Ollie Whalley, a bike polo player from Christchurch, has smashed his way into the records books by winning the Tour Divide in a course record time of 16 days, 2 hours, 46 minutes. This is a full day ahead of the previous record and a pretty good excuse for missing Winter Whack III.
The Tour Divide is a gruelling 2745 mile mountain bike race from Canada to the Mexican border which follows the Continental Divide (see map below). The race clock runs 24 hours a day and the riders are allowed no outside support other than access to public facilities such as shops, motels, and bike shops. There are no support vehicles of any kind. The route is also unmarked requiring navigational skill. Riders travel through remote backcountry with grizzly bear and mountain lion density. They must also find shelter each night or camp by the trails. If this wasn’t impressive enough, Ollie did the race with a fully rigid Ventana and a Roloff rear end.
Ollie is known in Christchurch for his heckling technique. He brings a megaphone to tournaments and talks non-stop at players all day. He’s pretty insightful but mostly just approaches this talent like all his others, he wears out the opposition over a very long period of time!
Below are a couple of photos of Ollie playing in the Christchurch’s annual Shuffle Tournament. I’m told he hasn’t been seen at polo since then..something about training for a big multiday race in the US?!.
By Virginia Castellan and Craig Johnston (with thanks to Marky Penrice)
Photographs by Richard Brown and borrowed from the Tour Divide facebook page
If you missed our last Off Court piece on the R U OK ride, you can check it out here.