The adventures of Dominic Gill, who cycled a tandem from Alaska to Argentina, inviting 270 strangers to jump on the back as his stoker, have been made into a TV documentary.
Dominic, who spoke about his experiences at BikeRadar Live in May, filmed the two-year, 18,000-mile trip and now, 10 months after returning, it has been made into an hour-long programme for UK channel ITV4.
For those who missed Dominic’s account of his travels in Cycling Plus (“Tandem acts of kindness”, issue 220), he set off on his own on 16 June 2006 on a heavily laden Thorn Raven tandem later named Achilles (due to a partially torn tendon) with the intention of riding from Prudhoe Bay in the north of Alaska to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina.
The plan was to shoot a video documentary about the weird and wonderful characters he would pick up along the way and convince to ride with him. These ranged from drifters found at the roadside to college kids and even a pilot trying to make her way to Nicaragua.
Dominic had to steer Achilles through snow, ice and deep mud, and it was a trip of great contrasts – after several days riding solo through Mexico he found himself in the middle of a 10-day festival which left him “with a full body hangover and a mouth like sandpaper”.
He also had to contend with dodgy food (including cow’s stomach and sheep’s head), a bad case of “Montezuma’s revenge” in El Salvador, hundreds of punctures and a crash into a parked truck in Mexico.
The hardest part of the trip was the section through the Patagonian wilderness, which Dominic described as “a muddy, icy nightmare, cold and wet for days on end and pushing at least 50 percent of the time in ankle-deep snow”.
It was here that he had one of his hariest experiences: “After a week cycling on ice and developing a disproportionate level of confidence, I coast fast down an ice canyon, then without warning slide 20 metres on my arse – not off the edge of the road, but like a hockey puck, down the icy gravel track, occasionally fending my bike off me as we glide more or less in unison, the mudguard catching on an exposed stone and exploding into fragments of polycarbonate.
“Had I come off worse, I could have been there for days, perhaps freezing to death before someone found my twisted body. But I get lucky. Again.”
The documentary, called Take a Seat, is due to be broadcast at 8pm on Friday (24 July). A launch party is being held at El Barrio Bar in Battersea Square, London on the day – for details see the Take a Seat page on Facebook.
The consistently icy nightmare that was northern patagonia: the consistently icy nightmare that was northern patagoniaDominic Gill