A wild night
Pete from Adventure Pedlars sums up his joy of spending a bit of time outdoors, why he feels it shouldn't be that hard but can be incredibly important.
"Awake… The sun softly radiating through closed eyelids... a chill from a light breeze upon an exposed cheek. Brain registers… Outside! Alarm bells! This is not normal! Not the normality of the cozy four walled enclosure that we’re used to regaining consciousness in. Still fumbling in a blur of half consciousness, all manner of unnerving scenarios start presenting themselves… not quite made it home from the pub… knocked out by one of those threatening looking strangers… sprawled lifeless in a bus shelter… we shouldn't be here!! Eyes open… Leaves. A soft canopy of leaves sway gently overhead dappling and contorting the light as it dances excitedly across the woodland floor. Eyes look around. Cocooned snugly inside a bivi bag on a bed of foliage. Consciousness is slowly found, memory returns… This is in fact exactly where we should be!
We’re simple creatures really. A species of prehistoric mammal trapped in a never-ending game of catchup with our own relentless development; a brain and body still not entirely designed to spend their existence inside boxes gazing at screens... Sat opposite a bio-scientist on a train the other day he comments: “If you did that to a lab rat it would get fat and go blind”… I speculate that this may in fact be precisely what’s happening to us…
The antidote! That’s what this is all about. An antidote to modern living… Giving a desperately needed shot of adventure into a body and mind that has evolved over millennia to be outside; specifically designed to engage with, perform in and manage the risks of our surroundings… We all need it from time to time. It may not be easy, may not be comfortable. It may not look like all of those carefully cropped and filtered photos on Instagram and you’ll probably spend at least some of your time regretting the decision, but we need it. To escape, re-charge, re-connect… to free the rat. And in the end it’s always worth it.
The usual barriers never fail, however, to present themselves. Stand in our way with a raised palm of fear and uncertainty, ready to turn us back towards the safety of a confined existence… How to fit it all into a busy schedule? What to do? Where to go? What do you need? Am I fit enough? Is it allowed?
In reality though, it’s all very simple:
Step one: A bicycle. Your chariot. That golden ticket that can transport you into any adventure on the planet. Simple, cheap, versatile and ever so satisfying to fuel. Any bicycle will do. Even that rusty old fixed gear commuter or the folding bike with the indefinable squeak in it can deliver you into the unknown. It’s all a question of where you want to go and how fast... and there’s no wrong answer to those questions. To us, though, there’s one simple equation that explains almost all of our bike choices: Fatter tyres = more wildness...
Step two: Now that you’ve got your trusty workhorse, make it do the work. It’s easy to strap things to a bike. Getting them to stay there can be another question. A few carefully designed bits of bicycle luggage should do the trick. Helping your bike carry all the essentials for a warm bed and a full belly whilst not inhibiting your enjoyment of the ride… and it’s all about enjoying the ride!
Step three: Take the stuff you need to avoid an ordeal. Just because you can lie shivering, naked and alone in a ditch, doesn’t mean that you should! It’s not an endurance test. That’s not what we’re getting at... no reality TV here... A few universal truths hold the key to any human’s happiness: give it somewhere safe, warm and dry to sleep, some tasty food to eat and surround it with good company and you’ll not go far wrong. One or two choice bits of kit can go a long way to facilitating these needs in whatever changeable environment you happen to find when you venture out of doors...
Step four: Find somewhere nice to go with some good people. You’ll probably find that there’s some completely unknown beauty spot concealed within 10 miles of your back door… Just grab some friends and go and find it... or jump on a train and explore somewhere totally new. Find new friends. Take a hip flask, light a fire, sing some songs, catch nature off guard… but be nice, clean up, tread lightly and show some respect. Don’t spoil it for the rest of us. There’s no room service out there… Remember, #goniceplacesdogoodthings
So there you have it. Take a break. Call Time out. Stop the world and get off for 12 hours, 24, 48… Everyone’s got time for this. No excuses..."