Day 82 Fri 10 June: Have some of us become too dependent upon modern technology? Since starting this challenge, I clearly have. A few hours without a mobile phone signal can totally disrupt a routine. How would I have approached this challenge if it was 1956? Ok, my mum & dad probably wouldn’t have been keen on allowing a four year old to set off on his Triang tricycle, … but you know what I mean. To follow the same etiquette of prior notice, I would first have needed to write 237 letters to Lifeboat Stations, in time to receive positive replies before setting off. I would then have needed to carry a large bag of coins (at a minimum of fourpence a call, that would be about a thousand big old pennies) to feed many of the red phone boxes around the country, to confirm or adjust my more imminent arrival time. It wouldn’t have happened. I would probably have just set off and hoped to find most Lifeboat sheds attended. Unlikely. But how much easier that would have been! Has the development of so many ways of making instant contact made life easier? Of course it has. But what is the average time spent engaged with our smart mobile devices each day? How long have you spent on a mobile phone, tablet or pc this week? No, wait! Don’t switch off. This is 2016.
Thank you Ross, Adam and Tim, the three keen young amateur racing cyclists from Woodbridge in Suffolk who shared a table with me in The Port Arms in Deal last evening. Great to catch up with the latest cycling banter and compare notes on our very different rides. One thing we had in common, after a day of leg spinning, was the need for lots of food and drink. Good luck with the rest of your high speed training tour of Kent and with the rest of the season.
First stop of the day, Walmer ILB Station. Thanks Les, the Boathouse manager, for being there and sharing some of your experiences of over 60 years of RNLI service. Already running a little late setting off for Dover, the cheery chaffinch ring tone alerted me to an incoming call. Dominic, RNLI volunteer crew from Littlestone on Sea and local BBC Radio Kent presenter, would like to interview me on his “rate it or slate it” slot on today’s programme. Fame at last. How could I refuse?
The ride down from Dover Castle to the ALB Station was certainly a highlight . A great, snaking downhill dash. It’s a while since Fondo & I last touched 40mph. Thank you Jon and Lee for the welcome break and for showing me how I can now spend even more time with my tablet planning routes and capturing images of Google maps for off-line, on-road reference mid ride. Sometimes, just keeping the sea on my left as I pedal still works. Sometimes it still goes horribly wrong. Today, it worked. A very enjoyable, fast ride across the county boundary into East Sussex. A quick call to the next ILBStn at Littlestone on Sea to confirm eta revealed that their Atlantic 85 was out on a shout! By the time I arrived, recovery of the Lifeboat was well under way, already on its carriage, salt water hosed off and drip drying on the hard standing. Thanks Harry (congrats on your first call out as crew), Clinton (crew), Tony (Helm) and Sheena & Mike (shore crew/tractor drivers). It was a privilege to be able to talk to a crew so soon after being “on service ” despite the inconclusive outcome of the search for a missing person who might have gone in to the sea.
The last visit of the day was just 4 miles down the road, to Dungeness. A remote, atmospheric setting. This was the first Station to take delivery of the latest Shannon Class, now tucked safely into its boathouse. I eventually spotted a couple of the crew silhouetted at the distant water’s edge next to their small beach maintenance bulldozer. A long walk in cleated cycling shoes on coarse, loose shingle. Tempted to sit and wait. But there was no sign they were heading back soon. It had to be done. None missed yet. Get that chart signed. Get to Rye. Only then might I deserve the anticipated rendesvous and end of day treat planned by sister Patricia and bro-in-law Norman.