Day eleven: Deadlines, good times and drawing attention to myself!
This day was all about hitting a deadline. I had 136km to travel on the bike to get to Inverkip and unload the kayak so Tony could get on the 1pm ferry from a little further up the road at McInroy’s Point. So setting off at two minutes to six I started one of the longest cycles of the whole endeavour. It was not a particularly hard route, beautiful and still with its fair share of climbs (this was Scotland after all), but relatively uneventful. And, while every day of the challenge was governed largely by time, for this particular leg it was critical. Missing that ferry would put everything out by hours and have a negative knock-on effect for days.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have agreed to do an interview with a local paper in the midst of one of the most time sensitive sections of the entire route, but I had. So a short detour to answer a few questions and pose for a picture with the reporter from the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald at least gave me time to catch my breath. Despite the journalistic interlude, just over seven hours after setting off (having averaged around 21km per hour) I arrived in good time. And after a smooth transition, Tony was on his way, and I was hitting the water one more.
Target achieved and plain sailing ahead…
Compared to the day before this was a lovely experience. In fact, the comparisons are so far apart as not even to be worth making. As I entered the Firth of Clyde in the kayak, having enjoyed my bacon sandwich and an easy stroll down to the water’s edge, I was feeling completely content. I was on time, felt unhurried, unburdened and even able to make a few phone calls while giving way to a larger tanker that was speeding along the waterway.
There is nothing which sets you up for a good day or a strong performance quite like coming off the back of hitting a deadline. This was very much the case here, and it was helped by the fact that the sun was shining its peace upon the crossing. Often in life we can be daunted by the enormity of a challenge or a task ahead of us: perhaps it is a time-critical one, or perhaps a tough ask that simply has to get done. One of the secrets to motivating yourself through those mammoth efforts is dwelling on the knowledge that the victory will taste sweet and the ‘future you’ will appreciate your effort. As I sat, smiling to myself and enjoying the sights and sounds of that particular kayak crossing, I afforded myself a little pat on the back for having reached my target in plenty of time.
How to draw a crowd and make them think…
After the kayak, another 35km on the bike brought me to Inverary where we had planned to stop for the night. The campsite here was stunning, and I couldn’t resist having an extra swim after my short run. I was even able to draw a small, curious crowd as people gathered on the balcony of the campsite’s visitor centre overlooking Loch Fyne.
As I looked up from the water, watching them watching me, I couldn’t help imagine what they were thinking. “Why is that crazy man swimming in that freezing snow and ice fed water, seemingly going nowhere?” If only they knew the entire extent of the crazy enterprise I was endeavouring to complete!