San Francisco, California

Today I went to meet the folks of the South End Rowing Club. These guys and gals are hardcore. They row and swim in the waters of the harbour. I was introduced to someone who had just swum the English Channel. I felt like a right wimp in comparison.

I was given a tour of their historic boathouse, right next to Fisherman’s Wharf, a mere dolphin’s spit away from the Golden Gate Bridge.

After a slap-up breakfast at a local Irish pub, I wandered down to the waterfront to contemplate the bridge. The fog was hanging low over the top of the pylons, and a strong onshore wind was stopping a skein of birds in their tracks. But the chill I felt wasn’t just from the weather.

This time next year, this is where it will all start from. Knowing what I now know about how tough it can be out there, it’s a daunting prospect. And it will be all the harder because of the great friends I will be leaving behind.

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