Interview with Hello Restless

2 bicycles, 2 photographers, 30,000 miles and 50+ countries, to document the Geography of Youth.

1. So what’s the story with you two, best friends, lovers…..how do you know each other?

We met in 2007 while both working at the Maine Media Workshops for the summer. We moved to NYC right after that summer and the rest, as they say, is history!

2.You are quite the achievers for young people, have you worked hard for it or is it easy because it is your passion? 

I’m not sure that we’re so much achievers as folks who wanted to see something happen and took a leap of faith. We work really hard, but a lot of doing what you love is taking the tough first step towards actually getting what you want out of life.

3. Photography is one thing, but you gave it a more extreme element by adding in the bikes, how did this whole idea come about and be put into action? 

When we came up with the idea for Project Tandem, we originally thought about driving around the country. Mo’s dad pointed out that his college buddy had cycled across the country and we thought that was a pretty cool idea. A month into cycle touring, we were hooked.

4. What bikes are you cycling?

We are sponsored by an amazing company called Waterford Precision Cycles. They made us custom steel touring bikes and they are so awesome. We’re totally in love with our bikes.

– Distance you cover a day?

Anywhere from 30k to 130k. Depends on the weather, terrain, resources…

– Pace? We average 20k per hour.

– Stopovers? We take lots of water, snack, and photo breaks. We’re constantly stopping for something!

5. Do you feel lucky to have found another person that is on the same page as you goal wise? Are you as similar in all aspects of your personality? 

We’re actually pretty different, personality-wise. We’re lucky to share the same drive, but mostly just lucky that we can tolerate each other for this long and under often less than ideal circumstances.

6.Did you do any training or bike maintenance before you departed? 

A bit! We’re pretty decent at repairing bicycles but we’ve learned as we go. We didn’t train too much, just tried to get/keep in shape. You don’t have to be a super-athlete to cycle tour.

7. What is the crux of your mission? 

The best way to describe the project is through our intro video:

8.How do you approach the people you want to photograph? 

We literally just walk/cycle up to them and start chatting. We explain the project and ask them if they want to be a part of it!

9. You are out there cycling the world with an aim, but what are the benefits?

– What have you learned?

It’s impossible to write all that we’ve learned. Seeing the world at 20k an hour is a pretty amazing thing. We’re seeing and learning more than I think we could possibly ever realize fully.

– Have you had fun?

Of course! It’s not always sunshine and downhills, but we try to remember, even in the toughest of days, how lucky we are to be doing this!

– What difference can it make to other people’s lives?

– Will you ever dismount the bike and stop?

Sure. We’re not really hard-core bicycle riders. That sounds funny, but the bicycles are just the way we choose to travel right now. We love the pace and the photography and writing that traveling by bicycle allows, and traveling by bicycle will always be a part of our lives, but different forms of transportation suit different needs. The bicycle is great for us now, but that may not always be the case.

10. Is there a lesson here you are trying to teach the youth of today? 

Nope. This project is in the spirit of true documentary. We find people in their twenties, photograph and interview them, and present the material for viewer to form their own opinions and conclusions.

11. How did you narrow the questions to ask your subject to those 10-11? 

We worked with Dr. Jeffery Jenson Arnett at Clark University to develop questions that we thought pushed at the heart of what it means to be in your twenties in today’s world. Hopefully the questions make the subjects think a bit about where they are in their lives and their answers will allow everyone else to learn a little something about different place, cultures, people, and what it means to be twenty-something today all over the world.

12. Is it all pre-researched and pre-planned or do you take it day by day…where you are going to go, where you are going to sleep? 

It’s all researched and pre-planned, but it also changes day by day. Our motto is: plan, plan, plan, and know it’ll all change.

13. Whats the best part of your lifestyle?

Getting to meet new and interesting people every day and getting the opportunity to share the things we see and learn with the world on-line. So cool.

14. Give me a rundown of a typical day?

Wake up before the sun. Pack up the tent and bags. Cook and eat breakfast. Ride, stopping all the time to photograph, jot down notes, interview twenty- somethings… Eat lunch. Do administrative work on the computer if we can find internet.. Ride a bit more. Find a good camping spot. Set up tent. Eat. Write and upload photos. Sleep.

17. Where in the world are you now?

We’re in the Pampas of Argentina right now. It’s pretty and flat, but very hot!

18. What age are both of you?

Alan is 27 and Mo is 28.

19. Where is home? 

Home is our tent. Haha. We both consider home to be the Northeast of the United States. We both grew up there and it’s the region that we call home.

20. What camera’s are you both using?

We both use Canon 5D Mark II’s.

21. How do you fund the project?

The Geography of Youth is funded by grants from the Maine Arts Commission, several amazing corporate sponsors, and 230 fantastic Kickstarter backers who pledged more than $16,000 to the project. We’re not completely funded to make it all the way around the world yet, but we’re pretty close!

22. First the States, then the world….what is next?

Not sure. It feels like we’ve only just begun The Geography of Youth, so we’ve got plenty of time to keep thinking about what’s next!

23. Is the cycling just a means to get around, or is it something you love?

Cycling is a great form of transportation and we definitely love it. We’re big advocates of cycle touring, and we love to see people give it a shot. That being said, our passion is really for the storytelling aspect of these projects, so when the time comes that cycling isn’t the best way to get what we need, then we’ll try something new!

LINKS:

Twitter: @hellorestless

Website: http://geographyofyouth.org/

Mark Beaumont’s Lecture:

Mark Beaumont‘s Twitter tagline reads; “Adventurer, author, expedition cameraman, speaker.” I think he should add marketing genius to that one. His latest talk took place Thursday night at the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.  The selling point, ‘come to my talk, buy my book at the door for a reduced rate and I will sign it for you.’ Cheeky. But who am I to judge, I was the first in the queue and now I hold in my possession an autographed copy which the legend held and signed with a pen. By the end of the evening the queue was so long, it could have been a Justin Bieber concert, except on this occasion it was middle-aged men and women doing the blushing and giggling as opposed to 14-year-old girls.

Mark has circled the globe, all 18,000 miles of it and in a Guinness World Record speed.And oh boy, that makes for a good talk. It was a breath of fresh air in a host of talks that were becoming too similar in their tactics. Mr. Beaumont took a different, less explored root. Fitting for him I suppose. He talked about the reality, the pain and hardship involved and the before part that no one ever gets to hear.

In truth, it was hard work. The expedition took two years to plan to perfection, then it took another year and a half to convince the media and the sponsors that he could actually pull it off. He admitted quiet a scary truth; in order to keep going during feats like this, your whole mind-set must change, after years of being told this is the way you have to think, now in order to succeed you must get completely lost in the here and now. However if this works, “It is a wonderful feeling.”

He talked of the importance of documenting the experience. The storytelling reminded him to enjoy it, to value it. Without that aspect he questions if he would have made it. He  scaled the vastness of the trip back and showed us its bones, the everyday problems and what he learned. In Iran for instance, the truth is very far off from how the media has painted it. It is simply a communication problem, both sides mistrust the other side. The Iranian cycling Federation even joined him for a pedal. His life was stripped down to a very black and white status. Survive. If he could find the basics each day; enough food to ease his 6,000 calorie a day requirement and a safe place to sleep, then all was well.

Then, somehow, quite astonishingly he made it home. He crossed the finish line like a Tour de France winner by the Arc de Triomphe. He had lived out his dream.

Mark Beaumont - Courtesy of the BBC archives

Now, you want to know the good stuff, the facts that made this achievable. Mark Beaumont trained at a far higher intensity before the trip then when he was actually on route. He combined cross training with sprints. When he finished the race, he had no perspective, it took him three weeks to float down and absorb his achievement. He says; “You prepare yourself to go, you don’t prepare yourself to come back.” With regards to packing, if you don’t use an item for two weeks, send it home. He used a  Koga Miyata bike, and installed disc brakes as opposed to rear brakes to make the tyres last longer. When asked during the Q&A session  if he listened to music, his response was that the music’s beat punctuates time, to succeed you need to zone out, but music will keep bringing you back. So music was a luxury to be used sparingly.

A person has already broken his record but he will not endure it again. “There so much other stuff to be done”, spoken like a true adventurer.

The lecture was hosted by the World Cycle Challenge; “the only fully supported cycle around the world.” There is no need for me to sell it to you, it sells itself, 8 stages, 18,000 miles, 20 countries, 9 months, 24/7 support team and one life changing experience. Are you dancing on the spot right now, getting sweaty with excitement? I am afraid I will have to ever so cruelly kick you now while your guard is down. It will cost you, £34,000.

 

£34,000

Breath.

The redeeming factor is you can do a stage of it:

Stages 1: London – Istanbul

2.Istanbul – Lahore

3.Lahore to Calcutta

4.Bangkok – Singapore

5.Perth – Sydney

6.Christchurch – Auckland

7.San Francisco – Miami

8.Lisbon – London

 

So far nine people are signed up. In his attempt to put the cost in perspective. Mark’s unsupported round the world trip cost the bones of £24,000 and it costs more, apparently to climb Mount Everest.

So are you in?