When John Cabot set off in The Matthew from Bristol in 1497, embarking on a quest to find Asia, he set the bar high. Like any great expedition the tale of his treacherous journey across the Atlantic was full of highs and lows, but it also had unexpected discovery at the end – North America. No doubt he would be proud to see his adventurous spirit alive and well in the city today – at every level.
From headline hitters such as Andy Torbet, who is known for taking on some of the most extreme challenges around including a HAHO (High Altitude High Opening) jump from 28,000 feet above the Arizona desert, to ordinary folk just looking to push personal boundaries. Within this series, we look into three local adventurers who tell us about their inspirational experiences and explain what adventure means to them…
Dan is managing director of Bedminster-based thrill-seekers, The Adventurists. They run old school adventures, rallies and races in ‘a bid to make the world less boring’. His expeditions with them include driving a Nissan Micra from London to Ulaanbaatar as part of the Mongol Rally.
Who are The Adventurists?
We run adventures ranging from the Mongol Rally, driving tiny cars from the UK to Mongolia, through to the Rickshaw Run, in tuk tuks across India, and our newest edition, the world’s longest paramotoring race along the west coast of the USA. We believe the world has become sanitised – guide books have taken the mystery out of adventure. Because the maps don’t have edges anymore and you can find so much information from your armchair before you leave, you have to make life difficult to find proper adventure these days.
What made you set up shop in Bristol?
My girlfriend was visiting me at Swansea University, saw the pastel houses of Bristol from the train and decided that was enough information to come and study here. I quickly realised Bristol was a far better choice than London as a place to live, moved here and met the founder of The Adventurists – Tom Morgan – who was about to turn his hobby into a company. I quit my sensible job and agreed to help him.
Tell us about your most epic adventure to date…
My friend Ben and I did the Mongol Rally back in 2005 when it had just started. We drove a 1 litre Nissan Micra from London to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, over 28 days via Kazakhstan. We drove over 7,000 miles in 28 days through some really random places and on some of the worst roads in the world at that time. Most of Western Mongolia was dirt tracks and is by far the best place for a road trip on the planet – no bitumen road or mountain pass matches up to driving across the steppe out there.
What does fear mean to you?
Anyone who says they’re fearless is lying. Fear keeps you alive when you get cocky, over confident or make stupid decisions. Where does the inspiration for your trips come from? We try and create a modern version of walking off the edge of the map. Our adventures are all dangerous, there’s no getting round it, and the running theme is glorious chaos. They’re either very long, physically gruelling or downright ridiculous.
What do you think makes a good Adventurist?
We look for people who get excited by the unknown and like the idea of setting off with no plan. The kind of people who enjoy not knowing what will happen next, where they’ll sleep or if they’ll even reach the finish line of the adventure.
How can people in Bristol join in the fun?
We’re just about to run our first ever sea-going adventure, racing traditional Ngalawas up the coast of Tanzania – there are spots available for 2016. Closer to home we’ve got our own bar in our warehouse in Bedminster and we’re going to host Friday after work beers at the end of each month – anyone in Bristol who fancies a bit of adventure or just wants to meet other adventurers is welcome. www.theadventurists.com