Penny Rowson and her European travels

Recently I’ve been on some travels as I didn’t make selection for Tour of Birttany and La Course due to my exams taking priority over fitness and training. I’ve recently graduated (yay!) meaning I no longer needed to stay in the UK, and with time on my hands I thought what’s the best way to spend it.

Penny photocall
I read something which suggested Imaging a bank account which credits your account each morning with £86,400 and carries over no balance from day to day. Each evening any part of the balance you failed to use during the day is deleted. Therefore not wanting to waste any money you’d draw out every penny ofcourse. Apply the same principle to time. You’re given 86,400 seconds. Each day opens a new account for you and each night burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the days deposits, the loss is yours, no drawing against tomorrow. You must live in the present on today’s deposits, there is no overdraft. Invest it as the clock is running, Make the most of your day! (Some monday morning motivation for you there)

I try to take on the ‘live in the moment’ , ‘take each day as it comes’ principle. With a small amount of responsibilities to my name i can invest my time into whatever that may be and i chose to invest in myself, to become the better version; a happier, healthier, successful; new penny.

Penny Rowson-1
It was quite a simple idea to begin with, I love watching redbull TV which covers more adrenaline filled sports such as FMX and slopestyle and i thought how cool would it be to go and see them live instead of on my app. The events take place in euorpe and it’s so easy to just fly over to France and Spain these days.. why not! Although what are the chances of my two fave events being on the same weekend! Which meant I had to make a decision; the easy option of flying into Madrid and sitting in an arena or the more challenging option of cycling to a ski resort in the alps and sitting on a mountain.  When asked what’s the one place in the world i love riding my bike, without a doubt, its the french alps, making this appeal as the perfect adventure to me.
I wrote a blog way back when i was 17 for this team which was the last time i rode through the alps from Geneva to nice. Since then i’ve grown as a person and everything i’ve learnt along the way of living abroad has contributed to this current trip, for example Helen wyman like my mum teaching me how to cook, Stef like my dad putting me on my first train and plane by myself and the girls on the team like my older sisters educating me about unfamiliar shenanigans such as make-up and boys! All these experiences have helped me mature along the years and i’m no longer the baby of the team, even though i probably still look the youngest!

Penny 2
and so i set off alone on this apparently crazy adventure. With the laid back attitude of ‘winging it’ ‘it’ll be rate’ i had no idea where i was staying most days or where i was going as i’d planned nothing other than a goal to make it to Les Deux alps from Italy and onto Samoens. Usually if I have a goal in mind and really want it badly, i aim for it and achieve it. The way how I was explaining this to people they gave me the look as though, its one of those things you talk about doing but never get round to doing, I had literally planned nothing except for my plane ticket, I had no idea if all the stuff id taken id be able to carry, or what ups and downs mechanicals etc I would occur along the way but this was the excitement of not knowing.

I generally get told on a daily basis i’m weird which i don’t mind at all but for this venture it was ‘you’re not right in the head’ by loved ones and my girlfriends who can’t even go to the toilet by themselves. Continuing to share my ventures i was asked the repetitive question of; ‘ were you not scared?’ let me put it this way … (bringing it back to opportunities were faced with). I again read somewhere about the incredible opportunities we have to become fit…. ‘you have to prepare your meals, but you may have no meals to prepare. It’s hard to train before or after work, but many are out of work. Lifting weights takes effort, but some people can’t even lift themselves from a wheel chair or bed. This is a privilege so make the absolute most you can out of it. From that perspective there are no failures only opportunities.’ (some more motivation for those tough training rides)

Therefore I’m like that’s the least of my worries. To me the thought of having no legs is scary, the thought of going blind one day, the thought if being stuck in one house, having no freedom, of never travelling is scary, the thought of really wanting to do something but holding back because i was scared is ridiculous to me. I don’t like heights but i still jumped off something (screaming whilst doing it) but the thought of not jumping because i was scared was insane to me. I don’t ever want to hold back. I used to genuinely be scared of leaving the house, scared of what people would think of me, scared of not being loved,  scared of being alone. All these things behind me. I took the leap of faith and overcame alot of fears along my journey. Travelling on my own enabled me to take in my surroundings, meet incredible people and become more confident and independent. And obviously riding my bike made me smile every second of each day!

Photo by Bart Raeymaekers
Photo by Bart Raeymaekers

To me though I ask where’s this question come from? Why are so many people scared of the unknown and even more so of other people?  I simply contacted people i’d never met before and stayed in their house free of charge and what’s the catch? Well nothing, these lovely kind people funnily enough just open their door to a stranger with no money or things shared but exchanged stories and enjoyed one another’s company. A beautiful concept.

I Further explained of when i posted publicly on couchsurfing that i needed a place to stay around the area and a guy called me and said i could stay but he wasn’t going to be there as he was a firefighter and had to work in Avoriaz 10ks down the road for 4 days but could leave me his keys to his home. I feel as though this is an exceptional story, he’d left me with his lap top and all his valuables and didn’t even know me. And yet actually all the families i stayed with also left me alone in their homes with the will to leave as I pleased.

I guess these kind experiences have shaped my opinion of humanity, compared to others social cynicism. I came across another article (clearly love to read) and it was from airbnb – a backup plan website if I ever didn’t have anywhere to stay and needed some quick accommodation on the cheap, a good alternative from hotels as you still get the rich experience from locals perspectives.

To sum up the question posed was.. is man kind? A nice play on words (love a good pun) and they asked if you thought friends, family, loved ones, those who you know, work with are mostly kind or unkind? And the follow up question was do you think society, people in general are mostly kind or unkind? The answers to both these questions were different. Two-thirds believed the people they knew were mostly kind and yet when asked about society this dropped to less than half as people viewed society as mostly unkind.  And the article continues interestingly how today were more exposed and connected to more people than ever yet this idea of humanity becoming more unkind could be due to more negative rather than positive stories being shared, shaping our views towards society and creating such biases.
To sum up they believed kindness is contagious and I agree. As I went along with my trip I wanted to help people more, say hello, smile to strangers, just generally felt as though I was a nicer person as the result of the kindness i had received.  All in all, whatever it is in life, i’d encourage you take those opportunities, do something you’re scared of, ‘to wing it’ and to share the love (kindness)!  So to answer your question; ‘were you not scared?’ no i wasn’t. people are and life is beautiful. live it.

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