Looking back at 2016, it has definitely been a bittersweet year! For personal reasons, it has been without a doubt the hardest year of my life, clouded in a lot of emotional turmoil. The flip side of this is that I threw myself into physical challenges to keep my mind occupied and focused. In doing so, I realised just how much I missed the world of adventure, seeing new places, challenging myself, the planning, the logistics, public speaking, film and photography! For the past 4 years, I had left all that behind me to run two family businesses, but now with my love for adventure re-stirred inside me, I have made the massive decision to go back to the world of adventure and expeditions and try to find a way of making a living out of doing what I love once more.
This year was very much about my bike, competing in the Tuscany Trail, Styrkeproven in Norway, the Marmotte in France, the Transcontinental Race for a second time and Everesting by bike. In 2017 I still want to continue to improve on the bike and keep pushing myself to see just how far I can ride, but I also want to mix it up with other sports and learn new skills.
Inspired by the wonderful Alastair Humphreys Year of ‘Microadventures’, I have decided to commit to 12 adventures/challenges over the next 12 months. Alastair was named as a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for his pioneering work on the concept of ‘Microadventures’, trying to encourage people to get outside, get out of their comfort zone, go somewhere they’ve never been, by having an adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet still very effective (see his really cool video below).
Okay so not all of my proposed challenges for 2017 are ‘micro’, but they are also not large scale expeditions that involve being away for months on end or needing large budgets and sponsors. Maybe I should call them 2017’s year of ‘midi’ adventures/challenges! They vary from physical challenges, learning new skills, to big psychological battles overcoming my fears.
A Snow Marathon – Well what’s a better way to kick start your fitness for the year than running a marathon! I have never run a marathon before but now seems as good a time as any. I’m not entering a race, as there are not any in January in a ski resort, but I have 4 weeks to get some running training in and then I will head off into the snow and try to cover 42km.
Beaufortain Tour – A multiday hut to hut ski touring trip through the Beaufortain should be just a wonderful microadventure, but for me, it will be a serious mental challenge! Suffering from an irrational fear of snow & ice (Chionophobia), just the thought of off-piste backcountry skiing brings me out in a cold sweat, but I will eventually overcome it (…I hope).
Dynastar X3 – The X3 is a mountain triathlon consisting of a 14km cycle up the mountain with 1000m of ascent, a 6km snow run, followed by a 5km ski tour with 1000m of ascent. I have previously raced in a team, completing just the cycle stage myself, but this year I am attempting the whole thing solo.
Corsica – This is an adventure rather than a challenge. My bike, a beautiful island I have never been to, lots of mountains, turquoise water, fresh fish… what more could you want in an adventure!
The Transatlantic Way – The TransAtlanticWay is a 2500 km, one stage, self-supported road bike race between Dublin and Cork via The Wild Atlantic Way.
Tour De Mont Blanc Bike Race – Often described as “The world’s toughest one-day bike race” the TDMB is a 330km race with over 8000m of climbing over some of France’s, Switzerland’s and Italy’s most legendary alpine passes.
Top Secret – ‘The Main Event’ ‘The Big One’ ‘The One To Watch’! More news on this later in the year!
24 hour PR attempt – I would like to hit the 600km mark in under 24 hours, but like the idea of riding around and around a loop like most time trials sounds a little dull to me, I thought I would ride to Spain as that seems to be about 600km.
GR5 Run – The GR5 is high mountain trekking route running the length of the Alps. I intend to take on half of it, running along the route from my home in Courchevel to the Coast in Nice unsupported. A distance of 300km and 18000m of vertical.
Ski Instructor Level 1 – My intention for sitting the BASI Level 1 Ski Instructor training and exam is just to have a greater understanding of skiing and learn a new skill.
Everesting – Last summer I completed an ‘Everest‘ on my bike, so thought this winter I would try one on my ski’s (uphill ski touring). Everesting is a challenge to climb the height of Everest, 8848m in one go and has to be done on one hill in the form of laps/reps.
Core & Nutrition – This probably doesn’t seem like much of a challenge, but I anticipate it to be my hardest. I have set myself a goal this year to educate myself and train myself to work on my core and strength as well as doing my Cardio. In addition, I hope to reduce my sugar intake (I am a complete sugar addict) and increase the amount of water I drink. From this I hope to see improvements in my sport and hope it can become a natural habit rather than a chore.
Of course, I’m sure there will be more little adventures thrown into the mix throughout the year in addition to these 12. However, having 12 main ones that I have committed to, hopefully, means I can focus my time, training and budgets to make them happen!
Wahoo! Bring on 2017!!
Alastair’s introduction to Microadventures…
Feel free to ask me any questions, happy to help where I can.