GATBY 2021 Q & A

GATBY 100 Challenge Q&A

 

Date: August 26 - December 3, 2021

GATBY Rock

 Location: Kingdom of Thailand

 Participant: Cory R Winter

 Age: 52

 Bike Model: Trinx M500 Pro Mountain Bike. Monkier “Old Squeaky”.

  Q: What is the GATBY 100 Challenge?

 A: GATBY is an endurance challenge created by a Canadian company ArcticFox Sports. The format is designed to test the athletes stamina to accomplish a daily activity for a certain period of time. It’s really based on a habit forming principle in either a 25, 50 or 100 day duration.

  The GATBY 100 is a 100 day challenge which the participant strives to complete a chosen activity for 100 consecutive days. In my case I chose 100 km cycling as the activity and committed to doing that each and every day for the 100 days.

 Q: What was the most difficult aspect of this challenge?

 A: There were several aspects that challenged me; Foremost was simply getting up and at it each day. For the first 25 days that wasn't much of a problem but as time went on it became more difficult to motivate myself to get at it, particularly from day 50 until about day 85. There were several reasons for that, as time passed I gradually became physically fatigued as I didn’t have a chance to rest any more than 16 hours between rides.

  The discomfort levels particularly with saddle sores and skin chaffing came and went through the entire 100 days, usually for 5-7 days with each occurrence, this made it quite uncomfortable to sit on the bike saddle.

  Then there was the rain. I was forced to ride during the monsoon season and riding wet from morning till I finished in the afternoons for weeks and weeks was hard. Especially putting on wet shoes in the mornings.

  Lastly was the mental fatigue. This was an unsupported solo journey, so each day I spent 5-6 hours biking and a good deal of that time was spent thinking about things, such as why I would put myself through all this pain, suffering and hardship. It was particularly tough to justify that to myself in the middle stages of the journey. Thankfully I had supporters, family and friends to cheer me on and inspire me to continue.

Q: Why did you choose the Trinx M500 Pro Mountain bike for this challenge? Wouldn’t it have been easier and faster on a proper road bike or touring bike model?

 A: Yes, it would have been far easier in many respects on a proper road bike. I chose the mountain bike for several reasons that seemed sensible at the planning stages but less sensible in actual practical terms.

  I wanted to demonstrate to people that this challenge could be accomplished on an inexpensive bike. Trinx is a Chinese brand and the M500 Pro cost only 200 USD to purchase. I wanted a mountain bike as a significant portion of the trip would be off main roads and in Thailand the quality of such roads required a robust tire to navigate the potholes and dirt or gravel roads.

  Also to replace any broken or worn parts would be easier to find at local bike stores than a high performance model bike.

Q: Did you have many mechanical issues with the bike and/or your equipment?

 A: Quite a few issues as one would expect on a 10,000 km journey. Most bikes are not built to withstand that kind of punishment without repair.

  I had 17 flat tires, which were primarily due to punctures, though once I overfilled my front tire and it blew out. I repaired the majority of flats myself but purchased 6 replacement tubes.

  The outer tires were new when I started out and I replaced them after approximately 6000 km as they were worn out.

  I replaced 11 broken spokes and have 2 still in need of repair on “old squeaky” right now.

  Other parts replaced or repaired included; gear controls, gear cables, brake pads, brake cable, front and rear sprockets, 2 chains, front light, mirror and rear reflector.

  My panniers and backpack needed duct tape to hold them together as seams ripped due to wear and tear. I love duct tape!

 Q: What collection of gear did you take on this journey?

 A: I traveled with about 20 pounds of gear in two rear panniers and with a waterproof gore-tex backpack strapped onto the top of them. One pannier carried my computer, battery pack and related cords and such. The other was for clothes which were 4 dri-fit shirts, 3 bike shorts and two regular shorts. Socks, spare hat and gloves and cosmetic items. In the backpack I kept my repair kit, oil, hand-pump, spares and rain gear which included rain covers for my shoes. I had flip-flops for after riding and water shoes too for swimming in the ocean, though it turns out I didn’t do much of that. I also had a bar pouch for my phone, wallet and important documents. Easy to take off and carry with me whenever I stopped for a quick bathroom break or refreshment.

 Q: Did you feel safe traveling the Kingdom of Thailand solo?

 A: According to Statistics in 2019 there were 22,000 fatalities due to traffic related incidents, and 80% were attributed to motorcycles, scooters and bicycles. It is widely believed that Thailand is one of the most dangerous countries to cycle. I don’t know if I believe that, as I have cycled over 25,000 km around the country in the past 20 months and haven’t had an accident. BUT… I take certain precautions and still had more than a few close calls.

  I wear a helmet and gloves at all times, I also wear reflective bright orange “Road Safety” straps over my outfit. My panniers are yellow for maximum exposure. I have a rear view mirror and front head light.

  My approach to riding is sensible; I never ride at night, unless absolutely necessary due to an unforeseen circumstance. This is for two reasons, one is being visible on the road and the other is that the traffic incidents are most often at night and in a large parts contributed to alcohol.

  I also never ride with earphones or music, I listen to the sounds of the traffic and the surroundings.

  I get off the road in heavy rain due to lack of visibility for myself and for other drivers to see me.

  I also try to anticipate what a vehicle will do, and assume the unexpected. Especially with the drivers passing other vehicles coming towards me; those have been the most frightening close calls. More than once I have been driven off the road to avoid such drivers.

  Q: Were there any unexpected threats or dangers?

  A: Good question. A few important things to note if you cycle this region.

  Snakes…Lots and lots of snakes cross the road. Snakes are by far the most common “road kill” and there were very few days when I didn’t see dead snakes and many days that I dodged live ones. I especially didn’t like to see the 2 large pythons as they were massive snakes, one dead and one alive… I didn’t stick around that one for long! There were so many different types it was amazing. But as a person who doesn’t like snakes they always freaked me out!

  Monitor Lizards or Komodo dragons as they are known; I saw 7 of these and all but one were fully grown. These “bad boys” can weigh up to 200 pound…that's more than I weigh and can move at speeds up to 20 km an hour, which is faster than I average which was 18-19 km per hour. They are known to be aggressive if surprised or threatened and are very dangerous if so.

 Once I had a small one running along side me on a bridge as it was stuck trying to get over the side and I surprised it, (and it me!) as I was daydreaming as didn’t notice it until it was along side me… thankfully it didn’t take a snap at me!

  Dogs, dogs and more dogs. I counted 207 dogs that aggressively chased me. Meaning that they ran out to chase me and snapped and barked close to my legs. What I learned though is that they are harmless and it’s all a game to them. I just needed to slow down or stop my bike and they would stop chasing me. I think if you were to kick at them or hit them then they would become aggressive and perhaps harm you, so don’t do that! You can’t bike Thailand and avoid dogs so you need to remember that!

  Monkeys, found in certain parts, usually in town parks or national parks and if you keep your distance they ignore you. BUT… don’t feed them or try and play with them… that could end badly for you.

 Q: With the global pandemic ongoing were you at all concerned about traveling across the country? How was the situation in Thailand?

 A: I was fully vaccinated before departing the N.E., so I was protected in that sense. I also wore the ArcticFox Sports face-mask around my neck at all times so I could quickly put it on whenever I required to do that. It’s a very versatile and effective mask so I felt very comfortable.

  I was on the open road in the sun (mostly), distanced from people and stayed in guesthouses that primarily were bungalow style so I wasn’t interacting with many people. Only when I was in the markets and coffee-shops did I feel a bit at risk. I am physically fit and eat healthy and got loads of vitamin D from the sun. I felt quite confident I was low risk.

  Thailand is open for domestic travel and I was mainly in villages and not big cities so that certainly lowered any risk. I have been in Thailand since covid began, so I can't relate to other countries situations first-hand. Thailand is safe to travel in my humble opinion.

 Q: Where did you stay during the nights?

 A: That is the best thing about cycling Thailand. There are many guesthouses and hotels found in most villages and towns. Cost is typically about 400-500 baht a night, which is 12-15 USD. I would use google maps to locate where to stay and never went a night without finding a place, however I did have to cycle further than 100 km some days to reach a town.

 Q: What about food and drink during the trip? Did you use any energy drinks or gels?

 A: I am a naturalist when it comes to that. I didn’t use any sports energy products at all. I drank allot of water which is cheap to buy and readily available along most routes. Unlike cycling in North America where it costs a few dollars for a small bottle of water, in Thailand it costs 30 cents at the most. I would guess I averaged about 5 or 6 liters a day.

  For food I ate local food and often from a street stall for noodles or the village open-air market for chicken, pork or sausage. I ate allot of protein and vegetables. Usually two meals a day, one at about 11 or 12 and then dinner at 5 or 6.

  I took three stops during the day and would often have an iced coffee, frappe or fruit smoothie.

  I enjoyed the local beer more than I should have! But what could possible be better than a cold beer after a long day on the bike!!!

 Q; How did your body cope with the intense strain and did you lose weight as a result of all the exercise?

 A: I didn’t lose much weight, about 15 pounds overall. My caloric intake increased significantly from what I normally consume on a daily basis. I normally practice intermittent fasting on a daily basis but during the ride I halted that and ate more carbs than usual. As mentioned beer was a regular consumable! I didn’t have a weight loss goal so it wasn’t something I was concerned with.

 My legs and in particular my calves were stressed more than any other area. I experienced leg cramps occasionally at night which I assumed were caused by dehydration more than muscle fatigue, but probably a combination of both.

  My wrists were overly-stressed as they had to support my partial weight each day for 5-6 hours.

 Q: Did you have any issues with language or communication?

 A: None. I don’t speak much Thai, but have learned some useful words and phrases. Translation apps are fantastic and very helpful! Many Thais speak a smattering of English so I didn’t find it difficult to manage communicating.

 Q: How was the weather and did it help or hinder your journey?

 A: It varied. The first month was wet and I faced monsoon season, flooding and had to change my route a few times to avoid washed out roads. There were also some very hot days in the south which takes allot of energy and water to get through 100 km. The end of the journey in the N.E. which it is now cool and the most pleasant weather of all. Actually chilly in the mornings the last week.

 Q: How did you track your daily progress and ensure accountability to record your distance for validation?

 A: I used an application called “Strava”, it’s fantastic to track cycling activities and has many features. I have a record of each day that includes information such as distance, time riding, average speed, calorie burn and daily elevation.

  Additionally I had a friend, Rens, based in Australia as an accountability partner, I sent him each day a screen shot of the Strava data for verification. It was awesome to have him in that role as he was also a huge support in encouraging me to get at it day after day.

  Q: For people considering to do a GATBY event, what are your recommendations?

 A: The GATBY events are endurance challenges, plain and simple, it’s about stamina and will power. Whether it’s a GATBY 25, 50 or 100 event they all require a commitment of time and a dedication to getting it done each and everyday. I would recommend that a participant selects an event that is achievable and within their fitness ability.

  Say for example if you are a runner, and you can manage 10 km several times a week, you would be best advised to select the 5 km a day for a GATBY 25 day duration and try that first. Also don’t run more than the 5km as this is an endurance challenge and you need to conserve your energy for the days to come. Also its not about speed, so run at a pace that is comfortable.

  One must be aware of their bodies and limitation to prevent injuries as that would end the challenge. Hydrate, eat wholesome food, get plenty of rest. I recommend using muscle relaxant cream or other types of methods to relax the muscles.

  If you are using an outdoor bicycle, take care of it and keep it well maintained.

 Q: Where did the idea of GATBY come from?

 A: I started a Canadian Rocky Mountain traverse on August 26, 2019 for a 12 day trip that subsequently turned out to be a 3 month trip taking me down to southern California. On the 5th day of the trip I came across a memorial site at a rest stop in the Kootney National Park. The tribute was to a young girl who had passed away and there were various items and messages placed in the forest by her family and friends. One rock was painted with the words “Get addicted to bettering yourself”. That stuck with me and I started to do that for myself in the months thereafter.

  It wasn’t until early 2021 when two fellow Canadian’s and I started ArcticFox Sports that the idea began to form to launch a virtual sports event that we coined GATBY as it’s the acronym for “Get Addicted To Bettering Yourself”. We thought GATBY events would be a great way to encourage people to create a healthier lifestyle for themselves in a different way than the traditional events of say a 10 km run or a marathon or other such challenge. Habit forming strategy rather than a short term build up for a singular event.

 Q: Why is GATBY different than other sports platforms and what is ArcticFox Sports all about?

  Pre-pandemic there was already a growing global health crisis in the west for people due to lack of exercise and with the pandemic shutting down gyms and sport facilities this propelled the issue in a major way. For the last 20 months or so, the health of the general population has deteriorated faster than ever before due to shutdowns and forced home-stay.

  We decided to create a company to champion physical activity for people of all ages and in any location around the world. ArcticFox Sports is a CSR 1st company. This translates to a Corporate Social Responsible company, we place “helping people” before all else.

  We recently launched a limited selection of high-quality products of apparel, face-masks and uniforms and with every sale we donate a mask to the Aboriginal Sports Circle to be directed to one of the 150 indigenous communities in Canada. Many young athletes in these communities are less fortunate and are in need of such a basic item to interact safely in team sports. In the future we will shift from masks to other sport related products to promote activity in these communities.

 Q: Whats next for you?

 A: I will rest for a few days and then start working out in the gym. The next GATBY event which will be a GATBY 25 series starts March 1, 2022 and I will prepare for that. Not sure yet which event I will do, but likely a free-style sports or gym commitment. Old squeaky can sit this one out!

  It’s my intent for 2022, to participate in every GATBY event and progressively improve myself from the March GATBY 25 series, then participate in the GATBY 50 series in April/May and then the GATBY 100 series in June through September and lastly the final GATBY 25 series in October. I intend to incorporate different activities as I progress and add in some other commitments that are not physical in nature but areas in my life I wish to improve.

 Q: How do people register for events in 2022?

 A: Simply go to www.arcticfoxsports.com and sign up for the event and activity. Get Addicted to Bettering Yourself!!! Let’s GATBY!!!