Everyone has a story, this is the story of a man who wants the best of both worlds; a stable job, a family but also the thrill and demand of a life filled with adventures. His name is Stuart Doyle.
1. You left school at 16, did you know then what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
Yes that’s correct, I left school a few weeks before my exams and I know most people will think this was a very silly thing to do but looking back I would do the same again. I had the opportunity to go do some travelling and even at such a young age, this was something I had wanted to do for a few years and when the opportunity came up it wasn’t something I was going to pass up. But to answer your question no I had and still have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life. At 16 I didn’t know many people who knew what they are doing the next day, let alone the rest of their lives.
2. Tell me about Parthenon 2 Parthenon (your cycle from Athens to Edinburgh) – Who you did it with/would you do it again/how long it took to plan?
The Parthenon 2 Parthenon challenge was a 2 month independent cycle from the Parthenon in Athens to the replica of the Parthenon on top of Edinburgh’s calton hill. The idea came about in the very unsurprising location of the pub!! I was actually with another friend (Iain McNeilage) discussing how I wanted to take on a challenge to test myself physically and mentally and see how my body would react and how I would cope. I was really keen to have a start and end point that where linked somehow and the idea was born linking the two Parthenon’s, It was I think a stroke of both luck and genius. I had toyed with the idea of running through a country but settled for a bike as we would be able to cover more distance in the time we had(I was lucky my company supported me and gave me 2 months off in the summer). I completed this challenge with my great friend Chris Strother. Chris also shares a passion for sport and adventure and we had also spent some time abroad together, so I knew when it came to sharing a 2 man tent for 2 months he was the man for the job. He is also a very very funny man so I knew when things got tough he would keep my spirits up.
3.You travelled Europe with a stranger, why didn’t you get a friend to go along? Did the experience of going with a stranger add to the adventure?
As I previously mentioned I was still at school at the time and most if not all of my friends were still at school and studying for their exams, so it wasn’t really an option for them. As soon as I turned 16 I started working part time in the evenings and at weekends so I got to meet lots of new and exciting people. On one shift I met a very cool Australian guy also called Stuart who was over visiting some family in Edinburgh for a few months then heading round Europe before going back home to Australia. I spoke about my desire to travel and see new countries and he said I should join him if i wanted as he was travelling alone so would welcome the company. I think I went home that night and announced that I was leaving school to save up for my European adventure! Luckily my family where and are very supportive and I was told they would support my decision to which im still very grateful for.. Im not sure if the fact that this guy was from a country on the other side of the world added to the excitement and adventure of doing it or it was just an opportunity that arose to go do something I really wanted to do.
4.You’ve travelled the Trans-Siberian Railway, Taught English to monks in Nepal; How do you come up with these random adventures?
To me these are not random at all, these where things I really wanted to do and see and went off and done them. If you ever got the chance to do the Trans-Siberian I cant recommend it enough, it was a fantastic experience. A great memory was looking out the window of the my cabin at snow and ice for miles then all of a sudden like a straight line in the ground only seeing sand for miles as we passed along side the Gobi desert. A very surreal moment.
5.What is your day job to fund your travels?
Now we get to the really exciting part of the interview……..well I currently work for Scottish Widows, who were very supportive of my summer cycle and really helped by allowing me to have the 2 months off at the height of summer. I work in the pensions department in a classic 9-5 role, but this gives me great flexibility after work and on the weekends to get active.
6.Was leaving the education system a disadvantage when trying to find work? Do you regret leaving?
No I don’t regret leaving at all. I was and never will be the academic type its just not me. I don’t think it was a disadvantage at all, in the years after leaving school I had gained a wealth of experience by working full time and spending a few months abroad. Its said that travel broadens the mind and whilst I agree with this I also think it does so much more for the human spirit
7.What did you do in those say 6 years while everyone else was still in school or university?
After my little jaunt round Europe I came home and got straight back to work. I spent 5 long years working for Starbucks Coffee Company. If your from Edinburgh and reading this there is a very high chance you will have already met me as I worked in and managed most of the Edinburgh stores. My time then was spend doing what most young lads do I guess working (or attending uni), drinking, playing football. Nothing out of the ordinary.
8.You have recently set a challenge for yourself; The Treble12Challenge (12 mini endurance challenges all lasting 12 hours) Can you give us a hint of what sort of things to expect?
Indeed I have. Well I still have a few things to finalise but I do have a few fairly obvious challenges i.e Cycling and running and walking for 12 hours but will try put a twist on these so its not just out for a jog or a long walk in the park. I also have a friend who is into surfing so we are planning a surfathon (not sure that’s a real word) and im really looking forward to that. will need to wait for the Scottish Summer for this one. Im also toying with 12 hours of solitude but the more I think about it the more im put off but will we see.
9.You are breaking into a market dominated by a few elites. Is it a tough thing to break in?
That’s a hard question for me to answer as its not something im trying to break into concisely, im just doing exciting challenging things that I want to do, and want to test myself whilst also trying to have fun doing them. I don’t know where they will lead me in the future but for now im happy with my place in this market. I do agree though that this market it is dominated by many elites but also there are lots and lots of unknown people out there doing amazing things and I think possibly im just one of them.
10.Any advice for people attempting to do the same?
I would say do what you want to do and not what you think people expect you to do. Also try and put a personal twist on everything you do. For me I love the idea of planning and completing my own personal challenges, its such a sense of achievement to come up with the initial idea, make the plans and complete it.
11.You stressed that you are keen to involve others in these challenges, that is great, but what is your reasoning behind it?
Well for one I thought if im going to suffer then im not doing it alone haha! Im aware that there are lots of people out there who are keen to test themselves in some sort of a challenge but are unable to take on something on such a large scale so im hopefully going show people (and myself) that you don’t have to cycle round the world or run from pole to pole (someone is actually doing this!!!!) to challenge yourself. Something as simple as a 24 hour sponsored silence can be a very tough mental challenge…well for me anyway.
12.How did you get involved in Jogle 2012? (a 20 person team attempt to break a Guinness World Record in the longest cycle relay)
This actually came about through the wonders of Twitter! I was very lucky to get involved with this challenge actually, It wasn’t something I was aware of until the amazing Scottish world cyclist Sean Newall (@thecwchallenge) mentioned it to me as they were still looking for one more team member and a day later I became part of the team. I again got very lucky and landed a Scottish leg of next Augusts’ cycle. Im really looking forward to taking part and think its a fantastic idea to complete it as a relay event, the more the merrier!
13.The common theme of these expeditions seem to be that everyone hits a low for the first good few days, but then you experience the ‘moment.’ Is it all a chase for the high of that ‘moment’?
I don’t think this is something people really think about but an inevitable part of any challenge. You can prepare yourself physically and mentally but its not until your out there actually doing it that your body and mind start to react. There was of course certain highs i was looking for and did experience but in the beginning its all about adapting to the new surroundings and getting used to your new daily routine. The first week or two are I think always the worst, just because of how new and challenging it is. I also think in retrospect these were possibly my favourite or perhaps my proudest moments.
14. You are one of the few adventurers that are married, is it hard to balance both, perhaps for your wife to rein you in?
I would probably have to say yes. Planning a large overseas challenge can take up a lot (if not all) of your spare time and does start to envelope your life at times. But like anything in your life its all about trying to find the right balance. I think that in Ella I am very lucky to have such a supportive wife who supports me in anything and everything I do.
15.What’s next? Are you aiming for one big expedition or just taking it day by day? I
n 2012 as previously mentioned I will be focussing on my Treble12 Challenge as well as the Jogle Relay. Im also starting to train for what I guess could be called my ‘main’ challenge for next year, I can’t say to much at the moment as we are currently trying to finalise plans but im really looking forward to another big test. What I can say is that I will be part of a 4 man team going for a run with a bit of a difference….
You can find Stuart on Twitter @Stuart_Doyle