The internet is a wonderful place. Not only is it full of cats doing the funniest things, it also provides a welcoming home for bigots of every persuasion and a safe haven to every (un)imaginable perversion. The internet allows you to do your weekly shop without ever lifting a single lardy arse cheek from the settee you bought on-line. It enables you to talk to the world without having to speak to anyone and on the internet, you can find love without ever having to meet someone … like I say, it is a truly wonderful thing.
Something else the internet provides is an almost infinite pool of inspiration. It’s awash with stories of adventure; those extraordinary and some more ordinary. Far away lands with names you can’t pronounce, others in Wales with names you can’t pronounce and occasionally, adventure on the very doorstep of civilisation. Stories of brave men and women, confident men and women with no fear of failure and the ability to block out both searing pain and general unpleasantness. People who thrive on adversity, poke danger with a pointy stick and laugh in the face of almost certain death. Individuals who have transcended their mortal shackle, who can levitate simply by thought, breath under water like Marine Boy and cycle a thousand miles fuelled only by a lone fruit pastel … ooh hang on, I think I’ve got a bit carried away. What I meant to say was … Over the years, I’ve witnessed many people transform from ‘average Sunday rider’ into something far greater and much more accomplished. It’s true that often, these people have a common thread of traits woven into their character but they are human traits, not super-human. They’re more likely to possess perseverance and determination than they are the ability to walk on water or fly unaided.
Experience is the spawning ground of confidence. Twenty miles today is thirty miles next month and Sustrans this year could be the Himalaya next year. It won’t happen on its own, good things rarely do. It requires some effort and application but they’re things we’re all capable of providing. The next time you read the ‘tales of better men’ don’t simply gaze wistfully through the window and wonder what it would be like but instead, take a deep breath and pledge to become one.