London2London: an introduction
I’m Sarah Outen, I’m 25 and I’m about to embark on a massive journey that will see me loop right around the planet solo, using just a kayak, bike and rowing boat...
I’m Sarah Outen, I’m 25 and I’m about to embark on a massive journey that will see me loop right around the planet solo, using just a kayak, bike and rowing boat. I’m no stranger to solo journeys, in 2009 I rowed across the Indian ocean in my little boat Dippers, rowing for 124 days all by myself. The ocean is mind-blowingly huge and intriguing, terrifying, exciting intimidating and powerful. It was brilliant.
My new expedition will take me from Tower Bridge London right round the world back to Tower Bridge London two and a half years later. I’m calling it London2London via the world. I start in less than two weeks time! On the 1st April, I will paddle down the Thames, and across the Channel in my kayak to France where I will pick up my bike and cycle over 8,000 miles to Japan.
In spring 2012 I will row the North Pacific Ocean, heading east to Vancouver in a journey which I expect to take up to seven months. From there I shall cycle across the States, and then it’s the home strait back to the UK, rowing solo again across the Atlantic Ocean.
When I get back to London, sometime in Autumn 2013, I will have travelled over 20,000 miles and crossed two oceans and three continents.
The journey is the reward
Just getting to Tower Bridge has been huge – the preparation for a major expedition is as hard as the expedition itself. Over the past few months, I have journeyed thousands of miles by train and car en route to training, (training on bikes, training on fixing bikes; training on the watermaker for my rowing boat and lifting weights); to visit my boat builders in Devon and meet the new boat; to brainstorm with my new Education Chief Huw James in South Wales and pick up my new kayak from North Wales; to source sponsors for kit and sponsors for finance; to launch the book of my dip in the ocean and to give talks on the Indian (Scotland and all over England); to pick up kit and choose kit; to run a half marathon dressed as a giant boob in Bath; to be photographed and filmed and all sorts.
I have piles of kit everywhere – on my desk I have a map of the world, a stack of kit orders, lists of lists, a Yellowbrick tracking beacon, a camera, a video camera, documents for this and booklets for that.
It’s nearly 0130 so my phone is quiet. A satellite phone is charging quietly in the corner and by my feet are a stack of nautical charts – the English Channel, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Behind me is a Project File, bursting with pages and next to a pile of other pages to go into another file.
It is sitting on top of one of five big boxes Mum brought home last week for me to store all the new kit in. There are camping stoves, head torches, dry bags, a sleeping bag, cycling gear, kayaking gear, rowing kit and various cables and chargers and batteries and spares. I look at it all and smile. This is actually going to happen.
On the 1 April, I will wave goodbye to my family and friends and sponsors, step into Nelson (my lovely kayak) and paddle out from HMS President at St Katharine’s dock and turn right to Tower Bridge.
There, I shall turn around and face downstream. Heart no doubt racing, probably holding back the tears as I grin my Sarah grin that shouts of nerves, excitement and pure joy, I shall sit and wait for Mum to fire the start horn. Then, with a whoop and a holler, or maybe just a silent wave, I shall start paddling for the English Channel and France and all the world beyond.
Join me on my journey by checking in here and at my website www.sarahouten.com