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 ***
Please add your own expedition beard photos on Twitter (#ExpeditionBeard), by email or with a link in the comments section below.
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.
There’s a great story about Andy Nisbet topping out on Ben Nevis in winter having just tunneled through a cornice. He looks up and sees a startled troop of Scouts, and covered in snow, goes up to the most frightened looking one bellowing ‘YOU LADDIE, WHAT YEAR IS IT?’
Brilliant. And that is a fine, fine snow-beard photo.
I strongly agree with point 9:
We met a group of young men who had agreed not to shave all the way from Alaska to Ushuaia but really regretted it because they couldn’t “get laid”. Also met a guy who said he grew one on purpose to keep women out of his life. If you want to find love on tour get rid of the beard or trim it neatly!
That’s a stark warning for all those boys heading away from home in search of love and adventure, Harriet.
Timmy, have you seen my photos from Russia??? Chicks dig beards! End of story.
Mark, you may been in danger of sparking the biggest debate to hit the adventure community since Mallory and Irvine failed to return from their hill walk 90 years ago.
Mark your beard is indeed very handsome. I do not think a neat beard like yours that steers potential love interests away. Its the more unruly sort that you might find a dead animal in that shouts “AVOID AVOID!”.
We love our beards. While all the above are fair and rational points. Heart over head on this one – the beards stay. If they didn’t i’m sure cycling would be harder. Hears a before and after photo of our beards half way through our 8 month cycle around the world http://ridingforrhinos.org/2014/08/26/a-lot-can-change-in-4-months/
Thanks Will. Love the photos!
At some point in a solo trip a man has to decide if you wants an ” epic expedition beard” . Or some loving……its one or the other boys, not both :). https://www.flickr.com/photos/shanecycles/6782069196/in/set-72157629085960864
Funny how many guys don’t get that :)
It’s gotta be beard!
Pingback: Watch the Video of My Expedition Beard Growing While Cycling Around the WorldThe Next Challenge | The Next Challenge