It seems like an eternity since I last felt the saddle between my cheeks, the wind-rush in my face and sweet smell of chammy cream in my nostrils. Fantasizing of those good things in life, home and play I feel fit and strong – all the riding seems to have paid off, training for something entirely different. I’m a million miles away from my trusty carbon steed, hauling large rucksacks around the rain forest, climbing previously un-scaled cliffs, exploring new cave passages deep with the mountain and abseiling into the abyss, down a vertical kilometre drop beside the world’s highest waterfall.
Riding a bike and being on a ‘hard-core’ filming expedition in the Tepuis of Venezuela might seem light years apart and in some respects they are, but starting out with a dedicated off-the-bike fitness programme and moving up the gears to putting in the miles, and getting the heart used to pumping for extended periods of time is working. Scrambling beneath fallen trees the ground steepens, greasy boulders the size of dustbins pull away from their tenuous fixing between a tangle of slimy roots and the humidity of the forest bears down. There is a longing for the fresh air of a blast down the hills of my Scottish homeland but a confidence in the knowledge that I know I can hack-it – somewhat literally, machete in hand, forcing a trail where no one has gone before. For me, being on the bike is about preparing my body’s cardiovascular system and mind against the shocking rigors of adventure. We stop after an hour to glimpse at our objective through a dense canopy, dripping with the outpourings of a fading day. There’s no call from the heart or head to stop, just an arresting sight of what’s to come, sights that make the heart beat faster still – there is capacity for that. For this part of Venezuela is a lost land, still ripe for exploration. A land of high drama.