There is a fantastic show being shown on BBC 2 over the coming weeks on Friday evenings at 8.30pm. It's a repeat of a BBC 4 series which was shown in June 2011, about three Australian brothers (Ben, Sam and Danny Wood) who are cycling "On Hannibal's Trail" from Sagunto in Spain to Rome in Italy via the Alps.
"Before we left to start our epic cycle, I was a little worried about what I had gotten myself into. The cycling wasn't so much of a concern - I had done similar trips to this before - but the TV presenting was an unknown quantity.
I've worked as a software developer most of my life so I'm more comfortable joking with computer nerds about how to set the laser printer to stun than talking to a camera about an ancient Carthaginian general.
I love riding and I love cycle touring - I can't get enough of the freedom and the satisfaction you get at the end of a hard day of riding - but I was very nervous about talking to the camera. At the same time I was very curious about how you go about making a documentary."
History and travel series in which three Australian brothers - Danny, Ben and Sam Wood - set out cycling on the trail of Hannibal, the ancient warrior who marched from Spain to Rome at the head of an invading army accompanied by elephants.
Hitting the Road
The brothers hit the road, cycling up the east coast of Spain, passing through the palms of Elche, the beaches of Benidorm and Valencia's zoo before arriving at Sagunto, where Hannibal's war against the Romans truly began. On the way, they meet Australian cycling champion Matthew Lloyd and they talk to the elephants - and their keepers
Barca! Barca! Barca!
The Wood brothers continue to cycle north along the east coast of Spain, calling in at Barcelona's famous Camp Nou stadium to watch a football match before visiting the ancient Greek ruins of Ampurias. Chef Adam Melonas cooks the brothers a Carthaginian banquet on the beaches of the Costa Brava. Fully fuelled, the Woods are ready to take on the mountains, cycling across the Pyrenees into southern France.
Crossing the Rhone
From the Roman amphitheatre of Arles, the brothers retrace Hannibal's steps through the south of France to the foothills of the Alps. They recreate Hannibal's historic crossing of the River Rhone before cycling on to the town of Maillane, where the remains of one of Hannibal's elephants were found in the 19th century. They then race up the 2000-metre-high Mont Ventoux before setting off into the Alps.
Over the Alps
The brothers take on the most challenging leg of their trek - crossing the Alps. Historians disagree about which route Hannibal took across the mountains, and the Woods split up and each cycle a different path. They brave snow, altitude and sheer exhaustion as they carry their bikes across some of the highest peaks in the Alps. Finally, they meet up in northern Italy, ready to take on Rome.
Hannibal the Great
With the Alps behind them, the brothers cycle through northern Italy from the fertile Valley of Trebbia, where Hannibal's first defeated the Romans on their home turf, to the rolling hills of Tuscany. They continue on through thick marshes before arriving at Cannae, site of the bloodiest battle of ancient history. On the way, the Woods meet a winemaker called Hannibal, attempt to make a pizza in Naples and have a close shave in Trani.
Hannibal at the Gates
As they come towards the end of their epic journey, the Wood brothers make a sacrifice to the gods at Lake Averno, come face to face with Hannibal in Rome and cross the Mediterranean to Tunisia, once the centre of the Carthaginian Empire, where they visit the site where the fate of an entire civilisation was decided in one final battle. On the way, they meet a Roman centurion and discuss Hannibal's legacy with the souk merchants of Tunis.
Here is a link to the "On Hannibal's Trail" webpage on the BBC 4 homepage.
Also, here is link to Ben's blog on the BBC TV blog.
There has been some discussion as to the "fullness" of the panniers on the bikes. In this forum, Sam kindly addresses those issues.
You can also follow their progress on Twitter.
Ben Wood //
Danny Wood //
Sam Wood //