Alastair Humphreys and the microadventure

Microadventure-infographic1JANUARY can be a bleak month for lovers of the great outdoors; the short days, the weather and the post-Christmas malaise inevitably always come crashing into each other.

But this collision is good, and in my case out of it comes an avalanche of ideas and plans for what to do in the coming year.

And in 2014 I’m going to follow the example of adventurer, author and motivational speaker Alastair Humphreys by having a microadventure (or two).

Late last year I came across a blog post from him about camping under the stars with just a sleeping bag and bivvy for protection from the elements.

How many of us have ever done such a thing?

I have, many years ago but it certainly wasn’t an intentional microadventure just youthful madness/craziness/stupidity.

In the early-1980s I worked in a cycle shop in the centre of Manchester and one summer myself and a couple of colleagues drove up to the Lake District one night after work in my Mini 1275GT to watch the original incarnation of the Bowness-on-Windermere town centre cycle races.

We were all keen racing cyclist, but that evening wasn’t about the bike it was about the beer. We watched the different category races from various points in the town with beer in our hands. And after the final race finished at around 9:00pm we then headed to the Royal Oak to sit in the car park-cum-beer garden to carry on drinking.

In those days all pubs rang last orders at 11:00pm with the drinker having 20 minutes to finish their tipple before being asked to leave.

This meant that by 11:20pm our evening was over other than for a wander and sit down on one of the boat mooring piers that stretch out like long thin fingers into Lake Windermere.

And then it was time for bed, which was a field just outside the town centre and next to the lay-by where my red and white Mini was parked.

We didn’t have tents, we had sleeping bags; but I don’t know why we didn’t have tents, I certainly don’t remember it being discussed. It was summer though, so sleeping in a field must have seemed a good idea. And we were all in our late-teens; invincible!

Even though we were all cyclists and 100-plus miles training rides were something we ‘just did’ and we never questioned our individual abilities to do such things I’m not sure we would have called ourselves adventurers, but looking back we were; albeit a bit naive.

That night, even in our collective drunken state, was awful. I remember we all woke up when the sun rose at about 4:30am with cows grazing nearby; cars trundling by, even at that early hour, and covered in bites.

We got in the Mini, all three of us, in our sleeping bags and tried to sleep until 8 o’clock which is when we assumed the cafes would open (we spotted one or two the previous evening) and we could then get breakfast. They didn’t open until 9.

Don’t get me wrong, that youthful microadventure was a truly great night and looking back I wish I had more.

Whatever microadventure I decide on doing this year, rest assured it’ll be far better planned than back in my late-teens and I’ll have far better equipment.

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