(Inside and Outside) My comfort zone


I suspect our Time Trial would have been a little more serious than this!

The official organised ride today was a “Time Trial”, an organised race along the sea front.  To the victor, a certificate and the honour of being the “Fastest cyclist to have turned up and competed in the Time Trial”, to the other participants, humiliation.

We all declined to participate.

This is probably the worst type of cycling for me.  At home my legs and my heart seem to be in an eternal episode of “The Weakest Link”.  In warmer climes my Heart Rate seems to be about 10 beats per minute higher.  As a result, I generally have some extra strength in my legs, but my Heart Rate is bouncing around at or above my limit.

Given my tendency to compete, I would have found it very difficult to stick to my Heart Rate limit in a competitive situation.  Not competing was the only safe option for me.

Fortunately, no-one else was particularly bothered about participating in this prestigious event either.

Instead, we headed up into the mountains for a leisurely climb, beverage and descent.  Approx. 26 km (with a climb of ~200m) in total, but done at a relatively sedate pace with frequent stops (mostly to get my Heart Rate under control!).

As is customary with these events, the conclusion of the outbound leg was marked with a refreshing beverage  🙂

A refreshing stop after a climb into the mountains!


For some reason, every time I come on an “activity” holiday I experience the need to remind myself that I’m not a sailor.  This holiday is no different.

It was a beautiful, calm day. What could possibly go wrong?

Despite the fact that I wasn’t particularly comfortable that the temperature of the Mediterranean fell within “reasonable” limits, and that a sudden submersion may be “shocking” to the system, I had reluctantly agreed to have a sailing lesson with Daughter #2… it would be “a nice thing to do together”.

Our instructor was called Emily.  She appeared to have recently joined the Waterfront Crew and was learning the ropes, presumably to get some experience before doing a full season next year.

By the time we started to think about getting on the water the weather had become “blustery” (not sure if this is a nautical term, but it’s a more polite version of the thoughts that were going through my mind as we prepared to launch!).

The intention was to avoid shocks by staying upright and dry.  This wasn’t a sound plan!  Due to the waves hitting the shore, I was required to do a “fast launch” from the beach.  Daughter #2 would accompany Emily in another boat and we would practice our tacks and reaches.  It all sounded so simple in theory!

Emily:  “Sail towards the buoy and we’ll catch you up”
Me:  “OK.”
I headed off towards a buoy, and a bunch of other boats.
A few minutes passed…
No Emily.
Guy in Safety Boat:  “The start line is just over there.”
Me:  “Thanks, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
It turned out that there was also a race for the Sailors.  (Another race I’d decline to participate in).
Still no Emily.
I decided to tack to see if I could find Emily (& Daughter #2), resulting in…
Capsize #1.

As time passed the wind seemed to be getting more blustery.  The race started, but appeared to descend into chaos as boats capsized left, right and centre.

I learned that if you do a jibe, and you aren’t watching, you get hit on the head by the boom.  Hard!  (Fortunately I was wearing a helmet).  I wasn’t supposed to be doing a jibe.  I didn’t know I was doing a jibe.  I capsized again… and again!

I was not in control.  I am not a sailor.

Eventually Emily decided the wind was not appropriate for an introduction to sailing lesson.  She decided to drop Daughter #2 off on the beach and then return to assist me in getting to shore:

Emily:  “OK.  I’m going to drop Daughter #2 off.  I’ll be back.”
Me:  “OK.”
Emily:  “If you feel scared, I can go and get someone to sit in with you.”
I may have been completely out of my comfort zone, but I was not about to respond in the affirmative to this.  What was the worst thing that could happen?  I had already been beaten around the head, and de-boated on multiple occasions.  I was more than capable of sitting in a boat and waiting for a few minutes… wasn’t I?

When Emily did return, the master plan was for me to head towards the beach and shout to people to let them know that I didn’t know what I was doing.

Emily:  “Tell them you don’t know what you’re doing.  Someone will help you.”
Me:  “OK.”

Eventually I got the attention of one of the safety boats.  Purely the fact that I was upright meant that I was 3rd in line for assistance.

Me:  “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Guy in the Safety Boat:  “OK, but we need to deal with them…” (pointing to an upturned boat) “then them… then it’s your turn.”
Me:  “OK.”

I didn’t need the safety boat.  My next capsize proved to be fatal.  We abandoned the boat and I joined Emily in hers for the final trip to shore, slightly battered and bruised but relieved, I have to say!.  That’s what you call quality family time!

It turned out to be a beautiful evening with a cracking moon!

Post Script:  Apparently my rudder wasn’t locking into place.  This would have created an obstacle to effective steering or control.  This sailing experience may not have been a complete success but perhaps all hope isn’t lost!

4 thoughts on “(Inside and Outside) My comfort zone

    1. Paul Squire Post author

      Thanks Eileen! I’ve just about recovered from my experience now… but not enough to think about going back in a boat! Maybe next time I’m on holiday! 🙂 Cheers, Paul.


  1. Gareth Beese

    Hi Paul,

    Sorry to hear about your HA but great to hear about your recovery and commitment to healthy lifestyle!

    Good to see from the blog that you haven’t lost your sense of humour!!

    Very insightful comments for us fellow over 40’s who are living close to parallel lives.

    For the record, I’m still enjoying a high stress job, working too hard just like many of us.

    I already have a mild heart condition, diagnosed 10 years ago, which leaves me on beta blockers – does mean I lost the belief I was immortal some te ago!

    I have procured the mid life crisis car earlier this year, so the V8 supercharged convertible is progressively burning holes in my bank balance and the ozone layer!

    Having seen a few friends divorce recently, I haven’t the time, energy or money for an affair, so that’s off the agenda.

    So that leaves the lifestyle balance:

    The lads trip to the lions was a little alcohol infused, but did also involve gym sessions, cycling and surf canoeing.

    …..but I have been trying to get myself back into some sort of shape in the last few years (since my hip replacement in 2010) – inspired by the effects a PT instructor had on my wife, I started paying for sessions with an instructor:

    Now, as a hairy arsed former back row forward, clearly I know my way around a gym, but booking sessions in a diary slot means I show up every time (rather than heading for the sofa and wine glass) and being pushed harder by someone else has paid dividends. I’m no athlete, but I’m lighter than when I was 18!

    We regularly go on Neilson beach activity holidays, and this year, encouraged by improved fitness (and a fatter older friend who I backed myself to beat) I did 9 morning bike rides in a 2 week Greek holiday. I can relate well to your story, as I show up in tennis shoes to rides with Lycra clad individuals bringing pedals, shoes and Garmins! Needless to say, on all the difficult rides, myself and Adrian were last, and the 38km big ride nearly destroyed us both, but by the second week we were holding our own with the over 50 keen cyclists at least!! Importantly though, we both really enjoyed it!

    Since then, I’ve tried to add a mid week early morning spin class to my usual Saturday slot.

    Still haven’t been brave enough to buy a road bike and join one of the lads groups who hit the roads every Sunday morning, so I’m impressed with your courage! Maybe I need some kind of ambitious target too?

    All the best, and good luck!



    1. Paul Squire Post author

      Great to hear from you Gareth!

      Isn’t it strange how we’re all dealing with the same challenges in pretty much the same way! It sounds like your body may be more worn out than mine – probably the wear and tear from years of rugby. I like to think that I put the athletic body of my youth in storage for 20 or so years… turns out the protective layer wasn’t quite as protective as it might have been!

      If you fancy signing up for the London – Amsterdam – Brussels cycle (7-11 May ’14), it’d be great… the more the merrier! I’m raising money for the British Heart Foundation, but I think you can ride for any charity (or just pay for the experience). There are a few other sad old 40-somethings that are also considering it. We can share stories of ailments and ointments as we make our way from Tea Break to Tea Break!





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