Friends often say to me "Troy, I like to live vicariously through your adventures".
Through my blog and Facebook page, I try to tell the stories of some of my extraordinary adventures. Along the way I learn stuff - I like to share this knowledge - to help others get the most out of their hobbies; their adventures; their lives.
My lifelong passion for bicycles and the outdoors has led me to my greatest adventure yet - the Iditarod Trail Invitational race - 1000 miles through the tough backcountry of mid-winter Alaska.
Let me explain the event.
The Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) has been listed for many years, as one of the top ten human powered, ultra-endurance races in an extreme environment. The famous dogsled race travels the same route, leaving a week later than the ITI. Two distances - 350 miles to McGrath, or 1000 miles to Nome.
Before you can race the ITI 1000, you must have completed the ITI 350, to qualify. In 2015 I became the first Aussie ever to complete the 350 mile race, therefore it is with great honour and pride, that I will be the first Aussie ever to race the 1000 miles to Nome.
Alaska in the middle of winter can serve up weather extremes from 20 deg C, to -60 deg C, rain, sleet, heavy snowfalls, ice, high wind, avalanches and blizzards. There are no roads, just a rough trail over frozen lakes and rivers, through wild backcountry and over high mountain passes - but that trail can vanish or 'blow in' with heavy snow. Only a few villages exist along the route and may only comprise of a hunting cabin or a few derelict outbuildings, remnants of days gone by. The landscape is remote and beautiful, but deadly.
The start date for the 2016 ITI is 28th February, 2:00pm at Knik Lake, Alaska. The time cutoff for the 1000 mile race is 30 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Only 50 racers are invited to enter. There is no prize money, completing the event is the achievement - more people have climbed Everest than completed the ITI.
Full information on the event can be found on the website:
I estimate I'll be out on course around 25 days. I will be carrying a Trace unit from Trackleaders.com, that will transmit my position for those that like to spectate on 'blue dot races'. All information on this will be posted on my social media channels.
Financially though, I can't do it alone - an expedition of this magnitude isn't cheap. I have worked tirelessly to try and secure support from related corporate entities, to no avail. The US dollar has affected the costs significantly. Given the length and time involved during the race, I have to take unpaid leave from my fulltime job. I have canvassed many mainstream print and entertainment media channels to provide a story to air with no luck - perhaps it wasn't football or Kardashian related enough :)
Over the years I've inspired and helped thousands of people worldwide through my blog, online message forums, various social media channels and physically with their bike in a stand and a tool in my hand - my job as a bike mechanic. My goal is make my blog a solid repository of tech and reference information for Iditarod rookies and adventurers looking to expand their knowledge base. I don't quite have the lifetime experience that others have, but put it this way - if an Aussie from a summer sun, sand and surf culture can learn and adapt to an Alaskan winter...then you can too and get more out of your adventures!
So if this applies to you, or you want to live vicariously through my adventures, this is your opportunity to support me with my cause.
I'll explain in a moment how your donation will help me achieve this goal, but as part of the deal I'd also like YOU to set a challenging goal - no matter how small - for yourself to achieve. I want you to draw inspiration from my adventures - it would be awesome to have the tables turned, for me contributing to YOUR own MyCause! Back yourself, believe in YOU and fulfill your own potential.
How the raised funds will be spent:
Food - no Maccas or Taco Bell out on the trail, however my body will need a continual stream of high calorie, compact, performance foods.
Equipment - a journey like this requires specialist equipment for a sub-arctic environment - unique equipment that can only be purchased in the USA.
Travel and Accomm - I need to arrive and stay in Alaska a week or so before the race to prepare and send my drop bags, as well acclimatise to the environment. During the race, it is customary to offer gratuities to hosts along the route - be it a family or tiny school that opens it's doors for racers, so you can momentarily escape the harsh Alaskan winter. I've also gotta travel back to Anchorage from Nome, and I won't be riding the 1000 miles back...
Other sundry costs: freight of cache bags, emergency assistance bond, entry fees, trace unit hire, satphone hire (still weighing this up though)
Your ROI (return on investment - or ways for me to give back to you) takes many variable forms. It might be to answer that burning question you have about chamois creams, or to speak at a public function, I make myself available to help you. Sorry, I don't have a ute - but I can still help you move house :)
I have written a short article on my blog, about my race:
I will be releasing the full race reports of my 2015 ITI on the 14th February, 2016.
Some key points:
- Alaska mid winter. Yep, it's cold.
- everything you need for survival is carried on your bike.
- there is no support or sweep vehicle.
- you bivvy under the stars, directly on the snow.
- for water you melt snow, drink it before it freezes.
- calories must be consumed in the thousands. Guilt free chocolate.
- if it breaks, you fix it.
- you must wipe your own tears
- you are responsible for building your own bridge, princess.
- the trail won't ride itself.
- the only hard day was yesterday.
- if you request outside assistance, it costs you your $750 USD bond.
- you can do anything you set your mind to.
The ITI just clicks with me. It encompasses my passions and drills down to my core beliefs of self reliance, competency and draws upon my skills learnt and honed over decades of adventuring. Humans need to be challenged - our modern lives have made us forget about challenging ourselves, stepping outside of our comfort zone - our bodies and minds need stress to maintain an equilibrium, a balanced perspective.
Also I'm about motivating others - I do this because I can and I'm able bodied. Too many people wait until a critical, life changing event wakes them up, shakes them by the shoulders and screams at them to do something with their physical and mental abilities as a human - but sometimes it's too late and their ship full of physical capacity has sailed a long time ago. I've not had a life changing event, I just want to maximise my potential and achieve as much as possible in life while I'm able bodied. I hope that those who watch me from the sidelines may be tempted to step into a game of their own and achieve their full potential too.
I'm no adrenaline junkie. This race will however force me to take calculated risks under very adverse conditions, in a cold, hungry, solo and sleep deprived state... and I will love every single second of it.
Our daughter is only 10, I hope she will aspire to dream big and achieve big in her life, find inspiration from my adventures, be a star pupil at my school of experience and grow confident in her abilities throughout her life. You can do anything you set your mind to!
I hope the above tome explains a lot about the event and why I want to do it.
1. There are no charities attached to this campaign - this is purely a personal challenge. I acknowledge charities do benefit individuals and groups the world over, but in this case the campaign is to support the potential of human performance and goal setting - potential we ALL have.
2. There is no special interest group attached or hidden ulterior motive. What you see is what you get.
3. My adventures are totally religion free. You would be donating to a personal cause, to a person who believes in himself. The human mind and body are amazing things when challenged and focussed - capable of incredible things - we just need to trust them.
4. I don't drink, so your funds won't be going towards alcohol. I probably just lost many of you right there :)
5. A few companies generously supported me with product in 2015, and they return in 2016 as well as a few others:
- FE Sports: Bonk Breaker bars and Skratch Labs energy chews got me through some tough Iditarod sections in 2015, for my journey to Nome these nutrition products are the benchmark that my other foodstuffs are measured against. No foods come close in my opinion and experience, they are simply the best.
- Muru Cycles: I built the first titanium Muru Witjira, in a garage in Alaska, just before my Iditarod training mission in 2013. They've backed me ever since. I'll be riding the same bike again to Nome - perfectly dialled for this race.
- Ride Mechanic: bike lubes. The very best chain lube for snow (Bike Cream) and sand (Bike Milk).
- Cannondale: in 2016 I became the Cannondale fatbike ambassador, under the elite international athlete program. For the last 4 months, I've been training hard on a Cannondale Fat CAAD 1.
- Dawson Sports Group: thanks to a pro-deal from Dawson, I'll be riding a pair of HED Big Fat Deal wheels.
That's about it from me, wow if you've read this far you've shown incredible endurance. Thanks for reading about this epic journey I'll be undertaking!