Day four: The ironman, the foodie and the driving rain…
If yesterday had been frustrating, today was just plain hard! But I loved it! Having parked up in a Brit Stop pub carpark (The Ring O’Bells in St Issey) overnight we set off at 6am on a 100km cycle, with a 3km running interlude. It was Dave’s last day and we had been joined by Alex, an RNLI guy who was in training for a Half Ironman. It was good to have someone so experienced in saving people from drowning on board, especially as the weather was absolutely appalling. In fact, it was probably the wettest morning of the whole adventure.
Arriving at the first kayak stop in Appledore, we met up with Radio Two’s food expert, my good friend Nigel Barden. He was giving out an award in the area and, already a supporter of the expedition, he gave us a ‘shout out’ on the Radio to help raise a few more pounds.
It was really nice to see his familiar face at that point in the day, especially as it was also time to say goodbye to Alex (who had to cycle back to Padstow) and Dave (who was going home).
The weather had completely changed now as if it had decided not to be outdone by Nigel and the BBC audience by sharing some sunshine. To add to this the launch into the River Taw was perfect and it was nothing short of idyllic as I made my way upstream, along the smaller River Caen, and arriving at Broughton Pil. The gentle 8km kayak was a lovely way to get me ready for the pain that was about to come.
The big climb and the return of the rain!
I set off, alone on the bike for the first time in 4 days, to face the Goliath that awaited. Exmoor National Park, with its notorious 1-in-4 gradient Countisbury Hill, was always going to be a challenge – and it was one I relished. The ascent was all about exploring pain and chasing away the tiredness of the previous three and a half days. My body was full of questions, but I was determined to be in control of the answers.
In business, this is a great place to be too. I believe that anyone who is scared of hard work should never start a business – it simply won’t work. The secret is ‘knowing’ that there is a future ahead where you will be able to stop and enjoy the view or freewheel for a while. That knowledge is only possible through detailed planning and confidence in the route map ahead (complete with allowances for the unexpected).
Arriving at the highest point of the moor was a great moment (although I had been sick just before I got there) and the solitary selfie I took there is a special one for me. To add to the thrill, the threat of spill and the wind-defying buzz of the descent, however, I was joined by my old friend, the driving rain. It was exhilarating and at one point the GPS on my bike displayed just over 90 km per hour. Seriously good fun!
It’s all downhill from here on…
A funny phrase that one. On one hand it might suggest you’ve hit the high spot and things will never be that good again. I prefer to think of it as a milestone reached and it’s time to pick up a bit of speed ready for the next challenge. Too many business owners have a stop-start approach to their journey rather than one of creating momentum, direction, targets, and continually pushing the boundaries.
The day ended with a sewage infested swim at Burnham on Sea, but the less said about that, the better! Simon joined the team at the end of the day, but I’ll introduce you to him tomorrow.
Rock to Burnham on Sea
Total = 212km; Cycle = 200km; Run = 3km; Kayak = 8km; Swim = 1km