Pedal The Pond have returned to the UK and we caught up with, team member, Henry for a debrief on his experience of pedalling the Atlantic Ocean.
Hey Henry, congratulations, you did it. How are you?
“Just trying to get back into real life, it’s bloody cold, but yea it was amazing, everything went to plan. Well, there were lost of things that went wrong but we managed to fix them so all good.”
How many days did it officially take you to pedal across the Atlantic?
“It took us 40 days and 11 hours, basically I can’t say if it felt like a long time or a short time as everything is all a bit of a blur. I don’t think I could have done anymore days. But it was an amazing and we all loved every minute of it.”
How long did the sea legs last for?
“Actually, not as long as we thought they would, we have exaggerated in our heads how we would feel when we landed on dry land. We all managed to find our land legs quite quickly and didn’t suffer from land sickness or even sea sickness when we were out at sea. We also managed to dodge sun stroke as well. We were all very lucky.”
“There was one big moment, that highlighted the whole trip and I can’t get that feeling of near death out of my head.”
At FUEL10K HQ we followed you every day but couldn’t help thinking, what was it like being out there in the middle of the ocean at night, how did you keep spirits up and remain calm?
“It was really difficulty, one of the hardest things were the night shifts. When you are going to sleep running through your head is that you’re only going to get an hour and 45 mins sleep and then you are back on the pedals. The things that kept us going were we had things to look forward to. We’d have three pieces of Galaxy chocolate every other day, your FUEL10K porridges and some chocolate flapjacks that were made for us before we set off. Our chat revolved around these treats, you’d treasure it and eat it differently each time you had it, sometimes you’d let it melt in your mouth or you’d eat it quite quickly and at the moment it would be amazing.”
A key driver for this pedal was to raise awareness for Mental Health in young men, aside from the challenge, do you feel you have accomplished what you set out to do with Pedal the Pond?
“Yes. I think we have achieved what we set out to do, we have noticed along the way a big increase in our friendship groups talking about their mental health. With the challenge itself it has never been done before and we never touched the oar’s we had as back up, and although we crawled over the finish line we were all really happy that we managed to pedal the whole way and therefore broke the record. I couldn’t have asked for anything better and we are all better friends because of it. All four of us realised at the beginning because we were in such close proximity we all learnt that you had to treat others how you wanted to be treated, otherwise it wasn’t going to work.”
What was the scariest moment?
“There was one big moment, that highlighted the whole trip and I can’t get that feeling of near death out of my head.
We’d been informed there was going to be 25 knot winds coming and our biggest winds we’d had before were 20 knots, so that’s a big increase. Angus has informed of the weather that was coming, and that they are going to start at 8 O’clock and by 8.30am Hec and I were on shift and this absolute monster wave just caught us perfectly. We picked up so much speed we didn’t just surf the wave, like we normally do and come out the other end, we went under water, the whole front cabin was submerged and the water that pushed us down flew over the back of the boat and completely covered us in water. The realisation hit, if that wave had hit the boat at a slightly different angle it could have rolled the boat completely. We pulled ourselves together and just thought it was a freak wave, it’s not going to happen again. Then about an hour and half later the exact same thing happened again, I woke up disorientated as the boat shuttered. At that point I thought, one we were going to die and two, we had 72 hours of these winds and the uncertainty of not knowing if we’d experience another freak wave was horrible. We could only laugh about it 4 days later when we were in good spirits.”
“Paddy suffered the most, he threw his toothbrush overboard (luckily he had a spare one, but lost that so we had to share toothbrushes for the rest of the trip, not great). Max, Hec and I saw shapes and characters moving across the boat but we didn’t suffer to badly.”
Your bodies must have taken a beating being out for 40 days in the ocean, how did you manage to maintain strength both mentally and physically to complete the challenge?
“Well, physically we’d done a lot of training leading up to the trip. We’d been training 5 days a week and we also consuming about 4,000 calories worth of food a day and burning 6,000. We were struggling to eat anymore, so I think we had the right amount of good tasting food.
Mentally we psyched ourselves up so much for the challenge we thought it was going to be hell, don’t get me wrong it was the most difficulty thing we’ve ever done, but I think the fact was I thought we’d be tired from day three and it took a couple of weeks before our legs were really suffering which was remarkable. We found ways to do lots of stretching within the cabins at the ends of the boat, we had little tennis ball sized medicine balls and generally looked after our bodies as best we could.”
What was the best thing about this experience and what would you say to someone who was thinking of taking on the Atlantic Ocean?
“I think the best thing about the experience was that we saw an amazing amount of wild life, we saw pods of dolphins and nine whales which I’ve never experienced before. Another great thing is the bond all four of us have together is pretty special.
The whole experience has been life changing, what’s next? I haven’t had time to let this experience sink in let alone think about the next challenge.
I have just been signed up to a Halow Project 250mile bike ride from London to Portsmouth to France, 100 mile circle in France, and back again. I haven’t managed to rope in the others yet….!”