I’m staring at a picture of a girl on her first bicycle tour. Her wayward hair is kept only slightly in check by a helmet perched awkwardly on her head. Her arms, now sun-kissed after a few months on the road lead down to legs muscles, now slightly tighter than they once were. As she moves to pose for the photo, her jersey shifts to reveal a small white area on her upper arms that the sun has yet to reach.
She is brimming with enthusiasm. She has dreams that seem too big for her head. She has no clue what’s she’s doing and a bundle of fears to face up to on a daily basis. She isn’t quite sure where to start, but start she has. And by goodness she’s happy that she did.
FROM ROOKIE TO REALITY
The UK adventure community is a wonderfully supportive place. I’ll never forget the first email I sent to Dave Cornthwaite announcing that I wanted to head off on a 50 state cycle, but I had no idea where to start. I was scared of wild camping (which I had never done) and terrified I would buy all the wrong things. His reply was swift, funny and reassuring. As was Alastair Humphrey’s the first time I reached out to him.
As time has gone by and my own adventures have unfolded, I have had the pleasure to witness a number of others begin their journeys. And, just as Dave and Al did with me, I too have now found myself offering what advice I can (although the greatest piece of advice I can offer is to realise that no one really knows what they’re doing. Once you work that one out, everything becomes rather straightforward. ..)
SURROUNDED BY ADVENTURE QUEENS
Over Christmas in 2015, it struck me. I now knew dozens of these ‘rookie’ adventurers. And the ones that I knew the most intimately, the ones who I have watched as they have painfully pushed aside their fears and gone in pursuit of the things that make them truly happy – they are all female. The most fascinating thing of all? Although their adventures were taking place in different locations around the globe, via different modes of transports and spanning different lengths of time – they all had to take the same leap of faith. To look in the mirror and say: “Yes I freakin’ can.”
The strangest truth is that as each one of them would leave for, or return from their adventure – they would thank me for the inspiration. Little did they know that I was inspired by their stories too.
We are all one and the same, after all. There will always be times in our lives when we are frightened, lonely and filled with self doubt. It is no easier for one person to take the leap than another, and in reality the process we all go through is the same. Whether we are running 5km or running the length of a country. The set of emotions rock up to the fear-party take the same ugly form.
And so I thought it was high time I shared their stories alongside my own on the site.
WHAT DO I HOPE WILL HAPPEN?
That Adventure Queens will take over the world, naturally. Or perhaps I am just hoping that in one of their stories you will see a little piece of yourself. Something specific about their journey that resonates with your own. A fear you have in common – of wild camping, of isolation, of solo travel, of… exercise?
And that then, perhaps, you will feel reassured that when it comes down to the bare bones of it – we are all the same. And you will at last take that leap. And do that thing (you know the thing I’m talking about) which you have been dreaming about for years.
WHAT SETS AN ADVENTURE QUEEN APART?
Adventure Queens are the real deal. They are curious travellers and explorers, but best of all they are willing to share their deepest darkest thoughts. What sets them apart is their willingness to be open and honest about all aspects of their journeys. Especially the ridiculous and irrational parts. And because I am lucky enough to call them friends, they have been kind enough to share these thoughts with a wider audience.
WHAT ABOUT THE ADVENTURE KINGS?
I hear you. I’m a tomboy after all. I grew up in a house full of boys and spent most of my childhood doing whatever the boys did. I didn’t begin this project with the aim of it to be solely aimed at females. I just seemed to have found myself surrounded by rookie adventurers with boobies. And I can only assume that’s because I have a set of them myself. Perhaps there’s something in there about the laws of attraction, or that these girls have felt more comfortable in asking for advice from a fellow She-rah.
Whatever the reason, it also has to be said that there are different obstacles to be overcome, according to your gender. I can’t comment on the male side, but whether it’s down to genetics, history or society, as a generalisation (and as one of them myself) I know that women just struggle that little bit more when it comes to the confidence side of things.
In the months and years to come I hope to add a male counterpart section to the site too. If you’re a budding Adventure King and need a nudge in the right direction or to share what’s stopping you from taking the leap, I’d love to hear from you.
MEET THE ADVENTURE QUEENS
It’s officially go time. It’s been months of work to gather their stories and I am so freakin’ excited to get to share them with you. I’ll be adding more as time goes by, but you can read about the Adventure Queens so far, or listen to their 20 minutes interviews via the links below. Get stuck in!
- Elise Downing: Cake eater running 5,000 miles around the UK Coast
- Susie Pike: Decided life was too short and cycled 5,000km across Australia
- Laura Maisey: Former couch potato who has decided to run home from Rome.
- Emma Frampton: Embarked on solo trips to hike Slovenia and cycle Cuba