Beating the Tour Divide Champion

In 2012 Ollie Whalley set a record for the 4,418 km Tour Divide race by knocking it off in just 16 days, averaging an incrediblimagee 270 km of mountain biking a day. By comparison, I only averaged 170 km per day before I had to withdraw at 2,500 km to assist my parents after my mother broke her hip. But yesterday I did the impossible. I beat him 1:1. How this came about is interesting, because it occurred in Tarawa – a small atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean…


Confession 1: It was only over 14.2 km and not on a bike—we were running.

Confession 2: The next day over 10 km he out sprinted me. But he did wuss out by asking that we only do 10 km rather than 14.2 km.

To continue …

I had the pleasure of editing Volume 4 of the Cordillera – the story of the 2012 Tour Divide race. I managed to get 20 of the racers to contribute stories and interviews for the book. Ollie was a natural choice and he did a great interview.  We got some great stories—check out the book here (all funds go to the college fund of Dave Blumenthol’s daughter—he died a few years ago in the ride).

During the process Ollie noted that I work for the World Bank and asked if we had any positions open for an engineer. We did and after interviewing well (I semi-recused myself) he got hired. He is now working for us in Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

We were up in Tarawa to look at my road and aviation projects. I felt really sorry for the rest of our team as our field visits had discussions around Tyler Hamilton, the benefits of combing Advil with caffeine pills, and how he managed to ride down Fleecer Ridge when I did a head over heels.

There are two options for training on Tarawa: turn left or turn right. Right is my preferred route as there are less dogs so right it was. It was a typically balmy early morning, 30+ with 100% humidity. We should have gone 30 min earlier. When we got back to Mary’s Motel Jane, one of the owners, asked if we had been for a swim. Easy to see why she was mistaken! Was nice to have a running partner as usually I train on my own while on mission so have to drag him out. For now, I’m off on my new bicycle (#15). Ollie and I decided that we can’t not have a bike so we went to a shop yesterday and I told the owner I wanted a bike for my son. He duly complied and we’ve now a $150 U-Max mountain bike weighing as much as our fully loaded Tour Divide rigs to play with. But more runs are planned …

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