🔅The Birth of Chalkie's Adventure
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
“Your life laying before you like a blank page. It's the one thing I miss about getting older, I miss that beauty of that blank page.
So much life in front of you.
Its promise, its possibilities, its mysteries, its adventures.
That blank page... just laying there.
Daring you to write on it."
Springsteen on Broadway 2018
‘Chalkie's Adventure’ reflects exactly that. At the age of 23 the beauty of the blank page is still in the palm of my hand, up until this point those pages have been writing themselves. Last year a wise lady told me: ‘Responsibility isn’t given. Responsibility is taken.’ It’s time to take responsibility for my life and carve my own path. Ok - I could've settled for an easier, more comfortable avenue, another so called 'dream' to fill in the gap. But in truth, it would have merely clouded my core vision and would have meant settling for less; is that the way I want to live my life? In the short term I could see this working - long term not so much. I don't want to look back at just blank pages. Instead I want to fill those pages full of experiences, challenges, learning and love...and so, ‘Chalkie’s Adventure’ was born.
When I was younger my parents would tour France with their caravan - I loved it, but looking back I didn’t fully appreciate this form of travel. At the age of 16, probably the last holiday in France I had with them, I turned my attention back to cycling (after my first passion football, had subsided). I remember that summer vividly: being on the bike daily, heading out solo and feeling a sense of freedom like never before. Even then I began to see how important exercise was for me mentally (as well as for the pins and the peach of course).
As years passed, there was always an inner calling - when things got tough (life) my head told me to get back on the bike. More and more I recognised the positive impact the bike created in my life. Therefore, I began to wonder if other people had a tool like this; for my mum and sister it’s a book and for my dad it’s walking his dogs. We all need time to ourselves and a form of escapism.
I recently watched a movie called ‘Green Book’ (give this a watch if you haven’t seen it yet). Viggo Mortensen’s character states: “The world's full of lonely people afraid to make the first move”. For me, fear has been a positive driving force rather than an inhibitor. Recently, on a training ride over the North Pennines I had a mechanical issue just as dark was setting in. I thought 'Brilliant!'. In a strange way, I want and need challenges like this and knew lessons were to be learnt... Within 15 minutes six kind strangers passing in their cars offered to help or even provide a lift home - six times I was offered the easy way out! Going back to the point, which was 'fear', my fear is getting stuck like this on my trip with nee soul around to help. On choosing the rough route, i.e. fixing a bike in the snow and now, pitch black, gave me greater confidence in my own skills, heightened determination and in all, good preparation for the challenge ahead. Finally, and most importantly the experience confirmed my belief that 99.9% of people are there to look out for one another (key frame of mind for my world cycle).
Flip the coin and now over to the smooth alternative. If I'd taken one of the many lifts offered, I would have been rescued and warm (short term reward). On the other hand my bike would remain broken, the ride incomplete and my confidence weakened. Sometimes the rough path offers more gains than we ever imagined. I'm not saying to apply this to every walk of life and hell, sometimes the smooth option is the best option. With the world at our finger tips (literally) it's so easy to follow suit or take the easy route. But sometimes, avoiding discomfort is denying yourself space to grow as a person - why not take the challenge on next time? Go make the first move.
My mum told me that the 20s are your selfish years, time to look after yourself (or rather, learn how to) - then you’ll learn how to look after others. At 22 (i.e. last year) I assessed where my life was going. Truth be told I had no clue where I wanted to be; unlike my sister (a solicitor), who knew from very early on what and where she wanted to be in life, one of the lucky ones! I envy those people. Then again I don’t. At the moment, I love the fact I don’t know what’s around the next corner (rather like my favourite type of cycling) or what this year’s adventure has in store. As long as I’m doing things that are challenging and I’m enjoying it, the rest will work itself out.
"It'll be reet."
G Pattinson 2018
This leads me to the ‘GO BE YOU’ subtitle. It is what it is, don’t listen to what others think or say is the correct path and go forge your own. This year’s challenge is about seeing and learning firsthand; I want to see the world by bike because I know I can do it and know I’ll learn a lot more from a year on a bike than a lifetime sitting reading about it. If I told you that I’ve been more anxious about designing a website and a blog than being out on the road alone would you believe me? The road…I can handle, the website and blog were new challenges but are things I wanted to do to share and document my experiences. Sharing the experience is probably one of the best things about travel – sharing something with someone else lasts a lifetime, enabling you to create a clearer picture of the moment when revisited. With past solo experiences I have struggled to reflect and remember what I’ve done, that’s why with ‘Chalkie’s Adventure’ I want to keep a travel log, blog and share via Instagram/Facebook stories. Simply because, for me, this adds value to the experience.
Finally, Why the Name: ‘Chalkie’s Adventure’?
The name has a direct link to my family. Originally the nickname was given to my dad, having the surname White, when working in the fire service. Also, my mum worked in education when the tools of the trade were chalk and blackboards. Hence today, immediate family and friends still refer to us as The Chalkies… I therefore thought it was a good name with meaningful connections.
‘Chalkie's Adventure’ is therefore about being true to who you are, listening and questioning yourself (I thought cycling around the world was just a pipe dream and so did others I told).
‘Chalkie’s Adventure’ is my Everest, so let’s go climb it!