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Dean Stott: 14,000 miles in 99 days from Argentina to Alaska for mental health

Joe Robinson
17 May 2018

The former Special Forces solider entered a dark place when he was forced to retire, however cycling gave him a whole new challenge

Dean Stott was a British Special Forces soldier in the prime of his career until an accident while parachuting damaged his knee and forced him to leave the army. Unable to run 50 metres, Stott found himself in a dark place. 

Suffering from the mental challenges of no longer being a soldier, Dean took up cycling. Two years later, he set a new Guiness World Record for the fastest person to cycle the 14,000 mile Pan-American Highway. 

Beating the old record by an astounding 17 days, Stott managed the feat that took him from Argentina to Alaska in 99 days, 12 hours and 56 minutes returning him back to the UK just in time for this Saturday in which he will be a guest at the Royal Wedding. 

You would expect an acheivement this mammoth to come after years of planning and training but for Stott it was quite the opposite.

'I was ex-Special Forces so I went from the top of my game to suddenly unable to run 50 metres,' Stott told Cyclist. 'I was in a dark place so I just decided to buy a bike and ride to work which was only 40 minutes per day.

'I immediately felt better so, being Special Forces, I decided to look for the world's longest road, apply for the Guinness World Record and the rest is history.'

Stott's mission took him through 13 countries across the Americas with an average of 10 hours a day in the saddle. He endured the altitude of Colombia as he rode to over 3,000m, the long, winding mountains of Ecuador, searing heat of Mexico and bustling highways of the USA.

The mixture of howling wind and dry heat in Peru caused Stott's lips to split although this was the least of his troubles. 

'In Peru I got food poisoning because I didn't have a vast choice of food and then in Chile I misjudged a barrier and came off of my bike,' Stott laughed, before adding, 'then in Colombia I got knocked off by a car.

'I was descending down a hill and three cars turning off of the road tagged me and I hit the deck. Luckily me and more importantly the bike were fine.'

It could also be assumed, rightly or wrongly, that Stott's most dangerous leg would be in South America. Before departing he was warned not to cycle at night until he had reached the USA although on his travels he found the exact opposite. 

'From my personal experience, there was no issues in South America. Everyone was friendly especially in Colombia where there is such a culture of cycling,' admitted Stott.

'It wasn't until we got to North America that one of our support cars actually got broken into and a lot of kit was stolen from us.' 

Realistically, none of this mattered to Stott when he was on the bike because the bigger issue, raising awareness and money for mental health, was much more important.

Working for charity Heads Together, Stott raised £500,000 - which you can still donate to - in the process and has even got people on their bikes.

Even when the roads got incredibly steep in Canada and he began to ride through the night to break the 100 day mark, Stott kept to the matter at hand.

'I have already seen followers in similar positions to me dusting of their bikes and getting outside,' he said.

'I just want to show physical activity helps your mental state and makes you feel better. I also want to prove you're never too old to start a new sport. I was 39-years-old when I started.'

While the issue of mental health was the big picture and kepr Stott motivated, he found himself given an extra motivation to break the record half way through his attempt. 

Mid-ride Stott received a phone call from his wife; it was tell him that they had been invited to this Saturday's Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle.

To make sure he was back in time, he dropped his scheduled rest days helping him finish days early. 

Stott didn't feel that extra pressure when riding but due to the excess exercise he has had to get himself a new suit.

'I was 91kg but I have dropped 10kg so I needed to go out and get myself a new suit before Saturday.'

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