Competitor Magazine (march 2010)

It was one year ago—early winter 2009—and to all six of them it seemed like a heck of a good idea. They were all gathered in Argentina for the wedding of Augustina (Tina) and Sebastian (Seb). The recently crowned two-time Ford Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington and her longtime friend, worldclass mountaineer Billi Bierling, were staying at Tina and Seb’s home in the city of Mendoza. The wedding itself was a few hours away by bike, so Chrissie and Billi mounted up and rode three hours to the ceremony on their mountain bikes. “We had our dresses in our rucksacks,” laughs Wellington. When the party was over, Billi, Chrissie, Tina, Seb and their friends Rata and Helen took off on their mountain bikes on a journey that none of them would ever forget.

“Hey,” they figured, “why not rent a few mountain bikes, grab sleeping bags, panniers and tents and spend some time together riding over the Andes?” What a memorable way to spend Tina and Seb’s honeymoon, right?

Competitor Magazine (march 2010)What started out as an adventure honeymoon—“I don’t know if Tina invited us on the honeymoon or not, but we went anyways,” remembers Wellington—led to this sixpack of friends trying to make it over, around and through a mountainous region and over a pass that had never been biked before. “What I love about these adventures is that they represent sport at the absolute rawest,” Wellington says. “We are out there on this adventure simply for the love of the sport.”

That was the way the woman who has never been beaten at the Ironman distance, the now three-time defending Ford Ironman World Champion, spent her vacation. What started as a Jeep track became sand and then basically petered out to no trail at all. “We were bushwhacking over glaciers with 65 pounds in our panniers,” Wellington says. “I was beginning to question this whole honeymoon malarkey. There were times we averaged only two kilometers per hour for 10 straight hours.”

On day five, way behind schedule, the group ran out of food. “We went up to this farmer’s house, who was living quite happily without the six of us in his life,” Wellington recalls. “We told him that we were out of food and he offered to slaughter one of his goats for us. The next thing we know we’re at his table eating his goat.”

Eventually, after seven amazing days in the mountains, the honeymoon was complete. Chrissie Wellington—athlete, philanthropist and adventurer— was rested, recharged and relaxed, another exciting vacation stored forever in the memory banks…

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