In Search of Hannibal 2017:

Hannibal Barca has long been recognised as one of the greatest military stratagists of all time, his legendary exploits agains the Roman Empire in the 3rd Century BC have established his reputation as a tenacious and brilliant stratagist and leader.

 

in 218 BC he infamously led a huge army of Carthaginian soldiers on an epic campaign to boldly attack the Romans by crossing Europe from his base in Spain, through Gaul (modern France) and into their own back yard of Northern Italy. 

 

This route to suprise the Romans required his army to cross the French and Italian Alpine passes, previously thought inpenetrable. What was more amazing about this endeavour was that not only did Hannibal lead 50,000 men across the Alp, but his army also included Calvery,  and 37 of  his famous war elephants!!

 

Thoughout his whole journey Hannibal was harassed by a chasing Roman Army and attacked by Gaulish Tribesmen who were either not happy about him travelling through their lands, or were in league with the Romans.

 

Fascinated by great leadership and endevour, James has always been interested in the feats and stratagy of Hannibal.

 

In June 2017 James followed Hannibals route, through Southern Europe and over the Alps to Italy.

 

As a passionate adventurer and wanting to get close to the physical elements of Hannibals journey, this expedition was undertaken solo and by bike, not a special touring bike, but a bodged up 14 year old mountain bike, with a pannier set half bolted/ half gaffa taped onto the back!

James is a qualified Mountain Bike Instructor and has cycled routes around the world, as well as leading mountian bike expeditions in Morroco, Thailand and South America.

Hannibals exact route has been a subject of debate for over 2000 years, contemporay reports are available, but the crucial point of "where he crossed the Alps" remains outstanding.

 

Academics, Military Historians, adventurers and even Napoleon have all commented on which pass over the Alps they think he took.

 

In 1959 a group of adventurers from England even tried to demonstrate that a particular pass was the right one,  by walking Hannibals route along with an Elephant called "Jumbo"!!!

 

James' route took one of the more adventurous off road passes that seems to be one of the more likely routes, the Col de Clapier, physically pushing the bike and kit up to the rocky pass and over the Alps into Italy.

The audacity and the sheer physical effort of crossing from Spain to Italy via a remote mountain pass with a huge army and a troop of elephants ensured Hannibals place in histroy.

 

The 2017 In Search of Hannibal Expedition  travelled the route as close as possible, using the contemporary texts as a guide to look at what has changed in over 2000 years, and to get close to the physical task that Hannibal and his men undertook.

 

Leaving Carthagena in Southern Spain in early June 2017, James followed the coast up through Spain and across the Pyrenees into France.

The next part of the route required him to find the place where Hannibal crossed the River Rhone, inland from Marseille, there was a well recorded battle fought here as the local tribes tried to stop Hannibal from crossing.

 

After defeating these tribes, by cleverly outflanking them Hannibal continued to travel inland towards the Alps, James will followedthis route up through the mountains, before descending into Italy and finishing the expedition in Turin.

 

The expedition was lightweight and provisioned on route as Hannibal would have had done, testing inginuity, physical ability and undertaking one of the great journey's of history.

James travelled solo on this journey, cycling distances of up to 100km a day, but struggled to find any evidence of Hannibals passing, proving the point that the spoils of war belong to the victors, in Hannibals case the Romans have managed to wipe out any trace of his passing.

 

Distance- 1600km

Duration- 3 weeks

Height of Pass- 2477m

Coffee- 1kg!

Punctures- 3

Crashes- 1

 

 

 

 

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