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I kayaked 2,000 miles along the Amazon...
I walked a high wire at Battersea Power Station...
And this time around, I'm going to be taking on my most physically demanding challenge to date.
I will be attempting to get to the South Pole entirely under my own steam,
and taking everything I need with me.
I'll be walking, kite-skiing, and in a world first,
trying to cycle part of my route to the Pole.
It's the coldest and windiest place on earth. Temperatures drop to as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius.
I have no idea how people do this. Honestly. Aaaah! Ahhh-ahhh!
I don't want to play any more! This is just so frustrating.
So far on Helen's Polar Challenge for Sport Relief,
Helen's taken part in an experiment to see how her body reacts to the extreme cold...
Your deep body temperature is now 36.85.
She's been put through her paces by the world's greatest living explorer...
Try it as much as you possibly can, and the moment you think you're not winning, turn round.
And Helen's travelled to Sierra Leone
to see how Sport Relief money really can make a difference.
Just over here is a brand new well. It's so new that the concrete is still drying on it.
In today's programme,
Helen travels to California for the second stage of training,
and gets to grips with her ice bike for the very first time.
I'm not sure it's going to be that easy to pedal in all this gear!
I can already see that she's exhausted.
She heads to the desert to train with the only man in the world
to have tested the bike in Antarctica...
500 miles across some of the most inhospitable places on the planet is not an easy task.
..And puts all her bike skills to the test...
Let it roll, let it roll, let it roll!
..In a punishing 15 mile off-road race.
I haven't fallen off yet!
Antarctica is a natural environment, so it's impossible to predict exactly what it's going to throw at me.
That's why I've headed here, to meet some guys who can ride over just about anything.
Oh, my word!
That is seriously impressive.
How long does it take you to get that good and be able to go sailing over those jumps?
A couple of years of practice, at least.
I... can ride a bike. But I don't really go off-road.
What do I need to be good at this?
It's all about just making sure you stay in control of the bike,
make sure you're controlling the bike, it's not controlling you.
There's only four months left for Helen to prepare for her polar challenge.
She's going to need to put in some serious training
to be anywhere near as good as these guys.
How is he even doing that?
It is ridiculous!
I'm so impressed by these guys, it's got me excited about cycling.
I am definitely looking forward to spending more time in the saddle.
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest continent on earth.
Helen will be cycling across the polar plateau,
a vast ice desert which is unpredictable and dangerous.
Ice obstacles and snow ridges mean that Helen needs to get confident riding over difficult terrain.
And her lessons start now.
Helen is heading to the hills of Orange County to pick up some proper off-road bike skills.
I love going out on my bike and I always have done,
but generally I stick to the road or pavements.
I have, however, entered an off-road race and it's totally different to what I'm used to.
So, I need some expert tuition.
Meet Joe Lawwill.
He turned professional at the age of 21
and in 2002 became the Masters World Champion in Downhill.
He now runs a successful bike skills course
and will be teaching Helen the technique she needs.
Before I came here I would have said to anybody,
"I can mountain bike, I've had a bike since I could walk!"
But this is totally different, isn't it?
A lot of people think mountain biking's just riding along on a bike path,
but this is the mountains.
Joe will teach Helen three key skills to help her control the bike.
In Antarctica, it could make all the difference.
If Helen falls off, she could risk serious injury.
First up, Helen needs to learn how to do a track stand.
This demonstrates good bike control by bringing the bike to a stop
and balancing it in one position.
So what I'm going for is to be able to stop?
Yeah, you want to come to a stop, hold your balance,
and if you start to lose your balance, then just start pedalling.
-And ride it out.
Remember, both fingers - there you go - on the brakes.
OK, so don't do full pedal strokes now, just little half pedals.
Just inch yourself along. Get your head a little more forward.
There you go, there you go. Good! Pedal out, pedal out. Good job, good job.
OK, so you're ready for the next step.
But now she's showing off!
-That was good.
So now, when we get into a situation where the hill's going down,
we need to be comfortable getting our weight behind the bike.
Next up is Body Position. Helen needs to learn how to throw her weight to the back of the bike.
This will allow her to ride downhill and over uneven ground safely,
without being thrown over the handlebars.
Neutral. You bring it back, up, and then you push out.
I'm riding along, starting to get a bit shaky, so I'm going to push the bike out?
Exactly. Just like that.
OK. Right, I'm going to go for one.
Oh! I'm going over... I'm going... Oh yeah, I see what you mean.
My thighs are too big, I think!
Oh yeah, my stomach hit the saddle!
That was good. So the next step, we just work on our body position and getting our weight back.
We're going to go into a manual, so it's the same move,
but we put a little more oomph into the front,
and let our body weight hang nice and now in the back.
So the reason we do this is in case you come across an obstacle,
it could be a rock or a hole,
instead of riding into that obstacle, you actually go into your manual position
and you push the front end out. You can hover the front end right over that obstacle.
-So then you don't even miss a beat, you just keep on going.
Helen will face lumps of ice and uneven ground in Antarctica.
The manual will help by allowing her to raise the front tyre
so she can go over obstacles without slowing down.
OK. OK, go through the motions, trust it.
Little more speed.
And... now! Oooh!
OK, looks good. Perfect, perfect. And... now!
That was awesome!
And this one. Yeah!
-OK, you made it!
-Ooooh! That was all right, wasn't it?
-That was really good.
It's not just practical skills that Helen needs.
Cycling to the South Pole will require nerves of steel
so downhill champion Joe has a test in store.
So far, you've been able to do a lot of moves
on relatively flat ground. Now it's time to do some downhill.
Are you joking? Look how steep this is!
It's much easier on a bike.
I can ride stuff I can't walk.
This type of biking should not be attempted unless you're under expert supervision.
I'm not one bit sure that I should be doing this!
And I don't want to do it!
But I want to be able to say that I've done it.
That's why I'm going to give it a go.
What's the worst that can happen?
I get to the top of that rock and I say, "Do you know what, this isn't for me!"
I can say that now, but I'm going to give it a go.
Joe shows how it's done.
I'm in my attack position, arms are bent, ride over, go right over the rock.
Keep my weight back...
You're right here. Manual... and down.
OK, right. Come on, I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
Let's give it a whirl.
Not the best start!
Looking good, Looking good. Let it roll.
Let it roll, let it roll. Let it roll!
-Let's get you set up.
All right, you got it, you got it! Let it roll, let it roll.
-Let it roll, let it roll!
-I can't. I can't.
Keep it going, you're looking good.
Why? This is absolutely doing my head in!
It's hard when your confidence is broken. Hopefully, she can block that out.
There you go! Good. Feet are level.
OK, remember to get your butt behind the seat, keep your weight back.
You got this. You got it! Keep it going! Keep it going, keep it going!
I did it!
Awesome! Especially after all those fails.
You didn't give up. See what happens when you don't give up?
-I think you're ready to race.
Oh yeah, I forgot about that!
Helen's entered a gruelling 15 mile off-road race
to test all skills Joe's taught her.
And she'll be racing against professional riders.
If she completes the race, Helen will have the confidence
she needs to bike to the South Pole.
The one thing that I am going to have to do is keep a lid on my nerves.
I can't panic at the starting line, "Oh, do you know what? No, let's start again!
"Let's have another go." I just can't do that.
I couldn't let myself chicken out, because then further down the line,
what's to stop me in Antarctica going, "It's tough today, this one just isn't for me"?
I've set out to do a job, to go to the South Pole,
I've set out to do this. It's all relative.
It doesn't matter who you are or what your challenge is,
if it's pushing you to the edge, you get past that edge,
you will be so proud of yourself.
People train all year round for racing like this.
She's driven, and now that she has some skills in her pocket,
It's no question of her finishing,
and I don't think she's going to be finishing last, either.
Now that Helen has some skills under her belt,
she can turn her attention to the special bike
she's hoping will help get her to the South Pole - the ice bike.
Helen's ice bike is one of a kind, built for her Sport Relief challenge.
The super light frame is made from weatherised aluminium
to prevent damage by the harsh weather conditions.
Modified handlebars will allow Helen to move
into different positions so she can stay comfortable
riding hour after hour.
And the bike will be fitted with fat tyres,
allowing her to travel on the snow and ice.
Measuring just over 20 cm wide,
the tyres on Helen's ice bike are some of the widest in the world.
They're designed to spread the weight of the rider
over a wider surface area
by increasing the contact between the tyre and the snow.
This prevents the tyres from sinking.
Today, Helen's meeting the creator of the ice bike, Dan Hanebrink,
and his team at a wind tunnel.
They want to find out how Helen and the bike perform
when put to the test in Antarctic wind conditions.
The wind tunnel!
Two factors that affect the performance of cyclists
are wind resistance and drag.
Wind resistance is the energy it takes for Helen to push the bike through the wind.
The faster she moves, the more energy is needed to overcome the wind and move forward.
Drag is the pulling force created when air hits a solid object,
in this case the body of the cyclist,
and is forced to go around, dragging them backwards.
The team want to find out if they can reduce both the wind resistance
and drag by changing simple things.
I want to make this as realistic as possible,
so when I go into the wind tunnel, I'll be wearing the clothes that I will take to the South Pole.
I'm not entirely sure how we're going to make things like this more aerodynamic.
But... that is the plan.
It just feels a little bit bizarre that this room is filled
with pictures of people who've been in the wind tunnel,
and they're wearing tiny, skimpy little lycra outfits!
I will be wearing more clothes than I've ever worn in my life!
OK, we have zero. Go again, pedalling.
Oh, oh, there it is. Oh, hello, wind.
Helen's pedalling into wind that's blowing straight towards her at 20-30 mph,
exactly the type of wind conditions she can expect in Antarctica.
Ever since Amundsen and Scott first made it to the Pole,
explorers have attempted to find new ways to travel there.
Helen is hoping to become the first person ever to use a bike on a journey to the South Pole.
If she's successful, it will be a world first,
and her achievement will encourage others to push the boundaries of exploration.
I'm not sure it's going to be easy to pedal in all this gear.
Look at these boots!
One man who knows exactly what Helen is going through is Doug Stoup.
He was the first person ever to test the bike in Antarctica in 2003.
I can already see she's exhausted from just fighting the wind
and that really gives her a little perspective on what she's about ready to get involved in.
Professional cyclists use body positioning to be as aerodynamic as possible.
The team want Helen to try three different positions
to see what difference it makes to her speed through the air.
Smoke is used to show how the flow of air changes as she changes position.
The straighter the line of wind, the more aerodynamic and efficient Helen's position is.
As Helen moves into the third and final position,
the team start to see real improvements in the results.
Her body positioning is excellent. As long as she can keep that up for 500 miles.
OK, Helen, we're done with that run, you can stop pedalling. Nice job.
The tests have shown that a racing body position can help Helen
lose five minutes of time for every hour she's on the bike.
I want to make the three of them proud.
I want to get to the South Pole
and for them to all go, "Yeah, we were involved in that.
"We helped her get there."
They've got the expertise and the experience between them,
and I've got to deliver the will power.
And I guarantee, it is people like those three and their three faces,
that I'll think about when I want to moan and I want to give up.
I have to make this a success.
I've got to see it through now. Got to do my bit of the deal.
And the hard work starts now, as Helen is about to experience
what it's like to ride a bike on a soft surface for the first time.
Expert Doug has brought her to the desert
to train on a prototype ice bike.
Training on sand is the perfect substitute for snow...
dry and powdery.
Hopefully, he'll give me some top tips,
so I'll be efficient and I'll use this thing to its full potential.
How are you doing? It's a scorcher!
You must be exhausted.
First, Helen wants to know more about Doug's experience
of using the ice bike in Antarctica.
The bike performed really well until a big, atypical storm
came off the Weddell Sea and grounded me for about five days,
with 150 mph winds and I had to sleep with my feet up against the tent.
I didn't get to do exactly what I wanted.
I wanted to do about 350 miles and I ended up doing about 230.
So I know the bike works.
Are there key things that I should do on this bike that will make it easier?
I think it's very relative to riding a mountain bike.
I think keeping your weight back on the bike will help
because the sand is a little bit loose and really,
the sand is a really great simulation of what the snow is like on the polar plateau.
Doug wants Helen to see just how different the ice bike is to a normal mountain bike,
so they set off for a ride, first on the road, then on the sand.
Look at old slow coach here!
Come on, I thought with those muscles, you'd be whizzing on past!
Well, the ice bike isn't really made for speed.
It's made for travelling on the ice, so it's more about endurance.
This isn't that much fun, is it?!
I think it's a lot of fun!
All right, clever clogs!
Look at the smile on that face!
-You're so pleased with yourself, aren't you?
Once you get going, it's all right, but getting going in the sand,
on a bike like this, is virtually impossible!
Well, this is why this bike is better than a typical mountain bike.
It has bigger tyres for more surface area to travel on softer conditions,
and that's why it was a success in the Antarctic.
And why we can, you know, train out here in the sand.
The tyres make a massive difference, but it's still surprisingly hard work to pedal through sand.
You definitely feel it in your legs, don't you?
Oh, absolutely. So, the training needs to just do a bunch of biking,
and to be ready for your trip.
And Helen's about to work even harder.
For her Sport Relief Challenge,
she'll be carrying all her equipment in a sled,
so Doug's making her practise with it attached to the bike.
Keep your weight on the back!
You got it! Keep going!
I am whacked. And not just a little bit out of breath,
I am in that state where I feel like someone's punched me in the chest.
I'd love to say that I'm struggling because it's really hot,
and oh, that's fine, I won't have this type of heat in Antarctica.
But it's not, it's just hard on sand.
This is the only opportunity Helen has to train with the ice bike before she reaches Antarctica.
The sheer effort of training on the sand puts into perspective
just how hard riding the ice bike day in and day out is going to be.
This really is the toughest challenge of her life.
Many explorers have tried and failed to make it to the South Pole.
Helen's going to need real determination and endurance
to keep going in temperatures of minus 50
and winds that can reach up to 125 mph.
But Helen's on a mission to inspire YOU to do the Sport Relief mile
and to raise money for poor and vulnerable children in the UK and around the world.
I've looked at loads of pictures and spoken to different people,
but I don't think I know what to expect in terms of day after day.
What is it actually like?
There's no rest days. You can't sit in your tent and wait for the wind to blow, or whatever.
You have to get out of your tent every day and put in your time, do your routine.
It's a civilised way of life.
Each day, you go through your routine and if you get your miles in each day, you'll get there.
500 miles across some of the most inhospitable places on the planet,
is not an easy task.
You know, you have the best help and the best people and the best gear
and you just have to take it one step at a time.
And this is part of the process.
I'm the person who always says, "Impossible and difficult are two different things."
Now, actually, I'm the one going, "What... Helen, what are you doing?"
I want to prove the point that you can do anything you put your mind to.
But I'm questioning myself. And if I'm questioning myself,
who's going to believe in me?
You'll do it. You are a strong-willed human being.
You're doing the training. I think it's just one step at a time.
You've done this before with other things, and you can do it now.
Time is running out and Helen wants to make the most of training with the ice bike
so she heads back to the beach to put in some hours.
I need someone to give me a push start!
See, you can get your pedals...
Even if you can make the pedals go round, you can't make the wheels go round!
If the wheels aren't going round, I'm not going forward!
Helen's still getting nowhere until she remembers there's something that might help...
Doug said that if I let the tyres down a little bit, it should be easier.
And he said a lot about the pressure of the tyres and all that,
so it must be important. Fingers crossed.
Oh, that is definitely easier.
"Easy" would be pushing it too far.
I need to get seriously fit.
If I want to stand a chance of making any mileage on this thing.
Fun for five minutes, practical for 500 miles? I don't think so!
Finally, after a week of training with the ice bike,
it's back to the safety of a mountain bike for Helen's 15 mile off-road race.
She'll be riding around Lake Irvine in the heart of California.
Failure at this stage could shatter her confidence.
This is it. Race day!
I can ride a bike and I've had a special skills lesson,
so I thought I'd get here feeling pretty confident. But look around!
They're so professional. Everybody's head to toe in lycra,
and I've got to take them on in a 15 mile race!
All I've got to remember is, don't panic.
There's so many people taking part and everyone has a story to tell.
That girl just told me she sprained her thumb,
she's broken her wrist, she's got bandages on.
This isn't an amble in the countryside on a mountain bike, this is serious.
As she lines up for the race, nerves are starting to show.
I'm really freaking out now.
STARTING HORN BLASTS
I haven't fallen off yet!
I didn't know that bit of the course, that's not fair!
THEY SHOUT ENCOURAGEMENT
I'm absolutely spent.
There were parts when I thought my legs were going to give out.
But thankfully, there's a downhill not long after an uphill.
Oh, my goodness!
There were moments where I just thought,
"I'm not going to finish this, I'm not going to finish this!"
I'm so happy that I finished. Plenty of people did not finish that race.
And yeah, I'm not first, but I definitely wasn't last!
I was 13th out of 20 finishers and I was just over ten minutes
behind the leader. So, I'll take that!
I just really wanted to beat a lady in an orange t-shirt, and I did!
I really have been on a tall, tall rollercoaster of emotions while I've been in California.
I've been scared, I've been excited, there's been tears.
What I have to remember is, if you just keep pushing,
there's always a little bit more in the tank.
And that is a huge lesson that I want to take away with me
and definitely something to think about in Antarctica.
And if you've been inspired by Helen's challenge,
why don't YOU go the extra mile and get involved in Sport Relief this year?
Get a grown-up and sign up for the Sport Relief mile. There are hundreds of events,
and by raising money, you can help poor and vulnerable people in the UK and around the world.
Next time, Helen starts her kite-ski training,
which means beginning on a beach with a power kite.
I'm going to have to have strong arms, aren't I?
This kite has got so much power in it!
But training grinds to a halt after a fall in the water...
I don't have time to be proper injured!
She was getting overly confident, I think, and trying to progress really fast.
..And Helen puts her new found kite skills to the test against three top young kite-surfers...
We are clearly winning at the moment!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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