People that go on extreme adventures

Something that always fascinates me is the people that go on extreme adventures

There is the story of Ernest Shackleton who had the misadventure of trying to cross Antarctica (in 1915)

More recently I was reading about the adventures of 6 women who rowed across the pacific (3 made the entire trip and 3 others made partial trips)
They went from San Francisco to Hawaii to Samoa to Cairns, Australia

Their boat was only 29 ft long and it took the women (ranging in age from 21 to 41) 259 days of rowing to make this 8446 mile trip.
Most of them had very little rowing experience before starting this training and trip. They would row in 2 hour shifts, 24 hours per day.

It was for cancer research. Reading their blogs, I got the impression that in addition to being very stubborn and single-minded in pursuit of this goal, the other main reason for this was to exceed the limitations of the mind and body. (ie go beyond what one thinks is possible)

The girls in their blog said that once the started rowing, they got into a mode where almost nothing would stop them. (Sort of like the feeling of euphoria that you can do anything)
Interesting reading their blog in that there was a period of 60+ days where they saw no other ship or plane. Another point where a shark stalked/trailed them for weeks.

It turns out that it was not really the rowing physically that was the challenge. more of the distance travelled and the obstacles encountered (storms, flying fish, sharks, time away from their families, etc) that was the hardest to accomplish

It just fascinates and inspires me to read about this and their motivations.

On a similar and more personal note, the son of one of my friends last year led a group of cyclists riding (for cancer again) over 4000 miles from Austin, Texas to Anchorage , Alaska. What surprised me is that the girls in the group outnumbered the guys and they could ride as well as the guys did . I joined the group for one leg of 50 miles and that almost burned me out. To think of doing that almost every day for 70 days boggles my mind.

These stories always fascinate me.

One of the few life goals, bucket list if you will, that I have not accomplished, is to ride across country. I have a few friends who have, and I believe several posters here have done it.

I have done week long rides where we average 100 miles a day but not for several years now.

Nothing like the rowing you described.

Similar dream to go cross country (well, the west coast to Michigan). I’m going on a 600 km trip over the week of the fourth, and it will be my first real road tour. I did a 177 km followed by a 50 km the next day a couple of years ago, but this time, no support, my car won’t be within riding distance after the day, and so on. I know it’s nothing like what those ladies accomplished, but I damn sure expect to feel like those ladies after achieving it!

You might enjoy Deep Survival, which talks about people who have survived such extreme adventures. Some undertook those adventures by choice, some did not. One of the interesting things that I recall is some people report experiencing a kind of serenity during parts of their experience, even when the future was highly uncertain. There was mention of Shackleton’s men reporting, during their months marooned on the Antarctic ice, that they were the happiest they had ever been.

People who voluntarily undertake such adventures, I suppose, are looking for a piece of reality. Not a painless video game, or a sanctioned marathon with first-aid stations and water every half-mile so you can fail gracefully, but an experience where your choices may have large and lasting consequences for your physical well-being. In other words, your choices have meaning. Do or Die, literally. The annual Isle of Man TT motorcycle race comes to mind.

When motorcycles race on a track, the pavement is smooth and level, and the corners have large gravel aprons to slow down crashed riders and padded barriers at the far end to bring them to a relatively gentle stop. OTOH, the Manx TT is run on public roads: there are violent bumps and dips, curbs, stone walls, cliffs, fences, and wild animals. In the hundred years it’s been running, they’ve averaged three deaths per year. And still every year the riders line up to compete.

A friend of mine has climbed all 7 summits (highest on each continent) and skied to the North and South Poles. She still enjoys mountaineering but doesn’t feel the need to do any of the big ticket items anymore.

Several friends have biked across the US, or hike the AT, PTC, or CDT, and those appear to be more “journey” rather than “event”. They tend to keep at the long distance adventures. What most folks don’t really see is the day-to-day boring details of essentially repeating the same thing over and over.

Thanks for the reference for the book

Just set aside two weeks and you’re good!

And probably some time for training.

I have a friend who did that last year. Solo. What a fucking crazy thing to do!