The items I’d always take on an adventure…

1,
SOCKS, seriously. You’ll be on your feet and using them loads. Always pack a spare pair. You can use them as mitts, to filter water, stop bleeding (with the elasticated band), to support a damaged knee… You get the picture right? They are useful, and if nothing else use them as sock puppets! Perfect on adventure down days!!

2,
Wide neck clear bottle, again so many uses! Yes for water, but the better bottles can take boiled water too, if your not too weirded out you could use it as a wee bottle (guys) you don’t have to get out the sleeping bag/tent useful for mountain/high altitude antics.. You can even tie string around it throw it in a river to try and catch fish….

3,
Para cord, seriously do I need to go into its possible applications? It weights sod all, takes up no room! Why go without it?

4,
Knife! REALLY? Comes in super handy for opening your M&S sandwich on cold mornings, or spreading hummus on your gluten free focaccia..

5,
Map/guide of the area this can come in many forms, iPhone, OS map, GPS or route guide. Always best to carry a paper back up with the ever growing tech thats available these days!

6,
Hat, stopping for rest or to figure out your route. Keep the warmth in, has other uses too. Keeping bum dry if you need to sit on a cold/wet surface. Can be used to soak up/stop bleeding. A simple beenie can be a game changer.

7,
Head torch/light, these pack down to nothing and have the obvious uses! (No, I trust you I’m not explaining!) DON’T SHINE IT YOUR EYES!!

8,
Leave something behind, a day, weekend or week. Plan, tell people about the plan.

For days walking, time left car where your going, route, how many, age,health conditions, phone and time due back. This vital info can save time and lives. Pop it on your dash board so cars left late in the day or over night can be easily checked. And no, thieves won’t care, they’ll steal your stuff regardless…

Same again for weekends, no hard with giving this info to rangers or informing mountain rescue they’d rather know and advise than deploy a team of 16 people, put them at risk because you didn’t plan.

Weeks & further.
Expedition plans are not daft and stupid, basic routes, hospitals, food points, shops for spares/villages and possible places to stay and details of possible extraction points (transport out!) do this on a simple day by day basis and cover basics such as important medical info (in language of country your in) do plans for estimated daily distances and for worst case (target 80 miles, bad day option of say 60)

Yes I know there is also visa and many other things to think about too! I’m Trying to help you think of basics…

9,
Skills, carry those. If your going to plan a trip include cost of training. Map reading, first aid, a bush craft weekend, what ever it is get skills. Better to look stupid in a safe place where your their to learn than in dangerous place where it could go horribly wrong…

10,
Carry flipping kit appropriate for the adventure you are doing!! Get comfortable with leaving stuff behind, packing too much can be the downfall of a trip too. But do remember this is a skill, knowing what you can do without isn’t pot luck, it’s time taken gaining experience.

I’d love to know what you’d carry, what you’d leave behind, what you’d take! I know this has some seriously obvious items missed off like iPad (joke!) I mean first aid kit, but no point taking one without the skills to use it, is their?

Happy & safe adventuring!

Russ.

Thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro? Here’s my tips to help you along..

Kilimanjaro, it’s an unforgettable experience, one of the seven summits (highest mountain on each continent) is the worlds highest free standing mountain and one of few places on earth you can see 5 landscapes in one place.

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Memories are made here, friendships are born and self worth is found. A place where not just the fittest and strongest survive.

GET IT BOOKED

Do it, don’t sit keep waiting for the right time or a special date in your life. GET IT DONE. Get it booked early anything upto 18 months is quiet normal lead in time, to get ready buy the kit, get fit. And pay for the dam thing! If your fit and have kit then a few months lead in is fine!

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Train, train, train.
For 8-9 days you’ll be on your feet 10 hours a day. Can you do that? Give it a go, walk all day. Miles in the tank speaks volumes, and yes course it’s a mountain but you don’t need a year of climbing big scary dangerous mountains. You can train on local hills and slowly add weight to a bag a 20l pack will do! You can also use a treadmill on incline, but nothing beats being outside.

Breathing will be important to open up the lungs and get quick recovery going you can sprint between lampposts then reduce it to a jog for the next lamppost.

Have you ever?

You’ll most likely be camping for 8 days. So have you done it before? Sounds daft, but sleep is so so crucial to success here.

Get sleeping outside, book weekends away where you can use a camp site as the base to walk from, Peak District and new Forrest are both perfect places to give this a go. You don’t have to have camped for the full duration but do concider a week.

Weight and traveling.

Weight, your tour operator and guide will give you a 15kg weight limit. Your flight will give you a 20kg allowance. Take as much as you can and strip it down and leave it at your hotel. This is a standard practise with the guides to make sure they get the packs light enough for porters to carry, and they do weight the bags at your entry gate to the mountain….

Also in your day pack (hand luggage) carry a days or two of clothes and wear your boots! Just in case they lose your main bag you can still walk and have bare minimum clothing. You can rent everything else there! Also pack your electrical items in hand luggage too! And don’t forget to take spare batteries, it gets cold which drains Battery life. You might even go as far as renting a nice camera, we cannot all afford a posh one!

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Snacks.

Fuelling is ever so important. You shouldn’t be trying to eat weird sports type stuff, unless that’s your normal diet. As you’ve weight to use pack flap jacks, nuts and dried fruit. And maybe electrolytes too, great for keeping your body going….

Sleeping.

There’s nothing more important! SERIOUSLY PEOPLE! As above in in three, get your sleeping nailed, be happy with the kit and make sure it’s warm enough. You can rent a good sleeping bag these days so no issue, but, you need to get some love action with the sleeping matt! Try plenty of different ones, borrow from friends, buy second hand, get the right kit.

Medication/inoculations & Diamox, yea I said it!

Now I’m no doctor or in anyway had medical training, so do seek professional advice here gang. Personally unless you are on medication DON’T take any with you. I personally wouldn’t be happy using Diamox, but, you’ll be paying (or should be) for a suitably medically trained team member to be on the team and they WILL assess and make a decision..

Inoculations, unless you’re well traveled its a fair few jabs to get done and you NEED to get them a few months before you go, so spare the stress and get them booked up quick, also this can be costly so factor this into your trip budget, yes budget!!

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That’s me folks, thanks for reading. I hope some of it is useful. If you’ve not booked yet the big travel companies give an ok service, BUT, fundamentally they use local guides and are just taking a big profit, you can find smaller outfits that do land cost only and use the exact guides and porters. That also gives you control over your flights and when you come and go! Good luck, and if you’ve any questions please drop me a message!

Russ.

It’s not you, it’s me. Seriously.

It’s strange sometimes how things can affect you; it’s taken me the best part of seven months to get my head around but as 2015 draws to a close I’ve spent more than half of it with anxiety of being around people and in crowded places.

I can put my finger on why, I know exactly what’s caused it and my close friends will know. I realised a fair chunk of time back when I was sat in a pub with pretty much my close friends getting ready to hit a inner London Micro Adventure up, and well, it swept up over me and I just couldn’t describe it I just didn’t feel like I could stay, I left on my own making up some wildly strange excuse. As soon as I’d left the pub and I was along it was gone.

This is the first time I’ve mentioned it to anyone other than my Partner, I couldn’t be sure when it would pop up and to what extent, some days I’d be fine others I wouldn’t be able to leave the house, mostly I’d just get to the shop at the quietest time grab some bits and head home behind the security of my door…
The easiest time I’ve had all year is alone on my scoot, the fact that I didn’t really see or chat to anyone wasn’t an accident I’d gone out my way to avoid people or places what so ever… or being in the wilderness with Jana that’s been my saviour for the year I must say.

2016 is going to bring its own self-imposed challenges, I’m still recognising new parts of my behaviour that are of a result of how I’m feeling. Shopping seems to be a sticking point where I’m at the buying the bare minimum and getting out of there ASAP.

I only decided to share this as I’m weekly forcing myself into these situations that make feel anxious in fact as it’s that festive season and as I’m typing its that time RIGHT NOW to go and put myself in that place again.

I’m not watching over my shoulder anymore, and I’m in a safer place now, a place that’s letting me grow in confidence as a person I feel secure again.

So, If I’ve said I’ll come to something this year and been a party pooper my apologies you now know why. I guess it’s not you, it’s me…

Top five tips for getting cycling in 2016.

My five tips for your 2016 cycle campaign:

1,
If you’re about to buy a bike and start riding whether it be to work for or fitness don’t worry about the weight too much, build the leg strength now and that next bike upgrade will see massive speed and smile gains! It’s kind of like a bike YTS, we all started on a rubbish or mediocre bike, even the pro’s so bide your time and learn the craft on a solid stable machine.

2,
If you’re commuting DON’T ride clip in’s there really is no point you’ll spend as much time messing around clipping out and in at junctions! I still debate using clip in’s for the commute. You can buy pedals with clip in on one side and flats on the other if you must give it go. And if you do, break steady and early for stopping and clip out with plenty of time! Hitting the deck clipped in hurts your pride far far more that your body!

3,
RIDING ON THE DROPS! A Pet hate, I see so many new riders in the city and out and about riding on the drops and bouncing around struggling and fighting with the bike. Stay up on the hoods and after a few months if you must, find a quiet park to practise moving from hoods to drops and back over and over.

4,
Gear, it’s tough this time of year sticking to a cycle commute so to help keep that promise to yourself invest in the warm winter gear even on warm days that wind chill can really hit you! And now’s the time to buy, with the January sales in full force. OH, I should add lights too, yes lights. I use them day and night being seen is no joke. Always carry them and buy USB rechargeable ones so you never get caught short.

5,
Butt Butter, WHO KNEW! I was told about these magical products 700 miles in to a 900 mile cycle trip once the arse-biscuits had already set it, I didn’t have time to find a bike shop to get some but have been told they work wonders for the more shall we say delicate areas. Chaffing’s not cool in anyone’s book! AND, use god damn padded cycle shorts/leggings too, they seriously help.

6,
Carry spares! There’s nothing nice about being stood on the road side with a puncture with no spares. And eventually the excuse for being late because “I had a puncture and didn’t have spares” does at some point run out…

Keep it simple: A hand pump, if you’re posh get an air cartridge jobie, tire levers, make sure they are tough, if you’re strange (like me) these can be used as spoons too! (or if you’re from up north, just use spoons as tire levers…….) TRUE STORY!

Where was I, oh yes, puncture repair kit, no bike owner should ever go without slightly stuck together fingers. They’re not heavy or take up much space so be sure to include it in your kit.

INNER TUBE, you might think just the repair kit will do. No, hell no, all sorts of witch craft happens once you’ve repaired a tube, the normal rules of life don’t apply. It’s very much belt and braces here people!!

Mini tool thing, yea you know the ones where nothing quite works properly you can never really use it like the real home tools, well, you need one, even if it’s to graze the skin off your knuckles that one time you’ll use it on a freezing cold morning.

Wake up you’re a cyclist we all have to go through this pain, this anguish. And for the record, yes thin surgical gloves for changing inner tubes are helpful. Oil, Grease and brake dust will survive a nuclear zombie apocalypse, still sat on your grips or bar tape..

7,
You might ask, a 7th? Yes last helpful tips. And on a serious note, take a read through the Cycle Highway code, yes whether you have a vehicular licence or not. PLEASE PLEASE don’t buy a bike and go jump straight on public highways. They are dangerous places at the best of times. And lastly, ask at bike shops and find out from the local councils about cycle maintenance courses, sometimes you can get a free course and its worth any cost you might incur in the long run, labour costs and waiting times for repairs could see you off your bikes for a few weeks, and no one needs to be that sad in life!

These all seem pretty simple idea’s but let’s face it with all the will in the world sticking to a new year resolution or even making one without the right equipment to keep you going can be so self-destructive. Don’t set yourself up for failure! I hope to see you out on two wheels full of smiles and happiness!

Ps, yes naming a bike and it being a boy or girl bike is expected of you. And yes we all talk to our bikes too… (looking for a friend here!)

Top tips for becoming an endurance space hopper….

Tips for becoming a endurance space hopper athlete!

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1,
SIZE, its all about what you’ve got between your legs. Make sure your space hopper is the right size for you. Under 5’9 you’ll want a 65cm. over 5’9 go bigger 85cm is the next size up…

2,
LOVE HANDLES….
Its horns or handles in this game baby! Holding horns can be dam hard work so chose carefully. Handles make less work and give you hold options…

3,
SMOOOTH!
Chaffing, you grip the ball with the back of your legs and your fore arms rub on the thighs, go long lycra if you can, long duration will cause baby smooth skin!!

4,
PUMP IT UP!
By default bouncing on a ball will make it deflate, it’ll need a pump up around every mile, so spares and a pump are good idea’s..

5,
Scratchy bum.
The hoppers underbelly will get seriously scratched up, think about the location and route of your journey! Also, hopping up hill is dam tough, stay on the flat.

6,
GO LONG, and high.
It’s almost impossible to just go long and low, length comes with height but be careful if you’re not fully in control you can easily get thrown off…

7,
FUEL
It’s a tough choice, drinking and eating whilst bouncing up and down can be daft just daft. Sip water and take small bites of food. Don’t take on loads of anything you’ll just throw it back up!
8,
Don’t underestimate how much fun this really is! And for £15, everyone should have space hopper!

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UK’s (if not the world’s) foremost expert on endurance space hopping (and how I came to be it)

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I hit the search button and google threw back its few results, many of which made me smile. 4.1 miles I thought, in 24 hours, how hard can that really be? I mentioned the idea as a silly one to a few friends, and friends being friends with the inclusion of a drink or two I caved in to agreeing to give it a go.

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A week later a very lovely looking box had been dumped on my desk, I peeked into it trying not to cause any general raising of eyebrows in the office. There he was, my bright red, smiley faced 65CM space hopper Keith (he’s got horns too!)

 

 

That evening I raced home and pumped him up to all his glory. There he stood proud, loud and dam happy. I think I’d be happy to be a space hopper, who could hate them? Then it struck me, HOW WOULD I TRAIN? WHERE WOULD I GO? The thought of spending a few hours bouncing around Blackheath made me realise this was indeed a foolish idea, the decision was made, wing it on the day (a standard practise for men you’ll find)
So, with a date set, a charity to raise funds for and my support team (my darling Jana, we’d been dating three months god knows what she was thinking) My birthday was the focus and why not, it’s not every day you plan to break a world record is it? As the last train pulled up at Charing Cross we hopped off and made our way to the arena of choice. It had to be somewhere flat where I could celebrate afterwards and where we could attract interest to raise funds for the charity.

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St James park, where else. 1.3 miles round the outside. Three and a bit laps and the record was mine. I set off at 1am Saturday morning, the idea being to not get seen in the dark and making a fool of myself was most appealing, but also to avoid blistering heat of Britain in late July. I set off at the gates on the mall 3/5ths of the way down going towards the Queens gaff, and by time I’d made it round to the first corner I questioned if one lap was at all possible let alone the record.

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The first lap alone brought tears, not from pain, but joy. Two rather interesting fellows approached us started chatting away and donated £8. They turned out to be homeless and gave us their evenings begging money, I rested on Keith and had a little cry. That act alone made my Birthday.

First lap down, many many more to go, with the sun threatening to slowly show its self I slowly very slowly bounced my way round my second lap. Jana, following close behind mostly laughing, calling me an idiot and taking pictures, below had to be one of my all-time favourites…

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Entering lap three and it was safe to say chaffing was an issue, the place where hair and layers of skin should be was now replaced with baby soft smooth raw skin, which as it goes wasn’t at all helpful… with the sun fully in the sky and now the added pressure of people watching and the sweat making Keith’s horns, well, moist.

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Other unforeseen issues had arisen, turns out the more you bounce on a space hopper the quicker the air comes out and the more out of shape they get. Repeated stopping and blowing up of Keith was a 30 minute regular rest break, making the going even slower. Luckily Laura showed up with a birthday cake which allowed me an official stop (everyone knows everything stops for cake, especially birthday cake) fuelled up and on I continued and soon came to know that eating after spending 10 hours on a space hopper and then space hoppering (is that even a word?) isn’t best associated with eating Birthday cake. After the long back straight where few people walked I got back onto Birdcage walk just this road and I’d turn down to finish my third lap and hit the 3.9 mile mark.

By now my friends were gathering, pressure was mounting and people were donating, taking pictures and generally looking confused….
After a rest at the three lap point the decision was made to beat the record and call it a day so I could bask in my glory, the route was mapped 0.4 miles. Down the Mall turn left like I had three time previously and past the raised gardens on the left and through my make shift toilet paper finish barrier!

I was broken, can you imagine squatting for what was now 12 hours (breaks excluded) then my Mr Motivator came along, a 10 year old boy in a wheel chair. Our eyes met and it was clear this was GAME ON, we lined up at the first tree I counted down and away we went. My start wasn’t at all of any Olympic space hopper standard and he beat me. “best of three” I said, he beamed at the chance to race and beat a fully gown adult on a space hoper, not once but twice. The tree lined mall made for a perfect point to point racing track, again we lined up, I counted down and before I could finish we was gone. The chance of me catching him up has he giggled and sped away, his little arms powering him along to his second and first illegal victory…

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Said adjudicator called it a false start so again we lined up, I had a second chance and after all I was getting race by race closer to Buckingham Palace. This time I’d got my game on and we were neck and neck until my all or nothing attempt, well, ended in nothing, nothing but me hitting the deck to cheers of the crowd. I’d not only been beaten but it was the world’s first test and proof that a wheel chair is faster than a space hopper. I dusted myself down and popped myself back on Keith, now I could hear the bustle of tourists at Buckingham palace; I’d gone through the record distance and was setting my own goals now.

 
As I bounced exhausted around the corner and through what seemed like a wall of giants my friends, my dam amazing friends had lined up and made me a finish line. The first time in my life I crossed a finish line in first place, I didn’t care if I was the only competitor all I could think was Bloody Idiot, I’m not doing that again, never again.

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It turns out sadly my information was in fact wrong, the record stood at 5.1 miles, I was gutted I’d had the wrong information and after stopping with still 9.30 on the clock to go I could, I’m sure have beaten that record. But I don’t know anyone that’s spent their 35th birthday or any birthday space hopping around St James Park for longer than some people might think they can run.

Some 18 months have now past, and, well I have unfinished business. Not with Keith mind, he wasn’t in the best of shape. But I tell you what, I have his brothers and I’ve not just learnt my lessons I’m now the uk’s if not the worlds foremost expert on endurance space hopping.

Read my hints on endurance space hopping HERE:

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It’s not the title I set out for but it’ll suit me fine, dam fine. I guess when you set out on a dream without realising you can create something you didn’t even know existed, so here’s to pursuing your dream no matter how big or how silly, if nothing else it’ll make a great story around the dinner table one day…..

 

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People who inspired me in 2015.

People who have been inspirations in 2015.

The list could be endless, but this has to be personal. People or organisations that have stood alone in their pursuits regardless of whether it’s a path no one else follows….

1, Possibly no surprise here but Sean Conway.

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Endlessly working hard at his dream , 2015 saw him continue to focus on his dream and doing all he can to chase it. Regardless of his adventurous achievements his attitude to dream chasing is one to take stock of. If you don’t know of Sean where have you been?! Follow here: @Conway_Sean 

2, Many of you won’t know of Stace Martin.

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I met him on a microadventure (Wendover I think!) but he’s impressed me each and every time I’ve spent time with him. Making the slow steady focused approach to changing his life . 2015 saw him take up cycling to work and keeping it consistent and to add to that also swimming 2-3 times a week. Over the winter break he completed his longest cycle micro adventure (solo!) smashing in a solid 35 miles soon after he confirmed he’ll be cycling LEJOG in 2016. A guy to watch for inspiration, get involved here: @iamstacemartin

3, Swifty Scooters.

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A family run business, the maker of the scooter that I rode from Lands end to John O’Groats. I love the passion and desire and they live up to one of my favourite sayings “Nothing can resist a will that will stake its existence for its fulfilment” They Moved from London to Manchester to start the business and raise a family a few years on and things are going from strength to strength. Again a true commitment to dream following, British design & innovation and legacy building…  @swiftyscooters

4, Simon & Julie Freeman.

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I first met this duo in 2014 at Berghaus trail running event, running freestak a endurance brand marketing agency. Since then they’ve gone on to build their team and started “like the wind” magazine a high end running magazine with a unique stance. They’ve been inspiring on both the personal and business front. If 2015 is anything to go by, 2016 will another huge year for them..  Find out more here: @likethewindmag

5, Peta Mc Sharry.

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This one, man. I remember meeting her on a hill late in 2014 and thought “ she’s a interesting one” an absolute cycling and light weight nut. If there’s a long distance self-supported cycle race then Peter’s done it. 2015 saw her break her wrist complete some French 1200km nonstop cycle race and at long last start to write her book. Possibly one of women’s most knowledgeable cyclists, period. Check her out on twitter @petaMcSharry

 

6, Dassi Bikes.

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I first came across Dassi in 2014 when I used one of their high end Carbon road bikes to my Hikebikerun Challenge. They way the work and the love for bikes took me back to being with my mates on our bikes. Innovation, engineering and passion for British will see 2016 be a key year for them and a game changer in the world of carbon bike building…

 

I could have put 100’s of people and a few companies that have inspired me, but personally these are the few who I doth my cap too..

Who are your inspirations from 2015? and why?