Thank you Alcatraz, you were amazing!

A famous quote from Alcatraz Warden James Johnson;

“Alcatraz was built to keep all the rotten eggs in one basket,
and I was specially chosen to make sure that the stink from the
basket does not escape. Since I’ve been warden, a few people have
tried to escape. Most of them have been recaptured; those that
haven’t have been killed or drowned in the bay. No one has ever
escaped from Alcatraz. And no one ever will!”

Well guess what Warden Johnson, we made it!

We woke at 5.30am, the city was asleep and we were nervous. The air was crisp, it was going to be a beautiful day. Aquatic Park was alive with nervous excitement as we arrived and checked in. Numbers 719 and 720, we listened nervously to the final briefing.

“Just make sure you keep the Fontana towers on your right shoulder and the current will ease you gently into Aquatic Park and the finishing point” said Pedro, who has swam from Alcatraz nearly 1000 times. “If you’re tired or need help, stick your hand in the air” he added. We donned our swimming caps, cleaned our goggles and started warming up.

At 7.20am the park fell silent for the American National Anthem. People cried, well not quite but it was emotional for the yanks.

It was time. We walked half a mile to the ferry that would take us to the Island. Hoots and hollers went up as we boarded. There was no turning back now. The thought definitely crossed our minds as we saw how far the Island was from shore. It was squeeky bum time.

The Island approached and the boat slowed, Alcatraz was looking daunting but beautiful. The sun was warming us through the ferry windows when the doors opened.

“Yeeew”
“Let’s go”
The boat grew loud, the nerves disappeared as we entered the door way, we leapt together, the cold water took our breaths away. We started swimming.

We were one of the last to jump and during the wait the boat had drifted over 100 metres further from the city and around the east side of the island, the currents were stronger there and we had to swim hard to get back on track.

Ross recalls the swim; “I remember looking back after about 15 minutes of swimming and the Island had hardly moved out of sight, the thought crossed my mind to stick my hand in the air and call it a day. I started counting my strokes instead, 100 strokes, take a 3 second breather and look around I told myself. Head down, 1, 2, 3, 4,… 100, I was a third of the way but I was in the middle of the bay on my own, there was a small group 50 metres ahead and a bigger group 50 metres behind. The boats created wakes that during my breathing looked liked fins and sea lions, my heart raced and I started kicking a little harder.

Catch the group in front I told myself, keep the Fontana towers on my right, they still looked a long way away but they were on my right shoulder. I was in a good spot. I started pulling harder and the group got closer. I approached half way and reached the group. I settled into a rythmn, I was singing “why do birds, suddenly appear, every time you are near” in my head over and over, must have helped with the rythmn!?

I felt strong and the opening to Aquatic Park approached and the current started easing me into the opening. I kicked harder for the final 400 metres and the noise from the crowd on the beach grew louder and louder.

46 minutes after jumping from the ferry my hands hit the sand and I stumbled to my feet, a little dizzy and disorientated a girl handed me my medal. The cold really kicked in as the adrenaline dropped. I wrapped up warm and shivered on the beach as I waited for Alice and Jeff. I recognized Alice’s stroke as she came into Aquatic park, she approached the beach zig zagging, she was tired, had white feet and a cracking case of claw hand and she’d made it in 55 minutes, what a girl. Oh and she did it in her swimsuit #hero.”

It was an incredible experience and another wonderful memory and story for the grandkids. Thank you Alcatraz, you were amazing!

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“Please welcome to the stage, last minute speakers at Do Lectures USA…”

We were busy painting blackboards and making playlists for the lectures. There were two hours to go until Do USA would begin and Campovida was bustling with excitement. Duke Stump one of the founders just received a text from one of the speakers and his face was a little distressed.

“Hey Ross and Alice, could you speak at this years Do?” Duke asked

10 second pause, “Ah, sure. Tomorrow or Sunday?” we nervously replied

“How about 16:30? One of the speakers isn’t going to make it.” Duke replied

We glance at our watches, it was 14:30.

“Shit the bed Duke” Ross said. “Are you serious?”

“Yep” was all Duke said.

For those of you who know us, ¬†you’ll know that we love the Do Lectures, we’ve volunteered at Do Wales every year since they started and every one has been a privilege. Many of the talks we have seen over the last few years have changed our lives, so to be asked to stand up in front of the Do logo and tell our story was HUGE.

We legged it to the Campovida office, sat down with a laptop, a big white board and started working on a presentation of our journey. At 16:22 we crept into the back of the hop barn, got mic’d up and took a few deep breaths.

16:31 Duke took the stage and with a heartwarming and emotional introduction we were live. On stage, bright lights in our eyes, 100 faces staring back at us and our first slide behind us that just said YES.

When our talk goes online we’ll be sure to let you know.

We are back on our bikes in the morning, 800 miles to go and we can’t wait, Mexico and more outstanding here we come.

http://dolectures.com/the-event/

Do USA

Do USA

Doing the do

Our journey to Campovida, the venue of The Do Lectures USA;
Nosara to San Jose 5hr drive in a hire car for an overnight stay with old school friend Myfanwy Davies
San Jose to Los Angeles for breakfast
Los Angeles to San Francisco for lunch
San Francisco by bus and a final car journey to Campovida for dinner

We are back at the stunning winery and gardens at Campovida in Hopland, Sonoma, California. This is where Part One of our bike ride ended 6 weeks ago.

We are lucky enough to be a part of the awesome team organising and hosting The Do lectures USA . This series of talks will inspire the world to go and do something that they have always dreamed of. The speakers share their stories, the attendees get inspired, and the talks go online to the website linked above for the world to watch for free. We have both volunteered at The Do Lectures in Wales over the last four years, and when we found out we would be in northern California on our bike ride we made sure to time it with the Do Lectures USA. This is the third Do Lectures USA and we are so excited for the event to kick off on Thursday. Check out the 1 minute video which is a snapshot into the work it takes to get ready.

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An outstanding 25th Birthday

I had a fantastic three day fiesta for my birthday this year. And it was pretty outstanding to say the least.

On Saturday night a bunch of us had a pizza feast at Il Basilico with the Surf Simply team, followed by a pool party and massive cake fight at The Rancho.

On Sunday Jessie Carnes, a new friend of mine and I, along with 50 other horse riders including Ticos, Ticas and tourists; some experts and rookies, went on a ‘Cabalgata’ – a day trek on horse back taking us through jungle, deep rivers, and cantering up dirt tracks with a beer, food and music truck accompanying us the whole way. The ride finished at sunset at Olga’s bar on the beach for arroz con pollo, dancing and margaritas.

Monday, a little sore from riding started with a wonderful breakfast with my husband and a surf at Guiones beach. 3ft, super clean and heaps of waves. After an early lunch we headed to meet DK from Drifters Kayaking, an old friend of Ross’, we cruised up a mellow river in and out of the mangroves on sit on top kayaks, spotting two crocodiles, kingfishers, cormorants, and hawks. We had a spontaneous lunch and a ‘michelada style (lime, ice and salt) beer at La Luna restaurant, cycled the 20 minutes home in booming thunder and lightening that lit up the whole night sky. And then incase I hadn’t been treated enough already we went out for dinner at Dos Pochotes.

We leave Costa Rica in five days and will head straight to Campovida, Hopland to start getting ready for The Do Lectures USA (19th-23rd). After that it’s the Alcatraz swim on the 28th and cycling south to Surfrider for an October Internship.

I know there will be tonnes of ‘Outstanding’ to come so watch this space.

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