Chris Armishaw is a local rider from Billericay, Essex. Over the last few years he has gone from being an armchair cyclist to conqueror of a Tour De France and several other long distance events for his favored charity, Action Medical Research. This Summer Chris takes on an entire continent, planning to ride from one side of America to another!
So “anything is possible!” How does someone go from not owning a bicycle in 2007 to riding across America a handful of years later?
This is a simple one to answer, I was lucky enough to meet a rider on the first day of the London to Paris challenge in 2007, not only did he help me all the way to Paris but he inspired me in many ways, not just in cycling. We became good friends and from that day to this I have never lost the love of cycling or the ambition to take it further, as a far as I can, there is more planned. If all goes to plan this year the TransAm challenge will in some ways represent a training ride, but one step at a time. I have ideas for the next two to three years, all being well they will become real challenges.
Intriguing! Have you always dreamt of doing these sort of trips and challenges or is it a case of one thing leading to another!?
Both, I like adventure and an element of the unknown, when I was 16 I hitch hiked from Yorkshire to Florence via 5 countries, I'd planned to go direct to Rome, sometimes your route and the outcome differs to what you originally planned, I think the main thing is deciding to give something a go, not the exact outcome. I guess one thing does lead to another, in 2007 I would never have dreamt about qualifying for RAAM [the Race Across America, where like minded enthusiasts see who can get from one side of the USA to the other, often with little sleep] and making it to the start line, or riding all 21 Stages of the Tour, I guess on this basis there must be more to come, in fact all being well I know there's more to come. I find the reasons for doing these sort of things also develop and change, they just seem to play a part in driving you on to new and different things, l like this, it makes life interesting.
What has spurred you to raise so much for Action Medical Research?
The team at Action are fantastic, I have a very high regard for them and what they achieve, they work incredibly hard but never stop enjoying what they do, it’s infectious. My commitment to Action is driven by the funding they provide to finding breakthrough cures into child illness and also my relationship with the team, it works so well. I also have two daughters who were born and grew up in good health, I have never taken this for granted and the opportunity to combine cycling, pushing yourself further to support a great cause that means so much is a good thing.
Last year you rode every stage of the Tour De France, is that the highlight of your challenges so far?
In a way it is, when you ride each Stage and see the riders’ names written on the roads from recent Tours and from years gone by it gives you a connection that you may not otherwise experience. But there are so many highlights, riding locally or in other parts of the UK are equally special. Last year I rode the full Paris-Roubaix course with the Velo Club of Roubaix, it was incredibly tough but at the end you ride the Velodrome and use the famous showers, it's an incredible experience when you come into contact with such a famous home of cycling. Riding RAAM was incredible, across the deserts of California, Arizona and Utah was amazing, maybe the biggest highlight was riding over the Rockies, Colorado is stunningly beautiful, I look forward to riding through Colorado again this year.
And going across America at the peak of Summer… A case of mad dogs and Englishmen?
Yes, wrong time of year and wrong direction will make it tougher than it would otherwise be. Neil Hanson has helped me with the route, he lives in Colorado and has ridden across the US, he made it very clear about the risks of riding through the deserts in August, we are further North than last time I crossed the US, the deserts in California and Arizona were super tough, we know the sections of the route where there is nothing, Neil makes it very clear indeed, nothing at all.
Your trip this summer must take a fair amount of planning and support. How difficult is it to go from the drawing board to reality with something like this?
It is hard, mainly in keeping a balance on family and work priorities, you can't lose focus on these things. The thing that makes it easier is applying the same approach that I used for RAAM and the Tour de France challenge. I keep it simple, a basic project plan that covers all aspects of the even written on one piece of paper and a riding schedule that breaks down what seems like a very big challenge into simple day to day stage information that covers location, distance, profile and physiological aspects. Keeping it simple is the key, the only other thing I have is a basic schedule, a to-do list that covers week by week tasks, it just helps to keep on track with things.
Can you give us a rough timetable of when you are going to start and end?
At this stage the plan is to ride out of Washington on 19th July, Day 1 and ride into San Francisco on 1st August Day 15, all being well, the only short stretch that won’t be ridden (through good advice) is through Denver, maybe the gateway to the Rockies but the motorway system is too big a risk.
And how can people keep in touch with your training and travelling and how can we support your cause generally?
We will post daily updates to the Blog (www.transam3000.blogspot.co.uk) and keep in touch through Twitter (@chrisarmishaw), we are aiming to raise £30,000 (www.action.org.uk/sponsor/transam3000) and plan to map the running total to locations along the route, hopefully the fund raising will stay ahead of the rider. £30,000 over 3000 miles is £10per mile, £2000 per day or 300 sponsors donating £10, however large or small the support every little counts.
Is there anyone else you would like to mention?
Everyone who has supported so far and in the future, it's a combined effort. The fundraising is the whole point of TransAm, without this it wouldn't have the same purpose. So the main people to mention are Alfie and Aiden, there stories are on the sponsorship page.
Chris is taking part in the Maratona of the Dolomites as part of a small Blackmore Apparel/Cycling Weekly team in the beginning of July. Keep up to date through our Journal and through social media.