In the Trail the Young Lawrence of Arabia

As a youth and student, TE Lawrence, later Lawrence of Arabia, cycled for thousands of miles around southern England, Wales and then France. He loved the independence of exploring by bicycle and he loved to push himself physically. His sense of adventure, his self-reliance and particularly his physical resilience are key to understanding the man he later became. See more about the Young Lawrence.

This project - In the Trail of the Young Lawrence of Arabia - is a contemporary piece of travel writing that takes inspiration from the cycle journeys made by the young TE Lawreneec. It is written by travel writer and endurance sportsman James Henderson. In it James Henderson uses TE Lawrence’s letters home from 1906-8 as a lens to recreate the journeys and to view again the places he visited.

In 2019 James Henderson recreated TE Lawrence’s trips to visit the castles of Wales and his journeys of 1906 and 1907 to Brittany, Normandy and the Loire Valley. In 2020, he will create TE Lawrence’s extraordinary trip around the rest of France, which took TE Lawrence down to the Mediterranean and back up the west of the country. In all he covered some 2500 miles.

There are several differences between the trips… not least the standard of the bicycles and the roads… See more about the differences, including about Food & Drink

the 2019 Cycle Journeys

James Henderson cycled around Wales (in late April and early May 2019 where, unfeasibly, he was rained on only once in eight days). This was to follow a trip undertaken by TE Lawrence in the Easter holidays of 1907.

The second journey, in July 2019 was around North-western France, where TE Lawrence cycled in the summer holidays of 1906 (mainly in Brittany) and 1907, sometimes alone, often with a school-friend and for a short time with his father. He also made a quick trip down to Fontrevaud and theh castles at Saumur and Angers on the Loire.

James Henderson’s third journey, to be undertaken in 2020, follows the trip made by the young TE Lawrence in the summer of 1908, during the vacation between his first and second year at university. It was an extraordinary trip of 4000 kilometres long, covering much of France.

A Life of Adventure

This site, A Life of, is all about… well, adventure, something that was written into TE Lawrence’s very make-up. He travelled and explored from an early age. Read about some other adventurers from a more modern age.

Read about ultra-cyclist Sean Conway’s record-breaking crossing of Europe. See more…

See BBC TV presenter Sophie Raworth’s tips about running in the Marathon des Sables. Read more…

Read about Godzone, the longest and arguably the toughest adventure race. See more…

Training Journal

And you thought your training was hard... Read the Fat-knacker's Repose, the story of the calamities and mis-adventures of James Henderson's training regime in A Life of Adventure's Training Journal...  His recent entry is My Crampons for  a Pillow...

Some more adventures to consider...

About A Life of Adventure

A Life of Adventure is about participatory sport and adventure – races, rides, expeditions, events, training for them, preparing, participating and competing. We don’t usually do mountaineering or professional sport, nor machines, either - instead it’s about the things that will inspire YOU to get out there and get active.

It’s about motivation, training and swapping advice, and it’ll give you the view from the ground, the grunt and graft during participation. And let’s not forget our adventurous ancestors, so there are historic stories about adventurers too.

A Life of Adventure was almost named Adventure, Adventure, Adventure… in a play on Location, Location, Location… Basically it’s the antidote to nesting. So if you are happiest when working your body hard in an exotic location and you feel a small ache of dissatisfaction at our daily diet of stories about rather badly behaved professional footballers, if you feel an urge, to get out there and do something intensely physical, then this site will have lots of ideas for you.

To find out more about James Henderson, the main writer at A Life of Adventure, see here...

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A Life of Adventure would be delighted to hear from you, with a question or comment, a suggestion for an interviewee, or a subject to cover, or an adventure for Desk till Dawn at the Financial Times’ How to Spend it magazine. Please do so through our Contact Form here.