonder if there is anything left to do! I don’t really do things to be the first or the fastest I do them because I want to, I ran from Amsterdam to Barcelona because Barcelona was the last place me and my Family went on holiday before my Mum passed away. If you do things for the right reasons then it’s easier to get through them. I have another ultra running season in 2012 and then I am planning a big challenge possible in India but that’s about all I can say for now.
6. Which is your strong suit; racing or endurance? Why? I am not the fastest, I used to be sub 18 minutes for a 5k which is decent but since moving into longer distances I do not have enough time to focus on speed, I am still just over 18 minutes for the 5k but I can only see that getting slower in 2012. I definitely want to get sub 3hr for the marathon, that was a goal for 2012 but might have to wait until next year. Endurance is what I love, being out there stretched, thinking you can’t go on but then finding that you can. There has been one occasion where I quit a race but I will be returning this year to finish it. I always think it is important to finish what you start no matter how long it takes.
7. How do you pick your next “To do”? Now what I do is Google “map of the world” and I look at it and think about where I would like to go and list my reasons for it. I then work out the distance and then figure out from doing some research what mileage I think would be possible to run each day, I don’t think I would ever opt for more than 50 miles per day at a push. There is only so much I am willing to put my body through, I want a very long and mobile life.
8. How important is it to push to the outside world that you are Scottish? Or are you willing to pull an Andy Murray and be labelled a UK/English athlete? I am proud to be Scottish but also happy to be British, it is not something that I really think about to be honest.
9. Who does your support team consist of? My Girlfriend Ferelith is always there for me, she is so supportive of the things that I do and I am forever planning new adventures, I can imagine there aren’t many people who would put up with that, I am very lucky. Other than that I just get on with it myself, I had some help on the European run but that was a onetime thing, I look at it as my decision to do this stuff so I shouldn’t burden anyone else with it.
10. How did you get into the speaking gig? It was when I came back from the AtoB run, my local rotary club and old school asked me to give a presentation on my adventure, I was very nervous but once I got up there I loved it, it’s a real opportunity to share the world with people and I think it is a good educational tool for young people.
11. What is your favourite part of running? It’s got to be the places it takes me and the people I meet from doing it. At least once a week I head out from my front door and pick a direction or I drive away to a place I’ve never been and just run, there is nothing more exciting that not knowing where you are going or seeing somewhere new, especially when it is close to home. I have live in Edinburgh all my life and there are still places I discover on a run that I’ve never been to, streets and parks I didn’t know existed.
12. What does your weekly training schedule consist of? When I trained for the 50 marathons run I was strict, three weeks of heavy training, minimum of 80 miles each week and then one week of around about 50 easy miles. Since then I have a much more relaxed approach to training, I don’t lose sleep if I miss a session and I just listen to my body and mind and go for however long I feel like it. There are obviously set long runs, usually on Sundays that I have to do but apart from that I just fit in the odd run when I can. It’s important not to take the fun out of it.
13. Are most of your friends now fellow adventurers or are they still the ones from home? I am still close to all my friends from before, I have also met a whole new set of friends, I am not one dimensional since taking up adventure and running, I still like to get to the pub and have a proper drink sometimes, just not as often as I used to. I play in my band with old xchool mate and when we play gigs it’s a chance for us all to get together and have a session, I like that.
14. What do you think you would be doing now if you had never quit smoking and taken up running? I think I would be in the same job but I don’t think that I would be with my girlfriend (she wouldn’t have put up with my I don’t think) which also means I wouldn’t have been able to buy our lovely house together so I’d be at home and single probably! haha
15. What charities do you run for and why do run for charities? I run for the Parkinson’s charity Wobbly Williams - www.wobblywilliams.com I ran the 50 marathons in memory of my Mother and for the charity that helped my family at that time, I raised over £33,000 for them but it was a one off thing for me. I decided to run for Wobbly Williams because I met the founder of the charity Bryn Williams at an awards ceremony, we both won the inspiration award that night and after speaking to him for a few minutes I was floored by his passion and belief in the charity he had set up. Bryn has Parkinson’s you see and when he was diagnosed he researched online and could only find negative press about the disease, he decided to give people hope so he set up the charity. We have raised over £400,000 in just over three years, the target for us now is millions, its going directly to treatment and finding a cure. Bryn has some great resources on the website that people should check out.
16. What is your technique for tricking your body into thinking it has more to give? I don’t really have one, I just tell myself to man up and think about how dull life would be without these adventures, what else would I be doing? Watching the television? No thanks
17. Why do you want to help others achieve their goals? I don’t think I truly can help people do that, they have to want it bad for themselves, the best I can hope to achieve is to give them ideas and plant little seeds of adventure, I’m not saying that you have to go and run for 24hrs, I totally get why that would not be for everyone. It is merely a matter of continuing to learn and experience new things and that’s exactly what I try to get over in my presentations.
My favourite quote is by Ralph Waldo Emerson , it goes like this "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered you will never grow."
I think that’s spot on and I will continue to push my own boundaries and make the most of this one, short life in the best way I can.
- Who helped you? My Dad helped me, he was a rock when my Mum passed away, I don’t tell him enough but I hope that by me doing what I am doing is proof enough to him that he raised me well and that I am forever grateful for that.
Mission: “Olly Rowland and Rob Mills will race 1500km across the frozen Siberian wilderness on old school Ural motorbikes to the only town in the world sitting on the Arctic circle.”
Orla O’Muiri chats to two adventurers who are currently out buying some gloves.
1. Did you pick each other as teammates? Rob: Actually Olly picked me. When Mr Tom came up with this adventure we knew from the outset that this pioneer’s event would be invite only, drawn from our Adventurists Wall of Fame, stand-out veterans of the Mongol Rally, Mongol Derby, Mototaxi Junket, etc. The ones we know are up for the challenge and can hack it. Olly made it to Mongolia in 2009 despite his little 1972 Hillman Imp rattling to pieces in Kazakhstan so we sent him an invite.
I contracted Olly’s band (Olly manages The Suburbians) for the Festival of Slow 2011 – the Mongol Rally launch – where he proposed I join him as his team mate. I like to think I was his first choice, but I was probably fifth of sixth.
2. Why so? Rob: I met Olly in 2009 in Atyrau, Kazakhstan. We were both driving the Mongol Rally in classic cars which were beginning to seriously flag. We took on the road from Atyrau to Aktobe in convoy. I can safely say it was the most difficult three days of driving I have ever done. My vehicle made it and was later repaired but Olly was not so lucky. He acted very well under pressure so I know he can handle this.
I have no idea why he chose me. He probably wants something nice to look at.
Olly: I chose Rob as my last team mate on the Mongol Rally bailed and flew home as he was so out of his comfort zone. I had met Rob on the same mongol rally in 2009 and knew he would be up for the adventure!
3. What skills do each of you host that will get you through this challenge? Rob: Olly has a beautiful singing voice and can fend of bears with his fists, and I have a brilliant middle-distance stare which is perfect for promotional material.
Olly: I have taken part in motocross races since I was 16, so I’m not to bad at riding cross country, and have basic bike mechanical skills. I do have a tendency to not think about things and rush into them, which Is where I think Rob will be useful as he seems to be a fairly rational and sensible thinker.
4. Are you in it to win it or just to finish it? Rob: The Ice Run is not strictly a race. I’m not even sure if it could be. For now we’re taking part to see if it’s possible, and I’m sure there is a little bit in all of us that signed up that wants to be the first to do it. No doubt when the going’s good out in Siberia there will be a bit of good nature competitive spirit between us but it’s really a personal challenge for each of us. There’s no prize for coming first.
Olly: I’m not to fussed about winning, but I would like to finish it and then head even further North if we can, depending on how quickly we make the finish line and what state the bike is in.
5. What other expeditions have both of you been on? Rob: Nothing I would really call an ‘expedition’. I live an ‘adventurous life’ I suppose. I actively take on challenges because that floats my boat. I think the event that sparked this trend for me occurred in 2003. I was living in Hong Kong at the time and one night when I couldn’t sleep I got up, got dressed and trekked across one of Hong Kong Island’s national parks 12km to see the sun rise from the other side. I got hopelessly lost, battered and bruised. It took me 6 hours (which is actually pretty good going given I couldn’t see much) but I loved every minute of it.
My biggest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally in 2009. It changed my life, not least because I now manage the blooming thing.
Olly: I lived on an oil rig in the middle of the sea in Borneo for a month doing some scuba diving conservation, I also took part in the 2009 mongol rally where I met Rob
6. Will they help you out with this one? This is quite a step up from anything I’ve ever done. In my role of Mongol Rally manager I have driven across Mongolia in February – -30C with wind chill, ice, blizzards, etc. – but that was with a well prepared 4x4 and my friend Jenya who’s local and knows how it all works out there. He’s my fixer in Mongolia, but I won’t get that luxury this time around.
Olly: The experience from the Mongol Rally will certainly give us both confidence when things go wrong, as we were both so used to it happening out there! It also gave us a bit of mechanical knowledge, as well as learning about local cultures which should be able to help us out in the Arctic.
7. Two charities; Cancer Research and Diabetes UK Yup. Olly is a type 1 diabetic. He’ll have to inject himself with insulin every day if he’s going to stay alive, which will definitely add an extra challenge to the trip. But it shouldn’t stop him from taking part. He’s just been taken on by Diabetes UK as a new spokesperson for the charity. Diabetes shouldn’t prevent its sufferers from doing what they want to do. Olly is a stuntman who’s worked on films such as Captain America and Warhorse, he kayaks, climbs, you name it – it’s a serious condition but it hasn’t stopped him from doing anything he wants to do.
We’re also supporting Cancer Research UK. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way or other, either suffered from one form or other themselves or have been there when friends or family have had to go through it. One in three people will get one form of cancer or other in their lifetimes and 20% of sufferers will not recover from it. That’s a frightening statistic I think and though we have made some progress we still a long way off understanding the disease. A friend of mine from the Rally lost her life much too young to cancer late last year. It was quite a wake-up call.
Olly: We each decided to choose a charity. My choice was Diabetes UK as I suffer from type 1 diabetes, and the stigma surrounding diabetes that you cant live a full and adventurous life annoys me, so I’m out to prove that it doesnt need to stop you doing anything. Even if we weren’t raising money for charity we would definitely still be doing the Ice Run. I think that as we are going on and self funding the trip, then we may as well raise money for charity at the same time as it only takes a minimum amount of effort to organise a justgiving account.
8. Why do people do these kind of expeditions for charity as opposed to just for themselves? There is no problem with doing an adventure just for yourself. Challenges like this are personal experiences and you might wish to keep them that way. I often ‘adventure’ for myself and I will continue to do so, but it’s nice to use the publicity of larger events like this to raise awareness of the charities we believe in. By generating the interest in what we’re doing in the people we know and grabbing the attention of a wider audience with the press and media we can also ask them to give just a little if they can afford it to Cancer Research UK or Diabetes UK right after. It’s a simple thing to ask. Persuade 50 of our friends to part with £10 each and £500 is raised instantly. We managed £1000 by waiving Just Giving pages under the noses of our Facebook friends and we haven’t stopped there!
9. Do you have a team organising the whole trip for you or are you doing it on your own? Rob: The Adventurists have found all the bikes and a small Russian team to prepare them and are also organising a large send off from the Ural factory in Irbit, but aside from that we’re on our own all 2500km to Salekhard on the Arctic Circle.I wouldn’t want a team organising an adventure for me anyway. If I wanted that I’d buy a package safari tour instead. It might be labelled ‘adventure’ but I don’t think it is really.
10. Whats been packed? Rob: Lots of Wayfayrer boil-in-the-bag beans and sausages. Never underestimate a hearty protein rich breakfast when you’re on the move.
And board shorts.
Olly: Ellis Brigham gave us a nice discount on clothing, so I have lots of Northface gear, about 8 layers! We also have an Arctic survival kit consisting of medical supplies, fire lighters, strobe light, mountain blanket etc. We’ve also got our tent, sleeping bags, MSR cooking stove, collapsable aluminium shovel, huge snow boots and a load of cameras!
11. How do you know what to pack? Rob: There’s been a lot of research for this one actually but I’m still not sure I’ve got it right. I’ll probably freak out on the night before I fly and fill my bag with everything I own. And I love adventure gear and gadgets, and though it’s fun to look at them and maybe buy a few to make life outside more enjoyable, suddenly for this adventure I found asking myself, could this save my life? Could that save my life? That’s been bad news for my bank balance. I’ve brought the most hi-tech bivvy bag I can find… It’s a posh orange plastic bag! Like a big Sainsbury’s shopping bag on steroids. My colleagues would rather I pack light with a Tweed jacket and a cocktail making set. I still might. What more could I need than to look good making cocktails?
Olly: We dont! Other than research on the internet and speaking to people that have been to this part of the world. It’s all down to our own research knowing what we need to pack and wear.
12. Who gets to drive the bike and who has to sit in the sidecar? Rob: Haha! Good question. Nobody wants to go in the sidecar. It’s freezing in that thing. It’s a steel box just big enough for you to sit in. It provides no comfort and is cold as a freezer inside before you take it outside where it’s -30C! Oh, and it’ll take the full affect of the wind chill too. Have you seen the Ice Run trailer on The Adventurists Youtube channel? You’ll see Mr Tom snowboarding on a rope behind the bike. On the test run they found this to be the warmest way to travel.
So, to cut it short, Olly’s in the sidecar.
Olly: We’ll be taking it in turns. Apparently it gets incredibly cold in the side car, more so than riding the bike as that has a windscreen, so we will be swapping around regularly.
13. How did you come to that conclusion? Rob:Nah, it’ll be a shared effort and we’ll ride shifts. It’s going to be tiring work and one or other of us should be resting while the other rides.
Olly: We both want to ride the bike!
14. How did you pick the vehicle? Rob: Russian Ural’s are iconic. The simple matter of their existence is as much of the reason Mr Tom created this adventure as there being epically cool ice roads to ride in Siberia in Winter.
Olly: The vehicle was picked for us by the adventurists, it’s not exactly the most suitable vehicle!
15. Who came up with the idea of the Ice Run? Rob: Mr Tom. Founder and Chief chief of The Adventurists. My boss, the silliest man I know.
16. So it’s in teams, do you plan on helping other teams along the paths, or is it each to their own while out there? Rob: I’ll point and laugh. It might be the kindest thing I to do. People can do incredible things under that sort of pressure.
Olly: I’d be happy to help anyone thats struggling out there. We are in a very hostile, dangerous environment, where the weather can kill in a short space of time, and as much as I would love to finish first, I would feel much worse if I knew I could have helped someone, but because I left them the worse had happened.
17. Why do you do these crazy things? Rob: Crazy? I don’t really think it’s so crazy. Crazy is base jumping from Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
For sure, pushing our limits like this is definitely out of the ordinary, but I think everybody should be pushing their limits as often as possible. Nothing crazy about that to me.
Olly: I love adventure and doing different things. Not only do I want to raise awareness that diabetes doesnt need to hold people back, but I hate the idea of having the boring repetitive mundane life that lots of people get on with.
18. What is the plan for entertainment along the way? Rob: Travel scrabble, adding together numbers on passing registration plates, box set of Adam Sandler movies, rousing chorus’s of Kumbaya around a warm camp fire… None of those.
Olly: We have start line and finish line parties organised, as well as going to an ice race track before we set off on the endurance challenge.
19. How long have you been planning this for? Rob: About 6 months I guess but it’s been extremely difficult to find much time, managing the Mongol Rally takes over my life sometimes!
20. Is this expedition open to anyone, or is it an Adventurist member only? Rob: Invitations for this year’s adventure were sent to veterans of our adventures. Future Ice Runs will be open for anyone to sign up. Next year even Cornflakes can have a go if he wants, but I understand if he feels it’s a little bit too hardcore for him.
21. How has been a part of the Adventurists changed your life? Rob: I get to bring my hobby to work every day. It’s an awesome place to be. Hate me yet?
22. This is a potentially extremely dangerous expedition. Does fear ever deter you? Rob: Sure. This could be dangerous. Siberian winter is difficult at the best of times but one unexpected change can make the environment very hostile indeed very quickly. I just got an email from Buddy from Wild Rides who was part of the test run last year. It reads, ‘seriously dude, it’s life threateningly freezing… have fun - but be careful…’. It’s far from his usual jokey tone. He happened to tell me on the phone earlier today that he thought a few times that he was going to die he was so cold. But then again, he is a big girl’s blouse.
I’ve had emails, messages left on my answer-phone, text messages, all from friends telling me to be careful. That’s never happened before which does freak me out a little bit. My mum and dad have been remarkably cool about it, but they think I’m going to Tenerife.
Olly: Of course there is, but its the risk and the danger that make it an adventure and not a holiday. If I wanted to go away with out any risk Id go to Disneyland.
23. Did you try to follow the traditional route in life and then packed it in? If you did, what made you just do it? Rob: Not so much ‘try’ but ‘fell into’. I did a degree in Asia Pacific Studies and I don’t really know where that was supposed to take me (though I’m glad I did it). After uni I eventually ended up working HR for the NHS, which didn’t exactly inspire me. You’ve only got so long so why spend 8 hours each day of your valuable life doing something that you can’t be passionate about. You’re wasting your time and not reaching your potential. Too many people in this world must work (hard) to live and when there is so much opportunity to take in our lives it seems criminal not to take it. Take it, find something you love and let that passion make a difference. Live to work. Christ that’s so cheesy I can smell it through the computer screen. It’ll probably end up as a quote in bold.
So I knew I had to take a big step into the unknown for my own sanity and I quit, did the Mongol Rally in 2009 and ‘fell into’ managing the Rally shortly after.
Olly: I’ve never really had the traditional route in life. I pretty much work as a stuntman when there is work, and when there isn’t any stunt work I’m planning or going on an adventure somewhere. Be it the Mongol rally or the Ice Run, or rock climbing up Mount Snowdon, or kayaking the rapids in the gorges in south of France.