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  • The Bear

do or not do, there is no try..........

So as I mentioned in my first post I plan to set myself some 49 themed challenges and one is to read 49 books in my 49th year, I’ve always loved reading, I had read Lord of the Rings before I was 9. For some reason during the pandemic whilst others embraced there lockdown free-time with reading, I fell out of love with it and forgot how to read (metaphorically not literally of course) so I am looking forward to rediscovering it and sharing some of that with you all. Some will be new books I’ve not read before, some rereads of books that I have found inspiring and thought provoking some will be sports/coaching/travel related and hopefully some will be recommendations from you lot.

So kicking it off I have dived into a reread that I have read many times but always draw inspiration and motivation from and always find myself picking back up when I need that little nudge along in life which seemed fitting right now.

What happens when in a moment of madness you write a to do list, not just a to do list but the most extreme to do list imaginable, well the result is a list of the 13 most extreme sports you can imagine, of course like any to do list the aim is to tick the items off after completion. This is exactly what Michael Bane set out to do and then wrote the inspiring book Over the Edge, A regular guy’s odyssey in extreme sport, this was the first book I ever remember reading about extreme sport nearly 25 years ago. it is a gripping account of one man's journey into the world of extreme sports, a world where risk is a fact of life and death is always lurking around every corner. Bane's adventures took him over the edge many times and on a journey of discovery, where he has tackled hair-raising and heart-stopping challenges like Kayaking off waterfalls, Diving in treacherous underwater caves, Running a marathon in Death Valley you get the idea right some real crazy shit!

As said before Everyone loves a good list but his list of personal challenges tested him to the breaking point of body and soul. The adventures he exuberantly narrates are the extreme of the extreme and considering he couldn’t swim, wasn’t a climber and was scared of heights and didn’t own a bike etc, for most challenges he was starting from scratch. A saving grace was that he found good mentors and coaches to get him up to speed and he meets his share of fascinating fellow extremists, which gives a different slant to each adventure, one of whom describes the author as a man intent on journeying to a daringly engaging version of hell and back!

The List

1 Windsurf Big Air

2 The Kamikaze Downhill Race

3 Escape fro Alcatraz Triathlon

4 Whitewater off a Waterfall

5 Rock Climb

6 Cave Dive

7 Ice Climb

8 Skydive 9 Skate Marathon

10 Dive Really Deep

11 Bad Water Death Valley Run

12 Iditarod Bike Race Alaska

13 Climb Denali (the mountain)

When I first read Over the Edge all those years ago I hadn’t heard of most of these sports or knew the events existed, it was a whole new world to me. I had dabbled in down hill mountain biking as a sport in my late teens before it became really popular in the UK, I did a bit of recreational Kayaking as a sea scout in my early teens once kayaking across the wash which looking back now was pretty extreme especially when you consider we were a group of young lads putting our lives at risk without a risk assessment in sight. Of course things have changed a fair bit since then and maybe the book was a turning point in my life that changed my outlook, over the years I have found my self dabble with lots of different extreme sports or shall we call them hobbies, none of which I am an expert at by any means. Kayaking, Snowboarding, Mountain Biking, Climbing more recently Obstacle Racing and Endurance Running, there’s a fairly large list which might be for another post (there’s that list thing again...) I even studied Adventure at university as a mature student, a fairly big adventure in itself which led to a much bigger adventure as it’s where I met my lovely wife and accomplice in many of my adventures and journeys these days.

Bad Water Death Valley Run.

The author says that the list cost him 30 thousand dollars and a relationship (I dare say that he made it back in sales) but what he gained in life experiences must have been of a much greater value than the cost. Quite often we find ourselves living in the what is the cost mindset over what is the value. Generally we buy stuff over experience too, now don’t get me wrong I love buying stuff as my Amazon prime history would tell you, but more and more I prefer to have an experience and in recent years rather than the stuff me and my wife buy each other experiences, sometimes a day out, a weekend away somewhere new and on a couple of occasions I have lovingly surprised her with our first obstacle race and a triathlon for her to compete in, both of which as I am sure you can imagine she was delighted with...well maybe not immediately but as with all experiences they make memories which we can cherish and look back on.

Final checks before setting out on an expedition down the Wye whist at Uni.

The List as it comes to be called through the book was life changing for the author but also for a period it was life controlling, it literally took over his life spiralling out of control and everything he did revolved around “the list“. We all make to do lists, maybe never as extreme as this one but we do, in scrappy notebooks, on post it notes more and more in these techy times on our phones and tablets, we all usually have several on the go at any one time, some work, some personal, sometimes a mix of both. A bit of google research tells me on average most people have several lists often with up to 100 actions to tick off at any one time, wow that’s a lot of stuff to do. Are we all letting lists control our lives, is it out of control, will you ever finish a list or are lists always going to be consuming us. I recently had a conversation with a colleague at work who told me she only ever has 5 things on her list at any one time both work and personal totalling 5 objectives and she never adds a new one until she’s ticked one off as completed, I like her thinking, it certainly seems less overwhelming than the average 100!

The author did go on to complete his list and subsequently turn it into the book where this all started, and a good read it is too and one I would highly recommend if you can get hold of it. It might inspire you as it has me, you might find yourselves thinking about your own list or reconsidering if the many you already have are the most productive ways of managing your time. Consider if your ever really going to do your to do or not do there is no try!

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