By Robbie Broughton
You would have thought that the prospect of breaking the world record of cycling from Patagonia to Alaska would be enough motivation to pedal as fast as possible. But for Dean Stott the invitation to attend Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding meant that he had to push himself even harder so he could get to the church on time.
Former special forces soldier, Dean, heard about the Royal wedding invitation from a phone call to his girlfriend half way through his trip. By that point he’d already smashed the record for cycling across South America by 10 days.
Speaking to the Evening Standard he said that he’d planned to take another 110 days for the North America part of his trip but the wedding would have landed on day 107, “so I literally had to give up my rest days and start pushing out some big miles – that was another incentive.”
Dean knew Prince Harry from his career in the army when the pair trained together for six weeks back in 2007 and his epic Americas trip was raising money for the Prince’s charity, Heads Together, which seeks to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
The charity was a perfect fit for Dean who had left the armed forces after suffering a knee injury in a parachute jump. Adapting to everyday life was difficult for him and he suffered from depression as a result. Cycling gave him a way through his mental health problems.
“For me when I had my injury I was in quite a dark place,” he explained. “I was snappy and moody, but then I got into cycling – I found an activity and the link that physical activity helps your mental state."
His 14,000 mile journey meant he had to spend an average of ten hours a day in the saddle as he crossed 13 countries, often battling through fierce headwinds. He was chased by dogs, cycled alongside galloping bison and saw a polar bear.
His efforts have raised over half a million pounds and he hopes to auction off his kit at a charity ball for even more.
He now has to catch a flight back from Alaska and lands on Thursday after which he’ll be rushing to the tailors to get his morning suit taken in to fit his drastically slimmer frame, “because I’ve lost about 10 kilos.”
You can donate to Dean's fundraising page here.
You can find out more about Heads Together here.