Meet the Wanderist: Tom Vanderbilt. Tom fell hard for road cycling over a year ago when, for a magazine assignment, he needed to ride 60 miles with someone 15 years older than himself. Since then, the active adventurist has ridden on almost every continent (he's looking at you, Antarctica) with some incredible people. He even wrote an entire book, Beginners, about how hard — and yet how satisfying — it can be — to be a novice. Read on to learn more about the Wanderist who proved that embracing adventure, at any age, can make you a different person than when you left.
Madison, New Jersey
SALT OR SNOW:
Salt (but snow curious)
SPORT OF CHOICE:
Cycling, surfing, open-water swimming, soccer and climbing (and I'll try anything once, hit me up!)
As of late, Peru.
WHAT DOES ADVENTURE MEAN TO YOU?:
Opening the door to new experiences, whether those be places, activities or zones of consciousness. It doesn’t have to mean traveling great distances or doing extreme sports; it can be reading a book that changes your perspective, eating some new cuisine, or taking mindful walks in your neighborhood and, for instance, trying to identify as many bird calls as you can. Adventure to me equals change — coming back a different person from when you left.
WHEN SEEKING ADVENTURE, WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU DO?:
Start packing. This is actually one of the most exciting moments of adventure for me — the pure, unbridled, blank-slate anticipation of what you’re about to do. Plus, the immensely satisfying activity of choosing gear, packing most efficiently and making checklists. It all comes back a muddy mess, of course, just like you.
THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T TRAVEL WITHOUT:
Bose Quiet Comfort 45s, some form of trail mix and one long paperback book to last the trip.
HOW YOU GOT STARTED CYCLING:
I fell hard into road cycling over a decade ago when, for a magazine assignment, I needed to ride 60 miles with someone 15 years older than me. The ride was fantastic, the longest I’d ever done, and I was amazed by how fit my companion was (much more so than me). I’ve since been fortunate to ride on almost every continent — I’m looking at you, Antarctica — with some incredible people: There are few better vehicles for shared adventure than a bike.
TIPS FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO START A NEW SPORT:
I wrote a whole book, ‘Beginners,’ about how hard — and yet how satisfying — it can be — to be a novice (BTW, Salt + Snow’s Kathy Thomas makes a star turn in the book). You are going to make mistakes. You are going to look foolish. You are going to wipe out, you may get hurt. It’s called learning. But anyone who’s now proficient was once in your shoes. There are few shortcuts, and why would you want to shorten such a fascinating and rewarding journey in any case?
FAVORITE SNACK TO FUEL WITH:
Homemade sweet or savory rice cakes from the recipe by Skratch Labs’ Allen Lim. Light, quick burning, tasty, and, wrapped in little foil squares, they fit easily in a jersey pocket or a bag and hit that sweet spot between giving you fuel and delivering sensory comfort.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?:
I could never be him but I have always been super impressed by the filmmaker Werner Herzog (I just read his book Conquest of the Useless, about filming his epic Fitzcarraldo in the Amazon, and it’s staggeringly good). All his life he’s had a wide-ranging, voracious set of interests, he takes epic quests — the time he walked from Germany to Paris to try to prevent the death of his friend in the hospital — he constantly takes things to the Nth level, he is just an indomitable presence, even nearing 80 years of age.
IF YOU COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?:
Time travel. There are so many people I’d like to meet, so many epochs I would like to experience, and maybe I could give a piece of advice or two to my younger self.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST MOTIVATOR AND WHY?:
Curiosity. In my writing, almost every big project begins with a simple, powerful word: “Why?” When I’m traveling, I leave few stones unturned. And in terms of adventure, even if I end up not liking some activity — or being really bad at it — I simply have to know what it feels like, what others find compelling in it.
3 FAVORITE BOOKS?:
Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
PUMP UP SONG:
Forgot About Dre - Dr. Dre
Missing - Everything But The Girl
SALT + SNOW SELECTS: