Hamilton, New Zealand
“I would hate to row across an ocean with you, you slave-driver!” I panted as I struggled to keep the pedals of my mountain bike moving up a rough hilly track outside of Hamilton, New Zealand. I was on a mission with Rob Hamill to pick up raw milk for the family breakfast.

It was Sunday morning and between us Rob and I had polished off two bottles of red wine the night before. With that cockiness that comes after too much alcohol, I had signed up to go on the milk run, and was now regretting it.

“You’re nearly at the top,” he called. “Just DON’T STOP!!!”

I replied with something unrepeatable.

But Rob assures me it was this competitive attitude that helped him and his rowing partner, Phil Stubbs, to win of the first ever Atlantic Rowing Race in 1997. They had no satellite phone, so were unable to get news of how the other crews were getting on – so in order to keep themselves motivated they competed with each other to see who could contribute most to the boat’s mileage. You can read the full story of their trailblazing row in Rob’s entertaining and well-written book, The Naked Rower – available here.

Agonizing bike ride apart, I had a fantastic time with Rob, his wife Rachel, and their three young sons. We had so much to talk about – on adventure, the environment, healthy eating, self-sufficiency, motivational speaking and book-writing, amongst other things.

But as I battled bravely with hill and hangover, I was really wishing that the conversation had not been quite so well-oiled with New Zealand’s finest reds…

{photo: Fin, Rachel, Ivan, Rob, Declan and me]

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