The Next Big Adventure for James Cracknell and Ben Fogle

Image of James Cracknell and Ben Fogel

BBC Two has announced today that the next big adventure for James Cracknell and Ben Fogle is to cycle The Tour Divide, from Canada to Mexico.

The Tour Divide is the world’s longest off-road bike race. At 2745 miles (4418 km) long and the mountainous route is the equivalent of climbing Everest seven times to and from sea level.

Ben and James have previously crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat in the RTS award-winning Through Hell And High Water, and raced to the South Pole in the crushingly cold Antarctic in On Thin Ice, but this new adventure will challenge them, both physically and mentally, like never before. Although James has some experience on road bikes, neither is yet trained in mountain biking, and Ben is not a cyclist at all.

To add to the pressure, they are attempting to break the current course record and complete the route in less than the current best time of 17 days and 21 hours. This inspirational challenge is no mean feat for mountain biking novices – to beat the record they will have to cover at least 160 miles (257km) every day.

Commenting on why they’re taking on this particular adventure, James Cracknell comments: “As ‘fun’ as the last two challenges were, the scenery in the Atlantic and on the Antarctic Plateau wasn’t that varied so the chance to see the Rockies on a bike whilst pushing hard and seeing how close we can get to the record is an irresistible combination.”

The route starts in Banff, Canada, and traverses the Rockies along the Continental Divide, which is the watershed between the Pacific on the West Coast and the Atlantic on the East Coast. But although being an unbelievably arduous physical feat, the bigger test is likely to be maintaining the mental stamina required.

Talking about the expedition, Ben Fogle says: “I love a challenge, but as a cycling novice this is a huge test and could well prove to be the toughest yet. In training, I’ve already had broken fingers and black eyes and I’ve yet to step foot in the Rockies!”

To attempt to beat the current world record, they must race unsupported so there will be no back up team alongside them with equipment or supplies. They must carry everything they need on their bikes, including all their camera equipment, but they are allowed to send supplies to pre-arranged locations to pick up en route.

The challenge of handling the unending miles ahead cannot be underestimated and will undoubtedly put a strain on their personal relationship. The experience of their other expeditions has shown them that team work is the key to success, and in this adventure it is going to be more important than ever.

The production crew behind both their previous adventures will film their training and shadow them where possible during the record attempt which Ben and James plan to start in August 2010.

BBC Executive Producer, Lisa Edwards, comments: “We’re delighted that James and Ben are returning to BBC Two with another inspirational challenge which, as their previous series have done, is sure to keep viewers enthralled.”

Melanie Leach, Twofour’s Executive Producer, says: “It’s really exciting to be working with Ben and James again on a third world-beating adventure. 

“We have followed them over the sea and ice, and watched in awe as their grit, determination and good humour has seen them through. This cycle race will test them to the limits and it will be fascinating to see how their relationship develops as they chase yet another record.”

This is a Twofour production for BBC Two. Executive producer for Twofour is Melanie Leach, series director is Alexis Girardet. For the BBC, commissioned by Jo Ball, executive producer is Lisa Edwards. The 4×60 minute series will be broadcast later in the year.