The Meaning of Adventure
To start with, my 2 cents on the Ripley Meeting: my 1rst time there.
I really enjoyed it and OK maybe a bit pricey but it is England.
And I really want to hear the talks.
Plus the Marquee was maybe quite pricey but with all the rain turned out to be a good thing to have.
And I think sure, can have an even more remote meeting venue, but I'd rather spend my time and effort traveling to a really remote place of my choice to do my own thing. So a bit of convenience is OK.
This post was sparked off by Austin Vince's talk on "Heroes of Adventure Travel". He said some interesting things but some I don't agree with.
I agree that "Adventure Travel" has become a bit of an abused term, quite commercialized, but so what? Why does that hurt?
I think you can have an "adventure" if you're a 14 year old kid with some mates who head off down a road on BMX's for a few days camping rough.
You don't have to be the first person to climb some 8,000 meter mountain to be an "Adventurer".
It's all relative.
Sure if you go to some place that to YOU is "remote" and "adventurous" then it is perhaps easier for the people at home to define it as an adventure. But to the people who live there? It's not an adventure for THEM to do everyday what you are calling an adventure.
Say they go down this rough road on a small Chinese bike, in the mud etc etc. That's just going to the store for them.
So then you go down the same road on the same bike and it's now OK to call it an "adventure"?
Well, because for YOU it IS an "adventure". That's great.
And I don't think we should really spend much time taking the piss out of fellow adventure riders who own big German motor bikes and can afford to buy state-of-the-art protective gear. OK, can joke a bit: I mean I joke about KTM owners. Or Harley owners.
But I think it's the spirit of the whole thing counts.
Going on a Journey, that's it.
It's ALL "Adventure", maybe just some are more hectic adventures than others.
And "making a difference" by being friendly to people for sure is great.
Good point Austin.
But to REALLY make a difference, if that's important to you, then I think the money spent on a trip, petrol burned etc etc would make more of a difference by supporting "Doctors without Frontiers", or "Engineers without Frontiers". Or even supporting some basic first aid/pharmacy supplies.
So sure, wearing an open face makes it easier to smile at people, but I don't think it's such a big deal to be a bit Darth Vader if that gear works better for you. Just remember that you DO look like Darth's brother and take off the helmet whenever you want to connect with people.
But if you are riding on bad roads and you and your bike part company I'd rather be wearing Darth's armor and helmet than a people friendly open face and a cool jean jacket with tassles.
But each to their own.
I'm a white water kayaker as well as a climber. The same arguments go on about there about who the real hard core people are. But you know, I think it's better to share the general experience with others and if they don't end up going to places that are defined by some as hard core adventure destinations, well, there's always some one-up-man-ship. No matter what you've done, someone else has always done something even more extreme.
And it doesn't matter: just get on your bike and ride.
I went down the East Coast of Afrika, not the West. I did add on a detour thru Southern Sudan to Uganda that was "interesting" tho. I rode a big BMW (an HP2) and had a Darth Vader helmet (that got cracked and bashed trying to fly off a 2 m cliff, and then on a few huge potholes in the land mined road: I'm REALLY glad I didn't have an open face!!). Was it an "adventure"? Well sure, it was to ME.
Anyway, this is not an attack on Austin, but he made some evocative comments that he's no doubt earned the right to say because he's done a bit of riding and even more important, made it available to the rest of us to serve as an inspiration. And it DID inspire me. Well done.
But I don't agree with some of his basic precepts in his talk so here's my rebuttal.