I fly out to Alaska on Wednesday so am having a busy last few days sorting everything out for the next two months I’ll be on the road. Two months to most people is a very long time to be cycling almost every day. It would also be very long for me too if that was all I was doing. However I think one of the largest preconceptions that ‘normal’ people have about these long distance cycling journeys and adventures is that cycling is all that you do. I think this is about as far from the truth as it gets.
On a cycle tour, cycling is merely one of the daily activities or projects that you do. It is a means for you to travel in a cheap, green, and efficient way wherever you want to go in the world. As most cycle tourists will agree travelling at the pace of a bicycle offers a much more immersive view of the environment around you and therefore you can experience a country a lot more than if, for example, you were doing a road trip in a car. This immersive quality is one that many cycle tourists use to carry out ‘projects’ on the road. Other activities besides the cycling that offer different focuses that enhance your travelling or perhaps make you a more well rounded individual. Whist many people will not think of specific projects before they set off, and I think this is probably the best for your first few tours, you will just find things along the route that will become ‘projects’. Be that writing a diary, taking photographs, or perfecting your camping stove cooking. Each project allows a distraction from the cycling and the opportunity for you to enrich yourself and your journey.
As it is just a couple of days until I leave for Alaska I was thinking about what I wanted to get from this cycle and what I wanted to do besides the cycling. I will of course be taking my camera and tripod to hopefully capture some stunning images and enhance my photography skills. As we will be cycling to such beautiful landscapes I feel that this project was always a given. I will also be taking a notebook so that I can keep a detailed diary of each day, which will be great to look back on in years to come or if I have the time to write up a detailed account of this cycle it will be an invaluable source of information.
My main project I think is rather ambitious. I have very little film experience however making a short film or documentary about our cycle I think would be a great way to convey to many people what we did and perhaps inspire others to do similar adventures. Tom and I have a couple of GoPro action cameras and combined with my DSLR I am hoping, perhaps optimistically, that we will be able to shoot loads of great footage. Whilst this is very optimistic, no doubt much of it will be unusable, I think it will be a great learning experience and a great project to do on the road. As we are also raising money for Mind, a mental health charity, I also think it would be really cool to interview people along our route about their experiences with mental health. Perhaps this could the be used in the same film to help reduce some of the stigma that exists around mental health? From reading blogs we will no doubt have an idea of a storyline for the film in our heads and this will change dramatically once we look at all the footage we have. However I hope that we will be able to produce something semi-professional that would serve a purpose, be that inspiration or understanding.
So these are my projects for the road between Alaska and Mexico. I will probably generate more along the way, as I think you always do on tour. Although some of them, particularly the filming and talking to the camera, will be a tad difficult to grasp at first hopefully after a bit of practice I will have mastered a few more skills.
I am rising money for Mind during my cycle and all donations no matter how big or small really do make the world of difference to people suffering from mental health problems. I am hoping to raise £5000, ideally £10,000, which will enable the setting up of two new local support groups for people with mental health problems. Our Just Giving page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/thewestcoastcycle/ thank you in advance and I hope you all have a good summer.