Adventurer, Extreme Athlete, 2X World First Record Holder, Author, Motivational Speaker, Speciality Master Scuba Diving Instructor and Muay Thai Fighter Ash Dykes recently set off on his latest expedition, a year-long walk along the Yangtze river. Before departing, we managed to sit down with him and ask him a few questions!
How did you prepare for this expedition?
I prepare physically by training hard almost every day, with a lot of body weight training and making sure I get outside. I believe the more you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, the more comfortable you become. I prepare mentally, by researching the route, understanding the challenges, obstacles and threats, then working on how best to minimise the chance of these stopping me. I also think of worst case scenarios, so that if that worst case was to happen, at least I would have almost expected it, therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise and I can then deal with it there and then.
How did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
I knew from a young age that I learnt far more through experiencing things for myself. I wouldn’t really take things in from the classroom – I had to be out there, amongst it all. I wanted to develop myself through travels, learning new cultures, traditions and seeing the world through other people’s eyes. A lot easier said than done, I had to work a ridiculous amount of hours to save up the funds, of course, then after a couple of years, setting out with a friend at age 19, everything changed. When we had cycled Vietnam, this spurred on many other adventures and ultimately made me realise my passion.
What will you miss the most?
Apart from family and friends, there are the simple and convenient things we have back here, that I’ll inevitably be stripped of when I’m out there. The access to an abundance of food, the comfort, luxuries, the fact I’ll be in a tent and sleeping bag most nights throughout the year (don’t get me wrong, I like camping, but one year…). I will certainly face times where I won’t have access to chicken and peanut butter – my favourites!
How do you look after yourself during an expedition?
It’s important to stay hydrated, sleep well, eat where/when possible and rest along the way. It is also important to look after any aches, pains and especially to look after your feet. I find to stay mentally focussed and on form, I set myself goals, try not to rush and make sure I soak up the experience along the way.
What sort of things will you be eating?
I hope that the majority of the food will be all local food, which means there will be a wide range of variety all the way through. Rice dishes, noodles, dumplings, hot pots, etc, with a range of herbs and spices.
What is the first thing you will do when you are back?
Wow, celebrate, allow time for what I’ve just achieved to sink in, eat lots of chicken and peanut butter, catch up with everyone before things kick off again, i.e interviews, talks etc.