Friday, September 9, 2011

More Adventure, Less Ennui

I spend a lot of time reading people’s stories. Trip reports, race summaries, adventure journals. The internet is an incredible thing. I wanted to talk a little bit about why I fill my hours examining other people’s stuff.

Every once in a while, I come across a great blog post. The kind of post that makes me want to be a better person. When I read this post the other day, I definitely felt inspired. I mean, how could you not be affected by sections like this:
I joked yesterday about what I’ve learned on the bike. Well, the single greatest thing I have truly learned on the bike is what Ken Chlouber from Leadville preaches every year.

You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.

I have not ridden Leadville. I could not. Yet. I have done nothing like it. A lot of you have not, and could not. But…

We can all DIG DEEP. We are all better than we think we are, we can all do more than we think we can.

This is an absolute truth. I have not ridden Leadville, but I have experienced exactly what Ken preaches – I have learned from the past year and a half on the bike that I can do WAY more than I thought I could. I am WAY better than I thought I was.

And so are you.
I want to be better. I want to do more. Sometimes, especially when it rains for 3 straight days, I feel like I’m not living my life to its fullest potential. I’m making more excuses than memories. It’s raining. My rear rotor on my car needs to be replaced. My bank account is down to the single digits again.

I need to develop a more positive attitude. This is a better example of how I should be thinking, from the South County Cyclista blog:

A few weeks ago on a Friday night I was trying to figure out where I was going to ride the next morning. My friends all had to ride later in the day or were out of town. Then it hit me. Why not finally make it up to the radio tower? I pulled up the map I had studied many times looking at the dirt road switch backs climbing up the steep contours of the land. This would indeed be a solo adventure.

Usually adventures like this need to be done solo or you risk ending friendships if the adventure turns sour.

I remember one time this past summer when Ace was away, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I wasted it inside watching golf on TV. Ugh. To be fair, we did a 20 mile road ride in the morning so it wasn’t a complete waste. But I still felt like I could have done more. Wasn’t there a little part of my area that I hadn’t explored yet? Wasn’t there someplace to go?

That’s why this idea from the Adventure Journal really intrigued me:

I once spent four years cycling more than 40,000 miles round the world. It was a heck of an adventure. But one of the things I learned during that trip was that you don’t need to spend four years cycling more than 40,000 miles round the world to have an adventure.

Adventure is only a state of mind. 
Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you don’t normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability. And if that’s true then adventure is all around us, at all times. Even during hard financial times such as these. Times, I believe, when getting away from it all and out into the wild are more invigorating and important than ever.

That is why I began a series of ‘expeditions’ that are close to home, affordable, easy to organize, and designed to encourage other people to get out there and do stuff! I call them microadventures.

Right. I didn’t need to sit at home watching golf. There were all sorts of other things I could have been doing – new places to explore, new things to try, and new experiences to be had.

I think my real problem is that I wasn’t thinking outside of the box. I really did want to go somewhere, but for some reason, I was only thinking of places that I had been before. I wasn’t really into repeating something I had done hundreds of times (see my post on Adventures vs. Sessions), so I had a hard time motivating to get off my couch and do anything at all.

Ridiculous. Some of the best adventures are the ones that are unplanned, spontaneous, and completely improvised. Thinking only of the places I had been before made my decision really uninteresting, unexciting, and uninspiring. It’s no wonder I chose to sit at home. Because really, to take one more snippet from the South County Cyclista blog:
"It is only an adventure the first time."
- Dan Z.

Exactly. Time to start racking up some first times.


  1. "Adventure is not in the guidebook. Seek and ye shall find."

    From "On the Loose,"a great book that is rare and hard to find.

  2. I forgot an important part of that quotation:

    "Adventure is not in the guidebook, and beauty is not on the map. Seek and ye shall find."

    from On the Loose