I know what you’re thinking: superbly crafted logo. But there’s more to this project than 1990s wordart.
In 2020, I spent a total of 2,117 hours on my computer and my 100 Days of Adventure project began on 1 January 2021 with the firm ambition of spending a lot more of my time outdoors, adventuring.
In order to judge whether my vague ambition was working, I needed to develop a metric to measure my relative outdoorsy-adventureyness from year to year.
Introducing: Days Of Adventure (DOA)
DOA is simple to calculate. Every day of the year gets a binary Y/N score: did I spend a significant chunk of the day outside on an adventure?
Then you count the Ys and — voilà — you have your DOA score for that year.
‘Outside’ is deliberately wide open because I’m a firm believer that adventure can be found anywhere.
‘Significant chunk’ and ‘an adventure’ are both deliberately relative because DOA is a simple binary measure that should work for everyone.
‘An adventure’ for an experienced touring cyclist will look very different to ‘an adventure’ for someone who’s never camped before.
Likewise, ‘a significant chunk of the day’ could be a very different timespan for a freelancer with no dependents, compared to someone with a 9-5 job and two kids.
The point of DOA is not competition between adventurers, but a measure of outdoor adventure against your past and future selves.
Oh, and, yes, I am aware that DOA also stands for Dead On Arrival, a definition only metaphorically compatible with the very best adventures.
The project is now entering its third year and its longevity is a measure of its success: my DOA score has almost doubled, from a baseline of 67 in 2020 to 127 in 2022.
In reverse chronological order, here’s a record of all my DOA going all the way back to 2020.
Current Score DOA 2023: 1
- New Year’s night was spent sleeping in my car on the isle of Purbeck and 2023 began with a walk to see dinosaur footprints and Dancing Ledge.
Other than that, my adventures have been hobbled by a pre-Christmas trauma to the knee.
Final Score DOA 2022: 127
- New Year’s hiking the double stone row at Hurston Ridge on Dartmoor
- 6 more days of hiking on Dartmoor in January and February
- 6 Thighs of Steel London Cycle Club rides and 4 New Forest Off Road Club rides
- 1 day hiking and 1 day mushroom picking on the Purbecks, plus another day doing conservation work on Brownsea Island
- 18 days’ travelling overland to spend time with friends in Paris, Rudenoise, Chantilly, Bayonne, Madrid, Lisbon, Barcelona and the inside of a long-distance coach while trying to stifle a heavy cold during a pandemic panic
- 6 days’ working as an outdoor instructor with schoolkids in the Chilterns and Surrey Hills
- 8 days’ cycling from Kings Lynn to Edinburgh in April as part of a slow travel reprisal of my 2011 round Britain adventure
- 6 more days of round Britain cycling from Glasgow to Oban, via Arran, Islay and Jura in June
- 3 days on an ecotherapy course in Somerset in June and July
- 32 days’ cycling from Glasgow to Milan with Thighs of Steel in July and August (stories: Philoxenia & The Magic Cobbler, Carpocratian Touring)
- 4 days’ exploring porticoes in Bologna, Italy and abandoned hotels in Kupari, Croatia
- 14 days’ cycling from Dubrovnik to Athens, via Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia in September (stories: Not A Charity Auction, Lies and the What What Now Now), plus another two days’ cycling with friends in Greece
- 3 days of hiking and mushroom picking in the Brecon Beacons in November
- 9 more days of cycling around Britain, from Edinburgh to Inverness at the wintery end of November
- 2 days’ hiking with my mum on the trail of TS Eliot’s fourth quartet, from Peterborough to Little Gidding, in December
Final Score DOA 2021: 102
Midterm Updates: Spring Equinox (1 DOA), Summer Solstice (28 DOA)
- One day exploring The Millionaire’s Ravine (11 February!)
- A couple of days’ sketching and mushroom picking in the New Forest
- 5 days’ hiking on Dartmoor in April
- 13 days’ working as an outdoor instructor, not trespassing, with schoolkids in the Chilterns, Jurassic Coast and the New Forest
- 5 days’ learning bushcraft skills and making the Oxfordshire woods my home in April
- 1 day cycling around the Purbecks and a day hike with a friend in the Surrey Hills in early May
- 4 days’ hiking from Bath to East Coker and discovering unexpected tearooms for my Four Quartets adventure in late May
- 3 rides with the Thighs of Steel London Cycle Club, 1 ride with the New Forest Off Road Club and 1 ride with the Velo Domestique crew in the New Forest
- 2 days doing bracken bashing and gorse gawping on Brownsea Island
- 15 days’ cycling around Wales in July as part of my round Britain adventure (stories: Wiener Brecwast, Stories In The Lamplight,
- 34 days’ spelling out ‘REFUGEES WELCOME’ on our bikes with Thighs of Steel in August and September (stories: Admin or admiration?, How to break things: an update, Talking politics with strangers, Turkish Delight falls out of the sky)
- 1 day mushroom picking near Cardiff in October
- 3 days training for my Hill & Moorland leader award in the Brecon Beacons in October and another 7 days on Dartmoor in November and December
- 3 days in December exploring the New Forest, Canford Heath and the Purbecks at night in a fog as I scrambled towards, and accidentally overshot, my 100 DOA target
Baseline DOA 2020: 67
In 2020, the baseline year before this project began, my DOA score was 67. Not bad for a pandemic year.
To give you an idea of what qualifies as adventure for me, those 67 DOAs included:
- 35 days cycling around the south coast in the summer.
- 6 days working as an outdoor instructor in the Chilterns.
- 6 days hiking on Dartmoor.
- 6 days hiking and biking in the Peak District.
- 4 days hiking in the Cotswolds.
- 4 days getting mucky on Brownsea Island.
- 3 days learning bushcraft in an Oxfordshire woodland.
- 2 days cycling with friends in London and Bristol.
- 1 day on a friend’s narrowboat.
This was about 18 percent of my days in the three months pre-Covid and, happily, about 18 percent of my days in the nine months post-Covid.
Hopefully that proves that days of adventure aren’t impossible to find, even in a pandemic world. We just have to choose our moments carefully.
67 days also compares favourably with 2019, when my DOA score was approximately 56. I say ‘approximately’ because these things are difficult to measure in retrospect and, depending on my definition, I could easily add many of the 50 days that I spent travelling in Italy and Greece.