The Story Behind the Stories

If you’ve had a look around, you know that Xtrord.com is full of stories about one ordinary guy’s truly extraordinary experiences. But to understand what this project is really all about, it helps to know a bit of background. With that in mind, here’s our own humble story:

Who is Alan Rider?

Alan RiderIn a lot of ways, I’m not that unique. I’m not wealthy, nor am I supremely physically fit. I’m not especially courageous, and don’t think I have an adrenaline junkie’s pathological attraction to dangerous activities (though my wife may disagree on that last point). I’m just a regular guy who’s always been up for a new adventure.

Unlike a lot of folks, however, my two careers—first as a disc jockey and, more recently, as a magazine editor and travel writer—have allowed me to enjoy a long string of truly extraordinary experiences. From competing in an elephant race to watching the earth and sky trade places through the glass canopy of an aerobatic biplane, I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to do an awful lot of downright cool stuff.

Still, my life might have remained uninspired and my passion undiscovered were it not for the wake-up call the Universe delivered one sunny August afternoon via an elderly gentleman in a white Oldsmobile Cutlass. Though neither of us realized it at the time, his split-second decision to run the red light at the downtown Salt Lake City intersection I happened to be riding my motorcycle through would transform the way I looked at the world forever.

After the good folks at the University of Utah Medical Center literally saved my life, the six months of surgeries and physical therapy I went through left me with plenty of time to think. And as I searched for some deeper meaning behind my traumatic near-death experience, I stumbled across this quote from the conclusion of Henry David Thoreau’s classic Walden:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Those last dozen words leapt off the page at me. And, the more I thought about them, the more I realized that the only way to make sense of this unsettling and painful introduction to my own mortality was to make the conscious decision to live my life to the fullest from here on out.

And so I’ve created this website to both allow me to live out my dreams and encourage and inspire you to do the same. Everything here is designed to remind you not to relegate all those things you’ve always wanted to do to that file we all carry around inside our heads labeled “Someday.” Because I’ve learned from personal experience that Someday may never come.

If I can help other people to understand this one fundamental truth that I had to learn the hard way – that, on their death beds, people never regret what they did, only what they didn’t do – well, that might be my most extraordinary experience of all.

The Story of Xtrord.com: A Website is Born

A few years ago I got tired of being disappointed by the feature stories in most mainstream travel publications. Their lackluster attempts to make the same time-worn destinations and bland activities sound new and exciting just weren’t cutting it. Same goes for all those sadly unimaginative adventure guidebooks and websites that do nothing more than list broad categories of commonplace activities like “mountain biking.” Frankly, they bored the heck out of me.

And so I decided to create a new kind of online publication that featured nothing but the really cool stuff. One where you don’t have to sift through 100 pages of drek to find that one uncommon idea that really excites you.

The result? The world’s first collection of truly extraordinary experiences. We’re talking about honest-to-goodness once-in-a-lifetime adventures here, the kind you’ll blather on about to friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else who will listen for years to come.

So what qualifies as an “extraordinary experience” in my worldview? While the adventures profiled here cover a broad spectrum that reflects my wide-ranging interests, all of them meet three basic criteria:

Extraordinary: The dictionary defines the word extraordinary as “very unusual or remarkable.” In practical terms that means we’ll only tell you about particularly rare and unforgettable experiences that run the gamut from completely mind-blowing to downright quirky.

Experiential: Because we’re talking about experiences here, all of our adventures require your active participation. Meaning you’ll have to turn off the television and get up off the couch to enjoy them.

Equal Opportunity: Finally, we consider the “doability” factor. In other words, is this something a person of ordinary means and physical abilities can manage? That said we also assume that if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you’ll be willing to make a few reasonable sacrifices to make it happen.

Fortunately for all of us, we live in a truly remarkable time. After years spent collecting these extraordinary experiences, I can tell you that the possibilities for turning your persistent daydreams into reality are now nearly limitless. Virtually anything that you’ve ever fantasized about, any experience you’ve always wanted to have, is out there waiting for you. To see what we mean, simply visit our Experiences page.

One more thing: I’ll be the first to admit that the list of novel adventures collected here is far from complete. Which is where you come in. Please take a minute to tell us about your extraordinary experience by using our Contact page.

Finally, thanks for taking the time to check out the website. And remember our motto: Life Is Short. Live It Fully.

Our Guiding Principles

  • We believe that we were put here to live, not to merely exist.
  • We believe that possessions don’t last but memories do.
  • We believe that reality kicks virtual reality’s butt every time.
  • We believe we live in an age when virtually anything is possible.
  • We believe generalities are boring and specifics are anything but.
  • We believe that finances, fitness, and fear are not obstacles.
  • We believe that “Someday” never comes.
  • We believe in leaving this life with no regrets.

Giving Back

Seeing as how we’re all about living life to the fullest, it should come as no surprise that we whole-heartedly support the work of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Each year the organization grants thousands of wishes for young children and teens with life-threatening illnesses across the U.S. From helping kids become a crime-fighting superhero for a day to introducing them to their favorite rock star, its clear the folks who make these dreams a reality understand the true meaning of extraordinary experiences.

To learn more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s work and how you can help, visit their website at www.wish.org