Day five: Marginal decisions and indulgent distractions!
Day four was always going to be one of the most challenging, but I underestimated just how much that would hold me back on day five. The thing was that I had foreseen there would be a knock-on effect, and I had made this day shorter, but it still caused no end of issues. Maybe, in retrospect, I should have made the day even easier still… But that is where I was at that moment, and I had the day ahead of me to deal with – regardless!
The big lesson here was simply that – sometimes plans are not perfect, but if the goal is important enough stopping is not an option.
Today was supposed to be the big kayak, the one I had been seriously looking forward to taking on – 16km across the Severn Estuary, from Weston Super Mare to Swanbridge Bay near Barry. But the horrendously stormy weather soon put a stop to that ambition. I had promised Penny that if anything looked ‘marginal’ in terms of danger that I would not attempt it. Obviously, she didn’t believe me (even though ‘marginal’ is a totally subjective measurement), but I feared her hearing about it as a headline on the morning news more than the storm.
I think Simon was quite relieved really, but he would have loved it – I’m sure.
Delays, dallies, and distractions….
We had arranged Simon arrival to the Challenge with this crossing specifically in mind. As we looked across it was clear from the 6-foot white horses galloping down the channel, chased by angry gale force winds gusting at up to 45 miles per hour – it wasn’t going to happen. Perhaps because of the exhaustion I was feeling physically; and the emotional disappointment at not being able to make the crossing, I then took my eye off the ball in terms of urgency. I gave in to the temptation of a slower start, by having a cooked breakfast before making our way to Barry in the motorhome.
By the time we started cycling on the other side we were already over an hour late, adding to my angst and frustration. The cycling stage started heading into the same westerly headwind that had made the water unpassable, but it was not going to defeat me twice. But once again a bit of poorly timed, but necessary and important, planning got in the way of getting through the rest of day. We had agreed to stop in at the Tredz Giant Bike Store, in Swansea, to meet the people who had supplied my bike – The Tredz guys were so welcoming and whilst it meant a bit of an unnecessary detour and time delay it did act as a pick me up in the form of tea and cakes.
Afterwards, Simon and I continued to fight the wind as we made our way west towards Pembroke, but the toll was slowly dawning on my body and mind and by the end of the day it had attacked. Having wasted three to four hours that day, it finally caught up; and around 20k short of the intended destination I collapsed. Hypothermia had set in and with the stress of so many unavoidable distractions my imagination had started running away with the idea that the whole challenge was slipping away.
My recovery that evening included a huge curry at another Brit Stop pub (the Speculation Inn) shared with the team and Jonathan Tweed from the Pepper Foundation – where I put on a brave face and smiled.
Staying focused on the job at hand!
Often in life and business, especially when plans fail, circumstances seem stacked against you, your stride is interrupted, or you are simply overawed, it is tempting to take the easy way out. In my experience, this is a trap you should be aware of and avoid. Whatever comes against you, however hard, just get through the day and everything will look better in the morning. And that was my biggest lesson from day five!
Burnham on Sea to Honeyborough Total = 160km
Cycle = 160km