In the Spotlight – Caitlin Hewitt

Normally our “In the Spotlight” features individual accomplishments or highlights someone who we have discovered. In the past, we have blogged about their achievements or their ability to overcome significant odds.

Caitlin Hewitt is a bit of a departure from this norm.

While we were having a follow-up conversation with her dad, Tim Hewitt, Tim mentioned that his daughter was embarking on a bicycle trek.

Tim, if you recall, is the amazing person who pulled his own dogsled during the Iditarod. The conversation about his daughter’s journey quickly captured our attention.

Caitlin and her boyfriend Devon Proctor are planning to embark on a 18,000-mile off-road bicycle journey. The trek will start in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and end in Ushuaia, Argentina.

Caitlin’s career in clean energy and the environment and her intense athletic upbringing — crewing for her parents, ultra-marathons, and her own track career at Stanford — have both contributed to completely crazy ideas about what time off should look like.  The two are taking a year off from the daily grind of a job to grind the gears of their bikes.

This is no easy “jump on the bike and go” event.

Their planned journey makes the Tour de France seem like just a training event.  RAM – the Race Across America – also pales in comparison. It is estimated that the vertical climb will exceed 550,000 feet. The two have an ambitious goal of completing the journey in under 12 months, which means they will need to travel roughly 50 miles a day for 365 days straight.

To make matters worse, the two intend to be self-supported. This means that there is no following support staff to aid or provide needed supplies. They will be carrying all their necessary supplies and food. Stops will be planned at key points along the route to restock their supplies. But given that their adventures will be mainly off-road routes, the criticality of planning food and supplies is paramount.

They will endure frozen tundra, arid deserts, unseen wildlife, huge variations in terrain, four major mountain ranges, the lack of shelter from storms, and the lack of everyday comforts of a home.

Weather, as you can imagine, will play a huge part in the epic event these two plan to undertake.  From the artic circle to crossing the equator, the range of temperature variation is significant. Caitlin is planning for two drop points for changes in seasonal gear, one in San Diego and another in Columbia, South America.  This will help provide the needed supplies and equipment as the two encounter significant terrain changes.

Caitlin met Devon at Stanford University.  Ever since they graduated from Stanford in 2010 and took their first bike tour from Berlin to Amsterdam to Paris, they have dreamed of biking across a continent. Despite years of squeezing in adventure on their vacations, their weekends, and even the occasional mid-week overnighter, they still craved a bigger adventure. Now they will cross two continents and more.

Caitlin is also no stranger to athletic accomplishments. As a teen, she was very active in track and field. While attending Greater Latrobe High School, Caitlin captained the school’s cross country team to a state championship.  She also became the state champion in pole vaulting.

To make the trip a bit more complicated, Caitlin is currently nursing a broken arm back to health. You might have guessed it—she broke it mountain biking about a month ago training for the upcoming adventure. The injury pushed their starting date back a few weeks. When we asked Caitlin about her state of health and readiness, she said, “Yeah, I might not be in the best of shape right now, but I suspect I’ll get whipped into shape pretty quickly once the trip starts!”

Cocoa Elite wishes Caitlin and Devin the best of luck, peaceful weather, steadfast equipment, and memorable moments on the trip.

We plan to post regular updates about their progress throughout the coming year.

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