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How to Do Everything Wrong

10 rules for blowing an epic adventure

Pardon my bragging, but I have a small group of friends who are quite accomplished adventurers. We’ve done things. Biked all the way across the Pisgah Ranger District. We’ve snow-camped at 5,500 feet in the middle of a blizzard. We’ve ridden our bikes 150 miles from one brewery to the next. We’ve run through the night, as a team, with a DJ accompanying us while carrying a boom box on his shoulder. We’ve raced serious time trials in cut off jean shorts. We’re worldly. Follow our advice for planning your next epic adventure, be it a formal race or three solitary nights in the woods, and you too will come out the other end far more worldly.

1. Don’t bother training. Got a race with a distance you’ve never even driven before? Wing it. It’s best to go in with fresh legs. I don’t care what your Cat 2 racing neighbor says, you can ride 100 miles in the summer heat without logging any tempo workouts. Look, anybody can race in their peak performance shape, but only a few of us have the courage to tackle the challenge with a pudgy belly.

2. Leave the map in the glove box. I like maps when they’re hanging on a wall and marking the spot for pirate treasure, but they have no place in the backcountry. Ditto for compasses. And don’t get me started on GPS. If Columbus had a GPS, he never would have discovered America. Think about that.

3. Fact: hydration is important. Fact: beer hydrates. That’s not just mumbo jumbo, there’s real science to back that up. Not only does beer hydrate your body, it hydrates your mind. I’ve gotten some of my best adventure ideas while hydrating at a local hydrating establishment. I find it’s best to keep hydrating throughout the epic adventure.

4. Agendas are meant to be broken. Having a plan of attack is all well and good, but sticking to a strict “schedule” feels a bit like school, doesn’t it?  Try this the next time you’re planning a multi-day backpacking trip: Write down what time you need to be at the trailhead, how long you plan to hike each day, and where you’ll camp each night. Then burn that plan, eat an enormous breakfast at the Waffle House, take a nap, and show up to the trailhead six hours late so you’re forced to hike for three hours in the dark just to reach the next flat campsite. That’s the way real adventurers do it.

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