Here's to the Biking Adventurers!
Five years ago London cycle courier Julian Sayarer completed the fastest cycle ride around the world, returning home after 165 days on the road. 23 years old when he set off on his ambitious unsupported ride, with just the packs strapped to his bike and his wits to get him through, Sayarer took the uncompromising approach that his journey was for no one but himself, even going so far as to call his blog of the trip This Is Not For Charity.
In a world of charity rides, corporate team building adventures and big budget round the world record attempts tailgated by support cars and logistics crew, Sayarer's paired back low-budget endeavour stuck out as uncompromisingly principled. And he is uncompromisingly principled; his writing is often filled with accounts of the injustices of the world which we all know to exist but we choose to ignore or feel helpless to address.
After a technical delay surrounding the veracity of his round the world claim and an uncomfortable spat with fellow round the world cyclist Mark Beaumont, Sayarer was even described as the 'Angry Young Man' of adventure cycling.
Beaumont has subsequently written a string of books about his cycling quests, and is now reporting for the BBC escorting the Queen's Baton as it relays around the world in advance of this summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Sayarer has taken his time over how to present his adventure as he would wish. His new book, Life Cycles is filled with the beauty of his round the world trip as well as the toughness of the journey and the unique challenges inherent in such a trip and is being published on June 2nd 2014, with a launch party at Look Mum No Hands on June 5th.
The forthcoming launch of Sayarer's book reminded me that another long distance cyclist, Tom Allen of Tom's Bike Trip and "Janapar" fame, is currently attempting to travel from one length of the country to the other with no budget at all, getting by on offers of food and accommodation in bartered return for work and help given along the way. Tom's FreeLeJOG adventure has already taken him through Cornwall and Devon but as too many miles in the saddle alone is want to do, it has led to him worrying about the exact definition of his journey and how he'll be perceived if the terms of his adventure change along the way.
I don't have the balls that Allen has to set off without even a credit card in my pocket, and I don't have the courage or the strength in my own convictions to do things as entirely my own way as Sayarer has. Out on the road they might each analyse every turn of the wheel, but I would encourage them to live in the present and hope I can send them on their way in the knowledge that for those of us stuck behind desks and veneers of conformity, sharing in any kind of adventure is an adventure in itself for some. So here's to the adventurers, says I, and sharing in their endeavours from the comfort of our arm chairs...
Tom Allen's account of his meandering attempt to ride the world, and what happens when love stopped him along the way, "Janapar" is out now. Julian Sayarer's book Life Cycles launches on June 5th and will be available at all good book stores and is available now for pre-order on Amazon.