Vin Cox, champion cyclo-cross racer, mountain biker, mountaineer and long distance trekker achieved a record for cycling around the world in 2010, that’s 18,225 miles.
Vin achieved this feat in163 days 6 hours and 58 minutes, that’s a little over a month faster than the previous record time. He rode over 100 miles on most days and 160 or more on seven occasions; encountered temperatures from minus seven to plus 50 degrees as well as dysentery and being detained by the police. Vin lives in Cornwall, works in IT and is part time public speaker and adventurer – obviously!
We asked Vin a few questions about what inspired his love of outdoor activity and how he thinks the natural environment benefits health and wellbeing.
What are your earliest memories of enjoying, or being influenced by, the natural environment?
My parents took me camping almost from birth. I remember wild camping high on a hill (Ingleborough) in Yorkshire, playing in a stream (Fell Beck) and tumbling down grassy slopes while my dad went caving.
What are your top three outdoor places? Tell us why they are special to you?
The first place in Ingleborough where the above camp was. My mum’s ashes were scattered there too. Another place is Glen Coe. I hooked up with my (now) wife in the pub there after days out winter mountaineering there. Finally I’d say the Sanai Peninsula because of the history, beauty, and kindness I experienced the during my cycle around the world.
If you were unable to spend much time outdoors how would you feel, and why?
I’d feel that I’d need to change something or risk losing part of my identity.
How does the natural environment affect your physical and mental health?
Physically it keeps me lean and resilient through its demands. Mentally it makes me humble through its scale and happy with its beauty.
What do you see as the main benefits of exercising outdoors as opposed to at home or in a gym?
I go to the gym most lunchtimes – nothing wrong with that. But gym exercises are so focused that you end up weak in some ways when you’re in the wild real world; which shows how good and ‘whole-body’ outdoor exercise is.
Many people don’t use the natural environment for health or recreation. What do you think stops them?
Nature is not a business and has little marketing or packaging. Most people just don’t know what to do with it because of that, and they can have access issues.
If you were in government what three things would you change in order to get more people active in the outdoors?
Politics is a dirty business full of unintended consequences, but I would appoint marketing / advertising people for our parks, forests, sea, footpaths and hills. I’d then try to decentralise the economy to move people away from ever growing urban sprawl.
How do you think people’s relationship with nature affects their food choices?
Seeing and understanding where food comes from is a big deal. I’m very into this and forage a huge amount. I simply think people have been scared away from natural food by the processed ‘added value’ food industry. We’d all be healthier and wealthier for taking more interest, as would nature.
If persuading someone to get outside more what would you say to them in one sentence?
“Come with me…” because they just need to get some experience and then they’ll be hooked.
Thanks to Vin for his time. I hope you’ve found it an inspiring read.
Don’t be afraid of the outdoors. Get out there, get active, use it for growing your food, use it for calmness and relaxation. Go there ASAP and keep going!