Question time with Andy
National Three Peaks, why do it and what was your favourite moment?
Well, the National Three Peaks (see video here) was not my idea! Jaime started a thread on Facebook with about 5 or 6 people who all wanted to do the challenge. After a while the interest died down and Jaime said ‘let’s just do it’- So we did!
Quite weirdly, my favourite moment was when we were driving to Snowdon. It was around 3 in the morning and pitch dark, we were very tired and in need of a proper meal. Despite being utterly exhausted it made me feel so alive.
Which two events are you most looking forward to out of the ‘Big 5’?
I’m looking forward to the kayak a lot as it will be summer time and we’ll just be outdoors just paddling along, hour after hour. I don’t think it will be a particularly hard trip but I don’t think an adventure has to be hard to be meaningful. In my opinion an adventure can be anything which takes you to a new place or takes you on a new experience.
Number two is a hard one. I’m really looking forward to mine and peters' (Peter is my trusty steel training bike) trip from John O’Groats to Lands End. Plenty of comfortable hours in the saddle whilst taking in the scenery is massively appealing. However, there is another little event we’re planning. It’s cross-country skiing across a set distance, which, ideally will take about a week. I wish it was longer but annual leave only stretches so far. At the moment we’re undecided on the location but it will be definitely be lots of hours skiing every day and hopefully very cold!
As I have to choose one, it would have to be the skiing for its sheer sense of adventure and excitement. I mean setting off at sunrise, skiing for most the day then setting up camp. Yes please!
Where do you see the Y.A.C in 3 years time?
Downing Street, probably No. 10! I also hope we will have a buzzing community where people can get expert help with all their adventure related queries. In three years I also hope we will have had some experiences with the media (appearing in national magazines, etc.) and to also have a famous person writing for us every month.
Would you rather win an Olympic medal or three stages of the Tour de France, and why?
Hmm... Olympics every four years, Tour de France the ultimate bike race. Although an Olympic medal is a massive achievement I’m still drawn to the Tour for its eternal character, epic amount of stages and infamous climbs. Whether it would be sprinting it out on the Champs Elysees or going solo up Ventoux, the tour just does it for me!
In your opinion, who is the greatest Athlete of all time?
Being a tall and relatively heavy cyclist, I admire cyclists such as Fabian Cancellara and Magnus Backstedt who have similar uncharacteristic features to myself (most cyclists are much lighter and smaller in height). Then there are other exceptional cyclists such as Victoria Pendleton and Eddy Merckx. There are too many to mention!
I also take a lot of inspiration from athletes such as Mohamed Ali for his pure uniqueness, Pele for his unrivalled skill and ability and Steve Redgrave for winning a gold medal in 5 consecutive Olympic Games, a massive achievement.
My favourite athlete, however, is not a highly decorated one, his name is George Hincapié and in the sport of cycling he is known as a ‘Domestique’. Translated from French it quite simply means ‘servant’. A Domestique is basically someone that works their balls off for someone but rarely gets the opportunity to win a race or even get close to the top finishers. Domestiques like Hincapié are relatively unknown to the wider public but in cycling they are respected on a level second to none. You may have heard of a guy called Lance Armstrong who won seven Tours, Hincapié was the only rider to assist in all seven victories. He also worked for Alberto Contador in his 2007 Tour de France victory. Although Hincapié has notable victories of his own, his career is largely dominated by working for others glory and it is for these reasons why Hincapié is my favourite athlete.
Lastly and most importantly, in which ways are you most like Simon Cowell?
Firstly, Simon and I both have a thing for Cheryl! Other than that it’s probably our never changing hair styles. It’s most definitely not our bank accounts!
Question time with Jaime
Firstly, why on earth did you come up with the ‘great’ idea of walking from Oxford to Ampthill?
‘Great’… ‘stupidity’ makes more sense to most other people, but for Andy and I it was more of a silly pilgrimage we just had to do as soon as possible. And that’s what we did- agreed the earliest Friday which suited us both and set off. It’s fair to say we both love Oxford (our university home and now my permanent home) and both love Ampthill (the town we grew up in), maybe we just weren’t sure about all the places in between? We’d made the trip before hundreds of times in vans, buses and bikes but following the Three Peaks we needed another challenge for the legs. In hindsight we were fairly wreckless setting off at night and after being awake a full day prior (something which may have led to Andy’s later hallucinations); also with the limited training we’d done. Despite both being fit and active we’d written off walking as “you can always keep walking, right?” This isn’t strictly true and was in fact horrible realising we were on a route the distance of two marathons. Anyway we made it, just about, 55 miles in around 16 hours.
Despite vowing never to do it again, we’ve both signed up for the Oxfam Trailwalker, even longer, but at least not in dank November.
Which two events are you most looking forward to out of the big 5?
I can honestly say all of them! They all differ immensely but I’m determined in achieving all of them. My favourite due its complex logistics and travel is the 5 marathons in 5 countries in 5 days. The idea of turning into a cramping mess in the back of my campervan for 5 nights truly scares me but anything’s achievable when you realise ‘nothing great is easy’.
Channel swimming would be my second, simply due to its sheer monstrosity. With a 10% success rate and the pure sense of man against nature, this is something I knew I had to do once I had the thought. More people have climbed Everest than crossed the Channel and the rarity of an event is something that definitely only strengthens my urge.
How is your training for swimming the channel going?
Wet… It’s going well. I recently committed to doing it as soon as possible in 2012, firstly to fit Olympic year, but mostly due to cost factors. I swim regularly in the pool but more excitingly am gaining weight and plunging into rivers, lakes and seas in an attempt to really learn the art of outdoor swimming. I’ve gathered information from a number of useful sources (Channel Swimmer’s Association & Outdoor Swimming Society) and will be really stepping the training up later this year and throughout 2011. Failure is not an option I’m afraid.
Where do you see the YAC in a year’s time?
In a year’s time I know where I’d hope to see the Y.A.C. and that is truly being a useful resource. Somewhere that people can come to read about things they have an interest in, look for inspiring adventures or simply need to offload their sense of achievement having accomplished something. It’ll take a lot of hard work and will definitely take longer than a year to be the finished article I imagine, but myself and Andy are committed to this.
On a practical side maybe entering a Y.A.C. team into some of the countries biggest events would be a truly beautiful thing to see.
In your opinion, who is the greatest explorer of all time?
Ha, I love this question. I regularly have this debate in my head but have got to the point where I just have to give them all the dues they deserve and admire their strengths. I like to read books by explorers and it’s perhaps the quickest way to gain insight into what an adventure would really be like.
Ranulph Fiennes continually manages to put me on and off of Arctic/Antarctic expeditions. I love all of Benedict Allen’s books. He is much more of an anthropologist but a truly inspiring one and leaves the gadgets behind (a particular skill I appreciate). Achieving the things he has at such a young age makes me firmly believe in a ‘wandering spirit’, something some of us must just be born with.
The story (and film ‘Into the Wild’) of Chris McCandless is something I felt an understanding with. And again on a completely different tangent John Steinbeck’s ‘Travels with Charley’ is where I see my life heading.
It’s all very interesting and something I’d be happy to discuss late into the night but as long as they inspire you to go out and do it for yourself, hopefully in an original manner, in my eyes they’re alright!
If pushed, currently Ranulph’s grit, will and dedication to a good cause puts him at the top of my leader board. I haven’t even mentioned the old schoolers who did it all in woollen pants, relied on Whiskey and didn’t even have the choice to use GPS tracking.
Lastly and most importantly, Should Cheryl Cole get rid of Ashley?
Yes! (Cheryl has since divorced Ashley and is now pals with some pretty boy!)