What's this all about?

A new adventure beckons, and this is once again about my personal journey to make it happen.

It might make you laugh; it might make you cry, but by 'eck lads and lasses, it will be worth a quick skeg every now and then, tha's for sure.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

One. Final. Push.

 1. It feels like the right time ....

Sometimes there's a wonderful symmetry to life: you know, the old 'when one door closes, another one opens’. Well today is such a moment.

Image result for one door opens and another one closes

In 2009, when a relationship ended, I decided to look for something to do to fill the spare time in my life: something to focus my energy on. I was surfing the 'net when I came across the Charity Challenge website, and it was there that I saw the 'cycle across Cuba' adventure. 

At the time I'd not been on a bicycle for almost 35 years, so the idea of cycling 240+ miles in 5 days seemed achievable, yet slightly daunting; but it was a chance to create focus, get healthy and do something with purpose in a hot exotic location. So I signed up there and then and splashed out £120 on a hybrid. 

I met some wonderful people on that adventure, including Naomi Gollow, Hazel Clark, Valerie Andrews, and Tania Strom: all of whom I'm still in touch with and all of whom helped make it such a wonderful experience. My roomie for the trip (whose name I temporarily forget sadly) was also the best company and thankfully not a nightmare party-animal.

Now, 7 years later, I'm married to the most wonderful woman (Lucia). I can look back on some great adventure experiences (with the North Pole Trek forever the highlight), and I find myself looking forward to new life experiences with Lucia.

Having reached £100 000 raised for charities through challenges I've taken part in, I'm almost at peace with this phase of my life. I said almost!

Although I'm going to trek the Great Wall of China with a group of friends and acquaintances later this year (only 4 places left on the trek folks, so book early to avoid disappointment), I feel I need to do one last big adventure.

This is the beginning of the end so to speak: this is the story of my preparation for 2017. A fitting conclusion before the world opens its doors to two knowledge-hungry travelers: eager to see what India, Japan and a revitalised Cuba have to offer (to name but a few).

2. Not so much a challenge ....

Last week, sat by a pool in Marrakech, it was wonderful to succumb to the mysteries and seductive nature of foreign travel. A half-day in the souks and touring the city with a humble, wise and very knowledgeable guide; walking by people hammering wrought iron and crafting wood by hand (and foot); hearing about the peaceful values of Islam and the contentment it has brought the country (with its wise King), took me back to those early days of inner tranquility and clarity I had immediately after the Pole.

Similarly it's easy to succumb to the hazy memories of yesteryear and seductive promise of tomorrow's memories, yet to be hard-earned and lived. 

Hmm 'earned' - that's the key word that made previous adventures so memorable. Not just, for example, recalling rowing the final few metres on the 100km Thames Row, but recollecting the 8 months of sometimes back-breaking training, learning to row for 6 hours at a time. 

You know what, if I add in re-visiting some old skills and overcome a couple of long-time fears, I think I’ve got the perfect recipe for the finale.

Of course, being able to achieve all those desires in one activity seems highly improbable and doing just one thing simply wouldn't be climactic enough, so I've decided to aim for 7 challenges in 7 weeks. Each challenge will require six other people to join me but with me being the consistent participant, and I’ll return to my fundraising roots, raising money for:

- MDC, because it's a horrible disease that has touched my family.
- Heart Research UK, because their work helped my ex-father in law and will help my Mum.
- 7 'local' cancer charities, in memory of my Dad and to celebrate the continuing life of brave little Florence.
(As always, those taking part in the challenges can fund raise for whoever they want to: it's their time, network and their passion that will drive them forward).

Seven weeks of hell and fleeting success, with one final series of iconic memories.

3. Getting to the final list of 7 challenges .....

I've already decided that my 7 challenges are all going to be UK-based. There's so much on offer in Great Britain and whilst I'll now not complete (for example) the Everest Basecamp trek, I know that Nepal is just a short hop from Jaipur. I'll look at that magnificent mountain one day, with my wife by my side.

Recovery between challenges has to be a big factor in my planning too. No point doing 7 things if I'm beyond exhaustion after the first two but, similarly, no point taking on challenges that won't be physically and mentally demanding, so tonight I start the phase of my new training regime, with Thor's daughter (also known as the indestructible Becci Skelton).

And so it begins. Facebook page set up; Twitter name set up, and imagery work underway. Now it's the serious stuff of (for example) learning to open-water swim. And that's just one of the new things I need to master sufficiently.

The search has also begun for people to join me and, already, one friend (ex-7 seat bike and Thames Row team member Martin Ladbrooke) has committed to do 6 of the 7. He's as bloody daft as I am! 

Oh and I’ve decided I'm going to call the final challenge 'The Magnificent 7'.

Image result for the magnificent seven

I'll be a ginger Yul Byrnner: who will you be?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Mark (and Sara): know you're always sooooooo supportive.

  2. Exciting Geoff - can't wait to hear what all 7 challenges are!

    1. Keep reading Sue; they'll be revealed individually once they're confirmed and reserved.

      Don't tell everyone, but three of them will probably be in Yorkshire, with the others spread far and wide.

  3. Replies
    1. Uww ... interesting. You'll have to let me know what sort of activity might interest you (but not jogging or parachuting or riding an individual normal bike).