Jump Off The Deep End
When I landed the opportunity to shoot tourism content in Africa for four months with TDA it’s safe to say I was over the moon.
Since I started making videos a few years ago all I wanted to do was travel and make films. I looked up to Youtube travel vloggers like Ben Brown and Louis Cole and thought if I could get paid to do anything, it’d be that. So I started a Youtube channel and made a bunch of random videos. I mean no one really watched them, but that’s how filmmaking started for me.
From there I moved to the UK on a study abroad year and made a bunch of travel films. They picked up a few thousand views and the university I was studying at asked me to make some promotional content for their study abroad program. Then I started freelancing online to build my portfolio. A few months later I left university to make videos full time.
At the time, it felt like a massive risk, a big leap, but now looking back I can’t believe I considered not doing it. Interestingly, the same thing happened the first time I rode a bike. I don’t mean the time when I was like 3 and had training wheels on. I mean that stretch in Egypt, that beautiful stretch of desert between Ain Sokhna and Ras Ghareb; the first time I had a go at being a cyclist.
When Shanny, TDA’s Marketing Manager told me the night before that I’d be cycling 70km, my first thought was ‘nope, that’s not going to happen’. I haven’t cycled more than 10k in my life and the last time I rode a bike was four years ago.
Shanny said that getting in the saddle was a great way to build relationships with the riders, understand what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it, so I could make the best videos possible. I saw his point, it’s a very smart thing to do, but on a 70km morning? Surely it’d be better to ride a 30km afternoon or something to ease myself in. But it was the first week of the tour, I couldn’t back down and come up with excuses.
So, I nervously headed up to my room and prepped all my gear so I could leave as early as possible. I had everything packed except for a pair of chamois, a t shirt and my runners. I woke up extra early, butterflies galore, thinking I’d be the laughing stock of everyone by lunch. I headed downstairs, put my bag in the truck, and waited in line for breakfast. The plan was to leave with the first rider and just cycle my heart out so I wasn’t last in at lunch.
I wolfed down breakfast and made a peanut butter sandwich for the road. Nervously I mounted my ride and started pedalling. About five minutes in, one of the fastest riders was on my tail, as she rode up I could see the puzzled look in her face – “you’re riding today?”, nervously I replied “I guess so”. She put her hand out for a high five and said “just remember to have fun”, before passing me and upping the pace.
After that all my nerves faded away, and as I rode into the sunrise I felt this immense sense of calm. But there was still 65km to go. Slowly but surely I found my rhythm. Other riders swished passed but it hardly bothered me, all I cared about was enjoying being on a bike in the middle of no where. It was almost meditative. Unable to think about any of life’s stresses I simply focused on pumping my legs and looking around once in a while. A few picture stops and incredibly tasty peanut butter snacks later, I came to the crest of the last hill, I saw the lunch truck and a massive grin emerged. I remember thinking ‘is that it? Is that 70km? Let’s do some more!’
Getting on the bike reminded me of the time I took that massive leap and left university. Full of nerves & worry I jumped off the cliff and it was the best thing I ever did. To me, this trip is quickly become less about filmmaking, and more about trying new things, pushing myself and seeing what’s on the other side. I think I’m doing ok so far, I backed up my 70km with a 110km a day later, shaved my head for fun and tried slacking just because. As I’m writing this all I can think is, ‘I can’t believe it’s been two days since I’ve been on the bike, I feel like it’s been a year.’ Oh how things change hey?