Adventure results from encounters with the unexpected. It’s that simple, really. At least, that’s how we approach designing trips and planning routes for cycling adventures. And it’s the mindset we strive for on the ride itself. We’ve given this a lot of thought and tried to build it into who we are and what Comova offers.
The filtered cycling adventures that dominate the top of most social media feeds make it seem like a cycling adventure has to be “epic” in scale, distance, challenge, and destination. Immersed in these images, it can be difficult to get into the state of mind that allows for adventure to unfold whenever and wherever you have an encounter with the unexpected.
So what is an unexpected encounter? Who or what are these unexpected encounters with?
They might be with other humans, or as we wrote about in Why we ride–epic cycling adventures or nature connection?, they might be with other beings co-inhabiting this planet with us. The unexpected encounters might even be with ourselves, or parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed.
Herein lies an important reminder: not all encounters are delightful. If they were, we’d seek out adventure regularly. Staying open to the unpleasantness that might accompany unexpected encounters is what allows us to grow from our adventures. As we wrote about in The Comova Century, adventure’s opportunities for discovery, learning and growth “come from taking on something with an unpredictable outcome and then reflecting on the experience.”
If Every Ride is a Cycling Adventure Does Adventure Lose its Meaning?
Does distilling adventure to “encounters with the unexpected” make it too easy to apply anywhere and everywhere? Maybe. But the word adventure has been diminished by overuse for decades. “[The] word is being used so often it is in danger of becoming a cliché,” wrote Willie Weir in a 2004 issue of Adventure Cyclist, the Adventure Cycling Association’s excellent magazine. “The tourism industry uses adventure to charge more for a package deal. So what is adventure?” asks Weir.
“The tourism industry uses adventure to charge more for a package deal. So what is adventure?”
At its essence, adventure entails risk. It is a journey that has unknowns; variables that can’t be entirely predicted or controlled. In short, adventure entails encountering the unexpected. And since the unexpected can be delightful or uncomfortable, we would add that adventure is encountering the unexpected with equanimity.
Yet, as Weir concluded, “Most people want adventure without the risks, hazards, and discomforts. In other words, most people want adventure without the adventure.”
This is what makes Comova different. We offer adventure with your adventure. By understanding who you are, what your comfort level is, and what your goals are for your adventure, we take the stress and uncertainty out of planning a cycling trip. This allows you to focus on staying open to the unexpected and to practice equanimity in encountering the joys (and distresses) of the unexpected. And knowing that you have our support on the adventure itself gives you the confidence to stay fully open to your encounters with the unexpected.
“Most people want adventure without the risks, hazards, and discomforts. In other words, most people want adventure without the adventure.”
Making Cycling Adventures Accessible and Sustainable
Remember those epic cycling adventures we mentioned earlier? You know, the ones you can’t miss if you search for popular hashtags like #adventurecycling #bikepacking and #gravelcycling. If adventure can only be found in certain locations, or on trips of a particular distance or remoteness, then cycling adventures simply aren’t accessible to most people. And even if everyone had the means to travel great distances to get to their epic cycling adventure destinations, fossil fuel-based travel is contributing to the destruction, or at least the transformation, of the very places we’re traveling to.
But if a cycling adventure is defined in terms of encounters with the unexpected, and if a certain perspective or state of mind can actually enhance our ability to find these encounters, then cycling adventures can be both accessible and sustainable. This is a challenge for us at Comova. We love the spectacular riding available to us in Sonoma’s West County and throughout Northern California and want to share it with visitors regardless of how far you have to travel to get to us. Our hope is that a trip with us sparks the spirit of imagining, planning and undertaking your own adventures right out your front door wherever that may be.
Banner photo: Kishore Narendran