We’ve all been there at one time or another in our lives – a little lost, seeking direction or inspiration. Some of us will look to loved ones to inspire and direct us, others will seek out life-coaches. And then there are those of us who will undertake some massive adventure in the hopes of finding ourselves, as well as enriching our lives by the people we meet.
Dave Gill of Vague Direction did just that – he headed off on an extraordinary 12,000-mile adventure, a loop around Canada and the United States, taking him from New York on to Florida, then on to California and up to Alaska. Before finally heading home for New York through the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Here’s a map of his incredible journey:
I caught up with Dave in mid-December of last year – 368 days later, he’s back in New York and he’s been nothing but busy since his journey ended.
– Why did you decide to take this bike tour? Was there a particular reason behind it?
Dave: “Honestly, it’s not a glamourous answer. I was pretty bored at work – being in the office most days and just looking out of windows a lot. I knew that for me to be happy, I couldn’t go on like I was doing, it wasn’t healthy for the body, or the soul, and I knew that adventures were calling.” And so, Dave decided to do something new – something radical. “I’d never cycled long-distance and thought it could lead to some fun experiences. The first day setting off on the trip, was my first day of cycle-touring, so it was kind of a shock to the system!”
– What lessons have you learned from being on the road? What have you learned about yourself?
Dave: “I learnt so much, the obvious side is learning about North American culture, but more importantly I learnt a lot about myself, about mentality, motivation, clarity, loneliness, intimidation, joy.
One of the big takeaways was that we have these pre-conceptions in our heads, about how people are probably really intimidating, or dangerous, or rude, and the reality is that they’re not. Almost everyone, whether ultra-successful or still ‘figuring it out’ is welcoming and fun to be around.
The other big thing is dealing with anxiety. It’s easy, especially on a solo trip, to kind of step into a cocoon and let everything pass by. I intentionally wanted to use this trip to get over my anxieties when it came to meeting with people I’d always dreamt of meeting, and being put in high-pressure, or uncomfortable situations and dealing with them. That all came from the bike trip – by being self-supporting and making it work for yourself, you learn that there’s not a lot you can’t do, and that intimidation is generally a load of BS.”
– Tell me about Vague Direction, how did you come up with the idea to document your journey?
Dave: “Vague Direction is my own doing. When you visit the site it’s fairly obvious there’s some sponsors involved, and those were companies who helped out with part-funding and gear.
I knew I wanted to keep a blog – one as a record, one as I’m a film-maker and wanted to try a new way of storytelling, and one because I’d never done a regular blog before but I read loads and thought – why not? And also, in hindsight, it’s by far the most effective way (Twitter and Facebook pale in comparison) to build a following of people who are interested in what you’re doing.”
– Now that it’s all over, what are your plans? How are you readjusting to “real life” as you’ve termed it, and do you have any future tours planned?
Dave: “I’m writing a book at the moment. It should be out in the Summer 2014, and it’s something that I’m really, really excited about. The wall I’m sat in front of right now has about 200 post-it notes scattered about and I’m currently piecing the stories together and sequencing them.
Real life was definitely a bit of an adjustment. In hindsight, of course it was going to be, I’d just spent a year on the road alone! When you’re on the road you get used to making decisions for yourself, in a kind of selfish way, so coming back it took a while to settle down again. Apparently ‘re-entry culture shock’ is quite a common thing, but day by day I become more settled.
As for future projects, I have some plans in the work – it’s just a case of which one happens first. There are bikes involved in some of them but it depends on which comes off. I’m currently toying with the idea of turning Vague Direction into the ultimate triathlon, which could be fun, but, for a while I need to get everything at home sorted and am happy concentrating on writing for a few months.”
That was all a couple of months ago, I was able to catch up with Dave once more, he’s still writing away furiously and says, “The book is going to be new content, mainly centred around the epic stories that took place that weren’t published on the blog and what went on mentally during the trip. The highs and the lows.”
To find out more about Dave’s epic journey and what his plans are for afterwards, visit his website.