Monday, 13 December 2010

Charities, insults and achievements

During the so-called research for my blog post on Mark Beaumont's book 'The man who cycled the world', I came across an interesting rant from Julian Sayarer, who himself made a successful attempt on the round-the-world cycle record.

In it, he says about Mark Beaumont:
... I have no respect for him. I regard him as a lifeform some way inferior to the dead skin that accumulates in the seat of my crotch after three weeks of cycling a desert without washing. We're the same age, we're both politics graduates, and so I feel sufficiently close to a part of his demographic that I feel no desire to make excuses or allowances for him that I would never make for myself.
Which, I must admit, is an entertaining insult. I can only imagine that the contents of the seat of his crotch after three weeks of cycling in a desert would not be pleasant - it is certainly not a pleasant image.

Both men had done amazing things; I certainly could not ride a bike around the world in 365 days, yet alone in under 200. Yet at the end of his ride, Julian Sayarer feels fit to write exceptionally nasty comments about another rider. Beaumont's crime, as far as can be seen from Sayarer's rant, is that he got corporate sponsorship and now continues to be an 'ambassador' for one of those multinational companies. Which are, as far as I can see, hardly capital crimes.

All Sayarer's rant has done is debase his own achievement. He may well have a point about adventuring, charity and corporate sponsorship, but they get lost in his ill-judged rant.

So I, who has done nothing as incredible as these two men, and has not 'earned' the right to insult anyone, will say this to Sayarer: you may not like the choices that someone else has made in life, but respect their achievements. Acting like a petulant child debases your own remarkable achievement. Then again, I doubt you care what I think.

Charity and adventuring seem to go hand-in-hand. Years ago my mum and sister were at an antiques fair whilst I was walking the Pennine Way. My reasons for walking it were personal: I had been told that I would never walk properly again, and my last operation had been just over a year before. I had spent my teenage years in a great deal of pain, and the Pennine Way felt like a good way of proving my recovery. Walking for a charity never even entered my thoughts: I was doubtful that I could complete the trail, and the entire focus of the walk was the challenge I was setting myself.

Whilst at the fair, my mum and sister told another lady about my walk. She asked what charity I was walking for, and when they replied I was not walking for charity, the woman got angry. Essentially, she asked how dare I not walk for charity?

This attitude stung me, and I walked for the excellent RDA on a couple of walks. Yet  it has always felt somewhat wrong, as the fundraising has always been a side task to the actual walk. Frankly, it would be hard to persuade me to walk for charity again. I can only imagine what Sayarer would have to say about that.

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