Dean Stott’s Pan American Highway Challenge
Cycling challenges are ever-increasing in levels of difficulty, but The Pan American Highway (PAH) challenge takes it to another extreme. Beginning in Ushuaia, then travelling north through Chile, Peru and up to Mexico, the route continues through the main states of the US and finishes up in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, covering 14,000 miles in total. Not only will the distance prove a challenge, but the variation in terrain, temperature and of course altitude conditions will be an added task to cope with. In 2018, Dean Stott will be attempting to not only complete this challenge…but also do it in the quickest time ever, whilst raising money and awareness for mental health charities in the UK!
The charities Dean will be supporting are all Charity Partners of Heads Together, which is a campaign to change the conversation on mental health in the UK. Dean hopes that by supporting these charities, he will help to encourage people to have conversations about their mental health, and get support if they need it.
The Man – Dean Stott
Dean is a previous UK Special Forces soldier having served for 16 years, but a parachute accident in 2010 lead to a knee injury that required surgery and an end to his military career.
Why not come and join Dean on the 21st November, as he completes a 10 h endurance ride in our altitude chamber as preparation for the challenge ahead. If you have some more questions, or would just like to meet Dean, then make sure you book in to ride with him!
The Q & A
So, why Heads Together?
I have witnessed first hand how mental health can affect those affected, and their families through friends of mine whom have served within the military. In more recent years PTS has been very much discussed within the military community and media, and is something that is now being addressed. However the military is only a small minority compared to so many other people, communities and groups that too are dealing with their own battles. I wanted to assist the Heads Together campaign to raise the awareness, help build on the great work being done by the partner charities so that prejudice and fear no longer stand in the way of people getting the help they need.
What’s the story behind the challenge?
I have always been very competitive and up for a challenge, this was always my driving force during my time in the military, the corporate sector, or in sporting activities.
Unfortunately I had a parachuting accident in 2010, the outcome of those injuries was a torn ACL, MCL, Lateral Meniscus, Hamstring and Calf, and such I was unable to run again. This was a damaging blow to my self esteem and confidence, I focused my efforts and energies on my businesses and neglected my love for physical challenges until I bought my first bike in 2016.
I soon regained my fitness, and my confidence, and so decided I wanted to set myself a challenge. One with the ethos of the Special Forces in mind, the “unrelenting pursuit for excellence”. I always maintain that ethos and wanted to do so with cycling. My wife and I sat down and discussed various cycling options and routes, and it was my wife that then brought to my attention the Longest Road in the world…the Pan American Highway. That was it. That was my challenge.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
I reside in Aberdeen and the weather isn’t always the most favourable for cyclists, however my biggest challenge is having to adhere to the strict training plan, and balance normal everyday issues and family time.
l have completed both LEJOG in November and JOGLE in May, during the month of August I cycled 100-140 miles per day. It was the half way point of my training and gave us an indicator of where we are at with the training and nutrition plan. Any issues identified, allowed us time to address and work on them over the next 7 months.
What lessons/experiences have you learned from in your time with the SF that you have been able to apply to your training for PAH2018?
On a personal level, the self discipline and self motivation to get myself on the bike even if the weathers not great, or you are not feeling up to it. On a project level, Planning and Preparation is an important factor. Joining me on this journey will be a 7-man support team, as well as a production company. The logistics involved to physically move 12 people, vehicles and equipment safely through 14 countries requires a lot of planning and preparation, to military precision.
What improvements/changes have you seen to your body since you first started training?
Due to my parachuting accident and my inability to run, my right leg (injured leg) was 2kg lighter than that of my left due to muscle wastage. Since training I have seen a great improvement in my Quadricep size, and toning of the leg muscles.
What do you think the biggest obstacle you will have to overcome will be during the challenge?
Due to the varying environments and terrain along the route, I can’t singly pinpoint an individual obstacle as they will all affect me in some shape or form. However since starting cycling last year and living in Aberdeen, the wind is a crucial factor and can either aid you or work against you, this is something I will be monitoring and factoring into my cycle times.
What piece of advice would you give to others taking on a challenge such as this that takes them out of their comfort zone?
Every person is different, and so their comfort zones too differ. You could be challenging yourself to a marathon, abseil, sky dive or even 30 min walk, their is no better feeling than testing yourself out of your comfort zone to learn more about yourself and how you coped in those situations. This then becomes a platform to then try other challenges, or to try again.
How can people follow your journey and donate?