The last time I shaved was this time last year, shortly before setting off on my bike to cycle around the world. I now have a large, surprisingly ginger beard on my face.
Frankly, I would not recommend it.
Here are my top ten reasons why…
10 Reasons Not to Grow an Expedition Beard
1. It is impossible to imbibe soups, drink yoghurts or slurp milk without leaving a layer in your moustache.
2. People in the street will stare as you walk past and not in a good way, particularly if it’s ginger.
3. You will find food in it long after you have eaten any food.
4. At a certain point, the extremities will be a permanent feature of your peripheral vision.
5. It takes that bit longer to dry than your hair, especially for those of us going bald on our own terms.
6. You will eventually find yourself chewing the strands of hair around your mouth. This is not good.
7. Combined with the invariably sorry state of your expedition clothing, you will, frankly, look homeless.
8. You will find lots of short, curly hairs dispensed on your clothes, belongings and food.
9. It may reach the point at which your wife/girlfriend/partner is no longer willing to kiss you.
10. Strangers will shout the name of their country’s historical dictator at you (In Russia I got: “Lenin!”, in Vietnam: “Ho Cho Minh!” and India: “Ali Baba!”).
So why does anyone grow an expedition beard?
Photos like these:
Sean Conway after swimming from Lands End to John O’Groats.
Tom Allen, cycling in a Scandinavian winter (N.B. frozen beard photos count for double points)
Leon McCarron (left) having walked from Mongolia to Hong Kong.
Dave Cornthwaite whilst swimming the Mississippi.
Rob Lilwall. cycling home from Sibera.
Ed Stafford after having walked the length of the Amazon river.
Alastair Humphreys having just walked across the Empty Quarter desert.
Mark Kalch who was supposed to be paddling the length of the Amazon.
Our man Fiennes after some trip to the Arctic/Antarctic.
Andy Welch, mountain biking in Georgia
Jason Lewis, somewhere during his 13-year human-powered circumnavigation of the globe.
*** ADD YOUR BEARD PHOTO HERE ***
Oliver Parnham, after several months on Vancouver Island.
Alex Hibbert, having completed the longest ever polar journey.
Charlie Walker, preparing dinner after several years cycling around the world.
Johno Ellison, trying (and failing) to fit in with a ‘Tali-beard’ on the Iran-Pakistan border. (His words!)
Thomas Kovacs, cycling and film-making.
Emily Chappell, long distance cyclist.
Derek Cullen, after cycling Cape to Cairo.
Long live the expedition beard.