“Be mindful of the link between present action and desired future outcome. Ask yourself: if I repeat today’s actions 365 times, will I be where I want to be in a year?”
There are occasions, usually as I step into a lift on a Monday morning that I contemplate a dramatic exit from this current office lifestyle. I think of my bike itching for action in the parking lot two floors below and picture myself hurriedly packing a few essentials into my now moth eaten panniers and cycling off towards the sunset.
Such dreams are only that and after a cup of tea and a bite to eat I'm happier to swap the dramatics for practicalities and focus on the more realistic timelines needed to bring this dream to fruition.
On this particular day that may only mean sending a couple of emails at lunch or watching a ten minute web design clip in the evening, but once your goals are in place and you can visualise your daily, weekly and monthly targets those anxious moments are replaced with constructive thoughts and when you do dream you know its coming closer to reality.
A little over three years ago we sat down to begin planning a cycle through Africa. We had no experience of Africa and less still of journey cycling. However, with a little advice from Eric and Amaya we made enough correct decisions to successfully complete an 11 month cycle from South Africa to Ireland.
From our experience there are a few key pieces of knowledge and expertise one needs in order to make a success out of any long distance cycle. With these in hand and sufficient resilience relative to the journey planned I believe embarking on a journey by bicycle is more accessible than most imagine.
Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason. T.S. Eliot
- Does it truly excite me?
- Does it scare me?
- Will it introduce me to at least one completely new experience?
- Will it necessitate huddling around a fire for light, heat or entertainment?
- Are periods of solitude likely to occur?
- Is there a considerable and sustained physical challenge involved?
- Is there a possibility of failure?
- Will there be periods of real difficulty?
- Will there be periods of real bliss?
- And finally, but crucially, would I undertake the expedition if no-one ever knew i did it*?
The second time we returned home from Africa we had only been there for a week. Our first venture into the 'dark continent' had taken considerably longer, nearly a year in fact, yet this second whistle-stop visit had left us noticeably weaker. Burnsy had run the last 60km of the 260km long Sahara Race with a knee that refused to bend as intended. For my part a naivety in relation to blister care culminated in the loss of all but four of my toenails. Resulting infections meant that the ensuing weeks were ones of pain accompanied by illness. Such discomfort, however, was infinitely more manageable than the mental malaise that began to fester.
The race itself had been a huge success for us both. A tiny training window left us apprehensive about our ability to even complete the bloody thing and hence our time and placings were a huge source of pride and satisfaction. For all this, the race’s end promised only a return to the actuality of amateur adventuring, debt and dreaming.