An intrepid adventurer from Aberdeen has told how he overcame car crashes, wild weather and a dodgy pizza to smash two world records.
Dean Stott, of Peterculter, cycled 13,670 miles from the southern tip of South America to the north of North America in 99 days – 18 days quicker than the previous record.
The former Special Forces soldier, who celebrated his 41st birthday during the challenge, has so far raised almost £500,000 for mental health charities.
The dad-of-two described the ride as a “game of chess with mother nature.”
“It was hard at times. I had a collision with a car in Chile and came off my bike, so it was tough to get going again – and I had another crash in Colombia,” said Dean, who is pals with Prince Harry and attended his wedding last Saturday.
He added: “When I got to Peru I decided to treat myself to a takeaway pizza – and that was a big mistake as it gave me food poisoning, which made riding a big challenge, but I had just had to get through it.”
Throughout the three-month quest, Dean had the backing of a support team and TV crew, and the mini-convoy turned a few heads.
Dean said: “That was particularly an issue in USA. I’d be cycling late at night and the state troopers would stop me, simply because they weren’t used to seeing people out cycling at 2am. It’s not the kind of thing that happens there. They were pretty friendly, though.”
He said that as he got into Canada and Alaska “there were bison, moose and caribou and even black bears. It was quite stunning”.
He added: “I had been warned about the black bears, and the locals in Alaska are all armed with bear spray you’re supposed to use if they attacked you. I spotted some but, luckily for me, they kept their distance.
“The bison were more of an issue as I saw a herd of about 30 or 40 of them running along the road. They are used to cars, but I wasn’t sure what they would make of the bike – but they crossed the road and left me alone.
“Probably the toughest obstacle was the weather. Towards the start I was cycling into a fierce wind and it’s quite soul destroying when you’re trying to make headway, but my morale picked up later on when the weather changed.”
Towards the end of the challenge, Dean learned a German cyclist is to attempt to finish the challenge in 100 days in autumn, so he stepped up the pace, cycling for 22 hours in a 36-hour period.
Dean now has two mentions in the Guinness Book of World Records – one for fastest Pan American Highway cycle, and one for cycling the length of South America fastest.
He said: “I do feel proud to have achieved these two world records and it was great to have my family – wife Alana and two children (Molly, six, and Tommy, one) – at the finish line in Alaska waiting for me.”
Dean flew to London on Thursday and attended the royal wedding.
To sponsor Dean visit tinyurl.com/deanstottcycle