Most definitions of adventure I found include the words risk and hazardous. The American Heritage dictionary defines the noun adventure this way; “an undertaking of questionable or hazardous nature.” If I choose to accept this definition of adventure I must conclude that the adventure travel industry or many of our bike rides are rarely about adventure. Most people want adventure without risks, hazards, discomfort or the element of the unknown. In other words they want adventure without adventure.
Why do so many people seek adventure?
Because folks are bored of their everyday. As a western culture we have slowly but surely eliminated a great deal of risk or perception of risk from our lives. As creatures who have evolved with biological responses to risk, many of us have a natural desire to obtain endorphin and adrenaline rushes that come with risk taking and must indulge in habits/activities that exist beyond the realm of the mundane and the day to day.
Vacation vs Adventure
Vacation: A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest or relaxation. That’s OK, sometimes a bike trip or a hike/excursion is simply a wonderful vacation. An adventure on the other hand MUST be unusual, exciting and possibly dangerous. How do you know if you are in the midst of an adventure? Ask yourself these questions; Am I out of my comfort zone? Am I pushing my physical and mental limits? Am I taking a risk?
We grow and become our best selves when we take advantage of new adventures. As human beings we default to the familiar. In fact, even when we get a little inkling that we should try something new, our minds quickly shuts it down. Approximately 42% of Americans can’t remember the last time they attempted adventure. Sharing adventures with others makes them more enjoyable. Experiences versus accumulation of material things makes us happier in the long run (that’s not research based, I just made that up).
Adventure involves creating a story. . . a story to remember, a story to be told and shared. Everyone has a story, but I happen to think the adventure stories are the best. When I think back and try to recall and catalogue my many adventures, most of the good ones have a story.
“Bad Route-cyclocross with Andrew Bouchard” “Lost Cyclist in Tuscany Italy with Dave Chamberlain” “”Bonking badly in Packington, Quebec with Matt and Pierre.” “Big black bear waiting to eat me- solo ride around Long lake” “Alpe d’Huez climb with Matt Michaud” “FARM Ride and Vermont with Mike Chasse” “L’Eroica with Brian, Dave, Noah and Silvio” “6 gap and D2R2 – enough said” ….and the list could go on and on!! What’s important to note is that most adventures include doing them with good friends or folks that will undoubtedly become good friends.
Perhaps one of my greatest adventures didn’t include a bike at all. This past March a very good friend Pete McCorsin convinced me to climb Mount Katahdin. . . in the winter!! Planning and executing such an adventure requires expertise and trust of a guide like Pete and allowing yourself to get out of your comfort zone. There was plenty of fear, risk, fatigue, suffering and focus. On more than one occasion during that trip I found myself saying: “what have I gotten myself in to?” WHAT A BLAST.