Just before I flew to South America my 9 year old niece hit me with a very pertinent question. I had expected to be asked it more often but I think she was only the second person to ask since I left the UK in July 2014.
“Why are you doing this Uncle Iain?”
I’d had over 3 months cycling across Europe to come up with an erudite answer. However, all I could offer in response was that was a good question and that this was just something I want to do.
In a nutshell that is correct but I owe a better explanation and when times are tough, if that’s my fall back position then I’m not going to get very far.
I have been fortunate in life to be born in the United Kingdom, thereby giving me an access all areas pass to the world in the shape of a UK Passport. This is a privilege a lot of the world do not have. I have spent a lot of the last 15 years or so travelling to far flung locations, often on holiday from work and with some longer trips mixed in. I once took 2.5 weeks off work and went to Antarctica on holiday. I don’t say that to boast but to frame my wanderlust and spirit of adventure.
As a kid I would go out to play with friends on my bike and we would explore the local woods or just cycle further than we had been before, just to see what was there. I just loved the newness of exploring, of seeing somewhere I had not seen before. It is no surprise that I never lost that wonder, just that the scale of the adventures increased.
I’ve always loved cycling. It’s a passion deep within, rooted in the freedom I feel it gives me. When everything is firing and I’m on song the high I get from controlling a bike is beautiful. It’s a beauty that I haven’t found in other skills in life. So it’s little wonder that cycling is something I love doing.
Of course, loving cycling and having a spirit of adventure doesn’t explain why I would want to cycle the length of the two American Continents. They might, however, explain why I would want to spend a few months cycling around Europe in the Summer. That was my test run, my warm-up if you like. To ensure that I knew what I was getting myself in to. I should point out that I had never (aside from a 2 day practice run before I left) actually been on a multi-day ride before embarking on the ride from Watford to Spain. I wanted to see how I would react when faced with that as my life. You never really know until you try.
I want to do something extraordinary with my life. I want to look in the mirror and be proud of what I see. I want the person looking back to have a confidence in his eyes that he can overcome what ever is put in front of him.
I want to show other people that they can achieve their own impossible dreams. I want to put my small dent in the world and encourage other people to do what they want to do with their lives rather then what they think they should do.
I want to show my niece and nephew that they can be anything they want in life.
So I picked something I don’t think I can complete, I picked something so impossibly long and difficult that I will surely fail.
I’m aiming to prove myself wrong.
This short video sums it up succinctly, I want to feel this way time and again (but not every day, that would be exhausting!).