Sharing our favourite moments of adventure
The H+I HQ team share their favourite moments of adventure
Our Favourite Moments from our Adventures around the world
We’re very lucky here at H+I Adventures to have travelled the world with our mountain bikes, experiencing remarkable places, meeting the most welcoming people and sharing their culture and traditions with them.
These priceless memories have kept us going over the past year, and reflecting on some of our favourite moments from many years of mountain bike adventures, has been a real pleasure for our HQ team.
So, here’s an insight into our favourite moments of adventure, which we hope will inspire you to get the photo albums out and relive some of your happiest memories of your travels too.
Taking time to think back over more than 15 years of travelling, riding bikes and experiencing new cultures is a nice way to while away a few hours. But coming up with one moment from all these amazing experiences is tough! And I have to confess that I failed in that mission – most of us did – but I’ve managed to pick just two.
In 2019, Euan and I travelled to Namibia with eight friends to celebrate our 40th birthdays. My favourite moment of our adventure (and there were several every day!) has to be the first sighting of elephants in Damaraland. It was dusk and we were driving through the desert to reach our camp when we spotted a family of three elephants on the ‘road’ in the distance. We approached slowly and then cut the engine as they strolled, effortlessly across our path. It was very special.
My second favourite memory of adventure was in 2017, when I joined one of our coast-to-coast Scotland groups for the first time.
Even for a ‘local’ like me, the coast-to-coast is a big challenge and not something to be taken lightly. The memory that stands out for me from that adventure was conquering the first hike-a-bike of the trip, on day 3. It’s a substantial hike-a-bike, taking around 45 minutes, and was the longest time I’d ever carried my bike. Cresting that summit with my friend Nikki and being able to put the bike down, knowing that I’d made it from bottom to top under my own steam was an amazing sense of achievement.
Wow, one favourite moment out of all the unforgettable moments of adventure I’ve had over the years. That’s not an easy task. Every adventure has its own special moments, and often for different reasons: the people we meet, the challenges we face, the environment we find ourselves in, the things we learn about a new culture, and indeed ourselves, along the way.
Since I’m being ‘forced’ to come up with one stand-out moment, I think I’d have to look to my most recent big adventure in Bhutan in 2019, with my good friend and talented photographer Dan Milner, Yeti Ambassador Sam Seward, and our cinematographer Douglas.
We were exploring this beautiful country to see the potential it might offer for a new tour and, after days of riding and shooting, we rolled up to a monastery in the Hidden Valley, feeling tired and weary, to be met by a line of huge grins from the resident monks. They welcomed this group of strangers on bikes like long-lost friends and seemed as fascinated by us as we were by them. We chatted for a while – mostly about bikes! – and some of the monks had a go at riding our bikes, which elicited even more beaming smiles. Seeing such pure joy etched on someone else’s face, reminded me why I love travelling and riding bikes.
Watch our Bhutan video, and you’ll see what I mean…
Working for an adventure company makes it very difficult to pinpoint a favourite moment spent in the outdoors, and it is easy to overlook the beauty and opportunity of what you categorise as work. That being said, the sights, smells and sounds all stay with you long after the adventures have concluded, picking the best ones is where the challenge lies.
I stress the difficulty in picking a favourite because they are all so unique in their experience, whether that be riding down volcanoes in Ecuador, visiting temples in the Himalayas of Bhutan or riding bike-laden horses over swollen rivers in Kyrgyzstan.
However, my favourite still remains the few days we spent in Namibia. It was far from the most technically or physically challenging experience, it did not have the grand mountains, valleys and rivers of the others, but what it did have was something so unique in my personal experience. We travelled into the Namibian backcountry in search of wildlife and were rewarded by the most magnificent animals, from elephants to lions and everything in-between.
Not only that but sleeping out under the stars and constellations of the Southern Hemisphere was an entirely new experience for me, and I found myself far calmer with the prospect of sleeping on the ground in the African Bush than I ever imagined I would have been. The lack of mountains and valleys provided this amphitheatre of space and sky, whether that was the night-time stargazing or the breath-taking moments as the sun rose and set over the desert. I categorise this as my favourite as I believe it was the most unexpected.
Watch Douglas’ Namibia video to share his wildlife experiences…
There’s a strong smell of mint in the air as it drys on the rooftops, mixing with the smell of the earth, and the red dust picks up in the breeze, drifting from the mountains to wherever it is destined to end up. The only thing between me and my view of Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas range, are my new found friends, pouring freshly brewed mint tea from a lofty height while we sit on the rooftop, gazing into the shadows of the Atlas.
When I think about my favourite adventure moments, hundreds of images dart through my mind; of riding mountains, flying over rock gardens, and streaking along trails like lightning threading between clouds. But the memories that stay with me are often the quiet moments between adrenaline fuelled descents and lung bursting climbs.
Back to the tea being poured from above my head… The noise of it bubbling into the glass and the aroma of sweet mint is permanently etched into my memory. I’d only just met the other 4 around me, all guides and local Berbers. I had just arrived in Morocco as part of our guide training program, and straight away we were on our bikes and climbing our first trail, in what for me felt like a clay oven.
I knew the effort was going to be met by the reward of my favourite kind of riding; rocky singletrack dropping from mountainside and through remote villages, leading back into the valley. Lachen and Mohamed told stories of their hometowns while the younger guides and I conversed in a mixture of hand gestures, English and my poor attempt at French. In this moment simply sharing a pot of tea, surrounded by good people and towering mountains, it’s impossible not to be humbled.
Often I think adventure is like water, it can crash in on you and take you for a wild ride, or it can slowly seep deep into you. Either way it’s vital to existence.”