Yes, not motivation… we’ve (kinda) got that sorted… but motives.
This has come up few times in our planning and talking about our plans especially on social media. Most people have been wonderfully supportive but certain groups have queried why we want to go fast and other people have asked why we feel we deserve sponsorship…
And considering these responses has made me realise our motives are not quite as straightforward as may first appear.
I started questioning this more recently as I am working my way down my pile of Around the World or similar books I have just read two World Record breaking accounts that were completely different in motivation, tone and how they left me feeling.
The first was a rather embittered tale of a cyclist who did not have his record verified by Guinness and despite his protestations that he was dismissive of Mark Beaumont (or Kash D’Anthe as he weirdly called him) having a supported record he seemed unable to let this drop, referring to him continually. He chose to ride self supported, with no sponsorship or publicity and suffered the trials of the road this brings but instead of acknowledging this being the path he had chosen seemed taken aback when things went wrong and his bicycle continually broke.
He was unable to graciously accept the help of strangers, particularly financial and almost seemed resentful of having to accept assistance he sorely needed. What particularly grated on me was despite his claims to want to see the World and immerse himself in different cultures, he descriptions descriptions the different ways of life and ethos the people he met had showed he had very little tolerance for a different way of life and seemed to actively dislike having to interact with different people. It was easy to read between the lines to see why he didn’t make to record criteria, even though he did complete the trip.
I ended the book feeling disheartened and a bit sour about his account, but also wondering if there are many people like him that will be so negative about the way we chose to do our ride.
My next book was like a breathe of fresh air! Despite a truly horrendous childhood and an awfully traumatic experience Juliana is described as a phoenix rising from the ashes and her powerful positive motivation comes across clearly from the pages. She is not out to better anyone else but herself and pours her passion into an epic ride. She is also unsupported on the road, but in contrast asked for crowd funding to support her trio which her followers happily give in return for being able to follow her progress on social media. She obviously also inspires people and this makes then want to support her in turn. She is incredibly gracious for all the help she is offered and already very worldly so aware of cultural difference and what to expect. She frequently writes kindly of the people she meets on the road and when she does fall full of problems she is not bitter and angry, but reflective, pragmatic and resourceful.
If I had just read the first book I would have been left questioning myself and our motives but Juliana’s account gives me inspiration and clarity that we are doing things in the way we are for the right reasons.
1. The Challenge
Yes we could tour around the World over years, or even go slower and take the record but there is something inspiring and exciting to us about making it a challenge. Riding at the speed we plan to will be a very difficult experience from touring slower and the expenses are different. We cannot deny we will feel very privileged hold a World Record and hope that the speed we plan to set it at will make it a true challenge to beat. Having said that if another mixed pair come along to take our crown we would wish them the best and give then our support- there are only so many people prepared to do what we do and we are all kindred spirits (and ever so slightly nuts!)
2. The Inspiration
What better thing to do on this planet to inspire others to change their lives for the better! If there was a chance that our ride could inspire one person to take on a challenge, follow their dreams, ride a bit further, see the World or even take that first step outside their front door it will all be worth it. Especially through Covid19 mental health issues have been increasingly apparent in our society and we would love to think our exploits might help bring a bit more positivity to some people. This is one of the reasons we have chosen two of our charities which are related to mental health (Mind and Vetlife) and we don’t expect anyone to jump on their bike and ride around the World but if it encourages people to take that first step to a healthier, happier and more balanced life that would mean a lot to us.
3. The Charities
Last year I organised a particularly daft Christmas pub crawl/march walking 34 miles between the Derby Brewing Company pubs in one day… unsurprisingly people we met along the way were quite astonished by this concept and even more so when we had to admit we weren’t raising money for charity, just doing it for fun!
But the problem is if we fundraised for every challenge we undertook our lovely and supportive friends and family would likely become a tad fed up with continual requests and also a bit broke! So this is the chance of a lifetime to raise a really significant amount of money for a group of charities we are really passionate about.
And that is why social media and sponsorship are so important to us too- partly to spread the word to help inspire others but also once we reach the start line so that we can raise as much as possible by having a large online following. Liaising with sponsors is not only beneficial in terms of taking some of the financial pressure off (as we are self funded) but also allows us to use great kit and gives us access to the audience and followers of these sponsors too. We have tried to work with and support local companies and will not accept sponsorship requests from companies who’s products we wouldn’t be happy to use otherwise.
4. The Experience
And aside from the obvious; obtaining sponsors, creating a social media following and content, route planning, risk assessment, logistics and even podcasting are all part of this immense project and are skills and experiences we wouldn’t otherwise be having. I’ve been interviewed on local radio, written articles and blogs and been on and started my own podcast. I’ve spoken to and been in contact with so many amazing people already and we haven’t even started pedalling yet!
And of course obviously seeing the World at the speed of a tandem bicycle, working as a team with my favourite person and having all those experiences together… even now it is an indescribable feeling.
But one thing I took from Juliana’s writing was : gratitude. We are so grateful to have this opportunity, we hope to do some good a long the way but it is undoubtedly a massively privileged position to be in and we will never take that for granted.