Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Local Adventurer

Blog Date - 19 April 2015

I'm sure most readers will have seen "Long Way Round" and "Long Way Down" starring Charlie McGregor and Ewan Boorman (yes, I know...). Some of you will have read the exploits from other round the world types like I don't know about you but I all-too-often daydream of riding off into a dusty sunset aboard my trusty steed and venturing forth into new lands and new cultures. It is good to dream, reality is quite different. Apart from constantly wondering how they do it financially (unless you're a celebrity) and a pointless fear of the unknown most of us are bound by our mortgages, our families, our home comforts and our self doubts. 

a motorcycle in a snowy valley looking all wild
Is this what adventure is supposed to look like?

Should this preclude us from any adventures at all? Are we doomed to never explore? Will our fears and our 9-to-5 keep us trapped? Well it could, but it doesn't have to. You see, it's all a matter of scale and relativity. 

We are all too often bombarded with images of beautiful women and handsome men. How can we ever aspire to such heights without a personal trainer, make-up artist, designer clothing and our own coiffure? We see billionaires on yachts and in Lamborghinis and we feel such a failure in our terraced houses and Ford Fiestas. Equally we follow our adventure hero's exploits on social media as they tweet about taking tea with the Tuareg or blog about run in with the Russian Mafia. This can make us feel somewhat pathetic as we ride to the local biker hang out for a brew.  

Not every can be famous, not everyone will be rich so I guess we can't all be travelling the world. Lets face it, someone's got to make the widget that makes the machine that makes the part that makes their trips possible. So what can we mere mortals do?  

Get yourself a map, any map, I like online maps because they never rip and I could never fold the damn paper ones. Find somewhere you've never been. No, no I don't mean Timbuktu or The Antarctic, I mean somewhere a few miles away. I live in Bolton and I used to be a Despatch rider so I think there's not many places I haven't been nearby, until I look closely. I've been through Chester a few times but let me see...hmmmmm... I've never been to Aldford. I know what the countryside is like around there, I have a reasonable notion of what to expect but I've never actually been to Aldford before.

It's unlikely you'll find strange cultures with peculiar languages. I doubt you'll see a vast mountain range unless you can see North Wales from there. The chances of finding ancient Mayan ruins are slim to none. I suspect you'd find a sleepy village with a handful of expensive cars, posh houses and a post office come sweet shop. So what's the point? The point is you don't actually know what you'll find. There might be an ancient church with a tale to tell, I'm sure Google via a tablet can explain all. There might be a pretty cafe beside a duck pond. There could be a fabulous back lane that leads to a babbling brook. It's a day out, it's a change of scene and it is a micro adventure.

A motorcycle and rider splash through a small ford on a leafy lane
Who knows what might be down those little narrow lanes.

The above things are in fact quite likely. Then there are those things that are a lot less likely but remain impossible if you never ever get out there. You might meet an interesting person who guides you to the hidden secret places that only locals know. You may be invited for tea in a thatched cottage. You may also find yourself being threatened with a shotgun if you wander down what you thought was a lane but is in fact a driveway. Who knows, you may even meet the love of your life or a cow with big eyelashes. If you stay at home then nothing will happen.

The point is just stop being sorry that you can't go to Peru or Ghana and start making up your own adventure. Stop dreaming of winning the lottery and start exploring. Stop measuring your achievements against the great, the famous and the wildest folks and measure them in fun and experience. With each tiny step you get a little braver and a little more knowledgeable.

Then perhaps one day you'll figure out how it's done and how to pay for it, you'll be better prepared due to your local adventures. And if not? Who cares! You'll still have great memories and tales to tell.

Reader's Comments

Tony said :-
I like this Ren. As the old saying goes, the hardest yard is the first.

We live in an amazing and beautiful country and a lot of it is in easy reach, especially on a motor bike. Some time spent looking at a road atlas and then a more detailed map is time well spent. As you rightly say, there are places on your doorstep or just a little way off that are worth the effort.

Link a few together and maybe you have the basis of a weekend adventure camping trip :)

I'm looking forward to doing something this year. Yes your right work, mortgage and family commitments have to be sorted, but later this year, maybe around September......I have this little plan.....
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :- tease. Will you enlighten us a little regarding your plan?
1/1//2000 UTC
Tony said :-
Ha Ha ??

Wasn't meant as a tease but if you talk about these things too much they often don't come off.

If i get it done I will send you a write up hows that ?

UK based so nothing special.
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'd love a write up Tony, that would be brilliant. And if you're up this way I'll make ya a brew.
1/1//2000 UTC
John said :-
Have you tried Geocaching? I've been doing it since Easter with the little ones but recently, I've used it as an excuse to explore new places on the bike. Your post inspired me to write my own blog post on the subject (see link). As usual, the 125 is the best bike for the job as well.

Thanks for another great post.
1/1//2000 UTC
vic oliver said :-
Really good read mate, you should be writing for the ABR mag.
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Vic! I'll let you put my name forward and when I'm rich and famous I'll buy you a cup of tea. Gosh I'm so generous.

John, what a great post! When I first started this website I'd just got into "Fording". My gf at that time and I would scour "" and go off to find these fords. We had a great time looking down all kinds of weird and wonderful country lanes and trails. Those days are gone but I think Geocaching could be a great inspiration and reason to get out there and explore new places. Good call

1/1//2000 UTC
Bob said :-
You're spot on.
When my daughter was born I experienced the often talked about compression of time, I live my (personal) life in snatched 1 or 2 hour slots which fit either side of my family life, so I tend to be out riding at 06:00 or 20:00.
This precludes any thoughts of "doing a Ewan" and it's easy to become jaded, I look forward to my little ride but as soon as I'm underway I get that "where shall I go?" feeling and that can turn into "why bother?" if not checked.
A few months ago I hit upon the idea of getting lost, so that's what I do now. If I'm riding down a road that I know and I see a turning I've never taken, it take it. Then another and another until I have no idea where I am. Living in the Peak District there seems to be an endless supply of tiny villages with ancient names and single track lanes. The game then is finding my way home again, turning here and there, using the sun as a guide until I cross a road big enough to have a number and then I can find my way home.
It's a micro-adventure every time, the other day I found a new (to me) green lane nearly 3 miles long, with a 2ft deep water crossing - it was a fantastic feeling.
It's important to take the time to stop when you find something interesting, this is one of the main reasons that I prefer to ride alone these days. When riding with mates you feel that you can't keep stopping to take in a view or just to sit and experience a place, to get a feel of actually being there. Riding solo allows you to practice mindfulness of presence and place, stop the bike, sit on the grass, smell the flowers, soak in the view. Even a couple of minutes is enough to fix a memory which you can enjoy later.

1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Peak District! Lucky sod. It can be hard to stop and soak in the delights of a dubious back street in Salford on a rainy afternoon but still. The main thing is to get out there and look around rather than feel sorry that you're not in Ulan Bator.

You make is sound just as it should be. Thanks for sharing that Bob :)
1/1//2000 UTC
Bob said :-
Thank you - I occasionally wax lyrical!
I read your post about the run to Wales, it's a trip I take two or three times a year (circumstances permitting). It's much more pleasant run to come back via Betws-y-Coed and down through Llangollen, cut south of Wrexham and pick up the Whitchurch road and follow that back heading for Nantwich and Arclid. You can head North up the A34 to get back to Manchester - I continue up over the Cat and Fiddle for Buxton and home.
1/1//2000 UTC

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