26 January, 2024
My own journey from Couch Potato to LEJOG can be replicated by anyone , IF you don’t define “Adventure” by the amazing stuff the likes of Bear Grylls and the like get up to on TV.
Adventure. For many that word is depicted in TV documentaries while we lounge on our sofa watching people “not like us” doing dangerous things in exotic places
There are so many blogs and films of absolutely amazing trips across dramatic faraway places, jungles, deserts, mountains and every other type of magnificent terrain.
So when I mention in my YouTube videos that I will be sharing my adventures through the lens of my camera and try to encourage watchers and readers to discover the thrill and freedom of adventure, for themselves I’m pretty sure “adventures” as generally portrayed, feel way out of your league and comfort zone and more concerning for me, you might be expecting to watch ‘Ordinary Bloke On A Bike” cycling across the Sahara or running the gauntlet through swampy terrain dodging crocodiles and poisonous snakes.
It’s my sincere hope that someone might be reading this who is sitting on their sofa with vague notions of getting on a bike or getting into running because they’re fed up with feeling lethargic, overweight and concerned about the long term effects of keeping that lifestyle.
That’s exactly where I was not too many years ago. I described myself as an arthritic couch potato, probably using my arthritis as an excuse to delay doing anything about it.
My son cycled so that’s where I began my journey and considered myself a bit of a dreamer as I entered into the world of road cycling and harboured thoughts and images in my head of holding my bike aloft at John O’Groats, probably not realising what it took to get there. LEJOG is the ultimate UK cycling adventure and definitely wasn’t for the likes of me.
When I first ventured off my sorry ass and straddled my recently acquired hybrid bike ( totally the wrong size I might add but that’s a different story), breathing heavily on my drive just with the exertion of getting the bike out of the garage – the 4 mile ride “round the block” certainly felt like an adventure to me ! I was pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and venturing to somewhere I’d never been before doing something I’d never done before
And that’s my point , a dictionary definition of Adventure is
“an unusual, exciting, or dangerous experience, journey, or series of events”
Dangerous ? Well, maybe not but otherwise it’s certainly an accurate reflection on how I felt that morning .
Make no mistake, YOU are able to define your own adventure and getting out going further than you have before in places you’ve never been to before IS adventure, even if initially it’s just close to home, you will feel a sense of freedom and a heart warming buzz that will make you want to do more and push it further.
I was stunned very early on when I cycled from home to a place I’d been to in my car dozens of times and used country lanes that I never knew existed to get there. A network of cyclist friendly very low traffic lanes passing farms and beautiful scenery that you just won’t see if you never venture beyond the norm of travelling the quickest way from A to B by car.
Adventure is about Discovery and it was happening to me “in my own back yard” whilst still a relative beginner on the bike and I wanted more of this.
Now that I’ve moved on a bit and started this Social Media and YouTube thing , it’s pretty obvious no one would be watching a video of a chubby bloke pedalling awkwardly for 4 miles “round the block”. So for the purposes of trying to make it interesting I had the impetus and reason to try to venture further afield and sincerely hope with crossed fingers, some people may actually watch a video of those rides and the places I ventured through along the way.
It’ll never be the stuff of those dramatic documentary channels on TV BUT they are adventures to me and hopefully of some interest and inspiration to others who have grasped the life changing baton of getting on a bike and seeing where it can take them.
The first inspiration to film rides was provided one Christmas when my son Jamie gave me the book “Great British Bike Rides” by Dave Barter
These kind of gifted books often end up as a coffee table flick through but it’s an excellent read and after leafing through those pages with route maps and detailed descriptions of wonderful parts of Britain that I’d never been to I just needed to get out there and experience riding my bike along these routes and try to make a film along the way. The result is a playlist on my YouTube channel called “Great British Bike Rides” (what else!) There are still many in the book to film. I actually did 4 of them in the south of England before I’d bought my camera and started to film my rides so I’ll be delighted to revisit those wonderful routes at some stage.
It really is a great book by Dave Barter and provided the push I needed to get me riding beyond my own back yard. That’s the point though, this isn’t about the book specifically it’s finding any inspiration to push your horizon further because doing the same bike rides over and over stops becoming adventure and there is a danger you could lose interest. This inspiration can be found in different places and I hope this article itself may help provide some for anyone reading it. In addition to rides from that book I’ve taken my camera with me on various Sportives and other rides with pals . When I visit other parts of our wonderful country my bike usually tags along so I can film a ride in that area.
All ways of keeping the spirit of adventure alive: remember the definition “an unusual, exciting, or dangerous experience, journey”
Well, skip the dangerous bit, I didn’t find any crocs or venomous snakes in Norfolk for example but it was a beautiful ride in an unusual place, for me, and all the Sportives I’ve done are always a fun and exciting and sociable experience. ADVENTURES !!
I’ve also began to take my Bike and Camera further afield exploring parts of Spain with mates, and having family near Paris so have also been able to film rides in parts of France including an interesting ride right into the centre of Paris !!
For the record, the lethargic chubby arthritic beginner that I described myself as earlier who foolishly saw himself holding his bike aloft in John O’ Groats, got to do exactly that just a few years later.
Multi day cycling events, traversing from A to B is the ultimate adventure for a road cyclist and I put my name down for LEJOG when I was far from able to do such a thing and it didn’t half focus the mind on getting prepared.
One great thing about these events is they are NOT a race so no hard core training was needed really other than keep seeking out more adventure at my own preferred pace, different places different terrain, interesting and fun. The fitness required for 14 days over 1,000 miles was gained without it ever feeling like ‘training” so it is something more people are capable of than they realise.
I would say to any newish cyclist, if you really dream of doing something life changing like LEJOG, YOU REALLY CAN ! I did it 4 years after getting my first road bike, I completed it with 14 other fine and lovely people I’d never met who remain friends to this day, NONE of us could be described as athletes, and had never done multi day cycling before.
AND IT WAS ONE HELL OF A LIFE CHANGING ADVENTURE.
I’ve since traversed Coast to Coast in France, last September and am doing Wales end to end with my son Jamie in June this year. All a far cry from my 4 mile bimble around local lanes but in the context of where I was as a cyclist at the time that early ride was just as an adventure as LEJOG - more so in a way, as without that step , LEJOG and France Coast to Coast would never have happened.
I can honestly say that getting off that sofa and on a bike has changed my life both physically and mentally. I also suffered from some mental anxiety issues and cycling helps so much with that too and here is a video all about this important subject.
If YOU are that person on the sofa, please believe that taking up cycling as a pastime can literally change your life for the better. There are plenty of videos on my YouTube channel with advice for beginners to take those early steps and others that I hope are motivational when motivation is needed so why not subscribe to my channel by clicking here and take a look .
Don’t just watch other people’s adventures on TV. Define your own and have fun doing them. You never know where it might take you - which is what adventure is all about
Check out more from Bill: https://ordinaryblokeonabike.co.uk/blog/
An ordinary bloke who discovered cycling as a way of fighting off negative effects of Arthritis and Anxiety.
Through my Videos, Website, Blog & Social Media I hope to inspire & motivate other “Ordinary Folk” to appreciate the physical and mental health benefits of cycling, push their boundaries by defining their own meaning of “adventure” and of course discover the power of Cake - The Essential Cycling Fuel !
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