Putting ourselves in the shop window. Literally.
Pascal here. Let’s start this blog with the Oxford English dictionary definition of the term 'the shop window':
the shop window A position that allows a person or organisation to demonstrate their
strengths, ‘he is keen to put himself in the shop window’
We thought it would be far more fun to put ourselves in an actual shop window, and so we grabbed a turbo trainer, our trusty Royal Navy cycling lycra and set off for Dartmouth! All in the name of fundraising…
We had been very generously offered the opportunity to set up a stationary bike in Dartmouth based clothing store JackSpeak (www.jackspeak.com) for the morning, store owner Nick is long-term supporter of the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity – the charity we are raising funds for through our expedition.
The plan was a simple one. Spend Easter Monday Bank Holiday cycling our stationary bike for 4 hours in the shop window of the store, allowing us to simultaneously get some training miles in and bother innocent shoppers about our expedition as they came through the door. Double win (for us, less so for the shoppers!).
These poor folk had just come in to browse high quality knitwear or buy some locally produced Devon gin, instead they had a pair of slightly idiotic, sweaty cyclists shouting at them (to be heard over the sound of the turbo trainer, we were not being unnecessarily aggressive – just to clarify) about their summer plans to cycle 5000km across the USA. Quite shockingly and almost without fail, these incredibly patient people responded positively and wanted to know all about our expedition.
We are always taken aback and genuinely humbled by the incredibly positive response we get when we tell complete strangers about our planned cycle across the USA. It would seem that the adventurous spirit is very much alive and well in this corner of Devon, everybody thought our trip sounded fantastic. We even had a few offers from people to join us for the main event stateside in the summer, we swiftly turned them all down as they would probably be better cyclists than us and it could all get a little embarrassing!
One young lad was 12 years old, but we had to turn him down, just in case even he was better than us..!
Dartmouth is a town with very strong Royal Navy links, which I think helped our fundraising efforts. All officers undertake their 10 month long basic training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), located on a hill on the edge of the town with stunning views overlooking the harbour and surrounding hills. Not that you notice these views when you are being forced to run up and down a steep, muddy hill carrying a heavy log for hours on end until you are physically sick. Oh the memories, good times!
Benefiting from these links and the generosity of the locals, on the day we managed to raise yet more funds for our military mental health cause. This helped us edge ever closer to the £15,000 raised so far mark – an incredible amount that will make a real difference. Thank you to all who have donated!
On a personal level, it was great to be back in town for this event. It is where Dan and I met 17 years ago, during our own basic training. With the fundraising complete, we spent an hour wandering the streets of Dartmouth with a couple of well-deserved pasties in hand (don’t tell our expedition nutritionist…!). This stroll brought back many positive memories from our time at BRNC all those years ago, and all that has happened during our Royal Navy careers since.
It’s always nice to take the time to pause and reflect (pasties optional!). Dartmouth, it was good to be back!