Bonkers Brash day two: The best-laid plans
5:30am, the alarm goes off at what would become its regular setting for the rest of the challenge. The only difference here was that I was sleeping in a bed and breakfast with my family rather than the campervan which would give me my four and a half hours a night from then on.
After saying goodbye to Penny and the kids, Dave and I got on our bikes and headed off to Dartmouth on a 32km cycle to start the day. We arrived on the east side of the ferry crossing and packed Dave and the bikes onto the van and ferry while I prepared for the swim. When the ferry captain realised what I was about to do, he simply said, “Watch out for the jellyfish”.
A few strokes in and I realised what he meant. The channel was full of the magnificent translucent beasts, each one the size of a golfing umbrella but without the colourful logo. While it was initially a surprise, I knew they were relatively harmless and they were clearly oblivious to me, effortlessly propelling themselves through the dark water in whatever direction they happened to be facing.
The fascinating jellyfish were just another object to avoid as I swam across the busy waterway, looking out for boats and beasts as I went. In all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable swim and a great way to assure myself that my training had been ‘on point’ as I got into the rhythm of day two.
Unfortunately, the planning hadn’t…
Too many transitions spoil the task
It was during day two that it dawned on me that I might have miscalculated in my planning, and by the end of the day the reality had become clear. I’d had an inkling the previous day that there might have been too many transitions – bike to kayak to running shoes to swimmers and back to bike… all too often. Add to this a bit of confusion about the best time to be packed up for the night, with the support team, and I realised I would need to adjust. This meant that every night, from day two onwards, I was re-planning and reshaping the next day’s schedule before I was even able to think about sleep.
I love a challenge, physical or mental, so this simply made the adventure even more exciting for me – and there was no way I was going to be defeated. You see, this whole undertaking was never going to be about the completing anyway – it was the doing which inspired me. Likewise in business, if you only ever live for the destination you miss out on so much of the rich experiences involved in getting there.
The true test of a plan is how adaptable it can be…
The rest of day two involved three more 50km cycles, two short swims and a couple of kayak crossings. But it was the one across the Plymouth Sound to Cremyll Ferry which I remember the most. It was ferocious!
No matter how much you’ve seen, are taught, or read from other people’s experiences nothing can prepare you for doing it yourself. I was ready for headwinds and tough tidal currents – I’d trained for them and faced a few before. Looks can be deceiving too and as I launched the kayak into the Plymouth water, it looked magnificent. The sun was shining, the sea glimmered and the scene was well and truly set. But I hadn’t ventured far before the resistance appeared in full force. A crossing that should have taken just over an hour took two and a half, as a relentless barrage of wave upon wave shouted at me to stay away from Cremyll and declared that I shall not pass.
I have a treasured picture that I took half way across (and its value is increased significantly by the fact that it cost me 30 meters of hard graft). Likewise, if I needed a drink or took my arms off the pace of the paddle for a moment, the sea pushed me backwards without a care. Finally, however, I arrived, breathless and full of victorious exhilaration, safe on the Cremyll side.
As with the route planning difficulties, challenges like kayaking across Plymouth Sound are a great reminder to me that the initial plan is massively important but rarely perfect. You simply don’t know what the next corner or wave will bring so you have to be dynamic, resourceful and determined enough to go ahead and succeed anyway. It’s the only way to get through life.
The day ended with us missing a fabulously planned meal, but I’ll tell you about that in the next post.
Shaldon Strand to St Mawes
Total = 200km; Cycle = 169km; Run = 3km; Kayak = 5km; Swim = 3.5km