For my big adventure, which was a surprise gift from my husband for our tenth wedding anniversary, I didn’t have the luxury to truly train simply because I didn’t know about it until three weeks before we left. It was a wonderful surprise, but unfortunately wonderfulness doesn’t stand in for preparedness. I do have a couple photos of me getting on a road bike for the first time since I was a teenager and circling nervously around a park (I will keep these photos private mostly so you’re not embarrassed). I was comfortable enough on a bike—it was the clips that got me. My small children rode figure eights around me—scaring the crap out of me in the process—while I got the hang of it. My little guy was quite impressed with himself, which made me realize it’s time to yank those training wheels and take him down a notch, but I digress. All told, I had exactly two training rides before the big ride across the pond: one around the kiddie park and one that was in fact a real ride but far shorter than what I’d be doing every day for six days straight in France. So the training section of my photo book is pretty much nonexistent, but YOU will be much wiser than I. You’ll log your miles, work your way up, then taper appropriately for the big event, documenting the process diligently along the way. I’ve done that before and it’s gratifying. Of course, I have to say it’s exhilarating to just thrown caution to the wind and go for it too!
Sans training, I skipped straight to the action. When I clicked awkwardly toward my bike in my funny shoes that first day in France, apparently the trip leader thought I was a real rider. I’m sure he just had the good manners to keep to himself just how shortly after I got on my bike that he realized I was a fraud. Nonetheless, I was dedicated to capturing the action, awkward or not. I had learned that bad things happen when you get too greedy for photos in unsafe conditions [How to Make a Photo Book of Beach Treasures], so I abstained from mid-ride shots for the first couple days, but I made sure to track the ride from the beginning: close-ups of roadside snacks, the daily route map, signposts along the way, the map dangling from my drop-bars, the daily post-ride ice-pack ritual. In other words, I captured everything: the fun and the moments of glory, sure, but also the banal details—think gloved hands reaching for m&m’s, confused faces as the group tries to decrypt the map, and also evidence that the event was no walk in the park, like the on-the-fly fixing of flats or ad hoc first-aid.
While you’ll always have fond memories of your big adventure, the surge of adrenaline you feel as you complete your challenge will diminish,ß and the heady feeling of post-adventure pride will fade as you fall back into the routine of everyday life. So be sure to take the time to capture lots of happy shots with other participants when you finish. Having a photo book that documents the looks on your faces will be priceless. Flipping through your personal adventure photo book, you’ll take one look at your exhausted but elated face be reminded how essential it is to push yourself once in a while—and enjoy the feeling of group camaraderie and personal confidence boost that goes along with it.