Rider Profile: Chris Wille
Chris Willie is no stranger to the type of physically demanding challenges of the Silk Route – the soft spoken Victora, BC-based rider and jazz fan is a four time IronMan, Tour de Afrique veteran, marathoner and mountaineer. We also admire Chris for his efforts off the bike, as one of the Silk Route participants who is combining the ride with a fundraising effort in conjunction for Bicycles for Humanity, Victoria.
TdA: For posterity, tell us your full name, age, occupation and anything you'd like to tell us about yourself.
Chris: I’m Chris Willie from Victoria BC Canada, businessman and four time Ironman – three in Penticton and one in Germany. I’m always looking for next challenge. My goals have transcended from doing IronMan events to running a marathon on every continent and cycling around the world…in stages. I am extremely lucky to be able to enjoy that kind of lifestyle. I feel lucky both physically and by being able to have the means to do it. At 51 years of age, I’m living my dream.
TdA: Do you have any favorite ride that you do there?
Chris: Victoria is the cycling cap of Canada so there’s an endless variety of hills and rides around the ocean front. There’s really an endless variation of beautiful rides. Plus you can ride there year around, so it’s the best of luck in that respect as well.
TdA: Why did you choose the Silk Route bike tour for your next adventure?
Chris: I’ve been looking Silk Route for years and I was tempted to sign up when went to Beijing, but got super excited when the route changed to go coast to coast. It is the only way that you can cycle across the whole continent of Asia without the myriad logistics of doing it yourself. I couldn’t imagine trying to do something like that in a timely matter. I love the freedom of the TdA tour, where you’re just eating sleeping and riding. Mark (another rider) says it’s like a drug. It’s simple and practical and economical and there are so many like-minded people doing the same thing. But it was a huge bonus when they changed the route.
TdA: What makes you a little nervous about this trip?
TdA: What do you look forward to the most?
Chris: I’m really looking forward to the different cultures in the ‘Stans and Iran. You read so much about the hospitality of the people in the Iran and I’ve read about the different cultures along the route, and I’m excited to see that. Cycling up the Pamir Highway is also some looking forward to. I’m a mountainer and mountain climber so I love the mountains.
TdA: What kind of bike are you bringing?
Chris: Specialized Tricross. The year I did the Tour de Afrique five or six people had them and they took a beating and never had a problem – they were comfortable, practical and strong. I bought one immediately when I got back.
TdA: How have you been training? Do you feel prepared?
Chris: I’ve sort of been in training for 35 years. This kind of tour you can kind of ride yourself into shape if you have some base fitness. I kind of did the same thing in Africa. You don’t want to start from zero, but if you have a good base it helps. In March in did the Arctic marathon, so I was in pretty good physical shape, and even though general physical demands are different on the bike, I felt ready.
TdA: If you could give one piece of advice to someone going on their first tour with us what would it be?
Chris: I think the big thing about these tours is throwing away all your preconceptions and daring to get out of your comfort zone. You have to embrace the challenge and embrace the experience of being in a completely different culture. If you can do that, it’s magical. You just have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. People who throw away their preconceptions and jump on a tour like this find that it can really enrich their life. It’s such a great way to see the countries and live the experience with all your senses. In a few words: Sign up. Just do it.