Dare to Do could not be more different. From the very beginning, it is instead an intimate glimpse into the raw excitement, fears, and determination which could provoke someone like Outen to spend years circumnavigating the globe, in a number of imaginative and uncomfortable ways.
In brief, this entailed her kayaking to Calais, cycling to Japan, rowing the Pacific, kayaking along Alaska, and cycling across North America, before rowing across the Atlantic and up the Thames back to her starting point at Tower Bridge. There are, of course, numerous hiccups, including being rescued during both ocean crossings, as well as bouts of pneumonia. Yet this fast-paced and good-humoured travelogue is of a predominantly successful trip, exhilarating down to the final few miles. Outen is honest and relatable (‘I always trusted my endurance but I had less faith in my skills’), while her depictions of places and people she meets – from inquisitive rural villagers in China, to modern hippies in Alaska – are undeniably engaging.
Ultimately, this is not just a journey through places, but with over four years contained within the pages, it’s also a story about the gradual passing of life itself. The extent of Outen’s many achievements are matched only by her reflective humbleness. ‘Body allowing, I think if anyone wanted to ride a bike across a continent, they could,’ she writes. ‘Some would be faster and fitter and some could take years instead of months (or days), but the most enduring muscle of all is attitude. If you want to get there, you will.’