Update: PAH18 Week 13 – 12.000 miles
This week sees me hit over 12,000 miles leaving less than 2000 miles to push. Great news however this will no doubt be the hardest of the Challenge. I move along the Alaska Highway and onto Fairbanks where I will hit the Daltons Highway, famous for the Ice Road Truckers. A road normally impassable during most of the year except June-August.
Im obviously taking it on in May so there is a lot of danger ahead, with ice, snow, thawing waters, wildlife and other road users. Myself and the team will have to have all our wits about us. We are coming into -27 degree temperatures now too so all preparing for that.
This week has been a tough week as its now been over 3 months since I have seen the kids. My son is 22 months this week and is changing rapidly everyday. I get to Skype them now and then but due to time differences and the times I can speak its very difficult.
Having a military background I am used to time away from the family but usually lots of things to take my mind off, being on the road like this you have a lot of time to think and I think about all the things I want to do with the family when I am home. Its incredibly important to appreciate that they are only young once and to enjoy the time while you can.
Next week I will hopefully be updating you from Alaska and the family will have began their journey towards me and will be accompanied by Matt Cordas of St. James's Place who has been a huge support to the family back home as well as a great ambassador for St. James's Place. Looking forward to seeing you all at the finish line!!
All is good!
PAH18 Week 11
I am in in the USA and it’s a strange sense of relief to be somewhere that literally speaks my language. It’s a great feeling to know you are in familiar surroundings.
Although the security threat level has dropped in our plan it’s still important we stay ever vigilant. Saying that nature has thrown its own collection of threats at us in the way of snakes and tornadoes. Nothing we can’t handle though.
Thinking we had escaped the winds however we couldn’t be more wrong, the strength of the cross winds and headwind meant I was often unable to move and when I could get my speed up it was at snail pace. I took the decision to spilt my ride and cycled during the day, rested during the winds then cycled again at night when the winds were low.
During planning it had been decided I wouldn’t night cycle just due to the increase in threats such as visibility, night animals, other drivers however in order to break this record we took the decision and it was the right one. I have just done the biggest ride of my life and cycled 340 miles in one stint.
PAH18 week 10 – 8700 miles
The week in Mexico has been one to remember, firstly I had opportunity to celebrate my 41st birthday with my bike and computer covering another 150 miles.
Mexico has given me a combination of all riding experiences, be it at 40 degrees plus one moment to then 8 degrees in an eventful thunderstorm washing off my sunscreen. I've had huge mountain climbs, then followed by miles and miles of flat terrain.
I only have 3 more days left before entering the USA into Texas, there is an element of excitement that finally people will understand what I am saying, however this has also been a great tool for us along the way. On numerous occasions I have been stopped at tolls and asked what I am doing on the highway, in my best Spanglish repeated they just wave you on having not understood a word I said.
This however will not be the case in America and so will be more difficult to talk my way out of the situation.
When I did my research on previous riders, and the challenges they faced, all were in South and Central America. We too have had our fair share of issues, however nothing to the extent that others had reported. I however took note of some of their issues, such as spares for the bike, language, finding ATMs etc and ensured I was in a better position.
The people of both South and Central America have all been so hospitable, even the lorry drivers. In nearly 9000 miles of cycling I've only encountered one slight confrontation and that was today when a woman was cursing me by the side of the road, I'm assuming however she thought I was American and I'm personably responsible for the construction of the new wall.
I will have fond memories of my time in South and Central America, as with anything I will only talk about the good ones…totally forgotten the winds of Patagonia.
Pan American Highway Challenge 2018: Week 9 – 8000 miles
This week has been fast and slow, fast in the fact that we are ticking off the countries, but slow due to border delays.
Regardless I have achieved the daily miles expected and now we are in country 11 (Mexico) with an expected period of 9 days to steal some miles.
Central America has been amazing for the scenery, however the heat and humidity have been testing. Since setting off from Panama I have now lost an additional 1kg and now since setting off from Ushuaia exactly 2 months to the date I have lost just over 9kg (88Kg – 78.9kg). This is an area that needs closely monitoring as my percentage body fat is very low and with the approaching colder weathers, my body will be fighting to both keep weight on and also keep warm…maybe a few Easter eggs will solve that.
I am over the moon to have kindly been invited to the St James Place London to Amsterdam bike ride this June, and very much look forward to sharing my challenge experience with those attending.
Back on the bike and a race to get to the USA before the wall is built.
PAH18 Week 7
Very difficult to sum up this last week as it has been quite surreal and a mixture of emotions.
Firstly I’m obviously over the moon that I not only achieved my aim of beating the previous world record, but to do so in such a convincing manner. When I started the campaign I said to myself even if you beat it by 1 minute then that’s great. As the previous weeks went by, I became more confident that I was going to achieve my aim, but the next question was by how much.
I was constantly keeping myself in a position of a week ahead of the individual world record, as I then covered more distance I asked myself would I be happy knowing that a duo last year had cycled the South America route in 49 days and 23 hours, I wanted to be the fastest person ever. Clearly the answer was no and so I pushed hard to gain more distance and pull back time completing it in 48 days and 54 mins.
Due to shipping issues, the vehicles for our second phase of the project were stranded in Florida, and so team members alongside Matt Cordas from St James Place flew out and successfully moved the vehicles 4000 miles in 7 days to Panama. That was however not without any issues, there were dramas with bureaucracy, paperwork discrepancies and even armed gangs, but they held their cool and too achieved their aim. I can honestly say that had it not been for the swift actions of the team, I probably would still be sat in Panama.
As my wife was leading the part of the vehicle movement team, I managed to meet with her for the day in Panama whilst too conducting media interviews with Sky, STV etc. It was great to also get an opportunity to call the children and a comfort that all was well back home. When my wife flew home I was quite happy to start the second phase of the challenge the next day which was Central America.
It wasn’t however until the following day I realised how hard it actually was knowing I still had so far yet to go. I’m now on day 53 and in Costa Rica, tomorrow I will be entering Nicaragua but more importantly I am back into my routine and hungry for the second world record.
Pan American Highway Challenge 2018: Week 4 – 3980 miles
The beginning of the week saw me cycling to Arica which is 20km short of the Peru border. The day involved two large climbs, one of 21km and the second of 15km. The one thing I will take away from South America is the fact everything is on a grand scale.
I now look at the mountain ranges here as normal, when in fact the majority of them are much bigger than UKs highest peaks.
Logistically the 2 x vehicles we had for the support team from Ushuaia were to be swapped out in Arica. One was plain sailing, however the second had issues with the sellers paperwork as they needed the persons thumb print that they had originally bought from, quite difficult as he was in Switzerland and more annoying for the sellers as they are now unable to sell.
This vehicle issue meant we had to look at the options available to keep me moving, it was quickly highlighted that this would take a day at least to square away and I was to stay in Arica for a day. I wasn’t planning on a rest day, but the situation presented to me, left me with no choice.
The decision then was to move with one vehicle, once again minimum equipment to see me through to Panama. We had to be brutal in the breakdown of equipment, identifying what was mission critical, and what was nicety.
The following morning I was back on my way and finally into Peru, we automatically gained 2 hours crossing the border and so I took advantage of this situation to do a big ride (174 miles) and my furthest ride to date.
Unlike Chile and Argentina, the supermarkets and banks are limited, and so we were having to eat in local restaurants, although a fraction of the cost of Argentina and Chile. This unfortunately resulted in myself getting food poisoning, still not keen about having to take a forced rest day in Arica, I decided to push on that day covering 130miles…mentally and physically my hardest day as everything felt laborious.
Thankfully the pains subsided and I have been pushing some big miles. Currently I am 20 miles shy of the 4000mile mark and tomorrow with a long ride will see me in the Peru capital of Lima. Having now ridden 5 big days back to back, I have caught up the day I had spent in Arica and so still just over a week ahead of the South American world record.
I am now in auto pilot with each days ride and the evening rest and recovery routine. I am approaching this challenge in bite size form, if I was to analyse how much remains of the challenge, it could consume you. Until now I have been focussing on one country at a time, and day to day, this still remains the case except I too am counting down the days until Cartagena (the official end of South America) and the end of stage 1 and first world record.