I had been thinking about setting this site up for a quite while before finally taking the plunge. I worried that I wouldn’t have anything interesting to say. Or that I would think I had something interesting to say but that no-one would read. Or that they'd read but be bored / judgemental / critical. I think I was missing the point. A friend helped me realise that none of those things matter. As long as what I’m saying is worthwhile to me, then this serves its purpose. Over the past few years, I've found other similar sites full of motivation, useful information and inspiration. If, along the way, a few people find this useful, interesting or offering even a small dose of inspiration, then that's an added bonus.
For the last 16 years I've worked as an Environmental Consultant in the energy industry. It's been interesting and challenging, as well as a constant uphill battle. The passage of time, my parents passing away, and the sledgehammer realisation that life is short, we've only got one shot and we don't know when the show might be over, slowly led me to work out that my life over the last decade and a half was not the model I wanted for the next decade and a half (never mind the next two, three, four or, hopefully, five).
Spending 40-plus hours a week inside sat at a desk to support a lifestyle that supports spending 40-plus hours inside sat at a desk suddenly seemed to be completely missing the point. I found myself wanting a change, something more, or at least a something more diverse and more balanced.
I started mountain biking in around 2005 whilst living in Scotland, and spent a few years failing to keep up with the group on climbs and invariably crashing on the descents. The idea of multi-day off-road trips, weighed down by gear, would have sounded like an awful idea, had it even been something that occurred to me at that time.
A move down South and a few years spent bike commuting across London has helped improve my legs a little, whilst at the same time building this urge to break free of the 9-5, to spend more time outdoors, and to see a bit of the world in a slower, more exploratory way.
About the same time, the power of the internet slowly led me to discover others who felt the same way, and to understand that there were all sorts of people undertaking adventurous journeys by bicycle and that with a little knowledge and a bit of motivation, the options were limitless.
Some of these souls had been lucky enough to develop this lifestyle before following the majority and spending a 15 years in an office, and had the guts to seek an alternative path. Having said that, that period of perceived 'normality' has provided some benefits - a flat, of which I own more than the bank, and a career to fall back on when I need to earn some money. I'm lucky to have had this urge develop now, rather than in another 40 years time and I'm lucky to be able to act on it.
Initially I used this site as a focus for a new project - to document my first tentative journey on a vastly overloaded bike down through Holland, Germany and Switzerland in 2011. After aborting an attempt to follow a mountain bike route through the Black Forest, I did manage to mostly haul and push my pannier laden beast along trails through the Jura mountains. Since then, I've been slowly trying to improve my setup to make riding long distance off-road trails not only possible, but also enjoyable! After that trip, I carried on posting, albeit intermittently, documenting some short microadventures closer home and longer trips further away.
The blog then slowly became a focus for something bigger. In 2014 I stopped working, took a lot of unnecessary belongs to the charity shop, let out my flat, and headed off for five months on a mountain bike journey through France and Spain. I've been back in London working for the last year but am planning again to escape and spend my foreseeable future riding long distance trails, camping in forests and on hills, taking photographs, writing and finding some adventure.
I don't know where this will lead me. I don't know what the balance between 'normal' life and a life that looks like my daydreams will end up being. Perhaps I'll always be trying to work that out. But as I look back at the growing number of images and memories contained within this site, I realise how far I've come and how much has changed in the past few years. Hopefully the story will continue...