30th June 2013 - The Big One!

Saturday the 29th of June 2013 was easily the toughest day of exercise I have ever done, no question, but first lets rewind a week to the previous Saturday...


Saturday: Travel to Restronguet Bay in Cornwall for the start of the Internal 14 Championships.  It's difficult to begin to describe what it's like to sail an International 14 to someone who's not an experienced sailor, there's a collection of photos throughout my website (infact I've just changed the background to this site to an I14) and if you'd like to read more about them click here, but in brief it's highly competitive and extremely physical.  It's a fair drive to Cornwall from Southampton, so it was a relief to arrive and get rigged up, we had hoped to get some practice in before the champs started the next day but it was very windy so I took the opportunity to dive in and get some outdoor swimming practice in the rough waters of the bay.


Sunday: Again mother nature wasn't playing ball and it was far too windy to consider sailing and with the forcast showing no sign of improving for the rest of the day the race officer postponed racing until Monday, so myself and Roger went out for a windy and very hilly 35 mile bike ride up to north coast of Cornwall.  Later that evening when the tide was in I again took the opportunity for some swim practice and a chance to perfect my 'sighting' in open water, feeling pretty confident with my swimming now.


Monday: The wind calmed down and racing could begin, after all the high winds that had blown through we were now left with a couple of races in relatively light airs, not our favourite conditions but at least the Champs was under way.


Tuesday: Only one race on Tuesday but the one that is considered the most important, the Prince of Wales Cup.  The International 14 fleet is in someways a querky fleet to sail in due to its long history it has many traditionals and the POW race in itself is considered the race to win, it's always 6 laps of a larger than normal course and the rules state that once the race has started it keeps going even if the wind dies and it becomes a drifter!  Unfortunately we didn't have the best of races, we haven't done a huge amount of practice and we weren't currently liking the light conditions.  I chose to release my disapointment with another great sea swim!


Wednesday: The forecast for day was looking like it really wasn't going to happen due to no wind at all and there was certainly a lack of enthusiasm ashore as people sat about waiting for the race office to decide what to do.  After a lot of sitting around we were eventually told to launch and managed to get one race done in the entrance of the estuary before the wind totally switched off.


Thursday: Finally we were blessed with a more typical forecast and sent out for 3 races in the bay, 2 points races and 1 'fun' handicap race which turned into a crews race and my first opportunity to have a go steering an Int14 around the race track (in probably the windiest race of the week), which was great fun and even more enjoyable watching my helm struggling with the more physical crews role at the front of the boat.  We eventually sailed back into the estuary after about 8 hours on the water both feeling very tired.


Friday: The last day of the Champs and the forecast was for it to be pretty fresh, we had a great blast down to the start area before the wind strangely seemed to defy the forecast and ease off, we still had a good couple of races in a moderate breeze but not quite the blast we'd been promised by the weather man!  Then it was back in to pack up the boat and head out to the museam in Falmouth for the dinner and prize giving.  We ended up 5th overall and the full report and write up can be found here.


Saturday:  And that brings me back to Saturday and despite an already action packed and tiring week there was one more massive challenge that I wanted to tick off and that was cycling home and in doing so breaking the 200 mile marker in one day on a road bike!  This is a challange I've always wanted to have a crack at and I can't stress how much of a challenge it was!  I set off at around 6am, the forecast looked good and any wind forecast seemed to be north westerly so a steady tail wind.  Starting deep in the depths of southern Cornwall presented immediate challenges, big hills and lots of them!  The first 3 hours were hard but manageable and I took my first break to check in with the wife on progress and get some necessary calories on board, unfortunately though on the A30 there was very little place to refill my water bottles and after setting off the next hour was agony, I was dehydrated and now looking at the hill profile it's obvious why it was such hard work and I was litterally struggling to get above 8 mph and felt like I hit the wall a couple of times.  When I finally saw signs for a service station I knew I had to stop and was close to giving up and considering limping to Exeter to get a train but after a bottle of coke I was literally off flying again and the next couple of hours flew past averaging some great speeds and getting me back on track.  I decided to stop in Honiton and find a bakery as my main lunch break and treat myself to a longer relax and a much needed pasty, sausage roll and cake, plus more coke!  After I left Honiton I was back in what I knew was going to be the most challenging part of the ride through Dorset and some of the steep demanding hills around Chideock and to make matters worse the sun was now beating down hard and it was hot, very hot!  The rest of the ride was tough, trying to cope with the heat, regular water breaks and continually urging myself not to give up which is where the motivation of working with the charity really helps and I can't begin to describe how low I felt at times, literally considering rolling over at the side of the road and giving in.  Thankfully I pushed on and there was a great sense of acheivement when I reached the 200 mile marker and even more so when I finally arrived home after over 13 hours of pain!  It was great to see the family again, I didn't have the energy to pick up my children but I did manage to lie down and let them jump on me instead.



Sunday: As you can imagine this was very much spent recovering, re-hydrating and generally eating! Although remarkably I did manage a knock about at Tennis followed by a swim (more of a splash in the pool) down the gym with my family.


This time I'll leave you with a view from the Falmouth National Maritime Museum where we had the International 14 dinner on Friday night, in the background you can see one of the older International 14's (Thunder and Lightening) that was built in 1938!!  They've come a long way since then...