[ Pokhara ]
From time to time most of us think we’ve hit upon some plan or idea or dream that is different—something ultra cool, undeniably unique, or particularly extreme. We cultivate these solipsistic mythologies wherein we are the bad-ass, the central heroine, the One Who Survives.
We’re typically wrong—even when me may be right, just a little bit, sometimes—because we aren’t Jean Naud.
Jean Naud, that’s who.
You’ve likely never heard of Jean Naud—I hadn’t—but Jean Naud doesn’t care. Like Honey Badger, Jean Naud doesn’t give a shit. Or didn’t, at least. Now he’s dead, so he really doesn’t give a shit. But back in 1986? When he was 55 years old and out-of-shape? When there was no cycling gear on earth that could navigate the Saharan sands between Algiers and Timbuktu? He didn’t give a shit then, either. Totally impassable? Didn’t give a shit. It’s 3200 km of complete solitude with no margin for error? No shits given. That he’d require nearly 180 kg (396 lbs) of food, water, and additional gear? Didn’t give a shit. Generally speaking, when it came to the word “no,” Jean Naud just couldn’t be bothered to give any shits. The quiet, unassuming Algerian considered the problems, engineered and built the world’s first three-wheeled, convertible, monotrack fatbike, loaded it with 72 liters of water, and disappeared into the desert.
Naud knew no “no,” non?
He was the One Who Knocks, uh…I mean Survives.
In case it isn’t already clear, No-“No” Naud made it to Timbuktu, and subsequently lived to the age of eighty, passing on to Honey Badger Heaven in 2011. Though he died without ever having landed a GoPro or Red Bull sponsorship, he died cooler than you, me, and pretty much everyone else you know.
Kick ass, Jean.
You can read about Jean’s awe-inspiring trip here, on the indispensable (for me) Sahara Overland website. Though the site focuses on the geographic, political, and practical realities of navigating the countries of north Africa, it is fascinating to read, and scarily current, for all sorts of reasons. Take for example the site’s detailed, no-bullshit, comprehensive and non-hysterical page providing an exhaustive list of “dates, locations and outcomes (where known) of reported kidnappings of nearly 100 Westerners…from sub-Saharan West Africa.” Beginning with “the first such event in Algeria in March 2003” and concluding with the most recent instance (February 2017) in Mali.
But that’s another story, for another day.