Monday, June 08, 2009

Pedalling Uphill Slowly

Many years ago, I went on a bicycling trip with my brother and a couple of friends. We cycled and bickered our way around the north of Scotland for a couple of weeks, then came home again. I was so impressed with myself that I wrote up my adventures in a book, Pedalling Uphill Slowly, and thus began my first foray into the literary world.

The book has never been properly published. You can download it as an eBook from the devildog website if you want, and there are a dozen hardbound private editions in existence (I'd say Vanity editions, but the exercise was undertaken to commemorate the life of Francis Forsythe-Yorke, one of the two friends on the expedition, who sadly died when he was just 26). I keep telling myself that I'll self publish the thing properly, but so far I've not managed to get that organised. Maybe one day.

I still think it was quite an achievement, for someone as unfit as my twenty-something self, and I look back on that journey with a kind of morbid nostalgia. But it is as nothing compared to the exploits of Mark Beaumont.

Mark, some of you may recall, recently bicycled 18000 miles around the world in 195 days. Not content with doing that, he's now bicycling from Alaska down to Southern Argentina, following the spine of mountains, the Cordillera, that form the Alaskan Ranges, Rockies and the Andes - none of this mucking about on the flat stuff. In addition, he's also going to climb the two highest peaks in the chain (and the continent), Mount McKinley and Aconcagua. Right now he's halfway up McKinley, and enjoying unseasonably warm and wet weather.

This mad trip nearly didn't happen. Mark was due to be part of a team attempting to break the world record for rowing across the Atlantic, but apparently their boat sank following a freak shark attack. Then his idea for bicycling down the spine of the world was almost scrapped when Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman said they wanted to do it on motorbikes.

Charley and Ewan's trip was cancelled, or at least postponed, at the last minute, and Mark's trip has had to be hurriedly rescheduled and reorganised to fill the gap. How do I know all this? Well, Mark's Events Co-ordinator, planning and logistics expert, manager and mum, Una, lives in the cottage on my parents' farm. It was mission control for the round the world trip and continues to be the hub for the latest adventure.

I'll be following Mark's progress closely over the coming months, and will probably bore you with occasional updates. But if you'd like to find out more for yourselves, follow the links above and give him all the support you can.



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