best tracker I was chased by machete-wielding locals while cycling in Africa… now I fear bears will EAT ME as I chase world record – Techss

I was chased by machete-wielding locals while cycling in Africa… now I fear bears will EAT ME as I chase world record

BEING chased by machetes has failed to deter explorer Oli France from attempting a feat no human has ever accomplished.

The Wigan-born adventurer, 33, has already cycled the length of Africa – riding 1,600 miles from Djibouti to Tanzania last year – and is now preparing to brave bears in Alaska as he attempts an even more daunting feat across North America.

Oli France

Explorer Oli France is attempting an unprecedented feat over the next few years[/caption]

Oli France

He will cycle 3,500 miles across the US and Canada before climbing the 6,194-metre Denali Mountain[/caption]

Oli France

His North American adventure, which begins on Monday, is the second of seven continents he is travelling across entirely by human power[/caption]

Oli France

It is all a part of The Ultimate Seven Challenge[/caption]

On Monday, the Brit will begin a 10-week expedition consisting of a 42-day, 3,500-mile cycle from Death Valley in California to Denali in Alaska, before he joins a four-man mountaineering team for a four-week climb of the 6,194-metre Denali Mountain – the highest mountain in North America.

On its own it is a distance completed by just one person previously – and that being 25 years ago.

But Oli, who is due to finish on June 3, has bigger fish to fry as his North American adventure is just the second part of The Ultimate Seven Challenge.

Oli is attempting to become the first person to travel from the lowest geographical point to the highest on all 7 continents entirely by human power.

Travelling by foot, bike, ski and kayak, completing the monumental feat – expected to take between three and five years – would see Oli cover 15,000 miles across 20 countries and achieve four world records.

He has already put himself in some hugely dangerous situations during his time in Africa – including cycling in 45C heat and riding through wilderness populated by lions.

Yet it was locals that posed the biggest threat to his safety after he witnessed a domestic altercation on his travels in Africa – a heated scene that led to him being chased by drunk men with machetes and guns.

Speaking exclusively to SunSport, he said: “I had one particular encounter where some very hostile locals basically wanted to get me off the bike and have a fight with me. They were really angry about me being there.

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Oli France

Oli has 15 years of expedition experience under his belt[/caption]

Oli France

He has already completed some remarkable distances[/caption]

“I’d actually encountered some sort of domestic problem between a man and a woman – I just happened to be cycling past at the wrong place, wrong time, when this was going on.

“They were shouting at it each other and didn’t like the fact that I’d witnessed all of that, so as I was cycling up a steep hill a bunch of the men came over and wanted to get me off the bike.


“The thing you’ve got to be careful of there is half the people have got machetes, some of them have got guns. So it’s no place to be getting into that kind of problem, so the best thing you can do is get out of it.

“So what I actually did is I ended up flagging down a passing truck and the driver ended up helping me get out of that by restraining them so I could cycle away. That was really quite scary.”

Oli, who has explored more than 75 countries, is hoping for no such volatility during his trip across North America, but a number of other terrifying elements still await the husband and father-of-two.

And that is if you put aside the fact he will have to average more than 83 miles cycling per day for six weeks straight – the equivalent of riding from London to Dubai.

One major hurdle is the change in temperature – which could fluctuate 70 DEGREES between Death Valley and the Denali Mountain.

The California desert ramps up to highs of 35C, while Alaska’s highest point can drop to as low as -35C.

Yet that factor still pales in comparison to his biggest fear… BEARS.

A huge 18 months of preparation and 15-20 hours training per week won’t ready Oli for all eventualities in Yukon and Alaska – which boast around 37,000 grizzly bears between them.

And he is well aware he needs to take precautions to limit his chances of becoming a “meal on wheels” – with the bears set to come out of hibernation as he rides through their home.

When asked his biggest concern ahead of the trip, he said: “Bears, grizzly bears once you get up to Yukon and Alaska.

“So Alaska itself has got half of North America’s grizzly bears. About 30,000 grizzly bears live in Alaska.

“And just as I’m cycling through there they are going to be starting to come out of hibernation which means they’re going to be quite peckish.

Alaska is home to around 30,000 grizzly bears
Getty

“So I’ll need to be prepared for that with bear spray and making my presence known, trying to be loud on the bike so you’re not surprising any bears as you turn a corner.”

Oli’s sporting prowess prior to becoming an explorer consisted of some national rugby league finals at school.

But it is his 15 years on expeditions – not to mention his “extremely supportive wife” – that has enabled him to get to a position to attempt this remarkable feat.

He already has a number of incredible achievements under his belt outside of The Ultimate Seven Challenge.

They include travelling solo from Hong Kong to Istanbul along the 8,000-mile mountainous spine of Asia.

He also completed a solo 405-mile journey across the frozen length of Lake Baikal, Siberia, the world’s largest freshwater lake, while dragging a 60kg sled.

Providing he comes through the US and Canada unscathed, the plan is for him to tackle South America as the third of the seven continents in the winter.

And on the eve of flying to California, Oli is as motivated as ever.

He added: “If you’re going to try and do something that no human being has ever done before then it’s going to involve a lot of time and a lot of sacrifice to achieve that.

“So I’m in here for the long hall.”

Oli France’s Death Valley to Denali attempt is part of the The Ultimate Seven Challenge. For more information visit wildedge.co and oli_france on Instagram!

Oli cycled through a number of areas where wild animals lived during his Africa leg

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