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Editor’s Letter | The Journey Issue – July 2017

This month's long reads are designed to take you on a trip

Last weekend, I was driving to Bristol to go mountain biking with my friend Dan when my car broke down. Not once, but twice. On the way down the gear stick went scarily slack in my hands, and no amount of waggling could persuade the car to move out of first. On the way back, my drive was rudely interrupted by the horribly distinctive death rattle of a broken exhaust pipe dragging along the road. My heart sank.

Rather than wait for the RAC (and face the humiliation of calling them out for the second time in 48 hours) I decided to take matters into my own hands and bodged it, managing to strap the exhaust back to the bottom of the car with my bike chain.

How not to repair a broken exhaust. Photo: Tristan

I tell this story not as evidence of any sort of engineering genius (I am the least mechanically-minded person I know, and was hugely surprised that it actually worked) but because of how it felt. Overcoming a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, and going from intense frustration to pure elation in the process, was enormously satisfying. It was also strangely familiar.

It struck me that as adventure sports fans we experience this sort of thing a lot. We’re all obviously used to travelling physical distances, but the emotional journeys adventures take us on are just as significant. As Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, once said: “When everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts”.

Indeed, Dan and I had experienced the same range of emotions mountain biking the previous day when I snapped my chain (the same chain that was later MacGyvered into holding my car together) halfway through our ride. Fixing it and finishing the 20-mile loop made had made the whole experience all the more gratifying.

“Tom Owen’s car crashed through a border post, demolishing it in the process, and his driver was arrested.”

This month’s issue is all about journeys and most the stories it contains involve not just physical travelling, but also emotional ups and downs – all of which are far more extreme than what I experienced last weekend. Tom Owen’s brilliant story of cycling through Sierra Leone for example, begins with his car crashing through a border post, demolishing it in the process, and his driver being arrested.

Helene Diamantides Whitaker running the Dragon’s Back Race. Mark Brightwell pushed himself to the limit completing the challenge himself before interviewing the legendary ultra runner for this issue. Photo: Jon Brooke

Abi Butcher meanwhile fell down a crevasse on assignment this month. Thankfully she lived to write the tale, and the experience hasn’t put her off the mountains. In fact, she’s planning to move out there this winter – the culmination of a long journey away from London and the stresses of city life.

Elsewhere this issue contains the tale of Associate Editor Jack Clayton’s trip to Morocco to climb Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in the Atlas, and a fascinating interview with ultra-runner Helene Diamantides Whitaker, while our Three Days In… series focusses on a mountain bike trip to Galicia – a place pilgrims have travelled to for centuries.

“Abi Butcher fell down a crevasse on assignment for this month’s issue.”

Senior Editor Sam Haddad stayed a little closer to home for this month’s instalment of Great British Adventures, but looking at the photos that accompany her story you’d never guess. At times, she writes, it felt like she was paddling round the fjords of Norway than the Dorset coast.

Of course, knowing that she was in the English Channel didn’t diminish the sense of adventure – because although travelling physically can add to the experience, you don’t need to visit the ends of the earth to go on a journey. And I can say that with confidence, because I spent several hours of my weekend running through the full gamut of human emotions in a layby somewhere off the M4.

Here’s hoping this month’s stories inspire you to go on journeys that are just as intense, if slightly more exotic and exciting.

Mpora contributor Abi Butcher tackling an ice climb in Chamonix. She fell into a crevasse while on the mountaineering course. Photo: Michel Moreau

Enjoy the adventure.
– Tristan, Editor-in-Chief

To read the rest of July’s ‘Journey’ Issue head here

You May Also Like:

Breaking the Dragon’s Back | Ultra Runner Helene Diamantides Whitaker on Why Gender Doesn’t Matter
Potholes, Jails and African Trails | A Mountain Bike Journey Through War-Torn Liberia and Sierra Leone

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