There comes a time in many people’s lives when they start to question the profound mundanity of their existence – the soulless corporate 9 to 5 grind, the lack of any meaningful career or focus, the realisation that so many of the hopes, dreams and aspirations that we had when we were young have somehow all been left by the wayside.
I hit that wall a little while ago. In the ten years since I first started university as an impressionable and naive 18-year-old it felt like I hadn’t achieved anything like I thought I would; employers generally weren’t interested in me and I’d drifted into office work that had nothing to do with my interests, my skills or my qualifications and was poorly paid to boot. The only real consolation was that there were and are plenty of others in exactly the same situation.
So one day I decided I would do something about it. I wanted an adventure and a challenge, something that would offer a truly life-changing experience. And thus was born Cycling South America – a unique attempt at circumnavigating the entire South American continent.
I have to admit that I would have thought the whole idea ridiculous were it not for the efforts of two inspirational men. Mark Beaumont, a Scot who smashed the round-the-world cycling record back in 2008 and (rather sickeningly) is only 3 weeks younger than me; and Riaan Manser, a South African who pedaled his way around Africa in 2005. Both – with fairly limited cycling experience – have demonstrated the power of sheer determination.
But this isn’t just an attempt to escape the drudgery of everyday life or become almost certainly the first person to circumnavigate South America by bike. It’s about self-discovery, about having a goal and putting every bit of your being into a project and seeing it through to the end. It’s about discovering our planet and of learning and meeting new cultures and people with lives far removed from mine own. Perhaps most importantly, it’s about inspiring others who, like me, are without the means or the finances or the connections to do something like this.
So it is that in 2012-13 I hope to circumnavigate South America. I’d very much like it if you could join me, whether from the comfort of your armchair or in the saddle, cycling down a dusty South American road…