It’s been a tough few days. Regardless of whether there are people around, making a decision to leave something you’ve worked incredibly hard on is a lonely one. I had to make a call based on health and happiness; not taking into account anyone or anything else.
If I’ve learned anything these past few years it’s that the biggest decisions have to be made independently: we have to look after ourselves first otherwise we’re no good to others. Usually I’m focused on the positive side of that message; encouraging others (as well as motivating myself) to find the strength to make a decision that propels them forwards in life, regardless of external pressures. My latest move isn’t necessarily forwards, but it’s not backwards either. I’ve just skipped sideways, gingerly, into a new lane.
Closing off all other factors meant that I honestly had no concerns about how my pulling out of this expedition would be judged by others, so I’ve been blown away by the emails and messages filling up my email and bookface (yes, bookface). I’m really touched by the support; what a timely reminder that there are friends everywhere - a quiet safety net bound together just in case one falls. Thank you everybody who has taken the chance to write and offer some kind words and opinions, it means a great deal.
I write a lot about post-expedition depression - or, more accurately, blues - and as yet I’m unsure how this little scenario is going to phase out. It’s new ground, having to reset oneself from not reaching an original goal and I’ll admit, I’m feeling a little dizzy. This journey hasn’t turned out how I hoped but I’m fully at peace with my decision to stop. I think the aftermath would have been much harder had I tried to continue to Paris and failed, or even made it having had a miserable final two weeks. It’s really healthy to have your priorities tested now and then and ultimately I’ve made the right decision and can do no better than that, so with this in mind I actually think there will be minimal blues this time around.
I’ve spent the last day with my good friend Alex Flynn - whose own physical difficulties really put EVERYTHING into perspective (please click his name to be awed by everything Alex is achieving) - and to have the company of someone who immediately sees the full picture and can be a friend regardless, that’s special.
I’ll be heading back to the UK in the next couple of days to rest up, see the people most important to me, then start getting creative. There’s another book up my sleeve (I’m on the Cote d’Azur right now so I have small sleeves, which I guess means the book is nearby) and some ideas brewing for new projects. And of course, as always, the Summer is an excellent time to spread a little Say Yes More love.
For now though, I’ll leave you with a picture I took on the penultimate evening of this expedition. Having reached the 1124m Col de Toutes Aures I’d been riding downhill for only about three miles of what turned out to be a 35 mile descent and saw this cyclist crawling uphill. I felt so much for the guy, knowing he still had quite the climb ahead of him, but I had no idea what he’d already accomplished further down the road until I’d seen it for myself. Perhaps that’s a good way to finish this chapter.
Signing out for now, I’m going to give all this online stuff a break for a bit so I can recalibrate. Thanks everyone for your support.
Monday 20th February 2012
Leicester Square VUE Cinema, London
Tickets available on the door
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.
Tomorrow (Thursday 12th January) at The George on the Strand I’m lucky enough to be speaking alongside two inspirational blokes. Host and organiser Chris Martin, who himself has rowed just a couple of oceans, says it’s looking to be a busy evening but if you have a spare hour or two things kick off at 6:30pm - tickets on the door
Meet Shaun Quincey
In 2010 Shaun rowed solo between Australia and New Zealand, a distance of over 2000km through some of the roughest seas on Earth. Why? Well, one of the reasons was that in 1977 Shaun’s Dad, Colin, did exactly the same thing…
If you’d like to come along to the event full details are available @ http://www.talesofadventure.co.uk
And there’s a Facebook group for the Tales of Adventure, too - check it out
On the 20th February 2012 a great line-up of speakers from the world of Adventure will descend upon Leicester Square’s VUE cinema for another night of high-paced drama in aid of Hope & Homes for Children.
Taking on a challenging format, each speaker has a total of 20 slides and 6 minutes 40 seconds with which to tell their story. Taking the most engaging and experienced speakers right out of their comfort zone, this is truly a Night of Adventure.
The speakers include:
Dave Cornthwaite (Host)
Dave is best known for his Expedition1000 project - 25 separate journeys of 1000 miles or more, each using a different form of non-motorised transport. Dave has broken five world records, crossed Australia on a skateboard, kayaked Australia’s largest river and descended the Mississippi River by Stand Up Paddleboard, but still thinks his greatest achievement so far is writing a book about dating. As Night of Adventure founder Al Humphreys is on holiday Dave will be hosting this event - here’s an interview with him about the Night of Adventure
In 2008 Alex was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, encouraging the formation of a life-changing endurance project. Before the end of 2014, the 10 Million Metres Challenge will take him more than 6,200 miles in races around the world (running, cycling, swimming or crawling the distance) to raise more than £1Million for research into Parkinson’s disease. The 10 Million Metres Challenge encompasses some of the world’s more interesting and dangerous races. Highlights include the 2010 Marathon des Sables, running across the Bavarian Alps and in 2011 traversing 1457 miles from London to Rome in 30 days. In 2012, Alex plans to cross 3200 miles of the USA in 24 days using five different disciplines, while all the time fighting against the relentless progression of the disease on his own body. A disease which currently has no cure!
Julia is 31 and comes from the world of media and PR. Julia was introduced to the injustice of human trafficking several years ago which started her journey towards helping fight the modern day slave trade. She has recently launched Sport Against Trafficking, which hopes to harness the positive power of community and sport to raise public awareness as well as funding for projects directly tackling human trafficking. On January 22nd Julia became the first Finnish person to row the Atlantic, as part of the record-breaking Row for Freedom team
How do you rent a remote tropical island and build an eco-community with no funding? That’s the question Ben Keene asked himself in 2006. A few months later he and his internet ‘tribe’ moved to Vorovoro Island in Fiji and began to live and work alongside the local fishing community to build a new kind of tourism village. 5 years later and Ben’s tribe has evolved. Having survived cyclones, fires and political coups in Fiji the project became well known locally for it’s promotion of cultural heritage. In 2010 Ben began a new community project - this time on the beach in the beautiful but scared Sierra Leone. The question this time was not of survival but how much could one village play a part in changing the image of a country? Ben’s adventure is one of turning an island dream into a social enterprise with significant potential impact, and as Ben is discovering it’s a journey that is only just beginning.
A professional Adventurer for over a decade, Mark will be kept busy for the next few years by his 7 rivers, 7 continents project, to paddle the length of the longest river on each continent. In 2007/2008 he rafted the length of the entire Amazon river, and in 2012 he will kayak alone the entire Missouri-Mississippi River system.. In 2009/10 Mark walked from north to south across the Islamic Republic of Iran, solo.
Chris Martin is one of the World’s foremost Ocean Rowers and an ex-international oarsman. Rowing for Great Britain he won a medal at each of the 6 World Championships where he raced. Subsequently he became the 30th person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In 2009 he set the record for being first to row from Japan to San Francisco across the North Pacific Ocean. A hurricane, electrical storms, 60ft waves, onboard fire, secret US Naval base, whales and near starvation all threatened the success of the trip. The 189 day voyage across the Pacific became a titanic struggle for survival on the world’s largest ocean.
In eight years Andy has unintentionally gone from soldier to adventurer, exchanging the thrill of military operations for the exhilaration and frustration of exploring the world in a wheelchair. Paralysed in a climbing accident, discharged from the British Army and forced to re-evaluate life. Andy set off to test his new limitations and expectations for adventure and discover where determination, stubbornness and a healthy dose of rebellion could take him. His resulting adventures, from making first ski descents of Alaskan peaks, paragliding over Africa or trekking through the Himalayas have all formed a motivational catalyst for his next adventure. In June 2012 Andy will set off from the UK to push himself 30,000 miles around the world in a wheelchair.
In 2010, with an ever increasing need to scratch the “Wanderlust” itch, Mitch dropped out of the “rat race” to travel around the World with his girlfriend and one rather “precious” piece of luggage, their 8 month old baby daughter. When not away traveling Mitch works as a Telecommunication consultant. Also a keen long-distance cyclist, in June Mitch will be dodging volcanoes and cycling around Iceland in aid of Hope & Home’s for Children.
Emily, 24, has sailed around the world in several different guises. As the Operations Manager for the world record-breaking biofuelled powerboat, Earthrace, she co-ordinated events promoting alternative fuels in 120 international cities. Then, living on a remote island in Tonga, Emily organised one of the largest clean-up operations in the Pacific, which led to her joining the first expedition to discover accumulations of rubbish in the South Atlantic Gyre. Awarded Yachtsmaster of the year by HRH Princess Anne, Emily is now Programme Director for Pangaea Explorations, leading sailing expeditions around the world studying micro-plastics, coral reef biodiversity and toxic run-off.
Parker Liautaud is a 16-year-old polar adventurer and environmental campaigner. In April 2011, Parker completed his second North Pole expedition (his third polar expedition overall), becoming one of the youngest in history to walk to the North Pole - and in the second fastest time ever recorded.
While studying Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College, Alex found his passion in energy and the future of transportation. He realised that the technology for sustainable transportation was already present, but that the public were ill informed about its potential. In January 2009, Alex set up Racing Green Endurance; a project aimed at designing and building the world’s longest range electric car, and then proving this technology to the world by driving it the 26,000km long Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Argentina! Documented by the BBC, the project was well received throughout the world, and helped change public perception about electric cars forever.