Living Adventurously

Kate Rawles' 'Outdoor Philosophy' looks at the relationship between people and nature, telling stories through long bicycle journeys, including crossing South America by bamboo bicycle.

Show Notes

Kate Rawles studied philosophy at Aberdeen University, and environmental philosophy at Glasgow and Colorado State Universities. She was an indoor philosophy lecturer at Lancaster University for nearly a decade before leaving to work freelance in 2000. From 2004-2014 she worked half-time as a lecturer in Outdoor Studies at the University of Cumbria – teaching ‘big picture’ environmental issues, sustainability, environmental education and a bit of sea kayaking – and half-time as a freelance outdoor philosopher, writer, lecturer and environmental campaigner. She left Cumbria University in 2014 to develop her freelance work and make time for adventures, beginning with The Life Cycle journey.
Kate is passionate about the need to find urgent, effective and suitably radical responses to our multiple environmental challenges (including giving our values and worldviews a thorough overhaul) – and firmly believes our quality of life can go up rather than down in the process. She’s excited about the potential of adventurous journeys as a communication medium and believes the adventure of sustainability is an adventure we’re all on, one way or another.

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  • How Not To Write A Bestseller - @carboncyclekate -
  • #18: it's easier to write a book in other people's homes because you can't tidy other people's sock drawers!
  • Tips to avoid writing: get out on your bike most days, take on a rescue dog
  • Prioritising quality of life over income is key to the work/life balance
  • Sea kayaking to the Outer Hebrides is better than a 'decent' income
  • Adventure Plus: loved adventure, learned a lot about climate change, but nothing much seemed to be happening
  • How could she bring her love of adventure together with her learning about climate change, and offer a "wake up!" cry
  • The Carbon Cycle - ride from Texas to Alaska in the most oil-ravenous place on Earth.
  • Bringing the climate change story to an audience that didn't usually hear it. 
  • The Carbon Cycle book -
  • If you're going to talk about oil, go to America.
  • The attitudes to ClimateChange she encountered varied from blank faces, having never heard of it, thought it was a myth, God's will, or that the government would fix it. And then some people who were very keen on fixing it.
  • Kate loves travelling in America - the people, the landscapes, the generosity, the variety
  • Whitman Alabama -
  • I am not athletic, got into cycling as a way of commuting.
  • Cycling is an amazing way for even unfit people to cover miles. Every mundane journey becomes an adventure
  • A bike is like a magician - it scatters adventure all around you.
  • The idea that I can conquer mountains is ludicrous and I dislike that narrative with a passion. 
  • Overcoming nature is an inappropriate narrative right now - the idea that we can 'defeat' nature has got us into a heck of a lot of trouble over the years
  • I think we need a different narrative now - we are part of nature. I like to think of myself as a citizen of an ecological community (on the same terms as everything else) - that really helps shift perspective
  • It's not just a human community - it's an everything community
  • Her ride through America changed her opinion of her carbon footprint. Flying to the US, she realised, demonstrated a mindset that is exactly part of the problem, "well my flight is different, my flight is special, my flight is justified."
  • Kate is on a flight ration - once every 3 years. Works well when talking to people rather than saying "quit flying"
  • It is not possible to tackle climate change without changing our lifestyles. Yet consumerism is not really the best, happiest lifestyle is it?
  • Number of bikes needed = n+1 [where 'n' = number you currently have]
  • Number of bikes needed = s-1 [where 's' = number at which your partner dumps you]
  • Outdoor brands: Adventure can stand for a different model of 'quality of life' if it is about connection with nature, quality of experience, time outdoors, pushing yourself in different ways.
  • If everyone on the Earth lived life by US lifestyle standards we would need 4 planets.
  • A quality of life that is about time and connection and experience; not stuff
  • And yet brands also need to sell Stuff (because of the system we are in)
  • Systemic change so that people sell what they have to sell, not as much as possible
  • Stuff - also oil-based and has a terrible environmental footprint
  • Flying and Stuff are two of the biggest problems in adventure
  • Reuse and mend the stuff we have already got
  • Buy second hand where possible 
  • Ask brands "what is your sustainability policy" to avoid them doing a lame 'greenwash'
  • Patagonia is way ahead of the other brands in terms of environmental work
  • Outdoor Philosophy: the relationship between people and nature. Began taking those conversations outdoors, with sea kayaks if possible!
  • Do we think of ourselves as part of nature, dominating nature or in nature?
  • Our relationship with nature is dysfunctional - that is the root cause of climate change, environmental destruction and biodiversity loss
  • Favourite whisky: Lagavulin - or any Islay malt. Laphroaig
  • Talisker Storm adventure -
  • Life cycle journey - riding the length of South America -
  • The Bamboo Bicycle Club -
  • The Eden Project -
  • Woody (her bike) is the UK's first homegrown bicycle
  • Cycling South America on a bamboo bike - it was the most reliable bike she has ever ridden
  • Kate travelled to South America by ship - reduced 2 tonnes of CO2 to 50kg
  • How bad are bananas? 
  • Loved crossing the Atlantic by boat. It's a good decompress between the stress of getting ready for a trip and beginning the journey.
  • Being out of sight of land is really important: it helps put things in perspective
  • It should be planet Ocean, not planet Earth
  • Getting a ride on a cargo ship - you have to go via a broker
  • The Panama Canal
  • Cycling to the Ashes -
  • School in Colombia - a Turtle school where all work is based around turtles; the whole curriculum
  • Benefit of Andes over Rockies - no bears!
  • Bicycles up Kilimanjaro - the Crane cousins -
  • Kit Crane -
  • Happy periods of life: getting to Ushuaia; exhausted and exhilarated
  • My partner is my non-famous hero. 
  • There is a lot of disconnect between her age [57], how old she feels [31], and society's perceptions of what she should be doing / how she should be behaving.
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What is Living Adventurously?

Living Adventurously, with Alastair Humphreys, is the story of ordinary people choosing to live extraordinary lives.
Alastair interviews artists and chefs, students and pensioners, athletes and travellers. He wants to discover what living adventurously means to different people, what universal obstacles stand in the way, and how each of these people took the first step to overcome them and begin their own fascinating journeys.