Adventure, Cycling, Interviews

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/

Standard
Adventure, Rowing

Row 2 Recovery

Published in BeyondLimitsmag 13 February 2012

Everyone who walks this earth has a story.

Some are routine and dull. Some will take your breath away. But the sad truth is most will never get told.

You may have heard this story before or perhaps you may have not. I am going to tell you regardless, because these five men have a story worth telling and I plan to tell the world.

Lieutenant Will Dixon , Corporal Neil Heritage, Corporal Rory Mackenzie, Lance Corporal Carl Anstey, Ed Janvrin and Alex Mackenzie step up to the stage.
All are former servicemen. Three are amputees. One walks with a permanent brace. All have seen the realities of war. All rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to bring about change. They rowed themselves to recovery.

Co-founder Alex Mackenzie explains why they entered the legendary Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, “We wanted to raise money to support the wounded and their families and to send out a positive message that inspired those who had been injured and galvanised and also to the general public to challenge what is possible in life whether wounded or not.”

I offer you the facts bluntly and once read they are not easy to ignore.

In two years the number of British service personnel undergoing single amputations has doubled. The number needing multiple amputations in that period increased six fold. Even when servicemen escape the physical ailments, war will switch tactics and consume their minds, filling it with nightmares, flashbacks and depression – “The scars you cannot see.”

“One word which summarizes our post-conflict view of the world is perspective. There is always someone worse off than you and that is something that motivated us in the difficult days of the row,” says Mackenzie.

If you donate to a cause you want to know where your money actually goes. Battleback, funds wounded soldiers return to support. Army Recovery Capability funds the whole life-cycle of recovery from rehabilitation to professional retraining. Quick Reaction Fund supports the families with short notice funding to cater for the particular challenges that they face when their family member has been wounded. It is for the families standing behind the uniformed men. The people who the world never fails to forget. Row2Recovery has totted up £782,770.00 for these organizations to date and is still counting.

The crew is adamant about the reasons behind this challenge. They are like all rowers of oceans, an elite but modest few. They shy away from the credit that the world is attempting to push on them.

“The elite group in our view are invisible, they are the wounded and their families who go through incredible challenges every day and are so rarely in the public eye,” MacKenzie says.

The crew embarked on this mission to suffer. They were not to be disappointed. Each day they rowed twelve hours on, twelve hours off.

Mackenzie says “Routine is critical in tackling one of the greatest challenges: psychological exhaustion. Finding the dogged determination to continue under extreme physical pain, sleep deprivation and severe weight loss can be difficult.”

The expedition was designed to push the participant to their absolute limits. The men could handle this, their boat on the other hand could not. First the watermaker gave in and then with 500 miles left to row, the rudder failed. Yet, somehow they endured, completing the 3000 mile journey in 51 days.

After fifty-one days on the water they have returned to real life, their family, their friends and their day jobs. They walk amongst us once more but beneath their facade their thoughts are stained with memories of those fifty-one days when there was nothing more important in the world than the oars they held between their hands.

McKenzie’s advice; “Think big and go for it, even when people tell you that something is not possible.”

Standard
Adventure, Interviews, Rowing

Interview with Alex Mackenzie – Row2Recovery

1.What a story you guys have to tell. How did you decide to finally go out and start telling it to the world?

We always had 2 priories for the campaign, 1. To raise money to support the wounded and their families, and 2. To send out a positive message that inspired those who had been wounded and galvanised the general public to challenge what is possible in life whether wounded or not.

2.How have your war wounds changed your life – the way you think/see the world?

I am not wounded, but my friends have been wounded and killed and I think for all of the crew the one word which summarises our post-conflict view of the world is PERSPECTIVE. There is always someone worse off than you and that is something that motivated us in the difficult days of the row.

3.I don’t know if you’ll answer this question but Il ask it anyway, after all that has happened to your crew and what you have seen, are you all still pro-war?

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

We are a campaign that is focused on fundraising and inspiration. We are focused on the positives of human endeavour and inspiring the wounded and are not involved or engaged in politics or any view on the conflicts themselves.

4.Why did you pick rowing as the expedition sport?

It was the hardest thing that we could find that had the infrastructure for us to build the campaign around without having to go it alone (as a volunteer effort we did not have the time or resources for something like a polar expedition)

5.You’ve raised £721,195.00 so far for injured soldiers. What does that money actually go towards…equipment etc?

3 key areas:

Battleback – this funds wounded soldiers return to support.

Army Recovery Capability – this funds the whole lifecycle of recovery from rehabilitation to professional retraining.

Quick Reaction Fund – this supports the families with short notice funding to cater for the particular challenges that they face when their family member has been wounded. This covers anything from short notice visit expenses to adapting the family home.

6.”More than 4,000 people have climbed Everest. More than 500 people have been into space. Only 473 people have ever rowed an ocean.” – How does it feel to be a part of an elite group?

The elite group in our view are invisible, they are the wounded and their families who go through incredible challenges every day and are so rarely in the public eye.

7.The route was Canaries to Barbados, – How did you choose and plan the route?

The route is planned around 1. The best weather and currents, and 2. As part of a wider race organisation. Look at www.taliskerwhiskeyatlanticchallenge.com

How long have you being thinking and planning this?

The campaign is 2 years in the making.

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

8.Is Row2recovery affiliated at all with the Row4freedom women or was that just pure coincidence you  were going at the same time?

We entered the same race, we are good friends with the girls but our mission and objectives are different.

9.Whats next – more challenges or back to life before the row?

Most of us will be back to our day jobs, but there will no doubt be some more challenges on the horizon. I am doing the Haute Route bike race from Geneva to Nice in the summer.

10.Did you get to go swimming? If so, what was that like?

All of us swam and when it was going well it was a really great moment, an amazing feeling to have 2 miles of ocean underneath you.

11. – Best moment at sea?

The end!

-Worst moment at sea?

It was the watermaker  breaking, but then that was overtaken by the rudder breaking! With only 500 miles to go we thought this might be the end.

12. What sports did you do before this?

Ultra running, Kalahari desert marathon, Devizes to Westminster canoe race, Ironman and similar.

13.What was the daily routine like – how many hours of rowing, hours of sleep…?

12 hours of rowing, 12 hours of resting.

14.On the expedition, you had to live very simply, back to the basics. I bet you learned a lot from that? But now, back in reality, how do you hold on to those lessons, changes of perspective…?

I think that most of the lessons we learnt reinforced our military experiences rather than dramatically changed our outlook.  We all felt that it was very powerful to have a cause and a sense of purpose beyond the individual and that is something that many of us will continue to live by.

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

15.What is the most important thing you took out of this experience?

Think big and go for it, even when people tell you that something is not possible. …

Standard
Adventure, Interviews

A very long Interview with Team Numb Nuts: The Adventurists Ice Run

Mission: “Olly Rowland and Rob Mills will race 1500km across the frozen Siberian wilderness on old school Ural motorbikes to the only town in the world sitting on the Arctic circle.”

1. Did you pick each other as teammates?
Rob:  Actually Olly picked me. When Mr Tom came up with this adventure we knew from the outset that this pioneer’s event would be invite only, drawn from our Adventurists Wall of Fame, stand-out veterans of the Mongol Rally, Mongol Derby, Mototaxi Junket, etc. The ones we know are up for the challenge and can hack it. Olly made it to Mongolia in 2009 despite his little 1972 Hillman Imp rattling to pieces in Kazakhstan so we sent him an invite.

I contracted Olly’s band (Olly manages The Suburbians) for the Festival of Slow 2011 – the Mongol Rally launch – where he proposed I join him as his team mate. I like to think I was his first choice, but I was probably fifth of sixth.

 

2. Why so?
Rob: I met Olly in 2009 in Atyrau, Kazakhstan. We were both driving the Mongol Rally in classic cars which were beginning to seriously flag. We took on the road from Atyrau to Aktobe in convoy. I can safely say it was the most difficult three days of driving I have ever done. My vehicle made it and was later repaired but Olly was not so lucky. He acted very well under pressure so I know he can handle this.

I have no idea why he chose me. He probably wants something nice to look at.

Olly: I chose Rob as my last team mate on the Mongol Rally bailed and flew home as he was so out of his comfort zone. I had met Rob on the same mongol rally in 2009 and knew he would be up for the adventure!

 

3. What skills do each of you host that will get you through this challenge?
Rob: Olly has a beautiful singing voice and can fend of bears with his fists, and I have a brilliant middle-distance stare which is perfect for promotional material.

Olly: I have taken part in motocross races since I was 16, so I’m not to bad at riding cross country, and have basic bike mechanical skills. I do have a tendency to not think about things and rush into them, which Is where I think Rob will be useful as he seems to be a fairly rational and sensible thinker.

 

4. Are you in it to win it or just to finish it?
Rob: The Ice Run is not strictly a race. I’m not even sure if it could be. For now we’re taking part to see if it’s possible, and I’m sure there is a little bit in all of us that signed up that wants to be the first to do it. No doubt when the going’s good out in Siberia there will be a bit of good nature competitive spirit between us but it’s really a personal challenge for each of us. There’s no prize for coming first.

Olly: I’m not to fussed about winning, but I would like to finish it and then head even further North if we can, depending on how quickly we make the finish line and what state the bike is in.

 

5. What other expeditions have both of you been on?
Rob: Nothing I would really call an ‘expedition’. I live an ‘adventurous life’ I suppose. I actively take on challenges because that floats my boat. I think the event that sparked this trend for me occurred in 2003. I was living in Hong Kong at the time and one night when I couldn’t sleep I got up, got dressed and trekked across one of Hong Kong Island’s national parks 12km to see the sun rise from the other side. I got hopelessly lost, battered and bruised. It took me 6 hours (which is actually pretty good going given I couldn’t see much) but I loved every minute of it.

My biggest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally in 2009. It changed my life, not least because I now manage the blooming thing.

Olly: I lived on an oil rig in the middle of the sea in Borneo for a month doing some scuba diving conservation, I also took part in the 2009 mongol rally where I met Rob

 

6. Will they help you out with this one?
This is quite a step up from anything I’ve ever done. In my role of Mongol Rally manager I have driven across Mongolia in February – -30C with wind chill, ice, blizzards, etc. – but that was with a well prepared 4×4 and my friend Jenya who’s local and knows how it all works out there. He’s my fixer in Mongolia, but I won’t get that luxury this time around.

Olly: The experience from the Mongol Rally will certainly give us both confidence when things go wrong, as we were both so used to it happening out there! It also gave us a bit of mechanical knowledge, as well as learning about local cultures which should be able to help us out in the Arctic.

 

7. Two charities; Cancer Research and Diabetes UK
Yup. Olly is a type 1 diabetic. He’ll have to inject himself with insulin every day if he’s going to stay alive, which will definitely add an extra challenge to the trip. But it shouldn’t stop him from taking part. He’s just been taken on by Diabetes UK as a new spokesperson for the charity. Diabetes shouldn’t prevent its sufferers from doing what they want to do. Olly is a stuntman who’s worked on films such as Captain America and Warhorse, he kayaks, climbs, you name it – it’s a serious condition but it hasn’t stopped him from doing anything he wants to do.

We’re also supporting Cancer Research UK. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way or other, either suffered from one form or other themselves or have been there when friends or family have had to go through it. One in three people will get one form of cancer or other in their lifetimes and 20% of sufferers will not recover from it. That’s a frightening statistic I think and though we have made some progress we still a long way off understanding the disease. A friend of mine from the Rally lost her life much too young to cancer late last year. It was quite a wake-up call.

Olly: We each decided to choose a charity. My choice was Diabetes UK as I suffer from type 1 diabetes, and the stigma surrounding diabetes that you cant live a full and adventurous life annoys me, so I’m out to prove that it doesnt need to stop you doing anything. Even if we weren’t raising money for charity we would definitely still be doing the Ice Run. I think that as we are going on and self funding the trip, then we may as well raise money for charity at the same time as it only takes a minimum amount of effort to organise a justgiving account.

 

8. Why do people do these kind of expeditions for charity as opposed to just for themselves?
There is no problem with doing an adventure just for yourself. Challenges like this are personal experiences and you might wish to keep them that way. I often ‘adventure’ for myself and I will continue to do so, but it’s nice to use the publicity of larger events like this to raise awareness of the charities we believe in. By generating the interest in what we’re doing in the people we know and grabbing the attention of a wider audience with the press and media we can also ask them to give just a little if they can afford it to Cancer Research UK or Diabetes UK right after. It’s a simple thing to ask. Persuade 50 of our friends to part with £10 each and £500 is raised instantly. We managed £1000 by waiving Just Giving pages under the noses of our Facebook friends and we haven’t stopped there!

 

9. Do you have a team organising the whole trip for you or are you doing it on your own?
Rob: The Adventurists have found all the bikes and a small Russian team to prepare them and are also organising a large send off from the Ural factory in Irbit, but aside from that we’re on our own all 2500km to Salekhard on the Arctic Circle.I wouldn’t want a team organising an adventure for me anyway. If I wanted that I’d buy a package safari tour instead. It might be labelled ‘adventure’ but I don’t think it is really.

 

10. Whats been packed?
Rob: Lots of Wayfayrer boil-in-the-bag beans and sausages. Never underestimate a hearty protein rich breakfast when you’re on the move.

And board shorts.

Olly: Ellis Brigham gave us a nice discount on clothing, so I have lots of Northface gear, about 8 layers! We also have an Arctic survival kit consisting of medical supplies, fire lighters, strobe light, mountain blanket etc. We’ve also got our tent, sleeping bags, MSR cooking stove, collapsable aluminium shovel, huge snow boots and a load of cameras!

 

11. How do you know what to pack?
Rob: There’s been a lot of research for this one actually but I’m still not sure I’ve got it right. I’ll probably freak out on the night before I fly and fill my bag with everything I own. And I love adventure gear and gadgets, and though it’s fun to look at them and maybe buy a few to make life outside more enjoyable, suddenly for this adventure I found asking myself, could this save my life? Could that save my life? That’s been bad news for my bank balance. I’ve brought the most hi-tech bivvy bag I can find… It’s a posh orange plastic bag! Like a big Sainsbury’s shopping bag on steroids. My colleagues would rather I pack light with a Tweed jacket and a cocktail making set. I still might. What more could I need than to look good making cocktails?

Olly: We dont! Other than research on the internet and speaking to people that have been to this part of the world. It’s all down to our own research knowing what we need to pack and wear.

 

12. Who gets to drive the bike and who has to sit in the sidecar?
Rob: Haha! Good question. Nobody wants to go in the sidecar. It’s freezing in that thing.  It’s a steel box just big enough for you to sit in. It provides no comfort and is cold as a freezer inside before you take it outside where it’s -30C! Oh, and it’ll take the full affect of the wind chill too. Have you seen the Ice Run trailer on The Adventurists Youtube channel? You’ll see Mr Tom snowboarding on a rope behind the bike. On the test run they found this to be the warmest way to travel.

So, to cut it short, Olly’s in the sidecar.

Olly: We’ll be taking it in turns. Apparently it gets incredibly cold in the side car, more so than riding the bike as that has a windscreen, so we will be swapping around regularly.

 

13. How did you come to that conclusion?
Rob: Nah, it’ll be a shared effort and we’ll ride shifts. It’s going to be tiring work and one or other of us should be resting while the other rides.

Olly: We both want to ride the bike!

 

14. How did you pick the vehicle?
Rob: Russian Ural’s are iconic. The simple matter of their existence is as much of the reason Mr Tom created this adventure as there being epically cool ice roads to ride in Siberia in Winter.

Olly: The vehicle was picked for us by the adventurists, it’s not exactly the most suitable vehicle!

 

15. Who came up with the idea of the Ice Run?
Rob: Mr Tom. Founder and Chief chief of The Adventurists. My boss, the silliest man I know.

 

16. So it’s in teams, do you plan on helping other teams along the paths, or is it each to their own while out there?
Rob: I’ll point and laugh. It might be the kindest thing I to do. People can do incredible things under that sort of pressure.

Olly: I’d be happy to help anyone thats struggling out there. We are in a very hostile, dangerous environment, where the weather can kill in a short space of time, and as much as I would love to finish first, I would feel much worse if I knew I could have helped someone, but because I left them the worse had happened.

 

17. Why do you do these crazy things?
Rob: Crazy? I don’t really think it’s so crazy. Crazy is base jumping from Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

For sure, pushing our limits like this is definitely out of the ordinary, but I think everybody should be pushing their limits as often as possible. Nothing crazy about that to me.

Olly: I love adventure and doing different things. Not only do I want to raise awareness that diabetes doesnt need to hold people back, but I hate the idea of  having the boring repetitive mundane life that lots of people get on with.

 

18. What is the plan for entertainment along the way?
Rob: Travel scrabble, adding together numbers on passing registration plates, box set of Adam Sandler movies, rousing chorus’s of Kumbaya around a warm camp fire… None of those.

Olly: We have start line and finish line parties organised, as well as going to an ice race track before we set off on the endurance challenge.

The vehicle

19. How long have you been planning this for?
Rob: About 6 months I guess but it’s been extremely difficult to find much time, managing the Mongol Rally takes over my life sometimes!

 

20. Is this expedition open to anyone, or is it an Adventurist member only?
Rob: Invitations for this year’s adventure were sent to veterans of our adventures. Future Ice Runs will be open for anyone to sign up. Next year even Cornflakes can have a go if he wants, but I understand if he feels it’s a little bit too hardcore for him.

 

21. How has been a part of the Adventurists changed your life?
Rob: I get to bring my hobby to work every day. It’s an awesome place to be. Hate me yet?

 

22. This is a potentially extremely dangerous expedition. Does fear ever deter you?
Rob:  Sure. This could be dangerous. Siberian winter is difficult at the best of times but one unexpected change can make the environment very hostile indeed very quickly. I just got an email from Buddy from Wild Rides who was part of the test run last year. It reads, ‘seriously dude, it’s life threateningly freezing… have fun – but be careful…’. It’s far from his usual jokey tone. He happened to tell me on the phone earlier today that he thought a few times that he was going to die he was so cold. But then again, he is a big girl’s blouse.

I’ve had emails, messages left on my answer-phone, text messages, all from friends telling me to be careful. That’s never happened before which does freak me out a little bit. My mum and dad have been remarkably cool about it, but they think I’m going to Tenerife.

Olly: Of course there is, but its the risk and the danger that make it an adventure and not a holiday. If I wanted to go away with out any risk Id go to Disneyland.

 

23. Did you try to follow the traditional route in life and then packed it in? If you did, what made you just do it?
Rob: Not so much ‘try’ but ‘fell into’. I did a degree in Asia Pacific Studies and I don’t really know where that was supposed to take me (though I’m glad I did it). After uni I eventually ended up working HR for the NHS, which didn’t exactly inspire me. You’ve only got so long so why spend 8 hours each day of your valuable life doing something that you can’t be passionate about. You’re wasting your time and not reaching your potential. Too many people in this world must work (hard) to live and when there is so much opportunity to take in our lives it seems criminal not to take it. Take it, find something you love and let that passion make a difference. Live to work. Christ that’s so cheesy I can smell it through the computer screen.  It’ll probably end up as a quote in bold.

So I knew I had to take a big step into the unknown for my own sanity and I quit, did the Mongol Rally in 2009 and ‘fell into’ managing the Rally shortly after.

Olly: I’ve never really had the traditional route in life. I pretty much work as a stuntman when there is work, and when there isn’t any stunt work I’m planning or going on an adventure somewhere. Be it the Mongol rally or the Ice Run, or rock climbing up Mount Snowdon, or kayaking the rapids in the gorges in south of France.

Standard
Adventure, Interviews

Interview with adventurer Andy Campbell

Eight years ago Andy Campbell fell from the cliff face he was scaling. When his body collided with the ground beneath he was immediately paralysed from the waist down and henceforth confined to a wheelchair. Since then, he has relearned to ski, paraglide, kayak, mountain bike, SCUBA dive and rock climb without the use of his legs. His expeditions have taken him to Alaska, Africa, India’s Spiti Valley, the peaks of Colorado, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the forests of Croatia and the plains of South Africa. This July he is set to take on his biggest challenge yet, travelling 30,000 miles around the world in a wheelchair in order to raise money to provide people with disabilities the equipment to live and explore.

1. Your blog is called “Pushing the Limits” and your tagline reads “…and what we should all be doing”. Why should we all be doing this?
I just think it’s human nature, to never be satisfied and to push forward to see what’s next. Pushing the limits isn’t about being crazy and living on the edge or permanently running on adrenaline, it’s about just enjoying life. Just because you’re comfortable in life doesn’t mean you’re satisfied or enjoying it all. Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself a little, the worst thought in the world has to be “If only I’d…”
2. You have a great story to tell, do you think you would be leading a similar life if you hadn’t had the accident?
It’s interesting; my accident was definitely life-changing in so many ways. Some negative and some positive. I’ve always loved adventure, until my accident I was in the Army and getting a pretty good amount of it too. For me, what I do now is the same but different, I’m just replacing one form of adventure with another. I remember seeing my insurance forms, noticing they classed it as a ‘catastrophic event’ and thinking “Well, come on. It’s not all that bad surely?”

3. 30,000miles around the world in a wheelchair- what a brilliant challenge. How have you being training for it?

There’s so much to train for! Obviously a lot of it is hugely physical and you can’t do anything to prepare other than to rack up the miles and try to simulate everything as much as possible. But there is a lot of skills training too, kayaking, paragliding, rope techniques etc. I’m using whatever methods I can to cross terrain and environments that are otherwise completely inaccessible to a wheelchair so practising for every eventuality is as important as the physical stuff.

 

4. Who does your support team consist of?
At home I have people helping with the logistics and planning side of things, thevisamachine.com and tourdeforce.co.uk are handling a lot of the bureaucracy for me. On the road the support team is a two man crew, driving the support vehicle and following me along the route.

 

5. How long has the expedition taken to plan?
It’s been my brainchild for almost two years now. Going through different stages from “yeah, that’d be cool” to “I just set a start date, this got real!”

 

 

6. Tell me about your chosen charities influence on your life?
Obviously becoming paralysed completely changes your life, I’ve always been really aware of how fortunate I’ve been to not only survive and stay healthy but have the equipment that lets me do all these things. I think it’s easy to understand how difficult life can be for people with paralysis in developing countries with no healthcare or support at all. It’s not an exaggeration to say that people who are essentially left to slowly die can be directly saved with a £135 wheelchair. Motivation.org.uk is a UK based charity that provides wheelchairs, equipment and training that I’ll be working with and raising money for. The other charity, The Chutkara Initiative, is one I’ve set up myself to provide adaptive outdoor sports equipment to wheelchair users around the world.

 

7) It is expensive equipment, how do you afford it all?
That’s my main reason for setting up The Chutkara Initiative. If you’re not paralysed then it’s easy to see all the things people in wheelchairs can do and think it’s pretty simple to have fun or get outdoors if you’re paralysed. But in reality it’s a nightmare, wheelchairs are great but they’re made for wheelchair accessible places and struggle to go anywhere more wild than the supermarket. If someone in a wheelchair wants to go skiing or hand cycling, or even something as simple as a walk through the woods with their children then they need another piece of specialised equipment. A sitski can cost over £7000, an off-road wheelchair up to £5000. When you’re paralysed, you may endure higher living costs and possible lower income after losing your job that becomes an unobtainable luxury. So people become restricted to the supermarket or concrete, physically and financially. I was lucky to have the support and resources to get equipment myself, but a lot of people simply can’t.

 

8. Where is your favourite place in the world?
No idea, I’m still looking.

 

9. You are redrawing the lines of possibility, how does that feel?
I’m not really. I’m not doing anything that anyone else can’t do or anything that was impossible before. There’s definitely other people who use wheelchairs that are better skiers or kayakers or paraglider pilots than me, and even more who could beat me around the route quite easily.  That’s a big part of my motivation for this expedition; to show what everyone has the potential to do but often can’t because they just don’t have the equipment.

 

10. After the accident , were there any thoughts of defeat?
No, obviously it’s a heavy blow to take but the Army teaches you to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I took it on like a challenge and didn’t let myself get down because I knew it’d get worse later on, so far it’s not though.

 

11. Have you ever returned to the scene where it all happened?
Yes, I went back and climbed it again with the help of the Edale Mountain Rescue team that saved my life. It doesn’t hold any mythical or superstitious value for me, it’s just a place.
12.You say you will have to learn, “Can you give me a push” in 24 dialects, that was probably a joke but can you do it, show me?!

I’ve since revised this to be a more realistic goal of being able to mime “give me a push” in 24 dialects, charades style!

 

13.You have been on some incredible adventures, how did you stop dreaming about them and actually start doing them?
I don’t. I’m always dreaming of them, constantly. I’ll never be able to do all the things I dream of. I’ll be dreaming of so many at once that I’ll eventually just tell myself “Shut up and actually do one”. Mostly I impulsively just head off somewhere and do something.

 

14. Your sports include skiing, paragliding, diving, mountain biking and kayaking, how did you perfect this quantity of sports when most people just concentrate on one or two?
I’m too greedy. Everything I do isn’t for the sake of the sport itself but as a way to go where I want without using my legs. I started off just skiing as a way to get into the mountains again, but then got greedy and wanted to go into the mountains during the summer too and started paragliding. Then I wanted to still go into the mountains when the weather wasn’t good enough for flying, so I got into biking. I tried to focus on one or two but that just meant I was restricting myself to certain places, so I end up with a garage full of gear for just about everything.

 

15. Your arms must be huge, any idea of your biceps/triceps measurements?
No idea at all. I’ve never really worked out or been a gym rat at all; I exercise by just doing what I do. Arms and shoulders just aren’t designed for all this work, so if I’m going to wear them out and ruin them then I prefer to do it outside going somewhere rather than in a gym.

 

16.Was there a period of simply getting use to living life in a wheel chair, going back to the basics or did you skip that phase altogether and just get stuck in to the adventure side?
My plan after leaving hospital following my accident was to take a year out and travel around to get use to life in a wheelchair before going to university and settling down. I jumped straight in and organised a trip to Sweden to learn how to ski sitting down before I’d even left hospital, I had to forge the doctor’s signature on the consent forms. Eight years later and I’m still on my ‘year out’. I still haven’t got used to it yet.

 

17. Sometimes, only sometimes I think Life is a bitch, do you agree or disagree?

Oh hell yeah, life can suck. But you need the lows so you can appreciate the highs.

 

> Andy Campbell is speaking at the Night of Adventure on 20th February in London’s Leicester Square Theatre, in aid of Hope & Homes for Children. Ticket information

> Follow Andy on Twitter
> Visit Andy’s website

Standard
Adventure, Interviews

Arriving in Memphis – Dave Cornthwaite’s Mississippi Paddle

First published in Sidetracked online adventure magazine 19 January 2012

“Board. Paddle. Bag’s on top. That’s it.” What a simple way to travel. 1,600 miles already stashed away under his belt and only the growing muscles in his arms revealed hints of the incredible adventure in process. The expression on his face was not to be expected for the man who undertook the challenge to paddle the entire reach of the Mississippi river. His face showed no sign of the weariness that must have existed in the monotony of the routine he had been following for the past 58 days. Instead, his mouth was etched in a crazy grin. He was on a high, but I guess no one in Memphis was surprised, it was Dave Cornthwaite after all, he was always on a high.

The start of his great Stand Up Paddle of the Mississippi had been a constant test of stubbornness. The first sixty miles involved battling through undergrowth, shallow waters, mild rapids, and narrow river’s. The weeks to come would see him pushing through Baton Rouge to the Gulf exhausted as he endured big storms and attempted to weave through the onslaught of traffic.

But this day was different to all the previous that had run their course and all that would follow. In an 82 day expedition this was the day that would swirl into focus whenever he reminisced on his great Stand up Paddle of the Mississippi. On the fourteenth of August 2011, he is floating twenty miles upstream of Memphis when an incredible sight materialises before him; a host of canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, recreational motorboats and a news helicopter devour his line of sight. Each vessel is brimming with smiling people prepped to lead him in procession into their home town. These people are strangers there to play a small part in Dave’s epic tale, encouraging him to continue his voyage downstream with their smiles and their nods of admiration. But these strangers have also come for themselves because ironically it took a foreigner, an English man to show these locals what they had on their doorstep all along.

However, let us not be over sentimental, it was after all a party on water. An adrenaline filled kick up the behind to get Dave through the next leg of his journey. Hanging over the sides of the motor boats were the hung-over heads of the youth who had passed him the night before fresh faced and eager for a night on the beer. Beside them, lounging in the water were the grown ups, sober and alight with anticipation of the historic day ahead. The crowd that had assembled was a curious mix, one only found in the adventure world. It ranged from the 77 year old self employed businessman to the 14 year old child whose new hero is officially Dave Cornthwaite, bunking Batman off the top spot. A movement was bubbling, and Dave could feel it. The atmosphere was pumping, the excitement was tangible because no one knows how to have a good time quite like a 77 year old businessman. More importantly, It was the company after a long stint of isolation that made this moment worth celebrating.

The mighty river was bulging by this point, its rapid twists had morphed into thick winding strips, each loop stretching for up to five miles. Sand bars rose like private beaches on the inside banks, fitting for a day of 30 – 40 degree heat and just beyond the river sat a backdrop of cotton fields, dry farmland and miles of flat plains. This was the moment, the one that all adventures stubbornly chase. The hit that knocks them breathless and leaves them craving more. Dave knew it and he was revelling in it.

Every day he paddled between six to fifteen hours, then poured tirelessly over his videos, diaries, media engagements and lectures. It was not all lush pastures but a great deal of hard work. Days like this particular one were his reward, that extra chocolate digestive biscuit that your mother gives you when you prove yourself. The huge weaving path which the Mississippi river follows was a new part of the world for Dave to explore; “It would not be quite as fun if I knew where I was going, psychologically knowing that there are brand new scenes, people and experiences around every bend keeps up the incentive to paddle on.” In short, It was the grown-up version of a treasure hunt.

Dave Cornthwaite created this adventure on a sheet of paper that for a long time remained blank. Then one un-extraordinary day he sat down and faced it. He scribbled and sketched an idea on it and then on his own initiative he brought his creation to life. He built the expedition with his bare hands, then took a step back to watch the crowds flock towards it and watch as he lived out his dream. Credit has to be giving to the four organisations who worked together to make this day happen; the Wolf River Conservancy, Memphis Stand up Paddle Board Rentals, Ghost River Rentals and Outdoors Inc who since that day have continued to work together to improve the waterways in and around Memphis.

This fleeting moment in the life of Dave Cornthwaite made four organisations combine their efforts and rid a waterway of pollution, it made a crowd of locals realise their land and river’s potential and it made Dave Cornthwaite smile. Moments like these are the reason why adventurers do the amazing things that they do and why we, the ordinary folk read their stories in the hope that one day we will follow in their giant footsteps and embark on our own journey, even if it is only as far as our own backyard.

Standard
Adventure, Interviews, Mountaineering

The Snow Leopard Award -The Complete Interview

1.Nice Twitter line; “Expedition leader, mountaineer, skier & photographer, usually found on big mountains in cold places, planning expeditions, drinking tea or eating percy pigs!”

How did you get to this stage?

This statement is surprisingly accurate to my life at the moment!! The photography started as a hobby and then continued on to University where I did a degree in fine art specialising in photography. I qualified as a mountain leader age 20 and since then have been away on big expeditions every year both personal and leading, and now its a quite a few a year!! In the past two years i have lead more than 10 overseas expeditions! I would class myself as a mountaineer, over a pure climber as I enjoy all aspects of climbing in the mountains. I set up my own company at 23 and now run a number of expedition each yeah with private groups aiming to provide a professional and personal service – hence the planning expeditions part. I enjoy drinking tea and love eating percy pigs!

 

Courtesy of Jon Gupta

2.How long have you and Nick known each other and how did you’s meet?

Nick and i have been friends for around 3 years – we met through a friend on a winter climbing trip in 2009. We climbed together on a few ice routes and enjoyed each others company. We climb well together, almost telepathically and have good banter – always important when times get tough. Since then we have climbed together in the Alps and more recently skiing some incredible off piste lines together. We are both ambitious and motivated to achieve in the outdoors.

 

3.What is the appeal of the Snow Leopard Award?

I was looking for an idea and some inspiration to do a big expedition and ideally a world first or a british first expedition and fell across an article on Peak Lenin (one of the 5 peaks). A few links and click-throughs later and i arrived at the snow leopard award. At first i got very excited then did some more research and spent time pulling information from all over the web – which was hard as there isn’t much about. As soon as realised not a single british person has achieved, it that was it, this was my expedition for 2012!!

I like SLA because it is very ambitious, five 7000m peaks back to back is tough, and only 14 people in the world have ever achieved it. My life, my work and my play revolves around mountains and i wanted to do something that would stand out and that people would enjoy following and reading about, and ultimately inspiring them to get out and do something!

 

 

4.What does your training consist of?

Right now Nick is living in the Alps and has done for most of the past 12 months. In the summer he was climbing a lot and now he is taking his level 1 & 2 BASI ski qualifications – so skiing a lot!

I continue to work freelance and have just returned from 2 months leading and climbing Nepal. As for expeditions prior to the SL expedition i will be leading on Kilimanjaro, Island Peak and hopefully climbing Everest all before July. In between expeditions (i drink tea and eat percy pigs) and climb as often as i can and very occasionally run a bit!

So the short answer is we don’t train – but the long one is we are constantly in the mountains, and are both young, strong and fit!

 

 

5.This will be the first British expedition – how would it feel to get that on your record?

It would be phenomenal – and i would be very proud. It would be a great achievement for Nick and I and for British Mountaineering. My future dream is to climb big unclimbed peaks and visit remote places where humans have never been – for now leading and successfully completing a British First Expedition would be dream come true!

 

6.Why pick mountaineering as your sport?

Have you ever asked a climber/mountaineer ‘why do you climb’? It’s a tough one to answer – and you will get some interesting answers!

I’m not sure if i chose mountaineering or mountaineering chose me. I have been climbing in the mountains for nearly 8 years and have never had a day where i wished i wasn’t there. The thought of going to an office and sitting at a desk all day makes me swirm, i simply couldn’t do it. I have worked hard to get where i have and now i can call my office the world, one week in Africa, the next in Greenland – i have the best office and the best job in the world. I gain huge satisfaction from leading groups in the mountains, introducing them to another world that they had only heard about in writing. I feel alive in the mountains, and this means I’m happy almost all the time.

 

 

7.How did you set the time limit of 40 days?

Our first and main aim is to complete the challenge in one season – which last around 2 months. Denis Urbeko, a legendary climber holds the record at 42 days. If we are going well and the weather is on our side we will also attempt to beat this – and therefore gaining the world fastest completion of the SLA.

 

8.Whats it all about for you?

In some ways it’s a chance to prove myself within the mountaineering world and to make a name for myself. In another way it’s just another expedition which needs a lot of planning and preparing, perfect logistics and some great climbing conditions! In another way it is the next level, the next step up – I’m continuously pushing my level and wanting to climb higher, harder and faster.

 

 

9.If you succeed in this, what is the next step?

I would like to share this experience with as many people as possible. It is such a huge and ambitious expedition that if it comes off and is successful than I think many people could take something from it, the main thing being that anything is possible. I believe that if you really really want something then anything is possible. It would love to have an audience at RGS and inspire a world of both legendary mountaineers and arm-chair readers alike into getting up and getting out there!!!

 

10. What do you have to pack, monitor and work on for this trip?

Our kit list is extensive and is too long to write down here! Our kit will need to keep us warm and dry on the glacier and high up at over 7000m where temperatures can drop below -30 degrees c. For this time we will need to melt snow and ice for water and cook high calorie food to keep our energy levels up. It is inevitable that will lose weight on this trip – so best start eating some more now!

At the moment we are working on gaining followers and generating interest in the expedition and contacting potential sponsors and funding options. Things are going really well and it seems lots of people are keen to follow ESLtwelve. Will still need a lot of financial support for the trip!

 

 

11.Why did you pick this particular challenge?

It’s exactly in line with what i do. I climb mountains, and a lot of these are very high and this challenge encompasses everything i have worked towards for the past 8 years. Only a small number of people have ever completed the challenge and even fewer have done them in one season. I believe around 8 times more people have summited Everest than have climbed all 5 Snow Leopard Peaks.

 

 

12. Why did you pick Dyslexia Action as your charity?

My choice to raise money for Dyslexia Action was simple. I am Dyslexic. In year 3 of school i was diagnosed with dyslexia and for the next 4 years i attended a dyslexia school in Bristol 3 times a week. I developed quickly and managed to achieve above average at both GCSE and A levels. I have never been an academic and at school sport and art were by far my strongest subjects. Supporting Dyslexia will also help with my aim of inspiring people particularly those who do find academia difficult and to install confidence and self belief into them, that they can achieve.

 

13. Who is your inspiration?

There are numerous mountaineers who inspire me – mainly ones who are doing what i hope to achieve for my self one day. I am inspired my big high cold climbs that require a whole repertoire of skills and oodles of determination to achieve, but that are not necessarily linked to super hard technical ability. For example Cory Richards, Denis Urbeko are currently out there achieving first winter ascents on 8000m peaks – that’s some serious suffering, awesome! Im also inspired by those that achieve phenomenal physical feeds such as Eddy Izard running 43 marathons in 51 days! And of course the amazing mountaineering achievements of Reinhold Messner.

 

 

14.How important is it for you to document the experience?

This expedition is going to be quite different from my previous trips. On ESLtwelve i want the readers to feel part of the expedition and enjoy being there as it unfolds through the highs and lows. Once out website is up and running we hope to be as interactive with our followers and readers before during and after. With modern-day technology we also have twitter and Facebook accounts, and hope to keep the expedition every much online when we are in the field. Weekly video blogs and photos to document the expedition are on the cards.

 

 

15.What do you anticipate the biggest challenge will be?

Remaining positive and keeping moral up for 5 weeks in an expedition environment will be tough. Everyone has down days and in a tent environment it is quite intense. Also weather will play a huge part in our expedition and could be the deciding factor if we are successful or not.

 

 

16.Why are you doing this? Why not pick the easier life, the traditional route?

Because that would be boring, and i would be like everyone else, taking the easy road. Mountains make me feel alive. I want to inspire people to believe in themselves.

 

 

17.When are you’s set to depart?

We depart early July, and have flights for 2 months.

 

Follow their journey on Facebook, Twitter or their website.

Standard
Adventure, Interviews, Mountaineering

A Record Breaking Attempt at the Snow Leopard Award

Published in Beyond Limits magazine on 10 January 2010

There is a niche of people in this world, albeit a small one, who are rising up against conformity and taking their lives into their own steady hands. Jon Gupta, Nick Valentine and photographer Alexandre Buisse are a trio who have adopted this stance.

In July of 2012, these three mountaineers will attempt to win the prestigious Snow Leopard Award, which dares climbers to combat five 7,000 meter peaks.

The current record, made by Denis Urbeko, sits at 42 days. Gupta, Valentine and Buisse want to beat it, which would add the impressive tagline; “World’s fastest completion of SLA” to their already glistening title of “British first.”

Feeling like an amateur, I was forced to pose an obvious question,  why not choose  the easy life?

Gupta took the reins and answered, “Because that would be boring, and I would be like everyone else, taking the easy road. Mountains make me feel alive. I want to inspire people to believe in themselves.”

Gupta and Valentine met on a climbing trip in 2009 and have been fast friends ever since.

“We climbed together on a few ice routes and enjoyed each other’s company,” Gupta said, “We climb well together, almost telepathically and have good banter which is always important when times get tough. ”

On a search for the next big thing, Gupta fell across an article on Peak Lenin, one of the 5 peaks and the idea was planted.  Immediately the two realized there would be no reneging.

“As soon as I realized not a single British person has achieved it that was it, this was my expedition for 2012,” Gupta explained.

Their lives reads like a graphic novel, always scaling a cliff edge, or head down pushing through a blizzard, an almost permanent red siren screaming danger in the background while they look past it and continue to succeed in the face of adversity.

“I like SLA because it is very ambitious, five 7000m peaks back to back is tough, and only 14 people in the world have ever achieved it,” Gupta said, “My life, my work and my play revolves around mountains and I wanted to do something that would stand out and that people would enjoy following and reading about and ultimately inspiring them to get out and do something.”

The lifestyle the three climbers lead is the perfect training for their expedition. Valentine currently resides in the Alps and is in the process of taking his Level 1 and 2 BASI Ski Qualifications. Gupta on the other hand has just returned from two months leading and climbing in Nepal and before the Snow Leopard departure date he expects to have climbed Kilimanjaro and Everest.

In short, Gupta says, “We don’t train.  We are constantly in the mountains and are both young, strong and fit!”

To the outside world, Kilimanjaro and Everest are everything, but to the climbing world, they are just two rides in a whole carnival of peaks.

As with many expeditions these days, the team will climb not just for themselves but for a charity.  Each team member will be raising money for a cause that is important to them.

Gupta is collecting for Dyslexia Action.

“My choice to raise money for Dyslexia Action was simple,” Gupta said, “I am dyslexic. Supporting it will help with my aim of inspiring people, particularly those who do find academia difficult and to install confidence and self belief into them, that they can achieve.”

While Valentine climbs in aid of Multiple Sclerosis, the choice is again a personal one after seeing firsthand the effects of MS on a relative.

But all of this, the PR, the fancy title, even the charity, is not the whole picture.   In the end this is a challenge beyond anything most of us can imagine.

“Our kit will need to keep us warm and dry on the glacier and high up at over 7000m where temperatures can drop below -30 degrees Celsius,” Gupta said, “For this time we will need to melt snow and ice for water and cook high calorie food to keep our energy levels up. I think the hardest part will be remaining positive and keeping moral up for five weeks in an expedition environment. Everyone has down days and in a tent environment it is quite intense.”

This is an extreme sport. The few that pursue it have committed their whole world to the mountains. It is not a hobby.  It is an obsession.

Gupta brings the interview to a close with these final lines, “I’m not sure if I chose mountaineering or mountaineering chose me. I have been climbing in the mountains for nearly eight years and have never had a day where I wished I wasn’t there. The thought of going to an office and sitting at a desk all day makes me squirm, I simply couldn’t do it. I have worked hard to get where I have and now I can call my office the world, one week in Africa, the next in Greenland – I have the best office and the best job in the world. I gain huge satisfaction from leading groups in the mountains, introducing them to another world that they had only heard about in writing. I feel alive in the mountains, and this means I’m happy almost all the time.”

Follow Jon, Nick and Alex’s quest to on FacebookTwitter or their website.

Standard
Adventure, Interviews, Rowing

Row For Freedom – The Girls who took on the Atlantic

Published in Beyond Limits Magazine 4th January 2012

“THE WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT FOR THE FASTEST FEMALE TRANS-ATLANTIC ROW

Five Women

40 Days

3,000 miles

Two World Records

One Ocean”

They were strangers. Now, together they endure seasickness, peeing in a bucket on deck and traversing a boat while being permanently clipped on because at any time a wave could hit and toss their bodies into the ocean’s gaping jaws.

On 7th December these five ‘Row for Freedom’ women from all over the world set out to conquer an ocean. They are the first all female crew to attempt to row 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean unaided. They departed from the Canary Islands and will anchor in Barbados in mid January. Beyond Limits was able to speak with the crew on Day 23, half way through their quest to learn more about their journey so far.

The team consists of Julia Immonen, Debbie Beadle, Helen Leigh, Kate Richardson and Katie Pattison-Hart. This is a team in which bravery is a characteristic present in abundance.

“Sometimes there is an element of fear,” Debbie Beadle admits, “but you get over it.  We are doing this because we really believe in the strength of women.”

This mission required a six day week training schedule consisting of several 24 hour rows as well as individual work on both endurance and strength. Throughout the 40 days the crew will row two hours on, two hours off, trying to rest as much as possible when not rowing.

“It is tough,” Beadle said, “We are tired, but our bodies are adapting to it.”

Meanwhile their boat ‘The Guardian’ appears to be crumbling around them.

“We now have to hand-pump for twelve hours a day, use our feet to steer and ration our ever diminishing battery life.” Beadle said, “Then there is obviously the physical element of the row that is a challenge.”

Despite the many adversities, they endure as a team and the voice of Debbie  Beadle contains not a hint of fatigue.  Instead it is riddled with excitement as she giggles with pride in the knowledge that they will succeed in achieving this Guinness World Record attempt for the fastest Trans- Atlantic row.

Weather patterns will define their progress and ultimately their success. But the team has planned accordingly.

“December is just after hurricane season so it will be calmer and we can get the most benefit from the easterly trade winds and Atlantic currents,” Beadle said, “We expect to arrive in Barbados during its high season, where we will rest up for a week.”

Perfectly timed for a small holiday.

In an adventure marked by mishaps and hard work, the crew agrees that their greatest luxury onboard are the sun hats and soap they might take for granted at any other time in their lives. But, while the crew is grateful for these luxuries, the real beauty of the adventure lies in nature.

“The sky at night, seeing the ocean teeming with life,” Beadle said, “We have seen a turtle, loads of fish, and we are just waiting to see a whale. When I look around me right now, I can see the blue ocean, high waves, two of the girls are rowing and one pumping, the sun is beating down upon us.  It is like a sauna.”

Although the adventure alone would make the voyage a worthwhile trip, the crew is quick to remind us that, they row in aid of two charities; ECPAT UK and the A1 Campaign.  Both charities work to raise awareness of human trafficking. The public can help support the women by following them on Facebook, Twitter or signing up and donating online at their website.

Standard
Adventure, Interviews

Nathan Kingerlee of Outdoors Ireland

He is living the dream and driving a big silver Jeep.

Nathan Kingerlee, founder of Outdoors Ireland, an outdoor adventure and training company boasts a daily life of  leading treks up Carauntoohill, setting up kayaks on the Lakes of Killarney at sunset, teaching snow and ice climbing courses to the eager and washing out wetsuits at dusk.

Courtesy of Nathan Kingerlee

Seven years in business and Kingerlee has perfected the ultimate balancing act of being both a man of the office and securing time out on the field to take part in his adventures.  “My aim is to inject wild factors in every-thing you do and combine the most amazing experience with value for money.”  Nathan Kingerlee’s life epitomizes this agenda, his upcoming adventures include sailing or kayaking the whole of Ireland’s coastline, road-tripping it up across the country in a caravan and expanding Outdoors Ireland to encompass Galway amongst its conquests.

A rundown of a typical day, the more mundane side only; “I get up a six, walk the dogs, go to the office and sort out bookings, check the weather forecast and update the social media sites. Then I drive to location meet the clients, head off on the adventure, return, clean equipment, sleep and start all over again!”

He always knew the lifestyle he would live so ever the pragmatic he wasted no time and left secondary school early. Kingerlee took on a two-year instructor course and following that at the youthful age of 22 he started Outdoors Ireland. He ignored the doubters and now at twenty-nine years of age he is exactly where he wants to be.

The perks of his lifestyle sometimes disguises the lingering reality of his job. He gets three days off a year and during the busy season he rises at six and returns to bed at twelve, exhausted. It is tough, but it is worth it;  “The best part of my job is reading Trip Advisor and getting our clients responses and emails back and then there are these moments when I am setting up for the day ahead alone and I get to see incredible things that only I get to see.”

Courtesy of Nathan Kingerlee

According to Kingerlee, Ireland has got an abundance to offer the global adventure world; “Adrenaline, landscape, excitement, music, and a certain ‘craic’ that is lacking in other countries. Ireland is an incredible product, the adventure may be harder to find but when you do, its priceless.”

Her economy may be sputtering and weak but hidden in Ireland’s hills and lakes the adventure she can offer is slowly creeping to life and when it explodes, Nathan Kingerlee will be slap bang in the thick of it.

Standard