This year is all about the Pacific. Or, more exactly, rowing across it from Japan’s east coast to Canada. The clock is now ticking and the ocean is calling. Gulliver, my rowing boat, arrives next week.
As I sit here in my room, just twenty metres from the sea, I can hear the waves sloshing on the shore. It is wonderful. I moved down from the mountains last weekend to be here full time. At first I was sorry to leave new friends in the hills, and then I had my first lungful of sea air and knew that there was nowhere else I would rather be.
It is a perfect spot for training, on and off the water. My sponsored Concept2 rowing machine is set up in a glass fronted room looking out to sea. I take out a sit-on-top kayak for a paddle round the bay most mornings and a sunset swim is just metres away. Not toasty but not freezing, and utterly exhilarating. I have some weights, a skipping rope and a swiss ball for my core training. For brain training I have spent some time recently on the phone with Briony, my very wonderful sports psychologist. I continue to be battered (helpfully) up in Tokyo by my physio to try and right the wrongs done over the first leg from London. My right shoulder is still not right enough and my lower back is holding grudges against me, apparently.
Fresh from the sea at sunset
Alongside the training there is much planning to be done – not just by me, but by my wonderful team of elves back home. We are looking ahead to landing options on the other side (and getting very excited about meeting Canada for the first time in my life), logistics and then the trans Canada/U.S cycling phase beyond that. Although it still feels a bit abstract, we are even looking at the very final bit of blue stuff before the U.K – my homecoming row across the Atlantic. There is still an awful lot of globe between Japan and London according to my windowsill, but I have more headspace now than I anticipate having for the next two years, so this time and space now is key to the rest of the expedition.
Back to school
Alongside the Skype calls to classrooms around the world, I am also spending time in schools, sharing stories from the journey so far and encouraging students to chase their dreams and believe in themselves. I was buzzing after my morning at the British School in Tokyo yesterday – I realised how much I had missed being around young people since being on the road. One young lad asked if I would have a support boat on the ocean or someone to follow me on the bike to make sure I am safe. ‘No’, said I. ‘Hmm,’ said he, and thought about it. ‘So you’ve got to be careful then?’
I hope that your year has got off to happy start, wherever you are. Stick with us and bring your friends along, too – the next few months are leading into a very exciting time and the ocean ahead will be an adventure. I promise.
Yours from down-by-the-sea,
P.S: Latest education blog here ‘Giant waves & wobbles’ – please circulate to schools and young families
P.P.S: Latest videos here