It's Good to be the King

clockOctober 31, 2009 18:37 by authorDanny

The Golden Age began on Thursday 22nd October.  That is to say, in accordance with our agreement that we should each take a go at having total control over what we do on a day, it was my turn. Hail Caesar!

My inheritance was unexpected because I am not of an authoritarian disposition.  This may be because I am very happy with the Anglo-Australian democratic tradition, rather than other cultural strains that have admired dictators and started big wars.  Certainly as landlord of my flat in Madrid, unfortunately it was necessary to give orders and there were times when I didn't exactly excel at giving them - but some people don't take hints very well and are hard to order around!  And it's true that until recently, I probably lacked a dictator's basic craft skills. So I've been studying and now that I've had a little bit of time in command employing what I've learnt, as Mel Brooks once said, I've really found out that 'It's good to be the King!'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZKiYgcgBAY&feature=related

Before I took over the reigns of power I had had plenty of time to examine the work of the local maestro.  Watching Silvio Berlusconi in a few tv news bulletins in the lead up to my rule really helped me understand what's key to good governance: a funny big grin, making sounds with little or no meaning, cracking bad jokes and exuding confidence.  That model seems to have worked everywhere and I wanted my younger brothers to have the best so I tried to apply these maxims as much as possible.

Things got off to a good start in the Italian seaside town of Barletta because I inherited a fortuitous legacy: leftover supplies from the day before under the rule of Sam, my great predecessor. I didn't let us linger too long at breakfast because my brothers like to keep on the move, so after a second coffee I showed them a map of where I planned to navigate to, pointed, smiled, talked a lot and shrugged a few times. I thought I might have to use their own favourite jokes to distract them from examining the route too closely: a big burp or a loud fart - but this wasn't neccessary. Seeing that my co-operative subjects were content with the day's plan, we were soon mounting our bikes and cycling towards the centre of Barletta, en route to our final destination, the town of Altamura, some eightly kilometres inland.

The first section of our trip wasn't a very nice and so almost immediately I tried to get us off the main road which was crowded with trucks and rush hour traffic and guide us to a possible route along the beach.  The way was blocked by appartments, some half built, others falling down and when we got to the beach it wasnt exactly picturesque with much of the sandy strip covered by a large factory. Under an emmergency decree, I suggested getting to the next town called Trani as quickly as possible to find a coffee and we all agreed. A 15 km cycle and we were soon on the outskirts and with the help of a local who directed us to the old town and said it was bello we eagerly beelined for it. For some reason Sam was leading the way, but by the time we had reached the old port, I had wrestled command back.  The old port of Trani was accurately described by Ben as a mini-Marseille.  The old stone and quiet atmosphere also reminded me of a little port on the Greek island of Santorini, to which one of my subjects, forgetting his place, disagreed.  I realised that my judgement was coming under question and so to quell the possibilty of a coup, it was clear I would need to restore confidence in my reign.  I quickly took the initiative and quizzed our waiter about the location of certain places in Trani that we needed to recce.  This lucky and successful cross examination would lead to us finding a barber's shop and a bike mechanic - two locations for our next Hannibal episode.  Confidence in the Kingdom had been ad restored but now time was the enemy, because it had been passing suprisingly quickly.  It was already 1pm and painful awareness of how hunger can so adversely affect the mood of some members of our family, I was very worried that we may not reach an appropriate lunchtime spot in time to avert cutson, an often silent grumpyness that is the hallmark of this lack of food (for more information see the helpful blog on cutty filed towards the beginning of our journey).  But we all pulled together and Sam's excellent reconnaissance found us a small square in the town of Ravu where we cooked up pasta with an improvised sauce of fresh olives in an olive paste. A good omen too because it looked like our gas cannister was going to run out but in the end it lasted long enough to cook the spaghetti pefectly.  Yummy and much needed.

The ride ahead was tough. Hill climbs and a strong wind in our faces made the going very difficult but the countryside was ruggedly appealing - extensive fields of rich brown earth, olive groves and vineyards.  The sky had grown bigger and the half light of evening was approaching. This twilight hour is often the feeding time for sharks back home on Aussie beaches but it also seems to be dinner time for dogs on Italian farms.  At least three times packs of hounds ran at our bikes and Ben was very nearly caught by an angry, big white dog. It was starting to get dark as we pulled into the outskirts of Altamura - whose name means high wall and meant in ancient tongues 'The Other Troy'.  With that sort of pedigree we were looking forward to exploring the town, but the suburbs were a bit depressing - half built houses, rubbish scattered on the sides of roads and on top of it all I nearly caused an accident that could have injured my subjects by stoppping too suddenly out of eagerness to take a picture of an inflateable teddy bear hanging in a tree.  But my brothers forgave me and soon we found our hotel.

It's good to be the King! (photo by Zissi Kausch)

For dinner we set off from our campsite for the old centre of town and we weren't disappointed.  It was pouring with rain but that gave the white stone an appealing glisten and the church in the main square with its two guardian lions on its steps was quite beautiful.  But before this evening wander we had a satisfying dinner of beer, antipasto, salad and pizza.  It was surprising how few restaurants Altamura has and it reminded us of our home town in Australia, Newcastle when we were growing up there in the late 1970s and 80s.  At that time, in central Newcastle, the Alcron was the place to go to dine, mainly because there was hardly anywhere else.   The lady of German extraction who ran it, Mrs Oberlander, was a character and perhaps at one time in her long career a provenor of fine dining.  I worked there as a waiter when the Alcron was in steep decline and when it didnt look as if Mrs Oberlander could get any older.  It was the sort of stubborn, established restaurant that still thought of itself as a centre of culinary excellence but with tired old roasts and smelly place mats you could tell it had had better days. The entertainment consisted of a charming one legged gentleman who played the piano, and the head waiter was a middle aged man with a blond wig called Willy who spoke with a European accent whose origin was difficult to pinpoint. One typically quiet night, Willy told me that he had buried his pet dog wrapped in plastic twenty years ago and exhumed it to find the dog's body perfectly preserved. He assured me that this technique would work just as well if we did the same to me.  The comment seems much stranger now than it did at the time. The waitress in Altamura's Three Arches restaurant was lovely and in no way provoked this strange memory.

The dictatorship ended at 0000 hours, 23rd October without incident.



Business Efficiency Consultant takes over as Dictator

clockOctober 29, 2009 17:39 by authorSam

Dictatorship for me meant we could do what (I thought!) we always planned to do... get up early, get most of the riding done before lunch, have a good break, a big Italian lunch then cruise the last 20-30 km to our destination arriving in time to set up comfortably before finding or cooking dinner.

This is not to say my brothers wouldn't be usually up for this!?!?! It does often sounds better than it is and filming has meant we have done most of our kilometres in the afternoon so to say the 2 days I ruled have been the only days we have rode more in the morning than in the afternoon would be no exaggeration. Quite a pathetic legacy but my second legacy makes me an even more boring leader. The two days I ruled we came in under budget! I think again these are our only days when this has happened!

Being a Roman archaeologist I really should have gone for orgies, feasts, massive building projects, maybe some gladiatorial combat or some empirical warring. Instead I went for early starts and cheap days - exciting stuff! I am the dictator of Health and Efficiency!

A Roman bridge on the way to Cannae


On my first day we rode to Cannae where Hannibal obliterated a numerically superior Roman army. On the way my tyre literally exploded, causing my back wheel to swim and swerve as I attempted to pull off the road. It wasn't a great omen for my rule and I almost ended up under a white van! (driven by the Italian equivalent of the white van men of London - aggressive, abusive drivers but with style!)

At Cannae Hannibal used a tactic still used and taught today - the double envelopment. Basically as the armies lined up, Hannibal made his centre weak so the Romans forced it back when they attacked. He then defeated the Roman wings and swept around enveloping and slaughtering the Roman soldiers who had forced back his centre. It is estimated that up to 70000 men died - the most killed in a single day of battle ever - or to compare it to another devastating event, a similar number to those killed by the nuclear bomb at Hiroshima.

A commemorative column which overlooks the battlefield at Cannae


We arrived at our destination in good time and enjoyed a healthy salad and pasta, perfect and nutritious for our days ahead!

On my second day of rule we rode through our wettest day yet from Altamura to Taranto. We were all soaked through but it was a great ride made even better after a days rest in Altamura (Ben's rule - If you get a choice make him your leader, very relaxing!). We exited the city through varying levels of water and at times felt we were going to be swept away. However time keeping was good and we stopped in Palagiano where the Barista Caesar gave us free coffees so the budget was looking even better!! We then rode on to Taranto all in good time - another efficient day of cycle touring!

Danny riding through the deluges which crossed all roads out of Altamura

Arrival in Taranto - safe and sound!



Dictatorship

clockOctober 26, 2009 11:14 by authorBen

Danny, Sam and I are all quite nice diplomatic people which can get a little frustrating at times. We get to an intersection for example and Danny suggests we go left, I say right and Sam says straight through. After 20 minutes of delicate and polite discussion we decide on a course of action that is neither offensive nor non-discriminatory. I'd actually given up navigating lately as three opinions were worse than two. We had multiple decision points every day; where to stay? Where to eat? What to eat? When to get up? Where to film? Pretty pathetic decisions to make in the grand scheme of things but we were experiencing a paralysis in our decision making capabilities, a crisis of modernity.

So we needed a new governing structure. We appointed a committee to consider a Joint Chiefs of Staff, a Privy Council, a Soviet and a Russian Oligarchy but in the end we only really had the man power for a Tyranny. We had considered Dictatorship on previous cycling trips but it has only been in the last week that we have been brave enough to make the transfer of power. Like the Roman Republic appointing Dictators in crucial moments during their war against Hannibal I won the coin toss that meant I became our first Dictator.


My first decree, like all the best Dictators, was to extend my Dictatorship indefinitely - unfortunately our Executive Producer was uncontactable to ratify the emergency legislation. My second was the forced adoption of Juche. Thats about as exciting as it got. We investigated the Servian Wall in McDonalds at Rome's Termini station - this was the wall that prevented Hannibal taking the city and it now lives on the lower ground floor of the train station covered in cigarette buts. It was a bit of a depressing experience but we couldn't dwell in it. We had a long way to go and after some positive reinforcement from Our Dear Leader we set off.

A long day ended in a Trattoria where Inter Milan were playing Dinamo Kiev on the tele. It was full locals - an all male crowd - except for one woman we felt quite sorry for who had her back to the tele and was trying to talk to her husband but his eyes were glued to the football. The proprietor - who is a spitting image of Big Al off Happy Days - sat us down in prime position and seved us a very good meal. Danny kept yelling in delight whenever Dinamo scored which didn't go down too well. He did the same thing in a little cafe near Perugia in 2002 when South Korea knocked Italy out of the World Cup and we all slowly distanced ourselves from him as the locals went on a rampage. I did however suffer insubordination and a lack of respect for the dignity of my office. My one serious decree during the day was to tell my subjects to go to the toilet of this Trattoria and come back nude and sit at the table normally to see what would happen - they refused and my reign ended in confusion and ignomy. Am I not merciful? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpoqoBAItY4&feature=related



Allies Arrive

clockOctober 25, 2009 04:03 by authorSam

We went to Pavia for two reasons - to meet an old frield - Frederico Marcesi or Feddo as he bacame known in Australia where everyone's name must be shortened and end with an o or y. And to visit the place where Hannibal had his first battle with the Romans. The first obviously took preference and Feddo took us out in Pavia - its a beautiful university town famous for its extraordinary towers, built by competitive rich men during the Renaissance. The taller the tower, the richer and more powerful you were. However I imagine they were even more symbolic than that - a bit like a red sportscar or long camera lens today, products of renaissance mid life crises!

The covered bridge at Pavia

The 'towers' of Pavia!

Hannibal also fought two battles here - one a brief encounter at the river Ticinus. Here he routed the Roman army who then retreated to Trebbia, a river further south near Piancenza. Hannibal followed and even though the Romans were reinforced he heavily defeated them. Here he first showed his tactical nouse.  He lured the Romans with a small contigent of his force out of their camp early in the morning, unfed over a freezing river in the middle of winter. The Romans were cold, wet and hungry. Hannibal's main force was well fed, well slept and ready for battle - Hannibal had also put sent his youngest brother Mago to hide in the reeds to spring a trap once the Romans were across the river - Hence they won very convincingly.

Unfortunately for Hannibal all but one of his elephants died here, not of war wounds but of the cold - the last elephant Sirius survived on to carry Hannibal (who lost an eye here from disease) across swamps and down towards Florence - where we next headed to meet our own allies.

Between Pavia and Piacenza there was a brief moment of panic. We were riding along embankments built to protect neighbouring farmland from flooding and noticed a huge nuclear power station in the distance. We rode straight past the front door. All was eerily quiet until an alarm started sounding! One thing Hannibal didn't have to contend with was a nuclear meltdown in Emilia-Romagna. For some reason schoolboy physics equations came to mind; effective neutron multiplication factors, prompt neutron lifetime, mean free path, nuclear number density...how long did we have until we were fatally irradiated...then we realised, without a great deal of relief, that the alarm was coming from the sewerage plant next door...we sprinted even faster!

Danny taking notes, Ben doing bikecam! On the plains bewtween Pavia and Piacenza

Signs of Hannibal!

After 6 weeks of filming and riding and with a gap in our schedule we sent out a call for cyclists - This was answered by Willo and Perry ( o and y of course) whom we met in Florence with the aim of riding to Rome in 3 days.  Here are photos of our trip together, it was brilliant to have them along. They drove us along with terrible jokes, some of which will no doubt follow. After our first days cycling from Florence to Cortona, where they invariably led the pack doing the lion's share of the work - Perry led us home even when his legs were failing and I've never seen Willo so quiet but he drove us out to our best dinner of our whole trip at Cortona.

Their guest blog follows!!

Preparing lunch outside Florence in the Tuscan hills with Willo and Perry

The leaning tower

Cortona

Cortona II

From Cortona - Willo telling his Padre joke next to the Le Celle Monastery! Lake Trasimene in the background...

Perry and Will cooking our fresh pasta lunch - excellent guests!

Via Cartaginese - more signs of Hannibal - A column dedicated to the battle at Lake Trasimene in the mirror

Willo!

Perry on the Cross

Farewell photo at the Servian Wall at Rome Termini



Love in Italy

clockOctober 24, 2009 02:55 by authorBen

A few years ago we were riding in Germany and learnt the Imperial point. A large group of cyclists was coming towards us and as they got closer we realised they were a huge professional cycling team. The leading cyclist sat up in his saddle and slowly and arrogantly pointed towards our side of the road - meaning "stay over there you peasants". It was one of the best things that has happened to me and we all use it regularly - mostly on cars but also sometimes on cyclists who don't seem to know where they are going. So as Sam was crossing Traversette (which by the way is much harder than Clapier!) Danny and I went for a little ride from a great little place we were staying in called le Fontenil. This was Sam's base before Traversette and it was run by the nicest person in France - Jean-Pierre - he made us breakfast having been up till 4am with a bikie gang he also had staying, he let us use the kitchen to cook our meals, we used his van whenever we wanted, he made us dinner, we basically had the run of place and if we had burnt it down I'm sure he would have smiled and said no problem. Unfortunately as I returned from my ride a car came flying around a corner on the wrong side of the road just in front of me. I was nearly home so I Was a bit tired and irritated so I automatically sat up and gave it the Imperial point - but just as I was straightening my left arm the driver lifted a hand to wave - got halfway through his friendly gesture and his jaw dropped and there was hurt and confusion in his eyes as he saw that I wasn't actually waving back but telling him to p*ss off onto his side of the road. It was all over in a second and the driver was Jean-Pierre! I had just insulted the nicest bloke in France. It was never mentioned but there was a palpable tension between us for the rest of our stay. I looked on jealously as he fulfilled every whim of my brothers and the crew and I felt too guilty to ask anything of him. Luckily I am the middle brother and am used to being deprived (mine's worse).   

The final affront was on our last night of three there - Jean-Pierre had been running around after us for days and at last he sat down with us for a glass of wine and a rest after dinner. He'd been there all of 5 seconds when someone said "can I have a coffee". We all groaned sheepishly as the poor bloke was up like a shot to fetch it...

Everyone at le Fontenil - Jean-Pierre kneeling at front

So Sam arrived back from Traversette completely exhausted - perhaps the tiredest I'd ever seen him - since the birth of his son Jack perhaps - and I've never exaggerted ever in my whole life. We had a day of filming in the Alps before the crew left us again for our solo ride through Italy. We were orginally going to leave from Turin - where we had all independently arrived after our solo crossings. But we decided instead to ride from the French side of the Alps as we had regrouped. To get out of there we had to cross the equivalent of Mont Ventoux - it was the Col Agnel - Jean-Pierre warned us it was very difficult. And it was - freezing cold too - the first really cold day we had had. We made it over after a long struggle but a beautiful ride and perhaps another route Hannibal may have taken across the Alps - all the locals seem to favour it at least. Once we had crossed into Italy we had a run of 40km downhill punctuated by a very good coffee.

Top of Col Agnel - amazing views towards Italy

Descent to Italy I

Descent to Italy II

Descent to Italy III

Descent to Italy IV

Descent to Italy V

We got as far as Piasco and the next morning we rode on and cooked ourselves lunch in a little park in a town called Bra - with our diet we are concentrating on fragmenting elastines and accumulating lipofusion inside our liver cell. More importantly Bra is where we nearly learnt the true meaning of love. Our post lunch cappucinos came with Baccio chocolates that told us "love is a storm of pleasure and an enchantment of sweetness" - this seemed to conflict with the theory in a book we are all reading (we have torn it into three) that women invented love because during child birth they are weakened and need a powerful protector. Now, according to the author that women are strong, independent and free they have given up inspiring or feeling a sentiment that had no concrete justification in the first place! So we had very conflicting ideas to deal with as we rode on to Pavia.   

The riding in northern Italy isn't great but we had been spoiled in the Alps. Its flat at least but very busy and drivers are impatient and aggressive.

The Alps from Italy - Mt Viso is the big mountain on the left - Sam crossed just to the right of it

 



BBC History Magazine latest...

clockOctober 23, 2009 15:47 by authorBen

A little bit about Pavia, Piacenza and the first clashes of the 2nd Punic War between Carthage and Rome:

http://www.bbchistorymagazine.com/blog/hannibals-first-big-victory



End of Episodes 3 and 4

clockOctober 23, 2009 12:28 by authorBen

Some stats for the end of filming for episodes 3 and 4...670km to where we split at the base of the Col de Galibier. By the time we got across to Italy we had done between 800 and 900km.

Our route from Russan to the Col du Lauterat

Our separate routes over the Alps into Italy. Sam = red, Danny = green and Ben = blue (our shirt colours)



Life Expectancy and Crossing Montgenevre

clockOctober 22, 2009 14:31 by authorDanny

We are in Cortona - a beautiful hilltop town and Michael Knight would have (once again!) been proud of our efforts to get here. A lovely night time ride in an upwards direction along a very straight road but once we got here our dinner in a restaurant in the main square was probably our best yet. Two friends who have joined us to cylce from Florence to Rome: Perry and Will were very game today and went like the clappers on their bikes during our 100 km ride from Florence to Cortona.  Now Perry can barely walk and Will who is always up for a late night was very happy to come home and go to straigt to sleep.

We had a lovely ride through Florence this morning - a circuit of the Duomo and its unusual marble exterior and crossing over a beautiful bridge which showed off great views up and down river towards gorgeous contryside and appealng Italianate villas.  But the countryside surrounding they city was probably even more beautiful - right out of a Renaissance painting of picturesque scenery: rolling hills, cypress trees, vineyards.

Are you talkin to me? (photo by Zissi Kausch)

A few months ago I was cycling in a very different place - through the arid landscapes of Almeria in southern Spain. I was there partly to do some long cycle rides around Cabo de Gata national park but mainly to have a holiday with my flatmates Kristina and German.  In the the history museum in the city of Almeria you'll find a cleverly arranged exhibit based on excavations of some early bronze age sites, little villages and the like.  The most impacting stuff was on life expectancy based on testing the age of the excavated human bones. If they were lucky, the majority of the adults whose remains were found in these tombs lived until they were aged thirty, sometimes forty.  I turn forty in a couple of months and after five weeks on the road I can understand why our ancestors four thousand years ago at my age may have been on his or her last legs. Cycling for the last six weeks or so, being out in the elements all day, on the move all the time has had its effect on all of us.  Im not about to die, but I have an everlasting tiredness that never seems to leave me.  I feel hardier, fitter and stronger, but I know that I dont feel as healthy.  That sounds like a contradiction but I think my brothers would agree.  We are all in better bike riding shape, but it's like we are burning the wick at both ends. 

Crossing the Alps on a bicycle should be more in this vein of Rambo style physical adventure like Sam's impressive Col de la Traversette performance, and Ben's grim determination on Clapier, but in my case at least, it was a bit of a dwardle.  Montgenevre is the smallest of our three possible 'Hannibal was here' mountains.  It is under two kilometres high and my ride to get there was only 13 kilometres.  It was uphill of course, but a pretty easy ride with some lovely views back down the valley towards my staging post of Briancon. As I was riding out of Briancon towards Montgenevre, on the one hand I felt relieved but on the other a bit disappointed that I wasnt doing something a bit more difficult.  But it was still fun.  I was riding by myself for the first time and there was an extra feeling of freedom in that.  And in a way, this part of the journey was a bit of a scientific experiment.  We were all applying a number of criteria to each of our mountains to see if they really could be the crossing point for Hannibal's army and elephants.  Those criteria are based on what we can read about the crossing in the works of Polybius and Livy (which is not very much!) and include a suitable campsite near or on the summit, a spectacular view of Italy and snow on top of old snow from the previous year (see the BBC History magazine for more details).  Today Montgenevre is a ski village so as soon as I was nearing the summit my images of a Carthaginian army struggling along in a harsh natural landscape were erased by perfect ashfelt roads running past cafes and restaurants. There wasnt any snow yet and the view towards Italy wasnt spectacular but before the ski village was constructed there would have been plenty of room for an army to camp. In our humble opinions, Montgenevre is probably third in line to Clapier and Traversette as a crossing contender but in reality it is very difficult if not impossible to determine Hannibal's route based on the literature alone. We will have to start excavating to see where he really went.



The Longer March to Traversette

clockOctober 20, 2009 13:36 by authorSam

Ben's favourite joke is if you say you have something which is big or best or something grand then he will immediatly reply that his is bigger or better or greater! This stems from those annoying people who always have to go one better whenever you tell a story whether it be they have travelled more than you, do whatever it is better than you or maybe even earn more than you. So this blog is based on this, my Col is longer, harder and better than Ben's!

It really seemed like we were trying to be scared off Traversette - an archaeologist the BBC consulted said it was treacherous and too dangerous for us to climb. The guides who took us up to the pass, also said, on the morning we met them (I was later told) that we would never make it.

However...the walk was fantastic and totally safe but carrying my bike was one of dumbest things I have ever done. Taking what is basically a useless lump of metal in the conditions, which weighs around 30kgs (heavier than Ben's) to a pass which is close to 3000 metres high (Ben's was only 2550) and has no roads is not smart, but my reasoning for it was worse. My argument was that my bike was my metaphorical elephant.

One of the few spots when I tried to ride my bike!

Hannibal took 37 of them over the Alps (more than Ben) which may or may not include Traversette - until someone finds some archaeological evidence which links him to a specific pass we will never know which one he crossed to enter Italy. Hence our split at this stage so we could at least examine three passes. This lack of knowledge really maintains the mystery which makes this story so interesting. It also meant that no matter how silly I felt with my bike in the snow and rocks up the mountain, I knew that very possibly Hannibal had been there before with his savanah born elephants and he must have felt just as ridiculous!

John getting me to do it all one more time!

I did seriously regret the decision to take my bike when I realised I would not be pushing my bike, let alone riding my bike at all that day. I would have to carry it! Ben's was easier, he rode or pushed his the whole way. Mine was much much harder - it worked in rounds - I would carry my bike 20 metres then gulp for air, I did this repeatedly until we reached the top - usually I don't look forward to the filming bits particularly - I like to be off with my bike, but this time, because I was so tired (more than Ben), my bike came closs to being dumped or thrown off many cliffs and I was always hoping our director would call a halt for a shot or ptc, or John the cameraman would spot a good GV - usually he is unstoppable to the point of frustration at finding these when you want to get on with things but this time all of the ones he spotted to film generally involved me going back down the hill a bit to carry my bike up a second time - I am still not sure if he was doing this purposely!

Starting to feel the pain...

Luckily the conditions were perfect. Ben said that up Clapier there was lots of fog and it wasn't very nice - but climbing Traversette went brilliantly and it was an amazing trip, much more amazing than Clapier. John describes the day as one of his best working days ever, better than when he went to Clapier, and I would agree entirely although my work experience as a presenter totals 4 weeks (this trip)! It was defintely spectacular - we climbed to 2950 metres through steep rocky terrain over snow and ice to a pass from which you can see far into Italy. Mont Viso the mountain the Roman's thought was the highest in the Alps towered over us from the end of the valley. We got to the top without any trouble, I was almost collapsing but I didn't admit that to anyone! The guides also told us that 2 weeks before there was a metre of snow in the valley, this was all melted for us besides at top - If it had still been there I would have had an excuse to give up! We were very lucky all round, we could see that on a bad day Traversette could defintely cause problems, but on our day it was perfect - if I had not been carrying my bike I may have even enjoyed it (more than Ben enjoyed Clapier)

Thanks to Nicola and Gerard our guides they were both brilliant (better guides than Ben's) and to Gerard again for all of the great photos here.

 

Reaching the top with Nicola

The view from the top



BBC History Magazine - Over the Alps

clockOctober 16, 2009 12:33 by authorSam

Our latest instalment is here:

http://www.bbchistorymagazine.com/blog/over-alps




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About the authors

Danny, Ben and Sam Wood are three brothers who followed in the footsteps of three ancient Carthaginian brothers Hannibal, Hasdrubal and Mago. They cycled from Cartagena, Spain to Zama, Tunisia - the route that Hannibal and his army took over 2200 years ago. Along the way they filmed a documentary which was aired on BBC4 in July and August 2010.

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