For Queen, Country and Capella...
Flt Sgt Dan Biggs decided he wanted to take on a challenge in order to raise money for the Capella Foundation, whilst serving for the RAF on deployment in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Dan set the challenge to Run, Cyce and Row over 3600 miles during deployment in Helmand Province - the equivalent distance from Afghanistan to Bristol. This monumental challenge works out as an average of 30 miles per day, for 120 days…
Below is a blog written by Dan, summarising the highs and lows of his challenge…
What was my Inspiration...?
Firstly I wanted to do my bit in what was a close to home charity inspired by the Capella 24in24 challenge earlier in the year, secretly gutted I wasn't there to get involved. This looked like a beast of a challenge and something that looked mega for all involved. Not least the of amount of money raised.
Secondly, the cause is both a heart breaking and warming one and if anyone can say they have helped in some way shape or form then at least you can feel slightly humbled knowing that in a tiny way you can help others in need...
A bit about the challenge...
So the challenge I had set myself was to cycle, run or row 3600 miles; the equivalent distance home (to Bristol) from Afghanistan, during my deployment in Helmand Province.
I was only out on my working holiday for 4 months which
meant that I would need to travel 30 miles per day for 120 days... this was going to hurt!
It's quite a daunting challenge, but when broken down it actually isn't that bad sounding.... Or at least that is what I told myself in the weeks leading to my deployment!
This was my third trip to Afghanistan but the first time I had deployed in the middle of summer, my first two tours saw me there in Jan and Feb in 2009 and 2011 respectively heading into the summer, meaning that acclimatisation comes easily as it gradually gets hotter, but arriving in Jul was a beast... absolutely crazy high temperatures around 50oC. This was going t make the challenge al the more interesting!
How did I find it? Well, if i could describe it with one word answers for each month... Saddlesore, Chafe, Heartbreak, Joy.
I knew cycling was going to be the quickest and easiest way of getting thing things done. My Job deals in preventative medicine so preventing heat illnesses is routine business in desert environments to I was going to practice what I preach and ease into things. Cycling on the typical gym exercise bikes was a quick and easy way of getting used to the altitude and heat.
Month by Month...
July; Good god the first month was
agony: I didn't have my padded cycling shorts with me, so for the first couple of weeks the daily grind of sitting on a saddle for 2 hours each morning was not the nicest thought, still it had to be
done miles came slow at the start, a 0500 get up for a 30 mile ride. The bikes were pretty shoddy static things but couldn't complain as the facilities were better than they were a year or so
ago. But the end of July my bro had sent me out some cycling shorts which changed the whole experience if I'm honest! cycling became a morning joy.
August; Two of my good friends decided to join me on my morning rides. Andy Kiani and Adam Horner are both Field mental health practitioners. Us three became daily training partners and were my saving grace to be honest. Andy is a spinning instructor and Adam a keen cyclist, I got taught how to work out my cadence and between the three of us set morning spinning sessions which meant that the majority of the miles were still getting done in the morning. The remaining 5 miles I completed as a daily warm up before our evening training sessions, generally timed to that there was generally 12 hours between sessions. Some were heavier than others...
September; Here I was half way through
the challenge. I was in clip, my legs were on fire and it was hard to keep motivated. Still, having Andy and Adam there helped me man up and get through it. The hardest bit was having
written down and calculated my miles: i was made up to know that I'd completed 1800 miles... But gutted to think that I still have the same to do again! September also saw a little set back too which
got me a little panicked that I wouldn't get the job done. My routine work takes me to the forward operating bases and patrol bases, also up to the likes of Kabul. Unfortunately whilst up in
Kabul, travelling between camps on the busy city streets our small 3 vehicle convoy was involved in an accident. No major dramas, but due to the weight of body armour and helmet suffered some
damned sore whiplash, as well as biting through my tongue and getting thwacked in the throat. I had week of light duties ordered by the Doc which meant that 210 miles wouldn't get done.
October; The home stretch was really busy work wise which wasn't an issue but also the weather was nice and cool. I also acquired a mountain bike so that I could actually do some road/sand miles around camp.
Overall the highs of doing this challenge far out
weighed the minor setbacks, pain, sores and the shameless embarrassment having to ask for cream to sooth the saddle sores. I was absolutely gutted to have lost a weeks worth of miles due to
injury but did get them done during my Post Operational Leave on rides and runs around my home!
I'm thankful to everyone who sponsored me and supported me throughout my tour and to those who kept my family and fiancée in the loop and informed. Being away from home is hard but I think harder for the loved ones left behind.
Having the Capella foundation challenge kept me occupied
for 4 months which flew by for me. I'm looking forward to the next challenge, for me, it's the Pathfinder March in the summer a 46 mile march in 24 hours which I shall do for the Capella
foundation, but I'd also like to lay the gauntlet down for the 3 peaks...?
Big love, Dan.