Day 25 Weds 23 March: Today’s challenge, in response to a message from Portpatrick LPO, was to cycle 54 miles before 2pm. If I could manage this, I’d be in time to meet the crew for this afternoon’s Lifeboat exercise! Not sure exactly what lay in store but I thought I might regret not going for it. So I went for it. After many miles of painful climbing, into wind, with the terrifying company of HGVs en route to Ireland via Stranraer on the unavoidable stretch of the A75, I made the schoolboy error of not keeping up a regular enough top up of food & water. Just 6 miles from Portpatrick, as I started climbing the last few hills, I “hit the wall” ie, I completely ran out of steam. I searched the heavily laden Fondo’s bags & found the generously filled egg roll, BabyBell cheeses and boiled sweets kindly provided by Catriona after breakfast in Kirkcudbright. Enough to get me over the last hurdle, but ten minutes late. Thankfully the Portpatrick Tamar ALB was still at its berth, engines burbling, as the crew boarded. I wasn’t really expecting a thrilling outing on the choppy waters, so when I was told that this was not possible today due to the nature and number of important crew assessments with the visiting RNLI inspector/assessor on board, I wasn’t too crushed. It was still great to see and hear the boat casting off, leaving the calm of the safe harbour and hitting the swell of the Irish sea. Great to meet the crew properly in the old boat house after the exercise. Thanks Robert (Cox’n) for signing my chart and finding me a room in the Harbour House (who very kindly provided b&b at no cost), Alistair (mech) for a very informative tour of the beautiful Tamar Lifeboat and the six other crew in attendance: Billy, Andy, Lawrie, Andrew, Steve and John(Terminator)Connor. A great bunch. A close shave in the Harbour House Bar later, where I very nearly commissioned Tattoo Davy to create some permanent bicycle chain art work on my right calf muscle. I chickened out, realising this may just be the beer talking. But then again, maybe … a wee memento?