Intrepid cyclists face bear danger on 3,000-mile charity ride

(L-r) Ben Henshaw (20), from Swanmore, Iain Warner (46), from Southsea and Tobi Ratcliff (20), from Waltham Chase.  Picture: Sarah Standing (170956-5357)
(L-r) Ben Henshaw (20), from Swanmore, Iain Warner (46), from Southsea and Tobi Ratcliff (20), from Waltham Chase. Picture: Sarah Standing (170956-5357)

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CYCLING almost 3,000 miles across the rugged mountainous terrain of America is the least of this intrepid trio’s worries.

Later this week Iain Warner, 46, Ben Henshaw, 20, and Tobi Ratcliff, 20, will be jetting off to Canada to begin their two-month long quest to cycle the Great Divide – a 2,744-mile route from Canada to New Mexico.

Not only have the three friends had to prepare for the epic feat of endurance – they’ve also had to ready themselves for the terrifying prospect of a bear attack in the most isolated stretch of their ride.

Iain, of Southsea, said: ‘We have to have due diligence when it comes to bears.

‘We’re in their territory. We’re cycling through some of the most densely-populated areas of grizzly bears in the whole of America.

‘It’s actually called “Bear Alley”.

‘It’s where they relocate all the dangerous grizzly bears.

‘I’m hoping it doesn’t come to having to defend ourselves but I’ve got a really loud foghorn that I can use to scare them off.’

The group will be sleeping rough and while in bear territory they will have to follow strict safety rules to avoid being mauled.

‘We have to cook our dinner in one place, winch up our food into a tree in another spot and then sleep in a different area – it’s like a triangle,’ added Iain.

‘It’s definitely going to take us a while to settle down and sleep at night knowing there are bears out there.’

The trip was Iain’s idea.

He is doing it in memory of his mother, Annette, who died in January aged 73, of mesothelioma – a type of lung cancer commonly caused through contact with asbestos.

He hopes to raise £2,744 for the Hampshire Asbestos Support Awareness Group.

All three have given up their jobs at The Brickmakers pub in Swanmore – where Tobi and Ben live – to take on the challenge.

They aim to complete the route in about 70 days, riding about 40 miles – and consuming 5,000 calories – every day.

Much of the route is not signposted, so the three riders have been honing their navigation skills ahead of the challenge.

Iain added he hoped to be able to take advantage of American cuisine.

‘We’re definitely going to stop in a few places for some pancakes,’ he said.

‘It would be a shame to miss out on some of the local delicacies.’

To support the trio, see justgiving.com/fundraising/throughridefornetty