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In the footsteps of Mark Beaumont: looking for pure adventure

I was watching Mark Beaumont with my wife the other evening.

In case you don't know, he's the guy who recently cycled the length of the Americas solo and, incidentally, climbing both McKinlay and Aconcagua in the same trip.

This was the third and final installment which covered his cycle through South America (the others being north and central America). Watching his progress on television you really could see that 2,000km of strong headwind and open desert nearly broke his spirit.

It was fairly harsh viewing at times because it really did seem that he was losing his mind.

Then he reached central Chile and climbed the highest mountain outside of Asia, in a bit of a rush. Then he got on his bike and cycled the last 2000km or so to the end of the continent. And there he was at the end of the Americas, alone, dabbing his hands in the cold water, bike propped up on the shore, tears streaming down his face.

My wife watched, head in hands, saying "Why would you do that?"

And that set me thinking. It didn't seem odd to me at all, it seemed like he had set himself an incredibly tough challenge but the fundamental 'why?' was obvious to me. It's the arrival.

A true adventure is unpleasant, until it's over. The arrival is the sweetest moment. It wipes the slate, takes away the negative.

History can be summarised as the study of continuity and change over time. I picture it as a spiral. Our normal, day to day lives are formed primarly by continuity with just a dash of change so the spiral is formed by wide, sweeping circles, slow to rise. A pure adventure is all about change and little to do with continuity. The circles tighten and the spiral shoots up rapidly until you arrive and your spiral regains some continuity.

Mark Beaumont is someone who has done something so hard, so extreme, so far out of the ordinary that he will have emerged from his adventure at a completely different altitude. That moment of arrival is the moment when he lets continuity, the 'ordinary', back into his life.

For the more sound of mind, we can indulge ourselves with an active holiday in stunning surroundings. I think it does the same thing, albeit on a much smaller scale. It's about surrendering yourself to a period of less continuity and more change. That's why you come back home from holiday feeling so good - I think you re-enter your life at a slightly different altitude.

That's all. Have a look at our active holidays if you fancy tipping the balance for a while.

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