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  • Writer's pictureDandelion

17, 18, 19, in search of a quick 20 (or not)

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

Volunteer to do an Assembly (and do it!)

Do jumps on a Mountain Bike

Swim to the Mewstone

And I really want my 100 mile rowing challenge to be number 21 so when that is complete I will have done 1/2 of the challenges, but choosing some will possibly hinder the row in some way (No new stuff - equipment issues, a different physical one may effect training and no social media may affect sponsorship or advice) and others my mean I take my eyes of the prize on the biggie... the one that first got me thinking I could dream crazy challenges and turn them into reality.

So, I was telling my marvellous Mother in Law about my challenges last summer and that one of them was Doing an Assembly, then I got in the car to drive home and popped on another amazing Tough Girl Podcast (whom should be credited as a catalyst for much of my madness) and there was this teacher talking about walking the whole of the SW Coast path and that she decided that she had to do an assembly about it to make it real. The serendipity of it was magic. I volunteered within weeks of starting my new job, but being part time and with my timetable we could never get the dates to work, so I didn't and then time passed, and then a call was put out for volunteers and I volunteered but my email got stuck in Lucy's junk eddy so I still didn't. And then Helenski said you can do one with me, and so I did. We delivered a talk on the Climate Crisis to all of year 9 and 10 as we are starting a Climate Action Group at school, but as I was Robin to her Batman so it didn't feel like a true tick. Luckily 'ask the Universe' provided the real opportunity days later when the new head of Foo's school said she'd love to take me up on my offer to develop curriculum for his class to do whilst we do our row... and would I like to do an assembly to the whole school to introduce it on World Ocean Day seen as so many themes over lap. 'Yes please' I cried ecstatically, as I seem to do so often these days (no silly sniggering)... So I prepared thoroughly, Foo checked it was appropriate and gave me excellent suggestions and then I dressed Oceany and went to talk about food chains, and sustainable fishing and micro-plastics and protecting our oceans and then a weeny bit about the row. Twice. As the whole school couldn't fit into the Hall that day. TICK tick.

I realised that I had probably got the jumps on a MTB tick last May with cousin Honk when I tried ALL the obstacles on my first go regardless of her concerned look at my technique and then I went over the jumps at Leigh Woods about 4 times... I got 1 inch of air, and air is air, I'm never going to be Danny Macaskill... I'm currently a bit more on the Napoleon Dynamite end of the spectrum. Doesn't matter that backalong I'd do spins off the black jumps on my snowboard, jumps on a bike just feel much more scary. But after Strava informed me that nearly every one of my descents down a particular hill have been faster than the rest of the ladies and I get air time on each one of the speed humps, I think I can (and probably should) tick this one and calm my pants down. That I am even rowing and biking at the moment is pretty cool seen as I fractured my coccyx at the end of February, I have healed so well that I don't remember that I had injured myself! And I know not to chase QOM* on downhill stretches, but I just love going bloody fast and getting a giant dose of adrenaline, and luckily apart from this hill, all of my fun descents are off road.

The Mewstone is the triangular rock to the left of the catamaran, 1.75 miles from this beach!

Swim to the Mewstone... I have been looking at this rock all my life. I have never even rowed to it. It's a long way away. It's like our beast protecting the entrance to our River. You can see it from the top of the T-house, and from Cornwall! I even named the house we built after it. I decided that I could swim to it though, and so planned it as my 40th birthday present to myself. Mum volunteered to be on the kayak, I asked if brother would skipper Biff instead of a present. Julia kept the boys safe and entertained on the boat. My amazing intrepid friend Rachel offered to swim stages of it with me. Cousin Nini-Nick offered her swim-mad cousin up to join us, (he jumped at the chance and drove from Bristol and then back after victory, tea and toast). I upped my training to 3/4 pool swims and one sea swim a week, I studied the sea state for days in advance and it was looking unpleasant. With David's advice (my second Dad) I postponed for a day, which was just a day to get even more nervous! I then spent my birthday below par with some malady, but tried to ignore it all day. My morning surf was sub-optimal, but no witnesses luckily, our brunch picnic at the Warren was windy but glorious, we could see white horses around the Mewstone so I knew I had made the right call. That afternoon I had also pre-arranged a coastal row with the husband of a friend of mum's so did that too... but at supper brother suggested cancelling. NOPE, I've trained and planned and logisticked this challenge into existence... I WILL START, I may not finish, but I will start.

The next morning everything felt righter, me the sea, my morning tea... so we started, and despite irritating goggle issues (and ignorantly wearing my peaked cap) we swam 1.75 miles in 1 hr 1 minute from Cellars to the Mewstone... and amazing Rachel swam the entire way; all the more impressive as she confessed at the Sand Bar buoy that she'd never done an open water swim before. Legend. Asa, cuz of cousin, was awesome and his sighting skills and open water swim experience was a fantastic addition to our mini dolphin pod. My boys and Rachel's eldest were an amazing support crew although my 2 year old got scared the boat might run us over. Next time we'll also swim back... but the hot coffee and Anne's famous flapjack was heavenly on our return and a swim there was truly audacious at its inception up until its completion. But as soon as it finished, I realised.... I need to get busy ramping up on the row...

Also I gave up eating fish on my 40th for environmental and ethical reasons, this was not one of my 42, it is not a challenge but a choice!

*QOM is Queen of Mountain on Strava

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