It’s a question we half dread because it seems we’ll never have a good enough answer…
- “Yeah, we’re just going to jump back on the tandem and smash our previous world record because it was so easy the first time”… err… Nope.
- “We’re just going to take it easy, you know, tour about, go really slow, immerse ourselves in culture, live life on the road”… a. We can’t afford to “live life on the road” and b. I think we’re both wired to need a bit more challenge and adventure in our lives.
- “We’re going to go back to day job, ride audaxes and confine ourselves to 5 weeks holiday a year on a beach trying to forget about work”.. well that doesn’t quite ring true either!
I think we knew it at the time, but after our epic record breaking tandem ride around the world, things will never be the same again. But it’s a different thing knowing it to living it.
We didn’t expect fame and fortune and we have been flattered and delighted with the attention we’ve had from a range of podcasts, media outlets and speaking events, the most notable of which has been Kendal Mountain Festival, where we’ll be returning to the stage on their national Tour next week. Launching the book has been completely surreal, a combination of the cathartic process of trying to get the experience out of my head and onto paper, imposter syndrome and pinch myself moments I still get when I see it in the flesh, to the goosebumps every time someone signs it’s praises (It’s not yet on amazon so we haven’t had any bad reviews!)
Last year was tough though, really tough.
Post adventure blues is talked about in “adventuring” circles and the period of readjustment to real life is strange and confusing. Stevie, having suffered more than me in the back half of the trip had much bigger hurdles as it was February before he was healed enough to sit on a bicycle and June before he enjoyed it again. Filling our time with one of our other passions: hiking went a long way to keeping us active, filling the void of challenge and adventure and getting us outside- the benefits of which can never be understated.
Maybe it was a bit too soon to undertake a challenging hike such as Wainright’s Coast to Coast, but we enjoyed the majority of it anyway and weather is always guaranteed! Stevie’s body was still readjusting to walking and an ankle injury laid him up for the last day but there was something wonderful about returning to the simplistic world of move, eat, sleep, repeat and without the pressure of a world record on our shoulders the rucksacks almost seemed light.
Aside from this I threw myself into everything else at 100 miles an hour. It has been said I don’t do things by half and starting to write the book, organising speaking engagements, editing the RTW videos, picking up my Veterinary work, starting a completely new role in project management and deciding my next sporting move was into long distance triathlons kept me pretty busy through the Summer. Long, exhausting but glorious days of a 40miles cycling commute interspersed with open water swimming and triathlon training alongside learning about the Zero Carbon Technologies and project management at the University of Nottingham left little room for worrying about anything else and with Stevie getting back on the bike again things were starting to even out.
But as the days go shorter, the mood shifted. Time outside around working hours was harder to come by and feeling trapped by to many led lights and computer screens I knew I need a better balance. After a lot of soul searching I had come to the conclusion that I wasn’t done with the Veterinary profession quite yet (that’s a whole other story..) but I needed more flexibility to get outside and keep my head in check.
Long days on the bike had left plenty of time for reflection and something had crystallised for me: Life is too short to be stuck doing something that doesn’t make your soul shine.
In less pretentious speak, there is little point in me working 7 days a week if I’m not passionate about it, and as we are so fortunate to have the health and fitness to get outside and have adventures we should do so. Working at the Zero Carbon Cluster has been fantastic; but I’m not from that world. Increasingly I find car culture concerning and confusing and having seen the different paces of life around the world our rushed and hectic society seems artificial and excessive. I want a more basic existence, focusing on the things that truly matter to me:
- Being outside
- Having adventures
- Making my own challenges
- Fitness and being able to use and test my body
- A peaceful mind
- Staying connected with friends and family
But how to live this utopic existence but still be able to pay the bills?
My Veterinary work can take me so far, but committing to a full time role is too much of a tie for the moment. I need something to organise and already seemingly having got myself involved in the ultra-distance charity cycling event “Pure Peak Grit” and helping organise the Audax UK award ceremony (on top of the SteLa Tandem PR) I knew I had skills to use.
A brainstorm with Stevie of how best to use our skills always seemed to come back to the same points:
Adventure and The Outdoors
And we knew we wanted to help others experience these things as well. It cannot be understated how much difference getting outside can make to your life, it doesn’t need to be travelling the world or climbing a mountain, it can be so much smaller and can fit to the time an ambition you have.
From working days, we know how much can be squeezed into a week or two’s holiday, but also know how much planning that can take and we are pretty sure this is one of the main barriers to people with busy lives looking beyond the package holiday brochure. In this day and age, many people are looking closer to home for an escape and more and more people are realising what is on their doorstep.
We are massively privileged to have hiked and biked many of the UKs best national trails and cycle routes, and we plan to keep on doing so, but we want to help others too.
And this is how Cracking Adventures has come about!
Providing not only self-guided hiking and biking holidays along some of the best trails and routes the UK has to offer, but also back to basics and bespoke adventures right to micro- and macro-adventures we hope to cover everything a normal person might need to do something extra-ordinary with their time off.
These places are just waiting to be found and we can show you how.
Weirdly, I actually feel more nervous about launching this project than I did about Around the World!! So please follow along and join us for the ride and follow @crackingadventures on our website www.crackingadventures.com and on social media (Instagram, Facebook and YouTube).
Our blog updates will be continuing from the subscription emails from there, so if you’ve enjoyed virtually following us around the World, sign up now to follow us on our next Cracking Adventures too!
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Bilbo Baggins